King Hagrid

In the country I live in, it’s illegal to show any kind of joy. Smiling, laughing, joking, excitement, they're all illegal; a hanging offense.

Why? Because King Hagrid is our King. In other countries, people whisper about us. Everyone is afraid of King Hagrid.

My friend Lars, who likes to make up or repeat stories, told me that the king has lived for over seven hundred years and every year, he has added another rule to the law books. Breaking most laws is a hanging offense.

Really, I don't know why he bothered to make the law against joy, as everyone I've seen looked so gloomy already. Lars says it's because his High Counselor rubbed his hands gleefully when a fourteen year old boy was hung for staring at the King for two long.

My pa says with awful gloom that it's because the king is afraid that if people show joy, they'll also show defiance. I don't know.

My name is Earl Swenson and I am nearly fourteen. I'm going to escape this country on my fourteenth birthday.

Getting caught attempting an escape is not just a hanging offense; it's a torture in front of anyone forced to watch offense. According to my research, no one has ever escaped.

Lars says the king’s eyes grow back everytime he takes them out, and that every one he takes out, he puts somewhere in the country and that he can still see with them.

If Lars got caught telling me some of the stories he tells, we'd probably both be hung; Mr for not reporting him, and him for glee.

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