This is my contribution to Journeys with Johnbo’s Cellpic Sunday challenge. Above you will see Pirouette pouring on the charm upon my return from a visit up to Amish country, Pennsylvania. Uncropped or edited in any way, this is a completely accurate depiction of our little girl.
The question of the day at Princess Pirouette’s nursery was “Where do babies come from?” There were a number of theories floating around the classroom. Baudouin, a natural son of the Prime Minister insisted that babies were gown in the garden, then fed to a woman who in turn grew it in her belly. The stork theory held that babies were simply dropped down the chimney of expectant families. Others held that a tiny homunculus was transferred from father to mother via a simple kiss. The ongoing debate regarding the origins of pregnancy often resulted in heated arguments between the children.
Headmistress of the nursery, Lady Marguerite grew alarmed at the intensity of the rows between her charges. Often these heated exchanges grew into physical confrontation between the children- something she could not tolerate. At a loss of how to deal with this hot-button issue, the Lady decided to bring the Old King’s personal physician to come to the nursery in order to provide an honest explanation for this quandary.
One of Princess Pirouette’s favorite visitors to the nursery was Captain Krank. A true buccaneer, he always wore his sword on a loose belt so that the scabbard bounced against his leg, creating a distinctive thump-thump-thump in time with his stride. His best friend was a large crow named Uncle Jean who was perpetually perched on his shoulder. To the delight of all the children, this avian prodigy was capable of simple conversation and with every visit came a new trick.
On this particular visit, Princess Pirouette had a field day chatting with Uncle Jean. “Hi! Uncle Jean!” She exclaimed.
“Hello,” he replied. “Good girl! Good girl!”
Pirouette giggled gleefully. Unsure of whether his response was a query or an observation, she responded with a simple “yes.”
“Uncle Jean has a new trick for you, yer worship,” said the captain. “Do you want to show her?” He asked of the bird who answered by bobbing his head up and down. “Good boy,” said the swashbuckler as he popped a treat into his mouth. Marching along the ridge of the man’s shoulder to the back of his head, the creature used his beak to untie the ribbon that was holding his hair in place. Familiar with the drill, Pirouette placed her hand in front of herself, thereby providing a convenient platform for Uncle Jean to land. Dropping the ribbon into her other hand, he said, “Pretty! Pretty!”
“It is a pretty pink ribbon,” observed the little girl.
Cocking its head to one side, he replied, “No! You pretty! You pretty!”
One day in the nursery room, Princess Pirouette and her playmates (of whom there were usually five boys and four other girls) a dance master came to teach the children their first steps. Their nursery school teacher, Lady Marguerite acted as the master’s partner. To the strains of a small orchestra that included two violins, a flute, a trumpet and a tabor, the children watched in silence as the pair moved their feet in time to the music.
To Pirouette, their motions seemed strange, yet intriguing. An earnest student, the little Princess did her best to concentrate on the dancers. While the other children began to whisper and giggle amongst themselves, Pirouette ignored them so that she could memorize the choreography. Suddenly something weird occurred that puzzled all of the children. The dance master seized Lady Marguerite around the waist and lifted her into the air.
“Ooh!” She shrieked. “Put me down, Pierre! Put me down!”
Pirouette wasn’t sure, but it looked to her as if the man had squeezed Lady Marguerite’s rump. Once on the ground, the teacher tried to slap him on the cheek, but he grabbed her wrist. “There will be no mosquito bites today!”
Sitting in the captain’s cabin, Queen Pirouette, two of her ladies in-waiting, GarGar and Admiral Crank, it was difficult not to feel a bit cramped. Of course, GarGar, le comte des Deux Chats didn’t mind too much. After months, alone in a dungeon, Monsieur le comte was more than happy to be in the company of three beautiful women, one of whom would be his future wife. He could have done without Admiral Crank, but he was the senior, most high ranking officer’s in Her Majesty’s service so was deemed the only man worthy to command the vessel.
