The Queen Who Wished

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By KingEzekiel
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Long ago, in a distant land, there lived a mighty king. The king had a wife, but no children, so he was rather distressed, wondering how he would procure an heir. The Queen too was rather distressed about not having any children. Oh! How she longed for a baby to care for! But she was barren, all the doctors and wise ones said so.

One day, as the Queen was crying in the royal gardens, mourning her lack of children, something gave her a sharp dig in the ribs. "Ow!" She looked down.

There before her stood a tiny little man with a hat twice his own height, shoes as long as her own, and a cloak that must have been spun of gossamer it was so sheer. He wagged his staff at her, "Queen lady, if you really want children so bad, why do you sit there weeping, instead of making a cradle for them?"

Then he spun his cloak around him, and vanished. The Queen kicked the ground where he had been standing, and sashayed off to her room. But a few days later, a rumour spread through the palace, that the Queen had ordered the royal carpenter to construct a cradle.

For three years that cradle stayed in the Queen's chambers, and for those three years the Queen watched carefully for another fay-folk to direct her in how to fill it, but none came. Day after day she sat in the king's court, idly wondering what was (mentally) wrong with the commoners, that they couldn't solve their own problems, but must needs run to the king for help every time a young mother died, or a father was never found after the mine collapsed.

At the end of three years, the Queen decided that she had had enough of the ridicule that she thought having the cradle brought upon her, and on a fine spring morning she threw the cradle out the window, into the street below. Then she spun around on her heel, and went to watch the king pass judgements, as was her habit at that time.

Several supplicants came forward, and the king gave them justice in accordance with his wisdom, and then a little old lady cam in, hunched over 'till she seemed to be bent double, dragging something behind her, and beside her stood a little girl weeping. The Queen's mind immediately turned to a book she had read on "The Tricks of Beggars", and she despised the girl's tears. But the old lady was not unsettled by the Queen's aloof expression, and spoke thus: "Oh Great King, May your wisdom never fail! My grandchildren and I have been living to the best of our ability, working when we could, begging when we couldn't, and my grandson had proved himself able at cleaning the nests out of the rich-folks trees. We were on our way to the place where the nest-collectors meet, when -I know it sounds unbelievable- when this thing came flying through the air, and struck him dead!" She motioned behind herself, and stepped to the side.

The Queen shrieked, and fled the room. There in the middle of the court, lay a dead little boy, in her cradle! The wise king understood immediately what had happened, and he gave the old lady a couple of coins, and a chicken, and told her to return as she had need.

The Queen lay on her bed all day, crying about what had happened, and wishing she knew what to do. Over and over the picture recurred to her mind, the cradle was full at last, but the child was dead. Then did the little man appear again, "You're really dumb, you kn-" *THWACK* he tumbled to the floor. A tiny lady in a gossamery gown stood beside the Queen's pillow. "Don't mind him too much, he gets impatient easily."

Then the Queen told the whole tale, especially what had happened in the court that morning, and the tiny lady listened patiently. When the Queen finished, the lady spoke, "They were here a month ago as well, and you paid them no heed."

"Oh, that I had offered to keep the children then! Perhaps then my cradle would be filled with life, not death!"

The tiny lady nodded, "Yes, but what will you do about it now?" and faded away.

The Queen talked about it that evening with the king, and together they agreed to found an orphanage.

They ran the orphanage for many years, and had many full cradles and cots, and they lived happily until the day of their death, and one of the children who was wise became the heir.
I wrote this story in the evening, for an imaginary little-girl.
© 2007 - 2020 KingEzekiel
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Carradee's avatar
Enjoyable. Seemed a bit sparse on the transitions, but I like the theme and style. You ever consider fleshing this out?

As it is, it reminds me of the original draft of "A Fistful of Fire", quite short and compressed… (The final version of that book is over four times the length of the original one.)

If you don't want to mess with it, no biggie, but I know I wouldn't mind seeing a fleshed-out version. :)

—Misti Wolanski
KingEzekiel's avatar
Nay, I never considered fleshing it out. Polishing it, yes, but it was only ever meant as a folktale/fable.

I may use it as a striking-point for a fleshier work though.