The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 18

Part 4

The Unmoving Cat

Chapter 18 : The Bitter Shadow

Each feline princess in her beauty and skill was much admired by each suitor who gathered now in Chang. Of those who came — and hardly a man in Bengal had not, it seemed — only a handful were eligible (according to the princesses and the queens) for serious consideration.

It inevitably happened that the suitors particularly liked by the young women were invited to the their wing of the palace to tour the menagerie, to take tea, to watch a performance of dance or music, or other such interesting pastimes, and during these visits it inevitably happened that the young men would meet the fourth princess.

No matter, then, how strongly the young man had sworn to himself in all the moments since meeting her that a more beautiful being could not exist than this or that princess; upon seeing the youngest princess, he would become enamored with her eyes, with her loveliness, with her gaiety. This love he would feel need not be a romantic love; in fact more often than not it was the same love one feels for the sun rays through the clouds, for the moon light on the grass, for water falling zigzag down a craggy mountainside or the rainbow it creates.

Clear were the feelings of the young man. Clear was the embarrassment of the fourth princess. Clear was the bitterness that grew in the breasts of her older sisters, and clear their tears for this unkindness they must feel towards their cherished sister.

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