Christened the Mary Rose after one of the old King’s favorite wives, HMS Mary Rose needed major repairs before it was worthy even to sail on a calm river. The old King used to call it his “barge,” but the royal yacht sported two tall mast and was powered mainly by oars that were painted gold. How they flashed in the sunlight as they rose and then fell into the water, all in unison! It was a marvel of modern engineering.
Initially, the refurbishment went slowly and expensively; however, that all changed when Queen Pirouette asked Monsieur le comte to look into the matter. The problem had been one of infighting between the fractious workers, some of whom barely even spoke the Queen’s French. He called together a meeting of all the managers of the project, fired them and replaced them new men who knew how to get a job done and done efficiently (and cheerfully, it was hoped.) When all was said and done, GarGar received high marks, not only for getting the job done, but also for not taking bribes or skimming from the top!
Moored in a tiny village with the ridiculous name of Saint Germain-en-Laye, the royal flagship had accumulated a thin layer of frost on its deck. It was the Festival of Saint Charles de Foucault after all. After hearing mass below deck, Queen Pirouette nearly broke her neck when she ascended to begin her hand-waving duties. If not for GarGar, who was nearly always at her side, she would have fallen on the slippery surface.
Unable to contain his anger, GarGar, le comte des Deuxchats shouted, “Sand! Salt! Why hasn’t this deck been treated properly for Her Majesty? Where’s Admiral Crank? I’ll have his guts for garters if any mishap should befall our Queen!”
Standing on the prow of the ship with her herald standing directly behind her, Queen Pirouette waved obligingly at the crowds that lined both sides of the riverbed. Her flag which depicted a unicorn argent on a field of white with a golden crown around its neck. It was a fairly simple design of her own making. Trumpeters, half a dozen, blew tunelessly. They weren’t onboard to make music. They were they to let the people know that Her Majesty was coming. From the crow’s nest, a man with a good, strong arm threw silver coins at the people. So this is where my taxes are going, he thought as he tossed the money at the sea of outstretched arms.
“Jesus Christ!” Said the Queen over her shoulder to the herald. “My arm is getting tired! Abigail!” She shouted to her chief lady-in-waiting. “Get over here and wave at these people. They don’t know me from Adam. Here, put on my crown.”
Abigail laughed. “You can’t be serious.”
“Just who do you think you’re talking to?” Said Pirouette sternly. “Well?”
“Your Majesty!” Replied Lady Abigail tartly. “Your wish is my command.”
“Your loyalty to Our Royal Person is truly moving,” hissed Pirouette, oozing sarcasm. “I’m going to marry you off to the first troll I see!”
Trying not to think about the enormous amount of bad luck of having so many women aboard ship, Admiral Crank took a large bite from the plug of tobacco, a recently discovered herb from the New World that was all the rage among the upper classes. While it tasted atrocious, and more often than not gave him a stomach ache, there was something about how the tobac (as they called it at Court) that made him feel tip-top. As long as he didn’t swallow the foam in his mouth created by this plant-based stimulate, but rather spat it out, there were no stomach aches, no nausea, no vomiting, no headaches. Instead, it made him feel as though he had the strength of ten men, maybe even twenty men. Spitting a big mouthful onto the deck, the “Angry Admiral” as his men called him, failed to suppress a chortle as the big glob of the noxious material landed on one of GarGar’s shoes.
“Er…a million ‘pologies yer Grace,” muttered the Admiral.
GarGar chuckled good-naturedly. “I can buy a new pair of shoes once we pull into the next port.”
“Surely you jest, m’lord,” said Crank. “You there! Boy!” Shouted the Admiral at a nearly toothless, old man. “Swab ‘is Lordship’s shoes.”
“Yes, Admiral,” said the sailor, falling to his knees with a rag that was somehow dirtier than GarGar’s shoes. Not entirely comfortable with the situation at hand, le comte des Deux Chats tried his best not to look at the goiter on the old man’s neck. Given that the excrescence was the size of a grapefruit, it proved an impossible. That poor man, thought GarGar.