Pt XV… ‘If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well. It were done jollily’
Whinsome was hoping things could not get anymore complicated and sardonically was not surprised to find a maid at the apartment door bobbing and saying
‘M’m, Your Highness. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The High Diplomat and some bishops are here to see you on matters of urgency,’
Aureyborealice looked up from weeping into Whinsome’s morning dress. There was a rather serious expression on her face.
‘Ah. Then this is it. They have come to discuss with you my very credible demise through some convenient malady I didst catch while footling about in the snows of the north,’ she tilted her head up in a noble fashion and sighed ‘What must be, must be. Though Whinsome I do not really bear you any ill-will-‘
‘Oh sush twiddle-head!’ Whinsome said hugging the girl ‘There will be no demises credible or otherwise!’ she grasped one hand, it was slightly slippery because Aureyborealice had been wiping her nose on it but Whinsome was in, as some of the peasants of Trundlealong would say a ‘Don’t make no nevermind,’ mood ‘Come let us together face this crisis, as a couple,’
‘Oh Whinsome,’ Aureyborealice said lovingly, pausing to blow her nose on her sleeve (you’d be somewhat relieved to read…. hers that is, not Whinsome’s)
‘No more honking of the shnozer,’ Whinsome commanded and with the maid assisting had Aureyborealice to look presentable of hair, eyes, face and of course nose.
Whinsome frowned, Aureyborealice flinched. Aside from Chancellor and High Diplomat there were bishops Hylorididoda (also known as Old Baldy Pate), Humfelsteffstong (Ol’ Sour Fizzog ) and of course Quirrblelong. Quirrblelong did have his benign expression though. Whinsome noticed the other two did not look particularly censorious, she supposed that was something to do with her releasing them from that tower.
‘My lords temporal and spiritual,’ she said using a general catch-all term, Aureyborealice, slightly behind her squeaking the same greeting, one word late, and then called out.
‘It was not Whinsome’s fault! ‘Twas my vanities, mischiefs, dreams, schemes, plots and silly things!’
‘Please good sirs,’ interposed Whinsome, treading on her companion’s toe ‘Princess Aureyborealice is to be excused. She fell out of bed this morning and knocked her head. I am quite aware the extraordinary actions by Doctrindoss have shown him to be unsuitable to be The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One, thus calling into questioning our,’ squeeze of hand of Aureyborealice ‘Union and since I argued at some length in support of his judgement my right to the throne of Dingledong is also at fault. We must summon the council and-‘
Humfelsteffstong cleared his throat.
‘Your highness,’ and he bowed somewhat ‘Firstly by your actions of releasing both myself and Bishop Hylorididoda and the very sober way you have conducted the,’ lesser clearing of throat ‘Command of the throne and administration of this confused realm you have shown yourself a worthy ruler,’
‘Might we sit down and discuss this over cakes and light wines?’ asked Hylorididoda hopefully.
Whinsome glanced to The Chancellor and the High Diplomat whose individual impassive faces suggested there was, as usual more to this than met the eye. Quirrblelong winked.
‘Not a word,’ Whinsome told Aureyborealice.
‘You see, ‘ explained Humfelsteffstong ‘Doctrindoss in recent years, possibly twenty, had become prey to vanities of the most tedious sort and could talk at great length wearing down anyone of normal sensibilities. As many of us had other duties to attend to, it was, to our chagrin and mortification easier to agree with him rather than spend pointless hours, even days and nights going about in circles, sometimes literal ones as he was want to walk when talking. When the, ahem, event of the wedding took place we hoped this would be the opportunity we needed to have him removed, but then you, your majesty was so stalwart and dignified,’
‘And could thwack opportunistic, greedy cousins with a staff,’ Aureyborealice said with enthusiasm ‘Thus saving the realm from snotty deadbeats,’
‘Quite so,’ said Hylorididoda through a mouthful of cake. ‘And caused Doctrindoss to overstep the mark with trying to marry Strebvest (The Plain) and Clodgrop (The Mundane),’
‘We have just managed to get the joint armies to raise their siege of Turgidan,’ The High Diplomat said ‘Never have the nations of Hasselduff and Moochenmuch demonstrated so much ire. We had to ask your brother Hanselfrendlesten the new king of Grunzelpratz to intervene with a military demonstration. He was very co-operative and by stealth had from under the noses of Strebvest (The Plain) and Clodgrop (The Mundane),’ detained Doctrindoss for his own safety, apparently in a very tall and remote tower in Grunzelpratz. He was allowed to take his tin whistle,’
‘He has always believed himself to be a master of the instrument,’ Hylorididoda said wearily but expunging the many memories of recitals by taking another cake.
