King Henry IX - The War of the Noses

 

 

KING HENRY IX

THE WAR OF THE NOSES

A play in two acts by

William Shake-scene

The playright?

 

Edited by Bachster

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DRAMATIS PERSONAE

House of the Red Nose

KING Henry IX, born Donjon Thumpingbroke : a clown
*QUEEN Melancholia: wife to the king
Iwanna Cushy, Princess of YORK: daughter to the king
The MERCHANT of York: her husband
Donjonny, Prince of JERSEY: son to the king

Mistress HUCKLEBERRY: king's cryer
Stephen BANNCOCK: advisor to the king, a jester
Rube GIOVANNI: mayor of London, a fool
Geoffrey BEAUREGARD: king's deputy, a toy

Michael COZEN: lawyer
Bishop FAULTWELL: king's spiritual advisor, a hypocrite
Theo Newgentleman, "The SPLOOGE": a bellicose, cowardly soldier
Sir Toady BELCHED: tattered gentleman, a drunk
*Spike HA'PENNY: King's ambitous lieutenant
*Shamus O'SANITY: friend to the king
*Ned NOODLE: citizen

House of the Blue Nose

The MOOR, Duke of Omaha: deposed king
*Smilin' JOE: Omaha's onetime lieutenant
HILARITY vanquished opponent of the king
WILLIAM the Randy: disgraced king of yore, consort to Hilarity
Lord Charles the SCHEMER: Parliamentary leader
Lady Nancy MACBROTH: Parliamentary leader
Saint Bernard FLANDERS: belligerent Parliamentarian

Others

THE MILLER, also CHORUS: an ominous figure
*Gonereal STORMBORN: A sorceress

* off-stage characters

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PROLOGUE

Enter CHORUS

CHORUS

O for an ooze of mire, that would ascend
From the dankest hell of foul invention,
A cesspool for a stage, dunces to act,
And lords to behold the o'er swelling swamp!
Then should the childlike tyrant, like himself
Assume the pout of orange; from his hair
Unleash'd fell crown, should hatred, greed and ire
Sport for enjoyment. But pardon us, the
More fools to ply such piteous humor
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
'Gainst so gross an object: can this stage hold
The vasty halls of power? may we cram
Within this cozy box the bold demons
Who do affright the very air we breathe?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Claim his poor purse worth so many millions;
Then let us, players of his great contempt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Is now confine'd one potty monarchy,
Whose chaotic and all-contending fronts
The per'lous harrow'd time parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one line,
And make rich imagination flower;
Think when cry'd Havoc! that you do feel it
As if your own too sweet time was so fraught;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our clowns,
Carry them there and here; jumping o'er times,
Turning the abasements of many months
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this malady;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

Exit

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ACT 1, SCENE 1

A wall bisects a stage. To stage right, a small room in the White Castle. In it the KING tilts back in a large chair behind a small desk. He is paging through a comic book. Comic books litter the desk and spill onto the floor. A nearby bookshelf holds two books. Lettered on the spine of one, "Thumpingbroke / ME!" On the other, "Khan / My Struggle." The only other furniture in the room is an anachronistic gold-plated toilet. An enormous portrait of the king hangs on the wall. He wears a clown's red nose. One other person is in the room: HUCKLEBERRY, who stands holding a clipboard and quill pen. She too wears a clown's red nose.

KING

Directly after our meeting, then. Proclaim! That's what thou dost for me, right? Right. So try not to look like a sour, poxy hound as thee bark 'em.

HUCKLEBERRY

Of course not my liege. I...

KING

Resting bitch face, I know. Prate, prate.

He smiles broadly. She begins to tidy up—gathering the strewn comic books.

And one more thing. These whoreson, unendable briefs! [He indicates the comic books] Too many words! Words. Wind. How they blow and blow. More pictures sirrah! Brighter colors! Art we Scotland: fog beswozzled? Brighter!

A knock.

HUCKLEBERRY

The council, my liege.

KING

'Tis open—'sblood!

Two men and an inflatable clown punching bag toy enter. BANNCOCK is disheveled, GIOVANNI is squinting over eyeglasses and carries the toy, and BEAUREGARD is the toy. Each wears a clown's red nose.

HUCKLEBERRY

Your privy council...

BANNCOCK

[Aside to Giovanni] It reeks o' the privy in here, alright.

Geoffrey BeauregardGIOVANNI:

O my liege! Banncock saith saucily...

KING

I mark him sirrah, I mark him. Sloppy churlish varlet. Still, he swizzles the base-born, hencewise we keep him close.

BANNCOCK

'Tis but a friendly badinage spoke in jest. The Mayor Rube is pinched up again I warrant, Lord King.

KING

Very like. On with this, I do desire more o' the throne myself. [Glances at toilet] The roll, Huckleberry.

HUCKLEBERRY

All are present, my liege.

KING

[Exasperated] Call the roll, cryer!

HUCKLEBERRY

His most serene highness...

KING

[Smugly] They do say that.

HUCKLEBERRY

...is here with us. [Pauses] Mistress Huckleberry, King's cryer. Here. Been here, by my troth. [Makes a mark] Stephen Banncock...

GIOVANNI:

[Aside to audience] Lord of the Underworld.

BANNCOCK

Present and ready to curl your hair, mouthpiece.

HUCKLEBERRY

Ugh. Mr Mayor, Rube Giovanni?

GIOVANNI:

At the King's service. [Bows]

HUCKLEBERRY

Geoffrey Beauregard, security of the realm?

Crickets.

KING

O fie! He excuses himself. The mute, impotent slave! Spaniel. Go on, he's here. Brain the cur, Banncock!

Banncock backhands the inflatable toy, which rocks back-and-forth.

What tidings? Quick now! The Crook'd Witch? What of the Moor?

GIOVANNI:

Crook'd Hilarity takes to her village. She stews. And she feeds stewed prunes to her lord, William the Randy.

KING

Virginous whores too, dost thou doubt?

GIOVANNI:

No. I doubt not, my liege. His buffoon'ry is her chain to wear. She is no danger to you and shouldst no more harry your dreams. Nor neither the Moor.

KING

Foreign cur!

BANNCOCK

He sports on a beach of the Isle of Wight. Happy and fit seeming. A ruse.

KING

'Zounds! Who will rid me of these cankers? Fat fruit for Tyburn trees, these. I will see them in the Tower or my name isn't—wasn't—Donjon Thumpingbroke!

