“You will no longer be a slave.”
Years pass by in much the same manner for poor Mig. And evidently, in the interim she learned not to express her desires to Uncle, but only in the open field.
“Gor, I would like to see that little princess another time, wouldn’t I? And her little pony, too, with his tippy-toed feet.” This hope, this wish, that she would see the princess again, was lodged deep in Mig’s heart; lodged firmly right next to it was the hope that she, Miggery Sow, could someday become a princess herself.
The first of Mig’s wishes was granted, in a roundabout way, when King Phillip outlawed soup. The king’s men were sent out to deliver the grim news and to collect from the people of the Kingdom of Dor their kettles, their spoons, and their bowls.
So of course one of the king’s men comes a-calling at Uncle’s hut to collect their kettle.
“By royal order of King Phillip,” repeated the soldier, “I am sent here to tell you that soup has been outlawed in the Kingdom of Dor. You will, by order of the king, never again consume soup. Nor will you think of it or talk about it. And I, as one of the king’s loyal servants, am here to take from you your spoons, your kettle, and your bowls.”
“But that can’t be,” said Uncle.
“Nevertheless. It is.”
“What’ll we eat? And what’ll we eat it with?”
“Cake,” suggested the soldier, “with a fork.”
“And wouldn’t it be lovely,” said Uncle, “if we could afford to eat cake.”
And this brings up the practical difficulties this order needlessly places upon the common folk. Soup is one of the cheapest ways to feed a family, especially large ones. Even if you don’t eat soup, spoons and kettles do have more than one use.
“Unbelievable!” he shouted, “I suppose next the king will be wanting my sheep and my girl, seeing as those are the only possessions I have left.”
“Do you own a girl?” said the soldier.
“I do,” said Uncle. “A worthless one, but she is mine.”
“Ah,” said the soldier, “that, I am afraid, is against the law, too; no human may own another in the Kingdom of Dor.”
“But I paid for her fair and square with a good laying hen and a handful of cigarettes and a blood-red tablecloth.”
“No matter,” said the soldier, “it is against the law to own another. Now, you will hand over to me, if you please, your spoons, your bowls, your kettle, and your girl. Or if you choose not to hand over these things, then you will come with me to be imprisoned in the castle dungeon. Which will it be?”
At least there’s some justice in this kingdom!
Once the soldier establishes that Mig’s parents are M.I.A., he decides to take her to work in the castle.
“To the castle!” shouted the soldier. “I’ll take you to the castle.”
“The castle? Where the itty-bitty princess lives?”
“Gor,” said Mig, “I aim to be a princess, too, someday.”
“That’s a fine dream,” said the soldier. He clucked to the horse and tapped the reins and they took off.
“I’m happy to be going,” said Mig, putting a hand up and gently touching one of her cauliflower ears.
“Might as well be happy, seeing as it doesn’t make a difference to anyone but you if you are or not,” said the soldier. “We will take you to the castle and they will set you up fine. You no longer will be a slave. You will be a paid servant.”
It’s still sad that this girl was so poorly treated that being made a servant is actually a significant improvement.
She was twelve years old. Her mother was dead. Her father had sold her. Her Uncle, who wasn’t her uncle at all, had clouted her until she was almost deaf. and she wanted, more than anything in the world, to be a little princess wearing a golden crown and riding a high-stepping white horse.
Reader, do you think that it is a terrible thing to hope when there is really no reason to hope at all? Or is it (as the soldier said about happiness) something you might as well do, since, in the end, it really makes no difference to anyone but you?
She definitely has some reason to hope, if only for a better life. But at the same time, hopes and dreams like that (to be a princess) can also be twisted in the wrong hands…