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There is nothing like the semblance of Charity to allay misgivings among the populace. Combine it with a small martial spectacle and it is surprising how easily one can gather support and goodwill. A small donation to a popular cause so completely overwhelms suspicions regarding motive that I am embarrassed that I didn't consider it earlier. After all, it has been a useful tool of the wealthy since the Romans invented the circus. I shall have to look for other opportunities to make the Grand Gesture. Small investments from the treasury may reap much greater dividends in obedience and loyalty.

There was also occasion to install a new Baron and Baroness. It struck me as a perfect opportunity to begin the task of rebuilding the treasury. No sooner had they bound themselves with oaths of fealty, faces shining with pride in their new station, that I announced new taxes were to be levied. I'm sure they had dreams of leading their people into a new era of prosperity. The irony of it was delicious.

Of course there was the expected whining of their burdensome nature. But I recalled another ruler hedging all of his depredations, both foreign and domestic, in the guise of patriotism and it served me as well as it did him in pruning the topiary of public opinion.