Long ago, in the time of kings, there lived a benevolent royal named “Truth.” He ruled the land of Loveliness. The people of the land were mostly happy. They wanted for nothing, and most were peasants who toiled daily. They were farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and cooks. There were physicians and teachers too and those who kept the peace. Some cleaned the streets and kept the houses in good repair. There were musicians and artists too. They built shelters, barns, homes and churches. The sun rose and set each day in peace. If the people were wanting for food, the King provided it. If they needed water when a well went dry, the King sent them well diggers. The King’s court was especially skilled in culinary arts and they produced delicacies and finely milled bread that could not be duplicated anywhere on the earth. The King was generous with all of these gifts.
The people of Loveliness were grateful and accepted the King’s generosity with grace. All except for one Felix Atticus. Felix hated King Truth. He accepted none of the King’s gifts. He gossiped and criticized the King and his Court daily. It didn’t take long for word of Felix’s discontent to make its way to the King.
The King’s messenger informed him of Felix’s actions: when the King sent bread, Felix Atticus fed it to the birds. When the King sent cake, Felix Atticus threw it in the trash. When the King sent yards of beautiful fabric for his wife and daughters, Felix used it to carry firewood into the house. No matter how valuable the gift, Felix ignored it, refused it, desecrated or destroyed it, and never gave thanks, out of spite for his hatred of the King.
Why did Felix hate the King? The King could not be called a tyrant. He could not be called evil. But he could be called “privileged.” King Truth lived in a beautiful castle of gold, while the peasants of Loveliness lived in humble wood and clay homes with modest furnishings. Felix was envious. He thought that the King should live as he did and share all his wealth with the people. Felix was obsessed with his envy and so continued to refuse the King’s gifts.
Then on one occasion, when the King heard that Felix Atticus refused a horse of good breeding as a wedding gift for his daughter, the King inquired as to what happened to the horse. A courtier reported seeing the horse running wild in the forest, and the King ordered the mare retrieved immediately.
The King channeled his anger into action, and he made a decision that he wrote into a declaration to be read aloud at a town meeting the next day:
“Hear ye, all people of Loveliness! King Truth has decreed that no gifts will be granted to one Felix Atticus, now and for the foreseeable future. Anyone caught sharing their gifts with Felix Atticus or anyone in his family, will suffer the same fate.”
Many people were shocked. They had never witnessed the King’s anger or such a stern reaction before this day! Some were not surprised, as they felt Felix had it coming to him for his lack of gratitude.
Felix Atticus not only suffered the displeasure of the King, but his family too was resentful that Felix had brought this disdain and disgrace upon them all.
For months, Felix and his family watched as their neighbors received gifts of crusty, delicious bread and other delicacies prepared by the King’s court. They watched as birthdays, weddings, and holidays celebrated by citizens of Loveliness, were dressed and blessed with the gifts of the King’s finest linens, food, and wine.
Felix was filled with regret.
The King’s reaction had made it all too obvious to Felix that his envy was the cause of this chastisement. But it wasn’t the loss of the gifts that hurt Felix the most. It was the King’s distance and indifference to him. While Felix was rejecting the King’s gifts, the fire in his belly was fueled by reports of the King’s annoyance at Felix’s actions. At least the King noticed him! Felix was different and stood out from the crowd, in the King’s mind. That made Felix proud and made him feel important.
But now, there were no royal gifts to reject. There were no reactions or communications from the King at all. Felix had become invisible to the King and his Court. Even his own family ignored him most of the time, and friends who used to try to convince Felix to accept the King’s gifts, no longer bothered to engage him in argument or try to persuade him. It was as if Felix had died.
On one snowy night at Christmastide, when the stars were obliterated by the white flakes of December, and a quiet came upon the town of Loveliness, the snow piled up on the roofs and covered the streets and walkways of town. Felix sat on a cold, snow-covered bench with head bowed between his knees, and sobbed. Felix noticed his tears melting the snow beneath his feet, revealing an evergreen twig that smelled of Christmas. To be continued….
WHAT DO YOU THINK FELIX ATTICUS DID NEXT? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Read Part II.