Chapter 13 : To Each an Admirer
As the years passed, the three princesses grew out of their childish troubles, and better defined their character and strengths through the work they did.
Tigra was a leader, the model of Bengal, a queen in training. The people respected her for her fighting prowess, her beauty and grace, and saw in her the good qualities of her mother.
Snow was a creator, an inventor, the inspiration of Bengal. The time she had for want of combative training she used to train her mind in the sciences and arts. Whether brewing a dye or constructing a ladder, all she did was charming.
Lynx was the strength of Bengal, a supporter of her sisters, and a mind made for debate. She could outwit anyone, and made it her role to learn the laws and study the ruling of the country. The First Minister was her first teacher and best. They both knew that whomever of the princesses ended up ruling, they would need Lynx’s knowledge. Lynx thought secretly that the First Minister might support her as queen, but the First Minister, although he thought Lynx intelligent, was of the opinion that Tigra would make the best ruler.
The three sisters were strength unto each other, each propelling the others to grow and learn, and Satti found, when he reflected on them, that he could not wish that they’d turned out any other way.
In fact, the king so doted on his daughters, it was rumored he would marry them only to the gods who came knocking.
When Lynx turned 16 years old, Tigra and Snow already 17, the king realized it was time he allowed himself to consider husbands for them. His wives had been pestering him about this for some time, insisting that the girls must meet and spend time with the young men before they married, so they must get started in this great search for suitable husbands.
None would be good enough for Satti… but he agreed to let some princes and lords and rich sons and skilled warriors come to meet the princesses. They came by the twos and threes, trickling in, until the palace was full, until Chang was bursting, and the princesses spent every day entertaining or being entertained by men as old as 30 and boys as young as 12. It was ridiculous, said Lynx. Not ridiculous, corrected Tigra, for whomever married the princess who was chosen as heir would be king of Bengal, and to be king of Bengal was to be Lord of the World. Besides, there were few young women as beautiful or intelligent as the princesses of Bengal.
The princesses enjoyed the attention. After some time, they found they had narrowed down their choices, and struggled to see if the young men were worthy of the exalted princesses. Here, they encountered a problem. It was the same problem, every time, and it was aggravating, insulting, and unfair. The problem was the fourth princess of Bengal.