BANNCOCK

Wasn't it really Drumpfingbroke?

KING

What now Banncock, thou insolent palliard grease-pot? God's teeth!

Avaunt knaves! Do my will. Huckleberry, my excremental proclamations do thou read well.

HUCKLEBERRY, BANNCOCK, and GIOVANNI exit.

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ACT 1, SCENE 2

Outside the closed door to King's chamber, HUCKLEBERRY, BANNCOCK, and GIOVANNI confer.

BANNCOCK

The King is ever his selfsame doltish 'scallion. What singing codswaddle shall you mouth anon?

HUCKLEBERRY

Nothing portentous this day. A joust at bogeys, the moat, a distractive yowling bear for 'tainment.

BANNCOCK

Petty mumbling, no more.

HUCKLEBERRY

Ever the same.

BANNCOCK

The muckéd moat! And ere long, the Miller tells his tale. Still, we will ride this rough king out.

GIOVANNI

Pfft! The King fears not the Miller. He keeps a room at the Tower for his sometime comfort.

BANNCOCK and GIOVANNI exit. HUCKLEBERRY moves stage front to address the audience.

HUCKLEBERRY

Good patrons. Greetings from the King. Some news, and three of his magisterious proclamations composed in the night. There will be no time to parry questions.

She reads.

BearFirst, for the ease of taxpayers and others with tributations for the King, those ahorse in London can use the White Castle's new ride-up window. All hours.

Second, rumors on the wind art true: the King's hands art measured largest of all the nobles of Europe, save the Countess Gerta Grossekralle of Mecklenburg—a veritable monster.

Addressing the audience.

That is the very news of the hour, though false and scoundrus cryers abound. Do not be made a fool therewith.

Three proclamations of his Most Beneficient Highness follow.

She reads.

One. We find the Moor hast scampered off with much silver, to wit, the royal sporks. Purloined from the realm. DISGRACEFUL! Further, the Moor's lieutenant, Smilin' Joe, didst secrete a trove of japing notes in sundry crannies about the castle, and did short-sheet many a royal bed. THIS WILL BE ANSWERED!

Two. Doubters know this: I will not be foresworn. A moat—full of fearsome water-dragons and hungry cuttlefish—will be built betwixt our great kingdom and the desperados of Spain. "Ooh but, good sirs, we art an island country!" say false-breathéd naysayers. 'ZOUNDS! I have great, believe me, GREAT engineers working 30 hours a day on this. It WILL be done! And Spaniard gold will dig this much-needed moat! Armada? I say Armad-NO!

Three. The bear-baiting arena is but a thin shade of its once glorious self. Toothless, baying curs maul a flea-bitten, dusty, chainéd bear. SAD! Where is our Sackerson—long-toothed, iron-clawed, sinuous beasty beauty? Bear of a greater, more civil London Town? GONE!

Addressing the audience.

That is all, subjects. Long live the King!

Exeunt.

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ACT 1, SCENE 3

The KING sleeps in a chair behind his desk. It is dark, but a child's night light illuminates the room. Partially-deflated BEAUREGARD stands in the room. Presently, a balloon on a string floats above the desk. It is yellow and features a crudely-drawn face and blue nose. It is WILLIAM the Randy.

WILLIAM

He speaks in a disembodied voice as the balloon bobs, its string pulled by an unseen hand.

Yo, King! Awake!

KING

He wakes with a start.

Fell spirit! Who, what, is't?

WILLIAM

Who? You know me well, sure. Betimes we did companionly sport. You expected a chain-bedraggèd Christmas spirit, miser?

BalloonKING

Randy Will! But your wife. Is't near?

WILLIAM

[Laughs] Marry, no.

KING

Well-met then. I do miss our wenching.

WILLIAM

Me too. Were I a country fisher still!

KING

Me too. Those days art past. I am cruelly harried o'er my basest wants.

WILLIAM

Me too. I shrink in this age of...

KING

Me too.

A second balloon rises. It is HILARITY: white, angry-faced, blue-nosed..

WILLIAM

Gadzooks! Hilarity. Dearest.

HILARITY

Cut the crap, Billy Boy. I catch you out again—thou unfaithful roguish barnacle. Time was you were at more tender bawds than this.

KING

[He speaks to the toy] Beauregard, thou clotpoll! Flaccid fool, trait'rous craven, arrest this vile Harpy! Pretender to my throne!

WILLIAM

Soft, child-king. Hilarity—dearest Hilarity—can do you no harm.

HILARITY

No? Shall our most recreant King feel the cut o' my policy as hast thou, eunuch?

WILLIAM

O, tender, me love. Don't be cruel! To your 'spicious mind am I truly nought but a hound dog, though I am shaken all up, ever with a burnin' love for you.

HILARITY

Please. More stewed prunes for your burning love, methinks.

KING

Wherefore play at this masque of domestic bliss for me? Harry Wineglass might produce it bawdy on the stage, still it be not for my chamber. Avaunt ye both!

HILARITY

Hold fast, pulpy King, I come not here to chuckle my wayward one-time swain. 'Stead I bringst thee fearful tidings of a more portentful audience to come. When the Moor calls, give heed! Frightful news he shall bring. Mark him, foul citrus-pated fool. Mark him well!

Remember too, the Miller's tale will yet be told.

Now my balls-and-chain I pinch by the ear and drag off.

Exit WILLIAM and HILARITY.

KING

This has been nought but a distemper brought
Of one o'er ripe capon, indigested,
Gut-wrenching, netherward bounded morsel.
A dream: no more. No portent; fie on it!
I mark it not, this nightmareish fancy.
Sleep like a babe for me, for light-headed
Wear I this bejeweléd, once august crown.

He sleeps, smiling. Lights dim further.

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ACT 1, SCENE 4

Morning in the King's chamber. He is alone, putting golf balls into a very large cup. A knock is heard.

KING

'Tis open, foot-licker!

HUCKLEBERRY

[Enters, bows] Your cryer, my liege.

KING

As I feared. Never left at leisure is the King. No. [Putts]

HUCKLEBERRY

Your schedule is pleasing light today, Liege. Straightaway friends invited do briefly call. Laterward a requested audience of the Prince of Jersey and the Princess of York.

KING

Errant grasping knaves, my oily-pated junior, and my voluptuary daughter. She pulls her merchant too?

