A week later in the council, Uriel brought up a delicate matter before those present. He waited until he had a full audience to make sure none would miss the opportunity to hear his words.
“You Highness, an alarming report has come to my attention. I believe the princesses have been sneaking out of the castle at night. Of course my concern is only for their welfare and the reputation of the kingdom, but we should ask Princess Mariana what she knows of this,” he said with his head bowed. He took a quick glance of the princess from the corner of his vision, hoping to catch a glimpse of her reaction.
“Mariana is this true? Do you and your sisters leave the castle unescorted at night?” asked the king with a frown. His daughter, with a curtsey, moved towards the dais.
“Father, I know not to what Uriel is referring. We don’t leave the grounds and if we do it’s never unattended or after dark. Perhaps he is mistaken,” she replied with a straight back, but she wiped her hands discretely on the sides of her gown.
“You Highness, I wouldn’t want to accuse your daughters of telling falsehoods, but perhaps a disinterested third party would be a better judge. I propose that we ask someone from outside of the kingdom to discover the lies in this dangerous slander,” Uriel said and paused with a small smile as though an idea was forming.
“Allow others into my kingdom? I do not like the idea of others thinking they can better manage the goings-on of my own daughters,” said the king looking sharply at his eldest.
“Perhaps we can make it a contest of sorts. Suitable men will be given three days to discover the truth or lies to this tale and for a reward they can have the hand of one of your daughters. However, if they should fail they will be locked away so they cannot report this to anyone. To the other kingdoms it will merely look as though you are finding candidates for your daughters to wed,” he replied slowly. The king stood up still looking at his daughter. Something he saw in her face made him pause.
“Agreed. Let there be a royal proclamation that my eldest daughter is of marriageable age,” he said to Mariana. She bowed her head and swept out of the room, but caught the smile on Uriel face.