(This is the second instalment of a five-part series being published over the course of this week on TCW. Read yesterday’s part one at this link)
Now it came to pass that some of the womenfolk did indeed leave their little ones and entered the workforce, and the King was delighted to see the Royal Treasury grow. Yet most of the womenfolk continued to ignore the Royal Emancipation Proclamation, choosing instead to stay at home to raise their own children. And so by and by the King’s countenance fell and once again he grew sorrowful in his heart. At last there came a day when he could take it no more and so he gathered together his wise men once more.
“My thirst for unlimited power and the fulfilling of my every desire are still limited,” he said with sadness. “Some of the womenfolk now pay into the Royal Treasury, but most still refuse. Oh, can nothing be done?”
Once again the wise men stepped forward to give their advice. Some said that the Royal Emancipation Proclamation should be enforced by legal statute with the choice taken from the womenfolk, since it had been shown that if they were given the choice, they would always choose to stay at home to raise their own children, thereby paying nothing into the Royal Treasury. Others said that the King should tax the womenfolk for raising their own children, and especially for taking them to the park.
But none of these answers satisfied the King, and so he turned once again to the twelfth wise man, whose name was Cuthbert:
“Lord Cuthbert,” said the King, “Your advice hath seemed good to me before. What is your counsel this time?”
“O King, may you live forever,” replied Cuthbert. “May I ask Your Majesty why he thinks that a goodly proportion of the womenfolk hath refused to harken to the Royal Emancipation Proclamation?”
The King though for a moment, before replying that he supposed them to be loyal to their husbands and families.
“Thou hast answered well, Sire,” replied Cuthbert. “The womenfolk of this realm are, by and large, too wedded to their families to take up Your Majesty’s kind offer to free them from bondage, and so they continue to pay no taxes into the Royal Treasury. If I might make so bold, Your Highness, I propose that you set about weakening the bonds between husbands and wives by granting the people permission to break their marriage vows on a whim.”
Once again there was uproar in the court, and this time the first wise man stepped forward to speak on behalf of the eleven.
“Sire,” he said earnestly. “if Your Majesty were to take such action, the family would collapse, and problems would engulf Your Royal Kingdom.”
The King pondered the objection for a moment, nodding slowly as he did so, before turning to Cuthbert for a response:
“Sire, the objection is indeed a good one, and Your Majesty’s wise men are correct in perceiving that breaking the bonds between husband and wife would indeed lead to all sorts of problems in the Kingdom. But what is Your Majesty’s overarching aim?”
“To increase the Royal Treasury of course,” replied the King.
“Then I must confess I hath misunderstood the King in this matter,” replied Cuthbert, “for I perceived that Your Majesty’s overarching aim was to quench his thirst for unlimited power and the fulfilling of his every desire. Surely Your Majesty and his wise men can see that by breaking the bonds between husband and wife, the problems that would follow will give His Majesty unlimited ways of achieving this. Why, in time, the people will cry out to the King to solve all the problems that his edict has created.”
Slowly but surely a broad grin spread itself across the King’s face, and the very next day a Royal Emancipation Proclamation was read out in every square throughout his realm:
“Men and women of the Kingdom of Grebbleton. His Royal Majesty, King Gondil III, being eager to show favour to his subjects, hath of late become mindful of your unfortunate condition whereby, through no fault of your own, you hath been forced to stay true to the vows you did declare on your wedding day, even though they are verily “just a piece of paper.” Be it known that this day, your cry hath reached the King’s ears, and in accordance with his grace, mercy and favour, he hath answered your prayer and granteth you release from the slavery of the marriage chains by which you hath been held. From this day forward, all that hath made such vows are freely pardoned from them, and it should be understood that true fulfilment cometh not from being with the same person until death, but by being a free agent to do according to one’s whims.”
Read part three on TCW tomorrow. What else will the King do to swell his coffers?
(Image: Hans Splinter)