Edith peeked out from the palanquin’s curtains. “It sure is a dreary day,” she said forcefully.
“A bit cloudy,” said Isabel. “But hardly that notable. Now, back in. You know we’re supposed to stay in and keep the curtains closed.” Edith attempted to stare at her sister defiantly. “Mote would not be pleased.”
Edith ducked back in, grumbling. “It’s not fair. We’re princesses.”
“That’s why we have to do this, Edith,” said Isabel, shutting her eyes.
“I know that,” muttered Edith. “But still isn’t fair. King Gorloes didn’t have to spend all his time in palanquins, never seeing anything interesting. If he had, he’d have never conquered Tintagel in the first place.”
Isabel smiled at her sister. “Edith, are you honestly comparing yourself to the revered founder of our line?”
Edith fidgeted. “Not… exactly…” She turned back to the curtains, trying to get a good look at the outside world from them, and failing miserably. “Do you think Amfortas is handsome?” she asked suddenly.
Isabel shrugged. “They say a woman can go mad for love with him.”
“Who?” asked Edith.
Isabel blinked. “What?”
“Who is it that says you can go mad for love of Prince Amfortas?” asked Edith.
“People,” said Isabel with a frown. “I heard it from Cobweb, who heard it from somebody else.”
Edith pouted once again, crossing her arms. “Why is it the only people we talk to for any length of times are eunuchs? Everyone else we exchange a few words with at parties, and that’s it!”
“To keep us pure and unsullied so that if the most horrible thing were to happen, we could serve as a perfect Living Symbol of the realm,” recited Isabel. She considered adding that in the past, brothers and sisters of sitting monarchs of Tintagel had both destabilized the realm and been used to do so by powerful interest groups when they’d been allowed to roam about free, but decided against it. Her little sister was a rambunctious girl, who’d never really known her parents. Where Yolande had been shaped into the perfect Queen, and Isabel into her perfect heir, Edith had been allowed to more or less run wild. She’d grown into a child who spent half her time fighting imaginary dragons and ogres, and the other half planning elaborate pranks. (Supposedly, Edith slept occasionally, but Isabel was less than certain about that.)
“Isabel, why are you petting my head?” asked Edith suddenly.
Isabel jerked her hand back. “Habit.” She took a deep breath. “Now, just wait a moment. We’ll be at the banquet and you can see the Prince for yourself.”
Edith leaned back and rested her head on her sister’s shoulder. “Well, that will be nice.”