The Fourth Story

The Cook


One fine summer’s day, long ago, King Ferdinand the Thirteenth, King of Vàldovar, and his wife, the beautiful Queen Berenice, were walking together in the garden of their castle, admiring the flowers and listening to the songs of the birds, when one of the servants approached them.
    ‘I beg to inform your Majesties,’ said the servant, ‘that a Messenger has just arrived and would speak with you.’
King Ferdinand and Queen Berenice returned to the castle, and took their places on the golden thrones in the great hall. The Messenger stood before the King.
    ‘Your Majesty,’ he said, bowing low, ‘her Highness the Duchess of Gath wishes to inform you that, in five days’ time, she will arrive to pay you a visit, and that she, her husband and their son, will stay with you for a week.’
    ‘Return to the Duchess,’ replied the King, ‘and tell her that we shall, as always, be delighted and honoured to receive her and her family as our guests.’
    ‘As you command, Sire,’ said the Messenger and, after again bowing to King Ferdinand and Queen Berenice, he left the throne room.