Once upon a time, there was a beautiful maiden named Amadea. She had long, flowing hair that glinted and shimmered like gold, and the loveliest voice in the whole kingdom. When she sang even the birds and the flowers strained to listen.

Now it happened that when Amadea went to take a stroll out in the forest one day, the Prince of the country was riding nearby. As soon as he heard her beautiful singing voice (for she had not yet seen him), he thought to himself, I must be in love! The Prince quickly found her and announced his love to her. Although startled, Amadea was very flattered and decided that she must love him too; After all,  she told herself, it is impossible for a prince to fall in love with one who does not love him back, as any sensible person knows. They talked for a long time, and parted just after noon, when the sun shone high above, brightening the whole world with its beams. The prince promised to return once he had informed the king and made everything ready, while Amadea promised to meet him in the clearing where they had first met in a week’s time, after informing her own family, of course.

 

Amadea rushed home, very excited. She at once told her mother, who was just as excited as she and very happy for her. Then she rushed out of the little cottage to tell her friend, David. They had been good friends since childhood, and with no siblings she found it fitting that he be the first of any non-relation to know. She found him near the river, fishing, and she told him eagerly. He smiled and encouraged her.

“But . . . Prince Meridian!” she exclaimed. “Coming to our little village, way out here? Who would think it?”

“It is certainly incredible,” agreed David.

“And yet it is credible – completely!” They’d all seen him at one festival or other at the capital, and she knew she had not mistaken him. She paused. “What was he doing, all the way out here?”

“Just chance, I suppose,” David sighed.

“What?”

“Huh?” he asked, starting, not realizing he had sighed. “Oh, um, nothing. I guess the fish just aren’t biting today.”

“Oh? Perhaps further downst – ”

“Yes, wonderful idea.” David broke in, getting up and gathering his fishing gear. He looked up. “Care to join me?” he asked, when Amadea remained seated, staring at the river.

“Hm?” she looked up at him. “Oh, sorry! I guess I was somewhere else.”

He grinned, then repeated, “Well? Coming?”

Amadea nodded and hurried after him around the river bend.

 

“Only two more days!” Amadea exclaimed to David one morning. Already the fifth day, she was bursting with excitement. She paused as David started humming. “What?”

“You just made me think of this song I know,” he answered.

“Oh? Could you sing it to me?”

He considered.

“Please?”

“Alright, I suppose I could sing you the first verse,”

“Only the first?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll tell you the rest someday,”

Amadea was growing very excited, for surely this must be a very special song. “Well what’s the first?”

David sang;

 

“Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

See how each shines as white as the moon?

Happy fortune is their tune,”

 

David finished singing. He also had a beautiful singing voice, Amadea couldn’t help but think. “I like that song,” she decided. “But why can’t I hear the rest?”

“I can’t tell you that,” he said secretively. “But, when you hear the last verse, you’ll know.”

“And when will that be?”

“After you hear the third verse,” he said nonchalantly.

“David!”

David laughed. “Well, you have to hear it one verse at a time, that’s how it works.” He paused. “Tell you what. I’ll sing you the second verse while you wait for your prince to come get you.”

She grinned. “Can’t wait,”

 

“Can you hear the birds above,

Can you see each little dove

They’ve all come to wish you well

They wish we didn’t have to say farewell”

 

They sat in the little clearing waiting for Amadea’s mother, who was to accompany her. The rest of the village (for they all knew each other) would be coming the next day.

“Well you know,” Amadea argued, “We’ll see each other tomorrow,”

“Yes,” David agreed, “But then it will be different.”

“What will?” she asked, confused.

He shrugged. “Everything.”

“I won’t be,” she assured him.

“But you wi– look, here’s your mother.”

Amadea, although confused, was quickly distracted and rose to greet her mother. David rose, too, wanting to say something to Amadea before they weren’t alone anymore.

“Amadea, ”

“Yes,” she turned to face him.

“Amadea, I –” he was interrupted by the sound of a procession riding nearby.

“Oh, they’re nearly here! Come on, you have to meet him,” she said excitedly, grabbing David’s arm and bringing him along with her. She stopped short. “What was it you were going to say?”

