Above the faces of the maidens were seated the presumable queen and prince. Emily had to admit that he was quite handsome, but she really liked the queen's look, dignified, wise, and could it be? humorous?

Kelly squealed with delight. They were announced and took their places in the throng of expectant ladies. Emily couldn't help but notice how almost every single one looked like Kelly, but with brown hair instead of blonde or with a yellow dress instead of pink.. She felt suddenly conscious of her skin that looked not so soft and her hair that was not so done, and especially her wrinkled blue dress.

Just as she was about to run from the room, the queen stood up and the crowd hushed. "My dear, dear ladies, I am so very pleased that you have come today. I see many that I would be proud to call my daughter- in-law!" This caused a buzz around the room. "Now I must confess that I have not told you everything about my picking the future bride. That is, it will not just be many balls, in fact there will be only a few, but the most important part is. the tasks."

"Tasks?" Emily heard many girls mumble. "I wasn't told of any tasks!" A girl beside her looked smug and said, "I shouldn't worry, you see I should think that these tasks are things like sewing and other useful things. In fact I am renowned for my tiny stitches and fine patterns."

The queen cleared her throat and the room silenced. "It shall go about like this: the ladies that complete the task shall stay, and the ones that don't shall leave. I must tell you that for each task there is more than one way to complete it. But that shall be for tomorrow, at the moment enjoy the ball you shall all have a chance to dance with the prince."

With that the music started and the first woman's name was called to dance with the prince. After they danced with the prince they were ushered into a room and interviewed, yet another surprise about the engagement.

As the numbers of girls that hadn't danced with the prince dwindled Emily became more and more bored. She walked over to the refreshments to get something to drink but found there was only fine wine and champagne. She enjoyed her wine now and again but such rich wine was far above her taste. "You look thirsty, would you like some water?" She started as she looked up to see the young servant that had brought her from the carriage addressing her.

"Thank you so much." She said in her best manners.

"Is the wine too rich for you as well?" He asked.

"Yes," she said laughing, "I don't want anything sweet tonight for all this perfume is making me sick!"

"I understand completely! I.

"Give me a drink, red wine" said a female voice barging in.

"Yes, mad 'am, and your name is?" asked the servant.

"I'm sorry, I didn't ask to be introduced, I told you to get me some wine. That is your job is it not?" The voice revealed a tall snappish looking woman.

"That it is, I am sorry if I have offended you."

"Don't apologize to her!" cried Emily.