“What is the meaning of this?” Asked the prime minister. “Why is there a long line of nobles outside His Majesty’s antechamber?”
“Haven’t you heard?” Replied his youngest, newest secretary.
“Heard? Heard what?” The prime minister gave the young lad a withering glare that silenced him immediately.
“His Majesty requires everyone at court to be inoculated against small pox. Any who refuse must leave court. They have until Tuesday,” said the chief secretary, glowering under heavy eyebrows.
At first the prime minister was too shocked to speak, but after he gave time for the words to sink in, he did speak. “What is this? Who has been speaking to the King?” It was the prime minister’s firm belief that he was the only person qualified to converse with the old King.
Seeing his opening, the young lad piped up, “Monsieur le comte suggested it!”
Monsieur le Premier ministre grabbed the back of a chair to steady himself. He could feel the room spin. “That’s impossible. Count GarGar is in the North Tower.”
Rubbing his hands together, the young man had the effrontery to speak out of turn yet again. “Why no, sir,” he said gleefully, “Monsieur le comte was released just this morning. Didn’t anyone tell you?”