HUCKLEBERRY

The Princess is attended by her betrothéd lord, I doubt not.

KING

Pity. Show in the knaves. Announce them well, I doubt me their names.

HUCKLEBERRY

Very well, my liege.

She retreats through the door and waves forward Sir Toady BELCHED, a corpulent man, and Theodore Newgentleman—"The SPLOOGE"—a wildish, long-haired man. Splooge wears a sword. Both wear red noses, of course.

HUCKLEBERRY

Announcing Sir Toady Belched, famed lord. Red-noséd generations deep. [BELCHED bows low, farts]

Announcing also, late of your Majesterial army, Wherefore-on-Wye's regimental axe-man, Theodore Newgentleman.

SPLOOGE

[Tips his cap] Just call me "The Splooge," Cap'n.

HUCKLEBERRY

He is "Your Majesty" to thou, Splooge.

KING

Technically "Sir Splooge" now, is't not?

HUCKLEBERRY

"Mr Splooge," at best, as far as I am apprised. Never a new-made knight, surely?

BELCHED

Shirley was my grandsire's name! By mine humor, good sirs, 'tis true. Sir Shirley Belched. Many a time. By which I do say, many a Sir Shirley Belched in my line. 'Tis known, sirs. Somewhere an old virgin aunt Shirley Belched too, for Shirley some ladies art so called. 'Tis veritable.

Marry! 'Tis such a thirsting occasion!

Withdraws a bottle from his vest—drinks. The others regard him with contempt.

KING

Mind thy gaping jaw, boil-brain! Thine unwanted winds dost blow both high and low.

SPLOOGE

[Draws sword] Do I cut 'em Cap'n?

KING

Stay back, good soldier...

HUCKLEBERRY

What, devil's own Splooge! Art thou possessed of pricking weaponry i' the King's very chamber? Treason!

SPLOOGE

Pop not your garters shrill woman! I know my right to bear an arm, Lady Mouth.

BELCHED

A drink to that, good sirs! [Drinks] A tipple, my most fatuous lord?

BELCHED offers bottle to the KING, who returns a withering stare before whacking the sot in his knee with the putter.

Ow! Ow, my Lord. [Drinks]

KING

Out knaves, out! Sir Splooge I will employ at some riper time. Sir Belcher, no such time doth promise, but thy bracement of my reign doth manly o'er thy sickly hue. For that, huzzah me well.

SPLOOGE

[Flourishes blade at HUCKLEBERRY, yowling wildly] Ow-owww! Ranga-danga, doo-dop!

Exit SPLOOGE and BELCHED in high spirits.

HUCKLEBERRY

My noble king, what hast you with such men?

KING

Men? Who hast need of men these times? Unreasoned beasts serve true.

Arrivals.

What ho?

HUCKLEBERRY

Now, family of goodly worth!

KING

Announce.

YORK

[Enters boldly] Good Father you know us well.

KING

Announce, piper!

Three come through the door: The alluring Princess of YORK attended close by her husband the MERCHANT. The sullen Prince of JERSEY lags behind. Three shiny red noses.

HUCKLEBERRY

My liege present I the lovely first fruit of your loins...

KING

You bet she is!

HUCKLEBERRY

[Continues] ... Iwanna Cushy, splendorious in a dress of her own design——[To the audience] copies available for purchase in the White Castle gift shoppe—the Princess of York. With her, the Merchant of York.

KING

Family too, some do say.

YORK kisses the King's cheek to his evident delight; the MERCHANT and the KING shake hands.

HUCKLEBERRY

Presenting also Donjonny Thumpingbroke, new styléd Prince of Jersey. The King's own eldest son.

The KING and JERSEY shake hands.

KING

Still with abject looks young Thumpingbroke? Thy wife begs divorce of the Bishop and thou art longfaced yet? Happy bachelor made, cheer thy countenance fool.

The KING, back behind his desk, removes hand sanitizer from a pocket and cleans his hands before sitting, Meanwhile...

JERSEY

[Whining] Aww, but Daaaad!

YORK

O brother, please. Just stop. Father called us here on news of great import. Think not on your petty woes. Hear him out.

KING

Well speaken, my jewel. Beauty, brains—thy brother might well have claimed the brawn, but noooo!

YORK

Father, you flatter us well. What hap with your most stately self?

KING

Woe and treachery.

JERSEY

O gizzard! Some trollop's tale? The short-sheet beds again?

KING

Worse, clotpoll! Thy sometimes mother, our trophy Queen Melancholia is unloyal.

God's great toe.JERSEY

O Bohemian mother! God's great toe! This is a pretty looseness.

YORK

Hold slick-pate! Hear the cause will you?

KING

The cause is plain. She takes meals with my most 'bitious lieutenant, saintly grey Spike Ha'penny. Dining together where 'tis said wine and strong drink is served!

JERSEY

O bitter, bitter traitor! 'Fore the good citizenry have him whipped a scoudrel!

YORK

Soft, barking brother. What portends this public affront? What contrary action take?

KING

A game is afoot. Ha'penny and his puritanick, scape-grace varlets lust after this throne!

Agitated, confused, he indicates the toilet.

Inseemly lust! Iwanna you, Princess, will thou be mine ... agent 'gainst this crafty miscreant lieutenant and the wayward Queen?

YORK

I am—we [She indicates the mute MERCHANT]—are ever by your side.

JERSEY

And I, Royal Father?

KING

A wild and mannish gentleman, new knighted, brash: I send thou with him to brutish Scotland to hunt the bloody, snuffling boar. Make of thee a surly man. Or die a hero, gaped ope by porky tusk.

Avaunt ye all! I take me to play, to rest, to engorge on fat meats. Huckleberry will show thee out before she cries but one princely pearl as proclamation to my subjected. York, my plan I will unfold anon by messenger.

Exeunt.

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ACT 1, SCENE 5

Outside the King's chamber door, HUCKLEBERRY and Princess YORK discuss the King's problems. The MERCHANT loiters and Prince JERSEY whines.

YORK

Father seems well. Is he not?

HUCKLEBERRY

He sleeps but fitfully. Oft he sits up nights and avoids the Queen.

YORK

Is he distract by the Miller's probing?

HUCKLEBERRY

He swears not. "Fake! Nought but hag-hunting," he cries.

JERSEY

O pother the old man! He uses me cruelly. Yokes me with this wild, cat-scratchéd dog!

