You are the King of Sweden. The year is 1731. You are strolling through your menagerie, sipping wine from your golden sippy cup, contemplating the upcoming Feast of a Thousand Pheasants, when the Royal Messenger greets you unexpectedly. After properly groveling at your feet, the messenger tells your Highness that he has good news! The well-travelled and gregarious Bey of Algiers is stopping by your castle, and he brings wondrous gifts!
I love gifts you think to yourself, as you ruffle your toes casually inside of your second-favorite pair of velveteen slippers. What’s more, the Bey of Algiers had reportedly been previously hunting in the jungles of Africa, the most deadly of the unknown lands (aside from the Sea Monster Territories and the Great Spider Continent, of course). If rumors are true, he may be carrying with him many treasures from these lands, perhaps even a live lion.
Oh, how tantalizing that thought is. If the stories of lions are true, they are similar to the domestic cats of Egypt only they are as large as three men and more powerful than twenty. Such beasts are the stuff of legends. Who can count the number of brave souls lost to the might of these rampaging African terrors? To see such a creature reduced to a novelty in a cage for your pleasure makes you chuckle so. Oh, what a delight this will be.
Five pm. The trumpets sound and the Bey of Algiers is welcomed to your court. You and your friends pause your ceaseless pheasant-eating to open your arms magnanimously and to then wipe the plum sauce dripping down your chin onto your royal sleeve, and then open your arms some more, as is your custom. The Bey bows deeply, clearly appreciative of this gesture.
“Your Majesty,” he bellows. His voice his proud and assertive. “I have travelled far and wide across the lands of the Earth. From the Far East to Africa, and all the territories between. I bring you spices and treasures!” You cackle giddily as you perceive each and all of your new treasures. Receiving treasures really is the best part of your job.
“I bring you topless dancers from the Orient!” And sure, the topless dancers are nice and all. You appreciate the gesture, as well as the civil rights abuses but what you really want to see is that lion. Your anxiety over this fact begins to show as you nervously cram saucy bites of pheasant into your mouth and draw little lions all over your royal placemat.
“Ah,” the Bey says knowingly. “I see your Majesty is familiar with the mighty African lion.” You marvel over the Bey’s incredible eyesight, and skill in deciphering your poorly articulated, crude stick -figure lions. “Perhaps you have heard the rumors that I myself have hunted these noble beasts and as such have brought at least one to violent justice!” He paused here for dramatic effect. “I assure your Majesty that these rumors… are entirely true.”
“Wheel in the lion!” he shouts.
The servants push the cart into the room.
“I had this lion restored by the best taxidermist in all of Algiers. Ah yes, it certainly looks just as fearsome as the day I killed it personally. Your Majesty, lay your eyes upon the face of the most terrifying beast in all the annals of history. The creeping death of the African savannah. The nightmare hunter of the moonless night of the Serengeti. Look upon it your Majesty, and tremble.”
You look upon the lion for a while. Something about it is a little off, but you can’t put your finger on it. The Bey waits to acknowledge your pleasure. “Bey of Algiers,” you say, “This lion seems a bit… stiff. I was very much hoping to see a more… frolicsome beast.”
“Oh, well, yes…” the Bey stammers. “I’m afraid the lion was so fierce we sort of had to kill it actually.”
“Oh, what a shame. Did you try using peasants to stuff it in a cage?”
“Yes, I’m afraid we tried that. It ate all the peasants.”
“Oh, what bother.”
You sit dejectedly in silence for a minute or so. “Well Bey of Algiers,” you say finally, “I suppose I owe you thanks for your many great gifts, and I say that if this beast killed all your peasants, so must we now eat each and all of these pheasants.”
Everyone laughs heartily at this, as they should, as you are a very clever king. You order the lion to be placed at the entry way of the castle to properly command the fear and respect of all who enter, for all who are subject to you must now brave the terrifying face of the dreaded lion.
Score: Nine out of Ten Real Lions.