"No, no, NO!!! You've got it all wrong! That's the salad fork, that's the entree fork, and that's the dessert fork. The entree fork is the largest and the dessert fork is the smallest. This shouldn't be THAT difficult!" Harold, the butler, exclaimed with exasperation as he tried to control his temper. Even I was scared of him, and I was only the one watching!
"Hey, Harold, go easy on her! She doesn't know much about etiquette. If you talk nicely to her, maybe she can learn faster!" I said.
Harold gave me a nasty glare and gave a sigh. "Okay. Let's try this again. Which fork do you use to eat salad?"
Firranda suppressed the urge to slap the butler..for the fifth time. Servants rarely used forks at all, she had no idea there were different types. Why did royals need to overcomplicate everything?
She sneered at the butler and sarcastically answered, "The salad fork?" Looking down at the mess of silverware in front of her, she selected the second-smallest fork.
"Honey, where's Darlina? I want to meet her!" I heard my mom call as she began to walk up the stairs. My eyes went huge and I bolted for the table, grabbing up all the silverware and stuff we had been using for etiquette. I collected all of it, wrapped it up in the tablecloth, and I threw in the closet nearby. Then, I moved the table to the back of the room just as the queen walked in. I was out of breath and perspiring. I took my handkerchief and wiped at my face, taking deep breaths.
Firranda tried to contain her panic. Surely the queen would realize she wasn't royal! And even if she did buy the story, what if she said she "wasn't good enough" for the prince (even though, she thought btiterly, he has already chosen her). She looked anxiously at the prince, hoping for some last minute advice. This was it, the moment of truth...she hoped the prince's mother liked her..
"Madam, this is Darlina. She's the one who I've chosen to marry and who will be eating dinner with us tonight," I said as I moved my hand towards Firranda. As the queen turned her attention on Firranda, I gave a little wave and made a little curtsy movement, trying to let Firranda known that that is what she needed to do.
FIrranda caught the prince's hint and curtseyed immediately. She nearly tumbled over, since we was unused to doing this in a dress, but caught herself and tried to act natural. "Pleasure to meet you, your majesty," she crooned politely. "I am looking forward to dinner with you tonight."
The queen sized her up, and gave a nod of approval. "It seems like my son has chosen wisely. I am looking forward to talking with you more at dinner tonight. We will be dining in one hour. I expect to see both of you at that time, no later. Understood?" she asked as she gave me a knowing look.
"Yes, madam," I said as I bowed and opened the door for her and she left the room.
I gave a huge sigh of relief and started laughing. "That went a lot better than I thought it would! You know more etiquette than I thought you would! Nice job!" I exclaimed as I gave Firranda a high-five.
Firranda shly high-fived him back. "Come on, we're not out of the woods yet. And that was your mom, of course she's not going to say no to you.." Inside, though, she was very excited that the queen hadn't recognized her or realized she wasn't royal. True, there had to be hundred of servants, but still! "And of course I know some etiquete," she continued, grinning wildly, "after all, I follow royals around all day."
"All day, huh? Who you following around all day?" I teased as I nudged Firranda in the side and then wrapped my arms around her in a hug. "I think this may turn out better than you expected it to."
"I sure hope it does," Firranda said, turning her head around to kiss the prince's cheek as he hugged her. "Though I guess that one thing won't change--I'll still follow you around all day. Though as more of an accessory, not a caretaker."
"You're not an accessory to me," I whispered as I put my hands on her hips and pulled her closer to me. "And I hope you'll remember that." I put my forehead to hers and gave a sigh. "You're perfect."
Firranda playfully pushed him aside. "Yeah, Romeo, I know." She ruffled his hair, starting to laugh at his awkwardness. "But to be like a royal, I can't act particularily intellectual. If I've learned anyhting from those ditsy girls constantly throwing themselves at you, it's to act like an airhead to fit in."
"You don't have to act like a complete ditz. My mom was taught by her older brother when she was younger, so she's smarter than you may think she is. I could see her wanting to teach you her knowledge someday," I said with a smile. "I have a hired teacher, but after he leaves, she has me recite all that I learned so she can make sure that he's been teachinf me the right information. Funny thing is, most of the time, she calls the lessons I've learned absolutely proposterous and she'll teach me the "correct" information all over again," I stated as I laughed.
Firranda laughed with him. "Yes, I'd love to get an education! In all honesty, I only know information I've picked up from others, usually just silly gossip and fashion advice. I have learned to read, though, and a little math. I never thought I would get this opportunity, honestly..."
I looked down at the clock and almost freaked. "Five minutes until dinner time! We better get down there!" I exclaimed as I grabbed hold of Firranda's hand and pulled her to the staircase, where I hopped onto the banister and slid all the way down. I was laughing the whole time and then dropped to the floor, looking behind me to see where Firranda was.
Firranda was shocked at the prince's behavior, and almost went down the banister with him. Instead, she held her nose up snootly and daintily took the stairs, giving the prince a playful shove when she got to the bottom. "So I'm the one who needs to leane manners, hm?"
"What, I can't have a little fun?" I teased as I gave her a poke in the ribs. I took Firranda's hand and swung it up and down. Then, as we got closer to the dining room, I got a serious look on her face and took her arm in mine. I held the door open for her and then walked in behind her. I held out a chair for Firranda, then sat down beside her and waited patiently with my hands in my lap, trembling just the teeniest bit.
Firranda couldn't help giggling as he swung her hand. "You're such a child!" she teased, a bit flirtatiously. Royals had never acted like this around her..maybe there was more to them than she thought.
Walking in the dining room escorted by a prince and having her chair pulled out for her made her feel like a princess. She'd never been pampered like this before, but tried to act like it was an everyday occurance. She noticed the prince trembling, and began to worry herself. Was there a big chance of someone discovering her secret? Or was she overthinking it and everything would go fine?
The king and queen came into the room. I stood and motioned for Firranda to as well. I bowed and took the queen's hand and kissed it. As I did so, I saw the king take Firranda's hand and kiss it, leaving his lips on her hand for too long. I took Firranda's hand away and gave the king a quick nasty look.
Firranda quickly followed the prince's lead when the king and queen stood in. She made a mental note to get these cues down, since it was something she was likely expected to know. It didn't seem stranger than anything else when the king kissed her hand for a few long seconds, but the way the prince glared at him afterwards told her it wasn't normal. Oh well, at least he's not throwing me out of the castle, she though nonchalantly. Instead of worrying about the prince's father, she began salivating over the idea of stuffing herself on royal cuisine.