With Galahad’s help Sir Doyle, Roddie, and a couple of bowmen, hit the Count’s baggage train and secured as much food and wine as possible for the feast. The operation went off without a hitch and Galahad’s involvement was never suspected.
Two days later, after Count Riverton’s men had time to get hungry and two counter raids were effectively repulsed, the princess sent out messengers to every nearby town and principality inviting them to a feast. Over the strenuous objection of Lord Trapsfield and her nobles, Lilly even invited Riverton’s soldiers and nobles. In fact Trapsfield went on and on about security concerns until Lilly silenced him with one queenly death glare.
Galahad was the natural party planner (having enjoyed so many more parties than the rest) and given limited time and means he shined with his resourcefulness and resilience. He knew this could make or break Lilly’s career as Queen and he made certain her kingdom would not fail because of a poor coronation.
The day before the feast he ran around putting out fires, like when Lilly wanted to greet each guest before the meal, Galahad finally convinced her to do it after the meal and a short round of jousts had been completed when nausea would be at its lowest, or like when he threw a bucket of water on one of Lord Trapsfield’s men who had ventured too close to the cooking fire. By sundown everything was set and Galahad met Lilly for dinner in her tent.
“Thank you for all your work, Galahad,” she said. “I am in your debt.”
“It isn’t over yet,” Galahad said with a wink. He looked at her across the table and smiled. He no longer felt any disgust when looking at her face. “What will you do when the coronation’s over?”
“Be queen, I guess,” she said.
“No, I mean, how will you rule?”
“In the way I see most fit.”
Galahad shook his head and tried to put the question together differently. “You once called yourself your father’s soliloquy to the world, what does that mean?”
“I didn’t think you were listening,” she said.
Galahad squirmed in his chair. “I’m always listening,” he said, then added, “to you.”
She looked at him then turned her eyes up to the ceiling. “I’m told when I was first-born my father took me in his arms and said, ‘she’s perfect.’ That’s probably what every father says, but I now know that it wasn’t some blind fatherly love that prompted it. Rather it was an eyes wide open love that saw me honestly and truly and chose to love me anyway. I think he wanted to say that I mattered more than my face.”
“You’ll never be a beauty queen,” Galahad said and laughed until he realized Lilly wasn’t laughing. He coughed and said, “Uhhhh, sorry.”
“Is everything ready?” She asked after a silence.
“Yes,” he said, “it will be the most beautiful coronation the kingdom has seen.”
“For the ugliest queen,” Lilly said. She could be truly ugly when she chose to be.
Galahad wanted to stop her, to turn the conversation toward happier things, but he could do no more than give a frustrated sigh.
“I think I’ll get some sleep,” she said.
A thousand jokes about beauty rest flowed through Galahad’s mind, but he held his tongue.
“Goodnight and Goodbye, Princess Soliloquy,” he said, “for tomorrow you rise a Queen, but whatever tomorrow might bring, I am and always will be your servant.” He bowed low, but did not wait for a reply and promptly marched out of the tent.
To Be Continued…