✧Voyage to Paradise✧
Two horses thundered powerfully though the field, their hooves kicking up divot’s of dirt and grass. One was a white mare and the other a dark brown stallion. They ran along the path bordering the forest and the sea.
The servants watched from the balcony, cheering for the racing horses. Some cheered for Bastian on the stallion, while the others cheered on Odette on the mare. Odette’s horse was in the lead with Bastian’s horse maintaining a steady distance behind.
“Don’t you think he looks like a noble knight escorting a bright queen?” a young maid called out excitedly. Even Dora couldn’t help but laugh.
The young maids idolised their masters like opera singers or actors. Their fascination was so great, that they even wrote small fiction novels based on their imaginings. Sometimes they would imagine themselves as the queen, while he was their shinning knight. Other times they were a mermaid and he was their hero. Dora had confiscated so many of these types of stories. At least it was better than them hating him.
“Alright,” Dora said as the horses rounded a copse of trees and out of sight. “Back to work, now.” Dora clapped her hands to underpin the order.
Dora stopped one of the maids. “Did you reschedule Mr Fishers appointment?”
“Mr Fisher?” the young maid said absently.
“Yes, the cobbler, for the mistresses shoes.”
“Oh, yes, ma’am. I asked one of the footmen heading out into town today to make the arrangements.”
“I’m surprised the mistress even needs a cobbler, with the way the master carries her around every where.” One of the other senior maids said.
Dora couldn’t help but snicker, even though she knew she should reprimand the maid for her pertinent behaviour.
Dora cleared her throat. “If you don’t finish cleaning the terrace before the couple returns, you’ll be scrubbing the copper pots as punishment,” she declared, prompting the other maids to take her seriously.
“The yacht maintenance is done,” said Lovis coming out onto the terrace before Dora could leave. “All that’s left is to prepare for the picnic.”
Dora delegated to the maids loitering on the terrace and went about her day, yacht cleaning, transporting food and dishes, and preparing the mistress and masters outing attire. Now that everyone was set to task, tranquillity returned to the mansion.
“The kids have a knack for spinning tales taller than they are. They really ought to tread more lightly,” Lovis remarked, his eyes lingering thoughtfully on Dora.z
“And what good does our discretion do, anyway? It’s as if it matters little; the couple themselves are the ones fueling the rumor mill with fresh fodder each day.” Dora shot back
Finding himself at a loss for words, Lovis let out a soft chuckle and averted his gaze. Just then, the rhythmic sound of hooves on the soft earth heralded the return of the master and mistress, their horses kicking up sprays of sand as they came in from their beach ride.
“It’s heartening to see them so content in each other’s company,” Dora reflected aloud, her eyes following the couple with a hint of admiration. “Indeed, the chatter around them might stem more from affection than malice. There’s no need to fret overly,” she reassured him
“That’s comforting to hear. Still, we mustn’t forget how easily warmth can turn to chill. The boundary between camaraderie and conflict is often finer than we think.”
“Absolutely,” Dora concurred, smoothing down her apron. By now, the horses had come to a leisurely stop at the far end of the garden. Bastian swung down from his mount then helped Odette down, catching her gently. Their laughter and ease with each other made a beautiful picture, one that could easily spark light-hearted jokes about Odette not even needing shoes because of Bastian’s careful handling.
“If only she could have a child,” Dora thought, gazing out at the sea. “How wonderful would that be?”
“Be careful with your words,” the butler said.
“I know, I would never say such things with the mistress around.”
“It would be safer to stop such idle thoughts in the first place. Madam is perfectly happy as she is now.”” Lovis warned.
Dora could only guess what Odette was going through, with the constant visits to the hospital, and the endless loop of hope and disappointment each month. The real reason behind her new found dedication to fitness and healthy eating.
Dora had a lot on her mind, but she kept quiet. She and Odette shared a secret that no one else knew about.
“Right, Dora?” Lovis asked, looking for her agreement.
Dora just gave a small nod without saying much and went to get the water and towels ready for Bastian and Odette. As she walked over, Lovis kept talking, trying to convince her with his reasons, but Dora didn’t think they were worth responding to. She couldn’t help but think to herself, Men always believe they have all the answers. Men always think they know best.
The K glistened on the side of the boat, the sunlight reflecting off it blinded her. Odette smiled quietly as she looked at the yacht, which was all set to sail. The bottom of her dress, which had a sailor collar, waved gently in the soft sea breeze.
