The princess and the pea.., p.1
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       The Princess and the Peas, p.1
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           David Smith
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The Princess and the Peas
THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS

  David Smith

  Copyright 2014 by David Smith

  Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete and original form.

  This ebook is dedicated to my son, Ben, who loves peas.

  The book was formatted and uploaded as a practice run for the publication of ebooks written by The Tunbridge Wells Writers collective.

  More of my own work can be found on my website: HERE

  CONTENTS

  Chapter One: Sidney & Gladys – A Love Story

  Chapter Two: Princess Gladys – Crying Babies, Sleepless Nights

  Chapter Three: The Princess and the Peas – Love at First Bite

  Chapter Four: A Pestilence of Peas and Revolting Peasants

  Chapter Five: A New Beginning – You Reap What You Sow

  Chapter Six: All’s Well That Ends Well

  THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS

  Once upon a time, not that long ago and not so very far away, there stood, nestled in the cup of a beautiful and verdant valley, the happy, magical Kingdom of Punt. The ruler of Punt, King Sidney VII, was a wise and gentle King, much loved by his loyal subjects the Punters, who regarded him a prince among men despite his Kingly status. Only one dark cloud hung over the Kingdom, but as that was actually smoke from the ovens of the local cake shop even it could not cast a pall over the general air of merriment and mirth to which the village most naturally aspired. Besides, the villagers loved a nice bit of cake!

  On the morning of his twenty-first birthday, King Sidney decided the time was right to take a bride, so he set off with half a dozen of his most trusted Knights on a quest to the local dating agency to peruse their books for local talent. It was there, after several minutes of searching, that he met and fell instantly in love with the beautiful Gladys, who was temping there as a filing clerk during the holidays. Not only did he find a bride but also he saved himself the enrolment fee to boot, an unexpected bonus which more than made up for the rigours of the bus journey into town.

  Gladys was a stunner. She had long black hair tumbling all the way down her back, which, to the annoyance of lovers of old jokes, peaked in a confection of soft curls around her beautiful face and noble forehead. She was blessed with an enormous pair of ripe, firm lips that formed a cupid’s bow around her gleaming white teeth, and a similarly impressive set of shapely eyes that danced with humour and promise. She had rather nice breasts as well.

  For King Sidney it was love at first sight, and he felt his heart lurch in his chest like a small kitten in a drawstring purse. Gladys was similarly smitten, and swooned in delight as he swept her into his arms and spun her toward the open doorway. Unfortunately, at five foot one and weighing in at only 110lb King Sidney found himself unequal to the task in hand. Something of an amazon at a buxom six foot two, Gladys winced as her head connected solidly with the doorframe. As the entwined pair slid slowly to the floor she struggled to maintain her dignity, arms flailing at the petticoats of her dress as it rode up to reveal even more of her stunning assets: she had the calves of a ballerina.

  The courtship was short and strenuous, culminating just a few months later in a wedding celebration that became legendary throughout the land for its opulence and splendour. The King invited everyone, from the highest-ranking officials to the lowliest of street urchins, the former feasting on roasted pheasant and goose in the main palace while the latter partook of chicken and chips in the downstairs kitchens. The palace guards and servants rotated their duties hourly, so that all might share in the magnificent feast and quaff from the fountains of wine and rivers of ale that flowed throughout the grounds and gardens. All in all, it was a right royal “bit of a do”…

  The happy couple honeymooned in Paris, and there, after an evening spent wandering the Champs-Elyse’s under a sky lit glorious by the full moon and a million stars Gladys conceived their child in a frenzied and joyous coupling that shook the very foundations of their five-star hotel.

  But alas, their joy was to be short lived.

  Eight months later Gladys succumbed to a virulent illness, and after a fevered twenty-four hours she died quietly in King Sidney’s arms as he supported her on their marital bed. As Sidney wept for his lost love, their child, a beautiful daughter, was delivered by caesarean section and whisked away to the arms and other upper body parts of the waiting wet nurse, Waynetta.

