RUTH: A Tale Of Luna’s Birth
I DO NOT EXPECT HER APOLOGY
The morning was usual on Warthford Island. The Longhurst palace was buzzing with the morning hustle and bustle. Maids were running in all directions, running the errands. The servants were working in the garden and the stable and, some were even busy in carpentry work and other such works.
Cordelia Longhurst- an idol wife and mother- had the breakfast prepared under her inspection. It was not that she did not trust her cooks, but it was her habit of having everything under her control as she considered herself responsible for every nuisance happening in the Longhurst palace.
Ralph Longhurst had a habit of going for a morning walk every day. His beloved daughter and sometimes Cordelia accompanied him but today, he had to go alone.
After returning home, he showered and got ready for the day. Today he had a meeting with the priests of the church, about the charitable work he was involved in with them.
He had asked Cordelia and his daughter to be present there for the meeting too.
Ralph Longhurst was a man with tough exteriors. People of Warthford Island literally worshipped him. The island was ruled by his family for generations. They prohibited the settlement of the outsiders on the island when it became an important stoppage for the internationally trading ships.
The Longhurst family wanted to protect the rights of the indigenous people and, thus they took the highest place of respect in the hearts of the inhabitants of the Island.
”Good morning, My Lord! ”
His most trustable man- the commander of his humble kingdom- Zerith greeted him outside his private chamber.
”Good morning Zerith! ”
Zerith was one of the few people with whom Ralph took efforts of speaking politely.
He followed Ralph while discussing some administrative matters with him. Five minutes later, they reached the dining room where Cordelia was waiting for her husband and daughter.
”Good morning My Lady! ” Zerith bowed as soon as he saw Cordelia.
”Good morning, Zerith! ” She responded with a genuine smile. ”Please have breakfast with us today. ”
Zerith looked at Ralph for his permission, which he got with an approving nod. Zeriths father worked for Ralphs father and, he was working for Ralph for many years. He was like a family member and, Cordelia treated him well as he had no family.
He was unmarried and decided to stay like that as he was never starting a family. He had his life dedicated to his Lord and, he was happy the way his life was.
After they both settled down, Ralph frowned at the empty chair on his left side.
”Where is my princess? ”
”I do not know. I thought she would come with you. ” Cordelia replied.
Frowning some more, Ralph called a maid and asked her to bring his daughter for the breakfast. The spoiled brat was an apple of her fathers eyes. As the only child, she was never denied anything in her life.
Dresses, shoes, jewellery, books, makeup, she only had to think of any of that and, it was presented to her the very next moment. As a mother, Cordelia was happy with how dearly her husband loved their daughter. Yet she worried, seeing how stubborn and arrogant she had turned.
Cordelia had tried speaking this with her husband, but he dismissed her concerns every time, saying his daughter was no less than a princess and deserved only the best!
No one touched the food, as they all waited for her to show up. Instead, the maid came running with a pale face.
”My Lord, My Lady… ”
”What happened? ” Cordelia shot up from her chair in panic.
”Where is my princess? ” Ralph thundered.
The maid shook in fright. The words stuck in her throat but, the fiery look in Ralphs eyes made her squeak.
”She… she is not in her chamber. ”
Sensing the tension, Zerith tried being optimistic.
”She must be somewhere in the palace. Have you checked in the garden? On the roof where she liked to enjoy her mornings often? ”
”No Master Zerith. She can not be in the palace. ”
”What do you mean? ” Cordelia, now concerned, asked with narrowed eyes.
”My Lady… I… I found a rope made up of the bedsheets hanging from her window. ”
Ralph banged his fist on the table, making a loud sound and shot up from his chair. Zerith sighed, thinking he had no breakfast written in his fortune today. He immediately followed Ralph as he barked orders at the guards while cursing at them for their carelessness.
The three of them ran to her chamber, where the rope made up of the tying bedsheets swung out of the window.
”Cordelia! Where is my daughter? ” Ralph demanded, glaring at his wife.
She stuttered. ”I… I do not know. When I came to wake her up she said she is still sleepy. I left after that. ”
”Zerith… I want my daughter right now! ”
Zerith tried calming his Lord. ”Do not worry My Lord. I will find her. ”
Saying that, he signalled Cordelia to take care of her husband, then he ran out of the chamber thinking of where the spoiled princess went.
Leaving the premises of the palace behind, he walked down the hill. He had a place in his mind. This was not the first time, that the spoiled brat had gone missing from the palace. She had pulled that stunt many times before and, every time Zerith had successfully got her back to her father.
Instead of reprimanding her for her recklessness, Ralph pampered his daughter more than before in a hope of she would think twice before doing such carelessness. But the mischievous miss never failed to disappoint her father.
”Bertha… Bertha… ” Zerith called by cocooning his mouth with his palms to get the loud sound.
”Bertha… I know you are somehwere near. Come out right now! ” He called again.
Zerith had his senses on alert. His eyes scanned the surroundings keenly. He held his breath momentarily when he saw some movement a few feet ahead of him. Smirking, he approached on the light feet.