YORK

Man up, squeamy brother! Grow stones.

JERSEY

Mark not how this dripping knave waggled his sword lewdly at you, mine sister, as he passed not an hour 'fore? God's pinkie!

YORK

Hold yourself, bawling brother! I have suffered affronts less seemly from men more foul.

The MERCHANT nods vigorously.

JERSEY

I shalt see our Mother Queen on this slight!

Exit JERSEY at a trot, pursued by stares.

HUCKLEBERRY

Alas, your knock-knees brother.

YORK

The rough axe-man may masculate him yet. But Huckster, what of the silent and secret-keeping Queen Melancholia?

HUCKLEBERRY

Ever more strange, I fear. Of late she wears a cloak, rough letteréd with this strange message: "What, me worry?"

A greater Alfred.YORK

Mad! She's MAD!

HUCKLEBERRY

Very like.

YORK

Read thou this day's proclamation, good Huckleberry. The Queen I'll seek to understand.

YORK and the MERCHANT exit. HUCKLEBERRY turns to address the audience.

HUCKLEBERRY

Good subjects in plush seats, a pearl dropped in the night by our good King.

She reads.

Many art saying my reign is the most PROSPEROUS, the most BELOVED, and the most HUMORFUL in merry England's history! Some grinders at maths tally it the longest reign ever joyfully enduréd by our adorating subjects! Me a greater Alfred! All accomplisht in but our first year of kingship! Many do offer congratulations and rich tributes hence!

She looks up.

Long live the King!

Exeunt.

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ACT 1, SCENE 6

The King's Chamber. Dark again but for a night light. The KING nods. The black, blue-nosed balloon rising above him speaks in the voice of THE MOOR.

THE MOOR

King. Crownéd King-a-Ling, wake!

KING

[Frightened] Huh? Wha, what devil! By Gads, thou dusky fiend!

THE MOOR

That's right, just me! Sometimes Duke of Omaha. Sometimes King. Call me King Pensioner now.

KING

Foul blackamoor!

THE MOOR

Oh, come now King. Is that nice? We art better than that in these more reasoned times, art we not?

KING

Reasoned times? Fie! Hast thou seen the fashionable red beanies?

THE MOOR

Ah, yes. Hatwear for the forgotten peasantry. Imported, right?

KING

Very important, yes. Get thine in the gift shoppe.

THE MOOR

Thanks, I'm good.

KING

Good? Hell-burnt spirit, I durst not allow so much. The purloined sporks, sirrah!

Recovering his bluster, the KING crosses his arms and assumes a stern expression.

Quick now: why art thou here? Curséd Moor. A figment in my dream, I shalt jest of thee in the morn.

THE MOOR

Why art thou here, King Lothario? Why not thy queen's soft bed? Seems ill-favored in a robust king. No matter.

Listen. I am here for thy profit and have answers of great import to thy realm.

KING

We hear not thine university prattle, thy high-arguments, thy proofs. My realm reasons by its guts.

THE MOOR

Play it out, intestine King. Jest if thee will at sunrise. Now, reach thy near desk drawer for a divination machine.

KING

He extracts a gleaming black orb from the desk.

Ooh, a marvel! What is't?

Magic 8 BallTHE MOOR

King, holdst thou the Magic 8 Ball. Merlin-made true Arthurian relic.

KING

'Swounds! What worth in gold?

THE MOOR

'Tis unpriceable.

KING

Piffle! I will price anything.

THE MOOR

Thy soul, I doubt not. This orb, no. It will answer mysteries for thee this night. I will with questions most doubtful to thy reign prompt thee. Thou wilt ask, spin orb, and read true answers by the ball.

KING

Powerful black ball, I do feel it! Fast, a question.

THE MOOR

Say this: "Ebony eye, tell me true. Wast mine own coronation better-attended than the erstwhile king?"

KING

Preposterous foolish question! The matter is known.

THE MOOR

This riddle is none of import—true. 'Tis of calibration only. Still, ask thou.

KING

On thy fancy then: "O black-eyed pea, wast mine own cornoration more peopled than the Moorish spectacle?"

He spins the ball and reads...

"My reply is no."

I like not this spicey answer. What a fraudulent trickster!

THE MOOR

It tells true. Well calibrated yet.

KING

Fie! I'll none of it.

THE MOOR

No? The next query is more rich. Ask, thou sun-kissed King, "Is't my lieutenant Ha'penny made a king anon?"

KING

Treasonous thought!

THE MOOR

Ask!

KING

[Addressing the ball] Dark heart, shalt Ha'penny enthronéd sit?

Rotates ball, reads...

"My sources say no."

Marry! 'Tis not false news.

THE MOOR

Take comfort then, tawny King. Ask further still, "Will the Miller's tale to my subjects sell?"

KING

O fie on the Miller! False hag-hounding jackanapes!

THE MOOR

ASK!

KING

God's elbow! Demanding spirit! I ask, "Will the Miller sell his tale?"

He shakes, spins, reads...

"Signs point to yes."

Pfft! Knavish bollock!

THE MOOR

Gut-brainéd King, one more. Ask thou, "Shall any man born of woman o'er-topple my throne?"

KING

Ah now, ebon ghost-king, I smell the trick in that! A once-great king—great and bloody, though he wore a tarty skirt—fell hard for that same seeming-warrant. I'll none of it! More iron-strong I'll fashion the matter.

[To the ball] Shalt ANY man—I care not how birthéd—tup my golden throne?

Spinning the ball and eagerly reading...

"The answer is no."

A hearty answer to my more certain question! How now, brown brow? By Merlin, my throne is secure!

THE MOOR

Take certain comfort by it then, belly-brain. I will away. Retirement, for now, beckons.

Exit THE MOOR.

KING

He should have come here to me earlier
That would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Leaps in this pretty place from day to day
To full vict'ry of mine anointed time.
For all my yesterdays I've draggéd fools
The way to swell my golden-money'd chest.
Out, out cheated cuckolds! As a Fleecéd
Flock thou art laid bare. Poor players who strut
And fret on stage and then are cast no more,
In a tale told by this seeméd idiot,
Full of Thump and fury, signifying
Ka-ching!

Exeunt.

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ACT 2, SCENE 1

A single tree indicates an outdoor scene, perhaps just north of London. With bated swords, the Prince of JERSEY spars with the SPLOOGE.

