Monday Window Challenge: December 19, 2022

Monday Windows Challenge. Taken from the First Presbyterian Church of Watsontown, Pennsylvania.

Matthew 24:44. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Morass

Before the old King grew very old, there was an organized and orderly system of centralized government. As their King descended ever more into senility, so did the nobility become emboldened to ignore his edicts. In the matter of a few years, blood feuds and property line disputes became the order of the day. It was into this morass of internecine warfare that Princess Devant, a widow and her daughter, Princess Pirouette found themselves upon the death of Prince Devant.

Prince Devant had been the focus of the people’s hopes and dreams for a brighter future. Upon his demise in a hunting accident, there was an overwhelming outpouring of grief on a national scale. Funeral wreaths were hung on every door. Black was the only color to be seen in apparel and interior design. For the King and his council, it was a crisis of such magnitude that Parliament was convened for the first time in a decade. Their first act was to summon Princess Pirouette and her mother to Court where His Royal Majesty could keep an eye on them and protect them from the factionalism that was tearing the Kingdom apart.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Break

A few months after the death of her father, a new child was introduced to Princess Pirouette’s nursery. His name was GarGar. Like Her Royal Highness, GarGar’s father had recently passed away under similar circumstances. “It appears that love of the chase will soon depopulate our ranks more than any war,” remarked Princess Devant when she was introduced to the boy. There was one small consolation to soften the blow of orphanhood for young GarGar; that is, he inherited his father’s title: le comte des Deux Chats. Given his elevated rank, the youngster was considered royal enough to play with a Princess of the Blood.

Pirouette recognized immediately that Monsieur le comte was different from the other children. He rarely obeyed an order. Blatantly disrespectful of anyone of authority, he loved nothing better than seeing adults lose their tempers. Laughing merrily at their red-faced sputtering, he took his beatings with a sangfroid that amazed his elders. Needless to say, Lady Marguerite had her hands full with this one.

Within his first hour in Pirouette’s company, he had the poor Lady weeping into her handkerchief. Running into the arms of Princess Devant, she cried, “I’m afraid I’ll break that poor boy’s neck!” Such displays of emotion only caused the mistress of the house to look upon her with disgust.

“Go back to the nursery, you fool,” said Princess Devant. “You may wish to try another approach with Monsieur le comte. Have you thought of reasoning with him? He’s an intelligent boy. I’m sure he will respond appropriately.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Sharp

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!”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Hellacious

Mona Loa erupting. Photo by Robert Burns.

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.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Hang

“You will surely hang for this!” Shouted Lady Marguerite at the dance master, Monsieur Pierre. On the floor sat Princess Pirouette, red-faced and screaming at the top of her lungs. Her classmates huddled in a corner, frozen with fear. Never had they heard such calamitous outpouring of pain sprinkled with rage.

“It’s not my fault the child has two left,” huffed M. Pierre.

“How do you know she won’t tell her father that you tripped her? Why, he could walk through that very door now!” Lady Marguerite pointed at the entrance to the nursery.

As if the lady had invoked a spell, Prince Devant appeared in the doorway. “What’s all the fuss?” He queried.

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