“A clever writer on Earth lately remarked that it would be easy to satiate princes with all personal enjoyments, but impossible to satiate all their hangers-on, or even all the members of their family.”
“You must remember,” he replied, “that we have here, save in such exceptional cases as my own, nothing like what you call a family. The ladies of a prince’s house have everything they can wish for within their bounds and cannot go outside of these. As for dependents, no man here, at least of such as are likely to be rulers, cares for his nearest and dearest friends enough to incur personal peril, public displeasure, or private resentment on their account. The officials around a ruler’s person are few in number, so that we can afford to make their places too comfortable and too valuable to be lightly risked. Neglect, again, is pretty sure to be punished by superior authority. Activity in the promotion of public objects is the only interest left to princes, while tyranny is, for the reasons I have given, too dangerous to be carried far.”
At this point of our conversation an amba entered the room and made certain signs which my host immediately understood.
“The Zampta,” he said, “has called upon me, evidently on your account, and probably with some message from his Suzerain. You need not be afraid,” he added. “At worst they would only refuse you protection, and I could secure you from danger under my own roof, and in the last extremity effect your retreat and return to your own planet; supposing for a moment,” he added, smiling, “that you are a real being and come from a real world.”
The Regent of that dominion, the only Martialist outside my host’s family with whom I had yet been able to converse, awaited us in the hall or entrance chamber. I bowed low to him, and then remained standing. My host, also saluting his visitor, at once took his seat. The Regent, returning the salute and seating himself, proceeded to address us; very little ceremony on either side being observed between this autocratic deputy of an absolute Sovereign and his subjects.