King Lamorak returned from his month-long trip feeling annoyed. Annoyed and envious. He’d been visiting the nearby kingdoms and discovered to his dismay that their best crowns were all fancier than his best crown.
That was not acceptable. He told them that the crown he’d brought was just a traveling crown and they’d been suitably impressed. However, it actually was his best crown. It just wouldn’t do.
It was time for a new crown. It had to be the best one ever. He’d design it himself. Swirls of diamonds, arcs of gold filigree. He’d send off for rubies as big as his fist and opals that were even bigger. There would be lines of sapphires all through it tying everything together. It would drip diamonds and embroidered silk at the edges. And it would have a silk pillow hidden on the inside so that it wasn’t too uncomfortable.
He drew up the plans and consulted with his treasurers and the nation’s best jewelers. He’d be eating beans and potatoes in-between state dinners for the rest of his life, but that would surely just help him stay fashionably trim. He took a deep breath and started signing all the paperwork.
King Lamorak announced his new crown on all the news stations and in every newspaper. He did dozens of interviews and finally released the designs. The nation counted down with him. He would hold a special VIP event a week after the crown came, where he would wear it in public for the first time. Tickets were on sale for ridiculous prices.
The day finally came and the crown arrived. It was beautiful, dazzling, better than he’d imagined. It was also very, very big. Nervously, he lifted it up. It was very, very heavy. He put it on. Ouch. He tipped it into his hands and dropped it on his lap.
He massaged his neck. This wasn’t going to work. What could he do? At this point, not wearing the crown would mean losing a lot of face. He couldn’t really afford to do that. He groaned.
Luckily, he’d tried it on when he was alone. Well, relatively alone. His best friend and personal advisor Ralph was there too. Ralph might say, “I told you so,” because he had. However, he wouldn’t tell anyone else.
“Ralph,” King Lamorak said, “you were right. I can’t wear this. What do I do?”
Ralph laughed. “I told you so.” He laughed some more.
The king waited patiently for the laughter to stop. Then he repeated his question.
“Hmmmm,” Ralph said. “Did you know that there are reproduction crowns that look just like the real thing? They’re hollow of course, and made of less expensive everything, but who’s going to take a jeweler’s glass to your head?”
“I could lock it in the treasury and no one has to know. Is it too late to order one?” King Lamorak asked. This could work.
“They were sold out months ago,” Ralph said.
“There must be some way to find one,” the king said. “Perhaps an anonymous advertisement or a personal visit to the manufacturer?”
“Don’t worry,” Ralph said. “It’s taken care of. I ordered one the moment I saw the advertisement. I’ll be right back.”
Ralph returned a few minutes later with a cardboard box. It had been opened and retaped shut. King Lamorak retrieved his silver scissors and cut through the tape with a shaky hand.
He pulled aside the bubble wrap. There it was. If he didn’t know better, he would have assumed that it was the real thing. He lifted it out. It was heavy, but no more so than any of his other crowns.
He put it on and looked in the mirror. Very nice. No one would be able to top this. He turned all the way around and studied it from every angle. Yes, this would do.
“Thank you, Ralph,” he said. “You’ve saved me once again.”
“What are friends for?” Ralph said.