Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pandemonium

As the funeral cortege exited the great Cathedral, honor guards with their long pikes were stationed along the route to the Chapel of Pulchritudo Vincula, where all the late kings were entombed. The coffin, made of oak and painted black, was placed on a caisson, and six white horses with black feathered plumes on their heads, pulled the sad cargo. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to inspect the caisson beforehand, and about halfway through its route, a wheel fell off, causing the coffin to come crashing down onto the street. Pandemonium erupted as the onlookers rushed to the spot in order to gather a momento of the occassion- a splinter from the outer coffin, a plume from one of the horses.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Marathon

“By sunset, His Majesty will most surely be dead,” said his chief physician gravely to the prime minister. There were at least twenty people in the old King’s bedchamber. There was the Archbishop who’d given the dying man extreme unction. There were the other members of His Majesty’s privy council. Princess Pirouette sat at his bedside, while Lady Greenmeadow stood beside her uncle, the prime minister. Even Tata Sous-sus was there, standing behind Pirouette with a hand on her shoulder.

All of the windows had been covered with tapestries. The only lit in the room was by candle. The smoke of incense filled the air. There were no tears. People had been anticipating this day for years, but now that it had come, they were stunned into silence. The death of a sovereign is a serious affair.

“Just how old is the King?” Whispered one courtier to another.

“I’m not sure,” was the reply. “I don’t think there’s a soul alive who remembers when he was born.”

“He’s run quite the marathon to live to such a prodigious age.”

“Well, he may have run the race, but the event is almost over.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Antimacassar

“Whatever are you doing, my dear?” Asked Tata Sous-sus of Abigail Hoffenhoff.

“It’s called crochet,” replied Princess Pirouette’s official dresser.

“It looks difficult. With my poor eyes and arthritic fingers, I could never manage.”

“That’s a shame, my lady. It’s a wonderful way of passing time.”

“Well, what are you making?” Tata Sous-sus looked suspiciously at the lace concoction before her eyes.

“It’s called an antimacassar,” answered Abigail. “You throw them over the backs of sofas and chairs to keep them from getting soiled. They’re ever so practical.”

In horror, Tata Sous-sus’ hands flew up to her cheeks of their own accord. “Well, I never! I would never allow you to disrupt the beautiful lines of Her Highness’ furniture!”

“Not to worry, my lady,” answered Abigail patiently. “I’m sending them to my mother. You see, the men in my mother’s household don’t wear wigs.”

“They don’t!” At this point, Tata Sous-sus was in a high dungeon. “Whatever do they do?”

“They put Macassar oil in their hair to make it shiny and lie flat.”

Tata Sous-sus began to fan herself furiously. “My goodness! You foreigners certainly do have some strange habits.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Curious

“Curiosity killed that cat!” Shrieked Tata Sous-sus, brandishing a wooden spoon as she chased little Princess Pirouette from the family library. The memory from so many years ago still burned in the now older woman’s heart. Despite the distance of time, the pain wrought by such treatment was raw, fresh and unsettling. I’ll never forgive her, thought Pirouette. Never!

Tata’s hand shook as she poured the Princess’ tea. After her less than successful interview with the prime minister, Tata felt her position as chief lady-in-waiting was tenuous at best. “Doesn’t Her Highness find it curious that, even though she’s an adult, she’s not allowed to make decisions about the management of Her personal staff?” Tata was never one to mince her words. Princess Pirouette was taken aback at Tata’s effrontery.

“Mind your own business, old woman,” was all Pirouette could think to say. “Just pour the tea.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Titanic

Monsieur le Premier ministre sat trembling in the chair. Everything around him was chaos. His sudden collapse when having tea with the Princess had left him shaken. The pain in his chest had abated somewhat, but it was still there. What have I done to deserve this? He asked himself. While his ability to endure pain was colossal, gigantic, titanic, the attendant worry that came along with this particular pain was difficult to stomach.

“Here, my lord,” said Lady Greenmeadow, “Drink this.” She held a goblet of wine to his lips and poured, happy to see a droplet of red liquid run down his chin. He began to sputter.

“My God, woman!” He said angrily. “Are you trying to drown me?”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Stealthy

Monsieur le Premier Ministre sat brooding over the mountain of paperwork that lay before him on his desk. Ever since the old King’s last illness, which had shaken him to the core, he felt little motivation in doing any work. Normally a taciturn man, he found himself looking for any excuse to chatter away at any living soul within spitting distance. As a result, the work just piled up. Nobody was going to do the work for him. That’s for sure. He thought to himself.

With a stealthy flick of the wrist, he peered at a document in the middle of the pile. It was another dispute over property lines sent to him by a judge from one of the lower courts of law. When will this tedium ever end? He quickly removed his hand and let the pile resume its original shape.

“Excuse me, my lord, you have a visitor,” said one of his secretaries from the doorway. “It’s Monsieur le Comte GarGar.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Shark

Tata Sous-sus arrived at court in the dead of night, so there were only footmen, grooms and valets to greet her. Her maid helped her find a bed in an out-of-the-way corner of the palace and she threw herself into it without even disrobing. The maid found a comfortable divan and placed it at the foot of the bed where she too collapsed without taking off her riding cloak. Tata Sous-sus, a distant cousin of the old king, was not a beautiful woman. Rather she could be described as handsome. As tall as the average man with regular features, her face would have been charming were it not for her predilection always to frown, giving her a stern countenance that did not invite smiles, much less kisses. Because of her near-sightedness, she squinted and this gave her a look of grim concentration.

Probably the least favorite of His Majesty’s few surviving relatives, as a young girl, she’d married beneath her station and thus lost all claims to titles, lands and fortune. After less than a year, when her husband abandoned her, she was left to shift for herself, becoming a fixture at whatever little castle that would grant her entry. With all the circumspection of a shark, over the years, she gained a reputation for, shall we say “sticky fingers,” causing more than one host to count the silver whenever she departed. But what was she doing at court? Who had invited her? To what purpose?

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Echo

Sir Nigel reached into his sleeve and withdrew a folded parchment. As he unfolded it, he cleared his throat and began to speak before he even had a chance to read it.

“Greetings from Their Majesties’ Royal Council,” he said.

“Council?” Said King GarGar, who stopped eating his soup and looked up.

“Yes, Your Majesty, the Council.” Replied Sir Nigel, who looked a little annoyed by the interruption. He cleared his throat a second time and continued. “As it has come to our attention-“

“Attention?” Again, His Majesty interrupted.

“Is there an echo in the room?” Laughed Queen Pirouette.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Extinction

A quick Google search provided the following data. “At least 571 species are lost since 1750 but likely many more. The main cause of the extinctions is the destruction of natural habitats by human activities, such as cutting down forests and converting land into fields for farming.”  Of course this answer was found on the font of all wisdom that is Wikipedia.  Each geological era is ushered in by a wave of mass extinction.  Scientists have gotten into the habit of calling the current era Anthropocene because of all the species that have been wiped out as a direct result of human activity.  Now that we’ve dealt with the depressing stuff, let’s look at a couple of cat photos!

Babies 1
Pirouette (foreground) and GarGar

Max 1
Maxwell Maxington

Nigel 1
Nigel

Ragtag Daily Prompt