SPLOOGE

Show me again your blunt-end weapon. I'll suffer no mishap, Young Cap'n.

JERSEY

Bated still for your comfort, Splooge. [Offers sword for inspection]

SPLOOGE

Ha! On guard! [He strikes a blow]

JERSEY

Ouch! Knave! I didst not look for such attack. Not fair!

SPLOOGE

I do teach thee you, Whelp. [They are fencing now] Strike hot the distract foe. Best match thee with poor unarméd dog, but if the cur bears a sharp arm and if you canst flee, slash him quick and sly lest he cut first.

JERSEY

What honor then? [They circle and fence poorly]

SPLOOGE

A pox on honor! What revels in wenching hast the bloodless honoréd? Swordless villains ever after such a honor. I'll none of it!

JERSEY

But is't not bravery in a man wondrous aphrodisiacal?

SPLOOGE

Marry, e'en bravery fails to stand in the charnel house. 'Tis but a dry bone, sir. Never Splooge by Gads!

BoarJERSEY

And not for the boar hunt, neither?

Both men drop swords to their sides. SPLOOGE unscrews the cap of a leather bag and drinks.

SPLOOGE

The bloody boar is a animal I durst not hunt. [Offers a drink to JERSEY] Whoreson creature's a gouging tusk! I'll not feel it. When I bear arms 'gainst a beast, I want no fair fight. Give me the soft-tail coney or the tender fawn. These beasty kittens I will affront!

JERSEY

Nor Scotland?

SPLOOGE

No. Nor Scotland, where e'en the wenches do affright me. Strong arméd, brash buttocks, evil eyes...

JERSEY

Still, the King my father must of our heroic venture hear.

SPLOOGE

Whelp, let Sir Splooge fashion the raucous tune as I am wont. The whole wide kingdom will dance it, and we will embiggened be. This small time we'll lie lowly in near 'comodating stew where there be swordplay heroic enough for Splooge!

JERSEY

Aww, I don't know. Dad loves me not like Iwanna...

SPLOOGE

[Leeringly] Who could?

JERSEY

... I must prove a kingly son ere I lose his name. Base he'll name me else.

SPLOOGE

Buck up, Young Cap'n! We shall clamor a false 'venture as'll paint you a new Achilles! Whoop-whoop!

Both exit, SPLOOGE in high spirits and waving a raised sword. JERSEY follows, more subdued.

------------

 

ACT 2, SCENE 2

The KING, seated behind his desk, struggles to free his fingers from a Chinese finger trap. HUCKLEBERRY enters with some mail.

HUCKLEBERRY

Good morning, my liege.

KING

'Zounds, an ill-mannered assault! Wilt thou never knock?

HUCKLEBERRY

The door was open, your grace, and you oft hast said...

KING

O bother what I am supposéd to have said! I may swear "aye" meaning "nay" or signify "would not" with "would," it's nought to me when thou'st mispuzzle me. [Pauses, tugs at trap] Am I to be by Huckleberry hounded e'en in my most privy chamber?

HUCKLEBERRY

But here you keepst your desk, King my good lord...

KING

Cry not, thou! I want it not. What posts there?

HUCKLEBERRY

Your leisure study. [She tosses a glossy "girlie" magazine on the desk] Contractors write for payment.

KING

Burn thee those. [He points with tied hands] What else?

HUCKLEBERRY

Notes from your worshipful base, and one rose-endrenchéd package from the most luxurious Queen. [She sniffs the envelope]

KING

Marry! Nose it not, oratorical hound. I'll hear the baser words first.

HUCKLEBERRY

From one Ned Noodle. [Reads] "Yeah, but wut about Hilarity? lol"

KING

That's richly stated! Good base man, this. What signifies this "well oh well?"

HUCKLEBERRY

It's "L-O-L" my lord, a stuttering nervous laugh. Some say a vaprous mental flatulence.

KING

I like it well. [More struggling with the finger trap] What name again?

HUCKLEBERRY

Ned Noodle, good lord.

KING

Ned Noodle—a good yeoman's name that! Poetical alternative sounding. Minds me on that scorch-necked flag-waver of lost and trait'rous rebel causes, Bubba Burlapped.

HUCKLEBERRY

Stretch-necked, too, that one. From a tree.

KING

A fine man still. Many a fine man marches with evil intent. My good father... No I durst not prattle. Send Noodle a red beanie.

The KING stands, emerges from behind desk.

My privy council soon arrives, lay by my fawning letters for a time. I'll hear thee read later whilst I am enthronéd. [With a nod toward the golden stool] Now I'll hear the loving Queen's dispatch. But first, Good Huckleberry, reach thou into my drawers and pull...

HUCKLEBERRY

Most forward King!

KING

My desk drawers, lusty maid, and pull forth the royal shears. I'll no more of this Chinese 'musment. [Holding forth hands] Cut it in twain, cryer.

HUCKLEBERRY

Of course, King.

Chinese finger trap
She retrieves scissors from a desk drawer and cuts the trap. The KING's hands are parted, but after a brief effort he gives up on removing the two pieces of the trap, which remain on his pointer fingers. At this time, BANNCOCK and GIOVANNI arrive at the open door.

GIOVANNI

Knock, knock!

BANNCOCK

Ooh, who's there?

GIOVANNI shoots him a withering glance, which the KING, moving to sit, catches.

KING

O humorless Giovanni, I will hear the jest.

BANNCOCK

And I will oblige my lord.

Knock, knock.

KING

[Delighted] Who's there?

BANNCOCK

Izzy.

KING

Izzy who?

BANNCOCK

Izzy to be, or Izzy not-to-be?

BANNCOCK laughs, the others are unamused.

HUCKLEBERRY

Before imparting your intelligences, a missive from our mostly honoréd Queen.

KING

Not a queen of princely blood or rich dowry, still. Do not o'er-praise her Huckster. I made her. Go on, say forth.

HUCKLEBERRY

Our most benevolent King's own Queen hast writ:

Reading...

King my legal husband, I do for a time travel hence. Mine own father being old and ill—though it may indeed be mine mother or yet a belovéd aunt, the matter is unclear—I must attend on him. Or her. Therefore to our humble family estate on Bohemia's famed seacoast must I flee.

Young Antonio, my Italian sculptor, as a most fit companion will accompany me thereby to finish certain lifelike marbled images of your most oath-bonded queen. One statue—this fully clothed—we, or I, leave for your remembrance.

