During his morning exercises the king carefully considered how he could induce his dearest treasures to leave him. Being over occupied with calisthenics he did not reach a conclusion. He attempted to ponder further during his breakfast, but eventually gave up knowing that his focus was never clear when distracted by a steaming bowl of porridge with honey. Finally during his ten o’clock meeting with the Committee for the Beautification of Petting Zoos (CBPZ) the king found himself with ample time to consider the matter.
As the Undersecretary of Wildlife plead his case for yet another expansion of the gerbil colony and idea began to creep upon the king: A test.
Here were the facts as the king saw them:
1) His boys were done with their education as far as it could be provided from their current living situation.
2) There was much for the still to learn in the wide world.
3) The princes would be loath leave their father, or Serendip, of their own accord.
4) They would obey him if he asked them to go.
4) He could not bear to ask them to go.
5) Nevertheless, go they must.
Therefore, a test was what he needed. A test would help all concerned determine the correct course of action. But what sort of a test? It would have to be something like a final exam for these boys who knew so much. It would not test their knowledge of facts, but their wisdom, and their ability to act on wisdom. He would have to offer some kind of temptation that would play to the common weakness of man, which of course, Dearest, is pride.
As his mind turned over this idea again and again, he suddenly stuck upon a solution that seemed altogether right and complete. So it was that just as the poor unappreciated Undersecretary flippantly suggested tripling the size of the current gerbil accommodations, the king cried out unexpectedly, “The very thing!” and strode directly out of the meeting, leaving the bewildered PZC to draft plans for what would be the largest gerbil colony ever imagined in Serendip, or perhaps anywhere.
The king soon found himself across the palace in his own offices speaking with his Chief of Staff, one Sir Trout by name. Sir Trout had worked many years for the king and was as well acquainted with his manners of thought and action as any man could be. So when the king bust through the office door with a determined look in his eye Trout rose from his desk with pen and paper ready, knowing there was some important directive coming his way.
“Trout.” ordered the king, in his most official voice.
“I need to speak with my sons.”
Of course, Sire. At the moment I believe they are all three away from the palace, but should be returning later this afternoon. You could conveniently meet them for 35 minutes after your five o’clock with the Committee for the Preservation of Unusual Artifacts from—“
“No.” the king interrupted, “I need to see them individually. And they must not see one another between the meetings.” He was now looking intently at the wall, mind racing.
Sir Trout’s forehead furrowed. He was doubtless intrigued by these specific instructions but knew the limits of his duty and didn’t inquire more deeply into the king’s purposes.
“How long should each meeting be, Your Majesty?”
“Oh, say, fifteen minutes each, if all goes to plan.”
With a glance at the king’s official schedule Trout announced, “I believe that you could meet with them tomorrow morning beginning at nine-thirty, Sire.”
The king turned his eyes quickly to Sir Trout, “So soon?” Trout heard a slight quaver in his voice.
“Yes, Majesty. Your meeting with the Minister of Bureaucratic Ininitiative has been postponed again.”
The king paused. Sir Trout saw what he believed to be a trace of sorrow settle on the ruler, he guessed rightly that it had nothing to do with the Minister’s cancellation.
“Yes…” the king rallied somewhat, “Very good. In the morning then.” Looking distant the king turned to go, but turned again “Please contact their schedulers. Admir, then Saud, then Zaki. Don’t tell them I am meeting with each of them. Tomorrow morning then. Yes.” And just at the door he turned back once more and gave the most mystifying order yet, “And I’ll need the court there for the meetings.”
“The whole court Majesty?”
“Yes Trout, well as many as can be got together anyway.” Replied the king wearily.
“In the throne room then?”
“Very good, Sire.”
And the king walked out of the office with a slower step than he had walked in.