“Oh, no,” murmured Lady Natasha Rambovalina. “Here she comes.” For a woman who was nearly as wide as she was tall, Tata Sous-sus was amazingly fast and lithe on her feet. Walking like a woman with a purpose, she reached Lady Natasha in a few seconds, arm extended with a folded piece of paper in her hand.
“This is for you,” blurted Tata. “Read it now.”
“Would it kill you to be a little more discreet?” Asked Natasha as she snatched the note from Tata’s hand. “What’s this all about?”
“Just read it,” sighed Tata in exasperation.
It read: To my devoted servant- leave my Court now. -P
“What law have I broken,” demanded Lady Natasha. “Why should I leave Court like a thief in the night?”
“I’m just the messenger. I’ve no idea why someone would want you to leave.” Unspoken was the fact that the “someone” was Queen Pirouette.
JUST FOR FUN
Winding a lock of her thin, wispy hair around a finger, Tata Sous-sus used her other hand to point at one of her wigs. Choosing her newest one which was shockingly black, she said, “How about this one?”
“Your ladyship!” Exclaimed her Mistress of the Wardrobe. “Do you think that’s appropriate for the investiture?” On that day, the Prime Minister was due to be admitted to the Brotherhood of the Golden Ass. The Golden Ass was the highest knighthood in the Kingdom, and a new member could only be accepted after an older one had passed away, thereby opening a new slot. For years, the PM had been waiting for this opportunity. To be upstaged by the Queen’s frumpy, old cousin was not an acceptable outcome for anybody (with the exception of Tata Sous-sus.)
“If I wear that wig, the Prime Minister will leave Court in a pique of high dudgeon,” said Tata Sous-sus calmly. “Isn’t that what we want?” Batting her eyes innocently, the Queen’s kinswoman drew a string of pearls from her jewelry box and wrapped it tightly around her neck. “What do you think?” She asked of no one in particular. Answering her own question, she said, “I think it looks fabulous!”
Queen Pirouette took advantage of a quiet moment to pay a visit on GarGar. With his legs propped up on an ottoman, she found him luxuriating on a pink upholstered settee. There was a glimmer of the light that once brightened his countenance. Dispensing with the usual formalities, Pirouette allowed Lady Natasha to pull out a straight-backed armchair for her beside le comte des Deux Chats; that is, GarGar.
While GarGar looked much improved from the last time she’d seen him, Pirouette still found his entire manner quite spooky. It was as if her beloved had become something of a puppet. Who exactly was pulling the strings was a matter of conjecture; however, from his movements, there was a subtle jerkiness, a hesitancy. It was as if the unseen puppet master wasn’t paying enough attention to his job.
“What in God’s name is going on now?” Shouted the Chamberlain over the cries and screams of GarGar, le comte des Deux Chats. His new valet and half a dozen palace guards were holding him down on the bed while a physician struggled to pour some concoction down his throat. The Chamberlain was amazed by le comte’s strength as he managed to wriggle a leg free and used it to kick the black-clad doctor under the chin. The poor man shouted something unintelligible as his flask flew against a wall with a crash.
“Get your ogreish hands off of me!” Yelled GarGar. This last outburst brought forth an unsuppressed giggle from the Chamberlain. “Such language…” he tut-tutted.
One of Queen Pirouette’s earliest memories was when her father brought her a new pet. It was a faun. She was already the “mother” of an extensive menagerie of animals: horses, dogs, cats, tropical fish and even a parrot. She loved them all, but the faun was by far her favorite. She named it Faun, which was both accurate and easy to remember. She remembered how her parents had laughed when she told them its name.
How she wept a few days later when the men came home from a large hunting party. While them caught and killed the prey, it was the women’s duty to butcher and salt the meat. When she was ushered into the cookhouse to learn the art of meat preparation, she became distraught. She thought of her precious Faun, how he would lick her hands when she fed him. Now she was supposed to take a butcher knife and open up a doe that could easily have been the little one’s mother.
“She’s too tender-hearted for this kind of work,” said her nanny who shook her head as she tried to comfort her charge. “Let’s go pick some flowers, my little dove.”
GarGar sat in an upright chair, staring glumly out the window. He could see a couple, a man and woman, walking in the garden. How he envied them. They seemed happy, unaware of anything but each other. He watched as they sat in a wrought-iron loveseat beside a water fountain where a dolphin spat fluid into the air. It was a sunny day, so GarGar could see a little rainbow in the spray.
“Rainbows,” he muttered as he took another sip of wine.
“I beg your pardon, my lord?” Said his valet and parakoimomenos.
“Move that potted fern over there!” GarGar barked. “It’s blocking my view of the garden!”