@slirr – Kim: Good, News, Everyone.
“Good news, everyone!” said Old Ama. She stood in the doorway with her arms spread wide, just like she always did when there was an important announcement to make.
And it never failed to have the desired effect: heads turned, conversations stopped, and even the little monkeys in their cages looked as if they wanted to know what she was going to say.
“Listen, my doves” Old Ama said, clearing her throat, and Kim thought that everything about her, her robe, her jewellery, even her wig, looked more gorgeous than usual. This was clearly a special occasion.
“My doves”, said Old Ama: “the Vizier himself has just spoken to me, and he has bestowed me with a wonderful message. I will relay it to you in simple words, so all of you can understand.”
She raised her arms a bit higher.
“You, my doves”, she continued: “are all very very lucky! For the king has decided to go on a journey, and you have been chosen to accompany him!”
The hall erupted with questions.
“When are we leaving?”
“Where are we going?”
“How long will we be gone?”
“Are we finally moving to the new palace?”
“Silence!” yelled one of the guards next to Old Ama, pounding the floor with the end of his spear. And they, knowing better than to provoke the guards, went silent.
“I am so sorry, my doves”, continued Old Alma, “but I cannot tell you more than I know. All I can say is that the journey will be in three days. Until then you will fast and bathe, and then you will receive beautiful new dresses that were made especially for the occasion. Isn’t that wonderful?”
She lowered her arms and smiled at them, but Kim thought that for some reason Old Ama didn’t seem to be very happy. Maybe she was jealous because she didn’t get to go on the journey with them.
“Well, this is odd”, whispered a girl next to Kim.
“What?” she whispered back.
“When’s the last time you’ve seen him?”
“You mean the king? I don’t know, he’s probably busy.”
The girl clicked her tongue: “Well, that’s not what I heard!”
“What did you hear, then?”
“I heard”, she leaned closer: “he’s been sick for a long time.”
Kim looked around. Everyone was whispering in small groups, and Old Ama was standing in the doorway, her arms lowered, staring at a point somewhere in the hall. Her robe, her jewellery, her wig, all of it looked gorgeous.
But her face was very grey.