Dearest Rachel –
I got so engrossed in my work downstairs today, and that I never noticed the passing of time. It wasn’t until almost eleven that I looked up and realized that Dad and I should have left the house over an hour previously, and I just screamed in anger and frustration at myself for missing this appointment.
And then I woke up.
It was only two in the morning.
I had dreamt the whole ‘missed appointment’ thing; probably one of the more conventional dreams I’ve had in a very long time, but also way too timely for me not to notice. I wasn’t gonna write to you until after I got back from the appliance show room, but seeing as how my mind already thought I’d skipped over that part, I figured I’d tell you about this as well. Maybe you’d get a kick out of it.
But I suppose it must’ve gotten my mind wondering. Oh sure, it knew how likely it was to forget about the ten o’clock appointment, but how is it that my Dad wouldn’t be calling downstairs to me by nine-fifteen, telling me to get up and get going? Even though his advanced age, he always seems to look forward to doing stuff together with any of us in the family; this might be a highlight of his week.
And since my mind and purpose to go back to sleep for another four or five hours, it decided to come up with an explanation.
The kingdom of Larsonia (we can call it that; it didn’t have a name in my second dream, but let’s violate the rule about filling in details post-somnolence and give it that name) was a quaint little city-state nestled among the woods and mountains of, I’m going to assume central Europe. I suspect, for all my efforts to curb my enthusiasm (cue that television show’s theme music), which I’ll explain tomorrow, my mind is looking forward to our upcoming trip.
Perhaps I’ve done too much research on these towns we’ll be passing through.
At any rate, the duchy was celebrating a Jubilee year, the fortieth of the reign of the wise and beloved King Ralph I (while the Queen Mother Gladys technically ruled for eleven years after the passing of Harold I, and Prince Donald may well have been the rightful successor, the elder prince had long left the realm to assume the chancellorship of a succession of distant academic fiefdoms, and the subjects generally included the period of Ralph’s time as regent as part of his reign). The king was unable to personally participate in the feasting, having suffered a severe health crisis a few years back, but the fact that he was still able to grace the land with his presence and preside over the festivities was cause for celebration enough. Even the sudden loss of the presumptive crown princess (shades of Diana Spencer), while tragic, could not detract from the kingdom’s gratitude for his majesty’s leadership; indeed, it was treasured that much more so, as he counselled the crown prince – and indeed, the whole of the tiny land – through this crisis.
However, late in the jubilee year, his majesty failed to appear on the castle balcony to observe the games of the day, and the question arose: what had happened? Had he suffered a relapse? Had the time that comes to all men, deferred though it had been, finally arrived for him?
But no, the king had simply disappeared, and the crown prince had resolved to search for him, as it would be most embarrassing for a land to simply misplace its monarch. All he could hope for was that he hadn’t gone far, especially given his physical limitations at his advanced age.
He found him at the railway station, just before he was going to buy a ticket out under an assumed name. The king was wearing the plaid of a typical logger from the local forests so as to go unrecognized, but the crown prince recognized at as one of his father’s favorite shirts from when he wasn’t required to be in public.
“Dad, what are you doing? The country needs you!”
The older man smiled wanly. “No, son. It’ll be fine. In fact, it needs to go on without me. Here…” and reaching into his coat, he handed the crown prince… the royal orb. Along with the scepter, which has been left back at the palace, they were the symbols of leadership.
Surprised, the prince dropped the ball, which landed with a thud on the wooden floor of the stationhouse. “See? It won’t break. Pick it up, and bring it back.”
“No. Not without you, Dad. You can’t go traveling in your condition, anyway. And Mom’s worried about you, too.”
The smile widened, but didn’t seem to reach the king’s eyes. The boy wasn’t ready, even though he was older than he was when the queen mother had passed. “Of course, son. Just remember: the kingdom will survive. It must.”
“Which is why we need to get you back!” the prince pressed him. The king nodded silently, but his head was shaking slightly as he let his son escort him to a waiting coach.
Okay, that was considerably embellished from my dream, but I needed an ending. All I can surmise from it is my own brain’s admission that I’ve no taste for leadership, and that I already knew. Anyway, I’ve got to go; don’t want to miss that appointment because I’ve been writing to you any more than because I overslept or got preoccupied ‘working’ downstairs. I’ll catch you up later today.
Take care, sweetheart.