The narrator says that once again, before the story can move forward, it has to go backwards a little bit to what happened when Roscuro, the Pea, and Mig arrived in the dungeon. Roscuro leads the girls to a hidden chamber and instructs Mig to put the princess in chains. Mig argues that the princess will struggle in her lessons in chains, but Roscuro tells her to do what he says. Mig suggests that she and the Pea could change outfits first, so Roscuro tells the princess to hand over her crown. The Pea does as she’s told.
Roscuro seems very frustrated with Mig; recall that he never intended for the girls to switch places, so he’s really just trying to appease her enough to get her to do what he says. Crowns are often symbols of royalty, so Mig getting the crown symbolically allows her to experiment with being a princess. Roscuro seems to hope that this will be enough to please her.
The crown is too big for Mig, so it slides down and rests painfully on top of her cauliflower ears. She asks Roscuro how she looks. He says she looks “laughable” and will never look like a princess whether she’s in a crown or not. Mig blinks back tears as Roscuro tells her to tie up the princess. Then, he turns to the Pea and says that he’s going to keep her here in the dungeon for the rest of her life. At this, Mig looks up and asks if the Pea isn’t going to be a maid, and if she’s not actually going to be a princess. Roscuro says neither of those things will happen.
That the crown doesn’t fit Mig speaks to the fact that she’s not royalty, and likely never will be—the persona doesn’t fit. However, Roscuro is cruel about it, which only contributes to Mig’s pain and feelings that she’s been betrayed. Roscuro finally stops pretending that he’s ever going to give Mig what he wants, and he reveals his master plan. Now, Mig knows she can’t trust Roscuro—nobody, least of all him, can grant her wish to be a princess.
Mig says she wants to be a princess, but Roscuro says that nobody cares what she wants. Mig has heard this many times over the course of her life, but in this moment, it hits her hard. Nobody cares about her, and perhaps nobody ever will. Crying, Mig says, “I want!” The Pea makes soothing noises while Roscuro tells Mig to be quiet. As Mig repeats that phrase, the Pea asks what Mig wants. Roscuro tells the Pea to be quiet, but it’s too late—finally, someone has asked Mig what she wants. Sobbing, Mig says she wants her mother.
Roscuro has spent a lot of time building Mig up and letting her believe that she’ll be a princess when all is said and done. Her disappointment is why it’s so hard to hear that he doesn’t care what she wants. But Roscuro also knows that for his plan to work, it’s essential that Mig remain emotional and vulnerable. When the Pea asks Mig what she wants, she shows Mig respect and gives Mig back some of her humanity. For the first time, Mig feels like someone cares about her—and when someone cares for Mig, Mig is able to voice that she really just wants the one person who was supposed to care about her: her mother.
The Pea gently takes Mig’s hands and says she wants her mother, too. Roscuro tells the girls to stop and shouts for Mig to tie up the princess, but Mig says she won’t. She reminds Roscuro that she has the knife. Roscuro says that he recommends Mig not use the knife on him. After all, he’s the only way Mig will ever make it out of the dungeon alive. Mig threatens to chop Roscuro up if he doesn’t lead them out, but Roscuro refuses. The princess says they’re stuck here unless Roscuro has a change of heart. Roscuro insists this won’t happen, so the three of them sit together for an entire day, as one candle burns out and they have to light another. They might still be there, if a mouse hadn’t shown up.
The Pea and Mig connect over the fact that they’re both missing their mothers. Their loss, in other words, binds them together. This makes things difficult for Roscuro; his success rested on the girls seeing each other as enemies. During the stalemate, it creates tension as the narrator describes the candles burning out one by one. When the last candle goes out, the novel implies, all hope will go out as well. But fortunately, a mouse (presumably Despereaux) will appear to make things right.