Short Stories

Chiu, The King is busy!

In a great and mighty kingdom lived a very busy king. He spent his life among his roles and no one blamed him. “These are the affairs of the kingdom,” he murmured.

  This very busy king was the father of a boy who had the right to rise to his father’s knees five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night. After that, the very busy king soon stopped doing “little horse, little horse” and murmured seriously, “The affairs of the kingdom, my son.”

  One day, the little prince designed a beautiful jet plane. And I wanted my father to see the drawing too.

  –– Chiu –– said the queen. –– The very busy king is in his west room office. You are dealing with the affairs of the kingdom.

  The other day, the little prince learned from the castle’s old gardener how to prune the rose bushes. It was hard work, with scratches and all, and he wanted to show it to his father.

  –– Show it to me –– said the Queen, who was always very pleased and smiling. –– I love roses, even with thorns.

  – “No, I want to show it to the king,” said the little prince, who thought his mother would necessarily enjoy his work, and had no joke.

  –– The very busy king is in the office on the west wing. Kingdom affairs, ”the queen answered sadly.

  This is how the little prince grew up, each day having ten paternal minutes. Often he would reflect and wonder what would become so important in the western room of the kingdom.

  He imagined the king with a mountain of notebooks in front of him, making sums of eight digits, huge multiplications. He also imagined the telephone ringing and the father answering:

  – Hello, Moscow? Hence Beijing (or the opposite). Three million? Yes, I do.

  And the boy was very impressed when he thought that his father dared not spend more than ten minutes a day with him.

  The little prince had very good results in school, but sometimes was quite insolent. And the teacher was not satisfied. The king warned, who then sent a letter to his son:

  Dear Prince,

  If you do not immediately start obeying your teacher, your insolence will be severely punished. He cannot concern himself with the affairs of the kingdom who do not obey the laws.

  With friendship and best regards,

  the king is his father.


  The little prince thought it was a beautiful letter and put it before his secretary. I read it many times because it meant that the very busy king had devoted the boy five minutes of his time to writing it. But strangely, the words did not penetrate his heart. And he remained insolent in school.

  The other day, the little prince decided to go to the west wing of the castle. He appeared with his ultra-loud laser mega-pistol, stood behind the door and made “blip, blip, blip”, “zigu, zigu, zigu”, “schlak, schlak”! On the other side of the door was the widespread confusion.

  –– What is going on? An air raid? Hurry up, terrorists! Red alert!

  And when they brought down the door, they found a little boy with a pistol.

  –– There is the terrorist! Shouted the very busy king. Neutralize it!

  –– No, no, I’m your six year old son –– said the prince. “I come to see you for a very important reason. I want to play a game of flipper with you.

  The very busy king had, nevertheless, some lucidity, and realized that he had spent his life in the west wing of the palace to the point where he could only see his son for six years. minutes a day, and in the dark in the morning and at nightfall. And behold, he had mistaken the little prince for a terrorist!

  He got up and said to his ministers:

  –– We suspended the meeting. A matter of the utmost urgency calls me to my son. Please forgive me.

  And then he went to play a devils flipper in the cafe opposite.

  This is how, thanks to the fake terrorist attack, there were regular flipper matches, rides and discussions between father and son. And I swear to you that the affairs of the kingdom were not neglected by this.

  Then came the day when, when his son turned twenty, the broken, white-haired old king moved from the west wing to the east wing, ready for his rest.

  It was the very jolly prince’s turn to occupy the west wing and become the very busy Junior King.

  The old king in his room looked longingly at the kingdom’s papers and dossiers and leafed through them many times, missing the time when he was young and powerful.

  He would often wander to the west wing, where the busy young king dealt with the affairs of the kingdom. But they said to him:

  –– Chiu! The Junior King is at work!

  Then he would put his ear to the door, hear the sound of paper, a beep beep, and a distant voice speak on the phone. And say “Hello Moscow? This is Paris, ”or maybe the other way around.

  Then the broken, all-white old king sat on a small bench in the hallway and waited.

  Once a day, the busy young king came out of the west wing to play a flipper game with his father. When I say flipper… I just mean a game of chess, a little talk, a walk in the garden to prune the rose bushes, and other important things.

  During the outings, the old king kept reminding himself of that famous terrorist attack on a November afternoon. And I kept repeating (because I was old enough):

  –– Oh, how right you were! And as we are goofy, we, the very busy kings, when we think that if we do not work twenty-four hours a day, and even more, in the affairs of the kingdom, it may disappear, and we with it!

  And he often looked upon his son’s hair with wonder:

  –– How beautiful are your black hair! How bright are your eyes! What a good king you are!

  The broken, all-white old king sighed at the thought of his former power. But it was not a sigh of sadness, because he was so proud of his son, who was going to succeed him. And they both smiled in silence, watching the sunset over the kingdom together.

  Sophie Carquain Petite histoires pour grand deven Paris, Albin Michel, 2003

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