“The Inventory of Shadows” / Memorable Fancies #747

     The king of Umbrolia ordered that an inventory of shadows be made. The royal aides assigned to this task found it frustrating, as people went into and out of the sunlight, as the sun rose and set and shadows became longer and shorter, disappeared for several hours at a time.

     Contention arose among the aides. Some ridiculed the project. Some questioned the purpose of the king’s order. It was all make-work, they said. It would lead to greater taxation, others hinted, as a citizen could be forced to pay for himself and his shadow also.

     To make it worse, the Royal Philosopher even suggested that the shadow that appeared in the morning was not the same shadow that had disappeared in the night. If different, a new taxable entity was created every day. The Royal Philosopher was, as usual, ignored. The aides grumbled at their work, but persisted.

     At last, with great fanfare, an inventory of shadows was produced, and presented to the king in a small golden box.

     When the king opened the box he saw the numberless darkness within, heard the sounds of hollow laughter.



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