This is the retelling of a retold story and I am telling it from the best of my memory so there is sure to be many errors and omissions. How much is true and how much fantasy I cannot say and so gentle reader I’ll let you decide on its validity. This tale harks back to an age where men worked, the women were at home, and royalty stayed in their castles. Speech was not filled with idiomatic metaphors and the world was not concerned about politically correct terms and ideas.
I was hired to inventory and catalogue the many treasures housed in Her Majesty’s castle. As you may imagine her holdings are as vast as they are varied and the longer I was there the more comfortable the Queen and her staff became with me. Soon, with exceptions to the Queen’s private quarters, I had the run of the place. So many nooks and crannies filled with so many wondrous treasures of great worth as well as worthless, yet all interesting.
One day at the end of a long hall I found a stairwell leading up, it was obvious from all the dust that it was no longer in use. My curiosity got the better of me and I climbed it to the top where a door unlocked and unused awaited me. Behind the door was a large room looking as if it had been decorated by the firm of Trite and Tasteless. Even though dark, it had obviously been a sun-room and I went to the heavy drapes to see what they covered. I pulled them to the side to see a large window with a balcony behind it. There appeared to be a sump, which surely at one time held water and to the side was the largest crocodile I’d ever seen. This monster was surely fifteen feet in length and at one time must have weighed at least twenty stone. By the looks of the poor beast, I guessed it had been mounted by an amateur; it was quite disfigured and looked to be singed in many places.
Beside the window was a writing desk and inside I found a small text with the title, ‘Snaggletooth the Copper Lolly Stealer.’ The book written by the young prince himself intrigued me and I sat to read it at once. The Prince admitted to not being a morning person and while the rest of the family had the normal breakfast of bangers, pudding, and eggs, clotted cream on thick slabs of bread topped with jams of the various fruits from the fields, along with large helpings of the luscious mincemeat of that era. Although he loved all of this, instead he would steal himself up to the sun-room where the warm rays would get his blood to flow much like the reptile croc had to do.
The prince wrote of his love for his Snaggy, whom he himself had taken from the menagerie for his pet. He claimed that the poor beast’s choppers were so malformed that he could not bite or even chew. He brought the reptile to his room and fed him soups and stews made from soft meats and vegetables. This information made me stop, put the volume down, and once again look at the croc. Even in its sad shape, it was easy to see the prince spoke the truth as the teeth of the beast were in such a bad way it would be impossible for him to feed as he would in the wild.
As the prince would spend his mornings in the sunlight with his pet, docile from his life of ease, instead of a wondrous breakfast he would suck on copper lollies made for him by the kitchen staff. All was right in the world of the prince until the fateful day that he gave his beloved Snaggletooth a taste of his breakfast treat. Now young Snaggletooth was a pet but he was still a wild animal as well and once he got a taste of the sweet goodness of a copper lolly he wanted more. Now you, gentle reader, may wonder as I did, as to just what a copper lolly was and after more than a little research, I discovered the answer. A copper lolly is nothing more than a regular lolly but instead of a paper stick, they are poured over copper swizzle sticks. Of course, the young prince would put the stick aside when he was finished for the staff to retrieve to be used again, but Snaggy had no such compunction and swallowed lolly and stick together.
As we all know, the young prince is a lad with a pure heart but he is not one to share and as the big croc began to take the lollies, even going so far as to hold the prince down with a big webbed foot as she helped herself. As his resentment grew, he began to devise a plan of retribution against the scaly creature. Although he loved the beast, he also feared it and so his scheme was planed around these fears. One afternoon he awoke from his daily nap to the sound of thunder nearby. He looked out his window to see Zeus’ bolts, crashing close to the castle and in that instant, he knew of his revenge. He grabbed a small metal rod from his room and raced to the sun room and ol Snag. With a lolly in his hand it was simple to distract the animal long enough to secure the rod to his head. He had no worries of killing his only friend because he once before had seen her take a direct hit only to survive unharmed. The prince only wanted to cause her discomfort and he was sure this would do the trick. It was only after he watched a thunderous bolt strike his precious pet that realized the one flaw in his plan. Well, maybe not the one snag but at least the biggest was that now Snaggletooth had a belly full of copper sticks and once the lighting interacted with all that ductile metal, well I assume you can guess the result. The prince noted that the beast let out a ghastly roar and expired on the spot. I now understood that the mighty croc had not been mounted by an unproven taxidermist but by the hands of Zeus himself. The prince now devastated by his nefarious act left the sun-room never to return.
The prince maybe as an act of atonement vowed to right himself and take his place among his family. To the surprise of everyone, he showed up at the breakfast table the next day. To my shock, there was no final chapter and with the ending unknown, I lay the book back down where I found it. As I left the room, I inadvertently kicked a small metal sliver with my foot and when I picked it up, I knew instantly that it was a small copper shaft used for a copper lolly.
The Manic gene runs rampant in most of the world’s royal families and certainly, this family was no exception. Yet to all of us who knew the prince or at least knew of him, and think him daft, I say the distress of that fateful day is more the reason of the prince’s uniqueness and we should be glad he has any ‘normal’ moments at all. It is easy for the prince as well as me, to understand the reasons for his torturous nightmares but alas, this did little to ease his troubled mind. His transgression was not spawned from evil but from ignorance, yet to him it made no difference, and so he never forgave himself.