Rensa’s next few days passed in consideration of healthy eating and moderate exercise plus dress and shoe fittings. Several establishments whose doors they had not been permitted to enter had contacted the Palace attempting to arrange private showings for the Princess. Mirren and Rensa took a small guilty pleasure in drafting a perfectly polite, unexceptional and bland note that said:
Thank you for your interest, however Her Highness has satisfied her expected clothing requirements for the coming period and committed her budget.
Your note will be kept on file for consideration during Her Highness’ preparations for future periods.
Their satisfied contemplation of this missive was interrupted by the arrival of Tuluc and a fussy man called Kolloc. Rensa had encountered him on her second visit to Yannic’s office where he had been complicating the lives of Yannic’s secretaries.
“We’ve come to see you about the Montjoy commemoration,” began Tuluc.
“Here’s your schedule,” put in Kolloc, “As you can see you’ll be travelling there the night before by train. The ceremony is the next day followed by a visit to the burial grounds for private commemoration in the afternoon. You will be part of the official party but you are not required to do anything but be present.”
Rensa scanned the schedule. “These speeches,” she tapped the ceremony part of the schedule, “What are they about? What tone will they take?”
“What does that matter?” asked Kolloc perplexedly, “You just have to turn up, stand and sit when you’re told to and listen.”
“And approve the proceedings by my attendance,” added Rensa smoothly. “If the intention of the ceremony or any of the speakers is to demonise the members of my family or the government employees who also died at Montjoy, then I will not attend or I will walk out. You understand that when finalising your arrangements, Master Kolloc. Additionally,” she went on, “You will arrange things so that your grandmother and her friends will have no reason to gossip about the Emperor’s betrothed attending his commemoration of his wife’s death.”
Mirren looked over her shoulder then added, “Your program could be better worded, Kolloc.”
Tuluc, who’d been watching Rensa’s face asked shrewdly, “Who of yours died at Montjoy, Your Highness?”
“My father,” a tear slid over the end of the slash of colour under her eye, “My best friend, one of my first cousins and the man my family had just decided I would marry.”
Kolloc was trying to splutter something. Mirren wrapped a concerned arm around her charge’s shoulder. Tuluc spoke firmly, “Kolloc, it seems to me that the line we want to take here is His Majesty and Her Highness providing mutual support on a difficult day for both of them, and for everyone else who lost loved ones there.” He stood up. “Come along Kolloc, we have some people to talk to.” He bowed, “Ladies,” and dragged Kolloc out of the room.