Anecdote of the Lioness
She almost fell completely backward but the attacker caught her and gently helped her stand up. She kicked and struggled but couldnít scream, the personís hand moved over her mouth with the other over her eyes. She bit down hard and heard a yelp of pain. The person uncovered her eyes and she spun around to face them. She continued to hit them some more, determined to get her revenge.
" Stop" they called out. She was so startled that the person spoke that she did stop.
"Why did you frighten me so? And why do you keep coming to watch me perform? And show yourself" she yelled and for some reason lost her scared emotions. She just wanted answers.
The person ripped off their hood and Ariel jumped back, surprised. "Clopin" She stayed back and crossed her hands.
"Donít sound so disgusted ma cherie" he chuckled, taking the scene they had made lightly. The brown hood laid on his shoulders and fabric covered him to below the waist. She was surprised she hadnít noticed his wiry legs and he was wearing brown shoes so there was no way to tell that way.
"Why" It was all she could think of at the moment. She couldnít believe she was attacked, and then by the mysterious man in the hood, and then the man revealing him self as none other than Clopin himself! Quite a day indeed.
"Curiosity eats at me, Ariel. And it was killing me to see you not home when I returned from my performances. I was determined to see where you were off it, and everyday at that! And so I found you. But why did you refuse to sing with me when you had no problem singing with a complete stranger? Why, Iím insulted" Arielís eyes grew wide with fury. She didnít like like arguing with him and growled, turning away and starting back toward the Court of Miracles. Clopin at her reaction, expecting something much worse, and called out after her. "You sounded beautiful" She stopped in her tracks, but soon shook off her pleased smile and continued on her way. Clopin frowned as she walked away without him arm and arm with her, a woman had refused him.
She hurried home and went into her tent. She changed into something more conservative and went to warm herself by the centre fire. A cold chill had mingled with the pleasant breeze of the summer months, autumn was approaching. Or perhaps her uneasy feeling was still due to the Ďstrangerí with their eyes on her. Despite the person underneath it was still a frightening feeling. She wrapped a blanket around herself and sipped tea she made before she left the tent. All that could be seen was her pretty little head poking out of a rich purple blanket.
A few people passed her and whispered, especially the older women. Ariel knew very well they were commenting on her as one of Clopinís women, that he had ended the relationship and she was taking it hard. Ariel wanted to scream at them all, to set the record straight. As if Isabeau had a sixth sense to know when Ariel needed kicking when she was down she appeared. In her exaggerated way she made her presence known and sat beside Ariel.
"Upset my dear" Ariel flashed her an evil glare, her violet eyes flickering with a fire she wanted to set Isabeau aflame with.
"Leave me, I donít wish to speak with you" Ariel turned back to a blank stare ahead of her and sipped her tea. Isabeau tried to act hurt but her satisfaction was almost written on her face.
"Iím hurt. Please talk to me, maybe I can help....or relate" Ariel glared again. "So youíve found out that Clopin has his prior commitments have you" Ariel put her head between her knees in an exhausted manner.
"Iím just tired, thatís all" she muttered. Isabeau smiled, now that Ariel wasnít looking.
"When I was talking to Clopin, he seemed pleased with you. Iíve never seen him in such and elated state. I must say, you do have quite a spell over that prince. Do you enjoy dancing with royalty? I hope so because when his awaited comes across the sea you will have to do some pretty fancy twirls to keep him for yourself. Heís even been faithful to you" she pouted, "I test him" Arielís head raised but Isabeau continued. "Oh, donít make a fuss, he didnít hurt your emotions in any way. I was disappointed though, I have to say" Ariel wiped water from her eyes from being tired and covered them with one hand, holding the mug in the other.
"Didnít I ask you to leave" Ariel sighed and turned away again. She didnít feel like explaining that she wasnít even thinking of Clopinís betrothal, until of course Isabeau mentioned it.
"Ariel, I was once in your position. Naieve, in love, moody, stubborn. I did not want to face the truth. It does hurt when you have to stare at it straight in the eyes" she stopped and looked at Ariel. She turned to Isabeau and gazed deep into her eyes.
"We are not having a disagreement. I am simply tired please go away" She turned around, Isabeauís words were starting to bore into her. Ariel wanted to hide in the mug she was so carelessly holding. By now the rest of her tea was cold and there was even a small puddle where some had spilled. Isabeau smiled and muttered, "Have a pleasant evening" She stood up and slowly pranced away.
Clopin briskly walked though rows of tents to look for Ariel and eventually made his way to the centre of the court. He almost missed her black curls, but the purple blanket caught his eye. He stomped over to Ariel and stood in front of her. He waited for her head to rise so he could reprimand her for storming off earlier. But he got no response and so he squatted down in front of her, their faces aligned.
"Bon soir my dear" He smiled as she looked at him. After a few moments she grinned too and giggled. He leaned forward and kissed her gently, Ariel laughed again.
