Before You Meet Prince Charming: Part 2 Chapter 5

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Part 2 Chapter 5 May 1, 2017

princecharmingby Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

All quotes from Sarah Mally’s book ‘Before You Meet Prince Charming’ are in blue text.

In the last post on this chapter, the Princess was still worried – and pining a tad – over Sir Eloquence.  The Queen told her to get over him.  The Princess voiced her concerns about how the People viewed her obsessive purity with a surprising amount of insight; the Queen declared that the Princess was wrong since the silent majority of people supported her…silently.

Now, at this point, the book has been pretty clear that the Princess doesn’t really have any friends among the locals.  The Princess has mentioned that she worries about what everyone else thinks of her; her parents and the narrator insist that the Princess really doesn’t give a crap about what anyone else thinks – but either way there has been no sign that the Princess has real friends who she sees on a regular basis.

Oh, wait.

Here’s Maiden Flirtelia – a young woman who appears out of nowhere and is apparently unobjectionable enough that the Queen is fine with the Princess hanging out with her unaccompanied and unchaperoned while also being worldly enough that she gets the virtue signal name of “Flirt”.

“Maiden Flirtelia and the princess spent the next few hours looking around Market Street, visiting the tapestry shop, and picking up some pastries at the bakery. They then sat down at Fountain Circle to talk.” (pg. 87)
  • ROTFL.  This is a great example of how to insert anachronisms into writing.
    • Step One: Write out a modern activity that your readers will identify with.  Example: “Goofus and Gallant spent the next few hours looking around the mall, visiting the poster kiosk, and grabbing a bite to eat at the food court.  They then sat down at the water feature to talk.”
    • Step Two: Change the modern words into words that may have existed during the time period and voila!  You get something that makes NO DAMN SENSE.
  • I’d forgive a lot if 1) the rush of some livestock going to the fountain knocks both of the girls into the fountain and 2)Maiden Flirtelia has a deathbed conversion to purity while dying of typhoid fever contracted from her unplanned baptism.   (After all, if you’re going to write an overly preachy morality story, go for the overly sentimental death scene.  That’s a standard trope that is sadly missing from SAHD writings.)

Maiden Flirtelia and the Princess chat.

“”I must tell you, I had the most wonderful time last evening at the Summer Ball,” Maiden Flirtelia chattered excitedly. “You should have been there to meet all the enchanting young men. I had such a romantic time with Sir Striking.”

“Flirtelia, thou hasn’t changed at all! Can you think of anything else besides men, romance, parties, and weddings?”

“And you have not changed at all either,” Maiden Flirtelia replied. “Will you ever grow up and start enjoying your life? In fact, I heard Sir Eloquence was seeking your hand. I cannot believe you would not even take time to consider him. Dost thou not know that he is one of the most popular knights?”

“Why take time for something one already knows will come to nothing, especially when it is neither wise nor safe?” asked the princess.”


  • Being a princess and being kept isolated from all other people were the two reasons I thought the Princess had no friends.  I’ve added a third reason to my list: the Princess is a horrible conversationalist!
    • Maiden Flirtelia starts off the conversation by clearly signaling that she wants to tell the Princess about the fun she had at the Summer Ball last night.  The Princess responds by chiding her friend for being flighty.
    • Maiden Flirtelia didn’t say anything about weddings so the Princess is not listening very well either.
    • The net outcome: the conversation pivots from Flirtelia’s choice of topic to talking about the Princess and her life choices.  While this is somewhat forgivable as a plot device, it does not bode well for the socialization skills of the Princess.
  • Good for Maiden Flirtelia not being cowed by the Princess’ nagging.  This does bring up a tangential point.  If Maiden Flirtelia and the Princess are friends – or even just friendly – why didn’t the Princess get background information on Sir Eloquence from Maiden Flirtelia?  Sure, Flirtelia has a worldly bias – but a young adult like the Princess should be able to read between the lines to figure out if Sir Eloquence was a decent catch or a person to be avoided.
  • Why is the Princess compelled to talk like she’s the Sphinx?  She could have simply said “We didn’t click” and moved on.
  • Although Ms. Mally is unaware of them, there are actual rules for when to use “thou” and when to use “you” and the rules are not hard to follow.
    • In Old English, “thou” was used for second person singular and “ye” was used for second person plural.  In Modern English, we use “you” for both or “you” for second person singular and “you all, ya’ll, yintz, you guys, etc.” for second person plural.
      • Ironically, using this rule would have made writing the book very simple!  I haven’t found a single second person plural in the book so every “you” should be replaced with “thou”.
    • In Early Modern English, “thou” was second person informal while “you” was second person formal.  This started because of the influence of the French court where “tu” was used for informal settings and “vous” was used for formal settings.
        • This still exists in modern Iberian Spanish with “tu”  and “vosotros” as well; Latin American Spanish dropped the second person plural tense and replaced it with “usted/ustedes” or third person singular and plural for formal usage.
      • In the most sensible choice for this conversation, the Princess would use the informal tense of “thou” to address Flirtelia since Flirtelia is the Princess’ social inferior.  Flirtelia would use the formal tense of “you” to address the Princess.
      • In another more questionable choice, both young women could use “thou” throughout to denote an intimate relationship.
      • Both women could use “you”, but that would imply that they were strangers who had no way of determining relative social class.
    • There’s not a point where having two characters switching randomly between “thou” and “you” makes any sense.

