The First Descent of Beelzebub upon the Planet Earth

“And once, while talking with the King himself, our naive young countryman could not restrain himself, but expressed to his face his indignation and his views of this ‘unconscionable’ conduct of King Appolis towards his subjects.

“Not only did King Appolis not fly into a temper, as usually happens on the planet Earth when somebody pokes his nose where he has no business, nor did he pitch him out by the scruff of his neck, but he even talked it over with him and discussed the reasons for his ‘severity.’

“They talked a great deal and the result of the whole of their conversation was precisely a ‘wager,’ that is to say they made an agreement and set it down on paper, and each of them signed it with his own blood.

“Among other things there was included in this agreement that for the obtaining from his subjects of all that was necessary King Appolis should be obliged to employ thereafter only those measures and means which should be indicated by our countryman.

“And in the event that all his subjects should fail to contribute all that which according to custom was required, then our countryman would become responsible for everything, and he pledged himself to procure for the treasury of King Appolis as much as was necessary for the maintenance and further aggrandizement of the capital and of the whole community.

“And so, my boy, King Appolis did indeed, from the very next day, fulfill very honorably the obligation which according to the agreement he had assumed; and he conducted the whole government of the country exactly according to the indications of our young countryman. The results of a government of this kind, however, very soon proved to be quite the opposite of those expected by our simpleton.