“Oh nothing,” she examined his expression, incredulous. They’d known each other for too long. “No, really,” he said, “It wasn’t important.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

“Well . . . alright. Come on, then –”

“Amadea, I’d better go home, I have some work to do.

“Why?” she asked. “Don’t you want to see him? It’ll only take a moment.”

“Well, you said yourself, I’ll see you both tomorrow. Besides,” he added, “your prince might take me the wrong way.”

“Take you the wrong – Oh! Oh, no, I don’t think he will, David.”

“Just the same.” Her face fell a little. “Don’t worry, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“. . . Alright.” He started to turn away. “David?”

“Yes?”

“Goodbye,” she said, hugging him.

He paused, surprised. Then he hugged her back. “Goodbye,”

 

Altogether, the journey had been very exciting for Amadea. David had left just moments before the first horse came into view. She had been a little surprised after she’d hugged him also, but a sudden uncertainty had come over her. After all, she was going to a new place, with new people – people, who, save one, she had never met before. Of course, she had her mother, and for that she was glad, but she thought it might have been almost childish to hug her mother, who would be coming with her, anyway. Prince Meridian had galloped over and leapt off his horse, eager to greet his bride. He’d picked her up and swung her around, making her feel as though she was lighter than air. Then he’d put her down, bowed like the price he was, and formally kissed her hand. He then greeted her mother, who was delighted by the fine young man who was to be her son-in-law. The two, mother and daughter, had ridden in a fine carriage, the prince riding back to come alongside to check on them every once in a while. When they’d finally gotten to the palace, he had helped them out, just before they were whisked away to their rooms with their bags. He apologized, saying that his father insisted that he meet with him today. True, she’d been disappointed, but then, they needed to unpack, so she and her mother followed the servants to where their room was to be till the wedding.

 

By dinner time, Amadea had not seen the prince again. He made it in time for dinner, and for that she was glad. There had been a grand feast for the Prince’s new bride, with more food than Amadea had ever seen in her life. But soon dinner was over. Meridian barely had time to apologize again and kiss her hand before he was whisked off to another meeting. He had to help his father, again. So Amadea was left to wander the castle. Soon, she came to the garden. It was beautiful and quiet. She meandered down cobblestone paths, winding through rose gardens and around fountains, thinking. One couldn’t imagine a garden more lovely.

One fountain in particular caught Amadea’s eye. Resting on top where two delicate doves, spreading their wings, sculpted as though about to take flight. David’s song instantly flashed into her mind, and she started humming it. She wondered what it meant. Before he’d left the clearing, he had promised to tell her the next verse when he saw her again. That would be only tomorrow! She couldn’t wait for the third verse. She already knew half the song.

 

“Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

See how each shines as white as the moon?

Happy fortune is their tune,”

 

She’d certainly had great fortune. The prince had fallen in love with her. And her with him, of course. So she’d found her true love, and he was a prince. How much happier luck could one wish for?

 

“Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

They’ve all come to wish you well,

They wish we didn’t have to say farewell,”

 

Of course, she didn’t want to leave everyone behind, especially David. Am I really leaving them all for one familiar person among scores of strangers? But then she still had her mother. And everyone would be coming tomorrow. This farewell would not be permanent.

 

In the morning, Amadea rose excitedly. She was still a stranger to palace life, and found it very strange and hard to manage when the servants tried to help her dress and fix her hair. Finally, she allowed them to do whatever they wished with her hair after she had gotten dressed herself, as a compromise.

It was still yet early, so she waited in the garden by Dove’s Fountain, as she called it, until she could hear the sound of galloping hooves. She hurried to the front gates to greet them. She quickly found David, but then stopped short, feeling awkward and embarrassed over the last time they’d seen each other, when she’d hugged him. Oh for goodness sake, Amadea!  She said to herself. It’s David. Stop being silly. She rushed up to him. She tried to ask how the ride was, and other things she figured that it was polite and right to ask. Finally, once she could think of nothing else to say, she asked David about what she really wanted to know. His song.

“Wait a little,” he said, which she took as a promise. She figured there’d be no arguing with him, so she agreed to talk about other things. Soon, though, the servants came to show the guests to their rooms, and she was left alone again.

