A Notable King
Long ago, on the highest hill looming over the lushest land that any ruler had ever ruled, a mighty castle stood watch over its idyllic setting. Inside the fortified dwelling, King Tell sat hovering over an enormous platter of hard-boiled eggs. Just as the number of eggs on his platter was beginning to dwindle, a warm breeze entered through an open window and tickled the king’s nose. The air was filled with the familiar fragrance of wildflowers but along too wafted the smells of the ripening fruits growing in the surrounding fields. The scent prompted the king to leave his seat at the table and saunter out onto the nearby balcony.
“Ah! The Land of Hearsay, ˮ he exclaimed proudly. “The greatest kingdom that ever was.” As he was admiring the view, he spotted a fig tree off in the distance. The king rubbed his gluttonous belly and smacked his lips thinking of the taste of a sweet fig. Unable to focus on anything else, the king whirled around, nearly crashing into his most loyal, humble servant. “Gottfried,” said King Tell.
“Yes?” Gottfried stood expectantly, his hands clasped eagerly together. “What is it, Your Majesty?”
“Bring me a dish of figs.”
Gottfried kneeled before the king. “Yes, Sire.”
“Go quickly,” the king urged.
Gottfried promptly stood up and raced down the hallway. He galloped through the Great Hall and swirled down the grand staircase. Finally, he reached the bottom of the stairs and burst into the outer courtyard. “Winston! Winston!” Gottfried called, summoning his own loyal, humble servant. “Come quickly!”
Winston plodded to Gottfried’s side. “You beckoned, My Lord?”
“I need a fish and pigs.”
Winston bowed and hurried off to town, huffing and puffing as fast as his portly legs would carry him. When he reached the village market, Winston stopped short at the first stall. He leaned heavily against the structure, his hand on his chest, trying to catch his breath.
The vendor of the stall peered down at the ill-looking man. “Sir? Are you all right?”
Winston gave the man a weary look and, between gasps, mumbled his request.
“Sir, I can’t hear you. What is it you wish?”
“I . . . wish . . . for . . . wigs,” Winston sputtered.
“Sorry, Sir. You’ve come to the wrong place. That vendor is at the far end of the market. Of course, for a small fee, I could have my boy bring you your goods. Just hand me your burlap sack, and I’ll have your goods placed inside.”
Winston nodded gratefully and gave his burlap sack to the vendor who whistled for his boy. The vendor, in turn, uttered inaudible instructions to the boy who then disappeared with the burlap sack.
In a short while, the boy returned. He handed a bulging bag over to the vendor who immediately paraded it in front of Winston. Waving his hands with a flourish, the vendor presented the sack to Winston. “There’s only the little matter of payment,” the vendor added as he whisked the bag out of Winston’s reach.
Winston flipped the vendor a gold coin.
“It was a pleasure doing business with you, Sir.” The vendor grinned as he plopped the sack into Winston’s hands.
Winston slung the bag over his shoulder and huffed and puffed away. Sweat poured down his face as he lumbered along, his cheeks growing redder and redder. Up ahead, he could see the castle and, as he drew closer, he spotted Gottfried hopping anxiously from one foot to the other. Just as Winston reached the gate, he collapsed face first in a heap, a swirl of dirt spewing into the air around him.
“My word.” Gottfried stooped down and pried the burlap sack out of Winston’s hands. “You must pull yourself together. You look like such a fright.” With that pronouncement, Gottfried brushed the dust off his finery and strutted to the royal chambers.
Inside, Gottfried addressed the king. “Your Majesty,” he crowed while untying the burlap sack.
The king clucked his tongue. “Oh, goody! I have been waiting for this all day.”
“It gives me great pleasure to serve you, Sire.” Gottfried emptied the contents onto a royal platter, readying himself for the king’s assured admiration. Instead, the king’s face dropped.
“Sticks and twigs?” the king cried.
Gottfried stared at the woody mound.
The king swelled with anger. “Is this a jest?” he bellowed. “Do you really expect me to dine on wood?” The king raised his staff and jabbed at the air. “Where are my figs? WHERE ARE MY FIGS?!”
The ruckus awoke the queen, who stalked into the room wearing her royal bathrobe. “What on earth is all of this commotion? Don’t you realize I need my rest?”
“I apologize, My Queen,” groveled Gottfried. “It seems I have made a terrible mistake.”
“I requested a dish of figs,” explained the king. “And this incompetent minion has served me a plate of sticks and twigs.”
“I don’t know how it’s possible,” Gottfried driveled on. “This is not what I ordered.”
“Not what YOU ordered?” the king said. “More importantly, it is not what I ordered.”
“Oh, please,” the queen said. As the king raged on, she disappeared into the adjoining room.
A short time later, the queen reappeared followed by her attendant, the Royal Urchin, who carried a covered tray.
“Please,” the queen directed, and the Royal Urchin set the tray down on a table.
The Royal Urchin lifted the lid off the tray to reveal a bottle of ink, a quill pen, and a parchment of paper. Then the queen clapped her hands together and nodded towards the Royal Urchin.
The Royal Urchin spread out the parchment and dipped the quill into the ink. The queen waited for the Royal Urchin to press pen to paper, at which point the queen enunciated, “The . . . king . . . would . . . like . . . a . . . dish . . . of . . . figs.”
“Period.” The queen tapped her index finger in the air, conveying a dot. “Now, read that back to me.”
The Royal Urchin recited slowly, “The king would like a dish of figs.”
“Very good.” The queen clapped her hands again and the Royal Urchin rolled up the parchment, tied it with string, and handed the bundled paper to the queen. The queen, in turn, gave the parchment to Gottfried. Turning to the king, the queen advised, “Perhaps you should consider giving your orders in writing.” The queen paused and then added, “Oh, and Gottfried, in the future, I highly recommend that you check your deliveries upon receipt.” She let out a sigh. “Tut, tut! Come along, now.”
The Royal Urchin obediently packed up the tray and followed the queen out of the room. As they left, the Royal Urchin and the queen shook their heads at the king and Gottfried.
Of course, the parchment worked like a charm, and the king did indeed receive his dish of figs.
From that day forward, the king always issued his decrees in writing. Furthermore, he used his newfound power of the pen to rename his realm the Kingdom of Writ. Soon after, too, the queen became known as the Royal Sage and the Royal Urchin became the Royal Scribe. And that’s the story of how King Tell was ever after remembered as a king of note.