William Crump and the unseasonal weather
Boess, highest of all the gods, surveyed the new king through his eternal all-seeing eye.
He didn’t seem at all like a king.
His palace, if you could call it a palace, comprised of just a few small rooms. He didn’t have an entourage, indeed he had to carry his own baggage, crown and all. He didn’t even seem to have servants, witnessed by both the absence of people and the poor keeping of the house – no maid’s hand had touched this place in many a year.
“And yet this king, this impoverished king in his tiny hovel, lacking in servants, he dares to proclaim himself above the gods, to say that he will ‘give us a spanking’ if we don’t behave.
It is true, of course, that William Crump had said these things. He had said many things after he found the ancient golden crown: he had proclaimed himself king and he had claimed the crown for himself, at least for the 14 days before he had to officially declare his find.
He sat now in his study/spare room/junk room/TV room looking up golden crowns on the internet, but search all he might (and google, the god of finding things, was put to thorough use I can tell you) he could find nothing like his discovery, a full-sized, solid gold, ancient crown.
He decided to take his discovery down to the museum, where his friend Brian Bowden worked. Brian was the closest the town of Plunkton had to a historical expert, and William had bothered him many a time with the finds hit made while out metal detecting: old coins, ancient-looking buttons, and once what he had taken to be a saxon broach, but which turn out to be a disfigured ring-pull from a can of Tizer circa 1973.
It being mid-summer he didn’t stop to put on a coat, he was very much a T-shirt and jeans type of man. Yet, as he went outside he noticed a chill in the air, the sort of chill you feel just before it begins to snow.
‘Snow’!, he laughed at his own thought. ‘Snow in August, how ridiculous’.
“Snow,” Wiggley the weather god had said just minutes before, “Snow in August. Don’t be ridiculous.”
“But we must put this new king in his place. Show him that he has no command over the gods.”
Now Wiggley the weather god feared the new king, yet he feared Boess even more, so he daren’t argue. Not too much anyway. “Maybe if I localise the snow, I wouldn’t want to cause disruption to the entire kingdom, maybe just to the new king’s town.”
“An excellent idea. A localised snow will show everyone that it is the new king who is to blame. Why, if people realise that the gods have been angered they may overthrow him before the crown has had time to dent his hair.”
And so Wiggley was making snow, a snow of deep-deep midwinter, thick, heavy, all-consuming. William only just managed to get to the museum before the snow started.
“William, William, my favourite finder of ancient rubbish,” said Brian when he saw him. “What have you brought me this time? An ancient safety pin? A pound coin with William the Conqueror’s face on it?”
“Something rather better than that,” William said, and he removed the crown from his rucksack.
“What, how, who …” Brian muttered excitedly, and William explained his find.
“Don’t worry,” he added, “I will hand it in to the authorities when I have to, I’m just enjoying it while I can. I thought you’d like to be the first to examine it properly.”
“Oh William, that’s kind of you. Bring it through here, to my little workshop.”
With exhibit in hand Brian turned professional. He donned clear plastic gloves and insisted William do the same. He then weighed and measured the crown, did some calculations, then examined it in more detail, through a magnifying glass, pausing every so often to clean the metal, take more measurements, and to take photos.
“Well?” William asked eventually.
“Why this is an extraordinary find. From the methodology used to construct the crown I would say early saxon, though the markings, well that’s a different matter. Look, you can just make them out.
He beckoned William to look through the magnifying glass as the little scratches that were just visible.
“What are they?”
“I’ve no idea. That’s the wonderful thing, they seem to be a new language. Or, I suppose, an old language, a lost language.”
“So not saxon?”
“No. An ancient race, long forgotten, a kingdom that has disappeared from trace, with its own gods, its own language.”
“Its own gods?”
“Why yes, these markings here, and here, they are pictures, not of mortals I would say. I believe these are images of strange, new gods. Well, old gods, obviously, but new to us.”
“So what is it worth?”
“Worth? What this crown? Don’t be absurd, you could put no price on this. A piece of lost history, the sole surviving artefact of a lost race, a lost religion, a lost world.”
“Is it gold?”
“Oh yes, solid gold.”
“So it’s valuable?”
“Oh, worth more than the whole of Plunkton. But to me, to archaeologists, to historians, why it is the greatest find ever.”
“So I’ll be famous?”
“Oh, as the man who found this crown, you’d be renowned, crowned king of all the beepy-metal-finding-machine men. You might even be remembered by historians, as the man who struck lucky.”
“It would be nice to be remembered. To have a legacy, even if it’s just being remembered as a lucky man with a beepy machine.”
Their conversation paused at this point and in the silence the two men finally noticed the weather.
For outside it was snowing. Snowing as in a blizzard and already the streets were piled foot-high with snow.
“Snow in August,” William said, “and yet there are still people who deny climate change.”
“Maybe the gods are angry,” Brian joked.
“It’s funny you should say that,” William said, and he recounted the conversation he had on the hill.
“Well you had best keep the gods in their place, snow in August, that’s really asking for a spanking.”
So before William left the museum, he shouted up at the gods. “I am not a happy king,” he cried, “whichever god did this with the snow must clear a path home for me this instant.
Now, Wiggley was afraid of Boess, it is true, but he was equally afraid of this new king, and as soon as he heard this threat he called off the snowstorm, grabbed a spade and started frantically shovelling a path through the snow.
“Ah, it’s you again,” William said, recognising Wiggley as he passed. “Quite a tempest the gods have cooked up.”
“Yes sir,” Wiggley replied.
“Well you can tell the gods from me, that if I find out which one of them did this I shall place him on my knee, drop his britches and give him such a spanking as neither god nor mortal man has seen before.”
These words filled Wiggley with terror, and instead of replying he turned and fled away, through the snow of his own devising.