And while the mouse slept, Roscuro put his terrible plan into effect…
Would you like to hear, reader, how it all unfolded? The story is not a pretty one. There is violence in it. And cruelty. But stories that are not pretty have a certain value, too, I suppose. Everything, as you well know (having lived in this world long enough to have figured out a thing or two for yourself), cannot always be sweetness and light.
Without darkness, stories don’t have much of a point. All of the stories I’ve covered have some messier aspects (be they thematic darkness or elements that are now recognized as “problematic”). Even Princess Tutu, which I’d personally characterize as the most polished and “pretty” of the stories, grapples with some very serious and dark elements. If stories were always pretty, we would gain nothing from them.
Listen. This is how it happened. First, the rat finished, once and for all, the job he had started long ago: He chewed through Gregory’s rope, all the way through it, so that the jailer became lost in the maze of the dungeon. Late at night, when the castle was dark, the serving girl Miggery Sow climbed the stairs to the princess’s room.
In her hand, she carried a candle. And in the pockets of her apron were two very ominous things. In the right pocket, hidden in case they should encounter anyone on the stairs, was a rat with a spoon on his head and a cloak of red on his shoulders. In the left pocket was a kitchen knife, the same knife that Miggery Sow had used to cut off the tail of a certain mouse. These were the things, a rat and a knife and a candle, that Mig carried with her as she climbed up, up, up the stairs.
But of course Roscuro has his doubts as to whether Mig is really capable of accomplishing her part of the plan (not helped by her tendency to shout all the time).
“Well,” said Mig, “we go up into the princess’s room and she will be sleeping and snoozing and snoring, and I will wake her up and show her the knife and say, ‘If you does not want to get hurt, Princess, you must come with me.'”
“And you will not hurt her,” said Roscuro.
“No, I won’t. Because I want her to live so that she can be my lady in waiting when I become a princess.”
“Exactly,” said Roscuro. “That will be her divine comeuppance.”
“Gor,” whispered Mig. “Yes. Her divine comeuppance.”
Mig had, of course, no idea what the phrase “divine comeuppance” meant, but she very much liked the sound of it, and she repeated it over and over to herself until Roscuro said, “And then?”
“And then, continued Mig, “I tells her to get out of her princess bed and come with me on a little journey.”
“And then,” said Mig, who was now coming to her favorite part of the plan, “we takes her to the deep downs and we gives her some long lessons in how to be a serving girl and we gives me some short lessons on how to be a princess and when we is all done studying up, we switch places. I gets to be the princess and she gets to be the maid. Gor!”
Naturally, this is only the plan Roscuro tells her to get Mig to do what he wants – that is, take the princess to the dungeon.
No one would ever, not for one blind minute, mistake Mig for the princess or the princess for Mig. But Miggery Sow, as I pointed out to you before, was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. And, reader, too, she wanted so desperately to become a princess. She wanted, oh, how she wanted. And it was because of this terrible wanting that she was able to believe in Roscuro’s plan with every ounce of her heart.
The rat’s real plan was, in a way, more simple and more terrible. He intended to take the princess to the deepest, darkest part of the dungeon. He intended to have Mig put chains on the princess’s hands and her feet, and he intended to keep the glittering, glowing, laughing princess there in the dark.
Next time: a small taste…