A Little Princess
A desperate gesture
a nice melody! Candy thought listening to the music “Candy’s happiness
box” Alistair had given her, before he went to the war. That little
music was very comforting! The little box near her ear, Candy was
trying to imagine her reunion with Terry: the train will arrive at the
train station, she’ll get off the wagon, and there, on the platform,
she’ll see him among the crowd, as handsome as he was the last time she
saw him in Chicago, on the train that was taking him back to New York,
they would fell into each other’s arms and whisper promises of eternal
Rethinking about it she said to herself, her life until
now has been very… how do you say it; her life has been one big
Taken in when she was just a baby by the Pony’s
House, she’d lived with her adopted two mothers, Sister Maria and Miss
Pony, two women full of heart who took care of abandoned children.
She’d made a friend, Annie, a shy little girl, but she was adopted at
the age of six by the Brighton family, a rich family of Chicago. For a
while Annie wrote her regularly, then her letters became more and more
rare, and one day, in what was her last letter, Annie announced to her
friend that she won’t write her anymore, because she didn’t want her
new friends to know that she was an orphan. Sad, she took refuge on the
Pony’s Hill, and there, she’d met her “prince of the hill”, that, in
spite of the time, she never saw him again.
A few years later,
at the age of thirteen, she was hired as a lady’s companion at the
Reagan residence for their children, Neil and Eliza, two spoiled rotten
kids, who never ceased to torment her. However, she found comfort with
Mr. Albert, who lived in the forest, and cousins of Neil and Eliza:
Archibald, Alistair… and Anthony, who lived not too far from there, at
Lakewood. Anthony, who looked a lot like her prince, Anthony who
created the rose “sweet Candy”, Anthony and her in love, and Anthony
who was dead. He died of a horse fall, the day of the welcome party in
Candy’s honour, into the Andrew family, that the mysterious Uncle
William had adopted, after her three friends had insisted on him to do
so, and who, according to the Great Aunt Elroy, the dowager of the
family, was controlling all the family business.
funeral, Uncle William had decided to send her to England to the royal
college St. Paul, to forget. On the boat that was taking her there, she
met this nice arrogant aristocrat, Terry, whom she took for Anthony
from the back. In that college she saw her friends Archibald and
Alistair and also Neil and Eliza who didn’t stop annoying her there
either. She’d also met Patricia, and found Annie.
She had been a
glimpse of hope for him, Terry, and he had been her redemption: he
helped her forget about her ghosts, she helped him not to be afraid of
his. In fact during a nightly unfruitful escapade, Candy discovered he
was the natural son of a noble English family, the Grandchester; his
father was head of the family, and his mother was the famous American
actress Eleonor Baker. During the summer vacations in Scotland, Candy
had made Terry not to hate his mother, getting him to know her and to
learn to love her. It’s also during those vacations that they learned
to better appreciate themselves, to tame themselves, and to love each
other. Terry even stole a kiss from her, a kiss he was paid for by a
slap. “I wonder if today, I’ll slap him again!” she said to herself,
They then went back to college, but because of Eliza’s
machinations, Terry was forced to leave the college. He went to America
to pursue his dreams, becoming an actor at Broadway, against his
father’s wishes. At once, she ran away from college to have a chance to
find him, and she became a nurse in Chicago, but they barely met, while
he was on the train taking him back to New York.
The war had
started in the same period. A few days after Terry’s departure, she’d
found Mr. Albert at the hospital, but he had amnesia, while on a trip
to Italy, after he’d been hurt by a mine explosion. To make him get his
memory faster, and after his wounds were healed; she decided to move in
with him in a charming little apartment, not too far from the hospital.
short time ago, she’d discovered in her mail box, a letter from Terry,
a single ticket to New York and a ticket for the premiere of
Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, played by his troupe, in which he had
the male leading role and Susanna Marlowe, attractive young woman in
love with Terry, who in Chicago had helped destiny keeping Candy and
Terry separate, was playing Juliet.
Leaving Albert alone at the
apartment, she left to New York. Now she was impatient for her trip to
end. “This train is very slow, at this rate, I’ll see Terry in a
hundred years!” she ranted.
* * * * *
A little more tea, aunt? Asked Eliza, while pouring herself a cup of
the burning liquid. She was trying as usual to appear nice and polite
in front of her great-aunt, to look good.
