A funny modern fairy tale about a kingdom's quest for the next King...
The King died, which is sad. But when a king dies, there isn’t much time to be too sad because of needing to find a new king to take his place. Normally, that’s the king’s son, the prince, except this particular king made a slight mistake and died before managing to have any sons. Or daughters, for that matter. Which meant that not only was the king dead, but there was nobody to take his place.
The Chancellor (sort of like the king’s assistant) went to the Court Wizard and asked him what was to be done. Unfortunately, the Court Wizard, whose name was Roy, was a fraud. He could no more do magic than an elephant could take up ballet. He’d been faking it for years with simple tricks and illusions and hoping that the day would never come when anyone would need any real magic from him. Now that the day had come, Roy was in trouble.
“I’ll need to consult the High Council Of Spirits,” he said. “Go away and come back tomorrow.”
The Chancellor did go away and come back tomorrow, by which time the Court Wizard had come up with something that he thought would pass muster.
“I have consulted the High Council of Spirits,” he said, “and they have delivered to me this prophecy.” So saying, he unfurled a scroll on which he had written nonsense chicken scratch which he pretended was a foreign language only he could understand and recited the following poem:
“Red of hair and blue of eyes,
Never speaks in any tone,
Always stuffed but never eats.
This is the one who must sit on the throne.
And if, a fortnight from this day,
A person like this cannot be found,
Then the person who delivered these words
Is the one who must be given the crown.”
As poems go, it was pretty terrible, but the message was clear. The next ruler of the kingdom would be someone with red hair and blue eyes who never spoke or ate but was, somehow, always “stuffed.” And if someone like that could not be found in a fortnight (that’s two weeks) the Wizard himself would have to be made king…which, of course, was the Wizard’s plan all along. He figured they’d never find someone like that, so he’d be crowned instead.
The Chancellor was a good man and cared deeply about the future of the kingdom. He did not like the idea of Roy the Wizard being king and, frankly, he doubted the accuracy of the poem as a real prophecy. But, he was the Official Court Wizard and so, in situations like this, his word was law.
Plus, it rhymed, and that always makes prophecies sound more authentic.
The Chancellor told the Captain of the Guard what to look for and he and his men scoured the countryside looking for someone who matched the description in the poem.
They found many people who had red hair or blue eyes, but very few who had both. Those that did have both tended to speak. They did, actually, find one person who had red hair and blue eyes and couldn’t speak…but he weighed four hundred pounds and did quite a lot of eating.
The days were going by too quickly, and the Chancellor had not yet found anyone who fit the description in the poem. It was beginning to look like the Wizard would be crowned ad the kingdom would be doomed! Doomed! Doomed!!!
(See, if this were a movie instead of a story, there’d be, like lightning and thunder and maybe organ music when I said that. You’ll just have to imagine it, okay?)
Then came the day of the coronation. Two weeks had passed and nobody had been found to take the throne, so Roy would wear the crown. The Chancellor was despondent as he got dressed and ready for work that morning, and then his little daughter, Mary, came up to him.
“Are you sad, Daddy?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“When I’m sad, Raggy gives me a kiss. Would you feel better if you had a kiss from Raggy?”
“No, sweetheart, but thank you for—” But then the Chancellor looked at Raggy, the rag doll his daughter carried around everywhere she went. Her hair was made of red yarn. Her eyes were blue buttons. She was a doll, so she never spoke or ate, but, naturally, she was “stuffed” with cotton.
This was it!
Well, when Roy the Fake Wizard arrived in the throne room for his coronation, he was surprised to find that the ceremony was almost over.
“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” said the Chancellor with a wry grin (which was pretty impressive as not many people can pull off a wry grin, you know). “We found someone. She matches the description in your poem perfectly.”
“She does? Who is it?”
The Chancellor gestured to the throne, on which sat the rag doll.
“But how can a doll be a king?” demanded the Wizard. “I mean queen, I guess.”
“By an amazing stroke of luck, my clever daughter, Mary, happens to speak fluent dolly,” said the Chancellor. “And, in my capacity as Chancellor, I hereby appoint her Royal High Interpreter To The Queen. What’s Queen Raggy saying now, Sweetie?”
“She’s saying to arrest the bad old Wizard who lies about being magic!”
So, the Wizard was fired and kicked out of the castle, eventually becoming, somewhat ironically, a rag peddler.
Now, admittedly, some people in the kingdom thought it was a little weird that their new queen was a rag doll, but they came around to the idea pretty quickly. After all, the Chancellor and his clever daughter, Mary, were nice people. Besides which, even a lump of old rags was sure to be a better king than that jerk, Roy, would have been!
From that day on, Queen Raggy sat on the throne (ably assisted by Mary and her clever daddy, the Chancellor) and the kingdom lived very happily ever after.
Header illustration by Templeton Moss
1. Invent another crazy thing the Wizard could have said when he invented his prophecy. Now tell someone in your family. Can they solve the puzzle and think of someone or something who might fulfill your special prophecy?