• Kelly Hornung

A Crown of Idle Weeds

Anjou, October.

The disgraced king is wandering la Gaule now, it seems. Today I was called by the royal household to attend to the queen’s ailing father, whom I have heard much about. I stood at the edge of a corn field where soldiers and guards who ought to be marching toward Calais produced him from the stalks, covered in growth and dirt. I knew not if I should kneel for him, that man of fallen power. They pulled from him the hemlock, the darnel tangled in his hair; the weeds he wove into a crown to make himself a king again.

I told the queen I would take care of it. He is best to stay out of court and in the wilderness, and I suspect his instincts tell him the same. His early departure from the throne, that unexplained madness, broke the perfect order of the world. He now mourns it, seeking refuge and repair for the storm that now creeps upon our two countries. Let him run through the corn. Let nature crown him once more. I do not think he is mad, as the queen states, nor ill. I believe the king now knows the consequences of that day and his sudden knowledge terrorizes him. He is haunted and cannot command his armies to fix his faults. The sleep I am preparing for him will put roses and songbirds in his mind, until the war is over and he can return to his home-castle. This evening, I made the first of many soothing respites for the king, which will keep him calm and content to wander the grounds and pluck weeds. I told the queen I would take care of it.

I will not forget how he appeared to me today, nor the queen herself. She met me in the palace, with army men all around; her, wearing garments made for protection and not beauty. That which is feminine in her might have been lost, until she revealed the tenderness and worry for her father’s mind. How strange it was to see. His nymph daughter died with his discarded throne. Queen Cordelia now protects her father with a ferocity not unlike the old king. Once she ran through fields and pulled flowers for her hair. Now she plays games of war. Now he plays in the grass. She the king, he the child.

The court fears and loathes him, this impulsive and wild man, that I see. Surely the Britons do too, else he would not be in our corn stalks. A man of chaos now, chaos that they call unknowable and sickly to the mind, tasted by paupers and savages. I have seen many kings and this I know: nature has a look of lawlessness about her, but there is order in her madness. Men try as they might to shape the world to their will, weed their gardens, and craft their castles. All temporary. She uses whichever wicked ways she must to return her happy fog of chaos upon us.