And insults that Shakespeare would be proud of:
From that day on Diana joined their lessons. In the beginning she was far behind the princes. She had never heard of such things as sub-atomic particles, which you will remember, Dearest, the princes had studied months before. But the King and Cookie had been right in their assessment of her as a clever girl and with in a few months the fine tutors were reading her compositions to the princes and she was besting them at all the equation time trials. They still teased her when the chance arose, but not with the ease that they had done. They soon learned that she could fling an insult back at them with greater wit and in perfect iambic pentameter too.
As the years sailed on the princes came to look at her as one of their own. She was allowed to participate in their high councils on thinking of new and grander ways to glorify the great nation of Serendip.
The four would meet in formal state in their favorite study in the highest room of the tallest tower of the palace. Before becoming fully aware of the meaning of the word the Princes had named their favorite room the Crypt. The boys sat around a circular table in the Crypt and discussed their future adventures and accomplishments for hours, just as they saw their father and his councilmen do in the great meeting hall across the city. And though they normally found their father’s state meetings tedious, their own councils were marvelous. The Crypt contained stacks of books with detailed accounts of distant lands. Its walls were adorned with pictures Diana had painted of tall peaks, wide rivers, and vast deserts. In it Zaki would pour over charts of star systems, ocean currents, and calendars. Admir’s half finished banners and ensigns were strewn over chairs. Saud had littered the floor with crumpled drawings of hideous beasts and monsters, and the fantastic weapons with which they would one day fight.
During their state meetings Diana was officially slated to serve only as scribe: a fancy word for note taker. But she often found herself loudly criticizing the princes far-fetched and far-flung ideas about saving the world. Like her practical mother Diana could see little use in the grand schemes of her royal schoolmates. Her objections usually landed her back in the kitchen boiling marmalade with her mother. The boys would not abide any pessimistic views on their dreams. And it seemed that of all the subjects the small class studied the most difficult for Diana to master was her own mouth. Mastering art of speaking kindly and prudently took a great deal of practice, and was learned mainly through trial and error. On the days when she was banished to the kitchen her mother would listen with a grave mouth and knowing eyes as Diana complained loudly against the unfairness of the princes, and then the world at large.
As the only thing that irked her more than the irksome princes was irksome kitchen work, she learned to hold her tongue. Eventually, Diana discovered she could remain in the Princes council meetings by offering constructive ideas. It didn’t usually take the boys long to recognize that she was correct about the ludicrous nature of their campaigns.
One day however, listening to Saud and Zaki bicker yet again about the fine points of their next sub-Saharan adventure Diana felt a surge of her old tongue and couldn’t help but fling up both hands in despair, proclaiming, “Oh, that would never work!”
“How would you know, Miss High and Mighty?” asked Admir. Though in his heart Admir was inclined to agree with her, he only felt it right to defend his brothers.
“Your Highness’ do not yet grasp the point.” She replied in perfect ten syllable structure.
“Remind us, My Lady Wisdom, what is the point.” asked Saud.
Diana rose from her seat. “We wish to solve problems, not create new ones. Attempting to discover the medicinal properties of rhinoceros horn, assuming that there are any, is only going to end up wiping out rhinoceroses. I still say that before any major expedition can be mounted we must be rid of the dreadful dragons.”
As she spoke she unconsciously smoothed her tunic and ran her fingers through her long, dark hair. Prince Admir suddenly found he was having a difficult time thinking about medicine, rhinoceroses, or even his brother’s honor. As he watched her begin to circle the room he was suddenly clearly aware that she was 15, he was 16 and she was not at all a boy. He wondered to himself when this had changed.
Zaki, who was now an astute 12 years old saw his brother’s perplexed look, but did not see to what or whom it was directed. “What’s wrong Admir?” he queried.
“Diana is right.” said Admir unruffled.
Suddenly and decidedly, he stood, tall and handsome.
“And I am getting too old for these make believe adventures.” And with that he crossed the room and went out the door, making banners, charts, pictures, and Diana’s heart all flutter a very little as he went.
It was the last day the four of them would meet with any seriousness in the Crypt. For, My Dearest, it is a known fact that when once the oldest child in a family makes up his mind to grow-up the younger children begin to feel hurried about doing the same. Saud and Zaki would still retreat to the Crypt occasionally and talk in hushed tones about their latest imaginings, but usually these discussions were short, and ended with sad smiles, as if they knew deep down that the seriousness of their former plans was all now just a children’s game.
As for Diana, the boys never again saw her in the Crypt. Though once Admir thought he saw a shadow much like hers dart behind the curtains when he came in unexpectedly in search of a book. By that time though he was nearly 19, and knowing that at nearly 18 Diana would not want to be found hiding in their former playroom he thought it best not to check behind the drapes.
I think this chapter is a bit on the cheesy side. It shows the princes’ development and also the beginnings of the Admir/Diana romance. I also like the feeling of the Crypt. I wish I had a cool room like that when I was in my adolescent dreaming phase. Thoughts?