In its Golden Age the Kingdom of Angelic was under the rule of King Louis, The Magnifique, whose royal symbol was the lily flower. The lily was so revered, that people believed it sprouted from the milk of the Queen of the Gods. The King had sat for the first time on the alabaster throne to rule the country at the age of four. In his youth, he was a ballet dancer and he wore a curly wig in the latest fashion. He lived in his ornate palace surrounded by splendor and majesty amidst all his royal subjects, who took care of the court of the monarch and reported to him.
He organized the country responsibly, but he also used to have plenty of fun. The balls organized by Louis, the Magnifique settled the standards for social dancing on the entire continent. No one was admitted on the dance floor, but princes or princesses of the blood, then other lords and ladies – each according to their rank. Louis was a noble father – he gave not only life to his illegitimate children – he gave them education, position in society and married them appropriately.
The day of Louis was full of boring ceremonies. At two pm, however, rest came as divine intervention: he used to walk the gardens with ladies of the court. One of those ladies was surprisingly not his mistress but a devoted friend he was so fond of since childhood – Madame Lilly Campbell.
We used to stroll into the gardens, me and the Magnifique King. He wanted to learn every gossip in the court, but I didn’t gossip – it was against my principles. He loved me for my principles. A couple of times he hinted for sexual intimacy, but no – I refused the advances of the king. For I was especially in love in a nobleman – a man named August Alexander…The King knew that my love was for me better than food and wine, so he budged, for he was an honorable man.
I met him at the age of five – August Alexander lived in the castle next door. As children, we sometimes sneaked out and roamed the forests together holding hands and then he taught me to sing a song in the local vernacular. His parents left him early after a severe disease, he was raised by his loving aunt, who was a woman of virtue, but completely bonkers. When we became 10 years old he left for a foreign country to be educated, while I stayed at home, learning how to sew and embroider. But I was not a humble child of this age when women would be banned from spiritually ennobling activities – no – I dressed as a boy and I visited the King’s library, which is where I first met the King, who was forced to read the sacred texts at the age of ten. The King seemed to love my company from the very first moment, he asked me to go hunting with him. “No,” I said, “I am very fond of animals and it’s against my principles to hurt them in this way.” Having never heard “no” in his entire lifetime of 10 years the King was very much intrigued. While I was awaiting the penalty trembling he smiled ear to ear and shook my hand. Then the King admitted he never dared to say it to anyone – but he also had a great compassion for animals and did not like hunting as much as a King’s supposed to and we both smiled at each other for the first time.
Since I cannot lie for the life of me, I couldn’t hide for very long the nature of my sex. So I wrote to the King a letter, on a rose note sprinkled with Oriental perfume to prove and to explain that I am a girl of noble origin who simply likes to read. I asked my brother 12-year-old Ashton Campbell to deliver my message to the little monarch. At the age of ten, the King thought that the girls are an inferior species, so he was unpleasantly surprised. He returned the note after he had scribbled on it with his royal, calligraphic handwriting:
“Since you are a young lady, one day I would probably fight for your honor, but we are not supposed to be friends.”
I never understood why, but men of those times simply loved to duel for the honor of women. You don’t like the shape of the woman’s wig – you tell others so – and her amorous interest challenges you to a fight. Men fought to demonstrate honor, courage and a sense of justice, it was the fashion of settlement of those times. I’ve had someone to fight for my honor since I was born.
My brothers Ashton and Black Campbell both were blond and gorgeous, and so much alike as if they were twins – people had trouble telling them apart until they opened their mouths to smile or to speak. Ashton Campbell spoke as if honeydew was dripping from his mouth, he had a brilliant smile and benevolent heart. My younger brother Black Campbell spoke in such a way that his very words seemed foul, he indulged in debauchery, and his teeth were yellow…When they became of age, while Ashton was waiting for his true love, Black used to bed all the ladies in the court. Though his smile was a warning, ladies flocked around him, for he was mannerly, smart and manipulative, and an advanced hunter, all of which made him a royal minion.
I loved both my brothers genuinely, and they loved me back with a passion that was not entirely fraternal but was deeply committed. As we grew up, I found Ashton closer to me in every aspect, we had long conversations, more things to share, a better spiritual connection. Black used to mock my principles, for he lived without any, and we honestly despised each other’s characters, still brutally frank with each other like the closest people in the world. They were different in every manner, but most of all – their attitude to the man I loved. Ashton loved August. Black’s jealousy had humiliated him in his heart.
August Alexander came back from his studies well prepared in rapier fencing and ballroom dancing. I then noticed him as he was dancing with Madame Eleanor, a diplomat’s wife. At the age of 22, he was not only startlingly handsome, but he danced inhumanly well and I couldn’t take my eyes from the couple. He had pressed the lady’s form tight against him and they looked like they were floating in heaven. I, Lilly Campbell, had spent enough time in the ballrooms, to know that a true dancer is known by the touch, so I craved for his touch immediately, even before recognizing my childhood’s flame. He soon became my hero on the dance floor – I watched him dance with women of fancy crinolines and golden slippers, with women of long and beautiful hair, with women fair and women insolent, women of age and women innocent. I watched him and I developed an interest, a dance interest if you please.
I approached Ashton Campbell and whispered in his ear – “Brother, will you give a fancy note from me to the man standing next to the door right now?”
“Don’t you remember him? That’s August our childhood friend from the Alexander kin.”
“Yes, we know each other a little.” – I smiled at the memory from the forest, and as I smiled I confessed: “I would love to invite our friend to a dance, brother, but he seems to be more advanced in this art than I am, I am not certain it will be such pleasure for him.” The song was over and gone, and Ashton pushed me in August’s ardent embrace, and August took me as if I belonged there and frankly this was where I belonged.
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