Know sir that your sometimes platonic companion, Mistress Gonereal Stormborn, called on you. Alas, you missed her. She's a dear! Your being not by, Antonio suggested she touch your barrister Mikhail Cozen.

Be Best,

Melancholia

KING

Ungrateful wife! To the sun-dappled coast of Bohemia and leaves marbled statutory. Blessed be the gods if it doesn't speak.

GIOVANNI

This touches my intelligence near.

HUCKLEBERRY

Hard news. Too soon my liege, or shall we hear your good councilors' briefs?

KING

Briefs? Depends.

BANNCOCK

Commando here.

He casts a leering eye to HUCKLEBERRY, who returns a disgusted eyeroll.

KING

Reports!

HUCKLEBERRY

Mayor Rube Giovanni, your spyings?

GIOVANNI

My lord. [Bows] Certain indications speak to a queenly plan to flee this spectre'd isle for parts unknowable. Your sometimes loyal lieutenant Spike Ha'penny may with her henceward fly, though some lay 'spicion to young Roman artist Antonio Bel Corpo, who doth purchase luggage and matchéd beachwear. Our best spies do nightly peep the Queen's windows to know her more.

KING

Good work glib Rube! A surfeit of words, sure. My huckstering mouthpiece shall transrelate it me anon. Banncock, thou out-thrown he-hen, what hast?

BANNCOCK

Perfidy, my bloat king.

HUCKLEBERRY

Your tongue sir!

BANNCOCK

Hark my tongue, she-hound! This report of the King's well-rounded sports-fellow Gonereal Stormborn a'meet with Mikhail Cozen is portentous. It marries with intelligences o' mine that the Miller doth of a sudden harry Cozen sore. Cart loads of evidences of unfathomed import move from Cozen to the Miller's clutches.

GIOVANNI

Trifles! What of this Gonereal's infects the King? This Cozen? A brutish, unlearnéd court-jesting stooge! Nought here touches our gravy King.

KING

O, I begin to boil. Where is my whoreson lawman Geoffrey Beauregard in this? Self-excuséd scapegoat! Scatter, thou impotents! Raise the base-born to a righteous frenzy. I'll see my shystering fix-all Cozen here. And pious Bishop Faultwell to paper-o'er my ungraceful mask. See to it Huckleberry!

Exeunt

------------

 

ACT 2, SCENE 3

HUCKLEBERRY, BANNCOCK, and GIOVANNI confer briefly outside of the King's chamber.

HUCKLEBERRY

Let me have the worse news to the King you durst not speak.

GIOVANNI

To our sovereign do I unfold all I know.

BANNCOCK

Still more than you do know wouldst not o'er-tax his thin-haired, thick-brainéd pate. I, 'compassing much more, must more circumsizéd be.

HUCKLEBERRY

O Banncock of sauce-painted doublet— [indicating his food-stained shirt] —we know your prodigious appetite. Say what of import to the realm hast you swallowed up?

BANNCOCK

Only this you flapping-jowl crown-kisser: Deep peril. Rough sailing. Wreckage. The Miller is nosing the King's most noxious-fuméd faults. We who sit astride this humpéd broken nag for our sometime profit, must back a more competing horse...

GIOVANNI

Ooh, the grease bag's a tout now!

BANNCOCK

.. Or we ride it down.

HUCKLEBERRY

That's none of intelligence, my unkempt sir, just your ever-insolent gloom.

BANNCOCK

Go forth then. More birdsong on the moat sing you out. The basest as ever will hear it.

A map of the Thumpingbroke Canal route.BANNCOCK exits.

GIOVANNI

Faith yet, good Huckleberry. Surly Banncock mind you not. Anon give my regards to besiegéd Cozen and pius Faultwell.

GIOVANNI exits. HUCKLEBERRY advances to address the audience.

HUCKLEBERRY

Good countrymen all. A new proclamation of your most supreme King I shall read out.

[Reads] The MOAT—so wanting for our security and for the enrichment of many—will be entrenchéd soon! The brownish Spaniards weep! Tremendous payments will line my coffers! YOUR coffers, as Englishmen! Your soon extracted tributes to the crown—needed but for a brief time—will be HANDSOMELY repaid again with Spanish gold! And believe me, I know handsome.

[She looks up] Maps of the Thumpingbroke Canal route are sold at a fair price in the White Castle gift shoppe. The King has expressed his sympathy to Brighton and other blue-noséd towns cut loose by the canal.

The King also wishes to correct certain fake scribblers and cryers. A canal, saith our learnéd King, is but a species of straight moat. Encrocodiled this straighted moat will be for their edification.

God save the King!

Exeunt.

------------

 

ACT ONE 2, SCENE 4

HUCKLEBERRY stands outside of the King's chamber door. She waits to greet two red-nosed newcomers. The first, in a flowing all-white robe and white cone-shaped party hat, carrying a cross-topped staff in one hand and a Bible in the other, is Bishop FAULTWELL. The second is the lawyer, Mikhail COZEN.

HUCKLEBERRY

Good friends to the King, well met!

FAULTWELL

Loyal Huckleberry! Rich blessings to you. How does our most reverend King?

HUCKLEBERRY

Passing well, though some troubled.

COZEN

His mood? Is't generous yet?

HUCKLEBERRY

The King generous? [Arches eyebrow] That's an allowance I shan't make. Come, let's to his chambers.

She leads the party to this King's door, and knocks.

KING

[Within] It's not locked! Bloody gits.

HUCKLEBERRY

[Opens and enters] Cheerful King, some friends!

Party hat.KING

Announce!

HUCKLEBERRY

First, pius Bishop Faultwell aswath in your new-designéd clerical weeds.

KING

Very trim indeed! Thy staff is a fearful touch too.

FAULTWELL

On dark and hallowéd nights, the cross burns for a torch and yet is not consumed.

KING

A most 'spiring trick!

HUCKLEBERRY

Next your oft-called court-of-law advisor and King's counsel, Mikhail Cozen.

COZEN

Begging your pardon, my gracious King. [Bows]

KING

As well thee might. I durst not learn thee unloyal nor confidential with that poxy bed bouncer.

COZEN

No, my liege. Fair spoken. We shall confer anon, not 'fore the ears of your C-R-Y-E-R.

KING

What's this, a whoreson bee? Gadzooks! Interpret me that Huckleberry.

