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THE QUEEN WITH THE QUACK IN HER CROWN
 

The Queen marched into the Royal Courtroom wearing her favorite pink bear-clawed slippers. She was followed by her newly appointed Royal Page who carried the Royal Crown.

“I have a problem with my silver crown,” the Queen told the Wise Ministers. “Please fix it before the Royal Ball tomorrow night.” Then she swept from the room as quickly as she had entered.

The Ministers stared at the jewel-studded headpiece. “What is wrong with her Majesty’s crown?” they asked.

“It has a quack in it,” the Page said.

“A what?” the Ministers cried.

“A quack! A quack! Are your ears stuffed with jam tarts or something?”

The annoyed Page tossed his head and stomped from the room.

“How rude!” said the politest Minister. “I liked the old page better.”

The other Ministers didn’t answer. They were staring puzzled at the glittering crown.

“I believe this calls for a “Quack-Finding-Ministers-Meeting,” the wisest Minister finally said.

The other Ministers nodded in agreement. They marched one behind the other to the Royal Thinking Table and sat down.

After a long silence, the wisest Minister said, “I believe the first thing we should do is find the quack and ask it to leave.”

“Excellent idea!” cried the other Ministers.

They marched back one behind the other to the Royal Courtroom.

The shortest Minister peeked beneath the crown.

The tallest Minister peered above the crown.

The strongest Minister tapped its sides.

And the musical Minister quacked at it in C minor.

But the crown remained silent.

“The quack appears to be hiding,” the shrewdest Minister said.

The other Ministers nodded in agreement.

“Perhaps we should watch the Royal crown until the quack shows itself,” suggested the thoughtful Minister.

“Excellent idea!” cried the other Ministers.

They watched the crown all through the day. It did not quack once.

They watched the crown all through the night, but the only sound in the quiet castle was the echo of the drawbridge as the knight in rusty armor rode out for the Queen’s nightly tub of pumpkin ice cream.

The following morning the Court Ministers decided the problem had solved itself. They marched one behind the other through the castle corridors, past the Court jester, and up the spiral staircase to the Queen’s chambers.

“Your Majesty,” they said, bowing low. “The Royal Crown appears to be back to normal.”

“Well done,” said the Queen, and smiled at them in regal approval.

Later that same day, as the Court Ministers sat in the Royal Courtroom playing Tiddlywinks, the Page marched in carrying the ill-fated crown.

“Her majesty is most upset,” he snapped. “It still has a quack in it. Fix it this time or she’ll turn you all into moldy old cheese.” With a toss of his head––which the Page was wont to do––he plonked the crown down on the table and strutted from the room.

The wisest Court Minister sighed. “I believe it's time for us to consult the Royal Sorcerer.”

They marched one behind the other to the Royal Sorcerer’s cave. But, unfortunately, after studying his books on ancient magic, the sorcerer could find no potion for a crown that quacked.

Refusing to admit defeat, the Ministers rounded up all the ducks in the Royal barnyard to check for missing quacks. Each duck had its own quack, which they demonstrated by waddling through the castle corridors quacking loudly and impolitely.

Finally the wise Ministers sent for the Page.

“We are unable to fix her majesty’s headpiece for we cannot find the quack,” they said sadly, and handed the crown back to him.

“What do you mean you can’t find it? It’s here.” The Page pointed to the side of the crown.

“Great heavens!” the wisest Minister cried, drawing nearer. “He doesn’t mean a QUACK in the crown. He means a CRACK in the crown! He can’t pronounce his r’s.”

At this the Ministers chased the Page out the castle doors and down to the drawbridge. “You had no right to be so darn rude when it was all your fault,” they shouted, tossing the Page into the murky, brown moat.

The Ministers marched back to the castle to summon the Royal Silversmith to fix the crown in time for the Royal Ball.

At the feast later that evening, the Queen thanked the Ministers. “Because you did such an excellent job fixing the Royal Crown,” she said, “I have decided to give you each a Royal Bonus.”

The Ministers congratulated each other and beamed in pride for they were, after all, very wise men.

But as the Queen turned and waltzed away, she gave a playful grin.

“Now,” she whispered to the duck hidden inside her crown.

And to the wise Ministers’ horror, from the Queen’s silver headpiece came a very loud and very definite,

QUACK!

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