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Queen Canute


AND so it was that Queen Canute told the sorely vexed good yeomen of England: ‘Verily, I have the power to turn back the tide that is engulfing our shores.’

With great flourish, she despatched her heralds to divers places across the realm to proclaim the good news.

Thus emboldened, Queen Canute, her knights and nobles, took carriage to Dover, where her retainers laboured by main strength to set up her throne on the beach beneath the white cliffs.

And lo, scarcely had she taken her seat than a mighteous fleet of vessels was seen surging towards the shore on the incoming tide from Gaul, and the laments of her entourage filled the briny air.

‘Despair not!’ cried Queen Canute. Then, rising from her throne, she held a warning hand seaward and shouted in tones stentorian to the approaching multitude: ‘Desist! Turn back whence ye came! For I am resolved to be firm and fair with you!’

Her words went unheeded as the coracles, cogs and canoes, longboats and rafts heaved up on to the sands and their occupants stormed ashore. 

‘Odd’s blood!’ groaned Queen Canute, with wailing and gnashing of teeth. ‘I cannot understand it. I was firm, but they weren’t fair. Better get them all processed, I suppose.’

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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