Lines of Succession, Part 4

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story is broken up into five parts. (To read from the beginning, start here.) Here’s the fourth part below.


The Prince continued, “I was surprised you would not allow the Divorcement Decree. When you told me to remember my wedding vows, I thought, in your own wise way, you must be offering clues to solve the problem myself. So I did as you suggested. I fairly took the vows apart. It wasn’t until last night that I realized the brilliance of it. I thank you for your ingenious insight. I only hope someday to be as wise a king as you have proven to be.” The Prince expressed genuine admiration. In fact, he had become so fully absorbed in thanking his father, he had temporarily neglected to refill his mouth. He went back at it hurriedly.

“I don’t understand. Please explain.”

Chewing another mouthful, the Prince mumbled, “It was that last clause, Sir. The statement that reads, ‘Until death do us part.’ Suddenly, it made perfect sense. Why suffer the pain of divorcement when it’s avoidable, right?” he sniffed, distastefully. “So last night while she slept, I slit her throat.” He revealed no hint of emotion as he bit into a piece of chocolate cake.The King’s agonized response echoed through the corridors of the palace. “NO! NO! NO!” He had to be carried to his bed because his weeping had become so fierce as to exhaust him. For days he grieved, in a way he hadn’t considered necessary for his Queen of many years. What he had felt for the Princess had transcended everything, including his love for his flesh-and-blood son.

Of course, the Crown Prince profusely apologized for his insensitive actions. It seemed the Prince came close to understanding he had displeased his father, and daily, the Prince came to occupy the chair closest to his father’s bedside. Frequently, he beseeched the elder’s forgiveness and encouraged him to regain his former strength. And even though the Prince had sincere concern for his father, he was also most anxious that the elder man rejoin him at the dinner table, because the royal cooks never prepared as fine a meal for him when he ate alone.

With passing of time, the King’s health returned and as elder men are wont to do, the King began to dote on his only son. There was nothing else to occupy him. Even the King’s grandchildren had been sent away — at their father’s request — to proper finishing schools, so the occasionally melancholy sovereign had been denied that satisfying pastime.

Eventually, the day came when the Crown Prince broached the subject of a suitable female companion. His resistance gone, the King obliged. After all, princes customarily have their own way about things.

“I have chosen quite a young woman this time …” he broke off mid-sentence, aware that he must pursue the particulars with extreme delicacy. “I plan to school her myself in the many special areas for which a future queen must be prepared.”

The King merely nodded, giving no hint of his true feelings or the scope of despair that still gripped his heart. “I should like to meet her,” he remarked, more from duty than heartfelt interest.

The King did not like her when he met her — hadn’t expected to like her. But he had been totally unprepared for the unusually poor choice the Prince had made. This girl was exceptionally plain of face, dull-minded and her breath reeked of garlic! Perhaps that appealed to the Prince, considering his fondness for spicy foods, but the King was grossly repulsed. He encouraged his son to keep her confined to quarters until the intense training was complete. Having her seated across the table from him, in the exact spot where his beloved daughter-in-law had reclined, would be the worst possible offense! In the back of his mind, the King relished the thought that he might have passed on by the time the Prince had refined his female, and the prospect of death gained more favor in the King’s mind.

… Conclusion tomorrow.

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