Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Prince Charming by Sally Cronin


At the weekends I will be sharing some of the stories from my collections and also new stories from time to time… I hope you will enjoy..

Today I am  sharing a story  from the What’s in the Name? collection about a beautiful princess being married off to the the most eligible bachelor available, much to her dismay!

Prince Charming.

Sonia looked through the lead glass window of her bedroom, and watched as her three brothers disappeared into the distant forest. The dark trees swallowed them in an instant, and closing her eyes she imagined she was beside them; riding Anica her white filly. How she loved the trails through the dark woods that suddenly opened into sun dappled glades of wild flowers and mushrooms. But her father had banned her from accompanying her carefree brothers, decreeing that it was time at seventeen to adopt a more ladylike and regal demeanour.

Tears filled her eyes at the memory of her last discussion with her father this morning; standing before him in the cold and intimidating throne room.

‘Sonia my child,’ her father scratched his balding head. ‘It is time to forget childish ways and prepare yourself for your marriage to Prince Aleksander on New Year’s Eve.’ Glaring at her from beneath his bushy eyebrows he continued, ‘I will not listen to your complaining and disobedience any longer; is that understood?’

He contemplated his only daughter, and remembered his wife’s wise words on how to deal with their wilful youngest child.

‘You must remember that the security of our kingdom depends on an advantageous union with all of our neighbours. Your brothers are promised to princesses on three corners of our realm, and when you marry the heir to Pokova to the north, we will have peace and prosperity for the future.’

He sighed and steeled his heart as watched her crestfallen beautiful face. ‘Your mother and I did not meet until our wedding day and we have had a most happy union, being also blessed with you and your brothers. We are royalty, and arranged marriages are as much part of our lives as your silk dresses and other privileges’.

Sonia bit her lip and silenced her response. She had been attempting to persuade her parents for the last two months that she couldn’t marry a man that she hadn’t met, and had not even seen a likeness of. Her shoulders slumped wearily and she curtsied to her father, asking permission to go to her rooms. The king waved her away in frustration and watched as the dispirited girl left the chamber.

Petar, Jakov and Henrik would be gone for several hours and she resigned herself to sitting in the window alcove and watching the palace staff going about their preparations for the grand feast tomorrow. The courtyard and kitchen gardens were bustling with activity. The cook and his assistants were unpacking tradesmen’s carts and gathering vegetables to accompany roast venison and turkey. In the distance she could see the giant farm horses pulling the cart holding the majestic tree harvested from the dense forest and destined for the ballroom.

Prince Aleksander was due to arrive today, but protocol demanded that she wait until she was formally introduced to him at the ball. Her brothers had met him at the annual boar hunt in the summer, and she had pestered them to tell her more about him.

Unfortunately her three brothers loved to tease her and refused to talk about the prince at all; making faces at each other in merriment. A thought struck her and she gasped at the possible reason for their silence. He must be ugly, she thought, or perhaps stupid or had a nasty temper. Her nervousness only increased and she clasped her arms around her body in despair.

As she looked out of the window a flash of movement caught her eye. From the cobbled stable yard came a tall blonde man leading a jet black stallion. He was wearing a loose white shirt and leather jerkin, but it didn’t conceal the fact that he was very muscular as well as handsome. Feeling a little flushed, Sonia wondered why she had not seen this groom before. She also wondered why she had not heard the normally observant chamber maids gossiping about the new addition to the staff.

She watched as the man and horse moved gracefully down to the paddock, and she opened the window so that she could see more clearly. The cold winter air rushed into the room but pulling her shawl closer about her shoulders, she settled down to watch the proceedings.

The man released the horse and moved to the centre of the round paddock. He flicked a fine whip onto the sawdust behind the horse, which responded by trotting around the outside of the ring… Another flick and the stallion turned and moved in the opposite direction. The elegance of both man and beast were magnificent; totally absorbing Sonia in the performance. After several minutes, the man dropped the whip to his side and turned to walk towards the gate… The horse stopped in his tracks and followed, gently nudging his shoulder to gain the groom’s attention. At the gate the man pivoted and placed his right hand at the top of horse’s forehead; leaning into him. They stood for several minutes; man and beast as one.

Sonia caught her breath and stuck her head out of the window, better to capture this intense and beautiful moment. The groom turned away from the horse and as he did so he looked up. He saw Sonia inelegantly hanging out of the window and smiled; even from this distance it was devastatingly effective. She ducked back inside and slammed the window shut. The impudence of the man, and to crown it all, this was just the sort of behaviour that her father had been so critical of.

