Short Stories » Septimus

Petard had resolved, in a consultation with a master mason, whom he had made his chief architect, to rebuild another. This crown- officer, not having for some time done any thing for their majesties, had completely rased the old building, with the design of commencing a new one, which, according to his account, was to be much more magnificent. The king's savings, since the abduction of his children, and his annual revenues, not however being sufficient for the erection of this new edifice, he resolved, at the recommendation of his chamberlain and solicitor-general, to levy a tax, in order to raise the funds necessary to meet the expense of his new palace. His subjects, who had not hitherto paid taxes, murmured loudly, and swore not to do so then ; they even threatened to complain of him to the- queen-mother. To their discontent, which as usual, was not very civilly expressed, were joined the remonstrances of Carbuncle, who insisted that it was ridiculous to make others pay for a thing which could be neither useful nor profitable to them ; that his majesty was in truth, but a man like other men ; that having his own property and revenues, he ought not to take those of others for the sake of having more to spend ; that, consequently, while he had only the means of building a house, he ought not to have a castle; and that he, who had only a crown, ought to spend a crown only. All these reasons appeared very good to the king; but, at the same time, the solicitor- general and the chamberlain told him that he was master; that it was not worth while having subjects if they were not made to pay for the trouble that was taken in their government ; that they were made to work and kings to spend ; and that there was but one seneschal capable of thinking or advising otherwise. The king thought that they also reasoned very justly, and determined, consequently, to levy the tax. However, each of the councillors took his own side of the question, and loudly proclaimed his decision. " They shall not pay," said one party, " They shall be made to pay," said the other. " It shall not be so," said Carbuncle, " I am deter- mined." " It shall," said the solicitor- general, " or I will lose my Latin." At last they made such a hubbub that it would have been impossible to hear one's self speak. The king-, who no longer understood what they said, and knew not what part to take, left them and when he was with the queen, said to her ; " Oh ! by my sceptre if this continues I will give up governing, and then whoever wishes to be king may ; and I will go so far, so far, that I will not hear speak of the kingdom, the people, nor the palace." " Do not irritate yourself, Sire," said the queen to him quietly, " I have already had the honour of telling your majesty, that every thing comes in time to him who can wait." " Odds fish," said the king, " what do you wish me to wait for ? If they who have taken away our children, had left us a house instead of them, we should not have been so badly off; but doubtless Gangan has done it all ; and, if this continue, we shall have no more houses than we have children." Then he commenced repeating so many tiresome invectives against the fairies, that the good Gilletta was much vexed with him.

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