For All Nails #79: Henry the Bad
By Johnny Pez
Henry Edward Albert George Windsor, FN1 by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, Emperor of the United Empire, Defender of the Faith, etc. etc., was, as usual, in a bad mood. What he really wanted to do was fire a couple of the Queen's corgis (nasty brutes!) out of a cannon, but unfortunately you couldn't do that sort of thing these days (damn vitavision snoops were everywhere). Instead, Henry was indulging in one of his favorite pastimes: abusing the servants. Not physical abuse, of course; you couldn't do that sort of thing these days, either. Rather, he was using his outstanding command of invective to tear one of the chambermaids a new bodily orifice.
But it wasn't working, dammit! The particular chambermaid in question (her name was Alice something-or-other, and like all the chambermaids employed by the Queen she was a stocky, hirsute horror in her fifties) wasn't responding. Henry vaguely recalled that she had been employed at the palace for three years or so, and in that time she must have built up an immunity to his verbal abuse. She just stood there with an expression of monumental indifference, and when he was finished she said nothing more than, "Will that be all then, Y'r Majesty?"
Henry felt like boxing her ears, but was restrained by the suspicion that if he did, she would (lese majesty or no) respond by beating the stuffing out of him. Instead, he dismissed her with a wave of his hand.
King Henry X sat alone in a library full of books he had never read and had no intention of ever reading, mourning the fact that he had been born into the twentieth century. Back in the old days, by God, a monarch had a chance for some real fun! Murder, rapine, pillage, torture, mass executions! And dungeons! Why, his royal namesake Henry VIII had had dungeons galore in his day, stuffed to the rafters with accused traitors, suspected heretics, unlucky courtiers, and even the occasional unfaithful Queen! Ah, those were the days! If only he were the ruler of someplace like Mexico, like that Mercator fellow. Now there was a man who knew how to run a country! Anybody gives you any trouble, you just haul him out of bed in the dead of night, finish him off with a bullet to the back of the head, and seal him up in a concrete embankment. FN2 Damn shame the Mexicans were the enemy.
The door to the library creaked open, and the majordomo (or whatever his title was) hesitantly poked his head in. "Erm, Your Majesty, it's time for your appointment with the Prime Minister."
"Get out!" Henry bellowed as he threw a candlestick at the door, and to his satisfaction the majordomo (or whatever) did so. The satisfaction was only fleeting, though. Unlike the servants here in Buckingham Palace, the Government were only nominally under Henry's control, and so were proof against his bullying.
Still, it could be much worse, Henry mused as he got up and made his slow way from the library to his favorite sitting room. At least the current Government weren't a lot of spineless, cringing worms like their predecessors, or those hopelessly incompetent Johnnies in the CNA.
As Henry entered the sitting room, he saw that Sir Geoffrey Gold was already there. He felt his mood lightening as Sir Geoffrey stood up from his seat and bowed, saying "Your Majesty" like he meant it. Sir Geoffrey was one of the few people he had met that Henry actually liked. The man was ruthless, cunning, utterly unscrupulous, and in spite of his name didn't have a drop of Hebe blood running through his veins. Not surprising, really -- those National Renewal fellows were Henry's sort of people. The sort of people Britain needed.
Henry seated himself and motioned for Sir Geoffrey to do likewise. "Sir Geoffrey," he said, "What is it you wish to bring to Our attention today?"
"Your Majesty," said Sir Geoffrey, "the Foreign Office recently received word that Colonel Alexander Elbittar, the current Maximum Temporary Leader of New Granada, has issued an invitation to Prince Ferdinand of Spain to come and assume his country's throne."
"Has he?" said Henry with mild surprise. "It sounds as though this Elbittar fellow isn't so bad after all. For a Dago, that is."
"Indeed, Your Majesty, my thoughts exactly," Sir Geoffrey purred. "In fact, this may provide us with just the sort of opening we were hoping for. What I wish to propose is that Your Majesty travel to New Granada in person to attend Prince Ferdinand's coronation. At the same time, Eustace FN3 can begin negotiations with Colonel Elbittar on a nonaggression pact, or even a treaty of alliance."
"A splendid suggestion, Sir Geoffrey, splendid," Henry enthused. "Strike while the iron is hot! That's the spirit!" A sudden thought struck him, and he added, "Do you happen to know if Prince Ferdinand is married?"
"I do not believe so, Your Majesty."
"Well in that case, what say we seal this treaty with a good old-fashioned marriage of dynasties? We've been looking for some way to get Sophia FN4 married off, and this seems ideal. Plus, we'd get those Spanish Hohenzollerns on our side, and leave that rat bastard Markstein wondering what hit him."
Sir Geoffrey looked surprised as he said, "I hadn't considered the possibility, but the suggestion certainly has merit. I'll raise the matter at the next Cabinet meeting."
"Excellent. Was there anything else you wished to discuss, Sir Geoffrey?"
"Not at this time, Your Majesty."
"Then you have Our leave to depart."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Sir Geoffrey said as he rose again, bowed towards Henry, and backed out of the sitting room.
As soon as he was alone, Henry burst into laughter. Just the thing! Marry her off to some prancing little Dago and let her rot away in some distant tropical pest-hole. That would show the little hellion!
Forward to FAN #80 (New Granada): Ferdinand the Bull.
Forward to 22 April 1974: The Wrath of Kahn.
Forward to Great Britain: Youth of the Coronation.
Return to For All Nails.