That evening her mother knocked on her door and ushered through two maids with laden trays. She had also brought the palace seamstress who carried a linen wrapped garment over her arm. Sonia loved her beautiful mother and hoped that over their supper she might be able to win her over to her side.

She had heard her brothers arrive back an hour earlier, clattering into the courtyard and calling for Anton the head groom to come and collect their horses.. As they had noisily run up the steps to the main entrance of the palace, Sonia had been tempted to peek out of the window to see if Anton had anyone assisting him. But she had dismissed this foolishness. Tomorrow she would be betrothed, and married on New Year’s Eve. She must put all these romantic notions from her mind. However, part of her wished with all her might that she could be just a simple maid, who could dream of love and marriage with that devastatingly attractive but unobtainable man.

Her mother eventually left Sonia’s chambers having remained resolute on the upcoming marriage. But she had smiled at her daughter’s determined efforts, whilst reminding her that she had a royal duty to obey her father. Hanging on the front of the door to Sonia’s dressing room was a very beautiful pale blue dress. The ball gown was edged with matching satin and violet flowers draped across one shoulder down to the slender waist. However, even this sensational garment did little to lift her mood as she contemplated how tomorrow would change her life forever.

Early the next evening the guests for the Christmas ball began to arrive in their carriages. Whilst waiting to dress, Sonia kept watch from the window hoping to catch sight of the groom as the horses were led away. Her maid assisted her into her ball gown, and gently tucked in an odd strand of jet black hair which had drifted from the elaborate upswept style. Sonia stood in front of her full length mirror and despite appreciating that she looked every inch a princess, she felt coldness deep in her heart. She had to face the fact that she would never know the kind of love that other girls were privileged to receive. Her father had won, and very soon she would be leaving the palace and going to a strange land, far away from those who had loved and protected her until this moment.

Sonia carefully descended the red carpet of the curved staircase, eyeing the clusters of guests in an attempt to identify the man she was going to be spending the rest of her life with. Most were known to her, and as she moved between them they smiled and bowed. She saw that her father was at the end of the throne room with her mother, three brothers and a tall stranger with his back to the room.

Her father looked up and saw her, beckoning her over and touching the stranger on his shoulder. As Sonia reached the group, the elegantly dressed man turned and she looked into startling blue eyes. She gasped as she recognised the shaggy blonde hair and the broad shoulders, blushing to the roots of her hair.

‘Your Highness, may I introduce my daughter, Princess Sonia.’

Her father took her right hand and placed it into the large palm of the man in front of her.

‘Sonia meet your betrothed, Prince Aleksander of Pokova.’

Breathlessly Sonia looked down at his broad and sun-tanned hand.

A deep voice broke into her scattered thoughts. ‘I believe we have glimpsed each other before Princess.’

She looked up into his smiling face and her lips trembled as she fumbled for a response.

Sensing her discomfort, Prince Aleksander continued, ‘ I was working with Kyros yesterday when you noticed us. He is my betrothal present to you and I hope you will ride him back to Pokova with me after our wedding.’

Sonia’s beaming smile and gentle squeeze of his hand gave him his answer, and as he led her off to the dance floor for their first waltz, she heard her father behind her.
‘Somebody get me a brandy… A very large brandy’.

©Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 07, 2021 Mae Clair rated it five stars

This is an entertaining collection of short stories with several poems scattered throughout. The book is grouped into topics such as Technology, Animal Magic, and Connections (to name a few) with stories and poems related to their header topics appearing underneath. It’s cleverly presented and cleverly written. All of the stories are winners but there were some that really stood out for me, including The Weekly Shopping, The Nanny, The Scratch Card, and The Night Shift.

In The Weekly Shopping we get a taste of what ordering groceries might be like with when we come to rely too much on technology. It’s both hilariously funny and worrisome at the same time. I loved the argument related to the cat!

In The Nanny, a young couple discover who is watching over their baby at night. The Scratch Card left me with a lump in my throat at the generosity of others, and The Night Shift made me appreciate the special love pets have for their owners and the kindness of those who appreciate that bond.

These stories are heartwarming and touching, with scattered poetry further enriching the sections. A lovely collection and a quick read, the stories will lodge in your heart and linger.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

Before I could say I was not that kind of girl……..A Fairy Story


sally wedding day 1980

Once upon a time there was a red-headed girl who was assistant manager in a hotel in a small hamlet in Mid-Wales.  Bontddu ( the dd is th in Welsh and the u is ee so pronounced Bontthee) I mention this as my mother insisted on telling everyone that Sally was working in a hotel in Bonteedudu!

