The Mice in the Kitchen (Part 7, page 1 of 3)

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Part 7

Chapter 5

Kasimir had never been very good at chess. When he had already lost three pieces, he thought it might be a good time to try to duck out.

‘Father, may I remind you that I really don't like this game so much. You can't expect me to replace Adalberht in everything.’

The king looked at him with angry eyes. He was also angry at himself for missing his other son. It was true that, as a chess opponent, he was much better company than Kasimir.

‘Fine, then,’ he said, getting up from the small marble chess table.

An uncomfortable silence filled the room.

‘Why to the north? Adalberht hates cold weather.’

The king was annoyed by Kasimir's questions, which, although not numerous, put him in an uncomfortable situation, highly irritating.

‘How should I know? He wanted to rebel, to run away from everything. He surely thinks that there he will find other uncivilized people like him, who will take him in... and so he will be at ease.’

Kasimir, despite feeling great about his new position as heir to the throne, wasn't really convinced by his father's explanations regarding this matter. He was well aware of Adalberht's objections to the king's policy —even to his own eventual inheritance of the power to rule the country. But this sudden disappearance was not like his brother. He wouldn't have been surprised if Adalberht had finally ceded his principality to him, seeing the way things were going, despite the shock and the embarrassment that such a decision would have caused to their father. But running away like that, in the middle of the night, like a despicable traitor, was too cowardly, even for his brother.

On the other hand, branding Adalberht as uncivilized might be a bit too much. He was questioning ancient, untouchable customs, yes. Nevertheless, Kasimir knew —even if he would never admit it out loud— that his brother was, in general, a more sensible and calmer person than he was.

It definitely did not make sense to him. That is why he had come to his own conclusion.

‘Who do you think you're fooling?’ he asked his mother later, after dinner, before the king came to the hall. ‘Adalberht leaves just when Flora has decided to go away, to the home of some relatives I've never even heard about? Really, Mother, you’re insulting my intelligence.’

The Duchess fixed her piercing grey eyes on his, with the hope that Kasimir were not stepping into dangerous sands.

The last thing she needed now was for him to become another problem to be solved.

‘They're together, aren't they?’

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