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Tales From Beyond The Enchanted Prong Hills

The Baron Of Dried Fruits


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A few days later Princess Daughter and King Farnsborough were having breakfast in the great dining hall when the castle butler waddled in with the morning mail. Being jolly, the king delighted in the amusement factor of having a duck as a butler and being wise he realised that if the mail wasn't good then the butler would go well with orange sauce and sautéed potatoes.
Today the mail looked very good. The king had finally received the book on marsupials' gestation periods he had been waiting for and the princess had received a lavishly wrapped parcel bound with a big pink frilly bow.
"Look daddy," she said excitedly, "It's a present for me!"
"I hope it's wise and jolly," said her father, "You know I don't approve of anything that's not wise and jolly."
Princess Daughter carefully unwrapped the parcel and lifted the lid off the box with great eagerness.
Some people never learn, do they? I believe that, at a pinch, you can sometimes get away with playing the same trick twice, but three times is just taking the piss. Anyway, on with the predictable next bit.
"Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!" she went.
"What?" bellowed the king suspecting a dearth of wisdom and jolliness.
"Oh," whimpered his delicate daughter, "it's from that beastly baron I told you about."
King Farnsborough took a glance inside the box and could scarcely keep his composure. For inside the mysterious package was something equally as horrendous as Baron Shagnasty's previous gifts to Princess Daughter.
This time he had sent her a pound and a half of pearl barley and once more we can hear his chilling guffaws as he makes his cowardly escape.
"This," roared the king, "is neither wise nor jolly!"
The princess blubbed into her dainty silk handkerchief.
"Bollinger!" called the king.
"Quack!" replied Bollinger, the butler.
"Tell the chamberlain I want to hold full court this morning. Attendance is mandatory."
"And go and tell the chef to prepare some orange sauce."

"I want this baron dead!" bellowed the king, "I don't care who does it, in what manner or even how unwise or unjolly it is done. But I want him dead!"
The courtiers shrank in their seats.
They remembered all too well what had happened to the last lot of courtiers when the king was losing his jolliness.
"I will not have my daughter subjected to this barrage of filth. Furthermore, there will be no trade agreement in soft blue things with the Ninth Of Nov. Chamberlain!"
"Y-yes, my liege?" stammered Tetley, the court chamberlain.
"What happened to that fine young prince with all the fruit?" demanded the king.
The courtiers shuffled uneasily. They knew too well what had happened to the last set of courtiers when the prince had turned up with a load of fresh fruit.
"Er, you, um, you chop . . . I mean, you had his hea . . ."
"Come on," snapped the king, "Out with it, man!"
"His head fell off, sire," said the chamberlain diplomatically.
"Damned inconvenient," said the king.
"Right, chamberlain, I want you to find this prince, find his head, stick it back on and get him to sort out this barbarous baron and his pestilent pulses."
The chamberlain stood aghast.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" yelled the king, "Go to it! At the double!"
The chamberlain fled the court like a frightened antelope.
"Court dismissed," said the king, "And remember - if you can't be wise . . ."
"Be jolly," chorused the courtiers with little conviction.

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The Baron Of Dried Fruits
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