HUCKLEBERRY

He spells "cryer" my liege, meaning me.

COZEN

D'oh! [Slapping his head]

KING

Speak free 'fore my yelping cryer, Cozen. She bites not.

COZEN

The French kissing?

KING

That I am supposéd indebted to the Frankish throne she well knows. Still I deny'st it. To our long-sworn enemies I'll not bow. By Gads! With yet much dark uncoveréd evidences, I'll be not foresworn.

COZEN

I do desire it not. 'Twere not for some petty King-inkéd papers—spied under my second-best bed by that blown-up storming trollop and now in hand of the Miller—I'd expect it not neither.

KING

Bean-brainéd fusty slave! Trait'rous drudge! How comes she to spy under thy bed?

COZEN

I did desire her to enact for mine satisfaction your well-reported Paris revel. She did gladly take relief there, which we may hope hast somewhat washed the 'criminating papers below.

KING

Addressing the others, while extracting hand sanitizer and wiping hands awkwardly, as he still wears the two ends of the finger trap.

Filthy lawyers! I'll not keep 'em. Mustachioed Rogers Hornsby, esquire, didst air my grievances public, now my basement-bought fixer-upper doth leak!

COZEN

O pardon, King!

KING

[Ignoring him] Where is my foxy friend Shamus O'Sanity?

HUCKLEBERRY

He wast delayed by t' application of certain powders and paintings to his most fawned-on face. He sends a note of the general news. Shall I read it out?

KING

Bark it.

HUCKLEBERRY

She pulls a paper from her bodice and reads from it.

Good morning Jove! Not just a king, but Olympian god art you. Old friend, new sovereign!

News to your ear: False prophets daily cry your doom. Some perjurous knaves roll over at the Miller's commands: flipping Manifold, the craven soldier Flint. Just now that most grafting Scot, Spewit, jumps the ship. Daily France tweaks our English nose.

We report not such tidings wide. To your ovine public we daily hawk the moat and hourly decry the Moor—foreign, unnatural man, spork-slipping bogey!

She flips the paper, eyes it, and looks up from reading to say...

On the reverse he hast penned confidential oaths on Cozen and Gonereal Stormborn who hast—his very words—"spilled the beans."

KING

By the Rood! I'll hang these false-newsing traitors! Huckleberry, take this coney-catching Cozen to a close convenient room to await my pleasure. I'll have time now to sound this ecclesiastical lackey for my spiritual comfort.

COZEN, whimpering, and HUCKLEBERRY exit.

FAULTWELL

Your Lordship. [Bows]

KING

What hast thou uncovered in thy Good Book as profiting me this day?

FAULTWELL

My Lord, there's so much could.

KING

I do believe that truth as many do report it. Let's for my most devotional study make a game. Only by chance point a page and verse then read it out. Mark thou not pages in the new books. Too much delicate love's there versified. Jesu's dad's exploits I do favor: there's a roguish, bloody king!

FAULTWELL

The bishop riffles the pages of his Bible, points, and reads...

Proverbs 20:28 "Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy."

KING

I like that not overwell, too much the quality of mercy in't. Try me another more telling of my reign.

FAULTWELL

Shuffles, stabs, reads...

Isaiah 59:14 "And justice is turned away backward, and righteousness standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street and uprightness cannot enter."

KING

Wordy saw, I don't compass it. Pray try my favoréd book, strict Levicious.

FAULTWELL

More riffling.

Leviticus 20:10 "If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with a friend's wife, the adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death."

KING

Ooh, a near hit. Not me with thine indulgence, though?

FAULTWELL

Not Your Grace. 'Scape you as the Lord in Heaven's 'nointed one. The adultress, if not convenient may imperiled be.

KING

A good just clause! I'll mind it. Just one more chance-caught pearl for my holy meditation.

FAULTWELL

Riffling with a flourish.

Ezekiel 23:20 "She lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose emission like that of stallions."

KING

'Zounds! A saucy verse. I will with reverence contemplate it more.

FAULTWELL

As you will my Lord. Shall I offer a benedictory prayer?

KING

Marry, not so close by Padre. Methinks is't more meet thou offer prayers in high-beaméd cathedral. Do thou express my greetings skyward then. Avaunt.

Exeunt.

------------

 

ACT 2, SCENE 5

In his darkened privy chamber, the KING nods at his desk.

KING

His head falling forward, he jerks suddenly awake.

'Zounds! [Looking around, dazed] Flibbergibbeting false winking dreams! I ought to the bed my scampered queen haunts no more.

He stands, stretches, scratches indelicately, and opens a desk drawer with a hand still festooned with half of a finger-trap. Retrieving a glossy magazine and closing the drawer, he appears ready to leave the room. But an indistinct chanting is heard, and he falls back into his chair.

Frightful clamor! Disturbéd dreams and now this dread howling. Woe, more woe. And I have an early tee time! What is't thou?

THREE VOICES

Synchronized chanting.

Double, double toil and bubble;
Fire burn and cauldron trouble.

Hesitation, then unsynchronized voices continue...

Um, something, something.
An eye of newt?
Stir the pot and stew
The prunes?
Feel the burn. Boil
Frog-leggéd illegitimate king.

KING

I do know these ever-confuséd voices. A band o' Parliament, by George! Roof-raising funky gamesters; impolitic knaves.

A knot of three balloons rises now: blue-nosed Parliamentarians Lady MACBROTH, Charles the SCHEMER, and Bernard FLANDERS.

Lady Nancy McBroth, hagging voice of the House Common, is't thou?

MACBROTH

Even so, infant King.

KING

And Charles the Schemer, from York to the House of Lords affixed?

SCHEMER

That's right, pal.

KING

And surely the distempered Flanders.

FLANDERS

It's Bernard, not Shirley, you empty-headed usurper. Lord Bernard Flanders, your worst nightmare.

MACBROTH and SCHEMER

Ours too, betimes.

Three witches.

KING

Why affright me now? False rumor dogs my days and distracts my feat of reknown. Must my nights be likewise sleepless haunted?

MACBROTH

We do desire your comfortable sleep and anon will task the Yeoman Warders with sweet lullabies in your nightly service.

SCHEMER

Pray, hollow King, what's this reknownéd feat of yours?

