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Funny Fairy Tales by Ambrose Bierce

The Ingenious Blackmailer

AN Inventor went to a King and was granted an audience, when the
following conversation ensued:

INVENTOR. - 'May it please your Majesty, I have invented a rifle
that discharges lightning.'

KING. - 'Ah, you wish to sell me the secret.'

INVENTOR. - 'Yes; it will enable your army to overrun any nation
that is accessible.'

KING. - 'In order to get any good of my outlay for your invention,
I must make a war, and do so as soon as I can arm my troops -
before your secret is discovered by foreign nations. How much do
you want?'

INVENTOR. - 'One million dollars.'

KING. - 'And how much will it cost to make the change of arms?'

INVENTOR. - 'Fifty millions.'

KING. - 'And the war will Cost - ?'

INVENTOR. - 'But consider the glory and the spoils!'

KING. - 'Exactly. But if I am not seeking these advantages? What
if I decline to purchase?'

INVENTOR. - 'There is no economy in that. Though a patriot, I am
poor; if my own country will not patronise me, I must seek a market

KING (to Prime Minister). - 'Take this blackmailer and cut off his

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