The king was young and energetic but he was tired of wars, tired of negotiating, tired of having to race around his kingdom assuring his subjects he would be there to rally the troops. If an opposing army threatened, the king needed an envoy, someone who would represent the king and prove that he did indeed represent the king. The representative to leave earlier so the king could organize his followers and hide his treasures.
If the envoy was not loyal, it could be disastrous. If his subjects knew the king had sent the envoy and believed him to be a true subject, they would rally to the cause. There had to be a way to keep the king’s picture, or an impression of him, fresh in his people’s memories.
He summoned his wise men and presented them with the problem. He said, “I can’t continue at the current pace of racing around the countryside like a politician, making sure my subjects remember who I am. I have to get enough support to remain king. Someone has to represent me at the political action committees, kiss enough babies, promise enough victories, raise enough money to pay for all the castles, fund the crusades, etc. When will I have time for all that? I want people to believe my vice-king is telling the truth, just like I do.”
The wise men sat in a circle and discussed the problem. They began to shake their heads. “There is no way someone can represent the king and the truth. No one looks or sounds like the king and no one believes he always tells the truth. And who can draw enough pictures that look like the king? Every picture is a little bit different. Fraud investigators would have a field day with that one.”
A young waitress was pouring tankards of ale and overheard their conversation. “Sirs, every person sits down differently and leaves a different impression on their chair’s cushion. The King has been riding most of the day. He always leaves a broad impression.”
The wise men considered her words carefully. “We agree, but that impression is too large and not very long lasting.”
The waitress considered that for a moment. “Last night the king was so tired he did not remove all of his jewelry when he was getting ready for bed. He was still writing out his thoughts for his speech tomorrow and he accidently let his hand with the royal ring rest against one of the candles. I will show you.” She returned a few minutes later with a candle. “See? His ring made quite an impression. Everyone who kisses his ring and pledges loyalty will recognize his ring’s imprint.”
The wise men intended to give the young waitress a good tip for being so helpful but one of the men mentioned to the others that she was blonde. “We would appear to be fools if a blonde woman was given credit for being wise. One of us should get credit”.
They drew lots and the winner went to the king and reported the good impression regarding the wax. Unfortunately, this occurred while the king’s ratings were low and he was desperate to make a good impression on his subjects. The king had the wise man beheaded. Dead men tell no tales, and the king claimed credit.
From then on, wax images of the king’s ring were used to stamp his decrees and sent around the kingdom. All the people who saw the wax stamp on the royal decrees agreed they represented the king. The impressions were very clear. But it was not until centuries later, after videos, recordings, and other evidence could be compiled, that presidents, kings, and other politicians were proven to always tell the truth. At least that’s the impression they want to give.
May 27, 2017