Your memory is my keepsake, with which we'll never part, God has you in His Keeping, I have you in my
Jake had never been to the castle, afterall a miller's son rarely had the need or the funds to travel. It took almost three hours for Jake and James to reach the kingdom from the village, in a donkey carriage, so it was definitely not somewhere he'd travel often, besides at his station, he was likely to feel very un-welcomed and out of place there, even if the king was kind, he was a king, and as James never failed to remind him, he was a stable boy. The two never crossed path, or at least they wouldn't notice if they did. Which was why, he wasn't too surprised that James left him alone in the courtyard, while he gave his greetings to the King after Jake carried everything into the King's royal pantry. Even the servants realized that their rank in society was higher than him, as a lowly stable boy, from a village miles away. There were however one or two looks from young servant girls who giggled and made comments about how he was handsome, he tried to ignore those, although he'd admit they had a much less vulgar way of doing it than the village girls he was use to which he found a bit more flattering, although they still didn't quite catch his attention, as he hoped a woman one day would.
Jake sighed as he leaned up against a tree now finally done lifting, all he had to do now was wait for Mr. Hordy to return, too bad he was taking his good cool time, he thought, with that in mind he had hidden under a tree for shade. It stood tall and proud right next to what looked like a garden, a very big, extravagant garden. He wasn't there for a few minutes before he heard a beautiful sound, and his curiousity got the best of him as he turned to see what was going on. Just over the hedges there was laughter, it sounded like children and someone a bit older was also talking. His heart rate picked up and he found himself sliding pass the hedge to peep pass and in a little circle surrounded by roses and flowers was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, bending over to talk to over four children around 3-6 years old.
Jake never felt the wind get knocked out of him as fast as it did then, and boy did it, when that heaven sent sound came again, and he was only dimly aware it was the woman laughing. There was no way he could stop the smile that spread across his face at the sight, she was wearing a long blue dress, simple yet it seemed more elegant than gowns he'd seen in tailor shops, her hair was a long, flowing black with waves, and momentarily he wished he could reach out and touch it, as it cascaded in her face. She was beautiful, he told himself, completely mesmerized, a silly smile still on his face.
One of the children stopped laughing, and their eyes fell to him, his eyes widened slightly especially when the girl who had been backing him noticed the child's expression and turned also. Jake moved before he even thought about it, and had swung himself behind the hedge out of her view in seconds, he wasn't sure she saw him, although if she did he was sure he looked like a stalker, he groaned inwardly, just great, the one girl that he was interested in, and in seconds he made a fool of himself. He heard the soft sound of a footsteps getting closer, she wasn't coming towards him was she? he felt fear grabbing him, if he felt so embarrassed after seeing her just once how would he survive a second time. If only he was a smooth talker like his brother, he inwardly cursed himself for not flirting with girls even if he had no interest in them.
"Princess Elena! Princess Elena, the king requires your presence," a polite yet elegant voice called, as it too came closer. Jake's heart which had magically started before stopped again, princess? Was she the princess of this castle?
"Okay, Veronica," the musical reply came, her footsteps seemed to grow distant, along with the sound of smaller feet. It seems like they left, he thought, after a period of silence that seemed to last forever,
"STABLE BOY!" James gruff call came, Jake's eyes flicked back to the space where he had seen the young woman, Princess Elena...and another small smile crossed his lips, with a princess that beautiful, I'd gladly do anything for her, he couldn't help thinking.
It took another three hours to get back to the village on donkey, by the time Jake got home it was nightfall, and he was tired. Mr. Hordy had explained along the way that the ball was actually for the Princess to find a husband and somehow that news drained him even more. He pushed open the door to the mill house he lived in and walked in, it was quiet, Jason was probably out, he deemed, but at this time Jackson would usually be back since he spent last night out gambling, tonight would be his night home.
"Jackson?" Jake called, no response, it was silent, almost too silent. Jake closed back the door, and walked further in, there was no response, "Puss?" he called out, then stopped, why was he calling for his cat? However, Puss showed up, his eyes focused on him, almost remorseful. "Hey, Puss, where is everyone?" Jake questioned crouching down to scratch the cat's head. Puss looked up with those eyes again, and nudged his hand away gently, too gently, and started to walk away, Jake frowned, following him, he knew him well. That was his way of getting Jake to follow, so he complied, going up the winding stairs that went up the mill, half aware that it lead to his father's room. As he got closer the muffled sound grew louder, and Jake's dread grew as well, until Puss jumped the last two stairs and stopped in front of his father's door.
Jake hesitated, but then went for the knob pushing it open to reveal his two brothers staring blankly at the bed. Jason was kneeling on the ground with his head hung low, while Jackson stared off at the bed where their father laid. Their father, Jake's eyes turned to him, as he laid motionless, his eyes closed...it took him less than a second to realize he wasn't breathing. Jake felt his chest tighten...while he was gone, his father...He felt his legs felt weak and he fell to his knees, as he also stared at his father's deceased body in silence. The three didn't have to talk, but there was an unspoken understanding between them...father was the one thing that they could agree they loved, and despite they practically never got along, now, silently together they would mourn him.
