“I hate Mondays!”
Back in the days when there were dragons and
knights and three-headed ogres, and wizards and fairies
and hydroxes, and a lot of other kinds of interesting
things, the Royal Quadruplets of the Kingdom of
Zephram glumly gathered in the Royal Schoolroom for
a long, Zephram Monday, spent learning important
The Royal Quadruplets' names were Thomasin,
Lizeta, Nedwyn and Elenlyn, but since they weren't
quite grown up yet (and their names were sort of hard
to say), most people called them Tom, Lizzie, Ned and
Nell. And, of course, they were also called Prince or
Princess too, because that was what they were.
“I hate Mondays,” Ned grumbled again, for it was
Ned who could always be counted on to complain. “Just
because stupid old King Otto thought Zephram
Mondays were a great idea a thousand years ago, I don't
know why we still have to do it. No other country has to
His brother and sisters ignored him because they
heard the same thing every Monday! Monday was the day
when everything everyone did was dedicated or donated
to Zephram for the upkeep and support of the
It didn't matter what type of job the people did,
whether they were bakers, or jewelers, or carpenters, or
horse trainers, or doctors, or math teachers. Whatever
the Zephramites earned, made, or did on the other days
of the week was theirs to keep. But on Mondays, all
work was for the good of the country. That meant that
even school children took their tests on Mondays so
that they got in the habit of working hard on Mondays
when they grew up.
The proceeds and donations from Zephram
Mondays paid for important things such as the military
and the college and the hospital and the orphanage, so
that everyone in the kingdom was taken care of: happy,
healthy, and able to become as smart as they ever
wanted to be!
During today's Zephram Monday, the Royal
Quadruplets were supposed to be hard at work studying
for their Weekly Test, just as they did every Monday.
But the Royal Tutor hadn't arrived yet, so Nell and
Lizzie were talking about their sister Princess Zephera's
upcoming marriage to Duke Harry and their father King
Hiram's 50th birthday celebration, both of which were
going to be held in a months time on the same day.
Ned, as usual, was complaining and trying to cause
trouble. Only Tom was quietly concentrating on a big,
musty, leather-bound book.
“Duke Harry is ever so handsome,” sighed Lizzie
about their sister's fiancé. “I hope that when I am as old
as Zephera, I can marry a prince or a king or a duke just
“Fat chance,” joked Ned, who was trying to annoy
his sister just as any brother would.
“And I'll wear a wedding gown that is covered in
pearls and lace,” she continued, ignoring him just as any
sister would. “And I'll have flowers in my hair, and a
flora-ora tiara with diamonds on it. Why, I think it will
be even prettier than the diamond necklace Zephera
“You'll never find anyone like Duke Harry to marry
you,” said Ned, again trying his best to annoy her. “He's
the bravest warrior there ever was. Besides, someone
like him wouldn't ever even talk to you.”
Lizzie continued to ignore him. “And I'd have eight
white horses pull my carriage, and my carriage would be
made of gold and silver and have real diamonds and
other sparkly stuff all around the windows. All the
people will be throwing flora-ora confetti as we drive
past – wouldn't that be just lovely?”
“Flora-ora confetti,” her sister, Nell, repeated
approvingly. “I love that idea. Now that would be a nice
touch.” Nell was busy admiring the shocking green
flora-ora polish she had just applied to her nails. “But
won't you have to move away when you get married?
Live in his castle?”
“I don't know,” admitted Lizzie. “Eeuwh, that
would be awful. Well, our castle is quite large enough.
We could all live here forever and ever. It's so big, we'd
never have to even see you,” she said, glaring at Ned.
“You'll be living here forever and ever anyway,
because no one will want to marry you,” Ned retorted.
Then he changed his tone. “Well, I'm not getting
married. Gross. Who needs a silly girlfriend?”
“Well, no silly girl would want you anyway!” Nell
jumped into the conversation to defend and support
Lizzie as any good sister would. “You're so nasty! I bet
Dad sends you off to patrol the borders as soon as
you're old enough. No one wants you around.”
“I can't wait to go,” Ned declared, pleased to have
gotten reactions from both of his sisters. “Who wants to
be around –”
“Come on, stop it!” said Tom, finally looking up
from his book. Tom was the only one really studying
hard for their Weekly Test – not only because he was
the first one of the quadruplets to be born (he beat
Lizzie by 11 minutes), but because he was also the
oldest boy, and going to be Zephram's king one day.
Understandably, he took his heritage very seriously. He
knew that he would have to know all kinds of answers
when he ruled the kingdom. Passing The Test was really
important for him to do.
Ned made a face at Nell and Lizzie, and then went
over to the window to toy around with the telescope
that was set up there. He pointed the telescope away
from the water harbor views to look over the forests,
hills and dales of Zephram. He could see forever, and
imagined himself far, far away from the Royal
Schoolroom on this boring Zephram Monday.
“You really should be studying this, too,” Tom
said, pointing at his book.
“Maybe they'll forget,” said Ned, not even looking
away from the telescope.
“Like that ever happens, especially on a Monday,”
said Tom, shaking his head in exasperation at his
“Ned, why are you looking through that thing?”
