Short Stories » Septimus
Septimus Story - Page 2
Carbuncle visited the king every morning, and took his breakfast with him : they talked on business, but the minister would very often say to the king : " Sire, with your permission, you do not understand it ; allow me to manage and all will go well; ' let every body mind his own affairs,' says the poet." " But," replied the kin g, " what shall I do then r" " Whatever you like," answered Carbuncle ; " you can govern your wife, and your kitchen -garden ; that is all that is required of you." " In truth, I think that you are right," said the king ; " so do as you think fit." However, to lose nothing on the score of reputation, he always displayed himself on feast-days, in a royal cloak of red cloth printed with flowers of gold, a cap of the same material with a gilded wooden sceptre, which he had bought of an old strolling player, who had retired from the stage. In accordance with the advice of his seneschal, he obtained Francis Moore and Partridge's almanacks, which were forwarded to him from Stationers' Hall every year in the month of July, and which he had regularly bound in fine marble paper with the edges gilt. In the one he learned the proper sowing time ; also the season for planting, cutting, grafting, draining and clearing ; and he trusted in it so implicitly that he often physicked himself and his queen when they did not want it. In the other, he studied political prophecies, with which he was so bewildered, that he understood nothing about them. At the end of a few years, all these almanacks formed for him, quite a little library, of which he was as fond as though it had been equal to the Bodleian, and he and the seneschal alone had keys to it. In the afternoon, he employed himself in his royal little kitchen garden, and in putting in practice what his almanack had taught him in the morning. In the evening he sent for Carbuncle with whom he played until supper time, at beat my neighbour out of doors or piquet ; he then supped in public with the queen, and at ten o'clock every body was in bed.
Gilletta on her part, employed herself with the household affairs ; she spun with her women ; and made, with her cows' and goats' milk, excellent cheese ; but, above all, every morning, she never failed to knead a little cake of barley-flour, which she baked on the hearth and carried, with a cream cheese, to her little garden, where she placed it at the foot of a rose tree; as she had been directed in a dream to do the day after her wedding.
The tranquillity which they both enjoyed in their little kingdom was only disturbed by the wish of having children. They had been married two years, and Petard had begun to despair, when one day, as he was in his fruit garden with his seneschal, the midwife of his kingdom, who was also first lady of honour to the queen, came and announced to him that he was likely to become a father.
Transported with joy at this intelligence, he embraced the midwife with all his heart, and taking from his finger a fine ring formed of a cat's eye, he presented it to her. He did not stop there, for he gave that evening a grand supper to all the chief men of his kingdom ; after which he fired off himself all his artillery, which consisted of twelve arquebusses with locks, and six carbines with rods. It is said that at supper, his immediate joy made him say things incompatible with his dignity ; and that when his seneschal remonstrated with him upon the subject , he replied by throwing a large glass of wine in that minister's face ; saying : " Many thanks, father-in-law, you are, perhaps, right , but one is not a father every day : however, let us say no more about it, and let us rejoice, for, in my place, you would, perhaps, act quite as wisely." Carbuncle made no reply, and every body withdrew from their majesties, very well pleased.