Unfortunately, he missed a dry twig on the ground, and when it broke under his foot, the person on the other end got aware of Zeriths presence.
”Shit! ” He cursed under his breath, as the figure moved speedily ahead.
Not wasting more time, he chased behind the running figure.
He was surprised at how fast she was running as if she was chased by a tiger.
”Bertha! Stop! ” Zerith called again.
Bertha turned her head to see how far he was from her and, that was where she made a mistake. She lost her footing and fell on the sloppy ground. She shrieked in fright as she rolled down the slope, that was covered with leaves and pebbles.
Zerith followed her down the slope balancing his feet. At the end of the slope, he found Bertha curled up in fear.
Panting, he smirked at her.
”I told you to stop. ” He said.
Bertha removed her hands from her face and stared back at him, still feeling dizzy.
Zerith extended his hand towards her. ”You need to get back to the palace, Bertha. My Lord is very upset! ” He said in all seriousness.
Bertha gulped down nervously. She knew that this charade was bound to end in this way. She should not have thought of doing this in the first place.
Cursing her fate and tendency of making bad choices, she took Zeriths hand in hers. Zerith effortlessly pulled her up, and she stood on her feet. She dusted her dress of the dirt.
”Shall we, My Lady? ” Zerith gestured for her to start walking.
Rolling her eyes at his sarcasm, Bertha began stomping in the direction of the Longhurst palace.
Some minutes later, she heard Zerith asking, ”Are not you tired of this Bertha? You know this plan is doomed to fail. ”
”All credits goes to you! ” She grumbled.
Zerith smiled at her answer. He saw her tendrils sticking out of her braid. Her dress was dirty at places from the fall. Bertha was in her early twenties and was an attractive young woman.
She looked pretty all the time but, she looked cute especially when she was grumpy. Zerith, who was in his late forties, liked to tease her.
One might say that Zerith had a thing for Bertha, and maybe he had, but it was beyond a romantic feeling. They did not share a brother-sister relationship, neither they were best friends.
They were just two individuals who genuinely cared for each other and had different societal statuses. They were comfortable with each other and, that cleared all the obstacles between them.
”Are they very mad? ” Bertha asked after some time.
Zerith sensed the worry in her voice. ”Lady Cordelia is just… Lady Cordelia. She is more worried than mad. But My Lord… he is.. ” he searched for the right words.
”He must have set the whole palace in chaos. ”
Zerith shared her humour and laughed, nodding his head. Bertha only sighed dejectedly, knowing well of what was about to come her way.
Soon they walked through the gates of the palace after climbing the hill. Bertha put her head down, knowing the gazes she received. Zerith patted her on the shoulder in encouragement, as they walked to where Ralph and Cordelia were waiting for their daughter in the garden.
Cordelia stopped rocking in the chair, and Ralph looked up with furrowed brows as Zerith walked Bertha in their way.
”Bertha? ” Cordelia was relieved to see her.
”Zerith! Why is she alone? ” Ralph stood up and walked near them.
”I found her alone, My Lord. ” Zerith answered.
Bertha avoided looking up. Her fingers kept fidgeting with her dress.
”Look at me! ” Ralph commanded.
But Bertha was too scared to do that. Her eyes wailed up with tears.
”I said look at me! ” Ralph thundered, and Berthas head shot up. She looked at him with misty vision.
”Where is she Bertha? Where is my daughter? ” ralph asked in a hard tone.
They knew if they found Bertha, then they would find the main culprit easily. That was why Zerith went behind Bertha and not the princess.
Bertha was a loyal maid of the Longhursts. She took her mothers place after her death. And since her childhood was living in the palace. She was closest to Ralphs daughter, as she was not only her head maid but also a childhood friend.
The two women of similar age were inseparable. If one wanted to find one, then they looked for the other and they would find them together. Bertha was like her shadow.
”Bertha, please tell us where is she? ” Cordelia pleaded.
Berthas lower lip trembled to hear that pleading tone from her. But her lips were sealed. She had promised her friend to not say a word to her parents. Bertha glanced at Zerith, asking for help, but he remained solid as a rock.
”Fine! Zerith, bring my stick. ” Ralphs patience was running thin.
Everyones eyes widened hearing his order.
”My Lord… ”
”Zerith! Bring. My. Stick! ” Ralph was not in the mood of listening to anyone.
Cordelia tried talking sense into her husband, but he was not ready to budge.
Helplessly, Zerith brought him his stick. The long brown thick stick terrified Bertha.
”I am asking you for the last time Bertha. Where is my daughter? ”
Instead of answering, Bertha embraced herself to get the punishment. In a rage, Ralph raised the stick in the air. He was about to hit Bertha with it when someones strong voice rumbled from behind.
”Father, STOP! ”
Every head turned around to see angry hazel eyes glaring at Ralph. Ralphs demeanour suddenly changed, and the stick fell from his hand and on the ground. His face lit up in joy seeing his daughter safe and sound.
”Theodora! My princess! ”
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