WITH only three days left in the maiden of Monaco festivities the city of Paris was buzzing with excitement, especially since one of their own had made it this far.
Christophe was now a household name, with all Parisians rich and poor alike speaking with such pride of the simple French boy who had thus far defeated seven godly royals with his pure heart and persevering spirit.
From how he had captured the maiden’s heart with that amazing kiss so many had witnessed to the level of determination he had displayed in order to stay in the competition. The French had become more revitalized from the actions of this young lad then by the crowning of their new king. A fact that would not have set well with a less secure man of the throne. But King Philip saw it for what it was. After all, his inheritance of the crown had not come without controversy. This was an opportunity to help unite the country under his new leadership. So indeed, along with secretly sharing in the pride of having one of their own so close to victory Philip the fortunate also welcomed this new national wave of enthusiasm that was currently under way.
How long could the boy keep it up? Having surprised everyone, including the king himself, he could only hope that his logical doubts would continue to be proven wrong.
The three lords stood before the maiden they so desired, each ready to present to her their creative side. One stood with a covered silver platter in hand while another held what appeared to be a covered canvas. Then there was Germany, who had nothing but himself to offer as he stepped forward, cleared his throat and began to sing.
As powerful as his appearance, his baritone voice filled the hall with words that could not be understood but a melody that was so beautiful translation was not needed.
By the time Germany finished serenading the princess she was visibly moved. A tough act to follow for Belgium, who explained how her beauty had inspired him to paint her portrait, with the background being the unification of their two countries.
Although the challenge was that of creativity, strategy was also involved in Christophe’s decision to unveil his greatest strength. For if there was any truth in his belief that he had not been the only one who had felt the magic of their kiss, the revelation that it was he who had been laced in the sweetness the princess had shown such fondness for could provide the edge he needed to get to the final test.
And so he lifted the platter, looked straight into his beloved’s eyes and uncovered it to reveal a fresh bunch of his brilliant golden-colored Chardonnay grapes.
‘Your Highness, I present to you my most cherished of creative works. For more than half my life my passion has been to grow grapes. Many see such cultivation as nothing more than farming, but I believe I have proven otherwise by the reputation I have earned as being the most sought after producer of the fruit in all of Paris.
‘The detail that is put into enriching the soil from which the seed will flourish. The care given to each and every vigorous vine, in turn providing the ideal foundation needed for every single grape of every single bunch to grow into the most succulent, the most flavorful plumps of passion one could ever taste.
‘Such a practice is indeed an art form, and if one is fortunate enough, what can stem from the practitioner is a creativity that can only be described as unique, original, one-of-a-kind. Hence I present to you a family of grapes the world has never known, for it is my own creation from combining Gouais Blanc and Pinot Noir that this grape I call Chardonnay has been born.
‘A name, my beloved, I would also like to give to our first daughter.’
Christophe closed the last bit of distance between he and the princess, offering her to pluck from the bunch as he softly spoke, ‘Milady, will you do me the honor of having a taste?’
With her delicate fingers the maiden obliged, and upon rolling the small berry around in her mouth she bit down to release its juice.
As much she tried she could not hide the look of lustful recollection, and for a long moment the two teenagers were lost in one another’s gaze. Only after she swallowed did she regain her royal composure and gave the slight nod of the head to signify she was ready to move on.
Unlike the previous three evenings, the results of this challenge would be made public during a grand feast, in celebration of the last two lords having reached the finale. So for the following two hours anticipation over Paris rose as the sun fell, and by the time the king stood to his feet to announce who would be going head-to-head in the next day’s final event every mouth in the city was shut, every pair of ears awaiting with such hope to hear the name of their country as one of the last two.
The name of this foreign country echoed throughout the Palais and rippled down every street, every alley of the capital, but all remained silent.
And with that one syllable reaching the ears of thousands and spreading in domino effect to millions, the city of romance erupted like never before.
But the jubilation was short lived as word came as to what the next challenge would be…
‘One hour marathon, with hand-to-hand combat immediately following the race.’
With that one declaration it was as if the loss had already occurred. A people who had held their heads high since the opening ceremonies now lowered them in premature defeat, including the aristocratic Parisians who filled the hall.
The king, the maiden of Monaco, even the giant opponent had a look of pity in their eyes for the boy who had earned the respect of many nations.
But Christophe refused to accept such sulking. He had come this far on the wings of fate. One’s destiny was as strong as one’s will, and so he turned to his doubtful onlookers and shot his right hand up over his head as he began to repeatedly shout, ‘Vive la France’ while heading through the crowd and for the exit.
His courage and belief were infectious, and by the time he reached the gates of the castle the boy with so much heart found himself riding atop the shoulders of hundreds, all of whom were now pouring out onto Paris to help him spread this spontaneous rally of love of country.
Victory would be theirs, if only for one night.
Chapter 7 posted shortly, with the most unexpected occuring!