Can a Stone Castle Float?

It was in the days of Good King Freddie. The king’s onerous duties kept him in London for most of the year but usually, in the summer, and when there was a quiet period in international affairs, he liked to take a holiday in his castle by the sea. Well, it used to be by the sea, but recently he had been taken to the castle by boat and the boat journey was taking longer and longer. My castle seems to be drifting away from the shore, he thought to himself.Freddie was always reluctant to involve his clever-clogs Prime Minister, Merlin the Whirlin, who always seemed to win every argument by referring to some document that he knew the king couldn’t read, so he called in the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Salty Biscuit. ‘You know all about ships sailing on the sea, Admiral,’ said Freddie, ‘and you often refer to our men-of-war as floating castles, but have you ever seen a real stone castle floating?’

‘Our ships are made of hearts of oak, have been for centuries, never heard of a stone ship,’ replied Sir Salty.’That’s what I thought you’d say,’ said Freddie, ‘but my holiday castle on the beach at Bognor seems to be moving out to sea.”That’s serious,’ snapped the admiral, ‘hazard to navigation, must get charts amended.”I’m sure you’re right,’ said Freddie, ‘but if my castle isn’t floating, how can it be moving out to sea?”Beat’s me,’ said Sir Salty. ‘Refer matter to Third Sea Lord; he’s responsible for naval design and construction.’That wasn’t very helpful, and Freddie feared that he might have upset the admiral because it was several months since he had taken any interest in naval matters.’Before you go, Admiral,’ said Freddie, ‘as we don’t meet very often, is there anything you would like to discuss with me?’

Sir Salty had given a smart salute and was about to raise anchor and sail away. Now he paused and looked thoughtful.’This fellow George, took over from Cuthbert,’ he began, ‘keeps some tame fire-breathers in Gloucestershire, useful in our fire ships – singe a few beards for Your Majesty, must talk to Third Sea Lord.”What a good idea,’ said King Freddie, ‘we could start with the King of Spain’s fleet at Cadiz. What a pity old Pierre doesn’t have a beard; but he doesn’t have much of a fleet either, does he?’

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