King was locked away probably. There was no other valid explanation for his prolonged absence. He had been missing for years. At first, Queen – dutiful and energetic as she was – had searched everywhere. All the rooms, the throne, under the throne, the garden, the garage, the parliament and all the beaurocratic institutions in the country. As far as she knew, he didn’t have a mistress. Maybe he had more? Oh, maybe one of them would hide him. (That worried Queen, a lot – and then only somewhat.) Well, why would she, the mistress, kidnap him? A king without a job and a treasury doesn’t make much sense. So no, not plausible.
The first few days, Queen was frantic. They didn’t exactly get along, she and King… but, really, to disappear like that and leave her to deal with a whole – rather decaying, mind you – kingdom, it just wasn’t fair. Not to mention legal – she really couldn’t do much, nobody would take her seriously as long as he wasn’t declared dead or something. At least, those were some thoughts she had. After crying and crying her head off, seeing that tears could bring only as much comfort, she sat down in the Council room and thought some more. By herself. She thought, well, for one thing, she had always been good at planning and organizing. Wasn’t it her who raised those princes and princesses? (Sure, some governesses and tutors, too – but then King didn’t hire those either.) And who had reviewed each menu with the Chamberlain? She wasn’t too bad at politics either – that time when King had been so sick she didn’t think he was gonna make it, and nobody knew so she had to write up all those three treaties… she kinda saved the day, and King, and kingdom, and posterity. How about that.
So hey! Let’s get some balls rolling here, Queen decided. The next morning, she woke up, dried her remaining tears, got up and dressed in her best royal outfit. To impress, obviously – whatever they say, a proper dress always helps a good judgement, in all respects. After breakfast, she went straight to the Council Room and this time she called all the key staff, told them to sit down and plainly said, I won’t lie to you, we have a situation here. King is absent, I would like you not to comment or ask questions, I’ll carry on instead, you report to me, business as usual, thank you all, dismissed. She then met with the Privy Council and saw that they carry on with politics etc. and inform her of all moves in the country and abroad. She made sure the Privy didnt have many questions either. Yep, she did get organized.
In time, Queen made a fine ruler. She had a quick mind, was a fair lady and could even take a joke. The kingdom flourished. She was starting to enjoy her position and people did like her. Almost everybody agreed things were better under her rule and their memories of King gradually faded away.
As it happens, one day she wandered into one of the eastern towers to look for something, I don’t know what but it wasn’t a spinning wheel for sure, Queen was too aware of that story. She looked and looked and just when she was about to give up, she happened upon a small door. When she opened it, she had the surprise of her life! You probably guessed, King was inside. Lying on the floor, deep asleep. Oh no, cried Queen – it was more of a scream, actually, as she had gotten quite over the lonely bitter sad tears of her former years. You must be kinging me, pun so very intended!
Still incredulous, Queen approached the body and saw King was breathing all right, was peaceful and had a content smile. You son of a bitch! – she muttered. You son of a bitch! – she screamed.
What? Who? … King awoke with a start. He recognized Queen – though she was quite a bit older by now, but even more beautiful (see, power gives you a certain air of confidence you can’t fake).
He said: wow, so pretty, I missed you.
Did you now? – said Queen and smacked King in the head. What the heck were you doing here and don’t you dare tell me you needed a rest.
Well, said King, I always thought you were a clever one, that’s why I married you in the first place.
No, you didn’t – Queen retorted – you married me because my dowry saved your pathetic kingdom! So you mean to say you just took some time off? You report to duty pronto, darling.
Yes, of course – King said. Actually, I can’t wait. A tea would be lovely. So would a fresh outfit, this one is stinky.
Queen gave King a loooog look. Then she smiled broadly and said in her sweetest voice: my King, you were gone for a good while. Allow me to prepare you for a proper arrival back Your subjects have missed you. Our children have missed you. They will want to see you at your very best. You know a proper outfit helps a good judgement…
In all respects, smiled King.
Indeed, said Queen. I shall be back in no time.
They kissed fondly and King said: I think I missed you a lot. Queen added: you have no idea.
These words should have worried King a bit, if only he had been alive and kicking lately. Alas, he was out of practice. So he smiled prettily and said: be swift, my dear.
Queen slipped outside, closed the door and locked it with the very key she had unlocked it – how fortunate that the door had had a key in the first place! That very moment, all of Queen’s fears, doubts, insecurities and the like vanished like a pouff! She thought: now all I’ve left to do is forgive myself for being stupid. Hard, but I’ll manage.
She climbed down the stairs, went into the Council Chamber and summoned all key staff, the Privy Council and her heirs. She gave precise instructions as always, nothing out of the ordinary if one didn’t count her desire to redesign the whole eastern part of the castle – but then she had been known to have decorating whims every now and then, so they didn’t think much of it, just carry on. That very afternoon, she left for a well-deserved vacation which she had postponed for too long.
Isn’t this a wonderful and moralizing story? Yep, I thought so, too!