The ball had been a spectacular success, as far as the Prince was concerned. It had started off slow, to be sure. He had been introduced to hundreds of dull, unattractive women, and sat there watching the dancing with no desire to join in but then- oh but then! She had been beautiful. She had arrived in a golden carriage, wore a beautiful satin dress, and delicate glass slippers on her feet. She must have walked so daintily, otherwise they would surely have shattered. He sighed at the memory.
A messenger ran into the room and the Prince sat up eagerly.
“Do you have news?”
The messenger bowed so low that his wig almost fell off. “No, Sire, I have no news. None of the princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, marquesses, marchionesses, barons, baronesses or other dignitaries at last night’s ball could identify the beautiful lady with whom you spent your night dancing.”
The Prince struck the arm of his chair with an angry fist. “Then we shall have to identify her! Bring me the shoe!”
A courtier at the side of the room stepped forward bearing a velvet cushion. Upon the cushion rested a single glass slipper.
“This shoe fell from my lady’s foot as she made her departure. This shoe shall lead me to her. All maidens in the country shall try this shoe. Whomsoever the shoe fits shall be my bride!”
The assembled courtiers looked at each other uncomfortably. The one bearing the shoe cleared his throat and the Prince looked at him expectantly.
“Sire. Ah, Sire. This shoe is a size five shoe. That’s worn by approximately twenty-three percent of the female population.”
The messenger nodded. “Sire, that would be around fifty thousand women. Even excluding those already wed, that would leave thousands. You would merely end up being compelled to wed the first one of those women that we find.”
The courtier nodded. “The chances of that being the woman you seek are, quite frankly Sire, infinitesimal.”
The Prince’s face dropped. “Oh.”
“If I may be so bold, Sire?” Another courtier stepped forward. “We could call for the best artists in the Kingdom. From your description, and that of the guests who attended the ball and saw her also, we could have them create a portrait of your lady. We can surely use that to find her?”
The Prince sat up again, smiling. “Of course! That’s a much better idea! Step to it at once!”
© Kari Fay