"When were you going to tell me you were betrothed" She went to kiss him again for spite but he pulled back and groaned.
"You were to find out sooner or later, no" He frowned and sighed, grasping her hand. But Ariel took them out of his gentle hold. A few tears streamed down her cheeks, but she was determined to stay calm. The thought of never having Clopin had finally sunk in and truthfully, she had barely heard what Isabeau had said, she was only thinking of him.
"Why did you pretend to promise me something you could never keep? I will not be your one and only forever" She gazed in another direction to avoid his sympathetic stare. Clopin looked away soon too. Seeing her find out about his betrothal second hand was hurting her so badly it was hurting him even worse. Her eyes had lost their spark since that morning when he saw her sing.
"We can try to work with my parents, they are reasonable people..." he trailed off, sounding hopeful was hopeless.
"I think itís best if
we donít speak any more" Ariel whispered. She slowly stood up and turned
away from Clopin. He stood up immediately, he wanted to tell her to wait,
it was breaking his heart to see her in the state that she was in when
she first arrived. He made a small gesture, reaching to her but she walked
away to her tent, just as when he had surprised her in the small alley.
She didnít even run to her tent, in fact she did the exact opposite. Sluggishly
she trekked past the tents of the fellow rom. The tents became walls on
either side, a sea of fabric and ribbon. She walked into her tent and sat
by her dining table. Her journal was sitting on the corner of the table.
She dipped her pen in ink and began to write
And yet I am pushed into a state of sadness. I thought things were going so well, until promises were broken. Tomorrow is my birthday, I will not even be able to celebrate it with the man I love. he pushed me away, yet I still cannot let go. There is a type of attraction that is not easily forgotten or pushed aside. I long for me cousin, he will never betray me.
She finally stood up after what seemed like hours and ate an apple to take her mind off things. Maybe if she ate that gnawing feeling would leave, thought she knew it wouldnít.
Clopin did not even try to follow her, he knew it would be unproductive. He started walking, but instead to the tent of the King and Queen of Thunes. His father stood up from the table where they had been eating. "Son" he walking over noticing the distressed feeling on Clopinís face, "something troubling you" Clopin sat down, ready to explain.
"I would like to call off my wedding to Herlikin DuPre" Clopin knew how to defend himself, but with his father it was different. If he hesitated he wouldnít have found the courage to face his father with his original intention.
His father reacted blankly to his blunt remark. It seemed as if it took a few moments before he even remembered who Herlikin was. Harlan cocked his head and stared at Clopin. "Quite a request, son. May I ask why you ask this" Clopin swallowed the lump in his throat.
"I have fallen in love with another. This girl who is staying temporarily, Ariel Chavoix" Clopinís knuckles had turned white as he clasped his hands together waiting anxiously for his fatherís reply.
"Clopin, our family cannot have the disgrace on our record of breaking a promise we made. There was an agreement made years ago that we cannot go back on" At that moment Delilah Troufouielle walked in and went to stand next to her husband.
"What are you two talking about" Delilah had a pleasant smile on her face, which quickly faded away. Harlan replied with a stern face.
"Clopin asks that we break out engagement between him and Herlikin DuPre. Because of that new girl who sings and is staying here, Ariel" Delilah sighed, Clopin began to grow angry.
"Father, do not use such a tone as if Ariel was a concubine in the streets of Paris" His voice was firm, but his feelings firmer. He was both upset and disappointed that his parents had suddenly turned against his sweet companion for their fear of breaking an alliance.
"We will not take apart something put together so carefully. I, nor your father, will agree to this. It is important that we uphold our duties and sending a message many miles to be unsure if they would even receive it is something we wonít do. Iím sorry" Delilah stood strong and confident. She didnít want to be against her son but her opinion was not to be changed.
"I am not concerned with the friends you acquire because of my future marriage. I am in love with Ariel Chavoix" Clopin stood up in anger, trying to bring his point across, but failing. Both his parents shook their heads.
"Have you not asked this before? And we refused as well" Clopin, again reminded of his youth proposes.
"This one is different, sheís...something Iíve never seen before" A slight glimmer appeared in his eye as he thought of the girl who was, without his knowledge, discouraged that Clopin had any feelings for her.
Again they refused him. "No," Harlan sighed, "we will not consider." And that was that, but Clopin still had to have the last word.
"You are both being unreasonable! You may refuse my request but you cannot stop what I feel for our newcomer. There are something even a king cannot change!" And with that he stomped out of his parentsí tent. He threw a metal pot in frustration in his own tent. Tomorrow he would somehow make their relationship work, but he was unsure how to do so. He changed into night clothes and laid in his bed. He stared straight up, thinking of some way to be with the one he wanted.
