Short story – King and the Blind Beggar: Liar, liar!

LIAR

The blind beggar was bathing in the royal bath while servants fed him grapes and other delicious fruits. The king arrived and descended into the steaming water opposite to the beggar and said: “It has now been several days since I took you to my palace, and I am getting restless. How much longer until you shall impart to me the divine knowledge and heavenly secrets, like you have promised?”

The beggar shooed off the servants and said to the king: “You are quite impatient, oh dignified king. But your impatience also shows me your deep desire for the truth, and it may hasten the process of your maturity. I promised you that in five years time it will happen, but it seems now that four years might well be enough.”

“Four years!?,” the king exclaimed in agitation and splashed water with his palms. “I have been so kind to you, you wrinkly, smelly codger, that I have spared your life many times over and even let you in my palace to be served by the most beautiful servants and fed the most delicious foods, and you tell me four years I must wait?”

The king’s black beard was quivering from his irritation and impatience and the beggar said calmly: “I promise you that the heavenly secrets are worth the agony of your waiting. And you must understand, oh great king, that only rare beings ever reach the highest peaks of existence, so unless you want to remain a suffering mortal, you have no option but to follow my guidance with patience and let me show you the way to godliness.”

The king splashed water in frustration and got up from the bath and ordered his servants to dry his body and rub fine oil onto his skin. When the king was gone, the blind beggar waved his hand to the servants to bring him more grapes and serve him wine.

The next day the beggar dressed up in the most exquisite silk clothes and let the king’s slaves carry him to the market square to meet with the ordinary townsfolk.

A poor boy came to the blind beggar, thinking that he is a wealthy royal, and said: “I am just a poor boy and I have been raised by rats and stray dogs and evil witches. Please, sir, give me a dime so that I can buy myself a piece of bread.”

The beggar ordered the slaves to stop and he turned his blind eyes towards the boy and said: “You are lying, small boy, you are lying to me. But because I am a merciful man, I shall pity you and not send you to the dungeons.”

The boy looked closely at the old beggar, who was dressed in royal silk, and said: “You are not a royal! I know who you are! You are a blind man who used to be begging for alms at the street corner. What are you doing up there, being carried by the king’s slaves and dressed up in such fancy clothes?”

“You have mistaken, young man,” said the beggar. “I am indeed the king’s counsellor, and for that reason I am being carried in this chair by the king’s slaves. I do not know what nonsense you are talking about.”

The boy said: “You are an impostor! You are just a dirty beggar, and somehow you have managed to fool the king with your foul tongue to listen to your blabbering.”

The beggar gestured to the slaves to start moving away from the little pest, but the boy followed and started mocking the beggar and using more and more ugly words to insult him.

“You don’t know what you are talking about,” said the beggar. “I am the noble counsellor and I am the man who decides the fate of this kingdom. Go and ask the king, for he will surely tell you the truth if you will not believe my word. But what does it matter? You are but a wretched troublemaker, and your words are like the hum of a little mosquito in my ears. So make yourself disappear before I change my mind and send you to the dungeons to rot with the other bandits, you little insect.”

The beggar had to order the slaves to move faster and head back to the palace, for the boy became a disturbance and he didn’t want to attract too much attention among the people.

Upon meeting the king, the beggar said: “The townsfolk are becoming a real nuisance, my king. They should be taught and disciplined for better and more respectful behaviour. I recommend that we create a new order in this city, for the people have lost their manners and they cannot talk rightly but use foul language that makes my ears hurt.”

The king looked at the blind beggar and a red colour appeared on his face and the king said: “Who do you think you are? Have you forgotten that you are nothing but a decaying old man whose life I have spared because I think you hold something that might be of great value to me? But each day I start to doubt that more and more. You don’t deserve or need the respect of the townsfolk, because you are just a cockroach who is extorting me and I am too weak to use my kingly sword to cut your head off and be done with you.”

“But king,” said the beggar, “what if I told you that the people are speaking ill about you and some are even conspiring against your might? What if I told you that there is a vast cabal being put together with the aim of overthrowing you, the mighty and beloved king.”

“If you told me that,” said the king, “I would laugh so hard that I could not breathe and I would die immediately. But because you are just a lying, devious beggar, I cannot believe such words and my patience with you is running out.”

“I might be a devious, lying beggar, but how about that boy I met in the marketplace this morning? Was that boy also a lying beggar?”

“What boy? What are you talking about, you filthy creature?”, asked the king.

“The boy who came to me while the slaves were carrying me in the chair,” said the beggar, “and who said that there are people speaking ill of the king and that there is a dangerous cabal being created in dark halls and dungeons deep underground, where the eyes of the rule cannot see or its hands reach.”

