“Rowboats?”

“Rowboats, sire.”

“Perhaps the Oracle is wrong.”

“The Oracle is never wrong, sire.”

“Yes, but… Rowboats? She may have meant navy.”

“ ‘He who has the best rowboats shall rule the land.’ The Oracle’s exact words, sire.”

“We could put oars on our ships-of-the-line. A 118-gun first rate would make one mighty rowboat.”

“ ‘Best rowboats’, sire. A man-o-war would make a very poor rowboat, indeed.”

“And Napoleon has heard of the prophecy?”

“He has, sire. The French are building rowboats for their army even as we speak.”

“Good rowboats?”

“Adequate. The French are skilled shipwrights.”

“But lousy sailors. Very well, notify the Board of the Admiralty to use the proceeds from selling apples to initiate their rowboat program. By order of his majesty, et cetera, et cetera. And put my Privy Seal on it.”

“At once, sire.”

“And Neville…”

“Yes, sire?”

“Make sure that our rowboats carry weapons of glass destruction.”

“Of course, sire.”

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