Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bedtime Story

"I give you nine and ninety hours, not nine and ninety days, to find a thousand jewels and bring them here. When you return, the clocks must all be striking five."
"The clocks here in the castle?" asked the Prince. "The thirteen clocks?"
"The clocks here in the castle," said the Duke, "the thirteen clocks."
The Prince looked at the two clocks on the walls. Their hands pointed to ten minutes of five. "The hands are frozen," said the Prince. "The clocks are dead."
"Precisely," said the Duke, "and what is more, which makes your task a charming one, there are no jewels that could be found within the space of nine and ninety hours, except those in my vaults, and these." He held his gloves up and they sparkled.
"A pretty task," said Hark.
"Ingenious," said the voice of Listen.
"I thought you'd like it," said the Duke. "Unseal his sword." Invisible hands unsealed the Prince's sword.
"And if I should succeed?" asked Zorn.
The Duke waved a gloved hand at the iron stairs, and Zorn saw Saralinda standing there. "I wish him well," she said, and her uncle laughed and looked at Zorn. "I hired a witch," he said, "to cast a tiny spell upon her. When she is in my presence, all that she can say is this: 'I wish him well.' You like it?"
"A clever spell," said Hark.
"An awful spell," the voice of Listen said.
The Prince and Princess spoke a silent language with their eyes, until the Duke cried, "Go!" and Saralinda vanished up the stairs.
"And if I fail?" asked Zorn.
The Duke removed his sword from his sword-cane and ran his glove along the blade. "I'll slit you from your guggle"

Which is where I ran out of room.

The Thirteen Clocks, James Thurber.

2 comments:

diane h said...

Dastardly!

cheesehead with sticks said...

I love it!