One month later, the king and the queen set out for the visit, it was a very private visit. Raphael had been duly informed and as such he was ready for them before they arrived. Everything worked out as Linda had planned. The king made Raphael many presents and they left for home.
For many years Linda lived very happily with her husband, She had now given birth thrice. The king was very fond of their three children. One of the children was a boy; the other two were girls. One thing was remarkable in these children which many people including the king wondered at. The boy resembled the father considerably. The two girls resembled each other so much that, but for their heights, they would have been easily taken as twins. But these two girls resembled neither their father nor their mother. Linda did not find it difficult to protect this loophole from casting suspicious eyes on her. She said that the girls took semblance from their ‘late’ grandmother. She said that her ‘late’ father was a very handsome man and her people said that she resembled him in beauty.
Years passed by and Linda remained as beautiful and young as she was ever known to be. She became the talk of the entire Prul. She was now in her 33rd. year and a mother of seven. Her face was still as smooth and beautiful as that of a teenage girl. Everybody was filed with wonder, “What kind of a woman is this whose beauty never fades?” they asked.
Little did Linda realize that her youngest child, a bouncing baby boy whom she loved so much was going to bring about her betrayal barely months after she gave birth to it. The black day came eight months after she gave birth to Harry, her eight child. Linda had just finished giving Harry a warm evening bath and sat him on her knees drying him with a towel. Young Harry cried and waved his tiny hands about as if he was trying to seize the disturbing towel from her. As he cried and jolted about on her knees, his sharp finger nail got unto
Her face and tore open the plastic face, exposing a small portion of her actual skin. As soon as she noticed it, she dashed into her room handing the baby over to her young maid. She flung herself on her bed and wept bitterly. “It is the end of my life”, she said to herself. As she wept in secret, an idea flew past. She got out of bed and looked for the first-aid box. She later found it inside a cupboard. She opened it, and took an elastoplast. She cut a small portion out of it and sealed up the opening on her face, it would be no problem explaining it. “But for how long shall I have this elastoplast on?” she asked. She became sad again. She then decided to plan another trip to the plastic face specialist for a replacement.
The king who had been in the sitting room with some guests came into her room casually after the guests had left. He noticed the piece of elastoplast on her face and gasped. “What happened”? he asked. “Not a thing to worry about. Just had a little scratch from Harry”. The king went over to Harry as he lay sleeping on his little bed. He noticed that he had sharp grown finger nails. “! think these nails will have to be cut, or Harry is bound to hurt himself some day with them”, he ordered.
Two weeks after, the king became worried over the long duration of time she had had to have the elastoplast on her face. He wondered if the wound was not developing more and more rather than heal. He tried to suggest that the doctor be called to have a look at it, but she refused. Meanwhile, she had been trying to secure his permission to go home to see Raphael. The king on the other had insisted that he would like to accompany her to Raphael, adding that he had been in dire need of seeing him. The future looked very bleak for Linda. She wondered what the end would be. Her only hope of replacing her face had been shattered by the king’s insistence on accompanying her. Many more people were now beginning to comment on the unduly long time she had had the plaster on her face. Her children became worried too over their mother’s blunt refusal to have a doctor examine the ‘sore’ and find out why it had failed to heal. The palace doctor on his part was worried and anxious to have a look at the wound. He determined to work out a convenient opportunity to look into the wound’.
The opportunity was not long in coming. It came one afternoon as the queen was sleeping on a chair in the sitting room. The king was holding a cabinet meeting in the office block. He walked stealthily into this general room and gave her a little dose of inhalant anesthetic. She inhaled it and fell into a deeper slumber. The doctor then locked the door to ensure that no one came in. He removed the piaster and noticed a second layer of skin underneath. He looked more closely and fell back with surprise. He stood awhile and looked at the ceiling deep in thought. He reasoned that there must be something on Linda’s face which she had been hiding by the wearing of plastic face. He was anxious to know more. He took a pair of scissors and slit open the plastic material. Before him lay one of the ugliest faces he had seen. He recognized the great semblance between the sleeping face before him and the faces of some of the children in the family. Great fear engulfed him. He did not know whether the king himself was in collusion with this unprecedented act of deceit and impersonation. He regretted exposing her face. He could not withstand the fury of the king if what he was baffled at was a thing the king knew and purposely hid with his wife from the entire public. He believed that his life would be in danger if the king should meet him there. In great confusion, he opened the door quickly and fled the palace. On getting home, he packed as many of his belongings as he considered very important in a small bag and fled Prul.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Flai was now awake, the anesthetic effect having expired. She noticed a portion of the plastic material dangling on her face. Outside she heard all her children crying. One of them had come in soon after the doctor had left and raised an alarm at seeing their beloved mother ‘disfigured1. Her beauty was no more. The children believed that the doctor had committed some havoc on their mother and hurried off.
