Miggery Sow’s luck continued.

Her first task in the castle is to bring a spool of red thread to the princess, and she immediately gets off on the wrong foot with the head of the servants by forcing her to shout to communicate with the poor girl.

“Now, how did it go?” she said. “Give the princess the thread and then give her a cursy? No, no, first the cursy and then the thread. That’s it. Gor, that’s right, that’s the order.”

Of course, even this simple task is made much harder by Mig’s poor hearing, and after knocking three times at the princess’s door (and failing to hear her response), the Pea is forced to come to the door herself.

“Gor,” said Mig, her mouth hanging open.

“Hello,” said the Pea. “Are you the new serving maid? Have you brought me my thread?”

“Cursy I must!” shouted Mig.

She gathered her skirts, dropped the spool of thread, stuck a foot out, stepped on the spool, rocked back and forth for what seemed like quite a long time (both to the watching princess and the rocking Mig), and finally fell to the floor with a Miggish thud.

“Whoopsie,” said Miggery Sow.

The Pea could not help it – she laughed. “That’s all right,” she said to Mig, shaking her head. “It’s the spirit of the thing that counts.”

The Pea takes Mig’s clumsiness (and hard hearing) in stride, treating her with more patience than just about anyone else.

“Lovely,” said the princess as she took the thread from Mig. “Thank you so much. I cannot seem to hold on to a spool of red thread. Every one I have disappears somehow.

If the mice are always stealing red thread, there must be an awful lot of mice thrown in the dungeon…

She explains to Mig that she’s making a tapestry of her family, with her father playing music and her mother eating soup – both things they loved. It seems to imply they she started it before her mother’s death.

“Your ma’s dead?”

“Yes,” said the Pea. “She died just last month.” She bit her lip to stop it from trembling.

“Ain’t that the thing?” said Mig. “My ma is dead, too.”

[…]

“How old were you?” shouted the Pea.

“Not but six,” said Mig.

“I’m sorry,” said the princess. She gave Mig a quick, deep look of sympathy.

They turn out to be the same age, too – and she remembers her from that ride all those years ago.

“Did I wave?” shouted the Pea.

“Yes,” nodded Mig.

“But you didn’t wave back.” said the princess.

“I did,” said Mig. “Only you didn’t see. Someday, I will sit on a little white horse and wear a crown and wave. Someday,” said Mig, and she put up a hand to touch her left ear, “I will be a princess, too.”

“Really?” said the Pea. And she gave Mig another quick, deep look, but said nothing else.

They easily could have been friends in other circumstances – say, for instance, if the princess had stopped that day to talk to Mig and found out then what her circumstances were, and she’d been spared a multitude of clouts to the ear.

But she returns to the head servant and another clout to the ear for taking so long.

“You are not destined to be one of our star servants. That is already abundantly clear.”

“No, ma’am,” said Mig. “That’s all right, though, because I aim to be a princess.”

“You? A princess? Don’t make me laugh.”

This, reader, was a little joke on Louise’s part, as she was not a person who laughed. Ever. Not even at a notion as ridiculous as Miggery Sow becoming a princess.

Next time: To the dungeons again…

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