- No, thank you,
said Aunt Elroy looking at her niece with a sugary smile. Your manners
are becoming more and more or a great lady, she added turning to her
mother. You must be very proud of her.
- Yes, indeed, aunt, nodded Mrs. Reagan.
- What a pity, thought that you haven’t found a fiancé yet, you are so delightful, she continued.
- Ah! Eliza is much too exigent; no man could ever content her! Laughed Neil. Eliza looked at him furious.
- That’s enough, don’t start fighting again, cut short Mrs. Reagan.
Like I was telling you dear, said Aunt Elroy, like nothing happened,
I’m profoundly stunned by Alistair’s decision to enroll himself in the
army. Do you know what his parents are thinking?
- Just like
you, aunt, they are upset by his choice. All they know, it’s through a
letter to his friend Patricia O’Brien, where he announced he going to
defend his peace ideals!
- What foolishness! It’s probably
Candy who put all those nonsense in his head. What an idea to enroll
with all the dangers that it implies. Ever since her arrival, bad luck
had struck our family! Concluded Aunt Elroy furiously.
I be excused? Asked Eliza to the two women, feeling the atmosphere
getting heavy, and hating everything related to Candy. And also, her
brother didn’t seem in the mood to slander Candy like they used to.
- Yes my darling, you can go, you aunt and I have to discuss the organisation of the upcoming charity gala.
I’m coming with you Eliza; Neil had a mean look for aunt Elroy. For a
while now he had a strange behaviour, he was acting weird: as soon as a
conversation about Candy was happening, he would start acting out
saying he’d had enough hearing talking about her, either, like he just
did, he would leave without saying a word, but looking furious and
wasn’t fooling anybody. That behaviour surprised the whole family,
knowing his aversion for the young girl, and the fact that before, he
never hesitated, together with his sister, to paint a portrait not very
flattering. Nevertheless, at that moment, aunt Elroy didn’t take
offence, and, one Eliza and Neil had left the room, she made a
surprising remark to her niece:
Then again what a physical
resemblance, has in character with her! Always doing whatever she
wants, wanting her freedom! Her independence! And her eyes, those eyes,
identical to theirs…
Indeed, aunt, agreed Mrs. Reagan, still a little shocked that she dared talked about it.
* * * * *
Finally, said Candy to herself getting off the train. This trip took
forever. But where is Terry? Although she was looking closely at the
crowd with a microscopic precision, Candy hadn’t seen him yet.
of a sudden, behind a pillar, she recognized a familiar cape. She
shouted at the owner, but when he turned around, she found out that it
was not the man hoped for, and couldn’t help herself to say “Oh my,
he’s ugly!” as a matter of fact, he had nothing to do with Terry, but
it was certainly not the kind of compliment to say when you had to say
“sorry I took you for someone else”!
At that instant, a person
whose face was hidden with a cap, black glasses and a scarf pulled her
toward the exit. Thinking of a kidnapping, (which wouldn’t have been
the first time), she started threatening and biting him, if he didn’t
let go of her at once. The man in question obeyed to better start
laughing. “No she hasn’t really changed!” Were the only words he could
pronounce. Finally he showed his face, and Candy was able to recognise
She couldn’t believe her eyes. The young man she loved so
much, and she looked for so much was finally in front of her. He seemed
more marvellous than in her memories of St. Paul’s College.
him, didn’t realise yet. The young girl he’d known in college was out
of her chrysalis of white silk, and let place to a spellbound beauty of
a butterfly. He didn’t get tired of looking admiring her hair, her
eyes, her mouth and her forms. For him she was the feminine perfection
incarnate, and the fact that her character hasn’t changed was a detail
that was more charming to him than ever. He loved her so much, but
Susanna was there, and all those events were upsetting him.
wanted to stay there, caressing her with his eyes, her looking at him,
and for the time to suspend, to infinity, to infinity… But there was
Susanna, Susanna who protected him from the spotlight falling during
the rehearsal and who hurt herself violently receiving the spotlight,
and was now at the hospital. How will he announce that to Candy? Later…
that’s it…. Don’t spoil that moment. For now, he had to give
explanation to an angry Candy for been abused that way!
- Terrence Graham Grandchester, how dare you scare me?
