Hoodwinked

Book 2: HOODWINKED

Join the royal family  as they tour the States of Consciousness where they bask in the adulation of their subjects.

Queen Pristine loves her life as it is, having fulfilled her duty of providing an heir. She and her daughter are the toast of the Tour.

Princess Princilla is spoiled by all her parents can provide and takes it as her due. She is the quintessential pampered princess… which becomes a problem when the Queen discovers she’s pregnant and Princilla learns she will have to share the spotlight.

Your 1st class stateroom is reserved aboard H.M.S. Consciousness as you embark upon the Tour with the royal family for a lesson in history you will never forget… but might wish you could.

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER I

Wash Your Hands

Long ago, on a different plane, subjects of the sixteen United States of Consciousness fought inner demons together, but separate—from two sides of the Black Snake River that divided the continent. Since childhood, subjects on the west river bank had been taught to stay away from Fear, and Terror—both States on the eastern bank. It was common knowledge, one wrong word from either could send the two back on the warpath—a fate everyone wanted to avoid.

On the throne sat Queen Pristine Goldspinner of Entitlement, regent of the State of Abundance, doing her best to oversee the stability of this delicate balance. At Her Majesty’s side stood her consort, Godwyn Bonheur, Prince of Grace, and Defender of the Faith. Nothing was more important to Godwyn Bonheur than the happiness of his Queen. To his Queen, Pristine Bonheur—née Goldspinner, the only thing more important to Her Majesty than her pursuit of comfort was her attendance to the affairs of State.

Princess Erica Goldspinner, Queen Pristine’s older twin by twelve minutes, first in line to inherit the throne, was sent to Insanity, several times, following the untimely death of the princesses’ parents, some fifteen years earlier. The only person who seemed to understand princess Erica was Buzz Runner of Discord—Her Royal Highness’s grandfather’s chauffeur, Without the King’s permission to marry, the young princess and her lover chose to elope. Upon ascending to the throne following the death of King Poldemire in 1911, in an effort to recompense, Queen Pristine knighted Buzz Runner with the title Sir—making him Sir Buzz Runner. With the knighting of her husband, troubled princess Erica was given the title Princess Erica Gold-Runner—queen of Discord.

Ask any citizen from any State, everything came guaranteed to the Entitleées, and so too, the Abundites. However, in truth, when it came to being called upon to assist in settling the differences between Fear and Terror; Abundance was the only State to intervene. Determination, and Forgiveness had intervened—once or twice, upon occasion, but only after called upon by Resolution. They nearly killed each other off—some say it is a shame they did not—but after four years of killing and desctruction, the Fearlings and the Terrorists finally set called a truce, and set their weapons down.

Now the subjects could revert their attention back to the Queen. Her Majesty’s three miscarriages, over the years, and the birth of a stillborn prince were kept from public knowledge, but it had been years, and still the subjects of Abundance had heard no news of an heir. The world was simply too involved with destruction.

Finally, overdue by nearly two weeks, an heir to Entitlement was on the way. Last we checked on Her Majesty—now going on three days into the delivery—she was contracting, and begging Dr. Fingerling to shoot her with another sedative.

Once again, there were cries in the palace corridors—but they were not the cries of a baby. Orderic Tibbons, palace butler, in all the commotion surrounding Her Majesty’s pregnancy, had neglected some of his duties—namely anything to do with paperwork. He sat at his desk, in his office below stairs, orchestrating logistics for an upcoming baby shower, when first footman Abel Handsforth knocked at the open door “Mr. Tibbons” he said “Mr. Frost is here to see you.”

Orderic Tibbons checked the clock “At twenty after eight?” he hit his forehead “I forgot to pay the ice bill.” He rummaged through papers “Send him in, Handsforth, if you would, please.”

“Yes, Sir” Handsforth walked out, and returned moments later, with the iceman. “Mr. Frost is here, Sir” he stepped out.

“Mr. Frost” Mr. Tibbons rose from his desk, hand extended “How do you do?”

“Forgive me for disturbing you so late, Mr. Tibbons.”

