November is with us, and as you know, I am taking part in the increasingly inaptly named NaNoWriMo (inapt because the 'Na' stands for national - not really appropriate when they boast entrants from six continents). The majority of my posts between now and the end of November will be pre-written and scheduled.
This story was originally posted on 14 August 2014. I hope you enjoy it.
“This is my castle, and I’ll jolly well do what I want in it. And if anyone tries to stop me, I’ll… I’ll… I’ll jolly well stamp my feet and hold my breath and scream!”
King Kannot, ruler of the land of O was clearly not in one of his better moods. It had just been pointed out to him that there was insufficient gold in the royal treasury to fund the massive fair he had wanted to hold in the castle grounds. It was to have been a splendid affair with jesters, minstrels and entertainers of all sorts, as well as jousts, archery contests and all kinds of competitions. But the royal chamberlain said there wasn’t enough money. Now he needed a new chamberlain, too.
“If I may be permitted to point out to His Majesty,” interjected Velcro, the king’s faithful retainer, “if Sire attempts to hold his royal breath and scream at the same time, Sire may explode.”
“Well, what can I do to make myself feel better about my lot, Velcro? The peasants are revolting, and the nobles aren’t much better.”
“Sire could call a special meeting of the Privy Council at a ridiculously early hour, with an agenda of the utmost gravity and import, then not turn up Himself.”
“What a jolly good wheeze. Would they all come?”
“Could they possibly ignore a royal command, Sire?” The king’s humour had changed as quickly as ever. Velcro had a particular knack of knowing exactly what to say to get the old king into a good mood. Unfortunately for many of the king’s loyal subjects, this often involved causing great inconvenience to some of them, usually either the most hapless of the peasantry or the loftiest of the nobility or, more often, both.
“We’ll say,” the king suggested, “that we need to discuss our response to the overtures received from the next kingdom, suggesting that our royal son, the Prince Mite, should marry their king’s ugly daughter.”
“And what should be our response, Sire?”
“Our response shall be … that we shall think about it. We shall consider our options. We shall have discussions with our advisors and, of course, with Prince Mite.”
“And then, Sire?”
“And then, Velcro, we shall tell them that we will approve the marriage at a later date.”
“That date being, Sire?”
“When hell freezes over, Velcro, when hell freezes over.” With that, the old king laughed so hard he fell off his chair and rolled around the floor.
Still laughing, still rolling, he blurted out, “But we won’t tell the Privy Councillors that, eh, Velcro?”
Some considerable time later, after the king had recovered from his fit of royal mirth, he called Velcro to his kingly presence again, “Let’s have a feast tonight, Velcro. Summon the courtiers and the jesters, the Privy Councillors and the dancing wenches; have the hunters head out to find some meat. There will be jollity in my castle this night. It will go on until almost sunrise. As soon as the sun rises, the Privy Council will meet, and we will go to our royal bedchamber.”
And so the festivities took place. There was, indeed, jollity in the king’s castle that night, laughter and dancing, feasting and drinking, revelry and ribaldry and rambunctiousness, and goings on between jesters and wenches that we won’t go into here for reasons of modesty.
As the sun rose, the gathered company dispersed, each to his or her own home, with the exception of the Privy Councillors, who went through into the council room to await the king. The king collected his queen and went to bed.
Did I not mention that the king has a queen? Isn’t it obvious? Where do you suppose the Prince Mite came from? There’s no magic in this realm, you know.
The Privy Councillors waited patiently for the king.
For many hours they sat, chatting amongst themselves. They didn’t discuss the subject they were there to talk about, because it would be wrong to do so; just as it would have been wrong to leave the room before the king had graced them with his presence. They were rather afraid of the king.
Much as the king was rather afraid of the queen, although that, too, was never discussed.