The ball was in full swing. General Montclair was dancing with one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. Even as he held the beautiful young woman in his arms, he found it difficult not to look at Queen Pirouette. As for Her Majesty, she could barely hear the music because of the pounding in her ears. She took Abigail’s hand and pressed the back of it against her cheek.
“My Queen!” Exclaimed Abigail. “You are burning up! You need to retire!”
“What rubbish,” replied Pirouette in a deadpan voice. “I never get sick.”
“When are you going to accept the fact that you are not carved from stone?” Said Lady Abigail. “I’m extremely worried about you, Pirouette!” As a rule, even in private, Lady Abigail sought to observe all court etiquette, even though she and the Queen were childhood friends. She chose the informal address in order to underscore her concern.
Pirouette was on the verge of countering Abby with a witty repartee, but suddenly, out of the blue, she felt all of her strength drain from her body, as if it were some liquid spilling on the marble floor. Still holding Abby’s hand, Pirouette leaned in and said, “You’re right. Help me to my rooms. I don’t want to make a fuss in front of all these people.” Then the Queen promptly fainted.
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