  II

  Princess Gladys – for so she was named in memory of her mother – was a beautiful child. She had inherited her mother’s lustrous black hair and alabaster skin, and the dark, shining, almond - shaped eyes that had so entranced King Sidney. Sadly, however, the gleam in these eyes arose not from merriment, but from the salty tears that constantly threatened to erupt in time with the loud wailing that emanated from her gaping jaws morning, noon and night. Princess Gladys was quite the most unhappy child that anyone had ever seen or heard.

  For the first few months of her life Princess Gladys screamed almost constantly, stopping only when she fed (which she did seldom and with little enthusiasm), or during the brief periods of sleep to which she occasionally succumbed seemingly at random. Despite the best ministrations of the court physician no satisfactory explanation could be found for the child’s distress, and the King fretted constantly as he rocked her for hours in his arms and whispered lullabies into her tiny, reddened ears. Whatever her demeanour, King Sidney loved his daughter unconditionally, and would have gladly laid down his own life if he had felt it could buy her but a moment’s happiness.

  In time, the child did grow calmer, but her beauty was always slightly marred by an unaccountable melancholy and general air of detachment. She was happy enough most of the time – though would succumb to the most frightful rages at the slightest provocation – but her happiness seemed strange to her father, who’s heart broke a little more each time he felt her stiffen at his embrace and who longed to feel her return his affection with some spontaneous display of her own.

  At three, Princess Gladys spoke her first words. The King was overjoyed – he had been anxious at the slight delay – but he was also somewhat taken aback. Monosodium Glutamate, she had said, peering intently at the back of a packet of cheesy puffs.

  After that there was no stopping her; the Princess jabbered constantly from the moment she climbed out of her bed in the morning until she fell asleep in her father’s arms at night. Her vocabulary was precocious, and she revealed herself an excellent reader. Strangely though, she showed little understanding for the content of what she read. She loved the look of letters written down and the individual sounds they represented, and relished the feeling of words and sentences on her tongue, but beyond that they seemed to hold little meaning for her. This, in tandem with other quirks in her behaviour, led the King to consult again with the Royal Physician.

  The Physician, Dr. Otto Von Blotto, was a clever but lazy man. In his youth in Vienna he had studied psychiatry and psychology, but the intricacies of the human mind had struck him as far too complex and unfathomable, so he had cut his losses and pursued a more general qualification. Graduating 36th in his class of 37, he had consoled himself with that old riddle:

  Q: What do you call the man who graduates last in his medical exams?

  A: Doctor.

  Certainly his qualification was enough, coupled with his excellent interview skills, to secure him his By Royal Appointment appointment, and he revelled in both the status and wealth it provided him.

  ‘Zo. Vott zeems to be zer problem?’ he asked, eyeing the child stacking bricks in front of him.

  ‘Well,’ s
aid the King, ‘I don’t know where to start, really. Sort of… everything’.

  ‘Everyzing? Everyzing? Everyzing and nuzzing, I zuzpect’

  He took a pocket watch from his waistcoat pocket, and held it toward Princess Gladys. Gladys took the watch, flipped its lid, glanced inside and handed it back to him.

  ‘Two minutes fast’ she said, looking straight through him. She returned to the bricks on the floor, this time lining them up in three precise colour-coordinated rows that aligned on the carpet perfectly with the rectangular pool of light spilling in through the open stained glass window.

  ‘Vy Yez, said Von Blotto, ‘It iz two minitz vast. A liddle habit off mine to enzure I don’t run overtime on my appointmentz.’

  After measuring her head circumference and checking her height and weight the doctor had a nurse take Gladys off to play in anuzzer – sorry – another room. He then turned to King Sidney.

  ‘Your majesty’ he said, ‘I zink it iz very zimple vot ve are zeeing. Your daughter voz the victim of a very difficult unt traumatic birszing, yah?

  The King nodded his head.

  ‘Und in zer process of zat very difficult unt
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