From Monday through to Saturday, the ladies in Queen Pirouette’s circle were obliged every evening, after supper, to gather in the Queen’s private (and more relaxed) presence room. There they would take turns reading some of their favorite passages from the good book. These bible studies rarely lasted more that forty five minutes or so- never as long as an hour. Today, the minutes seem to drag painfully slowly. All of them, with the exception of Tata Sous-sus knew what was to transpire as soon as the bible study ended. And when it was over, they looked around at each other, simply at a loss of what to do. Did the Queen wish for the others to stay in order to hear what she had to say to Tata, or did she want absolute privacy with Tata in order to give her a no holds barred dressing down.
Perceiving the discomfort of the others, Queen Pirouette snapped her bible shut, clapped her hands and said, “If you gracious ladies would care to retire, I have need to speak with our beloved Tata Sous-sus about some personal family matters. Gathering up their bibles, embroidery, and other sundries, the ladies-in-waiting, well-bred women who know when to make a quiet exit did so, retreating through the double-doors that led into the antechamber to her bedchamber. Because of the etiquette of precedence, Lady Abigail Hoffenhoff, as Chief Lady in waiting was the first to leave. Lady Eleanor de Grave-Nuoro-Oschatz, the youngest memory of the corps and the newest member was charges with pulling the door as quietly as possible.
Queen Pirouette motioned to a comfortable-looking daybed with lovely, realistic floral designs woven into the silken upholstery, coverlets, bolsters and pillows. It was a cherry addition to the sunny room, with its giant planters with giant ferns. The black and white marble tiled floor was almost entirely concealed beneath thick, cozy, velvety carpets of mysterious provenance and exotic design. The entire effects was meant to be elegant, restrained, but also inviting and comforting. That, and the recent and comforting words of spiritual comfort that the women had shared with each other, made this the ideal place and time to lower the boom on the capricious Tata Sous-sus.
Once Tata was ensconced on the daybed, with the assistance of two valets du chambre, Queen Pirouette turned on her, twisting her signet ring that encased the base of her right index finger, a nervous habit she’d picked up after the deaths of her Father and Mother. “Tata, darling, it had been my fondest hope that after all those months that you spent confined in the Tower, you would have gained some insight into your own behavior. You swore to me with one hand on your heart and another on a holy bible that you had learned your lesson. That you would never take money from people anymore in return for favors, like gossip, stories about what goes on in my private bedchamber and even what I’m eating! it’s intolerable. I’m sending you away for a few weeks. I think it’s best to keep you apart from the rest of the court. And I want to give your ill-gotten gains, whatever is left of it, to the church, or an orphanage, that sort of thing. Now go! I can hardly bear to look at you, Tata!”