Read an Excerpt
Lady Gooddog sat glaring at her only son across the breakfast table. “What did you do to Lumpy Space Princess on your picnic yesterday?” she demanded, her voice echoing off the tall ceiling of the dining hall.
“Nothing,” Sir Jacobus said with a shrug of his broad shoulders, his muscles rippling under his luxurious golden fur.
“You had to have done something,” Lord Gooddog insisted as he helped himself to another large slice of apple breakfast pie.
“I didn’t. I swear,” Sir Jacobus said, sounding a little defensive. “All I did was eat the sandwiches she made, and then drink the apple juice she’d squeezed, and then take a nap on the blanket that she quilted to celebrate the picnic. After that, Finn and I went to check out the barrel races, which were totally rad.” Mr. Finnish Biped, aka Finn, was Sir Jacobus’s Hu-manservant. He was known throughout the Kingdom of Plaid for his love of battle and his great loyalty to his lordship, and best friend, Sir Jacobus.
Lady Gooddog shook her head, her eyes raised toward the ceiling. “I can’t believe how insensitive you are.”
Her son was confused. “It was just a picnic. What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal,” thundered Lord Gooddog, “is that Lumpy Space Princess was expecting you to propose.”
“Propose?” Sir Jacobus sputtered. He had been taking a large swig of apple cider, and his father’s comment caught him by such surprise that a bit of the juice sprayed out his nose. “But she’s all lumpy,” he managed to say after he’d stopped coughing.
“And space princessy,” Finn added from where he lounged in a chair, using a toothpick to pry a piece of apple skin out from between his teeth.
Lady Gooddog fixed the servant with an angry glare. “Mr. Biped, do you really think it’s appropriate for a servant to sit at the breakfast table with his master’s family? Is that what servants do?”
“I don’t know,” was Finn’s reply. “It’s what I do and I’m a servant, so yeah, I guess it kind of is.”
The lady gave a resigned sigh. “Could you at least take your feet off the table?” she asked.
“Yeah, Finn,” Sir Jacobus told him. “That’s really gross and some of us are still trying to eat.”
“Fine,” his manservant said, thumping his feet onto the floor. He reached across the table to help himself to another apple.
Turning back to her son, Lady Gooddog continued with, “Did you ever stop to think why Lumpy Space Princess went to all that trouble for your picnic?”
“Not really,” Sir Jacobus admitted as he finished his apple porridge. “I just figured she likes to do that kind of stuff.”
“I don’t think you realize how upset the princess really is,” his father told him. “She’s been on a shopping tirade since yesterday afternoon. All the shop clerks throughout the kingdom have been terrorized.” He cocked an ear toward the window. “Listen, I think I can still hear her now.”
Everyone was quiet for a moment. It wasn’t too difficult to hear the voice of Lumpy Space Princess echoing across the land. “You call that pink?” she roared. “That’s, like, totally mauve at best. How dare you try to tell me that mauve is pink! Do you know who I am?”
Then there was another voice, a frightened male voice. It was obvious that he was doing everything within his power to be conciliatory. “I am so sorry, Miss Lumpy Space. It must be the lighting in here. I sincerely thought it was pink. Let me go and fetch you a pink one from the back.”
“That’s Lumpy Space Princess to you! I am royalty!” she informed him. There was a loud bang and the sound of glass shattering.
“Oh. Is that what that is?” Sir Jacobus said, scratching his head. “I heard that when I got up this morning, but I thought the kingdom was just infested with dragons again.”
“Oh, too bad,” Finn said, looking a little disappointed. “I love fighting dragons. That would have been totally math.”
Lumpy Space Princess wasn’t finished yet. Her tirade continued. They could hear her yelling, “No, I don’t want a different size. It’s not my job to fit into your stupid clothes. It’s your job to design fashion around me.”
Sir Jacobus gave his father a penetrating look. “Are you sure that’s not dragons?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Lord Gooddog said, getting a bit hot under his frilled collar. “Listen, Jacobus. This has got to stop. You’ve broken the heart of almost every maiden in all of Plaid. People are starting to talk. When are you going to choose a wife?”
“A wife?” Sir Jacobus said, a little shocked. “Why would I want a wife? I’m a scoundrel.”
“An untamed scoundrel,” Finn added, putting his feet back up on the table as he happily munched on the apple.
“It’s true,” the only child of Lord and Lady Gooddog said with a prideful grin. “No one can tame me.”
