Arva was an instant smash. And how could she not be? Imagine yourself strolling about the courtyard in the Trakai castle, once the parading ground of Grand Duke Vytautas himself, your mind drifting back across the centuries, when all of a sudden appears a lady adorned in what looks like a medieval wedding outfit.
Her long dress is immaculate lavender, and she sparkles all over with jewelry. On her head is an ornate metal headdress dangling with gemstones, and her neck and wrists are ringed with matching bracelets and chokes. The sun seems to reflect off every ringlet and pendant, as if an aura surrounds her being. She's so stunning that you figure she's an illusion, an apparition, or just an escapee from the local funny farm.
The tourists started taking pictures of Arva, and wouldn't you know it, the princess melted in the attention. (It made me wonder why she ever swapped the gown for a pair of jeans.) Shutters clicked, smiles widened, and I could almost see Arva brace herself as if she half-expected the throng to start tossing carnations. I wanted to joke that if she really wanted flowers thrown at her she should go to Latvia, but then the babbling among the tourists grew louder, and it became perfectly clear to the princess who her admirers were: Germans.
That set her off. The princess turned to face the group 's there were about twenty of them 's and began speaking. Oddly, her voice was even, controlled, and she made no attempt to distinguish language. I could detect Prussian, Yotvingian, Semigallian, and Galindian in her speech; it was as if, faced with her conquerors, she wanted to use a smattering of every extinct Baltic tongue she could muster.
Naturally, I couldn't make sense of the gibberish, but somewhere in there was a lucid message that Arva abhorred Teutonic scum and that she would march straight into the lion's den and personally tear down the Brandenburg Gate.
"Was sagt sie?" a befuddled German asked me.
In my best High German, I responded: "She's saying that she is a great admirer of Germanic culture and to foster bilateral relations she is planning to make a pilgrimage to Berlin 's on foot!"
"Das ist wunderbar!"
Arva continued to unfurl the invective, and still I couldn't make out all the details, but if I'm not mistaken she added that she intended to recruit thousands of Balts, arm them, and have them accompany her to Berlin, where she would sow apocalyptic havoc and avenge her countless Baltic brothers and sisters.
"And she's going to take lots of friends with her on the trip!"
This delighted the tourist group, and they all smiled at the princess and wished her the best of luck.
After they scuttled off, Arva made her way over to me and gave me the royal stare. "After I become queen, professor, my first decree will be to throw you in that pillory over there and force you to memorize Zsa Zsa Gabor's memoirs."
In the meantime, there was a group of Lithuanian high school students, ostensibly on a field trip, who had caught a few scraps of Arva's jingoistic Balto-babble, and decided to talk to her.
"What language are you speaking?" they asked.
Recognizing fellow Balts, Arva immediately simmered down. "All languages, and yet no language," she said.
"Is it related to Lithuanian?" one of the fifteen or so students asked.
"Yes, and no."
"Where are you from?"
"Everywhere, and yet nowhere," the princess replied.
The kids found this double-talk amusing, except one tall boy in the back. "What did you smoke this morning?" he asked.
His peers couldn't help giggling, and the teacher shushed him. I nearly collapsed in laughter.
"I am a scion of Baltic nobility, sent to free my peoples from the shackles of the Catholic Church, NATO, the Council of Europe, the European Union's"
"Wow, a real euroskeptic," interjected a student. "Cool!"
"'sand return them to their glorious pagan past."
"Oh, now I get it," said the tall lad. "She's from Romuva!"
Arva looked at me for help. "What's Romuva?"
"Pagan club in Lithuania," I said, shrugging. "Sorry, but I don't know much about it."
"Take me to it right away, professor." She reached inside her gown and pulled out a small waist-purse. Turning to the group of Lithuanian kids, she said, "My name's Arva, and here's a business card for each of you. You'll be hearing a lot about me in the near future."