Rumor was that the King was stepping down from the throne. Said he’d had enough, he was done, abdicating, leaving off. We asked him why. He said that with the world seemed fit to drift inexorably to democracy he couldn’t see any point to his rule. Some argued that society without the monarchy would crumble, or be less than proper. Civilization needed civil boundaries, they cried. The King did not agree. Proponents of democratization bellowed for a swift and appropriate election.

Soon there were elections for governors, elections of senators, of representatives, of council members, of district managers, speakers, judges. There were many of them and each was somehow supposed to represent more than himself. It was hard to follow the rules.

For several years – nine, I believe – the country was markedly different. Even the economy picked up. It was only after that honeymoon that the senators and judges and governors started asking for a lot more. They complained that since they were democratically elected, they ought to be paid democratically, too. We asked how we could do this. They asked for our middens. If the people are to be aptly represented, they told us, they must be present in body if not in mind.

So somewhat reluctantly we carted our weekly piles to the former castle now congress and laid them on the lawn. Two weeks passed before we were called back by the senators and judges and governors. They said we’d brought too much and could we take some of it back? We protested that so many piles had been strewn that it was impossible to know what belonged to who. The democracy was in danger, our elected officials warned us, if we didn’t gather our filth and take it back at once.

We left it where it was. Seldom did word make it far to the outer provinces, and seldom did word make it more than once. So most folks just kept carting their middens to congress once a week.

It’s been several years since any of us has heard from the congress. But I go to the market every morning the same as I have for the last fifty years and I know very little about turnips but I always seem to bring home the kind my children like. I also stop and chat with the king every day on my return. He keeps a small house with his family and has made great strides in perfecting wineries in this region. I ask him if he thinks the government is doing well and he says he isn’t sure. But the sun still rises in the morning and the tide still ebbs and floods. Every winter snow covers our fields and inevitably folks from the town pass away and die through old age or disease or hard luck. The king gathers from all this that the government must be doing well and he’s sorry it took him so long to stand in the way of progress.

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