From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
Ella watches as her father's facial expression changes from horror to adoration. She takes the opportunity to sneak out of the hall, wondering whether the gift is going to turn out to be a good thing, after all.
Just then, Char shows up. He's heard about a secret passage under the castle, and they decide to go look for it rather than attend the masked ball.
Char and Ella explore, looking for hidden panels and stuff like that. Ella tells Char that the reason she was hiding was to escape temptation… the temptation to slide down the stair rail!
This makes Char laugh, because evidently his sense of humor is not too highly developed.
While exploring yet more backrooms and stairways, Char starts pulling buttons off his doublet to mark their progress.
These two, you guys. Is it a match made in heaven, or what?
They find a tower room with a hidden box. In it are some old gardening supplies and a pair of glass slippers. Ella worries that she'll break them, but she has to put them on when Char tells her too.
No breaking. In fact, they're surprisingly supple and flexible.
Char and Ella dance to the sounds of the orchestra below. She feels all a-quiver at his touch.
They chitchat about his ogre catching adventures and her desire to not return to the ball. Ella tells him about the fairy gift to her father and his new wife.
They agree that it would stink to be forced to marry someone you don't love, but it also stinks to be coerced into love. In fact, coercion is just a Bad Thing all around.
Speaking of coercion, Char says that he's off to Ayortha for a year, as it's a custom for their young royals to live in each other's courts. He promises to write.
From where they are in the tower, they can see the guests leaving. Ella wants to wait to go downstairs until Lucinda is gone.
On the way down, they slide down the stair rails. A lot. With much laughter.
Sir Peter, Mum Olga, and the girls catch them in the act but are too stunned to say anything. When Char does see them, he cracks up and can't stop laughing even when trying to formally say goodbye. So much for royal etiquette.