For the second time in as many months, the three highest ranking women in the court were sitting vigil by the old King’s bed. Princess Pirouette sat from dawn to dusk, then came Tata Sous-sus through half the night, and then finally la duchesse du Linge brought up the rear. Others might come and go through the sickroom, but these three ladies sat like imperious statues by the royal bed, wiping the sweat from the old King’s brow, plumping his pillows and otherwise doing their best to make him comfortable.
For three days His Majesty lay supine and motionless on the bed. On the fourth day, his eyelids began to flutter and his lips to tremble as though he might be awakening. “If only Her Highness would allow me to apply a few leeches, I’m sure we would see His Majesty awakening straight away!” Bemoaned his chief physician, but Pirouette expressly forbade the use of knives or leeches or hot brands to cure the old King of whatever was ailing him. “Your tender mercies will no doubt be the death of our King,” retorted Princess Pirouette. Tata Sous-sus, who was on the side of the physicians, could only shake her head and pray for the best. As for the old King’s old mistress, la duchesse du Linge didn’t know what to think or say in this situation.