As Lord High Admiral of Her Majesty’s Navy, it was GarGar’s duty to present worthy seamen with meddles, ribbons and sashes to display on their uniforms. These ornaments were visible testimony to the sailor’s meritorious conduct. A hardened cynic might arch a brow and scoff at such self-serving display, but to the recipient of such an award, it represented the culmination of years of struggle, untold days and nights of keeping watch, pulling rope, dragging fellow sailors from a briny death. That little medal pinned on one’s chest encapsulated a lifetime of back-breaking effort.
“Captain Grincheux! In recognition of your bravery in the field of battle, your commitment to the well-being of the men who served you and your devotion to your Queen and Country, I present you with the Gold Star of Meritorious Conduct,” intoned GarGar. With a purposeful step and a salute, the Captain presented himself to GarGar, his gaze focused on a point somewhere beyond his left shoulder.
GarGar pinned the medal on Captain Grincheux chest. After the obligatory kiss on each cheek, the solemn salute, the Captain clicked his heels and walked off of the podium. The band struck up a tune, and scattered applause rippled across the witnesses.
Once the ceremony was completed, Captain Grincheux was conducted to the Queen’s sitting room. The first thing that caught his attention upon entering the room was the color pink. Little pink roses adorned the wallpaper. Fresh pink tulips were crowded into vases that sat on tables, cupboards and windowsills. The same rosettes danced on the upholstery of every chair, sofa and divan. The Queen herself sat at the end of a little table, dressed in white with little pink rose vines crawling over the fabric. Around her sleeves and collar, white lace undulated with her slightest gesture.
My Lord! Thought the Captain. Is this a woman, or a goddess?
With a deep bow from the waist, Captain Grincheux lost his footing for a moment. Pirouette jumped from her seat and grabbed one of his elbows. “My Lord Captain!” She exclaimed. “Are you not well?” Guiding him into a chair, she stood straight up, took a kerchief from her reticule and mopped the old sailor’s brow.
“Forgive me, Your August Majesty,” he began. “I daresay that I’ve never seen a vision of such pure beauty as I do now in you.”
“Nonsense,” laughed Pirouette. “You, who have circumnavigated the entire globe several times over, you have seen sights that would make me look very pale and inconsequential indeed.”
“Not so, Your Majesty,” replied the Captain. “Why, I’ve seen sights that would make your blood freeze with terror. In the icy mist, lost in the fog, I’ve seen oorie phantoms whose provenance could only be hell. And on the other hand, I’ve sailed into harbors crowded with beautiful people, baskets of every imaginable fruit, fragrant blossoms shifting in a gentle breeze. Of all these sights, you are the very ultimate. God bless you, my Queen! Long may you reign!”