“I don’t know,” the queen said. “She doesn’t look very royal.”
Prince Ferdinand looked up from his paperwork and rolled his eyes. “She was caught in a rainstorm.”
“I certainly don’t recognize her,” the queen said. “With how few monarchies there are left in the world, it’s certainly suspicious.”
“We’re related to all the royalty we know well, and most of them are a little crazy. It’s probably a point in her favor,” the prince said. “Besides, I told you that her name checks out. Her parents just never allowed their daughters to be photographed.”
“Well, I won’t allow a liar at my dinner table. Until we can test her claims, we’ll serve her dinner in her rooms,” the queen said.
“Do you expect her to carry her birth certificate in her coat pockets?” the prince asked. “If she was fleeing a military coup, she probably didn’t have a chance to pack a bag.”
“I’m sure there’s some way to test her,” the queen said. “I know! I’ll pile up a bunch of feather mattresses and put a dried pea at the bottom of the pile. If she feels it and doesn’t sleep well, she’s obviously of noble blood.”
“You mean if she’s unusually sensitive and is impolite enough to complain about it?” the prince asked.
“You say it like that’s a bad thing,” the queen said. “How would you test someone to see if they belong to the nobility?”
“I don’t know,” the prince said. “An etiquette test at a formal dinner? Filling out paperwork? Public speaking? Speaking politely to the media without really saying anything?”
“Done. If she can pass all those tests, she can have your hand in marriage,” the queen said.
“Isn’t that going a little fast? Perhaps we can grant her asylum while her country fixes its issues. Then we can go from there,” the prince said.
“But if she really is nobility and not related to us…” the queen said.
“She’s traumatized and doesn’t know what happened to the rest of her family. I think it may not be the best time.” Prince Ferdinand patted his mother’s shoulder.
She sighed. “You’re probably right. I’m still going to test her though.”
“I’m sure you will, mother,” the prince said. “Or you could ask my magic mirror.”
“That thing is a liar. It said that we won’t have another ball this year, and I’m planning one for midsummer,” the queen frowned.
“I gave you the expense account. You can only have your ball if you can find a way to independently fund it,” the prince said. He raised an eyebrow. “It’s not a bad thing to only host a ball every other year. People will appreciate them more.”
The queen huffed. “I’ll find a way. Wait and see. When I do, you need to toss that lying slab of glass down the well.” She paused. “No, throw it out the window. If we dropped it into our drinking water, I’m certain it would poison us.” She turned and stalked out.
A face appeared in the mirror hung to the left of the desk. “The girl is a noble,” the mirror said. “Her family is looking for her and will arrive in about a week to bring her home. A servant heard the alarm and sent her out the back gate, but the army never made it to the family quarters. The palace guards defeated them.”
“All right,” Prince Ferdinand said. “We’ll do our best to care for her while we wait. Oh, and don’t worry, I won’t let mother throw you out the window.”
“I know,” the mirror said.
The girl was invited to dinner, where the queen carefully watched which forks she used. Throughout the next week, the queen asked for help with various tasks, such as filling out paperwork, addressing the royal decorations committee, and speaking to a reporter from the local newspaper. The girl was polite and performed all the tasks well.
“I think she may be the one,” the queen said to Ferdinand at the end of the week.
A face appeared in the mirror. “She’s already engaged and her fiancé will arrive with her parents tomorrow to take her back home,” the mirror said.
“I hate you,” the queen said to the mirror. She stalked out of the room. Prince Ferdinand laughed and went back to his paperwork.