An Indigestible Dream

The damp of three summers’ rotting rain ruined the emperor’s day with a cold, and left the wheat-fields like paddys. When the taxman added his tax that year, he went off his diet with worry, for the imperial pocket was short of full about one new palace worth of dollars, but descending heavily from his office on the towns, he adjusted the towns. Sullen farmers clotted the corners, leisurely as the rich but more hungry, angering the air with belly-growls, but the taxman slid like a stick of butter easily unhearing along the streets: he must have gone deaf at the edge of town. Knowing the business of government heavy, and knowing the taxman a busy man, the farmers, to get his attention, threw stones, but the mayor’s high walls were hard of hearing as the official ear, though the taxman couldn’t have heard anyway, for that buttery ear was being busily licked by the confidential tongue of the mayor. The taxman, back in the capital, figured out one day that each farmer had been taxed the cost of one stone, well-cut, for that pocket-filling palace of dollars. An indigestible dream that night, a dream of farmers square as cut stones, silent farmers, a whole palace of farmers, woke up the taxman till nearly morning.

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