The Mad, Bad King

Once upon a time there was a mad, bad king, who didn’t want anyone to be happy.  He had never had any happiness himself, and he did not think it was fair for anyone else to have something the king didn’t have.  Getting rid of happiness is harder than it seems, though.  Happiness is sneaky and has a tricky way of popping up when you least expect it.

At first, the king just made a law saying that no one was allowed to be happy.  Whenever his soldiers caught anyone smiling or laughing or doing something fun, they would capture that person and put him in the dungeons.  This didn’t really work, though.  Pretty soon the dungeons were full, and there were lots of people still being happy out there.

The king gave his soldiers a new order.  Anytime they saw someone being happy, they were to take away whatever it was that made them happy.  At first it was easy.  If a little boy was having fun riding his bike, the soldiers would take the bike away.  Then they would take away every bike in the kingdom, so that no one else could enjoy one either.  If a little girl smiled while eating a lollipop, the soldiers would take away all the lollipops in the kingdom, just in case they made anyone smile.   Pretty soon there were no toys in the whole kingdom.  All the candy was gone, too.  Then one day, a soldier saw a woman humming while she watered her roses.  The next morning, all the flowers in the kingdom had been dug up and thrown away.   The day after that, the king saw a family playing happily with their puppy dog.  He immediately made his soldiers round up all the puppies and kittens in the kingdom and lock them away in the dungeons.  Of course, to do that, they had to let all the prisoners out, which made them and their families very happy, but they had learned their lesson, and they did not act happy until they were all at home and had closed the doors and curtains and no one could see them.

For a while, it seemed that the king’s plan was working.  He never saw anyone smile or laugh or sing or dance.  Everything was just as gloomy as the mad, bad king himself.  But then spring came.  The trees started budding.  The sun was shining, the air was warm, and the sky was bluer than blue.  People began to stay outside as much as possible and have picnics and talk with their neighbors.  Children ran around together and played tag.  Babies crawled on green grass with little gurgles of delight.  The mad, bad king was furious.  But who could get rid of spring?

The king called in the most famous magician in all the world.  He offered him all the gold in his treasury if he could make it cold and miserable again.  The magician agreed.  The next morning when everyone woke up, the ground was covered in snow.  A cold wind was blowing.  Things were very quiet and dull in the kingdom that morning.  Hardly anyone came out of their houses.  But then in the afternoon, some of the older children put on coats and hats and scarves and came out to dig tunnels through the snow.  Once the ground was cleared a bit, the younger children came out, too.  Some of them started to build a snowman.  Then some fathers and mothers came out to admire the snowman.  Pretty soon, most everyone was outside.  A few people started a snowball fight.  Some women handed around hot chocolate.  It was obvious that everyone was having a good time.

The mad, bad king was enraged.  He called for the magician again and demanded that he make the snow go away.  The magician just shrugged his shoulders.  The king didn’t have any money left to pay him this time.  He had used all his gold getting the magician to make the kingdom cold.  The king yelled and screamed and finally called for his soldiers to put the magician in the dungeons.   The soldiers rushed toward the magician with their swords raised.  The magician just calmly raised his hand and said a few words very quietly.  The soldiers stopped, waiting for something magical to happen.  Nothing happened.  After a moment, the bravest soldier stepped forward again and tied up the magicians hands.  Then the magician did a very strange thing.  He began to jump up and down and make noises like a monkey.  The soldiers thought he had gone crazy, but then they heard a strange noise behind them.

“He, he, he, ha, Ha, Ha, Hee, Hee, Hee, HAR, HAR, HAR!”  The mad, bad king was laughing.  He laughed so hard that he fell on the ground.  He laughed so loud that some of the soldiers started to giggle, too.  Pretty soon everyone in the room was roaring with laughter.  When things finally calmed down, the king stood up and ordered that the magician be released.

“I feel so good!” he said.  “I feel… I feel…HAPPY!”

The magician’s last spell had worked.  The mad, bad king was not mad or bad any more.

So they all trooped out of the castle to play in the snow, and the king invited everyone in the kingdom inside afterward for hot chocolate.  All the puppies and kittens were released from the dungeons, and someone found all the toys and candy hidden away in the storerooms.   After the best party you could ever imagine, they all proceeded to live happily ever after.

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