The Divine Miss Monti
A friendship that is holy...
It was during the night when the light-thaler thanksgiving feast was coming to a close that three shadowy figures were stealing across the inner courtyard of the palace. The grandiose fountain, with its adornments of water-spewing statues, was strewn with light thaler for the sunlanders had heard that if one tossed a thaler into the fountain one would always return to the place. And since the festivities had been so extraordinarily pleasant, they all wanted to return one day.
But the prowlers in the inner courtyard had only one goal: the castle garden.
"Here we are," said the prince, "just as promised."
Aron acquainted his ballerina come-to-life with the elves. Then the prince, the dancer, and Miss Monti sat down expectantly next to the lilies.
"Just one more moment. Does anyone here belong to the hoity-toity clan of lilies?" the wind spun his pranks of which one never knew how they would be received. Whoosh, and he promptly wound himself around the flower stems. The lilies pressed their leaves to their mouths and giggled. They really had missed the wind, his excitement, his curiosity, and his flattering. His shenanigans they had forgotten.
"Next we'll go up in the air," the flower elves faked indignation while wildly rolling their eyes in wind-blowing manner.
"But only together," yelled the wind spirits, who slipped from under their master's billowing skirts and embraced the elves.
"My beloved lilies," tootled the wind quite tame against his usual habit. Encouraged by so much exuberance over their reunion, the youngest did not hold back and then still remembered the good old days: "To hold different opinions and remain friends, that would truly be a heroic feat," they teased their formidable companion. And immediately thereafter, the most delicate among them exclaimed: "I want to be a hero, no me, but me too." The wind was amused. Who'd ever seen such diminutive heroes? And he promised to be one too. It should still be possible to work out for the evening, he was pretty sure.
Miss Monti begged: "Please Miss Papillon, why don't you start telling your story? I'm bursting with curiosity."
"Hang on a while longer," replied the prince in Papillon's place and pulled a pomegranate from his pocket. From where else? He preferred carrying all precious items around with himself. This treasure, which he had guarded since the beginning of the journey, had almost forgotten it and now rediscovered it, was granted a brilliant entry: "A small thank-you for great services rendered, my noble Persian."
The cat gave the pomegranate a leery look that said: "What on earth am I supposed to do with this?"
"Break it open," the prince answered his cat's unspoken question with a voice of mystery. He had pulled off the surprise. The cat did as she was told and from the pomegranate poured red fruity pearls to the ground. Monti felt that she had been had and, disappointed, was about to let the fruit fall when a tiny sun throne rose from the pomegranate. Everybody around let out an astounded "Ah!" Enraptured, Monti tried out her throne. "What an incomparable gift!" she said gratefully. Sitting erect with legs crossed, she looked outright majestic. The golden suns on her black velvet boots and the long velvet gloves sparkled in the pallid light of the moon. Her head was crowned with a wreath of sun rays, held together by a headband-a crown that poured blue blood into the royal cat's veins. At least it seemed that way. But in reality, all children had been wearing this head dress on the light-thaler thanksgiving day.
Miss Monti pulled up her throne right next to Aron and Papillon, sat down, and waited with a certain haughty demeanor for the dancer's story. The prince cast an amused look at his cat and knew that this gift accorded with her status, for in ancient Egypt cats were venerated as gods. A fact Monti never seems to have forgotten.
Finally, everybody was ready to hear a new story: the story of the butterfly. Papillon recounted how it all began: how she was born into a family a pearl fishers, why she was called Papillon, how she came to Hydraponia, the circumstances surrounding the sorters of human beings and push ostriches, how the Innocent Eye gained magical influence over humans, how the barbaric fiend changed her life in such a painful way, how the fire fairy Flammula saved her from the worst, and how the prince liberated her through his love and gave her life. Papillon recounted all the wondrous things of which the prince, the cat, the lilies, and the wind had never heard. Well yes, maybe the wind did. After all he liked roaming about the world. The companions snuggled up against each other, for the night was cool, as they listened attentively to the vagaries of the dancer's life . . . But before the adventurous story revealed Papillon's secret, the ballerina pulled from her splendid cape a heart of gold adorned with a crown of thirty-six rubies. "Le Coeur Royal, the royal heart (1) (2) (3) for a royal soul," she said and placed it into the hands of her prince. It sparkled so bright that even the angel, looking down from the clouds, was astounded. He never slept.
The queen too was unable to sleep and thought: "A kingdom for a family." And all was well. Table of contents