Authors: Barbara Cartland
|Bride to the King|
|BARBARA CARTLAND EBOOKS LTD (2013)|
Dutiful, demure and far lovelier than she knows, Princess Zosina, the eldest daughter of the Archduke Ferdinand of Lützelstein, is reluctantly obedient when her father announces that she must marry King Gyórgy of neighbouring Dórsia in order to create an alliance between the two nations that will defend them against the threat from the German Empire.
Arriving in Dórsia on a State visit she is greeted by the country's Regent, a kind, handsome and very considerate Prince. By contrast and much to Zosina's dismay, her future husband King Gyórgy is as wild and disagreeable as his reputation had suggested.
It seems that for the sake of her country she must yield to a life without love – until dramatic events supersede even the power of Kings and the hope is rekindled in the young Princess Zosina's heart that happiness and true love will triumph after all.
Princess Zosina, the eldest daughter of the Archduke Ferdinand of Lützelstein, is told by her father that she is to be married to King Gyórgy of Dórsia. Their marriage has been arranged by Count Csaky, the Ambassador to Dórsia, and Prince Sándor, the Regent of Dórsia, to seal a close political alliance between the two countries.
The beautiful and vulnerable Princess has no choice but to agree, and she undertakes a State visit to Dórsia with her grandmother, Queen Szófia. Princess Zosina has heard rumours that King Gyórgy is wild but the manner with which he greets his future bride fills her with alarm.
How Zosina endures the King’s rebuffs, how she becomes Queen of Dórsia and how this ultimately brings her happiness, is all told in this intriguing and dramatic story by Barbara Cartland.
During the Franco-German war in 1870 negotiations were pushed ahead for the unity of all Germany outside Austria. A conference of Prussia, Bavaria and Würtemberg met at Munich to discuss the terms of unification. There was the question of a name of the new State and Bismarck wished to revive the title of Emperor. In January 1871 Fredrich Wilhelm IV was proclaimed Emperor in the
Galerie des Glaces
The new Reich consisted of four Kingdoms, five Grand Duchies, thirteen Duchies and Principalities and three free Cities.
The rest of Europe was appalled and frightened.
“Zosina, wake up!”
The girl addressed started and raised her eyes from the book she had been reading.
“Did you speak to me?” she asked.
“For the third time!” her sister Helsa replied.
“I am sorry. I was reading.”
“That’s nothing new,” Helsa exclaimed. “Fraulein says that you will ruin your eyes and be blind before you are middle-aged.”
Zosina laughed a soft musical laugh with an undoubted note of amusement in it.
“Although it is Fraulein’s job to teach us,” she said, “she always finds marvellous excuses for us not to learn anything!”
“Of course she does,” Theone remarked, who was painting one of the fashion magazines with water colours. “Fraulein knows so little herself she is afraid that if we show any intelligence we will realise how little she can tell us.”
“I feel that is rather unkind,” Zosina said.
“Kind or not,” Helsa replied, “if you don’t hurry downstairs since Papa wants you, you will be in trouble.”
“Papa wants me?” Zosina enquired in surprise. “Why did you not tell me so?”
“That is just what I have been trying to do,” Helsa replied. “Margit came in just now to say Papa wanted you in his study. You know what that means!”
Zosina gave a little sigh.
“I suppose I must have forgotten something he told me to do, but I cannot think what it is.”
“You will learn quickly enough,” Theone remarked. “I am thankful it’s not me he has sent for.”
Zosina rose from the window seat on which she had been sitting and walked across the schoolroom to look in the mirror over the mantelshelf.
She tidied her hair, quite unaware that her reflection portrayed a lovely face with large grey eyes which, at the moment, were rather worried.
She was, in fact, concentrating fiercely on trying to remember something she had done wrong or something she had omitted to do.
Whatever it was, she was quite certain her father would make it an opportunity for being extremely disagreeable, a thing at which he excelled these days, when he was suffering from gout.
Without saying more to her sisters, Zosina crossed the room to leave the schoolroom and as she did so Katalin, who had not spoken until now and was only twelve, looked up to say,
“Good luck, Zosina. I wish I could come with you.” “That would only make Papa angrier than he is already,” Zosina smiled.
Leaving the schoolroom, she hurried down the long passages that were extremely cold in the winter until she reached the front staircase of the Palace.
The Archduke Ferdinand of Lützelstein lived in considerable style, which impressed the more distinguished of his subjects, but was criticised by those who suspected that they had to pay for it.
But he did not give his family much comfort or consideration and they knew it was because they had committed the unforgivable sin of being his daughters instead of his sons.
There was no doubt that the Archduke was bitterly disappointed and frustrated by the fact that he had no direct heir.
“You are his favourite,” Katalin would often say irrepressibly to Zosina, “because you were his first disappointment. Helsa was number two and Theone number three. By the time he reached me, he disliked me so much I am only surprised he did not cut me up into small pieces and scatter me from the battlements!”
Katalin had a dramatic imagination and, perhaps because she lacked the affection of her father and her mother, was always thinking herself wildly in love with one of the younger officials in the Palace or more understandably the Officers of the Guard.
Zosina was in many ways very different from her sisters.
They had a practical and sensible outlook on life which made them accept family difficulties and the small but tiresome privations to which they were subject as an inevitable quirk of fate.
“If I had the choice, I would rather have been born the daughter of a forester,” Theone said once, “than a Royal Princess without any of the glamour or excitement that should go with it.”
