Resting on the Guillotine

“SLAUGHTER THE RICH,” the mob shouted as they loaded their weapons with the king’s silver faces. They shot the first volley of silver coins into the castle wall, but the king did not listen. So, they shouted louder: “BRING HIM DOWN. BREAK HIS NECK. STEAL HIS CROWN” And the second volley of Thalers rained over the moat. The silver hit holes in the stone. A smattering of coins got stuck in it. The roars mixed. Voices collided. Some cry sounded louder through the crowd. In disorder, they exclaimed their demands.
“Freedom”; “Equality”; “Fraternity”; “Feeding”.
The king made no decency to stand before his people. Their call for his head didn’t get through; the voices didn’t pass the wall. Many citizens lacked patience and their voices became hoarse and their eyes tired of the sight of carved stone. The people turned to their next and they looked at each other closely. Among them stood the traders and merchants, priests and knights, the bourgeois nobility and the peasant council members.
“What do you want among us? What do you know about hunger, poverty and the cold?”
One of the accused proclaimed to the crowd: “We are not the root of your problems; the excretion flows down from above. We are also unhappy with our king’s regency, everything is rotten and it is never quite safe”.
The poorest lowered their weapons against their own and pressed pitchforks and muskets into their hands to storm the fortress as a unit. Some madman tried to jump and jumped under chants of their fellow men straight into their demise. Some wiser plebs tried to use ladders to get over the moat in what also turned out to be a desperate attempt to gain access to the castle.
Then he, the king, came out of his chamber and faced the masses on the wall. He looked down on them and when they saw him, their voices lost their reason to sound. The king stretched out his arms as if they were already crucifying him, and he began to speak to his people: “I am just a king in name. A prisoner like you, and your prisoner I am. Sitting in a gilded cage and all of you, who hold the key, might pay each other with my face, but it is your sweat that gives the silver value”
The king took off his crown and put it on one of the battlements. He took a break to breathe before he started to speak again:
“You built the system long ago, I was just born into it as my predecessor did. Did you build it to behead kings when you are plagued by hunger? You want to see my head dangling on the battlements, I understand that, but don’t forget that a king is just a beggar when he loses his face. My face will be scratched from the currency, but you will again load your rifles with someone else’s silver head”
“You are not the ruler of our lives,” cried a man in noble garments, who put his daughter in front of him and held her by the shoulders; “Yes, I was not born among you, and I do not know your lives as much as I don’t own them. But so I am sure for there is self-responsibility in your lives, and if given the choice, lambs you would vote to the slaughtering block”
“Freedom”, shouted the third row, which saw the least of the unfolding event and they threw their last bread into the mouth of the abyss. The strongest throwers hit the stone. The bread ricochet and in the water of the trench it sank and sucked itself full.
“Don’t waste your wheat on massive stone. Not a single king built these walls – silver built them. Go home, lay down your weapons and your revolution. Tomorrow there will also be a king to behead and silver to shoot. And if that is your wish, I will come out tomorrow and surrender myself to you”
The masses lowered their voices and the mob dissolved. Everyone got back to their day-to-day business. The beggars picked up the coins from the street. The king returned to his chamber and gave the musicians a signal so that they started playing this favorite melody again. For he knew, like any of his subjects, that heads could fly again tomorrow.

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