Stanford Chaparral

“The Mother is Dead, LONG LIVE THE NEW MOTHER”

In 1954, a 7th grade girl named Suzie Thomas was riding her bicycle and ran over the mother of a group of ducklings. The traumatized ducklings were left in a panicked mania, for the tragic death raised a peculiar paradox regarding who the rightful heir to the title of Mother was.

Duck Tradition dictated that the right to succeed is determined by statutes, notably the Act of Settlement, passed by Duck Parliament in 1701. This means that those born a member of the Duck Family, but not those who marry into the Duck Family, are eligible to be in line of succession. It does not mean that the late mother’s widow. (Marriage to the sovereign does not give the widow or widower greater precedence over those in line of succession.)

In this case, the line of succession was obscured by the fact that the Mother Duck was murdered, and did not die of natural causes. The bylaws were clear. Ancient Duck custom dictated that ducks must live and die by the sword. In the event of the murder of the mother duck, the assassin ascends to his rightful place as ruler. Hence the phrase, “The Mother is dead, long live the new mother.”

What the bylaws did not specify, however, was whether those members of a different species were eligible to become de facto Mother Duck. An impromptu council formed from the most learned members of the recently orphaned ducklings determined that, indeed, a 7th grade human female, in the event of regicide, could assume the throne. Thus began the reign of young Suzie Thomas in the year of our duck, 1954, pending her parents’ approval.

Unfortunately, this new precedent set the stage for years of political intrigue, betrayal, and death among the Thomas family royal court. When news spread of the ascension of young Thomas to the thrown, unscrupulous demagogues, eager to amass power in the duck political arena, began to make attempts on young Suzie’s life. Literally hundreds of would-be assassins began hatching increasingly gruesome plots to destroy young Thomas in hopes of inheriting control of the ducklings. She did of course eventually die when she ingested a turkey sandwich that had been poisoned three times independently by three different people with the most deadly toxins known to man.