Notebook

In the Golden Hall there was always electricity in the air. One could feel the current flowing through the temples of those who had been summoned, making them quiver. Everyone knew the source of that current: the little bag of finest lambskin. People would approach His Benevolent Highness by turns, saying why they needed money. His Majesty would listen and ask questions. Here I must admit that His Highness was most meticulous about financial matters. Any expenditure, anywhere in the Empire, of more than ten dollars required his personal approval, and if a minister came to ask approval for spending only one dollar, he would be praised. To repair a minister’s car – the Emperor’s approval is needed. To replace a leaking pipe in the city – the Emperor’s approval is needed. To buy sheets for a hotel – the Emperor must approve it.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, “The Emperor”.

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