1409 c/o Crispin Best

Martin the Second

All of my children are dead. Every one. It happened slowly at first.

My oldest, Jaime the Vengeful, was a Sardinian Prince until he fell down a well. He was chasing a bumblebee that had stung him. He was screaming and swinging an axe. It was never the best.

Juana the Unprecedented was engaged to a Bavarian Duke. She had too much wine with supper one evening. After dessert she crept off and jumped from the aqueduct. We didn’t find her for a month. When we did, she was smashed and lumpy like an old courgette.

It’s strange to be morose and planning a wedding. But: a King needs an heir. Probably there is a better word than strange. Still. All of my children are dead. All of them.

Of course my fiancée refuses to cook, she is the Tsarevna of Minsk and has never touched a saucepan. But it would be nice, once in a while, for her to put on an apron and just stand in the kitchen. Perhaps wipe her hands on a dish cloth and look over at me. Just to stand there in the middle of all that heat and wait for me to come and put my arms around her. It would be nice.

Margarita the Ruthless tumbled down a wet flight of stairs. She was a Valencian princess by that point. She trod on a snail on the top step. They were, both of them, incredulous. Margarita jumped backwards and hit every step but one, which made twenty-six.

My fiancée has a beautiful spine. The curvature is something I cannot describe. I often wonder if this is a strange thing for me to think. I will wait until after we are married to tell her about this.

Eleanor the Fallen of Instep was lucky, we suppose. She was poorly but had caught the eye of a Castilian Lord. She was in bed. She had just woken up. A handmaiden told her that a nearby pier, a favourite of Eleanor‘s, had burned down. The handmaiden said,
      - It was totally gutted.
      And Eleanor replied,
      - So would I be.
      And Eleanor laughed and laughed until she couldn’t breathe or something burst.

My fiancée wears only pink. Everything is pink. Even the soles of her shoes. She has been living in the palace with me for three weeks now and I have never seen her wearing any other colour. Each morning I look at the door to her chambers, through which she will appear, and I think of oranges and greens. I think I would like her in a blue, a pale, pale blue.

Wilfred the Hairless was just a baby. He came out dead. His mother, my second wife, wouldn’t stop being sick, and that is how, two days later, she also passed away.

My fiancée often comments on my trousers. The comments are not entirely complimentary. It seems she does not like my trousers. I am not sure who I should ask for advice about trousers. The wedding is in two weeks.

Wilfred, the baby, was the last one born, but the last one to die was Martin the First, named after me, and by the end a King himself. Martin got typhoid. He gave a very serious speech in which he likened himself to other sufferers such as Alexander the Great, Pericles, and William the Conqueror. The speech did not mention that one catches the illness by ingesting excrement. The speech stated that Martin had rejected treatment, that he would triumph, that he was strong enough to beat the illness alone. He was not. He died, childless, the King of Sicily. And I have to succeed him. And provide an heir for everything.

The wedding is in two weeks. I will tell my wife how wonderful her spine is. I will lift her pink veil and I will tell her and I will kiss her on her lips.

I have succeeded my son. I am Martin the Second, after him.