A pillowmaker makes a terrible mistake on a royal commission and needs to fix it quickly.
|The Tusked Prince
A royal commission is a great honour for any craftsman. It means your work was popular enough to be noticed by royalty and was up to their standards. Unsurprisingly, I was ecstatic when I got a commission from the Prince for a pillowcase.
I take pride in my decorated pillowcases. Even though they take longer to create than plain pillowcases, I charge the same amount as any other pillowmaker. I make them so the townsfolk have pretty pillowcases, not for extra profit. Of course, I had to step it up a couple notches for the Prince. The usual geometric designs wouldn't be up to snuff. I'd have to go above and beyond with something more expressive.
I decided to make it a hunting scene. I would emblazon the Prince on his steed hunting a mighty boar on the front of the pillowcase and a great feast on the other side with a cooked boar as the centerpiece. The fabric and dye I used were really expensive. I ordered the most vibrant dyes and the softest cloth in the city. I'm no pillowcase tycoon, so I only purchased enough to make a single pillowcase. That was all I was commisioned for anyway.
I got to work. The Prince's face was especially difficult to get right. I had briefly seen him during the harvest fair. I remembered that he had a mighty beard, and I knew that he looked a lot like the King. So I used the King's portrait on my largest coin as a reference and simply added a beard to the King's face. It looked pretty accurate from what I remembered.
I had a tight deadline. The payment up front was high enough that I could close shop for couple days and focus on the commission. I worked on the pillowcase day and night. I made sure every seam and every string was perfect. I tried to depict the fiercest boar I could. The beast had huge tusks, mighty hooves and a mean looking tuft of hair beneath it's chin. I figured it would make it look large and menacing.
I kept working on it throughout the week as the deadline crept closer and closer. I was almost done by the weekend. I added some details to the feast on the other side. I tried to make each guest unique. I gave each of them different hair, clothing and poses. I even included some people I personally knew. I decorated the table with various cheeses, fruits and wines. It truly looked like a King's table.
I took a look at the whole thing the day before I had to present it to the Prince. I viewed the front side. I couldn't remember which side I had put the prince and which side I had put the boar. I looked at the left side. There was a figure with four hooves and a sharp set of tusks over a mighty beard. I looked at the right side and there was a figure with four hooves and a sharp set of tusks over a mighty beard.
Two boars? No, it couldn't be. I vividly remembered working on the Prince's face. I also remembered working on a single boar. I depicted the boar with black hooves, the beard under the mouth and the huge tusks over them. I remembered working on the Prince and his steed as well. His horse had black hooves, the Prince had a big beard under his lips and huge tusks in his mouth. Wait, tusks?
That's when it hit me. I had put a pair of boar tusks in the Prince's mouth. As I worked on the Prince's red beard and the boar's sharp tusks I had mistaken the Prince's beard for the boar's mane. This simply wouldn't do. Depicting the Prince as a wild boar, that's a death sentence! I had to give him the pillowcase tomorrow. What the hell was I supposed to do? I didn't have the time to make a second pillowcase. Nor could I simply remove the part with the tusks and redo the face. I didn't have enough materials to make a single square inch of fabric.
I began to panic. I frantically looked around for anything that could be used to cover it up. I had plenty scraps of cloth but none of them were up to royal standards. I flipped the pillow around and took a look at the feast. At least the Prince didn't have tusks on this side. As I looked through the table, I noticed one of the guests I had put in the scene. It was Crooknose, the royal hunter of the castle and my childhood friend. He was attacked by a honey badger at a young age and the wee beast had bitten part of his nose off. He lived without a nose for a long time. Fortunately, he was able to afford a surgeon once he got employed by the King. He had a rhinoplastic surgery soon after. I was there for the surgery. I remembered the procedure.
The surgeon used a daphne leaf to measure his nose. He cut a flap of skin off his forehead but left it attached. He gently folded the skin over the mutilated nose and sutured it. He bandaged his head and Crooknose had to apply sesame oil on his face every day until it healed. Once he removed the bandages, his forehead had healed and he had a full nose as well. However, his nose was a bit crooked. Still, he was happy with his new nose. After all, having a crooked nose is better than having no nose.
Inspiration struck when I remembered the surgery. I looked at the cooked boar in the centre of the feast. I thanked the Lord when I realised that I had depicted the cooked boar tuskless. I flipped the pillowcase once again and took a look at the tusked Prince. I measured the length and width of the tusks with a jasmine leaf. I marked the leaf and used it to cut off a flap of cloth from the face of the boar. I did the same on the tusked Prince and replaced the pieces. I carefully sewed the pieces and the Prince was tusked no more.
Normally, the cooks remove the tusks of the boar when cooking it so a tusked boar on the King's table is a rare sight. Still, a tusked Prince is far more unusual than a tusked boar. Either way, the Prince didn't seem to mind the culinary inaccuracy. He was quite pleased when I presented the pillowcase. I had the opportunity to take a good look at his face. He really did look a lot like the King.
He examined the hunting scene with a big smile.
"Exquisite craftsmanship! I must say, the teeth look exactly like mine!"