Never before had the town gathered in such numbers and with a common cause. The mayor, hearing the crowd outside, and getting updates from his councillors, could no longer ignore the growing mob. He straightened his jacket, licked his palm and smoothed what little hair remained on his crown, and stepped out on the balcony, his face pulled awkwardly in a wide smile.
“Friends,” he said, “Good morning. It warms my heart to see you in such numbers. Now, do not tally, and tell me what brings you here?”
In the middle of the crowd, someone hoisted a hangman’s knot.