The Perils of Habit
King Farrald only had but one child, the Princess Melinta.
As she grew, the princess was taught how to deal with matters of state for she was first in line to the throne.
However, with customary foolishness the augurs were consulted on her birth.
They forecast that one day a nobleman would claim her as his bride
And he was to be identified by a piece of serpentine carried upon his person,
This mineral being of a kind found only in the Mines of Yearning,
Where cheerless cockerels played upon their didgeridoos,
This being far away across the Blighted Sea.
Naturally, this prediction was kept secret.
Melinta was a fine girl and there were many hopefuls,
There was no need for her to enquire into their backgrounds,
As Melinta was sure that she would know when the right gentleman appeared. Therefore she abode, and in due passage of time her father passed into his next life, leaving her a single queen.
‘I am who I am, ’ she said, ‘and only he who is who he must be shall take my hand.’
Meanwhile a barque sailed,
Its ropes of luminous gossamer rare,
Its canvas the leaves of the pumpkin tree.
It was a business venture!
It was not a breach of confidentiality, oh no!
When money speaks it listens not to the wailing of those whom it dooms.
The prophet Talzannar found it convenient to put a whisper about that serpentine was the key,
Such as came from a source from whence his little venture had returned.
The Earl of Larramore was the first whose wealth was touched to buy a stone,
And when he came before Melinta she was duly moved.
However, men are such fools as to suppose that this young woman could be so easily duped.
She sported with the earl for a while, without disclosing her intent.
Then he suddenly found himself framed in some plot, of treason being accused.
His decapitation followed swiftly.
Queen Melinta smiled knowingly when Duke Dunstan approached with his precious chunk of stone.
Though she dallied with him, she already had his end in view.
So it came about that a succession of peers did meet their end upon the block.
In due time, a prince came from some far country,
Where his lands had fallen into ruin under some pestilence.
Seeking to raise money for his keep, he enquired into the value of a fine block of serpentine that he had amongst his baggage.
Immediately he was advised to present himself to the queen.
Gossip had however already reached Melinta, who was already wearied of this tedious affair.
The prince, whose name was Aliph, was denounced as a spy before he could complete his mission.
His execution was ordered forthwith and the queen herself came to see that her orders were carried out.
I do not need to tell the rest of this tale.
Unless you have suffered the loss of your true love,
Nothing can make you understand the breaking of a heart by your own hand.
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