Daily Words

by Friday Jones

Friday in a pink beret and a blue dress, cartoon version.

A Wizard Arrives

[A Kingdom Story]

The King wandered out of the Library, which was coming along nicely, his walk punctuated by pages standing to attention out of his way and nodding curtly. He nodded back and smiled, stopping to ask about their families every now and again. He spotted young Millie, and made a special point of pausing. The girl, now coming on sixteen, was standing to attention, but the King waved his hands around awkwardly, and she relaxed.

“How’s you mother doing?” He asked her. “The doctors doing any good?” She looked a little saddened, and said,

“They’re still a bit puzzled, Sir.” She said. “Don’t know what disease she’s got.” The King blinked at this.

“I though they might have worked that out at least. I’ve a whole raft of researchers working on it.” He replied, looking vexed. “Someone should know something by now.”

“They say they’re working as hard as they can, Sir.”

“Walk with me, please.” Said the King, and gallantly held out his arm for the page to take. She looked uncertain for a moment and then lightly took it and fell into step, as much as she could with the big man. “I have, hopefully, a consultant coming, if he consents.” He shortened his stride a little. “He should be here any day now.”

“Who could possibly withhold consent from you, Sir?” Asked Millie. “You’re the Emperor…” The big man turned his head and raised an eyebrow, “…uh, King of the land. No-one should refuse an order from you, Sir.”

“But supposing my orders aren’t wise?”

“It’s not an excuse, Sir.” She said, firmly. “You’re the monarch, your word is law.”

They walked in silence from the library and down the corridors to where, as Emperor, he had welcomed Granny Wakefield, the big fire blazing away even though now was summer again. Carruthers was waiting by the fire. Turning he pushed the big kettle into the fire where it began to bubble just short of boiling again. the King showed Millie to one of the big leather chairs.

The kettle boiled and Carruthers poured the water into the big pot and stirred it once, before replacing the lid and smothering the thing in a tea cosy. He busied himself laying out a small table each for the King and Millie. They were covered in thick white table cloths with coasters and doilies. Millie brought her legs off the ground so she could lean back in the big chair. She closed her eyes for a brief moment.

“Can I offer you some tea, Millie?” Asked the King. She opened her eyes abruptly, and saw Carruthers poised with the teapot.

“Yes, please.” She said, simply, and nodded at the valet, who smoothly poured the tea to her liking. She sipped quickly at the hot tea, cooling it as she drew it into her mouth. It felt good going down.

“I know you’ve been studying at night, Millie.” Said the king after he had similarly sipped the tea. You’re tired, and yet the Head Librarian says you do all your work in the day.”

“I do my best, Sir.” She said.

“I’m sure you do. You understand the size of the undertaking?” She nodded. “Good. It may take the rest of your life. It will certainly take mine.”

“It’s worth the effort, Sir.” She articulated. “For the future.” He looked at her, earnest blue eyes in a face framed by wispy blonde hair. She was, the King reflected, rather pretty and should have any number of suitors by this time. As far as he could determine, none had been forthcoming. No casual friendships even, just a hard core of good friends and family, and utter devotion to the work. The temptation to interfere; to find her a husband, give her a chance of a family; it was strong, but he knew it was the wrong path, for him, for her.


It would be later that night when Marjorie, the King’s wife, would question him about it.

“You care about her in particular, don’t you?” She stated, removing her makeup in the bathroom mirror. He gave it some thought.

“Yes, I do. She spends all her time and free time in library. I’m not even sure why. There’s something there, I can’t determine what it is. She’s utterly devoted though.” He sighed. “I don’t know, I can’t work out what’s in everyone’s head.”

Marjorie popped her head out of the bathroom, leaning backwards, “You could order her to go on holiday,” she said.

“They already treat her like the King’s favourite, best to leave it, I think.”

“Promote her.” Marjorie called. “She’s experienced at least.”

“She’s only sixteen.” The King called back.

“Get her some more experience. Everyone thinks she has your ear anyway, use it.” The King moved to the bathroom door.

“It’s a lot of pressure.” He shifted a bit uncomfortably. “She’s never asked a thing of me you know.” He said, a bit defensively.

“I know, I have my own informations resources you know.” He looked surprised. “Oh come on, did you think Granny would have sent an idiot to be your wife?” She looked at him archly.

“Ah, no, I don’t.”

“So, now, stop thinking about that,” she said dropping her dressing gown about her and approaching him, “and think about this.”

And for a little while, at least, the cares of the Kingdom and his page dropped away.


They sat there for nearly an hour, chatting about different subjects, and the nature of the undertaking; education, science, engineering. The King was constantly impressed by the breadth of the page’s education. At least in this sphere, he knew he’d chosen he right person.

Carruthers leaned in and had a quiet word with the King.

“Ah, our guest is arriving.” Millie stood up to leave, but the King waved her back down, “No I’d like you to stay for this.”

“As you wish, Sir.” He gave her a look, but was quickly distracted by the stumping up of what looked like a tramp, as least to Millie’s eyes, followed by seven men in light armour. They seemed to be keeping a respectful distance. The King rose to greet them all and Millie follow suit.

“Welcome Doctor Cervantes, to our humble home.” Said the King, graciously. “May I introduce Miss Millie Davies, Librarian Page. I want to thank you for…” The old man cut him off.

“Yer a real manipulative bastard, you know that, King?” He gestured behind him, “Let these fellers go, or I’ll have something to say about it.” He sniffed the air theatrically. “Granny’s been ‘ere I sees.”

“Yes, well, you’ll excuse me for a moment.” Said the King. Turning to Sir Robin he continued, “Thank you for your service and commitment, Sir Robin and all of you. It will not be forgotten by the kingdom.” As a man, they bowed. The King looked discomforted, and approached them, shaking each firmly by the hand and looking them in the eye while expressing individual thanks and enquiries about their families before sending them home.

That’s a good trick you got there.” Said Doctor Cervantes, sitting in the King’s chair and eating a large piece of cake conjured from thin air. A vanilla sponge. Carruthers leaned in with a plate, which the wizard took with poor grace. “What have you called me here for?”

“As a matter of fact, I wanted to invite you to live here as an archivist.” This brought an immediate cessation of cake consumption.

“I ain’t gonna be yer lackey nor yer army.” Said the doctor, standing.

“No, no,” the King held his hands out placatingly, “nothing like that. It’s just that your knowledge is going to be lost, and I don’t think lost knowledge is a good idea.”

“I do” said the Wizard. “Just you tell all them under the glass plains that all this,” he gestured his hand round his head in circles, “is a good idea. Oh, you can’t ’cause they’re dead. Yer don’t need us, milord, men can do bad things to each other as it is without my help. Yer got swords and pitch and oil and that’s enough without waiting to find out what comes later. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so think about how bloody dangerous I am and think again about iffen year wants me about.”

“Yes,” said the King, “you make good points Doctor, but I intend to put the knowledge into the hands of the wise.”

“There ain’t no men wise enough for this knowledge, not even me.”

“You were wise enough to isolate yourself, and keep existing.” Countered the King.

“Yer, well don’t think I ain’t thought about it, but if there’s one other bugger left in the world and I ain’t here then year screwed.” the old man started eating cake again. He looked over at Millie and waved his hand casually, causing a plate with cake to appear in hers. She looked surprised but grateful.

“Oh dear, where are my manners? Would you both like some informal lunch in the kitchens? I think cook has some turkeys ready.” He looked at Carruthers, who nodded. In response to the King’s raised eyebrow he said,

“I could eat, Sir. I know you didn’t want to miss this meeting.”

“Alright then, let’s go invade the kitchen.” Said the King.

Published January 2022


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