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So that his nephews, who will inherit his throne, will understand his life, King Architruc is writing his memoirs. Although his narrative is fragmented and even contradictory, one can piece together much of Architruc’s life from the story that he tells. At twenty, he became king after his father was assassinated. On the day of his coronation, he named Baga to be his prime minister, because Baga gave him an antacid to soothe his churning stomach. At first, Architruc traveled around the country dispensing justice, but later he tired of all activity. He now believes that “what one has to find in life is a formula,” and he has adopted one that suits him. He gets up at noon, does some simple exercises—which he hates because they require exertion—and examines his collections of pebbles, shells, leaves, and eyeglasses. Corniflet, the royal barber, arrives; after the daily shave, Architruc waters his pet plant, Ducky, dresses—always in white—and goes to the hall for his meal, which invariably consists of beef, followed by an omelet and a serving of cheese.

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Anything that upsets this tedious existence threatens him, so when ambassadors from Novocardia arrive, he does not want to receive them. Not only will their visit disturb his routine, but also he suspects that they plan to cause trouble. Architruc’s suspicions prove correct, for the Novocardians intend to occupy the valley of Chancheze, where Baga has been breeding rats. The rodents have been straying across the border and damaging Novocardian crops; despite repeated petitions to Architruc, nothing has been done to stop the depredations (probably because Baga has kept all these petitions from the king), and now Novocardia has determined to resolve the matter itself.

With the aid of the rats, Architruc defeats the invaders, but the ensuing war of attrition proves costly. Architruc’s kingdom is almost depopulated, and he himself flees to the forest to live as a hermit. After a century, he tires of his loneliness; he then returns to his palace, pausing only to visit his two old musicians.

Soon, another intruder upsets the king’s daily round of inactivity, though Conegrund, the queen of Doualia, is less bellicose than the Novocardians. Still, the royal treasury is hard-pressed to provide the pageantry and food she requires, and her voluptuousness even threatens to involve Architruc in lovemaking, until a black dishwasher satisfies her lust temporarily. The queen finds the dishwasher so satisfactory that she buys him for a thousand rupees, thus somewhat replenishing the king’s coffers.

With this money, Architruc resolves to build a castle in the valley of Rouget. One day, while supervising the construction, he wanders off and finds Sister Louise. He joins her convent and even converts to being a woman, taking the name of Sister Angela. Together with Louise, he persuades a local girl, Mary, to join their religious order of Saint Fiduce. Mary and Sister Angela sleep together until the king regains his masculinity. Mary then loses interest in him, so Architruc once more returns to the palace to resume his former routine.

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