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Funny Fairy Tales by Ambrose Bierce

The Ingenious Patriot

HAVING obtained an audience of the King an Ingenious Patriot pulled
a paper from his pocket, saying:

'May it please your Majesty, I have here a formula for constructing
armour-plating which no gun can pierce. If these plates are
adopted in the Royal Navy our warships will be invulnerable, and
therefore invincible. Here, also, are reports of your Majesty's
Ministers, attesting the value of the invention. I will part with
my right in it for a million tumtums.'

After examining the papers, the King put them away and promised him
an order on the Lord High Treasurer of the Extortion Department for
a million tumtums.

'And here,' said the Ingenious Patriot, pulling another paper from
another pocket, 'are the working plans of a gun that I have
invented, which will pierce that armour. Your Majesty's Royal
Brother, the Emperor of Bang, is anxious to purchase it, but
loyalty to your Majesty's throne and person constrains me to offer
it first to your Majesty. The price is one million tumtums.'

Having received the promise of another check, he thrust his hand
into still another pocket, remarking:

'The price of the irresistible gun would have been much greater,
your Majesty, but for the fact that its missiles can be so
effectively averted by my peculiar method of treating the armour
plates with a new- '

The King signed to the Great Head Factotum to approach.

'Search this man,' he said, 'and report how many pockets he has.'

'Forty-three, Sire,' said the Great Head Factotum, completing the

'May it please your Majesty,' cried the Ingenious Patriot, in
terror, 'one of them contains tobacco.'

'Hold him up by the ankles and shake him,' said the King; 'then
give him a check for forty-two million tumtums and put him to
death. Let a decree issue declaring ingenuity a capital offence.'

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