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The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is a children's book by Dr. Seuss. Unusually for a Seuss book, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is written in prose instead of rhyming and strictly metered verse.
Set in feudal times, the story begins in the Kingdom of Didd, when King Derwin is riding through a street past Bartholomew Cubbins, the main character. According to royal rule all citizens must remove their hats as the king passes by. Bartholomew, who has a red hat with a white feather in it, does so. However the Captain of the Guards approaches him, and Bartholomew finds that another hat has mysteriously appeared atop his head. He attempts to remove this, and finds that there is another identical red hat still on top of his head.
He is whisked off to the royal palace, where the King Derwin attempts several methods to remove Bartholomew's hat. Manual removal, Archery, and even witchcraft fail. Bartholomew continues to remove hats, and the official scribe keeps a running tally of all the hats that have been removed. The king's mean-spirited nephew suggests that he be beheaded, and so the king reluctantly sends him down into the dungeon. However the executioner explains that he is forbidden from executing somebody with their hat on, which provides a Catch-22—he can't be executed for failing to remove his hat until his hat is removed, making his beheading impossible. He returns to the royal chamber, where it is decided he must be pushed off the highest tower.
As Bartholomew is climbing the stairs to the tower, however, he continues to remove hats. As he ascends, the royal scribe, who has kept count of all the hats he has removed so far, notices that the hats have become more elaborate, with more feathers and other decorations. At the top Bartholomew has an immense hat, with huge feathers and a large gemstone in the center. Instead of allowing his nephew to push Bartholomew off the tower, the king has a change of heart, and offers to buy the hat, which according to the royal scribe is the 500th hat. After this hat is removed no hat reappears, and Bartholomew is finally bare-headed. The king pays him 500 pieces of gold, and keeps the other hundreds of hats in a chest to remind him of his foolishness.
The story overall expresses confidence that leaders--even non-elected leaders--will do the right thing. Bartholomew, King Derwin, and the Kingdom of Didd appear in a later book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck , that expresses a less optimistic view about unelected leaders, and portrays monarchs--such as King Derwin--in a less positive light.
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