“What am I to do, Velcro?” asked Kannot, king of the land of O, “Old whats-her-name’s getting damnably silly ideas, again.”
“What ideas, Sire, and who precisely is getting them?”
Velcro had been Kannot’s retainer for longer than either of them could remember, which given their ages was probably not very long.
“She who likes to be called Ma’am when she’s on her throne and her workshops or something when she’s in her judger’s pulpit. Got it into her head that it would be a good idea, after all, for Prince Mite to marry the very, very ugly daughter of the king next door.”
“I thought Sire had decided on this matter, with the agreement of the Privy Council.”
“So I had, Velcro, so I had. But now her high-and-mighty queenness has decided otherwise.”
“Did she say why, Sire?” Velcro asked.
“Oh, something to do with a coffee morning with all the local queens. How many can there be, for goodness’ sake? The nearest of our four neighbouring kingdoms; or is it five, I can never remember, maybe it’s even six, who knows – or cares? Anyway, the closest is two days’ horse-ride, but she has these coffee mornings every day except Sundays, when she has a lie-in,”
“That’s nice, Sire, if you spend extra time in bed together. I’m told it helps to support the relationship.”
“Did I say anything about bed, Velcro, DID I?” the old king shouted.
“No, Sire, you didn’t.”
“No, Sire, I didn’t,” he mocked, “When I say a lie-in, I mean she spends most of the day telling lies. And they are whoppers!”
“If I may be permitted, Sire, I espy a conundrum, a puzzle, if you will.”
“And if I won’t?”
“Even so, Sire.”
“What is this conundrum, this puzzle, if I will?”
“Simply this, Sire. If the nearest neighbouring kingdom is two days on horseback, that means the others are further, doesn’t it?”
“It does, of course. Simple logic, Velcro. Are you beginning to lose your whatsits?”
“No, not reason. What’s that thing they have in those big schools for getting degrees?”
“Yes, Velcro, universities.”
“Is your Majesty referring to faculties?”
“Exactly, Velcro. You losing yours?”
“I sincerely hope not, Sire. I would be of little use to your Majesty without them. Why do you ask?”
“Because you just suggested that if the nearest kingdom is two days’ ride, the others must be further.”
“And that caused you to believe that may mind is becoming feeble? I would have though the opposite, Sire.”
“Velcro, you are confusing the royal brain. Get on with what you wanted to say.”
“Certainly, Sire. If the nearest neighbouring kingdom is two days’ ride…”
“And the other are further…”
“And the others, Sire, are indeed further. Given that scenario, that geographic veracity, that spatial reality…”
“Get on with it!” King Kannot was renowned for many things, but patience was not one of them.
“Sire. How can they have a coffee morning in a different kingdom every day, if the closest one takes two days to reach?”
“Hah-ha! Got her,” the king shouted, jumping up and down with glee. “The old bat obviously thinks I’m a bit simple, doesn’t she?”
“I can’t imagine where she could possibly get that idea from, Sire,” Velcro replied, as yet another chunk fell off the end of his tongue and landed with a soggy ‘splat’ on the stone floor of the throne room.
“What’s to be done about it, Velcro?”
“When is her Majesty next due to host the coffee morning here, Sire?”
“Tomorrow. Thursday is her day. Not that I’ve ever seen any of them. Women’s stuff, she calls them. Men not allowed even in the same building.”
“Tell her you’d like to address the ladies, Sire.”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? Men not allowed.”
“Sire. Are you not the ruler of this land?”
“You know I am. Why do you ask?”
“How can the ruler be banished from a single room, not only in his kingdom, but in his own castle? Are you not King of the Castle?”
“Of course I am, Velcro. I am supreme ruler of this land, and as such I order you to speak to the queen about this matter.”
“That would be most improper, Sire. It is not within my power to give instructions to the queen.”
“Very well, I’ll tell Mite to do it.”
“The might of Mite might do it, Sire,” Velcro opined, “but the greater force of your Majesty must prevail.”
So the king took his leave of Velcro, and entered the judging chamber, where his bride was busily harassing some poor soul from her pulpit.
“When you’ve finished, my dear,” the king said, entering the sacred space of the judging chamber without so much as a ‘by your leave’ or ‘if you please’.
“Can’t you see I’m busy judging?” she bellowed.
“I can,” the king calmly replied. “As I say, when you’ve finished.” And with that, he moved to leave the chamber.
“Don’t walk away when I’m talking to you,” she ranted, “I haven’t finished yet.”
“Then kindly do so, and when you have, we’ll talk.”
The queen turned to the supplicant in the dock, saying, “Look, whatever it is you want, you can’t have. Whatever it is you’re accused of, you’re guilty; Bailiffs, take him away and hang him, or something.”
“But, Judger, I am only here to apply for…”
“Well, you can’t have it, so GO AWAY! Now, husband, what do you want?”
“Where was today’s coffee morning, my sweet?”
“You know very well, that Wednesdays we have it in Spoland.”
“Spoland is two days’ ride.”
“So how are you back in time to cause misery here?”
“Have you never heard of teleconferencing?”
“No, I haven’t,” the king replied.
“Well, one day it will be invented, then you won’t be able to ask so many impertinent questions.”
“These coffee mornings don’t happen, do they?”
“Of course they do.”
“I mean outside of your poor, overworked, befuddled, queenly brain.”
“But they don’t”
“Not exactly,” the queen admitted, “not as such.”
“So where did this idea of Mite marrying the ugly daughter of that ex-frog come from?”
“I’m just fed up with the little shit, and I want him married off and out of my hair,” she yelled.
“You don’t have the power to do that. You are my queen consort. I am the hereditary king; I rule.”
“You can’t talk to me like that!” she said.
“Velcro says I can, and he should know,” the king replied. “Let’s go to him, and see if he can resolve this mess.”
Entering the throne room, the royal pair faced Velcro.
“Velcro. Can you explain to my beautiful queen, how it is that I am empowered to make major decisions of state, and she isn’t?”
Velcro looked around the room, trying to find the person the king mentioned, but could only see his Highness and she who is known among the peasantry as ‘Lady Plain Grey’.
“Certainly, Sire,” then turning to the queen, “Is your Majesty familiar with the concept of the divine right of kings?”
“Of course I am, but Kannot is left-handed,” the queen replied.
“I don’t think that makes any difference, Ma’am,” Velcro replied, mentally rolling his eyes. Had he rolled his eyes in a way that was visible to the queen, he might just have lost them. The queen does not take criticism well, even of the implied kind.
“So you are saying that because Kannot was born royal, he has rights that are denied to me simply because he plucked me from obscurity so he could enjoy my charms and my unbelievable beauty?”
“And have been doing so ever since, my precious,” the king interrupted in his most Gollum-like manner.
“That is the case, I’m afraid, Ma’am. ‘Tis the law of the land.”
“Then the law needs to change,” she said.
“The law can only be changed by the word of the king,” Velcro said, adding after a pause, “Ma’am.”
“Well all I can say is that is exceedingly unfair. I’m going to go and judge someone, and they’ll be jolly sorry we had this conversation,” the queen said, storming out of the throne room back into her judging chamber; the chamber where she reigned supreme and her word was still law.
“I take it that means the prince is not to be shackled to the Princess Tadpole, Sire.”
“You are not wrong, Velcro, not wrong at all.”
“And the king’s final word on this episode?” Velcro asked.
King Kannot replied, “Phew, that was a close one!”
This was written in response to this week's challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com, to write a story ending with the words 'Phew, that was a close one!'