“You Sir, are an over-privileged spiteful bully. Judging by your attitude and attire you have lived in the palace your entire life in circumstances not far from those which brought me here. Unlike me, I can well believe that you have never once in your life been faced with the underprivileged, never walked among them and felt the fruitlessness of your efforts. You have never borne their suffering in your heart and you are the worse for it. You do not understand that these petty court games are as inconsequential and pathetic as the person who plays them.” so saying, Afshan left the Prince standing on the side of the field with his mouth hanging open in shock. Never, in his life had anyone dared to address him so!
He watched as she flounced off, in such a rage that she forgot all about her fear of horses and marched up to the Princess, relaying her message. Gul, on receiving her governess’ request, abandoned her plans for riding and accompanied Afshan back inside the palace. On the way Gul struck up a conversation, and Afshan, still fuming from her encounter with the Prince, replied without the usual censorship she applied to all her interactions with royalty. Thus it was that Gul, delighted at the refreshing honesty in Afshan’s conversation sought her out for companionship more often.
Gradually they became friends and Afshan street appearing during the princess’ escapades with her brother and his retinue. Ahmer was surprised to be introduced to the fiery tempered lady from whom he had received such a cutting set down, and who had been in his thoughts constantly since then. He attempted to be his most charming, but apart from Afshan’s mortification at discovering that he was royalty, all he received was a stiff apology from her for overstepping her bounds. Later when he was sitting in his room thinking over his encounter, he realized that though her apology had been long, courtly and scrupulously polite, she had not actually apologized for her words, instead she had said that she was sorry for not treating him with the courtesy required by his rank.
To be continued…