Countess Trier had urged Odette to create her own coat of arms, to replace the vulgar gold “K” initial. The Countess was growing quite insistent. Now a part of the royal family, the Countess believed it was important to have a coat of arms that showed their high status. Odette, however, had a different opinion on the matter.
She knew that there were certain aspects about Bastian that made the social aristocracy uncomfortable, but she felt there was no need to pander to these people. Odette liked the symbol of their house, it was an emblem they had used for so long and she appreciated the simplicity of it.
“Odette,” Bastian said, having completed his inspection of the yacht. His messy platinum hair sparkled in the light, just like the shiny emblem on the yacht. “Shall we set sail?”
Bastian stood on the gang plank and offered his hand to Odette. Wearing a shirt, no tie, and suspenders, he looked a lot like a carefree sailor.
Odette folded away her parasol and took the offered assistance. She was afraid of boats, especially small ones, but did her best to hide her discomfort. The prospect of seeing the Ferris wheel up close, from the sea, was an opportunity she did not want to miss.
She prayed silently to what ever sea gods might listen to protect her against getting sea sick. They were the only two left aboard once the servants had finished loading up all the luggage they were bringing with them. Even though a cozy spot was set up on the back deck, Odette went inside the cabin first.
“Have a pleasant time,” Lovis called from the dock, as Bastian took the helm and prepared to cast off.
Bastian responded with a polite nod and spun the wheel to point the yacht to the harbour exit, toward the Ferris wheel. The Klauswitz family’s yacht soon caught the June breeze and sailed off into the sea.
“Our master looks more like a hero on a sea adventure than a knight,” whispered one of the younger maids from behind everyone. Dora looked at her with a sharp eye.
“A queen’s knight? That’s old-fashioned,” said another maid, looking at a younger one who had been thrilled earlier on the terrace.
Dora couldn’t help but snort at the thought. It looked like she knew who came up with that ‘mermaid and hero’ tale, but she wasn’t in the mood to tell her off. What did it matter if it was about a queen or a mermaid? Knight or hero, it was all the same to her. All Dora really wanted was for this adventure to cheer up her mistress.
Holding onto that hope, she turned around and headed back to the mansion.
“You managed on a warship just fine,” Odette said. The excitement of seeing the Ferris wheel was short lived and replaced by an obvious nervousness she could not hide. “Warships are large,” she said meekly. “It doesn’t even feel like you’re on the water most of the time.”
“If you’re feeling scared, we can go back. You’ve already seen the Ferris wheel up close,” Bastian said, casually steering. But Odette, with a determined look, shook her head
“No, I want to continue.”
“It’s fine, I’m getting used to it.” Odette stood straight and glared at Bastian sternly. Though her complexion was yellow and her knuckles white from gripping the railing.
Bastian respected her will and carried on cruising, turning the wheel to point the yacht toward an area he really wanted to show Odette. He felt sure that the view would make her forget her seasickness. You couldn’t get to it by land, it had steep cliffs and a small sandy beach which provided the only access, it’s like a paradise cut off from the world. Most of the sailors in the area didn’t even know about that place.
Odette endured the short trip, but looked like she was about to throw up when a wave hit the side of the boat and made the yacht sway in an exaggerated motion.
“We’re here. Paradise, my princess. Get ready to disembark.” Bastian let the anchor go.
“But…this is just the sea,” Odette said weakly, her face turning a deeper shade of green. She glanced around in confusion.
The beach was not far, but they were going to need to wade through the water. Bastian offered his hand to Odette again.
“I know, unfortunately there is no dock.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, this is as far as the yacht can go.”
“Bastian,” Odette said, unable to hide her shock.
Bastian just gave a cheeky smile as he stripped off his shirt and trousers. “Don’t worry, the water is only waste deep, but unless you packed spare clothes, I suggest you take yours off.”
Odette realized he was serious, sighed feeling a bit defeated, and started to take off her hat, gloves, shoes, and dress. “But I’m keeping my underwear on,” Odette stated firmly, holding onto her dignity.
Bastian stuffed her clothes into a waterproof bag and threw it away. After the bag landed on the beach, Odette felt a wash of regret. But before she knew it, she was already at the edge of the yacht’s deck. Suddenly, a loud scream followed by happy laughter filled the air.