Whinsome held up one hand in a regal gesture best translated as ‘Just wait a turnip choppin’ minute’
‘This turn of events is one of those types, my dear sirs I am becoming no longer surprised by. So there is to be a new The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One. Now how do we conjuncture this with my abdication and the elevation of,’ tender squeeze of the hand ‘Princess Aureyborealice to the position of Queen. Have a cake dear,’ Whinsome concluded by shoving a piece of confectionary into Aureyborealice’s mouth before she could say anything.
‘Oh we don’t want that at all,’ said Humfelsteffstong ‘No. You as a couple are not the issue. Woman married unto woman hath led to the end of forced jolliness, gifted us with a sensible regent, then queen, put an end to the insufferable Twoodoodle and my colleagues in Grunzelpratz say rid them of the most singularly useless royal house and a clutch of opportunistic conniving bishops and nobles. As far as we can discern ’tis as good a sign of the Will of The Supreme Being as any,’
‘Ooooh’ squealed Aureyborealice in delight, spraying cake crumbs all over the place and before Whinsome could stop here ‘See Whins, you shall have to grow man bits now!’
Whinsome solved the embarrassment by a slight smile and a brief mime indicating a knock on the noggin’. She rose, everyone else did, brushing off cake crumbs with Whinsome shoving Aureyborealice back to her apartments saying.
‘Interesting news then my good sirs. We shall have to get the council in as well and discuss how to iron out the bumps, tidy the corners and put forward our own candidate for Arch-Priest,’ she concluded by looking very knowingly at Humfelsteffstong.
Later that day after Whinsome had managed to get Aureyborealice to calm down and remember just how composed, thoughtful and generally astute she had been back in the early spring. There came another visit from The Chancellor of the Exchequer and The High Diplomat.
‘There are two pretenders to the throne,’ said the latter ‘They may or not be ……ahem….natural…ahem….. children of your father Princess Aureyborealice, they are garnering opportunistic and disaffected folk and a few who claim Doctrindoss’ removal was a conspiracy,’
Aureyborealice frowned and tapped her fingers on one knee, Whinsome was so relieved to see the calculating look back in her eyes.
‘Much money and nobility behind them Chancellor?’ Aureyborealice asked. She did so want Whinsome to see she could be very cool and composed, again. What had happened? Maybe there were indeed naughty elves and mischievous pixies who had influenced her…(Oh MY!)
He handed Aureyborealice a list, The High Diplomat handed her one of outside trouble makers, she examined them.
‘Hmm. I see. Well Chancellor of The Exchequer. Cry Havoc and Release Headless Chickens of The Market,’ she turned to Whinsome ‘It is a code Whins. Something Chancellor was working on as soon as he found out about your parents Lychee venture, when I discovered what he was about I thought it the cleverest thing ever,’
‘As said I would have preferred if you had asked directly Princess Aureyborealice, but never mind. Your Highness?’
‘Will this harm the stupid speculating in Lychees?’
‘Very much so,’ Aureyborealice and the Chancellor said together.
It did not take long. The first set of rumours were released which suggested the return on the growing of Lychees was a lot less than anyone had believed. Then the Chancellor ordered the sudden selling at a loss of the few stocks his offices still held to another office he had set up, having sold most holdings at the height of the market speculation. Ten already placed agents masquerading as Lychee merchants made much of panicking in places of trading. The next set of rumours were about a possible fly which caused havoc in the crop. This was the signal for five more agents to set out a panic. By the end of the week the whole Lychee market had collapsed and lots of nobles, including the supporters of two pretenders to the throne of Dingledong were facing financial ruination. The Chancellor and his networks having turned their vast early profits into gold just planned for the next part.