“Nonsense!” shouted the king. “Where is my sword? I need to cut this madman’s head off before he spews out more lies with his poisonous mouth!”

The beggar didn’t budge by the king’s threats, but continued and said: “Yes, and this secret cabal will shackle you and your family and everyone close to you in the castle dungeons and use your beautiful daughters and your wives for their pleasure and they will defile your forefathers and remove the rule of your family from the accounts so that no one shall ever again remember your name.”

Then the king jumped towards the beggar and grabbed his throat and jolted him forcefully, but the beggar didn’t give up and said with a stifled voice: “But it is not too late to stop it!”

The king suddenly calmed down, let the beggar free and said: “How can we stop it? Tell me now or I shall make you carry buckets of excrement day and night for the rest of your life.”

“You must establish a new order in the kingdom. The people have become complacent and lazy. They have become ungrateful and deceitful. You must establish a new order that will turn everything upside down and make the people respect the throne like they should. Only a new order can save you from demise, for I have heard rumours that this cabal is quickly advancing in its plans and it will soon begin to execute a horrible measure of action to overthrow you and disgrace your name.”

Short story -– King and the Blind Beggar: Public Humiliation

HumiliThe blind beggar was sitting on a bench in the royal garden, listening to the chirping of the birds and smelling the fragrance of the flowers. Suddenly the beggar heard someone approach — it was the king himself. The king was cursing and grumbling loudly as he walked towards the beggar.

“Finally I found you,” the king said in agitation. “A great tragedy has taken place. You must help me.”

“What is the matter?” asked the blind beggar.

“I was sitting in my sedan chair,” said the king, “carried by my slaves near town square, and suddenly this man, this cursed hoodlum, came near and started mocking me, the king, in broad daylight, in front of all the people. Immediately I ordered my guards to silence the villain, but he was strong and his mouth was like that of a baboon, a fat, ugly baboon. Even while the guards were putting him down he continued with his insults. And a crowd started to gather; it must have been a hundred people! All listening to this man’s mockery of the king. And do you know what the worst part was?”

“What was the worst part?” asked the blind beggar.

“They laughed at the man’s words! They laughed at his mockery! They laughed at their king! A hundred people all giggling and snickering at their beloved king! I have never before in my life felt such anger and embarrassment. I told my guards to shackle the wicked thug and take him to the filthiest dungeon in the castle and then ordered my slaves to carry me away from the crowd as fast as their legs could move. But it wasn’t fast enough… It wasn’t enough…”

“You cried, did you not?” asked the blind beggar.

“Of course I cried!” the king roared. “I cried and they all could see it! They saw their mighty king start to weep in front of them! And again they laughed! Now you must help me solve this monumental problem. The people are now making fun of their king because he cried when a man insulted him. But not for long shall they laugh at me, for I shall once again show them who I really am!”

The blind beggar remained in silence.

The king continued: “I shall bring that man to the town square, make him strip naked in front of all the people, and tell them that the man is a filthy pig, an animal, and that he has been in sexual communion with a diseased horse. That I shall do so that they will no longer mock me but mock that son of a bastard and laugh at him instead of me, their beloved king. Will I hang him? No. Of course not! He must live so that they don’t forget that man and so they can mock him and insult him for many more years!”

“That is precisely what you must do, oh mighty king,” said the blind beggar.

“What?!” exclaimed the king. “I did not search for you for a quarter of the day only to get a consent for my plans to humiliate that man. You brainless fool, you impotent beggar! I came to you for wise advice, for enlightened guidance, and as a king I shall receive what I want.”

The beggar didn’t say anything for a little while, and the king was becoming more and more anxious. At last the beggar said: “If you desire that the people bow down to their king in town square but secretly speak ill of him in pubs, taverns, and street corners, then go ahead and humiliate that man and persecute him and tell lies about him. But if you desire to be a king whom the people truly respect and trust, then it is not enough to merely poke the eye of the man who offended you. If you desire to be a king who can turn his back on his people and trust that no one will stab a knife in his spine, then you must learn to turn the other cheek and be humbled by your own fallibility as a mere mortal. Maybe you ought to talk to that man. Ask him what his reason was for the mockery and insult.”

The king seemed to become nervous and his face turned red. “What nonsense! More and more I am starting to doubt your wisdom, you filthy rat. That man is nothing but a mad goblin, so why should I, the mighty king, humble myself and try to talk reason to such a tainted human being?”

