His queen was somewhat younger than he and he was proud of her. He wasn't stingy about getting rich gifts for her, so she had all she wanted.
One day while the king was visiting some of the shops, he happened to notice an unusually beautiful tea set of very costly porcelain. "That's just the thing for a gift for my queen," he thought, so he bought it for her. She was delighted with it when it came as a gift from him.
The tea set was very fragile, though, and the king, knowing this, called all the servants of his palace together one day and told them sternly that if any of them ever broke even one piece of the set, that person would be dismissed from serving at the palace.
The king's servants loved him, and they all knew that he meant what he said, so the tea set was handled with utmost care. But accidents will happen, as everyone knows, and to the most careful of people, too.
One day a teacup slipped from the hands of the king's chief butler, who was also his oldest and most trusted servant. It would be be hard for us to imagine the grief of that faithful man.
He was so honest that he wouldn't have tried to hide what he had done even if he could have one so. Soon, with tears in his eyes, he carried the broken cup's pieces to the queen.
"Oh, your Majesty, see what I have done! Now I shall have to leave the palace, and in disgrace, too!" he said.
The young queen was more sorry by far for this good old man than she was for the loss of the beautiful cup. "Now, don't worry," she told him, smiling. "Just bring me a little glue."
She carefully mended the cup, and when it was ready to give to him, she said, "Now, when we have our next state dinner I want you to put this mended cup beside my plate, and I want you yourself to pour the drink into it."
It wasn't long after this until there was another royal dinner. Many knights and ladies were at the long state table, with the king at its head and the queen opposite him at the foot of the table.
The faithful old butler poured the hot drink into the mended cup as the queen had told him to do. The glue was of a type that quickly melted, and the cup fell apart. Instantly there was a little swish of the queen's big silken sleeve, and down went the cup's pieces to the floor.
"Oh, your Majesty!" exclaimed the queen. "See what I have done!"
But he only smiled at her and said, "What does a little accident matter?"
The butler's heart overflowed with joy for this wonderful kindness of the queen who saved him from being dismissed by the king.
~ Norman C. Schlichter