Meanwhile The High Diplomat through his own networks ensured certain chosen and dependable nobles, kings, bishops etc were not affected, too much (the latter bit, just a reminder for them as to who was who and wot wuz wot)
‘So the ordinary folk won’t suffer?’ Whinsome asked for the severaleth time of Aureyborealice.
‘Oh no silly,’ feeling confident enough these taps to tap Whinsome’s nose ‘We have taken away any threatening power bases left since they are now all very poor and are being chased by their soldiers for unpaid wages. We filter capital into the economy, hire up the angry unpaid soldiers and lend them to your brother so he can convince your parents to descend from the throne and he can then set up a whole new kingdom made up of Trundlealong and Grunzelpratz. Your parents will receive a gift of gold to enable them to go far away and retire,’
‘Ah? Why was I not told about this?’
‘Because Wins. The Chancellor and the High Diplomat wanted to see how well you could handle things on your own,’ she sighed ‘And you were so clever, brave, bold and ruthless in a nice sort of way,’ she sighed again ‘Are you sure you wouldn’t like to…..Errr….well…y’know?’
‘Rorie. I have explained to you, severaleth times, I don’t want to….Errr….well…y’know. And it’s no use you leaving that copy of ‘The Adventures of The Bold Princesses Themelene and Louentha’ under my pillow all the time. Why that pair did not hurt their backs or catch chills from their frequent cavortings in woods and fields I knoweth not,’
‘Ah you did read it then!’
‘I flipped through the pages. And every flip revealed the same sort of….ahem…activities. There was a certain element of unimaginative repetition,’
‘Ah. Yeah. I’ll give you that! Now in ‘The Lustful Revenge of the Scorn(ed) Princess Nyshel’ia of Old Meldanovrava’….. ‘
‘No. Now we have another day’s statecraft ahead of us. Put your busy mind to that,’
‘It’s going to be about legislation to allow women marry women and men marry men. You’ll let every one else go twiddle-wheedle-didlly-doo! But not us. Why?’
‘Rorie,’ Whinsome pleaded getting heated about the collar ‘You say you like…err..men’s….well y’knows. I have to say having seen some of your books I am sure I would too,’
‘I know a place where they make….’
‘I am sure you do! Honestly I do not want to know about your years of nights of sneaking out over garden walls! Look! Did we not admit to each that night of porlonged wine tasting we both wanted to have babies?…And before you ask again, your aunt has told me to tell you to stop being a noodle-hutch about the matter,’ Whinsome began to make expansive gestures with her hands and in exasperation her fingers ‘We cannot make each other pregnant!!’
After that particular conversation Aureyborealice did settle down, somewhat, but did not actually stop making enquiries of Whinsome if she had changed her mind, though she did throw herself into the role of being consort, and generally productive in the administration, she and the High Diplomat having frequent conversations concerning certain matters, Aureyborealice reckoning it was the only way she could work off her frustrations. Aside from certain unpleasant characters meeting unpleasant ends, she also was instrumental in having some thought being given to having the land renamed, though no one could agree on what. She also aided her brother in sneaky ways in stopping incursions over his eastern borders from the previously disinterested smallish empire of Zrenzbragh whose emperor Hullibi (The XXth) had decided that the present ruckus to his west was a good opportunity; it was not working out well for him, in fact Frendlehanz was extending his domain, which since his liege lord was Vilfahengo ( The Back To Being Iron, In An Affable Way) made the said king content. She also ensured gold was passed to Prince Hulstorm of Rahsemindia to construct a navy to deal with pesky pirates raiding his coasts, of course he had no difficulty in massacring them on lands, but wanted to get them sorted out for good.
Whinsome felt these activities kept her spouse occupied, most of the time, while she dealt with the daily grindly business, thus giving her excuses to keep out of the way of Aureyborealice, who although would be such a good friend and companion was….well would not let the other business rest.