Hush, not so loud Candy, said the young man a little worried, you’re
going to get me spotted. It was too late, fans of the actor heard his
name, recognised him, and started to crowd around him.
- Let’s go! He took Candy by the hand, took her suitcase on the way and ran with her to the car, which he started quickly.
- What’s happening? Asked the young girl stunned by the scene.
- As you can see, I’ve become very famous, and I have to disguise myself if I want to leave normally.
- Ah ah! So, I really screwed up! She joked.
- Don’t laugh at me, Freckles; it’s extremely painful to have to hide to live a normal life!
Stop, she said upset that he still called her that nickname! If you’d
looked at me more attentively, you would’ve seen that my freckles are
disappearing with time, and soon they will be only a memory. And saying
that she pretended to sulk.
- Ah ah ah, you’re still the
same, you haven’t changed! And entering her game, he continued on the
same tone: stop looking sulky, miss Tarzan-Freckles, otherwise I’ll
drive you to the hotel were you’ll pull a face alone, instead of coming
to see what my apartment looks like, said Terry with a face that
couldn’t stop the young girl’s curiosity to surface.
- You’re taking me to your apartment! Said Candy glad. But where am I going to sleep?
- I have a spare bedroom absolutely convenient, he assured her.
So hurry up, I want to know what a single man’s apartment looks like!
Her anger was only a memory, and she started to look at the passers-by,
enjoying the new trend of fashion from New York, in particular the
short haircuts, which was not in fashion in Chicago. Terry, in the mean
time, couldn’t help himself, admiring her while driving. She was still
* * * * *
For a bachelor’s apartment, it’s very clean! Was the first remark that came into Candy’s mind.
- The building supervisor come and do the cleaning every three days, acknowledged Terry
- Oh, I understand better. I was surprised to see you so tidy, giving the state of your room at St. Paul! She exclaimed.
- Miss Freckles, if you continue, I’m going to make you sleep in the broom closet!
wait until I get you, I’m going to teach you how a gentleman should
treat a lady. And saying that a chase started, but it stopped quickly
when Candy stumbled upon a beautiful bedroom, furnished with good
taste, which the windows looked out in a small intern yard with a
little garden coloured with a thousand and one flowers with sparkling
bright shades and a bouquet of roses posed on the bedside table, that
brought out the fresh atmosphere of the room.
so…. But Candy couldn’t find the words which would have permit her to
tell Terry how much that place was pleasing her already, that looked
like it was arranged just for her, exclusively for her use. She
understood that Terry was the author of that delicate surprise, and
made him more charming in her eyes.
Hidden behind the door of
the bedroom so she could see the surprise entering, he approached her
silently and whispered in her hear: you like the decoration? A shy
“yes” made him understand that he hadn’t made a mistake choosing the
furniture for the room.
- The play is tomorrow, Juliet, I
leave you to rest and undo your luggage, he said, eclipsing himself.
Out of her daydream she turned around and looked him in the eyes:
- Thank you, Terry.
- See you later for diner, was his only reply he could give her: as soon as she was close to her, he lost all his confidence.
* * * * *
on the soft bed, Candy, dreamily, was thinking about the moments she
lived in Terry’s company, from St. Paul’s until today. She realised
that he was more open to others and less subject to his mood swings.
She stood up quickly, rested, jumped out of bed and started to arrange
her things. She put away a dress wrapped in a fabric that she was going
to wear the next day.
-I hope Terry will like it. Annie was
really sweet to help me with the shopping. She’s now very
distinguished, and had a lot of taste in clothing. Archibald and her
make the perfect couple.
Once her stuff disposed correctly in
cupboard and drawers, she freshened up, fixed her clothes and
disciplined her ruffled pigtails by a nap a little too long. As a
matter of fact, the diner was near! She got out of the room, walked
toward the room that was the kitchen and the living room, to see a
table set (a candlelight diner in preparation, she concluded) and to
see a Terry in front of the stove. Candy couldn’t help smiling at the
view. Hearing a laugh that was to be discreet, but that absolutely was
not, he started to tell her that, with a ladle in his hand he brandish
like a sword, that he was heating up meals he bought from a caterer,
and was not cooking.
- You reassure me, since in Chicago, Albert does the cooking, and I really think I’m no good in the kitchen.
