THE KITTEN WHO WANTED TO BE AN EMPRESS.

From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.

Empress

ONE DAY AT the school for anthropomorphic animals, the teacher (a motherly old hen) decided to ask the children what they wanted to be when they grew up.

First she came to a retriever puppy, who was always at the top of the class in every accomplishment. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the teacher asked her.

“I want to be an astronaut,” the retriever puppy answered. “I want to discover new planets and boldly go where no retriever has gone before.”

“Well, if that’s your dream,” the teacher said, “then you stick to it. Because ours is a country where anything is possible, and if you really work hard, you can grow up to be anything you want to be.”

Next the teacher came to a little raccoon. “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” the teacher asked the raccoon.

“I want to be an architect,” the raccoon answered. “I want to design beautiful museums and recreation centers for the delight and edification of the working classes.”

“Well, if that’s your dream,” the teacher said, “then you stick to it. Because ours is a country where anything is possible, and if you really work hard, you can grow up to be anything you want to be.”

Next the teacher came to a little red fox. “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” the teacher asked the fox.

“I want to be an accountant,” the fox answered. “I want to be the best accountant there ever was. I want to account things no one has ever accounted before.”

“Well, if that’s your dream,” the teacher said, “then you stick to it. Because ours is a country where anything is possible, and if you really work hard, you can grow up to be anything you want to be.”

Then the teacher came to a little white kitten. “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” she asked the kitten.

“I want to be an empress,” the kitten answered.

“An empress?”

“Yes,” the kitten said. “I want to have absolute power and tell everybody what to do and no one can challenge me or I’ll chop all their heads off.”

“I’m not sure that’s a practical ambition, dear,” the teacher said gently.

“Why not?” the kitten demanded. “You said ours was a country where anything was possible. You said that if we really worked hard, we could grow up to be anything we wanted to be.”

“Technically, I did say those things,” the teacher admitted.

“Well, I want to be an empress,” the kitten declared.

“But, you see,” the teacher explained patiently, “we have a democracy, or more properly a republican form of government, which is guaranteed in our constitution. That means that no one can have absolute power, because all power ultimately derives from the people.”

“Phooey,” the kitten said. “It’s not really a democracy if you can’t grow up to be anything you want to be. And what I want to be is an empress.”

“I’m sorry, dear,” the teacher said. And turning to face the rest of the class, she explained, “I should have said that ours was a country where almost anything is possible, and that if you work hard you can grow up to be almost anything you want, absolute sovereign with arbitrary power excepted.”

But the kitten did become an empress after all. When she grew up, she went into politics, and her good looks and aggressive personality made her an instant success. First she was elected as a member of parliament, and then she became Minister of Defense, and then she was chosen Prime Minister, and then she abrogated the constitution and ruled by decree, and everyone did exactly what she told them to do all day long. And when anyone disagreed with her, she chopped off his head. But she really had to chop off very few heads, because public opinion was solidly behind her, and most of the people agreed that a strong leader was exactly what we needed in the current crisis, whatever the current crisis was.

So the kitten proved that hers really is the sort of country where anything is possible, and where, if you really work hard, you can grow up to be anything you want to be. Or at least it used to be that way, although it’s not so much anymore.

MORAL: If you want to grow up to be anything you want to be, you’d probably better grow up right now.