09. The Yellow Dwarf Parenting Handbook

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Once upon a time without artificial insemination, there lived a queen who desperately wanted a child.

"Oh, what shall I do?" she moaned, wringing her hands in desperation because there were no doorbells available. "I would so dearly love to have a child! But how do I get one?"

"Well..." The queen's chancellor cleared his throat. "According to the information our wise men have been able to gather on the subject, the process works like this: the birds and the bees..."

The queen listened carefully while the chancellor explained to her the collective wisdom of the enchanted kingdom on this particular matter. When he had finished, she frowned and said, "Well, that's of no use to me! I'm not a bird, and neither am I a bee!"

The chancellor considered how he could best answer this diplomatically. Then he decided he couldn't.

"Go and find some fellow, and screw him until his balls fall off," he advised his most revered monarch.

The queen's expression brightened. "Oh! Well, if that's all, that—that's no problem! We have thumbscrews down in the torture chamber, and I'm sure they could be applied to the appropriate part of the male anatomy—"

It took a few more days of careful explanation, but finally, the chancellor was able to convey the basics of the necessary procedure to his honored queen. Soon, she found an unfortunate victim to experiment on, and not long after that, a little baby girl was born. The queen was ecstatic! True, the little brat wailed like a siren and leaked like a rotten ale barrel, but to the queen she was beautiful, and she loved her with all her heart. In fact, she loved her so much, she wished she were able to grow a second heart to store all the excess love in!

"Isn't she wonderful?" the queen beamed, gazing down at her child, who was busy whacking a rattle against the chancellor's knee.

"Absolutely—ouch!—delightful, Your—ouch!—Majesty."

"How do you think I should bring her up? How can I make her into a young woman who is just as intelligent and resourceful and independent as I am?"

"Um...well..."

"I know!" The Queen snapped her fingers. "I'll give her everything she could possibly want and pamper her beyond imagination. That's sure to make her always happy, and she will grow up to be a strong, cheerful, independent young girl, right?"

"Well..." The chancellor cleared his throat. "I'm no expert in education, Your Majesty, but..."

"Get me a golden cradle encrusted with diamonds! And a golden potty! And silk diapers!"

"Silk diapers?"

"Why not? You said the other day our country's silk industry could do with state subsidies."

"Yes, I did, but—"

"And get me toys! Thousands of toys! Millions! And cute little pets, and playmates and servants for the princess to obey her every command—"

"She can't even speak yet."

"Well, then they'll obey her every screech. Get going!"

And did the queen's plans work? Did the princess grow up into a strong, cheerful, independent young girl?

Well, not quite.

"Catch!" The princess called as she threw her golden ball. Her little pet dog jumped after it, eagerly—straight out of the window she'd hurled it out of. There was a surprised howl, followed by a splat. The princess giggled. "That's the third time in a row that has worked. Dear me, those pets are stupid."

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