“And? What is your personal opinion?
They were strolling through Nona’s small grove of plum trees. Kimbur glanced at her beneath Nona’s parasol.
She shrugged a shoulder. “For as far as she’s come… she can’t do much better.”
“‘Can’t do much better?’” My darling Kimbur, that sounds dismal for a Princess about to emerge onto one of largest Court seasons of the year.”
Nona had debated over whether to tell Mirelle that just a week after she arrived at the Palace, an enormous ball would be held. Nona told her, in the end, for finding out on her way there, or once she arrived – well, the girl was delicate enough, they didn’t need her to balk and run. Nona thought of Mirelle as a newborn foal; her legs still wobbly.
Ah, Rhutgard, Rhutgard. While she questioned the boy’s ideas all around – both his idea of raising Mirelle in an alehouse, and suddenly demanding her back with next to no warning, he was still the King, and they had no choice but obey him, Nona mused.
But she would be a beautiful Princess, that, Nona knew.
Once she got her legs under her.
“Truly?” she questioned Kimbur. “So bad as that?”
“No – no. It’s just – her heart’s not in this. I think that’s what keeps her back. You know, most girls would love this opportunity, and she hates it. She wants to go home.”
Nona nodded slowly. “Well, her whole life has been a lie. That will take some adjustment.”
Kimbur cocked her head to the side in contemplation.
“Yes, my dear?”
“She said something once, that I found interesting. She said, ‘You can put the castle in the barmaid, but you can’t put the barmaid back in the castle.’”
Nona smiled a little. “When was this?”
“Three weeks ago, when I first arrived.”
“Well, unfortunately, the barmaid will be returning to the castle, and tomorrow, whether she’s ready or not, I’m afraid. You have quite a job ahead of you, my dear Kimbur.”
“So does she. But I think she’s up to it,” Kimbur mused.