Crown Princess Daniska, 12, had worn a red velvet gown from the 1950s. With fires burning and so many bodies in the parlor and great hall, she was sweating. Not very princely, she knew. It was said of the Queen of England, that the queen did not sweat, she perspired.
Obviously Elizabeth hadn't held a Christmas court for a house full of Vikings.
She'd been on her feet as hostess for hours. She was envious of the teens who'd parked themselves on the wide wooden staircase that led to the second floor balcony. Their plates of food empty and piled here and there as they talked in small knots.
Daniska wanted to sit down. Anyone would defer to her and offer her a seat -- but that hardly seemed fair. Being royal wasn't fair, no matter the size of the crown or kingdom.
It was at this moment that she felt a sudden tug on her arm. Her sister Anaulka, 9, wore a green velvet gown, similar to Daniska's, and her infectious mischievous grin was fully fueled by hours of sugar.
"Come, dear sister", Anaulka said sweetly, linking arms, "and take a turn around the room with me."
Daniska acquiesced, but said, "You've been reading your Jane Austen."
"In English this time."
"Very well." And together they began to go slowly into the parlor. The smaller children were too busy playing with their presents to notice the girls passing.
"You do know that in Jane Austen's time, taking a turn meant we were supposed to be talking."
"Whispering secrets and gossip," Anaulka corrected. "Usually about boys."
"And what do you possibly know about our boys?"
"Erik is in love with you." To Anaulka's credit, she didn't use her usual name for the blonde teen -- Erik the Puppy.
"That's no secret," Daniska had to admit. "He's had a crush on me for years."
"And you don't mind his company."
"So General Marcellus found some mistletoe in the forest. He hung it earlier above the alcove under the staircase."
And there it was. Daniska hadn't notice the little white and green bundle before amidst all the pine boughs and other decorations.
"It's Christmas, Dani. Make his day."
"This is a terrible idea."
But the princess left her sister and went to the stairs to where Erik was sitting on the first wide step, leaning against the carved pedestal. Without a word, she offered her hand, and once he got up, led him around the corner.
A glance upward was all it took to give him the message.
It was a very sweet, discrete and long Christmas kiss.
A Turn Around The Room
-- Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon