Can You Hear the Bells?

Chapter 1

When You Wish Upon A Star...


"Princess Elizabeth Anne Holland the Third!" Mum hisses in a deadly voice, " Never say that again. We are playing a dangerous game, do you hear? If one word is spoken against the Count-- things may very well go badly for the kingdom of Lucidia."

"What?" I ask flippantly, "I am but telling the truth, Mummy dear."
"Telling the truth or not, I will not allow my daughter to jeopardize my life, your father's life, and the life of our kingdom!"

"You forget about my life." I grumble, surly. "Mum, you can't--"

"Do not tell me what I can and cannot do! I am the queen. You are but my successor."
"And your daughter," I mutter under my breath. Mum continues on as if she hadn't heard me.

"Your duty as the princess of Lucidia is to obey your father and me, be diligent in your studies, and to attend court and state meetings, contributing." My mother, queen Elizabeth Anne Holland II, snaps.
"Finley, you may clear the table." She announces, more loudly, not bothering to take the edge off of her tone.

Finley, one of our butlers (one of my mother's favored), obligingly begins to clear the table as Mum sweeps out in a swish of cloth-of-gold.


"Mum, I'm going out into the town," I growl, whirling past her in a dervish of angst.

"Oh, are you seeing the butcher's daughter again?" Mum sniffs, inspecting a rind on her pallid left hand. "Isn't she a bit... below you?"

I barely manage not to stamp my foot. "No, and Freida is not below me. Would you believe that I was just going out to purchase a new pair of dancing shoes?"

"As a matter of fact, Elizabeth," Mum pins me down with her stare. "I would not. Now that you are available for marriage, I do not want you in callous, uncivilized places like the slums of Idricante. Count Belcourt's son is near your age; his hand in marriage is a desirable option."

"Belcourt's son is twenty-three. I am seventeen." I shortly respond.

"You are entirely too dramatic, dear." Mum says dismissively. "How about going to your room?
"Mum, you can't lock me in my attic, and that will be the only way you can possibly hold me back from escaping this torture chamber of a castle." I hiss, and sprint outside before anybody knew to stop me.

"Alec," I beam at the fair-haired lamplighter's son. "Alec, you would not believe what Mum was like just a minute ago!"

Alec, my best friend, shakes his head. "Eliza, you mustn't rail your mum so. She is your mother, after all, and she was the one who raised you and weaned you."

"My nanny, actually." I respond with a smile.
Alec rolls his eyes, muttering, "Who can afford a nanny?" dubiously. He doesn't know my lineage. I think sadly. He doesn't know I'm Elizabeth, the true princess... he just thinks that I'm one of a thousand girl named after me.

"Yes, of course," I manage, "Just teasing."
Alec laughs. We spend a delightful evening together, chatting and laughing, until--

A chilling, thunderous voice slices through the pleasant evening. "Elizabeth Anne Holland." My mother's voice chafes. "Palace. Now. No room for discussion," She spits.

Guards flood the hut I'm in with Alec and his mother. "Mother." I demand, "What is the meaning of this? I am simply having a chat with--"

" Elizabeth." Mum coldly repeats, "Do not talk back at me, young lady. Guards, take her to the attic."

Without making eye contact with Alec's shocked, pale face, I am half-dragged out of the cottage amidst stares from the outside of the streets.

"What were you thinking?" Mother fumes, pacing around the stone of my attic floor. "An unaccompanied young lady socializing with-- what was it, the lamplighter's son?-- will draw attention to all the wrong things. We are trying to arrange a marriage between you and Belcourt's son, Fenton, and we do not want to tarnish your already broken reputation.
" I forbid you from going out into the town from now on, not to see your Alec or Freida. They are below you. From now on, three guards will be assigned to govern you for the rest of your days in the palace!"

" Mother. You are not thinking--"
"Not thinking, am I, Elizabeth?" Mum hisses, then draws out of my room, letting the doors clunk shut behind her.

I am gazing out of my window wistfully, all the fight forcibly drained out of me. I see the first star rise above the spine of mountains beyond the woods.

"When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are,
Anything your heart desires,
Will come to you.

If your heart is in your dream,
No request is too extreme,
When you wish upon a star,
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind,
She brings to those to love,
The sweet fulfillment of,
Their secret longing.

Like a bolt out of the blue,
Fate steps in and sees you through,
When you wish upon a star,
Your dreams come true."

I quietly sing the old song to myself, reveling in its simplicity.
"Star light,

Star bright,

First star I see tonight,

Wish I may, wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight."
I wish that I could have a true friend. I find myself wishing this with all the fiber of my fervor.

I wish that i could have a true friend.

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