Chapter 2

The king's Birthday ball

All the windows of Panda Palace were glowing with bright lights! It was the night of King Percival Panda’s Birthday Ball. Coach after golden coach arrived at Panda Palace. Inside, all the most important pandas of Yot, dressed in their most beautiful capes were laughing, talking and dancing backwards to Mozart’s happiest toy piano music. “Twinkle, twinkle little star was playing happily. They drank raspberry punch and pink lemonade and munched on chocolate-chip cookies. They were having a wonderful time. 

      The music was playing loudly, so loudly in fact, that no one heard the royal panda-guard at the door announce the arrival of a guest in a beautiful purple cape.

     “Sir Patchus Panda III!” said the royal guard at the door. “Grand-panda-son of sir Patchus Panda I and panda-son of Sir Patchus Panda II!” shouted the guard, as the music played loudly.

     After being announced, the guest in the purple cape entered the big ballroom and a moment later, he was lost in the noisy crowd. The strange thing was that this guest, dressed in the fine purple cape with the beautiful stitching, looked exactly like Patch Panda, except for one thing! He had a black ring of fur around both of his eyes.

     The moment Sir Patchus entered the King’s Palace Ball Room, he began looking through the big crowd for the beautiful Princess Pandora Panda. He looked through the crowd of pandas playing “Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey,” but she wasn’t there. He looked through the pandas crowded around the party table, drinking and laughing, but she wasn’t there. As he walked around the table, royal panda-servants handed him lemonade, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies. He drank and ate and munched and sipped as he looked at every panda-girl’s face to see if she was the princess.
     

     

Suddenly, as he peered across the crowded dance floor, he saw her! Princess Pandora Panda dressed beautifully in a pink party gowns and a high golden crown, was seated on her throne, and many handsome young panda-men were crowded around her. As Sir Patchus approached her throne, he could hear them begging her for the next dance. Sir Patchus crowded in among all the other young panda-men gathered around the throne and watched Princess Pandora laughing, talking and sipping raspberry punch.

     Princess Pandora looked up and, all at once, seeing Sir Patchus in his fine purple cape, she gave a loud hiccup of surprise. Being a princess, she quickly excused herself and gathered her composure. “Sir, will you please walk me to the marble drinking fountain across the room,” said the Princess to the purple-caped, Sir Patchus. “I seem to have the ‘hic’ hiccups all of a ‘hic’ sudden.”Sir Patchus was amazed by the pretty Princess’s charm, but he obeyed as best he could.                Giving Princess Pandora his arm, he walked her across the room to the marble drinking fountain. His knees shook and nearly gave way as he went.

Patch and the princess dancing by Daniela Gioseffi

He was very nervous, indeed!

The princess was looking at him very carefully and she looked very puzzled, but Sir Patchus didn’t know why. “Your cape is very nice,” she said.              “Wherever did you get such fine purple silk?”

“Oh, I found it in the gar— I mean, I found the silk when I sailed to Japan last winter,” said Sir Patchus III, very nervously. “The winters are so cold in Yot. I like to get away to a warmer country for a vacation. Uuh! May I have the next dance, My Lady— Your Highness— I mean, Your Highness Princess—Uuhh?” asked Sir Patchus.

     “Yes, you may,” said the Princess, still looking very puzzled.

And so, they danced and talked and talked and danced. Sir Patchus Panda III told many funny and silly stories, and the Princess laughed and laughed. Soon they were dancing cheek-to-cheek in the middle of the great ballroom; whirling backwards to the Waltz of the Pandas; twirling round and round and laughing and having a good time.

      As a matter of fact, they were laughing so hard that tears twinkled like stars in their bright black eyes and ran down their furry white cheeks. All the other young panda-men watched them dancing and felt very jealous of the handsome young panda-man in the beautiful purple cape.

Then, suddenly, as the royal panda-waiters carried in the King’s big whipped-creamed birthday cake, and everyone turned to look at the sparkling candles on top, something terrible happened. Sir Patchus took his damp white furry cheek away from Princess Pandora’s damp, white furry cheek to turn and look at the big cake. The jealous, young panda-men watching him let out a huge growl. “Grrrrrrrr,” they said, for this is what they saw:   They saw a black smudge on Princess Pandora’s cheek. Where there had been a black ring around Sir Patchus’ right eye, there was nothing but a pale grey smudge.

     There was Patch Panda in the middle of the big crowded ballroom of Panda Palace, and he was in terrible trouble! He had been so bold as to dance with King Percival’s daughter, of all pandas! He had broken The Law of the Land that kept One-Ring-Pandas out of all good places. He was at once torn from Princess Pandora’s arms by two royal guards. Pandamonium followed! 

     Everyone crowded around growling and talking and wondering what had happened. How had a One-ringed panda dared to come to the King’s Birthday Ball and dance with his daughter, Prince Pandora? All the pandas at the party, ladies and gentlemen alike, gathered in groups to gossip about what they had seen taking place right under their noses. Never had such a thing happened in all the history of Yot! Never before had a One-ring-panda broken the law of the land and dared to come to a palace party! For the first time a panda was going to be sent to prison and punished very badly for disobeying the King’s Law of the Land that separated One-Ring-Pandas from other pandas and kept them out of all good places!