King Louis entered his extravagant bed chambers and dismissed his attendants to have a moment to himself. The party going on outside in the palace garden had been a most exciting affair with the nobles and their ladies wearing the most expensive of clothes while enjoying the most expensive of foods. What else could one expect of a party thrown by the king of the great nation of France? But Louis could only sigh as the crowd began to “ooohhh” and “aaahhh” as the first of the fireworks lit up the dark summer sky. These parties were put on at the state’s expense and with the recent conflicts France had been involved in, the treasury was quite low. Raising taxes could help alleviate the burden. The poorer classes, of course would feel it the most for Louis could not raise the taxes too high on the nobles partying outside as he barely had their support as it was.
Turning away from the window, Louis eye caught sight of a new Etruscan piece of art he had sent from Italy. New in that it had been recently bought, but it was a very old piece dating back to sometime just before the founding of the Roman Republic. It was a very interesting piece for it was made in the likeness of a lion. Louis couldn’t tell what it was made out of, that was not his area of expertise, but he could enjoy a good piece of art. His wife hated the sight of it and would have put it in the servant’s quarters but Louis would not allow it. There was something about this piece…
“It just grabs you doesn’t it”
Startled by the sound of another voice though he was supposed to be alone, Louis turned around to see a middle aged man dressed in what Louis could only describe as a toga worn by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Louis thought he was one of the party members who had drunk to much wine and had wandered into the bedchamber. However, by the way he was dressed and the fact that he would have had to go through the posted guards Louis knew that this man before him was not from party. Louis immediately called for the guards who he told to remove the man from his room and reprimanded them for their letting him in. The two looked at each other, puzzled by what their king was telling them. All the while the man in the toga, whistled an old unknown tune as he sat down in a nearby chair.
“Well what are you waiting for!” yelled Louis. “Arrest this man!”
“Wh-what man, si-sir?”
The man in the toga laughed loudly at the guard’s uneasiness. “You are the only one who can see me, your majesty. Send them away, for I have something to tell you and my time here is brief.”
Louis looked incredulously at the man in the toga and then back at the guard to whom he asked whether could see or hear anyone else in the room. The guards replied no but said nothing further to keep from insulting their king. Thinking that he had drunk to much wine at the party, Louis dismissed the guards with the command not to tell anyone of this incident. When they had left, Louis quickly rubbed his eyes, splashed cold water on his face and even pinched himself to make sure he was awake but the man in the toga was still there laughing at each of Louis’ attempt to convince himself of his sanity.
“Now that you are quite done and realize that you are not asleep let’s get down to business. Like I said my time is short.”
Louis in resignation sat down opposite the man only he could see. After taking a deep breath, he built up the courage to talk to the man in the toga, though it felt only as if he were acknowledging his insanity.
“What is your name?” he asked in a low voice.
“That’s unimportant but you can call me what others called me when I was alive: Superbus.”
Louis cleared his throat. He was sitting across from a ghost. He made a mental note to find out what had been put in the food that night. “Alright, Superbus- am I saying that right- what business do you have with me. Shouldn’t you be haunting someone else or enjoying the other side.”
Superbus got up and walked over to the Etruscan piece that Louis had been admiring earlier. “Well, the afterlife is not too good for me, so I was given a choice. I either stay in an unpleasant afterlife or I come back and try to help some unfortunate soul, like you.”
“Yes, you! You know, I use to own this chimera. I had it right in my bed chambers like do. I had many fancy pieces of art, money, lavish parties, and most of all power over the state.”
“So you were a king too?”
Superbus walked towards the window and gazed upon the fireworks as he began to remember his past life. “Yes, I was a king, but one that made many mistakes, the same mistakes you are making, now and they will prove to be your ruin just as they were mind.”
Louis laughed softly. “Mistakes? What are you talking about everything is going fine.”
Superbus turned away from the window, his face not wearing the playfully expression he had at first, but a stern glare that burrowed deep into Louis as if to pierce his soul.
“Fine? Everything is not fine and you know it. The people are starving, the treasury might as well be empty but yet you and your rich friends are living well and throwing extravagant parties. Even now you are contemplating on raising taxes on people who nearly have a coin to spare. I was like you once. I put pieces of art and my comfort above the people and suffered for it. You must reform your ways Louis or you will face dire consequences.”
Louis laughed even louder now. “What consequences? A rebellion? A coup? They wouldn’t dare depose me, one whom God has place on the throne of this great nation. I shall do as I please. Now leave me in peace. Be gone back to your unpleasant situation in the afterlife.”
Letting out a deep sigh, Superbus shrugged his shoulders and walked toward the door but then he stopped and turned to face Louis. “You will see me no more but be warned: Your blood is on your own hands.” With that Superbus began to fade from view as he walked through Louis’ closed door. Louis was relieved to see him go and immediately made preparation to go to bed and he slept rather well that night well convinced that the reign of Louis the XVI would be long and glorious.