 

“Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

No, you can’t, your eyes are blind,

Someday they will open your mind.”

 

That night’s dinner was less grand than the last, but magnificent nonetheless. She sat with the prince again, and once again he was gone almost before the servants started clearing the table. Amadea went out into the gardens with David, and persuaded him to sing her the third verse.

“Well, what do you mean my eyes remind you of a blind person’s?” she asked.

He winced, as though he’d expected a question of that type. “It’s just an expression –”

“But you do mean that there’s something I’m not understanding.”

“Well,” he couldn’t decide just how to answer. “Yes…”

“Then what is it?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“What do you mean you can’t tell me? Don’t you want me to understand you?”

“Yes, but, well, I just can’t. You’ll understand when you he –”

“I know, I know, when I hear the last verse. Well, how about now?”

“Um, now?”

“There’s no time like the present.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes you can.”

“Well, I won’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I ca – I won’t now. Later, I will. I promise.”

“When? The wedding’s tomorrow at sunrise, and then you’ll all be leaving for home without me! We won’t even be able to talk alone again!”

“I know that!” he said, keeping his voice low. Somehow, though, Amadea could tell that if they’d been back at home, by the river, he might have been yelling, or near to it. “Don’t you see I’ve been trying to figure this whole thing out?”

“It’s just a song. You needn’t to get so excited about it.”

“No, it’s not. You’ll see when – ”

“I know, I know, the last – wait, did you say, ‘this whole thing,’? What whole thing?”

David’s eyes widened, as though he hadn’t realized what he’d said. “I, uh, I – ” he paused, trying to collect his thoughts. He looked about to say something, but then  he only took a breath and said, “Nothing.” He stood up to leave, but then turned.

“Amadea, can I ask you something?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Do you love him?”

She blinked. “What?”

“Do you love him?”

“He loves me . . .”

“That’s not what I asked,” he said. He turned and left, not giving her a chance to give him a real answer.

She sat there, stunned. She hadn’t been expecting that question.

 

After all, it is impossible for a prince to fall in love with one who does not love him back, as any sensible person knows.

Her own thoughts from nearly a week ago came back at her. Is it really true? She wondered. She couldn’t be sure.

She could hear some servants or workers a little way off. She didn’t want to be in their way. Is it even proper for me to be out here this late? She didn’t know what was proper here from what was proper if she were a soldier going to war. She stood up, unsure. The men seemed a little louder now, perhaps they were closer? She couldn’t imagine what work they might be doing, other than last minute preparations for the wedding, possibly. It was a terribly dark, though. Her curiosity got the best of her and she turned to look. Suddenly she was grabbed from behind. She tried to scream, but a cloth was stuffed into her mouth. Her hands were pinned behind her, and she tried to struggle. She couldn’t tell how many there were, but she realized that these must have been the men she assumed were servants. Her thoughts were cut short as she tasted something strange on the cloth and her world began to fade.

 

The castle was frantic when it was discovered that the princess-to-be was missing. Everyone searched high and low, but she was nowhere to be found.

Meridian knew that his father would probably end up blaming one of the enemy kingdoms nearby for her kidnapping, and also probably accuse them of killing her also. But there was only one kingdom that could have done it, and they both knew it. Gadiam. Of course, it could have been only a team of bandits seeking a ransom, but it would have been impossible for such a group to slip onto the castle grounds unnoticed. No, the only nation that could have gotten in was Gadiam, ruled by the evil wizard, Gadus. He had used his magic to keep him alive for many centuries, and could have easily used it to get into the castle and take the prince’s bride. It was the only way anyone could have gotten past their defenses, the king was sure.

At first, Meridian had been all for galloping straight for Gadiam, not stopping until he had found the wizard and saved Amadea. After all, that’s what princes do, isn’t it? He asked himself. Of course, his father had disagreed, affirming that he’d never be able to cross the border into the kingdom without being caught, let alone rescue his bride, due to the powerful spells. What could he do? She was lost. And, really, he figured, she must not have been his true love. A prince’s true love wouldn’t be lost so easily. It is a good thing I did not marry her before I realized this, he decided. Perhaps it’s all for the best.