Linda, the beautiful queen of Prul was exposed. The king was yet to know what happened. The love of her children and the fear of the king’s reaction to this exposition battled in Linda’s mind for some time, it was a battle of which should reign over her next line of action. She feared that the king would kill her if he discovered the truth about her. On the other hand, she found it difficult to abandon her children, Harry was only eleven months old.
At last fear of death forced her out of the house leaving all her children behind. She dashed out of the house as soon as she took this decision taking with her some amount of money and made for the bush behind the palace. She ran for three kilometers inside the bush until she came out to a road where she picked up a vehicle heading towards Jovera.
The next day, Linda was back to Jovera in Raphael’s house. She told Raphael her full story and hurried off to Sima where her old parents still lived. She did not tell the parents what happened. She merely told them that she had quarreled with her husband and decided to leave him.
Back in King Truder Flai’s palace, grief was the very air that everybody breathed. The king had been told the full story of what they saw by his children. He was disappointed and filled with sorrow. The truth was now out. He now knew why his wife had left the plaster on her face for 3 months. He became one of the unhappiest men in ail Prul. News had gone round the whole of Prul about the treachery of the king’s wife. The palace doctor had come to hear about King Flai’s surprise at the truth about his wife. He now knew that the king was no way in collusion. He then returned and went to the king to tell the story of what he saw.
Meanwhile, the children continued to cry every day. The king had told them that the doctor did no harm to their mother. He called the elder ones and explained to them how he came to marry their mother and what was the true story about their mother. They now understood, but wanted their mother back in whatever form. She loved them so tenderly that they found it difficult to stay without her. The king himself soon began to get very worried. His children’s sadness almost tore his heart. Harry was crying always. He was still being suckled. The king then decided to go in search for her. He went to Raphael in Jovera.
Raphael was not surprised to see King Flai in his house. After seeing Linda, he knew the king would soon be coming to look for her. He told the king that he did not know of Linda’s where about. After he had told him all about the children and how they have been mourning her sudden disappearance, Raphael became engulfed with pity. He promised the king that he was going to go immediately in search of her and gave him the hope that by the following day he might be able to say something about her where about. The king then left and sought accommodation in a hotel in Jovera while Raphael left for Sima to meet Linda.
When he arrived Sima, Raphael met Linda in a very unhappy state. He told her all that the king said about the children and Linda burst out in tears. When she learnt that her husband had promised to come back to Raphael’s house the next day, she determined to go back with Raphael to meet him.
On arriving at his house in Shrog, Raphael gathered some of his friends as Linda had requested to stay with them before the king would come back. Not much longer he was back from the hotel where he had spent the night. Raphael received him and offered him a seat. He looked round and noticed that with Raphael were four men and one woman. “Who are all these people?” he asked. “I don’t think I have ever met any of them here before”. “No”, answered Raphael, “they are my friends who have also come to welcome you”. He got up and shook hands with each of them including the woman and sat down again. “Yes, did you find out anything about her whereabouts?” he asked. “Well, yes”, answered Raphael. “Where is she, please?” he asked again.
There was silence. Raphael looked at him for a while and touching the woman beside him answered, “here she is”. King Flai recollected that he did not have to expect seeing the Mrs. Flai he used to know, but a Mrs. Flal with a different face. Nevertheless, he could not admit so easily so he asked the woman, “Are you my wife?” Linda burst into tears again. She was unable to answer. The king now realized that Raphael must be right. He bowed his head in deep thought. There was another interval of silence except for the frequent sobs from Mrs. Flai. When she composed herself to some extent, she spoke. “Tee”, as she was used to calling him, “will you ever forgive me?” she asked. He then recognized the voice of the woman who had lived with him for the past eighteen years. “Will you ever accept to go back to Prul with me and take care of these children before they all die from grief?” he asked after a short pause. She broke down again in tears. He drew close and took her in his arms and wiped her tears. He held her left hand tenderly and led her out of Raphael’s house. They left for Prul and lived happily together thereafter. And she swore never to lie and cheat again, since whatever is hidden must later be exposed and liars are doomed to suffer for their lies.