“I gave you a small taste so that you would remember.”
In the midst of Roscuro finally enacting his vengeance, the Pea is dreaming of her mother.
“Taste this, my sweet Pea, taste this, my darling, and tell me what you think.”
The princess leaned forward and sipped some soup from the spoon her mother held out to her.
“Oh, Mama,” she said, “it’s wonderful. It’s the best soup I have ever eaten.”
“Yes,” said the queen. “It is wonderful, isn’t it?”
“May I have some more?” said the Pea.
“I gave you a small taste so that you would not forget,” said her mother. “I gave you a small taste so that you would remember.”
“I want more.”
But as soon as the princess said this, her mother was gone. She disappeared and the bowl and the soupspoon disappeared along with her.
“Lost things,” said the Pea, “more lost things.”
The king, in banning soup, didn’t allow his daughter to grieve, forcing her to pretend her mother (and the things she loved) never existed.
But there be a plot afoot.
Mig closed her eyes and shouted her piece. “If you does not want to get hurt, Princess, you must come with me.”
“Whatever for?” said the princess in an annoyed tone. As I have noted before, the princess was not a person who was used to being told what to do. “What are you talking about?”
But of course, since this didn’t go exactly according to plan, Mig mucks it up.
Mig opened her eyes and shouted, “You got to come with me so after we take some lessons, you some long lessons and me some short ones, together way down in the deep downs, I can be you and you can be me.”
“No!” shouted Roscuro from Mig’s pocket. “No! No! You’re doing it wrong.”
“Who said that?”
“Your Highness,” said Roscuro. He crawled out of Mig’s pocket and made his way up to her shoulder and situated himself there, laying his tail across her neck to balance himself. “Your Highness,” he said again. And he raised the spoon slowly off his head and smiled, displaying his mouthful of truly hideous teeth. “I think it would be best to do as Miggery Sow suggests. She is, as you can see, in possession of a knife, a large knife. And she will, if pushed, use it.”
“This is ridiculous,” the princess said. “You can’t threaten me. I’m a princess.”
“We,” said Roscuro, “are all too aware of the fact of what you are. A knife, however, cares nothing for the fact that you are royalty. And you will bleed, I assume, just like any other human.”
Yeah, the Pea’s slightly spoiled nature rears its head once again. Note, also, that Roscuro talks up the knife rather than Mig, because she’d never be particularly intimidating.
“I really do not think,” said Roscuro, “that Mig would need much persuasion to use that knife, Princess. She is a dangerous individual, easily led.”
“But we are friends,” said the Pea, “aren’t we, Mig?”
“Eh?” said Mig.
Naturally, Mig didn’t hear the princess properly, and that combined with Roscuro’s implication that Mig is really an unstable person seems to convince the Pea to do what they want.
“I am the one in charge here. Look at me.”
The Pea looked right directly at the rat and at the spoon on his head. Her heart skipped one beat and then two.
“Do you know me, Princess?”
“No,” she said, lowering her head. “I don’t know you.”
But, reader, she did know him. He was the rat who had fallen in her mother’s soup. And he was wearing her dead mother’s spoon on his head! The princess kept her head down. She concentrated on containing the rage that was leaping up inside of her.
“Look again, Princess. Or can you not bear to look? Does it pain your royal sensibilities to let your eyes rest on a rat?”
“I don’t know you,” she said, “and I’m not afraid to look at you.” The Pea raised her head slowly. Her eyes were defiant. She stared at the rat.
“Very well,” said Roscuro, “have it your way. You do not know me. Nonetheless, you must do as I say, as my friend here has a knife. So get out of bed, Princess. We are going on a little journey. I would like it if you dressed your loveliest gown, the one that you were wearing at a banquet not so long ago.”
“And put on your crown,” said Mig. “Put that on your princess head.”
The Pea asks Mig to help her put on her dress, partly because she no doubt does have trouble dressing herself, but partly, I imagine, to try to speak to her more or less in private. However, Roscuro interprets it as trying to get Mig to put down the knife, so he buttons up her dress himself.
The princess held very still. The only movement she allowed herself was this: She licked her lips, over and over again, because she thought that she could taste there the sweet saltiness of the soup that her mother had fed her in her dream.
“I have not forgotten, Mama,” she whispered. “I have not forgotten you. I have not forgotten soup.”
Next time: To the dungeon…