I read this short story around 1971. The basic plot is for a steward to lead the king's son to another city state. Along the way they have a number of interactions with people/subjects that demonstrate the immaturity of the son. Last one involves the son beating up the suitor of a innkeeper's daughter. When confronted by the steward, the son displays his contempt and chauvinistic regard of his future subjects and the steward kills him. Turns out the trip was a test of his suitability to assume the crown and the steward explains to the king that he was not worthy. Been looking in all the anthologies can seem unable to find it.

Thanks for your help

  • I take it the story has no fantastic elements other than being set in an imaginary kingdom?
    – user14111
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 19:35
  • Thank you for your response. My recollection is that it was a "semi-modern" society, meaning they had some elements of advanced technology but yet still relied on horses, etc. My impression was that it was "post apocalyptic". Sorry that is all I remember.
    – Libtard
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


It's "Call Him Lord" by Gordon Dickson. Not fantasy, though. It involves the son of the emperor of an interstellar empire being sent to Earth for testing. Earth is kept as a "rural preserve" in order to preserve the qualities they want in the rulers. It won the Nebula for Best Novelette in 1966.

A full copy can be found online here

  • There seems to be some corruption in the linked text
    – Ddddan
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 20:23

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