The Ickabog by J. K. Rowling

The Ickabog by J. K. Rowling

Author:J. K. Rowling [Rowling, J. K.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781510202269
Google: gvfuDwAAQBAJ
Publisher: Hachette UK
Published: 2020-11-10T00:00:00+00:00

Little knowing of the new threat to their schemes, Spittleworth and Flapoon had just sat down to one of their usual sumptuous late-night dinners with the king. Fred was most alarmed to hear of the Ickabog’s attack on Baronstown, because it meant that the monster had strayed closer to the palace than ever before.

“Ghastly business,” said Flapoon, lifting an entire black pudding onto his plate.

“Shocking, really,” said Spittleworth, carving himself a slice of pheasant.

“What I don’t understand,” fretted Fred, “is how it slipped through the blockade!”

For, of course, the king had been told that a division of the Ickabog Defense Brigade was permanently camped round the edge of the marsh, to stop the Ickabog escaping into the rest of the country. Spittleworth, who’d been expecting Fred to raise this point, had his explanation ready.

“I regret to say that two soldiers fell asleep on watch, Your Majesty. Taken unawares by the Ickabog, they were eaten whole.”

“Suffering Saints!” said Fred, horrified.

“Having broken through the line,” continued Spittleworth, “the monster headed south. We believe it was attracted to Baronstown because of the smell of meat. While there, it gobbled up some chickens, as well as the butcher and his wife.”

“Dreadful, dreadful,” said Fred with a shudder, pushing his plate away from him. “And then it slunk off back home to the marsh, did it?”

“So our trackers tell us, sire,” said Spittleworth, “but now that it’s tasted a butcher full of Baronstown sausage, we must prepare for it trying to break through the soldiers’ lines regularly — which is why I think we should double the number of men stationed there, sire. Sadly, that will mean doubling the Ickabog tax.”

Luckily for them, Fred was watching Spittleworth, so he didn’t see Flapoon smirk.

“Yes … I suppose that makes sense,” said the king.

He got to his feet and began roaming restlessly around the dining room. The lamplight made his costume, which today was of sky-blue silk with aquamarine buttons, shine beautifully. As he paused to admire himself in the mirror, Fred’s expression clouded.

“Spittleworth,” he said, “the people do still like me, don’t they?”

“How can Your Majesty ask such a thing?” said Spittleworth, with a gasp. “You’re the most beloved king in the whole of Cornucopia’s history!”

“It’s just that … riding back from hunting yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking that people didn’t seem quite as happy as usual to see me,” said King Fred. “There were hardly any cheers, and only one flag.”

“Give me their names and addresses,” said Flapoon through a mouthful of black pudding, and he groped in his pockets for a pencil.

“I don’t know their names and addresses, Flapoon,” said Fred, who was now playing with a tassel on the curtains. “They were just people, you know, passing by. But it upset me, rather, and then, when I got back to the palace, I heard that the Day of Petition has been canceled.”

“Ah,” said Spittleworth, “yes, I was going to explain that to Your Majesty …”

“There’s no need,” said Fred. “Lady Eslanda has already spoken to me about it.


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