Finally, I could catch some real emotion from Sigrun’s poker face. She was at ease earlier, but the invisible wall was still there, the whole time. Now, as she saw Rosalie’s statue by accident, the shock that she felt, she didn’t have the time to hide it.
“I have aged,” I said calmly. “It’s been twenty-two years, you may not recognize the tyrant of a king that you’d seen just that once. But Rosalie, she’s too beautiful to forget, isn’t she?” As I spoke, I kept my eyes on the piece of jewelry I was working on. It was as if everything had happened just the day before–every time I opened the curtain and looked at her, the pang of regret and pain would still be fresh.
“Excuse me,” Sigrun muttered. I thought she would make her way out the door, but she walked towards me instead. I looked up to see what she would do.
The woman that had once been my kitchen girl and prisoner tugged at the elastic around my long silver hair, pulling it out and setting my mane loose around my shoulders.
I adjusted my glasses. “Should I take these off too?” Then I eyed the bracelet I was holding, and added in a light tone, “I’m afraid my old eyes will not be able to see properly without them though.”
“You can keep the glasses on. I’ve seen enough.” Sigrun returned the hair elastic to me. “Was it all true? The story I’d just told about you, King Midas?”
“King Midas is dead,” I answered automatically. “I’m Miak.” I decided to set the bracelet aside for now. “It is true.”
“What happened after Queen Rosalie turned to diamonds?”
I turned my gaze to the statue of Rosalie, standing half-hidden by the long curtain, looking as she did the day she wanted to tell me I was wrong, sad and worried. “I threw the piece of gold into the said river.”
“There was an earthquake. The palace collapsed.”
“I shielded her with my life,” I mumbled.
“A diamond statue.”
“Rosalie. She may be clothed in diamonds, but she’s Rosalie.”
Sigrun nodded. “I don’t understand the feeling, but I think I know what you mean. Then,” she raised another question. “You are selling away all the gems that you’d saved then.”
“Selling my fortune away won’t compensate anyone. Not you, not your…friend, not Rosalie. But wealth is evil. That’s what I think now. I hope it’s not the same person buying all my jewelry either.”
Again, Sigrun nodded. This time, she didn’t say anything. Her realization of my true identity made the atmosphere even more awkward than it had been when I first opened the front door for her–expecting the merchant then. In the end, we just sat there in utter silence, until another knock came from the door.
“The merchant, I suppose?” She asked.
“It could be another wanderer.”