The Mice in the Kitchen

Chapter 13

Herta's explanations had to follow the usual written course.

While the two original mice tried to get the young girl up to date with the news and justify the presence of a third rodent in her room, the latter watched her with suspicious eyes. He had not known about her presence in the palace.

Adalberht, for his part, was questioning his own lucidity, as he realized that he was jealous of the mouse they had introduced to Herta.

‘Well, Mr Detlef, pleased to meet you. Welcome to our own particular craziness,’ she greeted him, once she had been informed.

Adalberht's heart received all the kindness, comradeship and humor arising from Herta's words, and he fell even more in love with her.

‘And what matters related to her require your assistance?’ the newcomer asked him.

‘Require our assistance,’ Adalberht emphasized, hoping that the rude mouse would understand that he intended to include Flora.

‘Well?’ the stubborn third mouse insisted.

‘The duchess has had her brought to the palace so that Kasimir will become attracted to her. We still don't have a clear idea of what she intends, but, we do know that she wants her to be at the ball tomorrow, willing to entertain the new prince.’

Detlef gave some thought to what he had just heard.

‘It sure seems that lady's ambition knows no limits,’ he commented.

‘Is that criticism I hear?’ Flora said.

‘It is,’ he answered calmly, showing that he understood perfectly well why Flora had asked that question, which gave Adalberht the impression that there must be a story behind their current hostility.

She said no more, and went back near Herta, who had watched the scene without a chance to take part in it.

‘Herta has decided,’ Adalberht explained, ‘to run away during the ball.’

Again, Detlef thought for a while before answering.

‘Yes. It's a good idea.’

‘If she does, I will go with her.’ This was mainly addressed to Flora, who, thanks to Detlef's appearance, would not be left alone in her search for the solution to the spell.

Flora knew that her friend was speaking —and would act— on an impulse of the heart and not as a result of thorough analysis; but she could understand his reasons and forgive his reckless passion. She had felt like that too —once—, and she knew how impetuous someone in love could be. To the point of not even perceiving when the other person did not feel the same way.

Nothing more was said about the matter. They decided to split and devote the rest of the evening to explore the palace, not really knowing what to look for, but on the alert for any information that reached their ears that could be of any help.

 

At night, Flora went to sleep with Herta. Seeking her company and also to be near the place where what they needed to find was most likely to be, even if they had not been able to find it yet.

It was quite late, but the girl was still awake and was relieved when she saw her arrive. Flora did not know that the relief was due to the chance of easing her conscience.

‘I want to apologize,’ the girl said. ‘I have let my will to survive overrule the principles that must... that I want to live by. And while my judgment has been thus clouded, it has crossed my mind that when you were human, and as the duchess's daughter, you may have had some money or valuable objects here in your room, which I have tried to steal to take with me tomorrow.’

Flora was paying attention, but she was not under the influence of any feelings that may affect the esteem she held Herta in, which had been slowly growing. Her life as a person and, most of all, as the duchess's daughter seemed so distant now... She had not realized to what extent everything that had happened had separated her from her mother —a mother to whom she had never really been very close. Herta's words were no more than a small reminder of the reality of her lack of affection.

‘What I've actually found in my unpardonable search —apart from the logical conclusion that, when you recover your original body, this same robbery, which would not be a robbery in your case, would be of use to you too— is that you did not live in the lap of luxury. I don't know whether it is because you don’t like jewels and stuff like that or your mother wouldn't make them available to you. Please, forgive me. I wanted to apologize for my shameful intentions and here I am, criticizing your modesty. Or so it may seem. But I'm not! Not in the least! I intended it to be a compliment, believe me. Oh, but what difference does it make? If I keep on talking, I'm only going to make things worse.’

Flora was having fun watching Herta's fluster.

‘Anyway,’ she continued, ‘I found something that might be useful. It was in a false bottom of your chest —don't ask me how I discovered it; I'm so embarrassed to be telling you this. But if my wrong action has been of any help...’



Monica Euen

#1734 in Fantasy
#5017 in Romance

Story about: magic, love, mystery

Edited: 26.08.2019

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