MANY, many years ago, far away in a land where royalty was still an acceptable
fad, THE KING determined that he had to leave the country for an extended
business trip, to do whatever it is that kings do. Such a prolonged absence,
of course, requires considerable planning for the orderly continuance of
the country's business, so THE KING called into court three of his closest,
most trusted noblemen. They were the Count of Amalgam, the Count of Whizzes,
and the Count of Basie (they are identified here, so you can keep count).
"I am going out of the country for the next few months on KINGLY business,
and I am entrusting you with the keys to the treasury, so that regular
country business can continue. I will require a complete accounting upon
my return, and you will be severely thrashed about the head and ears with
the executioner's axe if anything is awry!" So THE KING went away on his
kingly business and came back several months later. THE KING called his
three trusted counts to detail the royal spending. Down they all trooped
to the castle's basement, down past the dungeon, down past the ghouls and
ogres, down past those idiot gamesters picking up boxes and lockets and
carrying wooden swords and poison charms, etc., finally down to the treasury.
"Open the door, Count Amalgam", ordered THE KING. And so, Count Amalgam
opened the door, and, lo and behold, the treasury was EMPTY! Not even a
bit of gold dust in the corner! "We are not amused!", shouted THE KING.
"Guard, take these counts to the executioner! OFF WITH HIS HEAD!" After
the executioner sharpened the axe, he raised it in a mighty swing, and
as the fearsome blade was descending, the first Count to receive the low
neck shave shouted, "WAIT! I'll tell where the . . ARRGH!" Oops. THE KING
was in a serious rage by now. "Let's torture the Count of Whizzee--maybe
we can get him to talk and tell where the treasury went." Well, with several
days of the most excruciating torture, including hearing fingernail scraping
on chalkboards, being forced to use towels without fabric softener, and
even worse. There was no progress, so the Count of Whizzee was taken to
the chopping block. After the executioner sharpened the axe again, he raised
it in a mighty swing, and as the fearsome blade was descending, the Count
of Whizzee also suddenly cried out, "WAIT! I can tell where the . . . .
ARRRGH!" Oops. Again. Now, THE KING was REALLY worried. His impetuosity
in head-chopping had lost two out of three chances for locating the treasury,
and only the Count of Basie was left. Again, more questioning, more torture.
(I think they even made him ride in the back seat of a Yugo wagon!) Finally
THE KING lost patience, - - - "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!!" The executioner sharpened
the axe a third time, he raised it in a mighty swing, and as the fearsome
blade was descending, The Count of Basie also suddenly cried out, "WAIT!
I can tell where the . . . . ARRRGH!" Oops. Again, again. "Oh me, oh my.
What shall I do?", cried THE KING. Just then, a magic wizard appeared from
out of a cloud of smoke. "I may not be able to help you, your majesty,
in you immediate problem, but I have a bit of advice for you in the future
. . . . . . .
"Don't hatchet your counts before they Chicken."