Meanwhile she was given even more praise by a relieved council, and a bemused public that she had cured Aureyborealice of her fit of noodle-hutchness.
To mark her first year as queen Whinsome let her council have its way and arrange a celebration, a modest one she told them! Aureyborealice’s brother Frendlehanz (now Wolf of The North), Prince Hulstorm (The Sternly, Just, Wise, Protective of The People….and that was quite enough he had said) of Rahsemindia, and her own brother King Hanselfrendlesten of Varadin (an old name for the region, and a snootle (a quite vulgar word) to the other names) all attended. There was much celebration and joy and Aureyborealice sneaked some aphrodisiac out of the supply her brother had brought down for ‘a friend’ (customer).
Whinsome to the joy of the crowds of ordinary folk walked amongst them chatting and giggling with children, gave a few folk awards and titles (paid for– Chancellor’s insistence ) and attended a few weddings betwixt men and men and women and women. She also sent a public message of congratulations to the new Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One, Humfelsteffstong.
And was walking along a corridor to change in comfortable clothing, when out leapt a soggy ragged fellow with a knife:
‘Har-har! I Bishop Twoodoodle will cleanse this realm’
And stabbed her and she fell.
He was apprehended, thumped and kicked. Hulstorm said he would take the wretch back with him, he would be towed through a long and muddy river to The Tower where he would be placed with ten other wretches, for soever as long as they might live ( like who cared?)
There was mourning through the realms. Dingledong was renamed Whinslea. Both Queen-in-Being Aureyborealice of Whinslea and King Hanselfrendlesten of Varadin were wretched in their grief thus nudged together by the High Diplomat and the more subtle of his agents. Thus finding comfort with each other by the winter they were married and negotiations were started for a merging of the nations.
‘Oh he does so look like Whinsome, and he does have very nice man bits’, Aureyborealice reflected one day as she laid flowers on the grave. At the men’s insistence Whinsome had been buried with military honours and her wooden staff )
The next spring The High Diplomat on a journey to discuss things with King Hanselfrendlesten‘s council stopped by a small, modest farm to ask if he could have a drink, it being a warmish day. The young lady farmer invited him in, along with three men dressed in black. She poured them all a light wine.
‘How are you then Whinsome?’
‘Quite at peace High Diplomat. Known here as Somiwhen, proficient in farming, arguing jovially with the local cleric and use of a staff with any passing fellow who thinks he has some sort of right over my body. How are Aureyborealice and Hanselfrendlesten?’
‘They rule in a sedate, reflective and measured way. Not quite the frenetic folk of yore,’
‘I am pleased to hear it. Hanselfrendlesten was going to get himself killed one day looking for wars, and as for Aureyborealice, her fixation with us…err….well…y’know was making the dynamic somewhat difficult, the things she left under my pillow! Thus my argument not to execute Twoodoodle when he was washed up at a sewer outlet was useful was it not,’
‘It was a good plan, letting him think he had escaped, having an agent masking as a supporter and giving him the silly bending knife laced with the soporific drug. Getting the balance correct so the scratch would suffice was a trial,’
‘So was lying in state for a day then having to hold my breath during visits by mourners and being smuggled out in a burlap sack of broad beans. Still it was worth it. Please tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer I am being most careful with my gold retirement fund,’
‘I will, but he is a little distracted these days. His office caught out an adventurous widow who had cleverly embezzled a Lychee trust before the collapse. It was love at first sight,’
The pair laughed. The agents were trained not to do so when on duty. The High Diplomat bade Whinsome good fortune and went on his way.
At dusk the local cleric came calling. A fellow of her age who had fled his hopeless royal family of Grunzelpratz. Very sobered by the event he had taken on this new identity. As they grew to know each other he confessed this to her and begged her keep his secret.
There was tenderness. Quite often.
‘Oh Somiwhen, if only we could be married. Yet clerics must not,’
‘I think, dear Kurntool,’ she replied, while brewed an idea involving waylaying the High Diplomat on his return journey and asking one last big favour ‘In view of recent events things might change in our favour,’
And they all lived as well as anyone could reasonably expect.