“Yes.” Faith kissed Richard.
“I have another surprise for you,” said Richard; he took out a handkerchief from his pocket and covered her eyes. Faith could feel how Richard’s hands guided her to the horse. They ride for like an hour. Richard off the handkerchief to reveal that they’ve arrived to… the castle!
What are we doing here? thought Faith.
“Faith I have a confession to make,” Richard took her hands between his, “I am a Prince. My father gave me the challenge that if I could find a smart, charming, beautiful, and virtuous woman, I could marry her. That woman is you, my dear Faith.” Faith remained silence. “I hope you can forgive me for not telling you the truth, but I wanted to find someone who would love me for who I am and, not for my riches.” Faith remained silent. “I know that it is a lot to take in, but I want you to think about it.” Faith remained silent. “Well, umm, let’s go inside, my parents are very excited to meet you.”
King Ernest and Queen Grace waited for their son and his future bride in the throne’s chamber. Grace hadn’t heard from her daughter in weeks, so, she delighted when she saw her walk up to her, accompanied by her stepson.
Richard introduced Faith; Ernest kissed her hand and welcomed her to the court. Grace hugged her and whispered, “Well, done.” in her ear. The wedding was to celebrate in 3 weeks, announced Ernest. Grace escorted Faith to her chambers.
“Oh, my lovely Faith, everything went according to plan. You’re here with me and Richard got the bride he wanted. Isn’t it marvelous?”
Faith thought about her mother’s words, and she was right. She would marry the man she loved, she did her mother’s will and the prince wasn’t an old bastard. Faith was happy, she wanted to dance.
“But,” continued Grace, a little bit embarrassed, “there’s something you need to do. For any, whether royal or not, has to pass certain… virtue test, in order for her to marry the Prince. Some members of the Vatican will come down in a few days to conduct it. Don’t worry, sweetie, it will be fast, and I ordered for them to be female, for you.” Faith’s face went pale. Mary’s plan. The man that came to the convent at night. She couldn’t pass the test. But she couldn’t say that to her mother.
The days until the test were getting shorter and shorter. Faith couldn’t sleep or eat, busy with her thoughts on how to solve her big dilemma. Her anxiety grew with each day that passed.
One day, three days before the virtue test, she came to a conclusion. Faith went up to Richard’s chambers. He was reading some letters of congratulations for his wedding.
“Darling, what brings you here?” Richard tried to hug Faith, but she stepped back.
“I have something very important to tell,” tears were coming to her eyes. Richard was concerned.
Faith confessed everything: who her mother was, Grace’s plan, how she thought Hector was the Prince and assured him that she couldn’t pass the virtue test. “Richard, I truly love you, and I am very sorry.”
Faith cried, bitterly, for the whole night.
When she woke up, she was in her own room. She was afraid to go out. What would Richard or the King do to her?
At breakfast, before Ernest and Richard arrived, Grace announced, to Faith, that virtue test had been canceled. By Richard’s request. The Queen didn’t make much of it.
After the whole family ate breakfast, each went to their respective duties. Except for Richard and Faith. Faith hugged him and asked why.
“Because I love you,” simply replied Richard, “I forgive you.”