RONALD, EARL OF SYME

“Your Majesty,” suggests an Adviser, one Ronald, Earl of Syme, “there is another way.”

“Oh?” The King paces. “Do tell.”

“You might co-opt the more outspoken and respected of the Rebels, turning them from contemptible Renegades to contributing Resources, from Outsiders to Insiders. Bring them back to the Fold by offering them Positions of Authority recognized by Your Majesty. Favor them with greater Responsibility; make them... let them work again for the glory of the Empire.”

The King stands still. “Do go on.”

“The General, Your Majesty: Grant him a seat in the House of Lords.”

The King raises the royal Eyebrows. “You are new at Court?” Syme simply nods, silently asking Indulgence. He knew that his Plan might sound generous, but what choice have they other than to wage War upon the Empire’s own Subjects now settled across an Ocean? The King would rather not fight; he permits his Counselor to continue.

“The Inventor, I should think. He would be kept occupied well enough as a Fellow of the Royal Academy.”

Now the King nods.

“And the Orator, the... Schoolteacher. You might make him Governor of his Colony. No doubt he would see the sense of avoiding unnecessary Conflict.”

The King appreciates the wisdom of Syme’s ideas. The King will consider them. But he will not consider long. They are on the Brink of Rebellion turning to Revolution leading to War.

Somewhere in the Castle, a chamber Ensemble practices Mozart.


The King broods. The King ponders. The King reflects, deliberates, dwells. And, just to be safe, the King hires twenty-nine thousand German Mercenaries.


The Situation in the Colonies worsens, the Colonists grow bolder, united and led by men courageous or foolish enough to reject the King’s Rule—chief among them the General, the Inventor, the Schoolteacher. Finally, the King calls for his Adviser and a scribe.

“A Letter to certain Rebels,” the King informs the scribe and the scribe prepares to take down the Royal’s words.

“To certain Leaders,” amends Syme. “You must think of them positively.”

“Hum. A seat in the House of Lords, you say? A Fellowship?”

“You will appeal to their individual Appetites for personal Importance, Your Majesty, that they might choose to neglect their Efforts toward what they think is the Greater Good. The preservation and perpetuation of the Empire is the Greatest Good.”

“And sending this letter is wiser than sending the Navy?”

“Just so. As Poor Richard says, ‘You’ll catch more flies with honey….’”


Weeks pass. While His Majesty waits, Diffidence gnaws at the King. His Majesty kicks at Diffidence. Diffidence yelps and runs outside to chase Rabbits.

“In another Era,” discourses Syme, “Your Majesty’s lands were part of an Empire even greater, known not so much for its Art, or its Literature, or its Science, as for its Government. The Roman Emperors could be downright brutal, History tells us, but to a man they preferred Coöperation to Crucifixion because... well, it worked better.”

All Things being equal, the King thinks he prefers the Company of his dog.


The Packet has barely docked; a courier, by Authority of His Majesty, is demanding the Expected Letter from the ship’s captain. Then, Letter in hand, the young man spurs his horse back toward the Castle, where he hands off the Missive to a page.

“Your Majesty,” reports the page, entering the Throne Room unimpeded, “just arrived from the Colonies——”

But it is not a reply that the King receives, it is rather his own Parcel—addressed to Messrs. Washington, Franklin, and Henry—returned.

UNDELIVERABLE, it is stamped.

NO FORWARDING ORDER.

“For the love of——! How many times are they going to move the Capital? Syme…?!”

Syme’s head is in his hands. He wonders if he will keep it, his head.


Matthew David Brozik is the author of WHIMSY & SODA and TAKING IVY SERIOUSLY, among other things.