Yesterday he awoke to another day as plain old Bill Tykes. Today he woke up William Tykes, Earl of Tykes, seventh in line to the throne.
It was a rude awakening for him. He was happy with his life working in the fields in the same way his family had done for centuries.
Or at least he thought they had.
Seems that one day a while back now, well forty years ago to be exact, his mother met a young man while she was working in the fields harvesting the spring crops. This young man unbeknownst to her was the crown prince and the two developed a strong bond, so strong in fact that they planned to marry and run off to seek their fame and fortune.
Then his mother discovered she was with child and the young man on learning this pledged his support and love for both mother and child.
Then he vanished and much to my mothers surprise and dismay he reappeared some years later in his regal garb, the new King.
Bill never knew any of this until he answered a knock on his door to be greeted by two men he knew were the King’s men by their fancy uniforms.
They sat him down and explained the story to him as it had now come to light with the death of the King and the rise of his daughter to the throne.
In the King’s will there was reference to a child born some forty years previously. One William Tykes. Son of poor farm worker, and son of the future King.
Overnight Bill Tykes became William Tykes, Earl of Tykes. As it turned out the farm he and his family had worked on all these years was part of the Kings land and as a result of Bill’s elevation the land was bequeathed to him.
The Royal messengers had outlined a change in his circumstances, told him that as the landowner he could now set his own taxes on the farmers, could set up a household and employ servants, could now adopt a life of privilege and at the same time they set a date for an appointment with the Queen, to have his now new title invested on him formally.
Now it may have been like a huge lottery win for any other person but Bill Tykes was not as other men. His whole life had been one of work. Scratching out enough from the land to get by on, firstly to support his aging mother who had died some months prior to the King, his father.
His mother had never spoken of the man who was his father. Rather she said to him on many occasions he was better off not knowing, that if he knew it might ruin everything for him and her. So he had gone along with his mother’s wishes, as he knew she was an honest woman and wanted only to please her and care for her in her old age.
Now he was alone he spent his days on his patch of the land he worked tilling the soil, planting and nurturing the crops he grew, lending a hand at every opportunity to his neighbours most of whom like him had worked the land for generations.
He liked the life he had. This new revelation could ruin everything. He had no truck with pomp and ceremony, wanted and longed for a simple life, a life like he had, with good neighbours and always food for his table.
The following week he fronted the court having spent his morning dressing himself in the best clothes he had but knowing he didn’t have what it took to be a royal.
The Queen was a beautiful woman but also a wise one and had been intrigued by the story of her father’s youthful dalliance with the field worker. She greeted Bill, bestowed on him his new title. Bill humbly received the honour and bowed his allegiance to the Queen and said his thanks.
The Queen was taken aback on asking Bill what he intended to do now with his new position and one that offered potential as a new start for him, untold wealth, the role of landowner and the owner of the people who now worked for him.
Bill replied he intended to do nothing other than return to his home, the one he had lived in since birth, work the fields as he had always done and help his neighbours. The only difference he said would be in the allocation taxes.
The land he said was a part of all the families who lived and worked there. That it was now his made little difference to him. He would farm it as he always did. He would now be able to see that his families received something back for their labours. The taxes he would bestow would be for the benefit of all.
And in time the Earldom of Tykes became a model for others though many greedy landowners scoffed at his venture and the growth of his farmers as wealthy men in themselves. It wasn’t natural they said for the peasants to rise above their station in life. The vowed it would never happen in their earldoms as they feasted yet again on the fat of their land and died soon after from heart attacks.
Bill Tykes celebrated another harvest with his friends, the land was bountiful, they had plenty, and they gave away what they couldn’t sell to the poor who lived on the edges of his Earldom.
To the families who had always lived on the land he was always Bill Tykes but each year at post harvest they stood as one and waved the Earl of Tykes off on his annual journey to see the Queen and present to her his gift from his estate.
From each farmer he requested the best of their produce. Once gathered he set out on the journey to the court. Happy in his heart that he was a good man, a trusted man, a man of his word and integrity.