An avenue, lined each side with life-size statues, led towards the moat which surrounded the Castle. As the Fool walked this avenue he saw that each statue was frozen in a different pose. One seemed thoughtful, while another was dancing, and a third was holding a hand out, as if to say "stop". The statues were so artfully carved, and the poses so expressive, they evoked a variety of feelings that were new to the Fool. But as he neared the end of the avenue, the wonders of the statues were forgotten as the Fool caught his first proper sight of the Castle.
In the brightness of the morning, rising high above a landscaped garden, the castle glittered like a stone set in emerald velvet. A drawbridge led to its huge entrance and, though he no longer felt awkward and ashamed, the Fool was acutely aware that he looked out of place in this elegant setting. He guessed that many of the townspeople would feel similarly overawed, for there were no other visitors on foot.
Then, to his surprise, the Fool noticed a beautiful woman seated on a throne of sculptured wings, who was most definitely not a statue for she smiled at him and said, "Welcome, traveller. I see you are impressed both by my castle, and by my statues. Most people are so intent upon their business that they fail to notice either the statues or myself. They look straight ahead, and are blind to what is around them."
The lady spoke with such warmth that the Fool felt immediately at ease. "The statues are very fine," he agreed, "though I do not know what they mean. I have come here to seek my fortune, for my ambitions have been recently aroused."
The Empress, for it was she, smiled again as she replied, "You are most fortunate, for you have come to the right place. For in this world, there is something for everyone. And, most importantly, you will meet here a number of people who each have something to give you, though at first sight this may not always seem the case. Visitors arrive in every shape and size, and I regard them all with equal delight. You will see their different attitudes represented here, in my gallery of characters. I cannot champion your part, but I can open your eyes to the Theatre of Life."
The Fool had seen Theatre and loved it, so happily sat down by the side of the Empress' throne to hear what she had to say.
"Theatre is a world of differences," she began portentously. "Any script that your ambition may write unaided must be a hollow substitute for reality, for you cannot conjure the diversity of life from your imagination alone. Unless your ambitions are small, they will involve a cast of characters. If you cultivate your interest in people you will discover that every one of them has something of value to contribute to your drama."
"But," said the Fool, "Surely some characters are better than others?"
"You can be sure," replied the Empress, "that nearly every character believes he or she is as good as the next one, and deserves a better part. You may also be sure that the best way to make a good impression upon people is to shift your attention from yourself to others."
The Empress rose from her throne to illustrate her lecture with the statues.
"Observe the posture of any person and copy it. You will find that if you hold yourself as they do, breathe as they do or move in time with them, you will start to feel a little like that person. Thus!" (here the Empress theatrically threw a pose), "AND Thus! AND THUS!"
Breathless, she walked slowly back to her throne, the Fool following dutifully behind whilst somewhat self-consciously allowing his face to form one or two novel expressions.
"There is an art to appreciating others," continued the Empress, "which, once mastered, ensures that you need never be bored again. You will find that everyone you meet will fascinate you, provided you know how to pay attention. For example, did you ever notice that each person has a particular way of experiencing the world? I look, You hear, He feels, She thinks, It smells... There is no end to delightful differences, for those with a taste for them."
She spun around, surprising the Fool in the middle of a particularly ambitious grimace. "Do you hear what I say? Do you catch my drift? Everyone has their favourite senses, and when you wish to understand someone you should pay attention to how they see, hear, feel, think about and experience life. These are things which can make people CLICK. Do you see what I mean?"
"It's crystal clear," replied the Fool. "But, once I've clicked, what then?"
The Empress resumed her throne, and with a flourish exclaimed, "Then you are ready to explore Values, Beliefs, Motivation. These are the most important elements from which each character is formed. Tell me, do you sometimes feel you have been miscast in the drama of life? Are you at times confused by the many roles you are expected to play? Only when you have found your proper role, can you act it well. One way to find your role is to pay attention to those you admire and copy them. Would you like to double your normal power in an instant? All you have to do is experience whatever someone says or does as if you had said or done it!"
It occured to the Fool that there was a significant difference between being an Empress and pretending to be one, but not wishing to hurt his mentor's feelings he merely asked, "Once I have found my role, how can I get others to play their parts?"
"You must persuade the players that it is in their interests to do as you bid," replied the Empress, mysteriously.
"But I don't know how to do that," reflected the Fool, "since my ambitions were made to serve me rather than the world."
"But me no Buts!," retorted the Empress, perhaps rather crisply, for she felt that questions interrupted her flow. "Every time you use that word I know you are about to disagree with something I have said. Whenever you want something from somebody, it is always best to look for something you agree upon. This places you on the same wavelength. And once you are on it, you will find that you begin to appreciate what it is like to be them. And once you have that feeling, you will hardly be able to stop yourself from telling them what it is, precisely, that you like about them. Flattery is a lie, easily detected. Appreciation is a way of life."
"Your wisdom and grace," said the Fool, after some thought, "are exceeded only by your beauty. Since I hope to meet your husband, the Emperor, I can only hope he is as fair as you. Perhaps you could describe him to me, so I could get a sense of his...motivation?"
"Ask not What is he like? Ask instead, what does he like?" replied the Empress, beaming with pleasure, and at that very moment a bugle fanfare sounded, there was the crash of hooves against the wooden drawbridge, and five knights in shining armour, riding great horses, sped out of the castle towards them.