The Boy Who Cried Wealth By: Maryanne Xu

In the olden days, when one would awake to sound of rickety carriages passing by on an unevenly pebbled road, James, the local tailor, had stubbornly risen out of bed. He had spent the previous night at a pub and awoke with a mild headache. Nonetheless, morning hunger had arrived with an uninvited jerk in his stomach, making breakfast an apparent necessity.

He headed downstairs, past the various articles of clothing, and out the door. Shop owners across the street were just setting up when the magical rays of sunlight warmed the hairs on his arm. He made his way through the bustling streets, dragged towards the warm aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Shortly after, he made his way back to shop, having just spent the last of his remaining silver.

Although business was slow during the morning, an unexpected knock echoed through the house as James was about to finish Mrs. Paisley's dress. After carefully placing the needle down, he hurriedly stumbled to the door. A knight was to be found on the other side of the brass peephole.

The man sported a scintillating robe-like surcoat held together by a golden belt. Velvet coated the top of his cap, proving he was of high rank. The knight cleared his throat and stepped forward to request the making of 125 uniforms for the artillery by two weeks. James was as poor as a church mouse, thus, like a vulture after its prey, he accepted the deal.

Around the completion of his third uniform, Mrs. Paisley entered shop, ringing the bell above the doorframe.

***

“Hello James, I was wondering if you had finished patching my dress.” She squeaked.

“Yes, Mrs. Paisley,” I hastily replied

At this rate, with all the distractions and other customers, I won't be able to finish, I remind myself hurriedly trying to shoo Mrs. Paisley out of the store.

***

Surprised at his rushed tone, curious Mrs. Paisley stopped him in his tracks and confronted him in his little office. She spied the golden buttons and royal blue silk.

***

“Is James working on a piece for the King?” Mrs. Paisley gasped.

“Well, his 125 artillery men to be exact.” I answered , trying to be as modest a possible.

“I'm impressed!” Declared Mrs. Paisley, “you must be the best tailor in all the land if the king requested uniforms from you! And oh, all the gold you'll get!”

“Oh,” I uttered.

I've never felt this way before. This feeling, I can't seem to grasp the word. And then it came to me.

Pride

I've never felt so proud before, what a wonderful feeling!

Craving more praise, I reply, “He's just paying me 6 gold for each uniform.”

“Only six gold! Well, six gold could afford six weeks worth of food for me and my family of four!”

“It's nothing,” I remark, knowing full well with that much gold, I basically would never have to work again.

***

Dusk soon fell when I was midst the 7th uniform, so as an act of celebration, I called for a break and took a stroll to the pub.

“Congratulations on your offer from the king!” greeted the bartender, “you're going to make so much money from the cow!”

I respond, a sense of fulfillment growing in my chest, “It’s not that much. Only six gold for each of the 125 unifor-”

“Six gold!? Are you insane lad?” Remarked the blacksmith, “I could pay for all me daugh’ers’ education with that much gold! Make us town folk proud all ‘ight, we people never get the opportunity for wealth and fame.”

“Yea!” cheered the bartender.

“Well,” James snapped, “wealth and fame are already upon me. It's you peasants that should get on my rank of influence.”

***

Around midday, a sharp knock rang through his ears.

Previously, he had cut down productivity from 9 uniforms a day to 4 uniforms a day to make time for his nightly strolls- during which he dawdled through town, telling anyone who would listen about his notability and worth.

***

I blunder downstairs to answer it. Greeting me on the other side of the brass peephole was the same knight from weeks ago.

I don't know what to do. Sweat trickles down my forehead as I search shop for uniforms.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

I only find 25 uniforms. Where are the other 100?

Knock. Knock. Knock.

My heartbeat rises to a loud thump as the knocking grows louder and more impatient as each minute passes by.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

My stomach turns as the haunting sounds of the bell, hung above the door frame, ring through my ears.

***

James presented the knight with the few uniforms he had sloppily made. Unimpressed, the knight shut him down, disgusted at his laziness.

***

A few days after, the whole village took notice of his failure, and James’ reputation crashed. Customers dramatically decreased and business came to a quick halt, forcing him onto the streets. Worst of all, no one would help him, for he had constantly belittled them. Consequently, the only way of life left for him was to be a peasant, scanning the roads for a scrap piece of bread.

The Unfortunate End

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