The Whisky Blot
A Pupil's Revenge by Nina Kossman
“There are people who are unable to think," Abbot Corby said, "and there are those who can't feel. And there are people like you who can't do either. No matter how much you teach them, it won't do them any good.”
These were the exact words Abbot Corby said to his pupil, the unintelligent Charles, who ten years later would become King of the Franks and of the Lombards and Emperor of the West. Charles remembered well the lesson the abbot had given him, and one day, after drinking from a bottle of intoxicating power, he ordered his teacher brought to him and, when he was brought in, bound hand and foot and gagged, Charles asked, "Do you still consider me incapable of thinking and feeling?
And when the abbot was silent because he could not speak, Charles ordered that the gag be taken out of the teacher's mouth.
“I still think I was right," answered the teacher.
The King of the Franks and Lombards and the Emperor of the West gave orders to tie the abbot to a pillar of shame. Townspeople were commanded to throw rotten eggs and other foodstuffs at the old man.
Two days later a new order came out: Untie him from the pillar and bring him to the throne room.
“Do you continue to think as you did before?” the old teacher was asked by the Emperor of the West, the Lord of the Francs and the Lombards. The teacher said nothing, just nodded faintly. The Emperor of the West, the Lord of the Francs and of the Lombards ordered to hang the abbot. When he was already standing at the gallows with a noose around his neck, the emperor went up the platform and again asked if the teacher had changed his mind about his former pupil.
The old man answered with his eyes: No. The emperor nodded to the executioner and the executioner drew up the rope.
The old teacher's body hung in the air. And it seemed that even his dead legs, swaying from side to side, were saying: "I was right."
Nina Kossman is a poet, memoirist, playwright, editor, and artist. She has authored, edited, translated, or both edited and translated more than nine books in English and Russian. She was born in Moscow and currently lives in New York. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nina_Kossman
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