“You will get that when you are grown up,” Zosina answered.
Theone had laughed.
“What about you? You were allowed to go to your ‘coming out’ ball, but you had to dance with all the oldest and more boring officials in the country. Since then Mama has made no effort to entertain for you, unless you call it being entertained when you are allowed to sit in the drawing room when she receives the Councillors’ wives and they talk about their charities or something equally deadly!”
Zosina had to admit that these were not particularly exciting occasions.
At the same time she had learned long ago not to be bored with having to listen to the stiff desultory conversation which was all that the Palace ‘etiquette’ permitted.
“The weather has been cold lately,” her mother would say, starting the conversation as protocol directed.
“It has indeed, Your Royal Highness.”
“I often say to the Archduke that the winds at this time of the year are very treacherous.”
“They are indeed, Your Royal Highness.”
“We will all be thankful when the warm weather comes.” “It is something we all look forward to, Your Royal Highness.”
Zosina was not listening. Her thoughts had carried her far away into a fantasy world where people talked intelligently and wittily.
Or else she was on Mount Olympus mixing with Gods and Goddesses of ancient Greece and pondering on the problems to which mankind had tried through all eternity to find a solution.
The Archduchess would have been astounded if she had known how knowledgeable her oldest daughter was on the behaviour, a great deal of it outrageous, of the Greek Gods.
She would have been equally astonished if she had known that Zosina pored over books written by French authors that gave an insight into the strange diversions that had invaded French literature during the Second Empire.
Zosina was fortunate in that the Palace library which had been started by her great-grandfather was considered one of the treasures of Lützelstein.
It therefore behoved the present ruler, Archduke Ferdinand, to keep it up, for which fortunately an endowment from Parliament was provided every year.
New books were purchased and added to the thousands already accumulated and the librarian, an elderly man, was easily persuaded by Princess Zosina to put on his list of requirements those books she particularly wanted to read.
“I am not sure that Her Royal Highness would approve,” he would say occasionally when Zosina had pleaded for some author whose somewhat doubtful reputation had reached even Lützelstein.
“You are quite safe,
,” Zosina would say. “Mama never has time to read and so she is unlikely to criticise anything you have on your shelves.”
She smiled as she spoke and the librarian had found himself smiling back and agreeing to anything this extremely pretty girl demanded of him.
Zosina now reached the hall and hurried to the door that led into her father’s study.
It was an extremely impressive room, the walls covered with dark panelling, the windows draped with heavily fringed velvet curtains, the furniture ponderous and old-fashioned.
It was a room that all four Princesses disliked intensely because it was always here that their father lectured them on their misdeeds and where they waited apprehensively for the moment when he would fly into one of his rages that usually ended in his storming at them,
“Get out of my sight! I have seen enough of all four of you. God knows why I should be inflicted with such stupid fractious females instead of being blessed with an intelligent son!”
It was the signal for them to leave, but even though they found the relief of doing so almost inexpressible, their hearts would be thumping and their lips dry.
In some way they could not explain even to each other, they did not feel safe until they were back in the schoolroom.
‘What can I have done to upset Papa?’ Zosina asked herself now.
Then, with an instinctive little lift of her chin, she opened the door and went in.
Her father was sitting, as she expected, in his favourite high-back winged armchair near the hearth.
There was no fire because it was summer and it was typical, Zosina often thought, that in this room there was no arrangement of flowers to fill the empty fireplace, so that its gaping black mouth added to the general gloom.
The Archduke had his gouty left leg swathed in bandages resting on a footstool in front of him and Zosina thought, with a little jerk of her heart, that he was looking stern and grim.
She walked towards him, still wondering frantically what could be wrong, when to her surprise, as she reached his side, he looked up at her and smiled.
The Archduke had, in his youth, been an extremely handsome man and it was therefore not surprising that his four daughters were all exceptionally good-looking.
Zosina had long decided that their features came in fact from their great-grandmother, who had been Greek and some of their other characteristics from their father’s mother who was Hungarian by birth.
“We are a mixture of nationalities,” she said once, “but we have been clever enough to take the best from every country whose blood is mixed with ours.”
“If we had been
clever, we would not have been born in Lützelstein,” Katalin said irrepressibly.
“Why not?” Helsa enquired.
“Well, if we had had the choice, surely we would have chosen France, Italy or England?”
“I see what you mean!” Helsa exclaimed. “Well, I would have chosen France. I have heard how gay it is in Paris.”
“Our Ambassador told Papa that their extravagance and outrageous behaviour during the Second Empire was the scandal of the world.”
“That’s all over now!” Theone said. “But I bet the French still have a lot of fun. We should have been born in France!”
“Sit down, Zosina. I want to talk to you,” the Archduke ordered.
Zosina obediently seated herself on the sofa near him and he looked at her until she wondered if he disapproved of her gown or perhaps the new way she had arranged her hair.
Then he said,
“I have something to tell you, Zosina, that may surprise you. At the same time at your age you must have been expecting it.”
“What is that, Papa?”
“You are to be married!”
For a moment Zosina thought she could not have heard correctly what her father had just said.
Then, as her eyes widened until they seemed to fill the whole of her small face, the Archduke said,
“It is gratifying, very gratifying, that the negotiations of our Ambassador, Count Csàky, should prove so fruitful. I shall of course reward him in the proper manner.”