The Israelite king, Benjamin I, was deeply troubled. Following his economic decrees from the Royal Court in Jerusalem, his loyal subjects were on the verge of rioting â€“ even to the point of marching on the Royal Palace with buckets of tar and sacks of feathers.
“What have I done to deserve this outrage?”, he moaned as he peered out at the crowds massing in the square below his closed window, which had to remain closed to prevent the continuing barrage of eggs and rotten tomatoes from entering the room where he stood, together with his wife, Queen Sarah-li; who appeared to be more interested in a reality TV program going on (Run for the Millions) than the commotion going on below.
“The peasants keep clamoring for bread. Don’t they realize that these new decrees are for their own good? Don’t they understand that they can find other work, good work, as chimney swifts, if our royal treasury can no longer give them largess?” he continued.
“Don’t worry my dear, if they don’t have bread or pitas to eat, let them eat cake”, his queen said, apparently thinking of something else.
“Cake! Did you say cake?” he fumed. “Marie Antoinette, Louie’s wife, said the same thing, and look what happened to both of them! Maybe we should throw our subjects a bone â€“ like allowing them, especially the older ones, to be given an extra penny on their pensions per month. That will enable them to go purchaseâ€¦..”
“Nonsense!”, the Queen screamed. “Are you becoming weak in your old age? We have to be strong with these people or the next thing you know they’ll be raiding the royal henhouse. Then they’ll even throw those eggs at us!”
“I’ll deal with them, especially their leaders, personally. I have my list of people to get even with, now that you are king again” she cooed, kissing his cheek.
“That won’t work like it used to” he moaned. “The peasants are too strong now. They’ll burn down our palace like the French peasants burned down the Bastille. Maybe we should cut a deal with them, like give their wives free maternity care.”
“Free maternity care?” she hissed. “Thatâ€™s how we got into this mess in the first place. Also by hiring those alchemists to turn lead into gold. If you would have listened to me, we would have them convinced to do their patriotic duty and pay even higher taxes for the good of the Motherland.”
“I’ve got it! ” the king exclaimed suddenly. “We’ll tax more those knights who received a horse from their “employer” in order for them to get to and from the jousting tourneys. I was going to hike the tax on oats by 10%, but just levying a “horse tax” sounds much easier.
“Oh my king, thou art truly wise,” Queen Sarah-li said. “Now, let’s go eat lunch â€“ the royal butler advised me that the lamb chops, and the caviar should be especially good today.”