I had been there for 18 months and to be honest the little time I had between shifts was spent either sleeping or walking (I had no car) to the two towns equal distance 5 miles each way. Dolgellau and Barmouth a delightful seaside resort with a long sandy beach.

I had been married before for seven years and that had foundered around the four year mark but dragged on for another three (I must have broken a mirror). I was quite determined that I was never getting married again after this experience and I still wore a wedding ring to deter any possible overtures I might have been lucky enough to receive.

On one sunny Snowdonia morning (rare at certain times of the year) I intercepted a phone call in reception from someone wishing to book two rooms for two weeks.  I will admit that I was quite taken with the soft Irish man’s voice on the other end of the phone and having reserved the two rooms I put the receiver down and turned to one of the receptionists and uttered the famous last words ” He sounds rather nice, I think I’ll marry him!”  Much hilarity ensued and a week went by.

On the day of the reservation I had been off for a few hours and returned to assume restaurant management duties.  In those days it was long dresses in the evening and guests were formally accompanied to their tables.  It was not long before I identified the Irish accent as Room 40.  Tall, dark haired and very handsome, a veritable Prince Charming.  To be honest I was all of a twitter (not the 140 character kind) and during the course of my duties I enquired of room 40 if he had been given sufficient crackling….

To cut a short story even shorter.  I arranged a number of meetings and dinners for Room 40 and two weeks went by without so much of flicker of interest from said resident.  If not for the opportune intervention of a couple who were regular guests at the hotel it may well have remained a disappointing encounter.

They enquired, obviously in earshot of Room 40, if my divorce had been finalised.  I replied that I had received that particular gift on my birthday back in February and that I was officially free again.  Well, talk about Speedy Gonzalez…. before I could say I was not that kind of girl, the next day I was taken out on my day off for lunch, treated to a Chinese Takeaway when I got off duty that night and presented with a Celtic pendant for all my assistance..

There must have been more than MSG in the Chinese because I suddenly heard the words “I think there is only one thing for us to do, will you marry me”

I think my flabber must have been well and truly gasted because before I could laugh at this insane proposal, on our first date, barely past first name terms, I said yes.

That was 29th September 1980, 13 days after his arrival at the hotel and into my life. And forget the long engagement.  He found us a flat in Dolgellau, posted the bans at the local registry office and 34 years ago tomorrow, we were married on a wild and blustery Welsh morning.  Even more shocked than the bride where her parents, the groom’s parents and my boss.

After the proposal David left to get the flat organised whilst I went into the hotel for the normal busy Saturday.  My boss was enjoying his morning coffee with the local paper when I announced casually I was getting married… “Who the hell to”…was the response and mine ” Room 40″

sally wedding day 1980

We have travelled the world together, lived in 17 homes both temporary and permanent, worked side by side and on occasion in separate countries.  We have had our moments but they have been brief and usually down to me being a bit of a handful! We are best friends and have shared laughter, loss and humour and somewhere I believe there is a very smug fairy godmother….

Tomorrow we will be spending the day together with some good wine, good food and very happy memories.

In case you might feel deprived at the end of the Saturday Reblog, please feel free to dip in to the posts from the week and you will also see if you pop into the archives that I have been reblogging regular favourites and new finds daily.

Sunday David M Prosser joins me in the Sunday Show for the first in the new series.. What does the world need now…Please pop in.

My thanks to Mihran Kalaydjian for his wonderful interview last Sunday.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/the-sunday-show-mihran-kalaydjian-contemporary-solo-pianist-composer/

The Afternoon Videos

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/the-afternoon-video-dance-of-the-bath-towels-pg-almost/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/the-afternoon-video-i-have-fallen-in-love-but-where-do-i-put-them/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/the-afternoon-video-it-is-not-polite-to-steal-food/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/the-afternoon-video-if-you-want-to-avoid-colds-cut-out-the-kissing/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/the-afternoon-video-sitting-pretty-in-anything-they-want-cats/

Daily Posts.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/buy-music-for-christmas-egokillers-52-singles-in-a-year-for-charity/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/buy-a-book-cover-for-christmas-mishi-bellamy-artist-and-illustrator/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/buy-art-and-design-for-christmas-sonja-ter-heijden-fine-art-holland/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/change-a-love-hate-relationship-part-one-physical-change/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/on-the-subject-of-change-a-couple-to-the-blog/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/winterise-your-body-echinacea-tis-the-season-for-germs-to-get-pally/