Life doesn't stop when someone dies, even if you want it to, and so despite his loss Jake had to continue working after getting a day off for the family to mourn since that was all the time he could afford, on that day the brothers buried their father and found the will that their father left them since he too was aware they didn't really get along. He really didn't want to leave the inheritance to chance.
"And so, your father had three possessions," the village's leader told them, it was customary that the village leader would assist in splitting inheritance when someone died, by reading their last will and testament, so they all sat in the mill's living room waiting to hear what their poor father could have left them.
My children, as you all know, I love you all dearly...and though I am soon to die, I am very poor. I have but three possessions, of which I'll split between you three.
The three men listened silently as the leader read through the note slowly ensuring that everything was understood.
The first is the mill, as the eldest, Jackson, I leave this to you, I hope you don't gamble it away.
Jackson tensed at his father's 'joke' or perhaps foreboding.
The second is my donkey, it can be used to pick up hay and perhaps my son, you'll get a job, Jason, I leave this to you.
Jason stiffened in his seat.
And finally my last possession, although in recent years already seems to be yours, is Puss, may you take care of the dear cat, Jake, I leave him to you. He's a cunning cat, and I wish you two the best.
"This is what his last will and testament is," the village leader announced, after the brief reading. Jake's mouth was hanging open, he knew his father was poor, he didn't expect nor did he care about his inheritance, but it was too surprising to be given the cat that for most of 3 years, he had already been treating as his own, as an inheritance. Jackson and Jason also seemed to be pretty preturbed by the inheritance they received, and silence again hung in the air, as they all pondered what should happen now.
"You can still live in the mill if you want," Jackson put in, after a few minutes. It was clear Jake would have been in dire need of a place if his only possession was now his clothes and a cat, " I'll charge you a minimum fee for rent," he added, Jake narrowed his eyes briefly at his brother. He had expected that, the moment he heard his brother would inherit the mill, nevertheless his still greater fear was that Jackson would gamble it away in one of his drunk stupors...leaving Jake homeless. His life just kept getting worse, he realized.
"Hmph," Jason sounded, "Well, I'd rather not live here, since Father has passed, I've no reason to come back," he concluded.
'Yes, two living brothers has never been much of a reason has it,' Jake thought sarcastically, as Jason stood up and gave them the briefest nods. Jake wouldn't have been surprise if that was to be his final words before he left them for good.
"I'll take my donkey, and travel the world," Jason explained putting his hand in his pocket. Jake regarded him with tired eyes, now that their father was gone, their 'family' was not likely to be far behind, Jake deduced, and here all he had was a cat...Jake couldn't help but laugh at the irony, as Puss sauntered through the doorway. Jason and Jackson seemed to stop pondering what ever they had been to watch the feline wearily as he walked through the room, before they also turned to leave anxious to be away from Puss. The village leader gave his regards and also left the house as well, leaving behind Jake alone. He sighed, leave me the cat? he thought sarcastically, like either of the other two would have taken him? Maybe I should just commit suicide and end this pitiful existence I call my life, Jake pondered.
He got up and made his way to the kitchen, his mind preoccupied with more thoughts than he had in years, the death of his father, the chance of being homeless soon, the fact he was given his cat as an inheritance, how much poorer he really was now, since he would soon be paying rent just to live there.... but somewhere in their the beautiful angel that capture his attention and possibly his heart...who was by the way to be married, and he'd never be able to likely see again. He was seriously considering ending it all, finishing his entire life right then and there. Everything was becoming increasingly hopeless and at this point it was moving to a place where they may not even be a point of existing.
His mind was so cluttered with thoughts he was only briefly aware of the glare that Puss was giving him, but he couldn't pay attention to that now, his job was more like slave labor, it was barely enough for food for him and Puss, far less rent, not to mention if more like when Jackson did the inevitable and gambled away their only house, he wouldn't have anywhere he could buy or rent for the measly sum he'd have. As much as he love his father, he was beginning to wonder if his dad care about him at all, it was in Jake's mind only a matter of time before he and Puss died anyway. Even if he considered getting another job, what could he get? People hired based not even on knowledge, but who's your father! Even if he did read all about business, and management, there wasn't a soul who would pay him, or even try him as a manager for a store. Again his thoughts went back to the one thought they seemed to circle around, maybe I should just commit suicide and end it all...
"Would you stop worrying already?" a clipped, elegant yet authoritative voice said bursting into his erratic thoughts. Jake's eyes widened in shock and he looked down to where the voice had come from. "There, you've finally stopped frowning, you do not look good when you frown," the voice scolded him," if I have a master like you, the least you can do is look pretty," Jake blinked in disbelief, his eyes continuing to widen, not really focusing on the words that were being said to him. He could hardly believe it...Puss was talking.
The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise, not that we seize them, but that they seize us - Ashley Montagu