Princess Pirouette sat on her little throne. Because she took precedence over her mother, it was necessary to make sure her head was highest. To accomplish this, carpenters were brought in to erect a platform, draped in black velvet, upon which the throne was placed. Besides the small, golden coronet that she wore, she also was dressed completely in black. Even the pearls that were wrapped around her neck were black. Her mother was dressed similarly. Her only exception was the gold wedding band on the ring finger of her right hand. In addition, Princess Devant wore a black veil that obscured her facial features. Because of her tender age, Pirouette wasn’t required to wear such an adult garment, so everyone could see her eyes, red from days of crying.
The reason Princess Pirouette’s rank was higher than her mother’s was because of arcane rules from centuries past. Princess Devant owed her status to her marriage to a prince of the blood, as they would say. Because of this, if she wanted to style herself as a princess, she couldn’t even use her own name, but rather that of her husband’s. Prince Devant was descended from the younger brother of the old King. He was called His Royal Highness Prince Devant. His widow was known simply as Princess Devant. (Readers should note that this is why the woman who passes out trophies at Wimbledon is called Princess Michael.)
Ever since she’d been told of her father’s death less than a week prior, for Pirouette life had become a hellacious nightmare. After two entire days of not eating or sleeping, the poor girl had been force fed some gruel, given poppy seed tea, bleed from her heel and tucked into bed. For another two days, she lay in bed in a near-comatose state. The physicians were obliged to place a sponge soak in vinegar to her face in order to revive her.