Nell wasn't about to give up annoying him, especially
since he'd started it. “You're only supposed to use it at
“No, that's not true,” said Ned. “I can use it
anytime and anyway I want. Besides, I might not be
looking at just the stars and moon. Who knows what I'll
see if I look in the right place?” Ned slowly panned the
telescope around to show how busy he was. “Hey,
what's that?” he asked a few minutes later. “I just saw a
flash. Did you see one?”
Tom, Nell and Lizzie said no.
“There it is again,” Ned said. “Um – it looks like
people are unloading a boat at the back of the harbor.
Maybe it's the sun reflecting on a piece of metal?”
“Maybe,” Tom agreed absently. There was a knock
at the door.
“Come in,” Lizzie called.
“Excuse me, your Highnesses,” said the Royal
Tutor's Assistant, standing in the doorway. “I have the
latest delivery of the History of Ancient Zephram pages for
your History of Ancient Zephram History Book.” The
History of Ancient Zephram was like a "real time" history,
written by the History Writer and delivered current-
event-fresh each week.
you,” said Lizzie, rising up to take the stack from him since
“I have been asked to let you know the Royal Tutor
has the flu –”
“Woo hoo!” Ned loudly whooped with glee, while
Nell whispered a delighted, “Yes!”
“And he told me to tell you to be sure to spend
your Zephram Monday time studying about the invasion
of Hilden for a quiz tomorrow,” the Royal Tutor's
Assistant continued, frowning at Ned and Nell.
“Oh, great,” Ned grumbled.
“Of course we will,” Lizzie assured him (Lizzie was
always unfailingly polite). “Please tell the Royal Tutor
we are studying hard and hope he feels better.”
“Hardly studying,” Ned whispered to Nell.
“Thank you, Princess,” said the Royal Tutor.s
Assistant to Lizzie, and he backed quickly out of the
doorway, his job done.
“Please tell him we hope he feels better,” Ned mimicked
his sister as the door closed. “I should say not. Who
wants to study more?”
“More? Try at all,” Nell suggested, her small
moment of bonding with Ned over.
Tom was glancing over the new pages the Royal
Tutor.s Assistant had brought. “Looks like last week.s
Treaty is in here, all up-to-date.” He put the pages
carefully at the end of the big huge ancient book that
had been manhandled by the Royal Children – and all
their ancestors, in fact – for the last thousand years.
Then, the quadruplets finally settled in for a relatively
quiet period of studying (or in Ned's case, whatever else
he could find to do instead).
“Now, about our gift for Dad's birthday,” Lizzie
said presently, looking up from her book. “I was
thinking we could –”
Suddenly, the sound of a gong was heard. The
quadruplets jumped at the noise and looked at each
other in dismay.
“Oh dear,” said Lizzie, biting her lip.
“Oh no,” said Nell, looking down at the green flora-
ora nail polish that her mother had absolutely forbidden
her to wear.
“No way,” said Ned, turning away from the window
“Not already,” said Tom with dismay, closing his
book. Because it was that dreaded time, dreaded by the
Royal Quadruplets: the dreaded once-a-week Test Time
with their Royal Parents.
“At least some of us have been studying,” Nell said
triumphantly to Ned. “Maybe some of us will pass the
Test this time!”
“Yeah, right,” her brother laughed.
“Let's go get it over with,” Tom said, getting up
from the table. “Come on.”
With glum faces, the quadruplets left the safe
boredom of their Royal Schoolroom and slowly made
their way through the maze of castle hallways to meet
their weekly fate.
“Good morning, your Highnesses,” a group of
school girls said obediently as they passed each other in
the hallway. Then they whispered behind their hands
and giggled at Nell and Lizzie because they were on their
way to recess, and they knew the Royal Quadruplets
were on their way to take their Weekly Test.
A test that everyone else had passed long ago.
“They are so annoying,” said Nell, and Lizzie
squeezed her hand in sympathy. The four trudged
slowly and steadfastly onward.
“Good morning, your Highnesses,” said Alf, the
Royal Tailor's son, with a smug smile on his face he
directed at Ned as they passed each other. Alf knew
what time it was, too.
“He is so annoying. I hate him,” said Ned of his
“Stop it – we don't hate anyone,” Tom said.
“Maybe you don't,” said Nell, “but they don't pull
the same stuff on you that they do on us. You're going
to be King Thomasin one day – they're not that stupid,”
she reminded him.
At that moment they arrived at the ornately carved
and flora-ora gilded doors of the Royal Throne Room.
The quadruplets stopped and looked at each other.
“Dare you to knock,” Ned teased his brother.
“The sooner we do it, the sooner we can go,” Tom
reasoned to Nell and Lizzie, choosing to pay no
attention to Ned.
“You're right,” Lizzie agreed.
“Coward,” Tom said to Ned, and he bravely
Jepson, the Royal Steward, opened the big doors
with a loud creak. He looked down and saw the Royal
“Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Thomasin,
Princess Lizeta, Prince Nedwyn and Princess Elenlyn
have arrived, your
Majesties,” he announced. He stepped aside and, with a
Test Time had come.