The annual dread had set in. She wandered from room to lavish room, trying to drown out the awful baking stench. Music, dance, books, even the Internet had failed to alleviate the princess’ suffering.

Hadn’t she done so much for her subjects? This year, especially, had been so very good. 3 hospitals within the last six months alone. 7 schools. Dozens of roads. Countless flyovers. Still those ingrates insisted on this stupid, arcane ritual.

Oh, how she longed to do away with the nonsense. As the Queen-in-waiting, couldn’t she just issue an edict and be done with it? But no, stodgy old Parliament had judged it best to continue. And so, August was always to be a month of misery, of hateful anticipation mingled with the eagerness to somehow be over and done with it.

She breathed deeply. Yes, now the smells were getting stronger. The maids scurried in and out of the kitchen, their haste building up to fever pitch. From experience, she could tell the pie was almost done. She contemplated jumping out of the large stateroom window, then changed her mind. Might as well live to fight another year.

Finally when the moment came, she was ready for it. Dressed in her finest Little Black Dress, she kept her composure even as she took her seat at the head of the table. Thousands of subjects had turned up to watch and millions more would be glued to their TV sets. The stench was overpowering but they would certainly not get the satisfaction of seeing her cringe.

The platter had been set. She took up a spoon and inconspicuously held her breath. With a flourish, the butler uncovered the dish. ‘HUMBLE PIE’ said the legend on top. And with the most convincing fake smile she could muster, she dug into the dessert.


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