The Dragon’s Choice – Chapter 12 Excerpt

The long line of suffragettes marched almost in step, north from Number 14, Crown Street, around St. Admeta Park, and then west on Avenue Royal to a final rally in front of Sinceree Palace. For the most part, they wore frilly white day dresses, almost all without a bustle, and each had a green and yellow sash slung from their right shoulders to their left hips imprinted with “Votes for Women.”

King Tybalt III of Greater Brechalon and Freedonia peeked out the window from behind the curtains. His two sons were in the room behind him, Crown Prince Tybalt leaning on the empty fireplace, a glass of wine in his hand, and Prince Clitus sitting in a chair sipping from a cup of tea.

“What do these women want?” wondered the King.

“That would be the vote, Father,” said the Crown Prince.

“Why can’t they understand that the vote is for families? A man votes not only for himself, but for his wife and children too.”

“By that logic, Father,” said Tybalt, “ widows at least, should have the vote for them and their children.”

“Here, here,” said his younger brother.

“You think women should have the vote?” the King demanded of his eldest.

“Why would I possibly care? It’s not like anyone votes for King. Let Parliament worry about who votes and who doesn’t. I was simply saying that your argument against women’s suffrage wasn’t logical.”

“Well I’m all for giving women the vote,” said Clitus. “What’s more, I’m going out there and show them my support.”

“You will not,” said the King.

“I shall.” The Prince looked to the doorway. “Bob!”

Bob leaned into the room. “Your Highness?”

“See if you can get me one of those sashes.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“I forbid you to go out among those crazed females,” said the King, sternly. “You’ve only just recovered from a very foolish escapade into a burning building.”

“That was ages ago and I’m fine. Besides, those women hardly seem like a dangerous mob. If anything, they could teach our soldiers a bit about marching in parade.”

Bob arrived in a remarkably short time with a copy of the green and yellow sash. Prince Clitus carefully draped it over his white naval uniform.

“I’m going out, Father, and I think you should both come with me.”

“I’m going to take a nap,” said Prince Tybalt, setting his wineglass on the mantle and striding out.

Clitus turned and exited the room too, marching down the long corridor to the main staircase. Bob, Stigby the police officer, and Wizard Bassington all fell into formation behind him. Skipping down the steps, he burst out the front door. Two uniformed marine guards fell in behind him. The sounds of women shouting through megaphones slowly died away as he made his way to the great gate, until it was deathly silent as he signaled for the gate to be opened. Then he stepped through.

As he waded into the crowd of women, hands reached out to touch him on his shoulder or arm. One tousled his hair and a few became familiar enough that Stigby barked “Now, now, ladies!” The silence died away as female voices called out “The Prince is with us!” and “He’s our sash on!” and finally “We knew you were all right, Your Highness!” Clitus stepped up onto a soapbox, replacing one of the speakers, who gave over her megaphone. He brought the cone-shaped speaking device to his mouth, but before he could say a word, someone in the crowd shouted.

“The King! The King!”

Several women pointed. Clitus turned and looked, as did the rest of the crowd. There upon the second floor balcony, a yellow and green sash across his chest, and what his son recognized as a forced smile on his face, waving, was the king. Shouts of “The King is with us!” and “The King is a suffragist!” gradually coalesced into several choruses of God Save the King.

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