Emperor Frederick II of Prussia was a wise and great king. There are many instances of his greatness. For example, he is the originator of the "p is silent" thing you see in words like pneumonia, ptarmigan and pterodactyl, which he started so that people would think that in addition to being Emperor of Prussia, he was also Emperor of Russia, because p is silent.
Today, my dear students of history, we are going to talk about a little known instance of the Emperor's far-sightedness.
As a dutiful hegemonist, Emperor Frederick realised that in the vast and complex business of empire building it was crucial to have a credible management information system based on sound financial accounting. Since all these terms hadn't been invented yet, he called it "totting up the bills".
In a spread-out and high-maintenance empire like Prussia, there were bound to be many bills and the Emperor knew that the man who would be in charge of this crucial function would have to be singularly devoted to his task.
The person whom he finally chose was a high born count who spoke little, never raised his eyes and continuously totalled numbers. He would be present in a corner of the Emperor's court quiely totting up bills from every corner of the realm.
And as an example of the high esteem in which the Emperor held him, consider the following incident.
Once, on the Emperor's birthday, when everyone was supposed to turn up with bouquets, there were many courtiers who were either too cheap to buy decent flowers, or who had simply forgotten to make the trip to the florist. Usually this would get at most a snide remark from the throne about how there is no real adulation these days but that morning, the Emperor was in a bad mood.
When the court was in session and everyone who had brought bouquets had presented them, the emperor spoke.
"All those who have not brought us a floral tribute on this momentous occasion shall be given ten of the best on the old spot"
And the chief of police, who rather enjoyed this kind of thing, rounded up the guilty and started administering justice as evidenced by some high pitched screaming.
The emperor was watching the proceedings with grim satisfaction when a soft voice piped up near his ear. It was the Count of Accounts.
'Your majesty" he said, with downcast eyes "I too am guilty".
The emperor was touched. Looking at him with compassionate eyes, he said
"In your case, dear chap, there shall be no punishment"
"May one ask why, your majesty?" asked the Chief of Police
"It is alright in his case, Chief. It's the count that tots"
The Chief of Police could not help feeling awed at the emperor's wisdom and bowed deeply.