A deathly hush fell on the Cabinet Room, a gleaming space in the heart of the Orange Palace. Shafts of mid-morning sunlight glittered off the ranks of china cabinets lining the walls that gave the room its name.
The weekly ceremony of the Cabinet Meeting was about to begin, with all the Palace staff duly assembled. Old hands, like myself and Crotchet the cook, sat near the back where we couldn’t be seen dozing off.
The dignitaries of King Grump’s court filed in. A fanfare resounded, and the King himself, smiling and waving, entered and sat on a pile of soft cushions in front of the most splendid cabinet of all, displaying the First King’s sumptuous collection of chamber pots.
“It’s been a good week,” the King began. “Probably the best week the kingdom has ever seen. In fact, we’ve had so much success this week I’m heartily sick of success.”
A few coughs and nervous titters broke the watchful silence.
“Of course I’m joking about that last part,” the King announced with the slightest crease of a frown.
The resounding laughter, more relief than appreciation of humor, seemed to go on forever.
“A most auspicious week,” agreed Viceroy Dense, when the room had quietened down, and the more enthusiastic members of the audience ostentatiously rolling in the aisles had been escorted away.
“Indeed,” said the Captain of the Militia. “And I thank your inestimable highness for granting our hard-pressed officers the right to incapacitate first and ask questions later.”
“Our workhouses are fuller than ever,” the Overseer of Forced Labor added. “Albeit more than usual coming in with missing limbs.” He gave a pointed glance at the Captain of the Militia.
“That’s a remarkable achievement,” the King announced. “We are putting more and more of our cripples to productive use.”
At this point I found myself nodding off, and woke only when Crotchet nudged me in the ribs.
The shafts of sunlight had marched noticeably around, when Prince Rebus pulled himself to his full height and puffed out his chest. “Your Highness, it has indeed been a most remarkable week, and I am deeply humbled and honored to serve under your inspiring rule.”
As we stood to leave, Crotchet turned and cast a beady eye over the nearest cabinet. “What a load of old crock,” the cook muttered.