As the Day of Hearts drew near, Ugo grew thin with fear. He couldn’t eat or drink. He couldn’t sing or think. His modest mansion was awash in a dim grey glow.
What could he do to win Hildebrand? What could he give? He wasn’t as wealthy as Henry who had ordered an entire Island designed for Hildebrand. Once she said yes, it would be named the Isle of Hilda.
He didn’t have Blondie’s quick wits. Sometimes it took him days to find the perfect rejionder for Blondie’s jabs; by then, they were stale and bland.
He wasn’t an ugly man, but by Macle, his modest good looks might as well be Shrek’s. The more Ugo thought about his chances, the more he wanted to give up.
But Love doesn’t fail, and it never gives up. So Ugo sent for Panku and LaPap, his closest friends and allies. If he was to have any chance at all, he had to do something amazing, magnificent and wondrous. And that with modest means, looks and wit.
Panku and LaPap came by evening. The trio sat in Ugo’s parlour drinking grape juice and hibiscus nectar as they pondered Ugo’s plight.
“Give up my friend.” LaPap said, downing the contents of his glass before refilling. “You have no chance against these men. Were it one or the other, you would probably have a hair’s breath, as it is, you are finished.”
LaPap’s words rang in Ugo’s soul like a Death Knell.
“Nonsense!” Panku exclaimed. “Does Love move with the wind? Is it scared of charlatans and contenders? Or is it steadfast and sure? Have no fear, Ugo. You will win Hildebrand. All we need is a plan.” And with a swish of her long green skirt, she fetched a drawing board and a pen.
Hours later, a plan had been formed. It wasn’t the best of plans but it was better than any Ugo had thought of (if he had been able to think at all). And for this, Ugo was grateful.
He would have been less pleased if he knew that LaPap had sold his plans to Henry for a 40 percent share in his oil and gas company. His ignorance was bliss that would soon turn to an intense and shocking agony.
The lots were drawn and Ugo would be the last to see Hildebrand. A terrible turn of events, akin to being asked to sing after Whitney Huston or to speak after Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela.
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