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January 20, 2003

A Fable

Knight's Shield

Every year in the first month it was the tradition for the Emperor to formally address the Court and the people. There was always a great procession attended by suitable pomp and circumstance as the Emperor and his retinue traveled to the Great Hall where the Lords and Ladies and all the Courtiers were assembled to await him. A few token commoners were also permitted inside the Hall to be exhibited to good effect at suitable points during the Emperor's Proclamation, but all the rest were allowed to look on from afar. Inside the Hall, Generals and Admirals were resplendent in their regalia, and Lord High Justices sat solemnly by in their robes. The Lord High Executioner was present together with all the other members of the Ruling Council. It was quite a spectacle for all to see.

One year the Emperor came to the Great Hall to tell all the Nobility, and the commoners, that a most evil Tyrant in a land far across the Great Ocean was plotting to destroy the Kingdom. He had stored great pots of noxious oil to be heated and poured down on Crusaders. He had captured many locusts to release in the fields of the Kingdom and cause widespread devastation there. He was building monstrous catapults in secret, with materials purchased from Darkest Africa, and would use them to hurl great stones into the cities of the Kingdom causing horrendous loss of life among the dwellers therein. The Emperor said that we must send forth the mighty Armies and the Navies at once to kill or capture the evil Ruler, and that he was prepared to spend all the treasure that was in the coffers of the Kingdom, and even borrow gold from neighbors, to make this Holy War. Everyone stood and cheered. He said that many spies were abroad in the Kingdom, and the Lord High Executioner and the Lord High Sheriff would arrest anyone who looked like a spy or acted disloyally, and lock them away in a dungeon to keep the Kingdom safe. Everyone stood and cheered. He said that after a great and swift victory in battle he would show the people across the sea how good it was to be his subjects, and make certain that all of them would form a Court just like his. Everyone stood and cheered.

Then, a little girl sitting with her mother outside the Great Hall noticed that the Emperor was naked. She asked her mother where the Emperor's clothes were. Realizing that the Emperor had exposed himself to her daughter, the mother rushed to block the view. Apparently, no one else noticed, because the Emperor's Wizards and Magicians had spun a spell, and cast the Cloak of Confusion around him. Everyone stood and cheered, once again.

Wizard raising hands

The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.

Adolf Hitler

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