PLOTS AND POTS
1 In those days the Princess had a dog and four uncles who
were kings. The first king was named Aligoté. He
was king of Zambezi and surrounding regions. The second
king was named Babylas. He was king of Ypermétrope
and surrounding regions. The third king was named Eleonor
(without an e) and the fourth Imogène.
Eleonor (without an e) and Imogène were not just any old kings. They each had a very large and beautiful kingdom but the tale does not at present say where for security reasons.
2 The tale says what it should when it should and the tale now says that Aligoté occasionally paid a visit to Babylas in his kingdom or to Eleonor in his or else to Imogène and the tale says that likewise it happened that Babylas would pay a visit to Eleonor in his kingdom or to Imogène in his or else to Aligoté and moreover the tale says that Eleonor sometimes visited Imogène in his kingdom Aligoté in his or else Babylas that at times Imogène went to visit Aligoté in his kingdom Babylas in his or else Eleonor. At any rate this is what the tale says.
3 And when King Aligoté was at Babylas with the Princess and her dog and the Princess had gone down to the lawn just below the front steps to play ball with her dog King Babylas would say to Aligoté, "My dear cousin, let us go into my study." But here the tale ceases to talk about Aligoté and Babylas and goes back to Eleonor who has gone to visit Imogène in his kingdom.
4 And the tale says that when King Eleonor had gone to see Imogène with the Princess and her dog and when the Princess had gone down to the lawn below the front steps to play ball with her dog, King Imogène would say to Eleonor, "My dear cousin, let us go into my study." And when both Eleonor and Imogène were in the study and they had turned the key they started plotting.
5 It has to be said that in those days the Princess had a lot of worries. For every time one of the four kings her uncles (Aligoté for example) paid a visit to another of her four uncles, a king (Imogène for example) in his kingdom, and they entered the study after having sent her to play ball with her dog on the lawn below the front steps and they turned the key, they started plotting. They plotted against one of the four kings who were her four uncles. And what's more, it wasn't rare for one of the kings (Eleonor for example) to pay a visit to himself in his kingdom, escorted by the Princess and the dog and, after having sent the Princess to play ball, to shut himself in his study to plot. It added up to quite a few plots and the dog was fed up with playing ball.
6 The tale reminds you here that when King Uther Pendragon fell sick of the malady of death he called for the Princess and her dog as well as for his four nephews Imogène, Aligoté, Babylas, Eleonor (without an e) and he told them: "My children, my child, my dog, I know I am going to die. I have been struck by death and there is no cure. When I am dead," he added, turning toward the four kings, his nephews, "I know very well what will happen: Imogène, for example, will pay a visit to Babylas in his kingdom, with the Princess and her dog, and what will they do? I am going to tell you. They will send the Princess to play ball with her dog on the lawn below the front steps, they will enter the study, turn the key, and start plotting. Against whom? I don't know, I don't give a damn and it's all the same to me. Okay I cannot stop you from doing so. I have been struck by death, I'm going to kick the bucket, Merlin has told me, nothing can be done about it. But there exists a sacred rule established since time immemorial by Saint Benedict and which you will swear to respect for your plotting. Okay?" and Uther Pendragon continued in a loud voice:
7 Rule of Saint Benedict: Let there be three
kings among you four: the first king, the second king, the third
king. The first king is any king, the second king is any king...
"Can the second king be the same as the first?" interrupted
Eleonor. "Of course," said Uther. the third king
is any king. So:
The king against whom the first king plots when he pays a visit to the king against whom the second king plots when he pays a visit to the third must be precisely the same king against whom the king against whom the first king plots when he pays a visit to the second, when he pays a visit to the third. Okay?" said Uther, "but that is not all":
When a king pays a visit to another king they will always plot against the same king. And if two distinct kings pay a visit to the same third, the first will never plot against the same king as the second. Finally every king will be plotted against at least once a year in the study of each of the kings. "I have spoken," said Uther. "Okay?" said Uther. And he died.
8 The tale now says that the Princess and her dog would have liked very much to know against whom her uncle Imogène plotted when he paid a visit to her uncle Babylas and they shut themselves up in the study. And, in a more general way, the Princess would have liked very much to know, for example, if, given any two of her uncles, the one against whom the first plotted when he paid a visit to the second would be the same, or not, as the one against whom the second plotted when he paid a visit to the first. "Yes," said the dog. He had picked up the ball on the lawn below the front steps and was holding it, dribbling, in his mouth. "Don't speak with your mouth full," said the Princess and she added, "and why that, if you please?" "Because," said the dog, "a oup ith our eements is autoatially coutatie." He generally excelled in Dog-English translation when he had a ball across his canines. "Ah," said the Princess. It was time for tea. And they walked up to the kitchen where Queen Ingrid was expecting them.
9 Now, says the tale, Kings Aligoté, Imogène, Babylas and Eleonor were first cousins and they had married four first cousins. These were Queens Adirondac, Botswanna, Eleonore (with an e) and Ingrid. Queen Adirondac was born of Zibeline y Zanicovette. Queen Botswanna was born of Yolande and Ygrometria. Queens Eleonore (with an e) and Ingrid were born as well but the tale does not say where for security reasons. The tale goes straight to the point and says that when Aligoté for example paid a visit to Imogène for the sole purpose of plotting with him according to the rule of Saint Benedict, Queen Adirondac paid a visit to Queen Ingrid in her kitchen. And while the kings plotted, the queens potted jam. To such good purpose that when he left, King Aligoté could put in the post a parcel containing whatever pots had not been eaten during the tea prepared for the queen who was the wife of the king against whom they had the same afternoon in Imogène's study plotted. And this is how things went.
10 Everything went on in the best possible way in the kingdoms. The kings plotted, the queens potted, the Princess played ball with her dog on the perfectly green lawn below the front steps, the dog translated from Dog to English and from English to Dog, when one morning...
Translated from the French by B. Hoepffner