Call a Stag a Horse
(Another story from Prickly)
Once upon a time there was an old kingdom that had for many years enjoyed the wise rule of its Sovereigns. There came an unfortunate period when a young weak Prince, not particularly adept at ruling, ascended the throne. As it is with such rulers, a particularly power-hungry uncle became Regent to the new King and sought to seize power for himself before the boy King reached the age of maturity. There remained one snag in his plan of usurpation however, as many of the senior ministers remained loyal to the old Dynasty and would mount an effective opposition. To ensure his success the Uncle needed to ascertain with absolute confidence who among them were not his staunch supporters.
On the King’s birthday, last among many rare handsome gifts, the Uncle offered a very beautiful, white stag and said” Your Majesty, I’m privileged to also present this rare white stallion for your Highness’s riding pleasure.”
The King laughed good humouredly and said, “Your eyes must be failing you Uncle, for I see before me only a stag.”
At this point the Regent turned to address the many ministers that were present at Court, and with a grand gesture pointedly asked, “Good ministers, pray tell, is it a horse or a stag that you eyes behold?”
Some kept their silence, others, to please the Regent acceded readily that it was a beautiful white stallion. Proud but unwise ones protested haughtily that it was a stag and further grumbled under their breath that the Regent had gone a bit too far this time with this shameless posturing.
In the days that followed those loyal, steadfast ministers who had dared to speak the truth were one by one demoted, framed, besmirched or libelled. Subsequently, all likely opponents were either publicly executed or quietly perished in the dungeons.
The young King, last of his line, was methodically driven to madness and then suicide, paving the way for the Uncle to seize the throne.