How could you let Albert cook, Candy? The young were stunned and had a
disapproving face. With a sheepish face, she explained that all the
meals she was cooking, ended up burned to the crisp.
the meal is heating up, I would like to talk to you about tomorrow’s
schedule. Since I have to get to the theatre early to change, we will
leave at five o’clock. I will introduce you to the staff and explain to
you some special effects, if I have time. Does this schedule suit you?
- Absolutely, I can’t wait to be tomorrow to see you play and to ferret behind the scenes.
- Perfect; on that note, it’s ready!
* * * * *
Hurry up Candy; we’re going to be late. You know I have to be in the
theatre two hours before the representation, so I can put my costume
on, voiced Terry. It was surprising to see how an actor becomes
hysterical a few hours before the premiere. It was stage fright as his
purity that was making its appearance! Come on, Candy, hurry. The young
man couldn’t take it anymore. How could a woman take so long to get
ready? It’s a ridiculous laughable attitude he thought. I didn’t know
you were so picky on your clothing. Anything you put on, you will be
beautiful, but please, hurry up. He was starting to get desperate they
were going to get there in time.
- One minute, just one minute, begged Candy.
You already told me that five minutes ago. Candy, you’re not
reasonable. Come on… but he was cut short by…. there I’m ready… by the
apparition of being dressed with a white satin, glorified by the
supernatural whiteness of the skin, exalted by the blond hair loosen on
her shoulders in cascade on a dress showing an ivory neck and pale
shoulders with an irresistibly tempting curve. It’s certainly an angel,
the Lord in his immense leniency, is allowing me to contemplate for a
brief moment. But no, it’s…, it’s…, it’s Candy. She covered herself
with a heavy coat, coordinated to her dress, doubled with ermine, and
the apparition disappeared. Terry remained petrified, glue to the
Candy guessed that her dress had had the effect
expected. She looked at him with a big smile, her green eyes sparkling
with malice, and said with a loose tone:
- Well Terry. We’re late.
Really? Terry in another dimension? It was certainly Juliet standing in
front of him, but he wasn’t sure he was going to remember his text.
- Terry, she shouted, you’re late. The young man came back to earth and look at the kitchen clock.
- Indeed. Let’s go, ladies first, he said letting Candy out first.
* * * * *
he was driving, Terry couldn’t get tired of admiring the young girl
next to him. She never felt that happy and radiant: the man she loved
was next to her and was about to have a triumph on stage. She was
wondering why the poster of Romeo and Juliet she’d seen in town didn’t
have Susanna Marlowe as Juliet, but Karen Cryce, but in Chicago she
read that it was Susanna Marlowe who played the role. She must have had
been seriously incapacitated or she had left the troupe. Well, she’ll
ask Terry after the representation and let’s not think about it now. As
for him, was very proud to drive with such a princess in his car.
Susanna! No… don’t think about it… later… take advantage a little more,
of those happy moments. Yes later, and hope… hope…
arrived at the theatre, Terry took Candy to the back stage, where she
met the guardian yet again, but this time, he won’t be able to send her
away! Terry introduced her to everybody, before finally going to change
and put make up on for the play. Candy stayed and talked with the
costume designers who told her the best anecdotes about Terry: his
impossible temper, his mood swings when something went wrong, and his
uncontrollable stage fright the day before a premiere. On the way, they
told her that next to her, he was much calmer than usual. If the
effects persisted, they promised to ask Mr. Hathaway to hire her! They
spend a good time together laughing nicely, until Romeo came to
interrupt them suddenly. Seeing them laughing he asked:
- I hope you’re not talking about me?
- No, no they answered all with tears in their eyes.
Candy? I take advantage that the spectators are almost all seated to
take you to your lodge; the representation is going to start soon.
- Why are you taking through the back stage? It would be easier if we take the hallway, said Candy amused.
Did you forget that I’m becoming famous, and that if I show myself now,
the representation will take place not in ten minutes but in an hour,
he objected playfully. There, here we are, he said seeing a door
discretely hidden a curtain giving on the hallway.
They went through quickly the few meters that separated them from Candy’s lodge.
- This is it, here we are. Have a seat, my dear, he said with turgid tone.
-I hope you’re not playing that way, replied Candy.