“Well then, you could have at least suggested that he get to know me!” declared Flirtelia.

“You may suggest it to him yourself if you like,” said the princess with a smile. “You seem to have ample opportunities to converse with the knights.”

“Are thou saying that thou hast no opportunities? You really should come to one of the dances. I’ll arrange a match for you.”

“No really, Flirtelia, you just do not understand, do you?”

“Understand? ” asked Maiden Flirtelia. “No, I do not understand! Why would you say no to such a choice knight? Why would you miss out on so many fun and harmless activities? No, I do not understand at all!”(pg. 88)

  • The Princess’ response to Flirtelia’s joke that the Princess should have sent Sir Eloquence towards Flirtelia is condescending at best and passive-aggressive at worst.  Apparently, being CP/QF means never learning how to demur gracefully.
  • Flirtelia is a surprisingly good approximation of how some non-CP people interact with SAHDs.  Flirtella is being social and friendly towards the Princess in spite of the Princess’ foibles.  She’s even offering to smooth the Princess’ transition into interacting with young men which is a sweet gesture considering the Princess has been self-absorbed and pedantic during this interaction.  (Yes, viewing every other human being solely as a potential convert to Emo-Pure is self-absorption.)

Logically, Ms. Mally has built up to the point where the Princess gives a whole-hearted, passionate and ringing endorsement of emotional purity.  Maiden Flirtelia has laid the groundwork; she’s even stated that she doesn’t understand why the Princess lives like she does and Flirtelia seems at least open to listening to the Princess’ explanation.

Instead, the conversation stops dead when some horsemen ride into town and give a proclamation.  The Princess sees Sir Valiant who is heroic, loyal to the King, young and handsome.  The Princess doesn’t interact with him in any way.  Without any explanation, the scene jumps to the Princess and Queen walking home while the Princess is distracted because she’s having a full-on crush on Sir Valiant.

  • The deus ex machina moment of Prince Charming .. *rolls eyes* I mean …Sir Valiant saving the Princess from having to explain Emo Pure to her friend is telling.  Ms. Mally can’t coherently describe her protagonist’s motives!  That moment undermines the book’s entire premise that the Princess is quietly showing the People how to live in emotional purity.  Instead, she comes across as socially immature (who wanders off without saying goodbye to a friend?) and incapable of explaining her most deeply held views.
  • Having a crush is normal and pretty awesome.  There is a bit of an issue here, though, because the Princess is now “nearly 18 years old” according to the Alligator.   Once a person gets old enough to get married, it’s a good idea to channel some of the emotional energy used on crushes into real relationships with the good, bad and ugly that comes in all human interactions instead of the flawlessness of an imaginary partner.
  • I’m curious what Sir Valiant’s flaws are.  Sir Eloquent was one big mess of flaws; he was affectionate toward the Princess, didn’t want to jump through the hoops placed by the King and was a braggart.  Sir Valiant is one big mass of virtues so far – and let’s be honest here – a person who has no flaws at all is as much of a red flag in a relationship as someone who is a hot mess.
  • Loyalty is a good virtue normally, but a scary red flag in CP land.  After all, repaying the kind acts of a follower by giving him your daughter’s hand in marriage sounds great for the men involved – but isn’t always in the best interest of the daughter.
The chapter ends with the Princess back at the castle yammering with the Alligator and daydreaming…again.

Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • SAO

    For the middle ages, the princess is the ideal daughter, she isn’t getting to know any eligible men and she isn’t forming any ideas about what’s important to her in a partnership. That means her parents can choose anyone they like, without worrying about her opinion. Which, I think, is the reason CPM parents push the emo-purity.

    In short, nothing about the purity movement is in the interests of women. It’s about limiting their autonomy so men can make choices for them.

  • AFo

    This is all but unreadable. I’m amazed you can make any sense out of it. It’s clear that Flirtelia feels sympathy for the princess, but the princess is so emotionally stunted that she can’t recognize it. Flirtelia is behaving the way a normal girl her age would, and is being cast in the boy-crazy role, which says a lot about how this culture views secular people.

  • Mel

    My biggest problem with this book outside of the many topical flaws and damaging views on purity is that it is boring. Really boring.

    It’s so boring that I’m writing the posts on nights where I’m not asleep between my son’s 12am and 3am feeds….and that’s depressing since a real, meaty topic would be beyond me then.

  • Anonyme

    ““Why take time for something one already knows will come to nothing?”

    Um…because you need to take time to see if something will come of it? Some women don’t just wait for Daddy to hand-pick their new owner…er, husband.

  • Aloha

    Maiden Flirtelia sounds sweet. Maybe she can manage to meet up with Sir Eloquence. Meanwhile our heroine seems destined to hold out for Sir Boring.

  • Allegra DiNetta

    This section seems like a really crappy stylistic mash up of the fairy tale genre and a Jane Austen novel.

  • Well, you can’t just substitute “thou” for every “you” in the book because “you” can be both subject or object, and “thou” can’t. I can give the ball to you, but I give it to thee, not to thou. But, yes, the Princess could use the informal “thou” to address Flirtelia and Flirtelia use the formal tense of “you” to address the Princess. Flirtelia would also have to address the Princess by a title, such as “Your Royal Highness” as well (or possibly “ma’am” once she had said Your Royal Highness at least once.)

  • You are right that the go to market, stop at the bakeshop, sit at the fountain sequence of events makes no sense in a period setting. Nor does the idea of the two girls out on their own. Where is the retinue that the Princess should have? Without a chaperone and a least one Man at Arms, she makes it quite convenient for Sir Eloquence to win her hand, along with the rest of her, in one of the oldest known marriage traditions of all, marriage by capture.

    Furthermore, rather than spurning balls, feasts, and the like, attending those would pretty much have been the Princess’s job. Hospitality was a necessary way of maintaining alliances and seeking out possible mates for one’s children. If parents are going to revive the idea of courtship, then the have to revive the activities that made courtship under the parental eye possible: a debut to signal a young lady was old enough to be received in society, and dances, picnics, teas, or similar activities thereafter. Barn raising can be substituted if need be, but there has to be some kind of group hospitality for the system to work.

  • Mel

    Oh, dang. You’re right. Thanks for the correction!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    She’s also completely not bothering to consistently conjugate the verbs properly after “thou.” As in “thou hast,” “thou goest,” etc.–and forget any 3rd person “She hath,” “She goeth” etc. It’s just a mess.

    I try (often unsuccessfully) not to be pedantic and I don’t really expect a fable with light fairy tale trappings to actually be historically or linguistically accurate. If it were engaging or insightful, the anachronisms and language butchery could even be funny (especially if I got the sense that the author knew that they were incorrect and was just trying to have a little fun). This is, of course, neither engaging nor insightful but, beyond that, one would think that this would be a good opportunity for a homeschooled girl to show off her supposedly superior knowledge, especially since they constantly boast about understanding history better than us muggles. I mean, I’m not exactly a scholar with expertise in either Middle or Early Modern English. I know a bit more about it than most people because a) I got a good solid basis of Shakespeare in high school, thanks to some good teachers, and I have also read it on my own because I enjoy it b) I took a Medieval literature class in college where I got the standard Middle English texts–Chaucer, Arthurian stuff and c) I’m a big early music person and have sung in madrigal groups, where a lot of English language songs are from the Early Modern period. That’s all. Shouldn’t this girl be showing me up left, right, and center with her knowledge? Wouldn’t she want to show her knowledge if she had it? These are the kinds of things that homeschooling is supposed to be so superior to traditional schooling for–more arcane areas of knowledge. Now would be a great opportunity to show us all what we’re missing!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    A Jane Austen novel where nobody does anything and the hero is Mary Bennett, not Elizabeth.

  • Allegra DiNetta

    Hahaha, yes!