“Not at all—please, take a seat. I imagine you are here because I have allowed our account to slip into arrears” he shuffled through reciepts “You must forgive me for drawing you away from your family on a Friday night. With the awaited heir now almost two weeks late, paying the bills slipped my mind.”

“Still no heir—Mr. Tibbons?”

“Nine months, twelve days, and counting—still no heir, and it looks like our prince is going to be a mighty big one.”

“Wagers in town have skyrocketed.”

“Yes, I read about that. We here at the palace believe a healthy prince is on the way.”

“There is a tremendous public investment riding on this birth.”

“Is it not rather silly?” The butler pulled a receipt out of the pile “My goodness—it was August I last paid, and here we are in November—seven shillings, six pence, is that correct?”

Mr. Frost checked his receipt book “Seven shillings, six pence—yes Sir, that is correct.”

Mr. Tibbons set the moneybox on the table, unlocked it, reached in, and handed Mr. Frost a coin. “Here are ten shillings” he returned the moneybox to the drawer.

“I am sorry, Mr. Tibbons, I have no change.”

“Nor have I, Mr. Frost.”

“Have you nothing smaller?”

“Nothing smaller, Mr. Frost. With all the commotion these past months, with Her Majesty in her condition, there have occurred no transactions.”

“I could forward the balance toward next month’s payment. This leaves your account with a credit of—”

“Pass the difference along to Mrs. Frost, for my dragging you out in the rain, Mr. Frost.”

“Thank you, Sir. The wife will appreciate this. She has been saving to buy an electric washing machine.”

“Yes, it seems every housewife wants one. Mrs. Bissiby, our housekeeper, would recommend she purchase a Speed Queen.”

“Thank you, Sir, I will pass the information along.” Mr. Frost tore a sheet out of his receipt book, and handed it to the butler.

“Thank you, Mr. Frost.” The butler stepped from behind his desk, hand extended “Allow me to walk you to the door.”

“Mrs. Frost will be tickeled with your generosity, Mr. Tibbons.”

“Only a Speed Queen, Mr. Frost.”

“Only a Speed Queen, Sir. My customers, and friends, are anxious to hear of an heir.”

“Yes, indeed—the crier should be crying out soon—God willing.”

“Mr. Frost”—Mrs. Bissiby stepped into the hall, and reached for the iceman’s hand “How good to see you. Is all well in the ice business?”

“Mrs. B.—How do you do? It could be better. Too many people buying electric refrigerators.”

Mrs. Bissiby petted his shoulder. “I have something for you, Mr. Frost.” She turned “Wait here—please.”

“Quigley”—Mr. Tibbons addressed the footman—“Help Mr. Frost into his coat and hat.”

Mrs. Bissiby returned, carrying a cardboard box “I have a treat for you” she handed the box to Mr. Frost “strawberries, fresh from Possession.”

“Strawberries?—in November?”

“Flown in fresh from Mío this morning.”

Mr. Frost inhaled the sweet bouquet of ripe berries “Mmmm—fresh strawberries, thank you, Mrs. B. Just yesterday, Mrs. Frost was telling me how she wished she could find some strawberries to bake a strawberry shortcake, but it being November—”

“Mr. Frost, stay dry—” Mr. Tibbons opened the door to pouring rain, gushing over the raingutters like a fountain. “I wish you a safe journey home.”

“Oh no, I have more stops to make. Contentment Lane #1 is not the only account in arrears. It seems others have been preoccupied as well. Thank you, Mr. Tibbons” he shook the butler’s hand.

“My regards to Mr. Frost.”

“Thank you, Sir—and thank you Mrs. B. for the strawberries.”

The housekeeper smiled, and nodded “Enjoy the shortcake, Mr. Frost.”

He pulled up his hood “God bless the Queen” he hopped into his carriage, grabbed the reins, and the horses took off.

“God bless the Queen—and our heir” Mr. Tibbons closed the door. That evening he balanced accounts, until the light of dawn shone through the casement window, and awakened him. He raised his head, and took a look at the clock. “I fell asleep, I was up all night” he yawned, and rose from his desk. “I must check on the Queen then awaken Consort Godwyn.” He stepped into the elevator, got out upstairs, walked the long corridor, and knocked on Queen Pristine’s bedchamber door.