-No, no I assure you. Come on, see you later, back stage. I told the guardian to let you pass.
you, Terry. By the way she started to say while he was leaving, you are
very elegant and I wish you good luck. Show them the extent of your
- Count on me, Candy. All my thoughts will go to you. And on those words, he eclipsed himself.
* * * * *
Bravo, bravo! The public ovation was endless. The play was a real
triumph. Everybody was saying that Romeo has never been that
brilliantly interpreted. Terrence Grandchester had become a famous
actor that night. The crowd couldn’t stop clapping, tapping their feet.
It was a real recognition of the young actor’s talent.
Candy was moved to tears, she couldn’t stop crying. She jumped from her
seat and ran back stage to congratulate him. He had been dazzling and
she noticed when Juliet was in her axed, he was looking at her, instead
of Juliet, so all the words, all the promises of love he was saying to
Juliet, he was declaiming them to her.
When the actors where
saluting at the end of the representation, she noticed and returned all
the winks he gave her and Karen was finally able to understand her
partner’s strange behaviour during some scenes and that only she had
noticed. She winked at Candy, a sign that she was not mad at her for
having Romeo’s attention, but that she was amused!
While she was
walking toward the back stage, Candy listened absentmindedly to
conversation praising the play, but all of a sudden, she stopped,
stunned, completely frozen by what she’d just heard:
- How did you find the play my dearest? Asked a round lady with a haughty face to her neighbour, a lady tall and dry like a fig.
Very successful, especially Terrence’s interpretation, it was
magnificent. What a pity Susanna Marlowe was not able to play, the play
would have been better.
- I heard she protected him from a
spotlight’s fall and that it made her lose her leg. Since then, she’s
in a hospital and they say he visits her everyday.
- That’s normal. After all, she sacrificed herself for him.
last words resonated in Candy’s head. She couldn’t believe it. Why did
he hide this from her? She walked to the back stage like an automaton,
entered without a look for the guardian and went to Terry’s lodge. When
she got in front of the door, her breathing accelerated and bitter
tears were coming down her tears. She entered suddenly and closed the
door with a dry blow.
She looked Terry right in the eyes, he understood, he lowed his head sadly and she was sobbing.
- Why didn’t you tell me anything about Susanna?
Why ruin our reunion. I wanted to see your smile and not the look you
adopt when you talk about Anthony. But I want to tell you that I
intended to tell you tonight.
- Take me to see her.
- I want to talk to her; I have to talk to her, begged Candy between two sobs.
- Ok, but before, let’s go to the apartment so you can change.
* * * * *
return trip in the car was in a heavy silence. No word, no sound came
to trouble the thoughts of the occupants. It was like there was a wall
separating them from now on, that wall had a name: Susanna Marlowe.
At last they arrived at the hospital. Terry took her to Susanna’s room, but she wasn’t there. Terry was the first to react:
- But, where is she?
It’s impossible that she went far; she’s barely recovering and learning
to use her crutches. Her nurse’s instincts were in alert, something was
wrong, she could feel it.
- Where is Susanna, what have you
done with my daughter, answer me! Susanna’s mother had just come in;
she too didn’t find the absence normal.
- We don’t know anything; we’ve just arrived, answered Terry.
- Instead of discussing, let’s look for her. She couldn’t have gone far. Candy was starting to get really worried.
came out all three from the room and started to alert the hospital
staff to help them find her. All of a sudden, when she was looking in a
hallway on the last floor of the hospital, she saw after about ten
steps, a door open, where an icy wind and sudden shower of snow came
from. Since she entered the hospital, she had a bad feeling and arrived
on the roof of the hospital. A few steps from the side, Susanna was
Susanna, step back, you’re going to hurt yourself.
Candy panicked, they never taught her how to handle this kind of
situation. Susanna, I beg you, come back, I’m coming to help you.
Candy, it’s you. She fixed her look intensely. I’m sorry to have caused
all this trouble, I’m sorry. I don’t want to be an obstacle between you
and Terry. I beg you, take care of him. I won’t be able to.
Susanna, don’t say that, you have to live, you hear me, you have to
live, live! Candy was shouting while running to her, but Susanna was
faster. She turned around one last time, smiled to Candy and jumped.
Candy tripped and fell in the snow. Why Susanna why? Why did you commit
this desperate gesture? Next to her, a box fell from her pocket, opened
and dispensed a soft music. Unfortunately, it couldn’t bring happiness