“Listen to me!” Prince Bumper boomed. “I don’t care what objections you have to say, I’m going to marry Winifred if it’s the last thing I do.”
Prince Bumper and I were sitting at the Restaurant of Five Hornets having a nice meal in the afternoon when he suddenly got on the topic of his wanting to marry Winifred B. Baines, the most wonderful actress from West Dalia, a neighboring city of Oxshire. I began to make a few objections to the nuptials knowing full well that Miss B. Baines was accustomed to moving from engagement to engagement citing that, she just couldn’t find the ‘right stuff.’
“I’m the right stuff!” Prince Bumper said nibbling at an ear of corn.
“Enough!” he said.
I always wondered why friends, family and prominent officials of the state invited me to have luncheons with them if they weren’t going to listen to anything I had to say. Since the Prince and I had been sitting at lunch the whole conversation had been about him and was pretty one-sided. I realized that if I wasn’t there he still would have had the same conversation with the empty chair in front of him—the chair may have even gotten a few points in edgewise, more than I could ever get in.
He pulled out an exquisite ring the size of a dinner roll and set it on the table; it shook the glasses. The glint from the fine piece of jewelry was so bright it nearly blinded me.
“What do you think?” he asked me.
“Yes, it’s the ring I will be proposing to her with,” he said, eyeing it with much appreciation.
It didn’t surprise me that the ring he was going to propose to Winifred with was the size of a small country; it did surprise me, however, that the Prince was getting married so soon. Why, it seemed just a few days before he had been engaged to Helena Spurs, the engineer; she had dumped him at the altar because she felt he had no dreams. She wanted a King not a Prince; she currently was in jail due to a mishap at a barter-bank.
Now the Prince was to get hitched again.
He placed the ring back in its satchel.
The waiter arrived with some more wine, which I agreed to indulge in delightedly.
“Did you hear?” the waiter asked us, trying to make small talk so he could come out with a big tip.
“What?” the Prince asked.
“The notorious thief Peddle Paddlewink, cult leader of the Mashed Pudding Syndicate, has escaped jail.”
“The what?” I asked.
“Mashed Pudding is a criminal organization,” Prince Bumper said. His eyes were red with rage. “Peddle Paddlewink is a no good criminal mastermind. I should know. I put him behind bars. He is my arch-nemesis.”
“All the more reason,” I said. “To not get into an engagement. You’ve got to make sure no one gets harmed—especially you and your soon-to-be bride.”
The Prince shook his head. It was safe to say, that he didn’t listen to me.
The next day it was all in the papers.
“Prince Ludwig Bumper announced his engagement to Miss Winifred B. Baines,” the International National (a rummy newspaper) said. There was a picture of the old Prince proposing, showing off the massive ring.
I shook my head at the sight of it. I saw no good coming from this.
The invitation came in the mail soon afterwards asking me to be up there at the altar for the Prince as a groomsman in the wedding.
“Golly,” I said to myself. “This is going awfully fast.”
So, come Wednesday of that week, two days after I had stiffly told the Prince that he should not be getting hitched for danger of Peddle Paddlewink and the notorious Mashed Pudding Syndicate, there I was standing up with Prince Bumper for his wedding. I stood there looking at my watch; he twiddled his thumbs; the audience picked their teeth. We were waiting for Winifred B. Baines, but no one had seen her all day.
The priest shrugged and pulled a sermon from his hat and began talking about why the sky was blue to pass the time.
The Prince waved me over to him. I snuck passed the other groomsmen.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“Well—” I began.
“Find out!” he said.
I made my way back to where my post was and tried to devise a scheme to ‘find out’—when suddenly there was the sound of someone screaming coming from the street. It’s safe to say the Prince bolted! He was out of the church—I at his tail—and in no time at all we were witnessing a tragic scene.
There was Winifred in her white dress fighting off a large, brutish looking man dressed in a tuxedo. He was standing outside of a car. The man had a cigar in his mouth and he was trying to wrestle the woman while still smoking the thing.
“It’s that man!” the Prince yelled.
“What man?” I asked.
“It’s Peddle Paddlewink and the Mashed Pudding Syndicate!”
“Get the ring, boys!” Peddle Paddlewink said as he struggled with the bride. But instead of ‘boys’ coming up to help Paddlewink, a group of pre-teen girls in fancy dresses began to try and get the diamond ring off of Miss B. Baines finger.
“We must have the jewelry!” P. Paddlewink shouted.
“Stop this!” the Prince pleaded.
But before the Prince could do anything, Paddlewink found that the giant ring just wasn’t coming off of Baines’s finger. And so, he and his girls, tossed the bride in the car and skidded off, leaving the Prince and myself on the side of the road.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“Like I said, the Mashed Pudding Syndicate.”
“But who were the girls?”
“Peddle Paddlewink’s daughters.”
Later that week I was back at lunch with the Prince and he was gloomily staring at his eggs, untouched by his fork, no doubt thinking about his rummy luck at the wedding earlier; the waiter came round with some more news.
“Did you hear?” he asked.
“Hear what?” the Prince asked.
“That Peddle Paddlewink of the Mashed Pudding Syndicate just got hitched to Winifred B. Baines of the theater.”
The waiter hadn’t known it, but he hit a nerve and had definitely lost his tip. He showed us the article in the paper. It was on the front page and the title ran:
“The Right Stuff.”
“Winifred said she always wanted to have daughters,” the Prince said, pushing the paper aside. “Tell me, where’d I go wrong?” he asked.
“First off,” I said. “Thanks for listening.”