Once upon a time there was a prince, and he ruled a wide and varied kingdom. To the north, there were fertile plains, to the east, towering snow-capped mountains, to the west a dense forest, and on his southern border was the ocean. There were teeming cities, prosperous towns and charming hamlets, industrial areas, commercial markets and tranquil rural landscapes.

There was no shortage of amusement for the prince either - he could hunt, or hawk, range through libraries full of fact and fiction, there were theatres for plays and stadiums for sport, he could dance or sing, or simply sit companionably with friends over a mug of ale and share stories and jests.

But despite all this, our hero was discontented.

He loved the mountains, and delighted in the forests, the town stimulated him and he found the villages restful. The plains and the crops they produced gave him immense satisfaction.

But he hated the sea. Every day, he would ride down there with his retinue and glare out at the waves.

"Look at it!" he would rant, "So wide, so wet, always rushing up and down the beach like that!"

"But it's the sea, Sire," some hapless courtier would reply, "that is what the sea does."

"Well it shouldn't, I don't like it," the prince declared.

And he would stand and throw rocks at the ocean for a while, and then go home.

The next day, he would return and take up his complaint again.

"It's always the same!" he would cry. "It never changes."

And again, a lordling would try to reconcile him. He would explain that when the sun shone the waves would be gentle and lazy, or if a gale blew they would rage and crash. He would mention the way that one day the gulls might wheel above them screeching and another be absent so that His Royal Highness could hear the laughter and splashing of his subjects at play.

"I know all that," said the prince, "but in essence, it's the same. In essentials it never changes."

And he would stand and survey the subject of his hatred, glowering and unhappy, before turning on his heel and stalking away, muttering imprecations, his servants hurrying along in his wake.

Day after day, week after week, the prince would look upon the sea with disfavour, unhappy that despite all his powers he was unable to order his kingdom to his liking.

Until one day, wearied and worn, one of the gentlemen of the court hesitantly said to the prince, "Sire, may I have your permission to speak freely?"

The prince inclined his head graciously.

"Why sire, when you have this whole wide land to take pleasure in, and so much of it makes you happy, why, when you have Everything, do you come to the sea? You know what you will find here, and you know that you don't like it. Why do you not simply ignore it, and let the people who do like it enjoy being here?"

And the prince stopped, and thought, and started to speak, before he realised that he didn't have a good answer.

And he smiled at the courtier, and he turned his eyes away from the hated ocean, never to look upon it again.

And they all lived happily ever after.

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