King Flai was getting anxious at knowing his relations in-law. He was anxious to visit the home of Linda. After carefully considering the gravity of its consequence, she confessed to him that she was not a native of Prul as everyone including the king had thought. The king was shocked to hear this but did not take it serious. She revealed that she was from Jovera. She said that she heard about the king’s need for a beautiful lady to marry and having heard much about King Flai of Prul, she decided to participate in the context. Whenever the king talked about his interest in travelling to Jovera on a private visit she did everything she could to dissuade him. She did not want the king to take her to Jovera. In the first place, nobody knew her where- about. Her family and all who knew her thought she was still in her job of hair-dressing. Her parents’ lived some 250 kilometres away from her place of work and visited her on very rare occasions. Like wild fire, news gradually spread all over Jovera that a lady from Jovera was married to the King of Prul. She was said to be the most beautiful lady in the world.
The king insisted so much on his going to Jovera to visit his in-laws that Linda became very worried. She realized that further dissuasions from her might lead to suspicion. For many days she thought this over. She became so gloomy and worried that the king decided to send for a doctor to check her health. An idea soon hatched out of her deep thoughts. She had to find a convenient time to tell the king the story of her life. She had prepared a beautiful lie which was to make things easy for her. One night she called her husband and with, deep sobs which nearly tore the king’s heart to pieces she told her story:
“I never like to remind myself of these things”, she started; “but since you are very anxious, I am compelled to say them. My life has been that of misery and suffering. Your wife, Linda, is an orphan, I became an orphan as early as my twelfth year of age. My father was a soldier. He died in battle when I was only two years old. My mother said he was a very kind man and loved her very much. After his death my mother was subjected to severe hardship. She found it difficult to cater for her three children. She was so poor that the family was besieged by starvation. 1 am the last of the three children of my mother. The other two died in quick succession. My mother became so heart-broken that she eventually died too, and I was left alone in the world. My father’s house is presently being occupied by a distant cousin who is my nearest relation alive”. The king was overwhelmed with pity for his wife. He tried to console her and promised her that he was going to make sure that the rest of her life was a very happy one. He asked if they could arrange to visit her cousin. She agreed, but said that before then she would have to go there to make sure things would be set for their arrival. She said that her cousin travelled out quite often and as such it would be necessary to ensure that he would be in the house at the period of their visit. This suggestion was acceptable to him. A time was set for her visit. She got everything she needed: gifts of all kinds and left for Jovera.
Before she entered Jovera, she removed her mask and became the Linda that was known by Joverans. On arrival she first made for the little town of Sima where her parents lived. Her parents were so overjoyed at seeing her. She told them that she had left her job in the big city of Shrog where she worked as a hair-dresser. She told them that she got a bigger job in Prul and had to go over there. She told them all about life in Prul and the wealth of the country. Her parents did not hesitate to ask if she knew something about a citizen of Jovera who was said to be married to the King of Prul. She laughed and told them that she had had one opportunity of meeting her. She confirmed that she was a very beautiful lady. After staying with her parents for a few days she left them and travelled to Shrog where she lived before she went to Prul. She left for them a large amount of presents and some money before she left.
In Shrog, Linda went to a bosom friend of hers, Raphael, who worked as a tailor. Raphael could not believe his eyes when he saw her. Her sudden departure had so upset him that he had remained very miserable since then. She had left without informing him. His joy at seeing her again was wild and unique. “Raphael, do you still love me”? she asked. Raphael assured her that his love for her would ever remain immutable. “If you still love me, and if you promise that your love for me will never abate, then I will make you a very rich man, provided you keep under steel cover the secret I will reveal to you now”.
