In the only kingdom there is a town. It is not exceptional, being of no particular significance in regards to time, place, beauty, value, or receptiveness. Moments both raucous and somnolent come and pass. People are, like the town, ordinary. The law of the land is determined by the majority. What is held by most to be true, is. What is held by few is irrelevant at best and illegal at worst.
Yesterday, in this town, a woman in a dirty dress and a red shawl crossed a threshold. The woman was a prostitute. She did not use her body except to secure those things necessary for survival. She was not beautiful, nor proud, and she had many children. Her children were old enough to reason and to walk though not enough to do much work and of poor temeperments besides. No one felt sorry for the foul mouthed children, so no one paid them much attention.
Two days ago she did not find a way to feed her children. Yesterday, the same. She did not find the means to feed her children. Whether she could not or just did not, I do not know. And this woman in the dirty dress and wearing the red shawl crossed the threshold of another woman's house. The other woman was in a back room, tending to some household task, the likes of which is irrelevant. From where the other woman was she could not see the door, nor could the woman in the red shawl see her. All the red-shawl woman saw was bread on the table. So she crossed into the room and seized it.
But the task in the back room had been attended to and the other woman came upon the scene. She plainly saw the red shawl woman stealing her bread. The bread she had intended to cut and feed her and her husband with. She was a practical woman and had bought enough bread for the meal for two. She came upon the red shawl woman in a righteous fury and seized her arms, pulling the bread free and being practical made sure to place it safely on the table before returning to the task of holding the woman who had made to steal her family's bread.
"That's mine and you won't have it!"
"Please! I wanted only to feed my children!"
"And I wanted to feed myself and my husband and so I bought this bread."
They struggled against each other. One to break free and the other to hold on at least long enough to instill a decent sense of shame into the red shawl woman. And though they struggled hard enough to end up in the street and making a great deal of noise, neither felt shame. Too busy in their struggle, they didn't notice the crowd that tightened around them. From the shouts of indignation and protest from the red shawl woman and the practical woman with the bread the crowd discerned the story.
"Seems to me that it would be a sin to let children starve." A face said to another face.
"And she only had her breakfast a few hours ago and still begrudging those fatherless children a meal." Said a face loud enough so many of the other faces could hear.
"It ought to be a crime, that sort of greediness!" A face yelled.
"Yeah!" A face agreed loudly.
"Yeah!" Many more faces called out.
Two men stepped into the middle of the fight and one pulled the red shawl woman away and the other man pulled the practical woman away. Ending the fight but not the unrest.
"We think you ought to feel ashamed for not feeding those children."
"But... I don't even know this woman and she just..." The practical woman was incredulous at the accusation but was cut off in her denial.
"You have plenty more to eat and look at you, thick in the middle. And this woman in red is a pole. She looks hungry and she has children that are starving." A face said with a tone of disapproving.
"But she..." The practical woman tried but the man who held the woman in the red shawl released her and lifted a hand to stop the flow of her words and said with a gentle voice, "It is the duty of the community to feed the helpless."
"But no one else..."
"I say we kill her!" A face called from the back of the crowd.
"We don't need the depth of her greed in our town!"
The man who held the practical woman's arm yanked it even harder behind her back. This man himself had stolen his brother's shovel, when his brother had bought a new one. And somewhere inside him he still wasn't sure it had been right, even though he hadn't had a shovel at all himself before.
"Kill her!" A face called who just that morning seen the starving children in question and had given them an earful because they'd been blocking the pathway and using foul language where just anyone could hear it.
Before the practical woman could offer protest or call out to her husband or to anyone who might save her, the crowd leaned in on her. Some ripping at her hair and some at her dress, causing her harm and showing their disapproval for her greedy behavior.
They started to gather stones to use against her.