For long and overlong I had been troubled by my cries having to travel through the world barefoot. Having, alas, neither the skill nor the wherewithal to remedy the situation, I determined to petition Heaven, and see what it might do for my bootless cries.
The way to Heaven, as is well known, is difficult and thorny and paved – when it is paved at all, with bad intentions (all the good ones are slated for the road to Hell). Also, unlike that to Hell, which is smooth and easy and open night and day, the road to Heaven is subject to unpredictable obstacles and closures – altogether an unnecessarily narrow and difficult path. Still, the cries had to have boots, and I saw no other way, so I persevered (It is wondrous the extent to which stubbornness can substitute for a lack of sense). At long last, barefoot and bleeding (my own shoes had long since been eaten) we arrived at Heaven.
Heaven never appears the same way twice, its known, and either works according to mysterious and inexorable rules of law or no laws at all – possibly both. Thus, I was only mildly surprised to see that Heaven stood before me in the guise of King Charles I. I was glad that at least this seemed to be the King before his head was cut off. A headless king, while a striking object and a lesson to us all, is a difficult partner in a conversation (though Oliver Cromwell managed a very impressive monologue). The King stood with his hands behind his back, wearing a broad apron. “Well, Sir, what d’ye lack?” he asked.
I felt it well to be blunt. “Boots,” I said. “I have many cries, and, as you can see, every many jack of them is bootless. Thus it is that I have come, though I regret much the necessity, to trouble Heaven with them.”
The King had a narrow, kindly face. He put a hand to one ear. “What was it? What did you say?”
“Boots!” I cried. “I call on God and Man and the Continental Congress to witness that I need boots!”
“Come again? You perceive that I am, perhaps, a trifle hard of hearing.”
I roared. I yelled. The King and I had a rather enjoyable time as I tried to act out the notion of boots (one word; one syllable; first syllable “boot”) but it was no go. I could not make him understand.
He meant well; I’ll give him that. As I turned, defeated, to retrace the long road back, he laid a hand on my shoulder, and said “Sir, I cannot let you walk so hard a path back, barefoot as I see you are. Please to follow me to the dockside, where I will see you provided with boats.”