such a moment had come … and i say come, for all moments come like thieves in the night … for the princess.
she had threatened to summon the guard to arrest the obsterpreperous new lord chamberlain, b-------, who had threatened to marry her off to a stranger.
lord b-------- had laughed and told her to summon the guard, expressing his confidence that they would obey him, not her, and arrest her…
there was nothing else for it.
the princess rose from her high chair and walked over to the table.
lord b------- smiled, a smile meant to convey weary amusement and a tolerant ruefulness.
the princess picked the bell up. she used such bells every day, as they were in every room of the castle, placed there to summon servants, guards or soldiers.
the bell did not feel right.
she shook it and it made no sound.
behind her lord b------ laughed.
suddenly the door opened and three guards entered, with three soldiers right behind them. the guards brandished long pikes, the soldiers had swords at their sides.
the princess pointed at the lord chamberlain. "i order you to arrest that man."
they stood motionless in the doorway.
he princess did not recognize any of their faces. this was surprising, as she was surrounded by guards day and night, and was often called upon to attend long, boring ceremonies attended by soldiers.
the princess looked right at them and repeated, "i order you to arrest that man."
the guards and soldiers made no response to her command and as the princess opened her mouth to command them a third time their faces dissolved, leaving them all featureless.
the princess turned to look at the lord chamberlain.
he had turned into an alligator, or a dragon.
but before she had time to decide exactly what sort of beast he was, he resumed his former shape, and smiled pleasantly at her.
"you see, my dear princess, what you are up against."
"yes," she replied, "i see you have enlisted against me the same powers which have for so long enslaved my poor mother."
lord b…….. spread his hands in a stage magician's gesture. "i would not put it that way exactly. but…..".
"if you are not yourself the iniquitous power which conspires against us."
"i! oh, dear no. i am only a servant, only a servant. as we all are."
"i see you are a philosopher, as well as a humble servant of malevolence."
lord b------ only smiled. "be as that it may, do you consent to marry the prince of w-----?
"i do not."