Ariel ate and orange and then cooked some potatoes she cooked. Her stomach couldnít take much more. She almost felt as if she was going to vomit, but she had to keep herself busy by doing something. She had this sick feeling that had come over her, she became afraid something had happened. not even worrying about the dirty dishes she ate her food and changed into her chemise that she often slept in. Laying down she closed her eyes trying to think of anything but her aching stomach. Tiredness fell over her and the only thought that made her even a little bit happy was that her birthday was the next day.
Clopin barely slept a wink that night. He tied to think of convincing arguments for his parents. He laid defeated in his bed, his parents were even more stubborn then he was, he was sure they wouldnít budge with their opinions. It was almost dawn when he finally drifted off purely because his eyes couldnít stop crossing. He would only get about three hours of sleep.
Ariel awoke feeling much more refreshed, but lonely. She hadnít ended up speaking to Clopin last night as she had though, or hoped. She had to perform that day and maybe she would visit Clopin afterward. She was still cross at him for keeping such a secret from her. In her mind she would play out small scenario of her future life with Clopin. She imagined their two boys, who would often fight and would be the next king. Their daughter, who was the oldest. She kept her younger brothers in line and kept and eye on them when her parents wanted to be alone. She fantasized about her daughter as a clone of herself, those deep violet eyes, maybe a bit darker because of her fatherís black ones influence. She could sing like her mother, but was acrobatic like her father. She thought of the act her and Clopin couldíve had together. They wouldíve been unstoppable. With their voices combined the profit would be more than enough, their family could easily live comfortably.
As Ariel thought about all this she bathed and dressed. Because of the special occasion she put on a jade colored dress, it looked lovely against her romany skin. She put on the bracelet she had purchased a few days ago. Three necklaces of brass decorated her flawless neck. She applied a touch of rouge to her face a soft glow. The dress somehow brought out her yes and they were the first noticeable thing on her body. She spun around once. Her hair looked especially nice and she decided against putting anything in it. A smile crossed her face as she thought she looked like a gypsy princess. She thought of the gypsy princess she couldíve been and a few tears escaped. She wiped them away with a soft brush and forced a smile, nothing could spoil her birthday.
Clopin woke up, he was still tired but he had to perform and his idea to solve the problem had come to him while he was sleeping. He had some things to fix up first but he had a lot of confidence in the hours to come. He left his tent and saw Ariel already on her way to her daily job. He called out to her but she didnít respond, didnít even look over her shoulder. He watched her walk away up into the streets, heíd win her back later on he chuckled.
Ariel had made her way to the streets in a brisk walk, and had even picked up her pace when she heard her name called from behind her. She knew it was either Isabeau or Clopin, and she wished to speak with neither, so she had kept going.
She reached Johann, but not before receiving enough smiled and looks from enough men to last her a lifetime. It brightened up her day as she sang, gaining the largest crowd sheíd ever attracted. Her notes were perfect and for some reason there was no performance pressure on her. The audience cheered at every song that was completed. Ariel giggled to herself as she thought Clopinís crowd would be a considerably smaller size today. The profit was the best present ever. She sang her last song of the day. As the song continued she swore she saw bright purple and yellow outfit run past the back of the crowd. She shook it off and finished the song. Johann was extremely generous that day.
"Take it all. I want you to have a pleasant birthday. I had such a difficult time attracting the public, until you came along. You have been a Godsend. I am only sorry I cannot give you everything you truly deserve." his smile was genuine and her heart swelled with emotions. This had become more than a job to her, she enjoyed her time spent with Johann. At his short speech she couldnít refuse the coins he offered. She took them gratefully and placed then in her small pouch. She looked up at him and smiled shyly.
"Thank you," she uttered, a bit choked up. She continued to grin and began to walk away.
"Wait!" he called out to her and she spun around. He smiled at her and beckoned her back. "I almost forgot, I have a gift for you." Ariel walked back, hesitantly in small steps. Johann pulled up a covered object and handed it to her. She slowly pulled up the cover off what was a cage and giggled. Sitting on a small perch sat a lavender colored bird. It looked up at Ariel and began to sing. She clicked and whistled at her. She switched her attention back to Johann and embraced him tightly. If she was choked up before she was now completely speechless. It was a beautiful bird whoís origins were unknown to her. She decided sheíd name is later. "Sheís gorgeous Johann, thank you, of thank you!" She hugged him again and he patted her on the back gently. "A demain mon ami." She skipped away toward the Court of Miracles.
All the way she clicked and cooed at her new companion. It amazed her how a creature could have such a beautiful color. She felt as if she was missing something if she wasnít smiling on the way home. She entered the Court to be greeted by its rich tapestries and bright colors.
She still doesnít know how he did it. She reached her tent to find it pitch black. She felt around for her table so she could set down her new pet. At one moment the tent seemed to glow like the sun. Ariel spun around quickly to a room filled of incense, flowers, and love. Clopin approached from behind some shelves and he took her in his arms. His kissed her with passion and she clung to him tightly, she inhaled his sweet smell.
