The Mice in the Kitchen (Part 6, page 1 of 5)

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Part 6

Chapter 4


Wilhelmina knew the king’s hypocrisy so well that she couldn't possibly fall prey to his flattery. In that, as in many other things, they were very alike.

She answered with a slight smile.

‘Is it a special occasion?’

Since when was an extraordinary event needed for her to look charming? He had to ruin his praise in an idiotic manner. As usual. It wasn't worth becoming upset.

‘Not particularly. Cecilia is coming with her daughters, as I told you yesterday.’

‘Ah, yes, I remember. You did mention something about that. But I still don't understand why the hurry! If one of these young ladies wishes to become the princess’s maid... Well, the prince hasn't even picked a wife yet.’

‘However, the ball is to take place in just a few days... And it would be an excellent way of having them meet noblemen. It is always preferable for the person who will be occupying the most relevant position of trust with the future queen to be married to a count or a duke, don't you think? And to learn to behave appropriately in this environment as soon as possible.’

The king couldn't find any reasons to disagree, so he went to sit in his favorite place of the bright hall. That morning he did not have many matters to take care of, so it wouldn't be excessively inconvenient for him to lose some time meeting with the duchess's sister and nieces.

They soon arrived. The luxurious interior of the palace, even more spectacular than its exterior, made them feel excited and proud; and it made Cecilia feel a little less far away from the luck that always seemed to fall to her sister's lot. Maybe it would be her turn now.

They were majestically led to the east wing, where they were received by the king, who was accompanied only by two pages and an elderly maid. Cecilia ran her eyes over the room, searching for Wilhelmina, and was quite astonished not to see her there.

After the corresponding curtsies, the sovereign introduced them to the old lady in black, who turned out to be the prince's nursemaid.

‘I believe she is the person who can best instruct the lady-in-waiting that will attend Her Highness ─that is, when my son finally decides to choose a wife. That's the position you wish for one of them, is it not?’

Cecilia was a bit shocked by the king's words and manners. She took a few seconds to analyze the situation. It was quite obvious that he certainly didn't intend to courteously beat about the bush; and her hopes of having herself and her daughters treated as something more than recommended plebeians vanished considerably. Nevertheless, she wasn't so naive as to not know that the path to success she had just stepped into would be full of moments such as this one, which she would have to accept in order to go on.

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