Friday, July 24, 2015

Scout's Law - Epilogue

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Chris reacts to the medal Callan awarded to him.


While growing up, I dreamed of the day I’d stand before the royal family and receive an award for valor from the beautiful Princess Callan. Most boys have such dreams at one time or another. Actually having that dream come true was even more exciting than I ever imagined. I just didn’t expect the embarrassment I felt, too.

In your dreams, you swell with pride as your deeds are recounted before your shipmates and the nobles of the court. In your dreams, you know you deserve such praise and are worthy of the admiration directed at you. In your dreams, you’re like David Rice—resolute in the face of danger, an implacable foe of evil, and certain of your rightful place in the pantheon of heroes. 

Throughout the ceremony, I kept waiting for someone to point at me and shout, “Hey, he’s not a hero—he’s just a kid!” But no one did that. They did something worse. They cheered. For me. And for Jade, but at least she deserved it.

The next thing I knew my shipmates were slapping my back and pumping my hand. Then the officers saluted me—even Captain Wright—and told me I was shaping up to be a fine young officer.

When the officers and crew parted, it was to let my family through. Mom hugged me and kissed me and cried and told me how much she loved me. Dad squeezed my shoulder and, in a voice husky with emotion, said he was so proud of me he was about to burst. The scariest part was my brothers and sisters. They were nice to me and said they always knew I’d make a name for myself.

Then we were whisked off to a fancy ball where lords and ladies shook my hand and told me they expected great things from me. Admirals saluted me and their wives introduced giggling daughters to me. I found every dance on my card taken up with the admirals’ daughters or admirals’ wives. All I really wanted to do was dance with Jade, to look into her green eyes and find a little sanity in this strange world I’d been thrust into. But Jade was busy dancing with the sons of merchant princes and lordlings.

Finally, Callan used her royal prerogative and placed herself at the top of my dance card. She whirled me out onto the dance floor, leading without appearing to lead. She studied me for a moment before asking, “What’s bothering you, Chris? And don’t tell me it’s dancing with every eligible young lady in the court. It’s something deeper than that.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but the words wouldn’t come. How could I tell my future ruler she’d given an award to someone who didn’t deserve it? Instead, I just shook my head.

Callan gazed at me thoughtfully for a few seconds then said, “Let me guess. You think you’re just a regular ensign who doesn’t deserve all of this attention, much less the Queen’s Cross, and you’re just waiting for someone to realize it’s all a mistake.”

My mouth dropped open and I blurted, “How did you know?”

Callan leaned closer to me and whispered, “Because I’ve heard the same thing from David half a dozen times.”

My mouth dropped open a second time. “David? But he’s a true hero! He deserves every honor given him and more!”

“If you ask David, he’ll tell you he’s just a man doing his duty as best he can,” Callan said.

I found myself nodding vigorously. “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel!”

“May I tell you a secret, Chris?” Callan asked. When I nodded, she continued, “A hero is someone who does their duty and keeps on doing their duty no matter how trying the circumstances.” Callan brought us to a halt in the middle of the dance floor, took my hands in hers, and stared deeply into my eyes. “And you, my young ensign, are a hero.”

David and Jade spun to a stop next to us and I heard David say, “Of course he’s a hero. And so is Jade!”

“But I don’t feel like a hero!” Jade and I both said at the same time. We looked at each other in amazement and both said, “Of course you’re a hero!”

Callan deftly maneuvered Jade into my arms. “I’m declaring both of your dance cards closed except for each other for the rest of the ball. Dance or don’t dance, but do both together.” Callan laid a hand lightly on Jade’s arm. “Oh, and Chris has been so sweet he really deserves a kiss. I thought about giving him one, but why would he want to kiss an old married woman when he can kiss the most beautiful young lady in the palace?”

“Who, me?” Jade asked in surprise.

I pulled her close and said, “Yes, you.”

And, right there in the middle of the crowded dance floor, in plain sight of both of our families, I kissed the most beautiful young lady in my universe.

The End

This is not the last we’ll see of Chris and Jade, but it’s time to pursue another story which vexed your author many months ago. Rest assured he has a much better idea of where the story will go. Join us on Monday for Chapter 1 of The Adventures of M&M: Book 2 (aka The Fugitive Heir: Book 2).