Some of the more heartbroken and unappeasable among them lay constantly wait for the emperor and threw yams at him, unmindful of the body-guard.
On account of the extreme scarcity of material, it was found necessary to require the Duke of Bethany postmaster-general, to pull stroke-oar in the navy and thus sit in the rear of a noble of lower degree namely, Viscount Canaan, lord justice of the common pleas. This turned the Duke of Bethany into tolerably open malcontent and a secret conspirator--a thing which the emperor foresaw, but could not help.
Things went from bad to worse. The emperor raised Nancy Peters to the peerage on one day, and married her the next, notwithstanding, for reasons of state, the cabinet had strenuously advised him to marry Emmeline, eldest daughter of the Archbishop of Bethlehem. This caused trouble in a powerful quarter--the church. The new empress secured the support and friendship of two-thirds of the thirty-six grown women in the nation by absorbing them into her court as maids of honor; but this made deadly enemies of the remaining twelve. The families of the maids of honor soon began to rebel, because there was nobody at home to keep house. The twelve snubbed women refused to enter the imperial kitchen as servants; so the empress had to require the Countess of Jericho and other great court dames to fetch water, sweep the palace, and perform other menial and equally distasteful services. This made bad blood in that department.
Everybody fell to complaining that the taxes levied for the support of the army, the navy, and the rest of the imperial establishment were intolerably burdensome, and were reducing the nation to beggary. The emperor's reply--"Look--Look at Germany; look at Italy. Are you better than they? and haven't you unification?"---did not satisfy them. They said, "People can't eat unification, and we are starving. Agriculture has ceased. Everybody is in the army, everybody is in the navy, everybody is in the public service, standing around in a uniform, with nothing whatever to do, nothing to eat, and nobody to till the fields--"
"Look at Germany; look at Italy. It is the same there. Such is unification, and there's no other way to get it--no other way to keep it after you've got it," said the poor emperor always.
But the grumblers only replied, "We can't stand the taxes--we can't stand them."
Now right on top of this the cabinet reported a national debt amounting to upward of forty-five dollars--half a dollar to every individual in the nation. And they proposed to fund something. They had heard that this was always done in such emergencies. They proposed duties on exports; also on imports. And they wanted to issue bonds; also paper money, redeemable in yams and cabbages in fifty years. They said the pay of the army and of the navy and of the whole governmental machine was far in arrears, and unless something was done, and done immediately, national bankruptcy must ensue, and possibly insurrection and revolution. The emperor at once resolved upon a high-handed measure, and one of a nature never before heard of in Pitcairn's Island. He went in state to the church on Sunday morning, with the army at his back, and commanded the minister of the treasury to take up a collection.
That was the feather that broke the camel's back. First one citizen, and then another, rose and refused to submit to this unheard-of outrage --and each refusal was followed by the immediate confiscation of the malcontent's property. This vigor soon stopped the refusals, and the collection proceeded amid a sullen and ominous silence. As the emperor withdrew with the troops, he said, "I will teach you who is master here." Several persons shouted, "Down with unification!" They were at once arrested and torn from the arms of their weeping friends by the soldiery.
But in the mean time, as any prophet might have foreseen, a Social Democrat had been developed. As the emperor stepped into the gilded imperial wheelbarrow at the church door, the social democrat stabbed at him fifteen or sixteen times with a harpoon, but fortunately with such a peculiarly social democratic unprecision of aim as to do no damage.