The Snail King woke up and stretched his foot. He slid his way out of bed and removed his nightcap, replacing it with the crown resting on the regal-red pillow with gold trimmings and tussles beside his bed. Staring at himself in the mirror, he adjusted his crown so that it would sit straight. Which it did for a moment before slipping back down to one side. He found it humorous that of all the things he had power over, the way his crown sat on his head was not one of them. In the past, the crown had sat proudly between his eyes and feelers, but now it was a struggle to keep it on his head despite the speed at which he moved. The Snail King knew his reign was coming to an end.
It was difficult for anyone to imagine what the jungle would be like with a different leader. The Snail King had brought so much peace, so much prosperity and so much joy to the kingdom that any animal merely considering becoming king or queen risked forever being labelled a fool. The new leader of the jungle would have to be someone just as fearless and just as wise as The Snail King, but there was a feeling in the jungle that nobody was quite up to the task. Following a meeting with his advisors, The Snail King declared a kingdom-wide challenge to those who wished to become king or queen: The simple task of attending a dinner with The Snail King.
Three animals applied. The first animal to express his interest was Dimitri the Elephant. Dimitri had many qualities that people might consider ‘king-like’. He was bold and noble and very strong. The Snail King greeted Dimitri with a welcome fit for a would-be king. There was an incredible amount of food and The Snail King had organised some juggling monkeys for entertainment. Dimitri enjoyed the food and the entertainment, only leaving after telling The Snail King how easy it would be to get use to this lavish lifestyle. Once Dimitri left, The Snail King looked to his advisors and they crossed Dimitri from their list.
The next night, The Snail King hosted a dinner for Hannah the Snake. Hannah slithered into the dining hall, climbed up the legs of the table and, after examining each of the meals from a distance, made her way down the table, licking each meal and piece of fruit as she went. By the time she had reached the edge, Hannah had not eaten anything but was looking rather disgusted. She stared The Snail King in the eyes and demanded some mousse. The Snail King looked at his guards who promptly removed the snake from the dining hall. The King’s advisors crossed Hannah the Snake off of their list.
The last animal to attend the dinner was Jake the Lion. The Snail King and Jake sat down to their meals and The Snail King could tell that the lion was enjoying his meal immensely. Towards the end of their dinner, Jake started to put some different foods into five piles. He then started to take some of the empty bowls, plates and cups towards the kitchen, but the maids intervened, relieving Jake of those particular responsibilities. The Snail King asked Jake the Lion why he had put the food into piles. Jake went on to explain that his family relied on him for food, but, since he couldn’t hunt tonight, he had to take some of the food home with him. When The Snail told Jake that the food was not for his family, Jake responded by saying that although the two of them may have eaten more, that should not mean that others should go without.
The snail removed his crown and slipped it with precision on to one of Jake, The Lion King’s paws. “You will make a great king,” the snail said and the two of them helped wrap up the food for The Lion King and his family.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
Illustrations by Alisha Towers: FACEBOOK
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