I didn't think so.
As you may recall from my previously related accounts (to be read here and here), the saga of my life had brought me to Anne Elisabeth's house and care, where I was collapsed upon a pink ploof, undergoing cold medications, and feeling a little bleh. But I was beginning to believe that I had at last landed on my feet and found a permanent abode.
That's when the scratching at the door began.
"Anne Elisabeth? Meeeerrowl? What do you have in there?"
Anne Elisabeth went to the door and cracked it open. I heard her say, "No, Molly. You can't come in."
Someone outside said: "Why not?"
"You'd only be scared. Marilla can come in if she likes."
"Step aside, Molly," said yet another strange voice. This voice was the last word in culture. Smooth, sophisticated, confident . . . I had never head anything like it. "Make way for royalty, thank you."
"But, Anne Elisabeeeeeeeth!"
"No, Molly," Anne Elisabeth said firmly. Then she knelt down, picked someone up from outside, and backed into the room, shutting the door firmly behind her. She turned around, walked to the bed, and put down her burden.
And that was when I first beheld the Queen.
And the Queen first beheld me.
Let me take a moment to interject something here. For all I am now Ruling Despot of Rooglewood, I would never make claims to queenship. Queens are born royal, as was this queen. Ruling Despots usually must rise from humbler beginnings, as is the case with yours truly. Ultimately, the rule of law is the same.
But this queen was a direct descendant of the royal and deified households of Egyptian goddesses from ancient times. An Abyssinian, pure of blood from tip to tail. She was an awesome sight!
There was absolutely no doubt among the members of the household who was supreme ruler.
See? She has supreme ruler written all over her face!
At first I was a bit too drugged, and she was a bit too surprised to do much about it. Queens, you see are not pleased to have new subjects foisted on them without notice (and Anne Elisabeth, being wretched, had neglected to ask permission). When she hopped down from the bed and came over to my pink ploof, I began to tremble. Afraid that she was going to smack me across the ears, I hastily leaped down myself and prepared to defend myself.
But the Queen was merely curious.
"Greetings, commoner," she said.
"Hullo?" I mewed.
"What is your name?" she asked.
"Um . . ." I said.
"That was not meant to be a difficult question," she said.
I gulped. I knew Anne Elisabeth had given me a name, but I'd only heard it once or twice, and the cold medications were making it difficult to remember.
The Queen did not wait for me to come up with the answer: "I am Seacloud Marilla Fiona Von Altencat, Sovereign Majesty of the Household of Stengl from the remote reaches of Northern Wisconsin to this, my most recent annex in the grand city of Raleigh. Anne Elisabeth, my favored human, calls me Rilla. You, however, may call me Your Highness."
"Yes, Your Highness," I said. And gulped again.
Anne Elisabeth knelt down to pet me. "See?" she said. "We're all going to be great friends, aren't we Minnie?"
"Aren't we, Rilla?"
"That remains to be seen."
And then the outsider cried at the door again.
"Anne Elisabeth! Anne Elisabeth!"
Queen Marilla growled. "That creature wants in."
"Who's that creature?" I asked, trembling.
Marilla's tail lashed back and forth with the completeness of her revulsion. When she spoke, her words dripped venom. "Molly Boots," she hissed.
My eyes widened. What new horrors awaited just beyond the door?