Chapter 31 Summary
Cinder has no ride home from the market, so she has to walk. She limps badly without her foot, so she is tired and sore by the time she arrives home. Even then, she does not get a chance to rest. Pearl, still angry about the encounter with the prince in the market, immediately puts Cinder to work doing petty little jobs.
As Cinder works, she and Pearl bicker. Pearl claims she is going to speak with Prince Kai tonight to tell him that Cinder is a cyborg and a thief. Annoyed, Cinder goads Pearl, saying that Kai would have danced with Peony tonight had she been alive. At this, Pearl turns red and says that Cinder has no right even to speak Peony’s name.
Like Adri, Pearl believes that Cinder is to blame for Peony’s death. After all, it was Cinder who took the younger girl to the junkyard, where she got sick. Cinder stammers that she loved Peony, but Pearl will not listen. She blames Cinder not only for infecting Peony, but also for behaving unfeelingly:
She was sick and you were…meeting the prince, trying to catch his attention, when you know how she felt about him. It’s sick.
Cinder is almost thankful when Adri interrupts this argument, ordering her outside to wash the hover. The prince’s coronation is beginning, so Cinder watches it through her netlink while she scrubs the hover with soapy water. At the palace Prince Kai appears before the cameras in ceremonial garb. The audience is filled with the luminaries of Earth—plus three representatives from Luna, including Queen Levana. As always, the latter appears veiled before the cameras.
As Cinder washes the car, she listens to Kai accept the role of emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth. He gives a speech about the hard times his country is facing. He promises to do all he can to end the letumosis plague that killed his parents and to maintain peace with Luna:
I will do whatever needs to be done to ensure the well-being of my country. I will do whatever needs to be done to keep you all safe.
Cinder listens to this speech with a sinking feeling. She already knew that Kai was planning on marrying Queen Levana, but it does not mean she likes it. It is hard to watch him struggle over his words, and harder still to see the beaming faces of Queen Levana’s two Lunar companions. Cinder can see that they feel they have already won.