Fantastic Fablesby Ambrose Bierce
The Poet's Doom
AN Object was walking along the King's highway wrapped in meditation and with little else on, when he suddenly found himself at the gates of a strange city. On applying for admittance, he was arrested as a necessitator of ordinances, and taken before the King.
"Who are you," said the King, "and what is your business in life?"
"Snouter the Sneak," replied the Object, with ready invention; "pick-pocket."
The King was about to command him to be released when the Prime Minister suggested that the prisoner's fingers be examined. They were found greatly flattened and calloused at the ends.
"Ha!" cried the King; "I told you so! - he is addicted to counting syllables. This is a poet. Turn him over to the Lord High Dissuader from the Head Habit."
"My liege," said the Inventor-in-Ordinary of Ingenious Penalties, "I venture to suggest a keener affliction.
"Name it," the King said.
"Let him retain that head!"
It was so ordered.