Dr. Fingerling cracked the door, and poked his head over the threshold “Yes?”

“Doctor—have we an heir?”

“As a matter of fact, Mr. Tibbons, your timing has improved. You may tell His Royal Highness he is the father of a healthy heir.”

“Yes—a healthy heir!”

“Sixteen inches, eight pounds, nine ounces.”

“Well, Doctor—is it a prince?”

“The baby is female—a princess.”

“A princess—a healthy heir is born unto Abundance” the butler looked over Dr. Fingerling’s shoulder at Pristine, asleep under the canopy in her bed. “Where is the princess?”

“The princess is in the nursery, Sir.”

“Not with Nanny Needlepinch?”

“The princess is under the care of Annie Zumwohl.”

“Who is Annie Zumwohl?”

“The new nanny” Fingerling remained aloof.

“Who hired a new nanny?” Mr. Tibbons pushed the door open.

“Miss Needlepinch did the hiring, Sir.”

“That is not Nanny Needlepinch’s decision to make” he looked at Pristine “That decision is for Her Majesty to make.”

“It was a difficult delivery; there was no time to consult on hiring” Dr. Fingerling clasped his black bag, and headed to the door. “The baby was so large, I had to deliver cesarean.”

“Her Majesty is well, Doctor?”

Dr. Fingerling nodded “Her Majesty is in good health. I believe my labor here is done. Please extend my congratulations to the consort, if you would, please.”

“Allow me to see you out, Dr. Fingerling.”

“No need to do that, Mr. Tibbons. For the past seven months, every two weeks I have been in and out of Her Majesty’s bedchamber. I can see myself out.”

Mr. Tibbons returned to the library, and found the consort where he had left him, asleep in the old leather chair before the fire—the chair Poldemire loved so much. “Sir, Her Majesty’s Special Day has arrived” the butler nudged the consort’s shoulder.” Mr. Tibbons spoke louder “Sir, we have a healthy heir.”

Godwyn blinked, looked around, and sat up. “A prince” he leaped out of the chair “We have a prince!—How is Pristine?”

“Her Majesty and the baby princess are both healthy, Sir. The heir is female—a princess, sixteen inches, eight pounds, nine ounces.”

Godwyn sunk into the chair “Another prince—ess.” After all this exhaustion, a-no-ther prin-cess, now I have three to marry off.” He looked up to the butler “But Pristine is okay?”

“Yes, Sir” the butler nodded “Her Majesty is sleeping” he walked to the drapes, pushed a button, and the drapes opened. “Doctor Fingerling gave Her Majesty a sedative. I brought you your robe, Sir. If you would do me the honor of standing, I can slip you in, and you can go take a look at your new daughter.”

“A third daughter” Godwyn lifted his arms “We have a princess—eight pounds, nine ounces, That is a big baby, Tibbons.”

“Indeed, Sir.”

“No wonder Pristine has been in labor for three days.”

Tibbons tied the consort’s sash “We have a healthy heir, Sir.”

“Another daughter to marry off” Godwyn shook his head, “Tibbons—”

“Yes, Sir?”

“The telegram you brought me last night; it was from the War Office.”

“The War Office, Sir?”

“The war is over, Tibbons. The Fearlings and the Terrorists have called a truce.”

“That is wonderful news—four long years.”

“They simply called a truce outside Scare City, and laid down their weapons.”

“Peace has come, and we have an heir—on the same day, Sir.”

“Wonderful news. Your relatives in Fear will be able to re-acquaint themselves with their brothers and sisters on this side of The Black Snake. 1918 will turn out to be the best year yet. “Godwyn opened the drawer to his desk, and pulled out a box of cigars. “Have a cigar, Tibbons, take two—take three.”

“I do not smoke, Sir, you know that.”

“Light one up anyway, Tibbons—it’s tradition. Just burn it. Burn it on both ends.”

““Thank you, Sir; I will share them.”

Godwyn set the box on his desk, and walked to the door. “I have to see Pristine. I must tell her the war is over, I must see my new daughter, a healthy heir.”

“And the war is over, Sir.” Tibbons opened the door.

