You find her in the garden, in the flaming wreckage of a red-- you have no idea what it is, only that it is very bright red and the woman in it is very handsome, no matter if she is a negress. Except she isn’t, for no human woman has such long, sharp, orange horns, nor--well, you are a gentleman and you tried to avert your eyes of course as you bathed her battered body, but you ended up seeing a few things anyway and for a lady she has an awfully odd set-up in her lower extremities.
But she is beautiful. She is beautiful, injured, and all alone in the world.
You carry her upstairs to the guest room, call the girl to draw a bath in the copper tub, and then gently clean and bandage her and package her into one of your late mother’s nightgowns, before laying her to rest in the bed.
And then, then you wait.
Hours later, she opens her eyes. They are as striking as the rest of her and full of implacable fury.
“You,” she snarls, “outworlder. What did you do to the imperial person? What are these” --her lips purse-- “clothes I am wearing?
“Madame,” you say, hat clasped to your breast, “I did nothing but my duty. You were injured. I bathed you, cared for your wounds, and gave you new clothes to replace what had been damaged in the wreck of the--” You pause, trying to find a word to call the red wreckage.
“The Battleship Condescension,” she says briskly.
“The Battleship Condescension,” you repeat. “My name is Sassacre--Colonel Sassacre. Retired from military service. Author, entrepreneur and general Jack of All Trades.”
She looks at you like you’re nothing. Like you’re less than nothing.
You sigh softly. “Do I have the honor of knowing who I’m addressing?”
“I,” she says, drawing herself up so that she’s halfway out of the bed, “am Her Imperious Condescension, Immortal Queen-Empress of the Trolls of Alternia and Her Territories.”
“Your majesty,” you say, “welcome to Earth.”
She scowls at you. You chuckle and start spooning her chicken broth.
She learns your customs with remarkable speed. The silverware that confused her at the start of the meal is mastered by the third course. Monetary systems, measurements, and systems of government are all learned and memorized within days of being exposed to them.
With the help of the cook, you teach her how to cook and bake human food. She already knows how to cook alien grub, however--which surprised you, for what need had a queen to cook for herself? But perhaps it was a hobby. Everyone ought to have a hobby.
You teach her to waltz to the tune of a phonographic record of The Blue Danube.
Looking into her alien purple eyes, you wonder if you might be falling in love.
First, the gown. Long sleeved, with a high neck and a train. Then the gloves, to cover her hands and claws. She has so much hair that it is quite easy to obscure her horns underneath a high-swept up-do and a fetching veiled hat. Too, there are powders and paints and glasses with smoked lenses, all of which produce a certain alchemical affect.
She is taller than most human women, but not so much as to be impossible. You take her strolling in the park one afternoon and the disguise is perfect.
She is perfect.
“You’ll need an human name,” you say quietly as the two of you pass over the footbridge.
“Ah,” she says. Although you cannot see her face, you can just imagine the sardonic arch of her eyebrow.
“I was thinking... would you like my mother’s? Her name was Elizabeth. Elizabeth Crocker, before she married my father. Betty, he called her.”
“Betty Crocker,” she repeats thoughtfully. “It is... acceptable.”
You grin like a fool. “I’m glad.”