The old King looked older everyday. Still he rose every morning at dawn to hear mass, eat breakfast and attend to the business of running the country. His movements were slow and deliberate. His voice was raspy and tremulous. When addressing him, one was obliged nearly to shout because of his hearing loss. He’d been King for so long that there were few living who could remember his predecessor.
When she was first introduced to the King, Princess Pirouette, much like many children who are not regularly exposed to the elderly, was taken aback by his advanced years. It was only through gentle words and little acts of kindness that the King was able to ally the young girl’s apprehension. As she grew older, the Princess found that His Majesty was the first person she would consult when she had a problem or question that needed to be addressed.
When GarGar, le Comte des Deux Chats arrived at Court, Princess Pirouette was sixteen years of age. In his calvary officer’s uniform, he cut quite a dashing figure with his black riding boots and red cape, his curved sword bouncing against his hip as he strode into the Throne Room. Pirouette watched from a gallery above, hidden by a coromandel screen. As soon as he entered the room, all the courtiers hushed their whispering, and more than one woman hid her blushing cheeks behind her fan.
When it was Princess Pirouette’s turn to grant her monthly audience to all the new arrivals to the Court, she stood at one end of her Presence Room. The new courtiers were already assembled at the other end of the room when she entered through a hidden door that was disguised as a bookshelf. They all bowed or curtsied, depending on their gender. With her fan, she motioned for them all to rise. In the past, it was her custom to flit from one individual to the next, barely taking notice as they each kissed her hand, but in this case, she paused in front of le Comte and looked intently into his face. She was a little taken aback when, contrary to protocol, he returned her gaze with aplomb.
Upon consultation with their closest advisors, King GarGar and Queen Pirouette decided to summon a new parliament. This was in response to a movement among the nobility to expand their rights and privileges. This might be well and good for the noble lords, but the result would be a curtailment of same for the commons. For the greater good of the realm, Their Majesties decided to give the people a voice in the debate. Of course, the House of Commons would be expected to protect their power jealously and vigorously.
The royal jeweler bowed low and then opened his case for King GarGar’s inspection. There were four brooches that His Majesty had ordered. One was formed in the image of Venus, while another was a lady and a heart; the third was of a man lying in a woman’s lap, while the fourth showed the same woman with a crown. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls imbedded in finely wrought gold, they captured the light in countless hues and tossed it back to beguile the beholder. It was no mystery who the woman in the brooches was; it was his wife, Queen Pirouette, the most beautiful woman in the world. The King had personally designed them and contributed the jewels from his personal collection.
“This promises to be Your Majesty’s greatest triumph,” said the royal jeweler.
Can there be any doubt that King GarGar is a mighty warrior? He always returns from battle victorious, carrying the banners of fallen enemies before him. His triumphant homecomings are always a cause for celebration. Often Queen Pirouette will wait for him at the city gates. From there she will ride side by side with her husband who is always happy to share the glory with her. Their adoring subjects will wait all night in order to cheer them on in the morning.
The longbow was typically six feet tall. A skilled archer could easily release ten arrows in one minute. These deadly projectiles could pierce armor. All it would take to wipe out a thousand mounted knights was a detachment of a hundred archers on foot. Fortunately for King GarGar, he had over five hundred archers at his disposal. He rode his horse up and down the line, shouting encouragement to his men as the enemy knights came within shooting range.
Inside King GarGar’s tent stood a large table. Spread out on its surface was a detailed map of the terrain. The King and his generals were studying it intently when a messenger arrived with news from the field. “Speak up!” Said General Barkington to the hapless messenger. “What news?”
The foot soldier, who was not a professional messenger, struggled to read the missive in his hand.
“Give me that!” Snapped General Barkington as he snatched the report from the messenger’s hands.
The last thing King GarGar wanted to do was open a new parliament; however, Queen Pirouette put down one delicate foot, and that was that. GarGar relented. The announcement went out that parliament would be meeting in one week’s time. In the interim, Queen Pirouette put the final touches on her speech and selected the garments she would wear with the royal regalia.
It was a crazy day in the royal nursery. Besides the three youngest children of King GarGar and Queen Pirouette, the children of several courtiers, plus some royal cousins made over a dozen young people. It was playtime, and the children were wound up like spinning tops.
“What a ruckus!” Shouted Lady Goresuch over the din.
“Indeed,” answered Queen Pirouette who was calm and relaxed in the face of madcap, childish antics.