Apples, she said. Apples were what she craved, above all else. Quickly, he slipped his shirt back on and laced his breeches. Slipping quietly out of the room, he padded swiftly down side hallways of the great castle and back into the orchard. The recent frost left the ground cold, but if he moved quickly, he didn’t notice it on his bare feet.
It was dark, and the light from the torches was just enough for him to peer at the apple trees and realize that her request wasn’t as simple as he thought it would be. The yard girls had stripped the lower branches bare in anticipation of the Apple Festival, and even the upper branches were picked through.
He looked around for a ladder, but the yard girls were too efficient, and there was none to be found. Well, it had been a few years since he’d climbed a tree, but that wouldn’t stop him. He leaped into the air, easily grabbing one of the lower branches, then, swinging back and forth, he used his momentum and upper body strength to get him started. He worked his way from limb to limb, but was thwarted until he reached the upper parts of the tree. He was, at last, able to discover a few apples in the highest branches, and he took his shirt off to create a makeshift satchel. As he balanced precariously from one of the smaller limbs, he turned, seeing the castle through the trees and the mist. His heart swelled as he suddenly realized that he was looking at his new home. Quickly, then, he tucked the apples into his shirt and then he heard a crack as he felt the limb he was balancing on shift and fall beneath him.
He reached out wildly with one arm as he fell, managing to slow his momentum but still hitting the ground with a thud. His face, chest and arms were scratched, and he was sure he’d added another bruise to his backside, but he’d held securely to the bundle and hoped he had enough apples to please the queen.
He slipped easily back through the orchard, but narrowly missed being spotted by a man-at-arms as he made his way back to the castle entrance. It would never do for a servant to catch the king in such a state. He approached the door to the room where the queen awaited and knocked softly until she bade him enter.
Upon entering, he swiftly removed his breeches again, then knelt humbly before the queen, his offering in his outstretched hands. She selected, then discarded, several apples and he began to fear that he had disappointed her. Finally, though, she seemed satisfied. She looked at him and smiled.
“Open your sweet mouth, my king.”
She shoved the apple into his mouth, stretching it wide, then bent him over her knee and resumed his spanking.