Madam Rénard was without exception the kindest person that Queen Pirouette had ever known. Before she was even born, she’d been her mother’s lady-in-waiting and her father’s mistress. Shortly after Pirouette’s fourth birthday, Madam Rénard had been transferred from her mother’s bedchamber to Pirouette’s nursery. It was a fortuitous moment in both of their lives.
By the age of eight, Pirouette was an orphan. She’d never really known either of her parents very well, so their demise had little effect on the young girl. It was Madam Rénard who was the constant in her life. In adulthood she would understand why her father had loved her so. Madam Rénard always had a calm smile on her face. Her touch was always gentle, as was every word that parted her lips. She was no beauty by any standard, but neither was she ugly. Her broad face, brown hair and eyes, her plump body, all of these attributes conveyed comfort, ease and friendliness. Though she never had any children of her own, her maternal instincts were strong, even fierce.
There was a specific event in Pirouette’s life that she remembered in pristine, exact detail. It was just after her parents had died, and it was Madam Rénard who was charged with the duty of informing Pirouette that she was now an orphan. Madam came into the nursery where Pirouette was playing with some of the children from the nearby village. She clapped her hands and said, “Children, I need to speak with Pirouette alone. Cook has prepared cookies. Go to the parlor downstairs. They’re still warm from the oven.”
Of course, all of the children bolted out of the room. Madam Rénard fell to her knees and extended her hands toward little Pirouette. “Come child,” was all she said. Pirouette immediately complied, rushing into her arms. Smoothing the child’s hair, and kissing the top of her head, Pirouette could sense that Madam, unsure of what to say, had to fumble with her words.
“What is it, Madam?” Piped Pirouette. She looked up into Madam’s eyes. She could see tears brimming, and then slowly running down her cheeks. It was then that Pirouette began to tremble with fear.
Sensing the child’s discomfort, Rénard forced a big smile. “Not to worry, my child. Not to worry.” She soothed. “It is my unfortunate duty to tell you that both of your parents have died. You will never see them again.”