[DWJ] Sacking the maids...

Hendon, Alison A.Hendon at BrooklynPublicLibrary.org
Thu May 17 15:56:08 EDT 2007

Nicholas wrote:

There is an apocryphal story concerning a king who noticed one day that
a guard had been standing sentry duty in the middle of an otherwise
unremarkable palace courtyard for no apparent reason.  The king made
enquiries and it was discovered that a guard had been detailed to that
particular bit of that particular courtyard since before living memory.

It seems that some considerable number of years earlier, a princess had
seen the first flower of spring poking through the snow and had
a guard to stand by it and make sure that nobody accidentally stepped
on it.  The flower (and, many years later, the princess) subsequently
died, but a member of the palace guard continued to stand watch at that
point for many years after, the original reason for the appointment
long forgotten.

The version I've heard asserts that the king was Nicholas II of Russia
in 1903 and the princess was Catherine the Great in 1776, although the
only sources I've been able to find online are transcripts of sermons
on varying parts of the New Testament, none of which give the origin of
the story.  J Michael Straczynski borrowed the story and used it in an
episode of his tv series Babylon 5.
I remember this as a story by Eleanor Farjeon - first the flower died,
then the princess died, then the country completely changed hands, but
the guard stayed on...


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