The Queen is ill

Once upon a time, the Queen of Verysmallcountry, who lives in Shoebox Castle, was very ill. There was an ache in her ear occasionally saying hello to her jaw, her throat was scratchy like a bush of wild roses and her voice was getting weaker by the minute which seriously hampered her neverending need to communicate.

The Queen was very tempted to call for her mother. But the Queen Mother of Verysmallcountry was in fact very far away in her own kingdom and couldn’t help very much. The Queen already knew what her mother would say: “Drink plenty of tea, stay warm, keep your ear warm, and drink plenty of tea.” Those things she could do by herself. And then there was the image problem.

The last time she had had the Queen Mother over to take care of her during a serious illness, the Queen’s minions had started snickering quite strangely when she demanded such simple pleasures as having picture books read to her. So she merely sent a messenger to her mother saying she was ill and that she was taking care of herself. Of course the Queen Mother replied very quickly: “Drink plenty of tea, stay warm, keep your ear warm, and drink plenty of tea.”

Then she called for the Earl Marshal and asked him to buy a gigantic bag of cough drops. The Earl Marshal was used to such quests. He dispatched his fastest rider to the Queen’s favourite sweet store in Verybigcountry and in a matter of days he had a bag of cough drops and three bags of other assorted sweets, because he knew quite well that the Queen hated cough drops.

After the consumption of about three quarters of the bag of cough drops and all bags of assorted sweets, the Queen declared that her throat was no longer as scratchy and that she was coughing less. But now her nose had started running.

The Earl Marshal put the laundry department of Shoebox Castle in high alert. “Men!”, he cried, “Men! The time is upon us, the Queen is ill – and the supply of handkerchiefs is small indeed, since the Queen can never be bothered to remember to buy new ones when she isn’t ill.” The launderers groaned and resolved once again to write that petition to the Queen to buy more handkerchiefs. Then they divided up the shifts of washing, drying, ironing, and folding among themselves and started heating water.

The Earl Marshal went to the Queen to apprise her of his preparations. “Oh fair and noble Queen of Verysmallcountry, everything is at the ready. To your left, you find a near inexhaustible supply of handkerchiefs, to your right, a vat of herbal tea, and here is a hot water bottle to tie to your head to keep your ear warm.”

“Very elegant”, replied the Queen in a very unimpressed tone. When she was ill, she was always very short-tempered and best left alone. Unfortunately, Queens cannot be left alone when they are ill.

So, the Queen used up the handkerchiefs and the launderers washed, dried, ironed, and folded them, she drank vast amounts of tea and got spoiled by the kitchen, and the Earl Marshal fetched and carried and organised entertainment and sent the entertainers away and read books to the Queen and generally did everything she demanded of him.

After three days of this, the Earl Marshal finally was able to convince the Queen to see a doctor, but the doctor merely said the Queen should drink more tea and keep warm and eat healthy. So she did. And in time, the Queen recovered, but as usual, forgot to buy more handkerchiefs.

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