The whispers of adults always filter down to the children. During the official period of mourning for Prince Devant, everyone who held a high post in his household was required to wear black. After three months in her widow’s weeds, Princess Devant (Princess Pirouette’s mother) was allowed to wear grey or mauve. While one could hardly describe her attire as “festive,” it was a departure from the somber threads that discouraged any potential suitors. Thus was her thick black veil replaced by one made of thin, white muslin.
Word of a potential second husband for the bereaved Princess reached the ears of young Princess Pirouette and her fellows in the nursery. One crisp morning of early Spring, to the collective horror of everyone (including la maîtresse de maison) a short, squat gentleman and his tall, skinny valet came into their classroom. Introduced to them as le seigneur des vaches, he sported a long beard, making him look more like a troll than a human. Bowing low at the waist, as was customary, he approached Pirouette, fell down to one knee and kissed the hem of her dress.
“With your Highness’ consent, I would like to become your new daddy,” he said in a high-pitched voice. “Would your Highness like that?” Doing his best to smile sweetly, the poor man revealed a mouth full of crooked, brown teeth, some of which were glaring in their absence.
Shocked beyond words, Pirouette snatched her hand back from the troll’s sweaty palm. Suddenly, a sharp pain struck her on her right side, just below her ribcage. Swiftly turning her back on le seigneur, she vomited the meagre contents of her stomach onto the black and white, marble parquet floor.
“There’s your answer, monsieur!” Shouted Lady Marguerite. “Now go!”