Open main menu

Page:Sketches by Mark Twain.djvu/38

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
36
SKETCHES BY MARK TWAIN.

the next, notwithstanding, for reasons of state, the cabinet had strenuously advised him to marry Emmeline, eldest daughter of the Archbishop of Bethlehem. This caused trouble in a powerful quarter, the church. The new empress secured the support and friendship of two-thirds of the thirty-six grown women in the nation by absorbing them into her court as maids of honour; but this made deadly enemies of the remaining twelve. The families of the maids of honour soon began to rebel, because there was now nobody at home to keep house. The twelve snubbed women refused to enter the imperial kitchen as servants; so the empress had to require the Countess of Jericho and other great court dames to fetch water, sweep the palace, and to perform other menial and equally distasteful services. This made bad blood in that department.

Every body fell to complaining that the taxes levied for the support of the army, the navy, and the rest of the imperial establishment were intolerably burdensome, and were reducing the nation to beggary. The emperor's reply — "Look at Germany; look at Italy. Are you better than they? and haven't you unification?" — did not satisfy them. They said, "People can't eat unification, and we are starving. Agriculture has ceased. Everybody is in the army, everybody is in the navy, everybody is in the public service, standing around in a uniform, with nothing what ever to do, nothing to eat and nobody to till the fields." —

"Look at Germany; look at Italy. It is the same there. Such is unification, and there's no other way to get it —