“Well, you listen here, Mr. Untamed Scoundrel,” Lady Gooddog said, getting to her feet and slapping Finn’s shoes off the table. “At tomorrow night’s ball, you are going to choose a bride. Do you hear me? Because if you don’t, you are going to be a very poor untamed scoundrel.” Her son was about to protest, but she cut him off. “Either you choose a bride at the ball, or your father and I will disown you and cut you off without a cent.”
“Aw, man,” Sir Jacobus said. “You guys wouldn’t do that, would you?”
“We’ve already put the wheels in motion,” Lord Gooddog said, getting to his feet to stand at his wife’s side. They faced their son as a united front. “We sent out an announcement first thing this morning, telling all eligible female guests that it is your intent to choose a bride at the ball.”
“What the zip? This really stinks,” Sir Jacobus said, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “How the heck am I supposed to do that?”
“I don’t know,” his mother told him, “but you’d better figure something out by tomorrow evening.”
“This really ducks,” Sir Jacobus grumbled as he slouched out of the dining hall with his Finn at his side. “What’s the point of being an untamed scoundrel if I’m married?”
“Yeah, dude,” Finn agreed. “You’d be, like, totally tamed.”
“Maybe I should just tell my parents that they can keep their old fortune,” Sir Jacobus said, sounding a little sulky. “I mean, I don’t really care about the money as long as I can keep living in the castle and have nice clothes and fine food and plenty of servants to do all my stuff for me.”
“Yeah,” Finn said, pursing his lips a little, “I’m pretty sure they mean you’re not going to be able to have any of that stuff, either.”
“Doggone it!” Sir Jacobus said with a huff. “Well, I don’t think I’d like being poor, so I guess I have to let somebody tame me.” He let his broad shoulders sag. “But how am I supposed to choose a bride by tomorrow night?”
“I know!” Finn said, brightening. “I have a plan that is totally amazing. It will make sure you get the coolest and most awesomest bride ever.”
“What?” the Gooddog asked, looking up eagerly. He knew his Hu-manservant and best friend wouldn’t let him down.
“We’ll hold a tournament. And the girls can compete. With, like, jousting and stuff. And whoever wins the tournament will obviously be supercool, so that’s how you’ll know who to marry,” Finn explained.
“That’s a great idea!” Sir Jacobus agreed. “I mean, not the jousting because Mom doesn’t like it when I bring horses in the castle. The last time we tried that she totally yelled. But we should definitely have a tournament.”
“Okay, cool,” Finn said with a smile. “I’ll put out an official proclamation letting the ladies know they should come to the ball ready to rumble.”
The next evening, Sir Jacobus stood in the ballroom wearing his best kilt and his royal purple sash. His fur had been brushed until it was glossy and smooth. He was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the guests for the ball. “I wonder if any of the ladies will come dressed in armor,” he said, rubbing his paws together in anticipation. “That would be so awesome. I’m totally excited.”
“I know,” Finn agreed. His black uniform had been starched and pressed to perfection. “I can’t wait until the womenfolk start battling it out. Winner take all.”
Sir Jacobus smiled. “This is going to be awesome.” His heart began beating a little faster as he heard the first carriage pull up outside the castle door. He’d never been so keen for a ball to begin in his life.
“Princess Bubble of Gum,” a footman announced as the first guest arrived.
“That’s Bubblegum,” the princess corrected him as she made her entrance. Her pink gown was two parts perfection and one part confection; the dress was like a swirling mound of cotton candy that highlighted Princess Bubblegum’s long pink hair, which was piled in cascading curls on the top of her head. She was the ruler of the Candy Kingdom, and she looked every bit the part.
“Why are you dressed like that?” Sir Jacobus asked as he walked up to greet her.
“What do you mean?” she asked, looking down at her gown. “This is a ball, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but I was hoping you’d at least come dressed like a ninja,” he told her, wrinkling his nose at all the pink.
“Why would I do that?” the princess wanted to know.
“Because you were supposed to come dressed for battle,” Finn interjected. “You’re not going to be able to fight very well in that.” He made a disgusted face at the delicate pink frills.
“I don’t intend to fight at all,” the princess informed them, smoothing her hands over her skirt.
“Didn’t you get Sir Jacobus’s message about how there’s going to be a tournament to see who gets to marry him?” the Hu-manservant asked, sounding surprised. “I know I delivered a note to your palace. I gave it to the Peppermint Butler. He swore he’d give it to you.”