Abridged Excerpt from THE FORGOTTEN QUEEN

“Marry that barbarian! Has my father totally lost his senses? I am Matilda, daughter of that same Henry I, King of England, granddaughter of William the Conqueror, empress of most of the civilized world, and princess of this graceless island.” She spun around,. Her dark hair whipped across her face, and she stared at her step-mother. “I am not going to marry that . . . that childish half-wit who thinks nothing of hunting from dawn to dusk.”

Matilda kicked a small stool across the floor where it hit the damp, stone wall with a cracking sound. Its carved wooden legs were left in splinters beneath the brocaded seat.

“Matilda compose yourself. You are not behaving as an empress.” Adelicia’s voice was soothing in contrast with Matilda’s ranting. The effect was an instant calming.

Matilda looked away from her step-mother because she knew that Adelicia was right, as usual. Matilda sat on a stool next to the fireplace, holding her back straight and her chi tilted upwards. She had been trained to be an empress from the day she had been betrothed to Henry V at the age of seven. Matilda liked being an empress. She believed it was ordained by God that she had been chosen to fulfill the role of wife to the Holy Roman Emperor, but since his death, she felt unsettled like a country without a king. Matilda had seen the sky the night before, and it had been without stars or moon. The sky had seemed to hold no pattern. It had been empty like she was now.

 

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