The blind beggar said: “You are right, oh revered king. That man is nothing but a shadow compared to your shining glory, and he may well deserve a good humiliation in front of a hundred people. But then, wouldn’t that be too easy? The people would laugh and enjoy the show, but deep down they would know that it is arranged only to repair the damage done to the king’s mighty ego. For this reason it must be something more powerful, something that will be more shocking than merely ordering the fool to strip naked and dance like a clown in town square.”

The king became curious of what the blind beggar had in mind and said: “Go on, you hopeless cripple, tell me how I can make the people truly forget my weakness.”

“My mouth is dry, oh beloved king,” the beggar said, “and I think only the best royal wine can mend this malady, so that I can continue to tell you what is the solution to your problem.”

“You are nothing but a rapacious leech, an unthankful bloodsucker, who plays tricks over my troubled mind and whom I should immediately behead with my sharp sword and whose rotting body I should throw to the rats to gnaw so that only your fragile bones are left. But because I have made a promise to let you live for five years, I must spare your worthless life and serve you as my noble guest.”

The king’s servants brought the best wine from the royal wine cellar and the beggar drank so much of it that he tumbled off the bench onto the grass and the king became worried that the beggar might fall asleep and said: “You ugly creature, get up and tell me the solution to my problems! Or else I shall order my guards to put you away and you shall never see daylight again.”

The blind beggar rolled over to a sitting position already visibly tipsy from the strong wine and said to the king: “You are most generous, for you are the great and powerful king and I am nothing but a measly old man, and yet you serve me your best wine and let me listen to the chirping of the little birds of your royal garden, even when I have nothing to offer you but my modest words.”

The king was anxious to hear the beggars solution, and he ordered his servants to cast cold water on him to make him stop with his nonsense.

“Right,” said the beggar, “now is the time to reveal the solution to your blight. As I said, you need means more powerful than merely to humiliate the sorry thug who offended you in front of a hundred people near town square. You need means that will reassure the people once again of your great might and your strength and your infallibility. For that reason, you must show the people that it wasn’t due to the man’s bitter words that you shed up a tear. You must show them that no amount of humiliating speech can do you harm. Only by demonstrating that you are the mighty ruler and that you cannot be hurt by mortals and their wicked deeds can you restore your dignity in the eyes of your people.”

So the very next morning the king ordered all the people to gather in town square and he himself was standing on a wooden stage in front of all the people. And the king spoke to them: “Yesterday a great misfortune took place, as a pitiful man spoke to me, his dignified king, with words that a mere mortal would have considered hurtful and malicious, but because I am the mighty king, such words do not affect me and they are nothing but ticklish rustle in my ears. But so it happened that as this encounter took place, I was returning from the marketplace and there was a pouch of freshly cut onions in my chair right next to me, and for that reason drops of water came out of my eye. And it is possible that some unenlightened citizens believed that I was crying because of the words of this wretched, unfortunate man, but I must assure you that this is not how it went. The onions in my chair caused irritation in my eyes and for that reason water came out of them.”

The people were completely silent and listening to their king.

“But it is possible,” the king continued, “that some of you might not believe my words, even when I am the almighty king, and for this reason I must demonstrate to you that I am not affected by such silly things and that a king cannot be humiliated.”

Then the king began to take off his decorations one by one, and after the decoration he took off his boots and then his elaborate silk coat and his tunic so that he was left with only his crown and stockings. Many women in the crowd gasped in shock and covered their eyes and also the eyes of their children. Then the king took off even his stockings and some women screamed in horror as they saw the king naked with only the royal crown on his head.

The king spoke: “Look, my people. Now I am standing here naked before your eyes to prove you that a king doesn’t suffer from humiliation, because a king is above such worldly matters. Now go and find that man who tried to insult your king yesterday morning near town square and make him your new laughingstock!”

To further his point, the king started to dance like a clown and make all kinds of peculiar noises and he started to flap his arms like chicken wings to prove his point.

When the king returned to the royal palace to see the blind beggar, he was exhilarated by the success and ingeniousness of the beggar’s plan.

“It worked!” exclaimed the king to the beggar, whose feet were being massaged by the king’s servants. “It truly worked, and now the people have forgotten about me and they are laughing at the silliness of the fool who tried to insult me.”

The beggar told the servants to stop massaging his feet and sent them to fetch him some fruits and wine and said to the king: “So, you listened to my advice and undressed in front of the people and danced like a clown to let them know that you are above humiliation?”

“Yes, yes!”, the king said. “I did exactly as you told me and it all worked perfectly. I’m sure they are already searching for this low-life and making fun of him and his stupidity.”

“Good,” said the blind beggar. “you have surely reclaimed your authority in the eyes of the people. You don’t need to worry anymore.”