It was the occasion of Princess Priouette’s ninth birthday. Nearly everyone at Castle Rising, even the guards and stable boys, gathered in the great hall and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. There was cake, adorned with nine candles and presents. Her mother gave her new shoes made of the softest grey leather and a pink satin gown with lace at the collar, sleeve and hem. Best of all, the old King gave her a new doll.
Although she was growing a bit old for such things as a doll, this one was special. Its face was made of porcelain and painted so sweetly that it looked almost real. Its lips were red and cheeks a rosy pink. Her eyes were blue, adorned with lashes made of silken thread. Of course, His Majesty couldn’t be expected to leave his Court and duties as sovereign for the likes of something so trivial as a child’s birthday, he did send one of his favorites, le Chevalier de Pont Neuf to present it.
With great solemnity, monsieur le Chevalier extracted the doll from a box, wrapped in silver foil and tied with a pretty pink ribbon. While he allowed the child to tear open the wrapping, he insisted on pulling the doll from the box himself, peeling away the light, delicate paper with his own hand. Normally a man of gruesome visage, for this event, even he looked happy and not so scary.Before accepting the doll, Pirouette made sure to kiss monsieur le Chevalier’s hand, giving him her best curtsey.
Just a few days later, in the nursery room, Pirouette showed her doll to her playmates. They were suitably impressed. Pirouette, being of a kind and generous nature, was happy to let the other girls take turns holding the precious thing. Suddenly, GarGar, intrigued by all the fuss, insisted on having his turn with the doll. Shocked by his effrontery and simply the impropriety of his request, she hugged her present to her chest and gave him an emphatic “No!”
Wresting the doll from the little girl with all his might, it flew into the air and crashed onto the marble parquet floor. When Lady Marguerite retrieved it, everyone could see that the poor thing’s face was cracked in two, changing from a sweet little girl into something like a deformed demon.
For the first time in her life, but not the last, Pirouette felt her heart transform from a warm, beating vessel into a frozen icicle. From that moment on, she determined that it would be best to keep all things precious away from the eyes of others, and more importantly, to view her kinsman, GarGar, le comte des Deux Chats from the corner of her eye at all times. Clearly, he was an impulsive boy who cared more for his personal wants than for what might be good for others.