3 October, 2017 by katelaity
My friends shushed me so loudly that I feared the king would surely be awakened by that if not by my unfortunate shout. As Tansy was nearest, I feared he might bear the brunt of the king’s ire. I held my breath and closed my eyes—admittedly not the most courageous of responses.
However, there was no sound. I opened my eyes and tried to breathe normally again, but was scandalised to see Tansy creeping even closer to the slumbering monarch.
‘Are you mad?’ I hissed at my friend, trying to be both heard and not heard, if you understand me.
‘I just want to see if it is he,’ Tansy whispered back.
‘The Red King!’
Now here was madness. My friend had taken leave of his senses surely. He had been obsessed with that silly book that was even sillier than the previous one. I realise I was on a mission to measure the height of absurdity, but I was not myself fond of nonsense. Mr Carroll’s books were nothing but nonsense, which I suppose was all right for children, but Tansy ought to have known better.
When he showed no sign of giving up his scrutiny of the man, we all crept a little closer too, if only to dissuade Tansy from something rash. ‘Come away now. Do be more sensible,’ I couldn’t help from scolding.
‘I don’t think it is he.’ Tansy had actually taken out his memorandum book to note down the significant details of the king’s appearance. I must say up close he was rather more shabby than I had expected any king to be. His crown was tarnished. The once rich, velvety green coat was almost in tatters. An enormous quantity of leaves had caught in his hair and beard and there were even vines growing around his limbs as he snored peacefully on.
I could hardly believe that a bagpipe playing by his side would wake this monarch as he snored on oblivious to the surroundings. But I did not care too much to risk it. I recall how old Simons bellowed upon being awakened in the club when he had wanted to nap. A king could only compound these repercussions. ‘Just be careful. And is who?’
‘The Red King of course. He is rather green.’
‘That would seem to answer the question,’ I said, hoping that was the end of it. Of course with Tansy it is not.
‘We might still be in his dream, however.’
‘Don’t be absurd.’
Tansy laughed, admittedly quietly. ‘Perhaps this is what we need to measure.’
‘Measure?’ the lovely lady inquired with confusion.
‘We have set out on a journey to measure the height of absurdity. Perhaps we have reached it.’ Tansy took out his measuring tape and made note of the king’s dimensions both fore and aft, so to speak, in his memorandum book. ‘If it is, I must say I am rather let down.’
‘He seems rather less than impressive in a monarchical sense,’ Chambers added, clearly sharing the disappointment in our better, for surely even a minor king must be better than us commoners. It only stands to reason.
‘Perhaps when he is awake—’ I said, shrugging as it did not matter much to me. I did not get to finish my thought for it was just then that the most unfortunate thing occurred.
When I say Tansy sneezed, I do not mean a gentlemanly toot. Nor, considering that Tansy was sometimes a man and sometimes a woman, do I mean a lady-like sniffle of the most genteel form. Rather I mean that when Tansy sneezed small children ran away in fright and dogs were inclined to bark thinking there was some kind of threat at hand. Indeed birds took off in alarm from the many trees in the walled garden.. The lady Judith drew back in surprise.
Worst of all, the king awoke with a start.