Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Queen of Sheba's Nightmare

The man who wishes to preserve sanity in a dangerous world should summon in his own mind a parliament of fears, in which each in turn is voted absurd by all the others. - Bertrand Russell.





The Queen of Sheba's Nightmare is the first short story in Bertrand Russell's collection The Nightmares of Eminent Persons (published 1955 by Simon and Schuster). Here is my heavily abridged version. For some strange reason it reminds me of the EU. 


The Queen was returning from a visit to King Solomon and was accompanied by her Chief Counselor. 

As they journeyed on their asses the Queen expressed her admiration for King Solomon; for his treasures, for his wisdom, for his sagacious conversation. "A man," said the queen, "worthy of my love." 

At that moment a man dressed in rags approached on foot. The Queen demanded to know who the man was. 

"Your Majesty, my name is Beelzebub," the man replied. 

The Queen had never heard of Beelzebub and was eager to discover more. She soon found that Beelzebub was a friend of King Solomon, and had an even grander palace, and even more treasures, and was even wiser than Solomon, and that his conversation was even more scintillating. And when Beelzebub offered to show the Queen his palace she was unable to resist. 

Soon they came a measureless cave in the mountains. Beelzebub led the way through long tunnels and narrow passages. Eventually they came to a vast hall lit by innumerable lamps. The walls and the roof glittered with precious stones. Three hundred silver thrones were arranged along the walls. The Queen was suitably impressed. "Magnificent," she purred. 

"You shall now see my Presence Chamber," said Beelzebub, and he led the Queen through an invisible door into the next room which was twice the size of the first, and was bedecked with twice the number of jewels and precious stones, and was even more brilliantly lit. Arranged along three of the walls were seven hundred golden thrones. And on the fourth wall there were two great thrones composed entirely of precious stones, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, pearls bound together by some unfathomable and strange art. 

"This," said Beelzebub, "is my great hall, and of the two jeweled throne, one is mine and the other shall be yours." 

"Who will occupy the seven hundred thrones?" the Queen asked. 

"You will know in due course," said Beelzebub. And then he explained about his magic powers. And how he could be wooing in many places at the same time and tempting many beautiful women into his throne rooms. 

Beautiful women, including Solomon's chief consort, filed in and filled the seven hundred thrones. 

Solomon's concubines already filled the three hundred silver thrones. 

"Perfidious monster!" raged Queen Sheba, realizing she had been fooled. "Henceforth I shall rule alone and no male will ever deceive me." 

"I'm afraid you don't realize your position. I showed you the way in, but only I can find the way out. This is the abode of the dead, and you are here for all eternity.You will occupy the throne next to mine, but only until you are superseded by the last Queen of Egypt." 

Fortunately for the Queen of Sheba it was all a nightmare from which she soon awoke, albeit  in a tumult of rage and despair. 

"I fear," said the Chief Counselor, "that your majesty has had troubled dreams."





11 comments:

  1. A nightmare - and no power or richness might have get her out of it (if she were awake). Though I am not quite sure whether there is not more then a drop of truth in it - wooing in many places, so many attractive women, and a very greedy man B. ?

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    1. B for Banker. The EU controller.

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  2. Hah' the gullibility of those who are attracted by riches and blind to their real needs.

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    1. Bertrand Russell can be funny as well as illuminating. He tells his readers the Queen has a white ass and the ass of her Counselor is of a darker colour. That's a point to ponder too. My Renault is white.

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    2. I have a short story called Zen my Ass in my links. I wrote it in a moment of meditative madness. No idea why really.

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  3. We are all having dreams of unfulfillment at present, whatever side we are on.

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    1. The future hangs in the balance. Dave or Boris. Hope it's not a nightmare.

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  4. Hm - afraid I come down on Dave's side at present - but there is still time.

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    1. Bernie Eccleston thinks Putin should rule Europe and Britain should leave EU. I expect we will get more 'pearls of wisdom' as the whole business unfolds.

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  5. Does anyone know where Russell found this story or if there is a previous version of it from any ancient text?

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    1. I don't know if it's any help but in the book's last nightmare called 'Faith and Mountains' the author mentions a book called 'The Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties, and Schools of Religious of Thought'. That's the only clue I can find.

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