“Raphael”, she continued, “from this day onwards, my life is in your hands. The easiest way for you to kill me is to reveal the secret I am going to tell you now”. “Never!” exclaimed Raphael. His heart began to beat with such force that his body was thrust forward at each beat. He stared at Linda who sat calmly on a seat opposite him. He was very afraid of what she was about to say. He was stupefied with apprehension. He wished she could avoid saying it. On the other hand, he was anxious to know what it was she had to say. She began: “I am now going to tell you a story which I could not tell my parents. I do not want you to tell this story to anybody including my parents. Do you hear, Raphael?” He nodded with fear clearly expressed all over his face as he still gazed at her. “You see, Raphael, I have so much confidence in you, and so much love for you that I have preferred you to my parents as far as this issue is concerned. This is the one issue in my life where I am compelled to prefer you to my parents”. She began to weep. Large drops of tears rolled down her cheeks. He took her in his arms and consoled her. Raphael realized how deeply she loved him. He wiped her tears with his beards. When she recovered herself, she continued: “I have just come from my father’s house in Sima. Never you tell them any bit of what I will tell you now. I do not need to tell you then that this means that no other person in the world should hear it from you.
“Have you heard of Truder Flai, the King of Prul?” “Yes!”, he replied. “Have you heard of his queen, Linda from Jovera?” “Yes!”. Have you ever seen her?” He asked. “I am Linda, the beautiful queen of Prul. I am the wife of King Truder of Prul,” she said. He looked at her steadily wondering if she was becoming mad. He had heard so much about the beauty of this queen, and wondered how Linda as ugly as she was could claim to be the queen of Prul. “Do you doubt what I say?” she asked. Raphael gave no reply. She drew nearer her box and opened it. He watched her very carefully. She dipped in her hand and brought a small packet. She opened it and removed something that looked like a handkerchief.
She threw it over her face, fitted it properly with her two hands and showed him her face.
Before him stood the most beautiful face he had ever seen. He was now seeing Linda, the beautiful queen of Prul. He was so surprised that he shouted. He became afraid of his visitor. He felt that she must be one of the bravest and most wonderful ladies in the world to be able to indulge in such big tricks. She carefully removed the artificial face, replaced it in her box and continued her story. She then told him how she had heard of the beauty contest in Prul aimed at selecting a wife for the king. She told him all about how she consulted the plastic surgeon who gave her the artificial face she wore. She also told him how she had continued to deceive the king and foil all attempts by him to find out more about her secrets. She opened her box again and gave him several things including money which she had brought for him. She told him that he would have more of such gifts as long as he kept those secrets. Raphael swore that he would ever do so. She told him that from then onwards she was going to be sending him gifts both for himself and for her parents. He was expected to deliver her parents portion of any gifts she sent as soon as he got them.
Linda then told Raphael what she described as “the most important of all” she had to say. “Very soon”, she said, “the king and myself will be paying you a visit. I told the King that my parents died when I was young and that I am alone in the world; but that 1 have one cousin who now occupies my father’s house. You are to be that cousin, and your house is to be taken as my dead father’s house. The king will make you very many presents when we shall be here. I told you earlier that I am going to make you a very rich man”. Raphael chuckled in delight. She reminded him that she was coming with the king as the “beautiful queen of Prul”. “I am not going to look like I am now when we come. I shall be wearing that plastic face”, she warned. The next day she assembled her belongings and left for Prul.
After Linda had left, Raphael sat quietly on the step leading into his house with his head supported on both palms and ankles resting on both knees and gazed into the horizon. It all looked like a dream to him. He thought over all that she had told him and shrugged his shoulders. “This Linda must be a very wonderful woman”, he muttered at last, and got up and walked into his room. He looked at his clock, It was 7.30 p.m. He thought of his supper, and gave it up. He was still so excited that he had no appetite for food. He lay himself on his bed and soon slept.
Linda was now back to the palace with her artificial face perfectly in place again. Her return was marked with feasting and merry-making in the king’s palace. Many important personalities in Prul had come to welcome her. The king had almost fallen sick with depression since she left the palace. He asked her many questions about her trip. They were soon to prepare for the joint trip to Jovera.