Consort Godwyn hastened into the corridor. “A-no-ther prin-cess—thank God she is healthy” he stopped to catch his breath, and noticed the framed portraits looking down upon him from the wall, ancestors of his wife, his Queen. “Every time I pass you guys, I feel you scrutinizing me” he took another deep breath, and continued walking—“a-nother prin-cess.”

The palace electrician stood over Her Majesty’s door, on a ladder, twisting wires to a sconce that was on the fritz, as the consort approached. The electrician slipped his pliars into his toolbelt, stepped down from the ladder, to the floor “Your Majesty” he bowed “good morning.”

Godwyn smiled “Good morning, my good man—we have an heir this morning?”

“Congratulations, Sir” he bowed again, and clapped his ladder shut “I will get out of your way” he hastened off in the direction of the service stairwell.

“We have an heir” Godwyn stood before the Queen’s door, and counted. “Catch your breath before you go in, Godwyn” he turned the door handle “It’s stuck.”

The door opened a crack, and Nanny Needlepinch poked her nose out “Sir—what are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here, Nanny?”

“This is my work domain.”

“I came to see the princess.”

“The princess is asleep in the nursery, Sir.”

“Move your foot. I want to see my wife, and child.”

“It’s not my foot, Sir; it is a chair.”

“Open the door, Needlepinch.”

“Show me your hands.”

“I will not show you my hands.”

“I take no chances, when it comes to my domain, Sir. I care not who you are.”

“You are an bossy old broad, Needlepinch” Godwyn held out his hands.

“Um-hmm—as I thought; turn them over. Go wash up.”

“My hands are clean. I just washed them”

“Your hands may look clean to you, Sir, but I assure you; they are covered in germs.”

Godwyn pushed the door open, and stepped into the bedchamber. “What have you done to Pristine?”

“Her Majesty has been given a sedative.”

“You crazy old woman. What did you give her?”

“You silly middle-aged consort” she shook her head “Tsk, tsk, tsk. It was the nurse administered the sedative. I am a nanny, Sir—not a nurse.”

“Put that chair back where it belongs.”

“The chair is where it is because we had to sit down somewhere, over the past three days—but what would you know about childbirth—Sir.”

“I want to see the princess—where is she?”

“I told you, Sir; the princess is asleep in the nursery.”

“You left her alone?”

“Never—Nanny Annie is looking after her.”

“Who issued you the authority to hire help? Needlpinch—you are out of line.”

“It was a decision that needed to be made quickly, Sir. Her Majesty gave approval.”

“What, while she was screaming?—or while she was under sedation? The next time I come back, Needlepinch, you had better be gone.” Godwyn walked out, and hastened to the nursery.

Nanny poked her head into the corridor for the last word “Wash up before you return, Sir.”

Godwyn opened the door to the nurser, and saw a young woman in the rocker, swaying the bassinet with one hand, humming, while reading . She closed her book, and stepped to her feet “Your Majesty” she curtseyed “Sir Godwyn.”

“At ease, Miss Annie; no need to curtsey; I am not Majesty.” He noticed his reflection in the mirror. “Forgive my appearance” he brushed his hair back with his fingers “I have not slept in days.”

“Quite all right, Sir” the young woman smiled.

Godwyn bent down, and looked into the bassinet “Wow, that is a big baby.”

“Yes, Sir, so quiet she is.”

Godwyn pulled the blanket back, and tickled the tiny nose “Hello, princess; welcome to the world of Entitlement” he counted her fingers, and toes, tucked the blanket back in, and rose to his feet. “What is your family name, Miss Annie?”

“Zumwohl, Sir.”

“Thank you for your care, Miss Annie Zumwohl. Where did you join us from?”

“I was born in Clemency, Sir.”

“A fellow Tolerite—welcome to the palace.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Where did you last serve?”

“I served as nanny in a large house in Forbearance—a family of five. Miss Needlepinch has my papers.”

“We hope you will be happy with us.”

“Thank you, Sir. It is an honor to serve Entitlement.”

“Had life not been so overwhelming during Her Majesty’s pregnancy, we would have met formally. Good evening to you, Miss Zumwohl.”

“Thank you, Sir” she curtseyed “Good evening.”

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