 

David was furious. They weren’t even trying to find her? And the prince claimed to love her only yesterday, he thought. He wished the prince was with him right now so he could knock some sense into him. Didn’t they realize that anything could be happening to her while they delayed and tried to figure out what was the diplomatically correct way to go about this? She could be hurt, injured, starving, or even dying. And the prince, who claimed to care about her, was sitting back and doing nothing? Probably looking for a new “true love,” David thought bitterly.

He couldn’t just sit here. He had to find her before it was too late.

 

David was able to track them to the forest. He was a day behind them, but he’d make up for it, he was sure. At first, he had to remind himself that he had no way of knowing whether it was them or just some harmless peasants, but at their forest camp he found ropes left behind at the base of a tree, and a girl’s footprints. He was certain that Amadea had been there.

He traveled as fast as he could, and tried not to sleep too long. He had to catch up. He couldn’t let anything happen to her.

Finally, he came to an old, crumbling castle that must have been used for a king many generations ago. He could see the faint outline of smoke from a campfire rising into the air and could hear horses whinnying distantly, probably from around back. He’d found them, he was sure of it.

“I’m coming, Amadea,” he whispered. “Hold on.”

 

Amadea was scared. The wedding should have been two or three days ago. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been out. Surely they’d noticed she was gone. Of course they would have! How can you have a wedding without the bride? she asked herself. The prince would be coming for her. Soon. But why hasn’t he found me yet? The group that had kidnapped her had camped at the first site for almost a day. If Meridian had left as soon as she was discovered missing, he would have found her by now. Did that mean that something had happened to him? She hoped not. Which again drudged up the question; Why hasn’t he found me yet?

She sat in a small room at the top of a tower, in the very middle of the crumbling structure. Even if Meridian did find her, she wasn’t sure how he would ever get her out. The men that had kidnapped her had all been dressed as guards, which she figured was the way they had gotten in. They were all camped out in the entry hall of the castle, guarding the stairway. And climbing the outside of the tower would be suicide. She was afraid to just touch the walls, lest they might come tumbling down around her.

I mustn’t give up hope, she told herself. I’m sure Meridian will come for me.

The tower had one window, and she looked out of it now. It was better than staring at the wall all day. Two doves flitted past, gliding along in the breeze, chirping happily.

 

Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

See how each shines as white as the moon?

Happy fortune is their tune,

 

Can you hear the birds above,

Can you see each little dove

They’ve all come to wish you well

They wish we didn’t have to say farewell

 

Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

No, you can’t, your eyes are blind

Someday they will open your mind,”

 

The song came unbidden into her mind. She sunk to the floor crying. Meridian doesn’t care about me. His father could easily tell him that the wedding is next month, and he would never notice I was gone. Who talked to me, who was with me all day when the prince should have been?

In those few moments, she realized why she missed David so much, why, if she thought about it, she trusted David more than Meridian, and why every time she tried to picture herself being rescued, she saw David’s face, and not her fiancé’s. How must it have felt, she realized, for her to go on and on about the wedding in front of him?

Surely David, if anyone, noticed I was gone. Surely he’ll come for me. But what if he already left, before the wedding? What if he didn’t want to stick around to see me marry someone else?

I love him.

She stopped, suddenly terrified. What if he doesn’t love me? She’d been mistaken in the case of true love before. But somehow this was different. She couldn’t explain it, but it was. She was more sure of it. She knew she loved him. But, now she figured it was quite possible that he didn’t love her. Everything she’d thought about love had been turned on its end. She suddenly found herself wishing she knew that last verse. Why, she didn’t know. But she needed to know it. David had told her it was important, so it was.

I might never see David again, she reminded herself, hugging her knees to her chest in the cold. She knew very well that there was a good chance that the men might kill David before she even got to see him, if he did find them. She couldn’t bear to see him dead.

If I hadn’t been stupid enough to agree to marry someone who I did not love and who did not love me, then I’d be with David right now, and we’d both be safe.

 

That night, Amadea sat in the middle of the stairwell of the tower, near a hole in the wall, trying to get any amount of warmth from the fire the men were sleeping around. Two of the men were still awake, talking.

