A fairy tale
Once upon a time there was a happy little land known as Felize, where the people enjoyed life and welcomed entertainment. So when news arrived one day that a Carnival was coming, there was great excitement throughout the realm.
“A Carnival! What fun! That will be something different!” they said.
And they were right, for this was no ordinary carnival. No, this was a floating Carnival, a massive, sea going Carnival alive with music, dancing, bright lights and romance as it sailed over the ocean.
Felizeans from all walks of life, traders and merchants, bankers and workers, even Felize’s leaders themselves all greeted the floating Carnival with open arms.
“Welcome to Felize!” They cheered.
Soon the Ringmaster came ashore and greeted everyone, inviting the whole country to participate and have fun.
“Would you like to join us?” The Ringmaster asked.
“Join the Carnival?”
“Certainly,” he smiled, “Let us speak with your leaders”.
After three days and three nights of feasting and talking the leaders addressed the people.
“Fellow Felizeans,” they said, “we are pleased to say that we are all going to join the Carnival!”
The crowd erupted in cheers of jubilation, dancing up and down and throwing their hats into the air.
“The Carnival is going to bring us many Party People who will pay us to take them on boat trips, cook meals, make things for them to take home and even braid their hair! There will be something for everybody! We’ll all have more gold than we ever dreamed of!”
The crowd went wild. And so Felize became part of the Carnival.
At first things seemed to go well, and the people were happy. The Felizeans were indeed earning sacks of gold and they used it to buy new boats and carriages to take the Party People around. They bought what they needed to make things for the Party People to buy.
It all seemed to be working so well that Felizeans began borrowing from the moneylenders to pay for ways to join in the Carnival. After all, the Floating Fiesta was bringing in more and more people, and promising even more. The future was looking bright indeed for lucky little Felize.
Soon everyone had signed over their lands to the moneylenders as a promise to pay back the gold, but no one was worried – in a few years they would have their land back with gold to spare! It was all going wonderfully.
The leaders even went to the moneylenders and borrowed more gold to build an expensive little pretend village the Carnival owners wanted. But the village had a large fence around it to keep Felizeans out, and this made some people angry.
Then the Carnival people had another talk with Felize’s leaders. “We want you to charge less to bring our Party People from the Floating Fiesta to the Pretend Village. After all, more people mean more gold, so you can charge less and still make the same!”
The people grumbled a little bit, but they finally said, “Alright, we’ll charge less.”
Then the Carnival owners wanted to bring the Floating Fiestas to a very pretty, untouched part of Felize.
But the villagers of beautiful Sandy Point did not like the idea.
“We love our village just the way it is!” They said, “We don’t want big ships in our little bay and so many people coming ashore. It will wreck everything. And our own guests won’t like it either if it’s all crowded and full of special docks and fences. We don’t want those big ships down here wrecking our village!”
The Carnival Ringmaster took out a big parchment with official stamps and ribbons on it and held it up in the air. “It says here that our Carnival can wreck whatever we want and wherever we please.”
“What’s that?” The people asked, pointing to the mysterious parchment.
“Why, this is THE DEAL!” The Ringmaster said, quickly rolling it up.
“Can we have a look at it?” one of the village elders asked.
“No, it’s written in Carnivalese, you wouldn’t understand it,” the Ringmaster said, handing the roll to one of his assistants, who quickly scurried off.
The people became angry. Felizeans are very easy going, but they are also a proud people, and now they were very, very unhappy with how the Carnival people were acting.
“They think we’re simple! They’re acting like bullies! They just want to use our land to make money! This Carnival’s no fun for us!”
The owners of the Carnival called the Ringmaster back to the magical land of Myamee for a meeting.
“What’s all this grumbling down in Felize? It’s supposed to be a happy place! Our Party People don’t want to hear a bunch of grumbling and complaining! They want big smiley faces! What’s going on?”
“Well,” the Ringmaster replied, “They say we’re acting like bullies…”
“Bullies! Bullies! We’ll show them bullies! Get back down there and show them who’s boss! This is what we’ll do…”
Soon the Ringmaster called the people of Felize together and said, “Starting tomorrow, you’ll need to buy new boats…”
“But we just bought these boats! We still haven’t even finished paying for them! They’re fine new boats! You said so yourself!”
“Well, yes, but we changed our minds. You need boats that can carry hundreds of people now.”
“Hundreds of people? We don’t own any boats like that!”
“Oh well, we have some friends who do, and if you can’t buy some quick, we’ll just have to use theirs.”
“No!” the Felizeans shouted. “You can’t keep changing things like that! No!”
“OK, fine,” the Ringmaster said, “No more Carnival for Felize. It’s going somewhere else.”
The next day the Floating Fiesta didn’t arrive as it usually did. The boatmen, the people who drove the carriages, the vendors and the hair braiders all stood idle in the hot sun, worrying where the gold would come to buy dinner that night. Soon they realised that there would be no gold to pay the moneylenders that week, and they would lose their new boats, carriages, and the land they used to borrow with.
Their leaders quickly travelled to Myamee to meet with the Carnival owners, but the owners just laughed at them and sent them home. “You people shouldn’t interfere with our Grand Plans,” they said.
Suddenly the Carnival became a nightmare. Felizeans owed so much to the moneylenders that they would never be able to repay it without the Party People. It seemed like a big dark cloud settled on once sunny Felize.
The moneylenders said, “Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do,” and they took back the new boats and carriages, and then started taking the Felizeans’ houses and lands too. Instead of the promised prosperity, Felize now faced hunger and despair. Desperation replaced happiness, and there was no joy to be found.
Back in Myamee, the Carnival owners asked the Ringmaster how it was going in Felize.
“Very bad, sir. Many people are out of work and losing their homes. There is much hunger and unhappiness…”
“Excellent,” the owners said, “Now they know who’s boss! A few months of this and they’ll be begging us to come back at any price.”
“So what do we do now?” The ringmaster asked.
“We wait and see…”
Coming soon in the next instalment: What the Felizeans and their Leaders did
Photo credit: ShipParade.com