Looking at the house down the street the prince bolstered himself. From a young boy he now stood as a grown man, humble and courteous in all ways; he would be brave in the face of all he ever wanted. Knocking at the door, his men at his back, such and such transpired until Peru sat in the parlor, an impressive room dressed with the finest furniture. Clothed in extravagant silks and jewels the mistress walked into the room with an air of superiority. Looking the prince over she found him satisfying to the eye in all ways.
Pleased with her visitor she ordered slaves to bring meats and dried fruits. “Welcome to my home,” she sat opposite Peru in an overly plush chair. “Eat and drink as much as you like, but please do tell me about yourself all the while.” All too happily Peru recounted his story much to the amusement, horror, and sympathy of the mistress. “You have come a long way to see my daughter; I am honored she would inspire a man so,” she commented.
“Is it too much to hope your daughter is still unwed?” The prince asked, on the edge of his seat with nerves.
“You are in luck; men from all over the world have come seeking her hand, but all I have turned away in sore disappointment. But you I like for her.”
“How soon can we meet?” Peru looked eagerly around knowing Florette was somewhere in the house he now sat in.
“All in due time,” the mistress put off. “First let us make arrangements for the ceremony.”
The prince’s heart swelled at the notion of a wedding. While the two continued chatting a slave girl entered the room carrying a flask of wine. Leaning down to first pour for Peru he heard the ring of bells, small but catching. Observing her he felt himself struck with the same feelings of adoration he felt all those years ago. Before him stood the image brought to life. It was her, Florette, but more stunning in life than he could have hoped. With tears pouring from his eyes Peru threw himself at her feet, kissing the hem of her dress in ecstasy at finally hearing the bells he dreamt of all those years.
Hastily the mistress jumped to her feet and bade Peru stand from his unattractive position on the ground. “My dear Peru, what has come over you? Are you so seasick you fall at the feet of slaves mistaking them for royalty?” Pushing him back into his seat she shooed the startled slave out of the room.
“That is Florette.” Peru said. “Why has she left?”
“Never mistake a lowly slave for my daughter.” The mistresses snapped. “That girl is vermin scraped from the gutters of the city. My daughter is the only one you seek.”
“Let me see her then,” Peru persisted.
“This cannot be. It is custom in our country for the groom to see the bride’s face only after they are wed.” Turning from the prince she reasoned, “You are tired after your journey and need rest. Your case of mistaken identity is understandable in such a state. Your men have already retired for the night to rooms I have generously provided. Follow their suit and we shall begin preparations tomorrow. You will be married to my daughter within the week.”
That night Peru lay awake deep in thought, reasoning in his mind why the servant girl he had seen could not have been Florette. It had been many years since the portrait of the noble’s daughter was distorted by the sea, and the finer details of the image were forgotten. But he remembered Florette dressed in fine gowns and head pieces in her drawing; why now would she dress in the simple clothing of a servant and pour wine? Surely the custom of wearing bells in the ears was customary for women of the foreign country. Reminding himself of all the Jinn king told him Peru took ease knowing reality was unfolding just as he said it would. Thinking nothing more of the girl he fell asleep, content after so long a wait he would soon meet the woman he loved. Florette was a lady, a woman of high birth. How could a slave ever compare?