“You’re sure they won’t find us?” said the one in a gruff voice.

“Of course,” the other answered. “They’re all too proud to even suspect any of their own might be fakes and traitors. The king will assume it’s one of the other nations. And of course, they’re too proud to think that anything short of a master sorcerer would be able to get past their soldiers. He and his son will go down to their graves still thinking that this whole thing was all because of that old wizard.”

“But mightn’t they track us still, thinking we’re the wizard?”

“No! They’re too afraid of the man to do anything about him kidnapping their precious princess. And they’ll never think of double-crossing him while handing over the ransom, or chasing after him when he kills the girl. We’re as good as gold.” If they hadn’t left the gag on over her mouth, she was sure she would have gasped and been taken back to the cold tower room where they thought she was now.

Soon the first one was off to sleep. The second seemed to be keeping watch, despite his own self-assurance. At least I know something now, she thought grimly. Even if they are going to kill me, at least I know that I need to get away. They won’t kill me until they get their ransom. But how will I get out? Her hands were still bound behind her back, so she’d never be able to climb down the outside of the tower, even if she’d been stupid enough to want to. And there was no way she’d make it past all of the fake soldiers, let alone get the door at the bottom of the stairwell unlocked.

Suddenly there was a sound at the door. The man standing guard slowly got up, drew his sword, crossed to the other side of the room and cracked the door open. He looked confused and lowered his sword, saying something that Amadea couldn’t catch to whoever was outside the door, who made a barely audible reply. Suddenly, she saw a blur above the man’s head and he crumpled to the floor. Amadea looked around quickly. No one had yet noticed, but she still had yet to decide whether what had happened was good or bad.

The door started to creak further open. Amadea pressed herself closer to the wall, hoping she wouldn’t be visible to the newcomer. A form closed the door shut. Amadea squinted. It looked like another man, but she couldn’t tell much else in the dark. He started moving around, looking as though he was trying to find something.

Then he whispered, “Amadea?” Amadea’s eyes widened. She knew that voice! “Amadea?” he whispered again, a little louder.

She started to whisper, “David!” back to him, almost forgetting that she still had the gag in her mouth. She tried to bang on the staircase to make noise, but when that didn’t work tried to get whatever sound she could through the cloth, hoping it wouldn’t be loud enough to wake the men. It came out more as mumbling, but David heard her and quickly rushed over to the door to the stairwell. It was still locked. He turned around and went back to the man he had knocked out and found the keys tucked on to his belt. David quickly grabbed them, then, as an afterthought, took the man’s sword out of its sheath. He hurried back over to the door, unlocked it, and quietly opened it. Amadea prayed the whole time that it did not creak.

Finally, he got inside, and Amadea almost cried with relief. He quickly crept up the stairs and found her sitting in the moonlight that barely lit the area in front of the hole in the wall. He quickly removed her gag and untied her bonds, and she threw her arms around his neck. This time he hugged her back without hesitation. You know, it’s not so awkward this time, she thought to herself with a smile.

He helped her down the stairs, as her legs were a little shaky from not walking for a couple days, and they slipped out the door. They ran all the way past the edge of the forest, not risking talking until they had made it into the relative safety and stopped underneath a spreading chestnut tree. Then he finally sang her that last verse:

 

“Can you hear the birds above?

Can you see each little dove?

Know you the secret of the dove?

You alone are the one I love.”

 

They safely got away,  later went on to get married, and lived happily ever after.

The End.

 

 

 

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

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3 thoughts on “The Dove’s Song

  • May 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm
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    Okay, so may be it is sad that this is my idea of a “short” story. Be glad its not longer. ;)

  • April 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm
    Permalink

    Okay, so this is a VERY belated comment ^_^ But anyway, I liked this story – the idea of it was very sweet! :) Unfortunately I can’t give edits right now; I need to be getting along. But just wanted to say that, while this needs some editorial work, I liked the simple sweetness of the story :)

  • April 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm
    Permalink

    “I need to be getting along” sounds weird. Haha. In other words, I need to go for now :P Yeeeeah you probably got that :)

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