They parted and Clopin broke the silence. "Happy birthday my lioness. I must apologize for my unoriginality, but I enjoyed this so much when given to me as a surprise I thought you wouldnít mind a bit of deja vu," he divulged as he held her close, smelling her hair and feeling her against him. He pushed her away a little and shook his head slightly. "My, you look beautiful, Ariel. I never knew you could outdo yourself, but you have succeeded in proving me wrong."
"This is wonderful Clopin, I really donít know what to say. You are treating me as only royalty should be treated." She made her way to her small cooking area and took out wine glasses. She poured them each a glass and they stood facing each other.
"I toast to you, Ariel Chavoix." They clicked glasses and sipped. Ariel was still taking in her surroundings, it was heavenly. Clopin set his glass down and pulled out a small box and handed it to her slowly. She opened it to find a small golden chain with a circle and an amethyst in the middle of it.
She laughed softly, "Purple certainly is la colour de jour. By my love, why a circle? Does a heart not go in its place?" He grinned, it showed knowledge of something he couldnít wait to share.
"My dear, heartís are often broken, but circleís can never be, for they have no end and live on forever." She looked up at him with tears brimming her eyes. He was so good to her, she thought she hardly deserved who gave her such high-class treatment. Yet Clopin couldnít think of any other way to treat her. She put on the necklace and they both sat, sipping their wine. They held hands in a quiet dignity and she sighed as she felt at peace with herself and her company.
"Clopin, I must thank you again," she paused to kiss him and grasp his hand gently, "in my life, I have never received such a gift as I have from you. Your hospitality, your....love has meant everything to me." She wanted, and planned, on continuing, but Clopin went on before she had the chance.
"Ariel, I suppose I had tell you now. I hope I do not ruin you evening." He had set his glass down and was avoiding eye contact. He cleared his throat and looked deeply into her eyes. "My parents refuse to call of my betrothal, Iím afraid of where you will go once my fiancÃ©e arrives. I believe itís best if you leave soon. But, I have also come up with an idea. Suppose you hide out, I could visit you, we could set up times and meet...." Clopin gave a few more of his supporting arguments behind it but Ariel wasnít listening anymore. Tears trickled down her face and splashed into her wine. Clopin stopped mid-sentence when he noticed. "My dear, please donít. I want to be with as long as I live, but I cannot fight premade choices." She stopped crying and looked up, squeezing his hand.
"Come with me." It came out just above a whisper.
"What?" Clopin looked quite confused. "But by what do you mean mademoiselle?" A smiled crossed her face and a possessive spirit seemed to stir from within her fiery eyes.
"Letís run away! You can accompany me. We could be together, put on an act somewhere. Come with me Clopin. This is your chance to be with me, I love you Clopin." her eyes changed from scheming to pleading.
"I cannot leave this place, I am future king, and I love my parents. Thatís unthinkable." He crossed his arms defiantly, only he wish the opposite. He so wanted to leave with her, she made him happy. "But what would we do?"
"Weíd perform together, ride with your court!"
"Where would we wash?"
"There are plenty of rivers!"
"How would we communicate with my family and our friends?"
"We could come in disguise and use your wit and intelligence to figure something out."
"And where would we stay?"
"It doesnít matter, we would be together!" his last desperate attempt had failed. She had an answer to everything he tried. There was a long pause. Clopin thought about everything she said. He was in love with her, how his life would be complete if she had to leave, whether now or when her cousin arrived. Only in one chance would he be able to get out with her.
"All right," he agreed, finally bringing his eyes to meet hers. She swallowed hard, almost choking. "Ariel you are to pack your things, I want to start to bring mine over here. We will bring out necessities to my cart in generous portions. I doubt we will be noticed. We shall leave tonight!" He began to walk out of her tent but she walked up to him.
"You are the best birthday present I couldíve received." She smirked and kissed him. He smiled and left, thinking how the life of running away from gypsy scouts, having to resettle and probably always moving around, the possibility of having to leave his beloved city of Paris was all worth it. He walked briskly to his tent, "I must be out of my mind."
Ariel hummed to herself as she placed a few important item in a pile. She walked over to her beautiful new addition to her soon to be vacant room. The small bird sat on her perch, eyes shut and silent. She smiled, her song bird would be the last taken from the court, she wouldnít want it alone in Clopinís cart out on the streets. She picked out her finest garments and began to casually walk toward the exit of the Court. She looked down, fingering through the fabrics. She clumsily strode right into someone. All her clothes were scattered on the ground. She scampered around, picking them up, but the towering figure stood planted to the spot.
"Oh, Iím terribly sorry! Please excuse me..." her voice trailed off as her head rose. "Oh no," she whispered.