KING

Thou mulish ass! Ass-braying mule! The moat know thee well—maps art sold in the gift shoppe. All say it out-faces Hadrian's sodden wall as the blaring sun doth 'bliterate the twinkling stars. Many say the wall Marco Polo didst cobble up in China 'tis but a blown-down fence to mine flowing moat-canal! 'Zounds!

FLANDERS

Still, bourgeois King, a canal's not a wall sirrah! What built is a wetted ditch? What workman's labor ever cast up but a hole? Fie on't!

KING

Ooh, thou 'tankerous Flanders! Thy hair is white-frighted, thine elbows all patchéd, thy mother's rough-booted!

FLANDERS

Most richly argued, prating coxcomb!

MACBROTH

Good Flanders. Hold more to the point. We come to pronounce the bill soon introducéd 'fore Parliament to the King's certain doom.

SCHEMER

That's right my marmalade King. The Miller told his tale.

MACBROTH

See the King doth change a whiter shade of pale.

FLANDERS

Tangerine, at best.

KING

O pother the Miller! Hag-hunting, false-noséd foot soldier. With prophecy secure, I fear no man!

MACBROTH

Our prophecy is more dire. 'Tis known if not deposéd be, your Frankish tanglements do foretell a lamentful future on this storied isle. A bloody, head-severing revolution.

SCHEMER

Snails on a plate. Bubbled wine in a cup.

FLANDERS

That most errant, juggling, comedic knave—Gerald Louis—ever on our festival stages!

KING

None of it sirs! My fond regard for King Louis the Terrible; a few small loans: francs for my investmental use. What harm? Certain games abed spied out by prying frog-eyed tell-tales. Still nought. I'll not hear 'em.

MACBROTH

All well, though it will end not such. Tomorrow a bill of alienation King from Crown. It will pass.

KING

Fie! Faugh! My new-militant son, fresh from bloody victories 'gainst our friends and countrymen the Scots, marches on our capital for more strength. Soon with his wildling lieutenant, feared Sir Splooge, will he clap contrary Parliamentarians in chains. Out spirits! Attempt not to affright me more, I'll not be enfeebled.

The three float off, indistinct chanting is heard.

How all occasions do inform against me,
And mock my dulléd wits! What is a king,
If the chief use and 'joyment of his time
Be but to think and think? a beast, no more.
Sure, he that gave me such coarse appetites,
Leering before and after, gave me not
That capacity and goat-like hunger
To fust in me unused. Now, whether it be
Gold or sensual oblivion won,
I'll surfeit my desires in all times left.

Exeunt

------------

 

ACT 2, SCENE 6

Outdoors, as signified by a lone tree. JERSEY and SPLOOGE ride hobbyhorses toward London and the White Castle.

SPLOOGE

London town, yee haw!

JERSEY

Soon I face my father. I fear him to know my small a'ventures.

SPLOOGE

Courage, Young Cap'n! 'Twere a merry sojourn in that house. We wetted swords most bravely there, sirrah! I'll fashion a tale to 'maze the old man's ears and a'swoon the courtly lasses.

JERSEY

O, I don't know Splooge. [Suppressing sobs] I just don't.

SPLOOGE

Only let me tell it, Whelp. Say you not a word, but only in grave nods approve the epical tale. With the news, e'en fair Huckleberry will mark me a desirous genl'man and whoreson scholar. Brave Splooge and Fateful Jersey she'll greet us after.

Hobbyhorse.JERSEY

My sister will smell out our faults sure. And this noisesome itch... [A privy scratch] God's water!

What be if that new Joan d'Arc beworks this rash?

SPLOOGE

'Tis given this unnatural blonde Stormborn dost fly dragons.

JERSEY

And breathes fire very like the twin o' my sister Iwanna. O my hag-wrought contagion!

SPLOOGE

Hang this fearsome tabby's claw about your neck for luck and remedy. I had it of a mewling great calico who didst scratch me deep. Enfevered me sore, but stronger fashioned was I for it. It'll show great valorous...

Alarums. Cannon fire and sounds of battle.

JERSEY

Marry, what's this 'flagration?! Brutish swords clang!

SPLOOGE

Battle's not for us, Young Cap'n.

JERSEY

Calamity! [Draws sword] Let's to the breech!

SPLOOGE

Your French cologne marks you a ripe target, Whelp. You durst not hence. I'll to the rearward go: there's cozy inns yet for our comfort.

JERSEY

Treachery's afoot Splooge! Doth not my father's gold buy some service?

SPLOOGE

My steed likes not the heaty battle.

He pulls back his stick-horse, affecting a rearing mount.

'Tis a horse not fit for war, being much hobbled with an bunion o' the foot. No fault o' hers. Nor mine. Good morrow, sirrah!

SPLOOGE turns his hobbyhorse and flees, yowling insensibly.

JERSEY

God's kneecap! So I must alone to the White Castle, a greasy slider in 'tween the very skillet-hot warring factions of the realm. Donjonny Thumpingbroke for the King!

He kicks at his stick-steed and gallops away. Exeunt.

------------

 

ACT 2, SCENE 7

The King's privy chamber in the White Castle. The KING at his desk, with HUCKLEBERRY and BANNCOCK he confers. Muted cries and shouts and, occasionally, fireworks are heard.

BANNCOCK

This 'splosive revelry and Thames-side celebration for the people's distraction will not last.

HUCKLEBERRY

We rely on it for the nonce. Hourly we expect Parliament's judgement on matters consequential.

BANNCOCK

Miller time in Westminster.

KING

O for a convenient foreign war! Is't too late too poke some weak, unfriended island for a rare and bloody vict'ry?

BANNCOCK

Pray the White Castle be not that unfriended isle ere nightfall. What defenses of the realm art in ready preparation?

HUCKLEBERRY

Rube Giovanni returns soon his report.

BANNCOCK

O that be of comfort! His intelligence 'tis ever so rare. It almost out-prices the King's for scarcity.

KING

I like not thy words, untidy toad!

BANNCOCK

Swallow 'em despite, King-for-hire! With my ruffian base-born I married you the throne. Forget me not.

He pulls a Rubik's Cube from his pocket and tosses it onto the king's desk.

Rubik's cube.Puzzle that awhile, King.

KING

[Picking it up] Ooh, a bauble!

HUCKLEBERRY

[In a stage whisper] Careful Banncock of illing-kay the olden-gay ooze-gay.

BANNCOCK

Come my furry Huckle, such fell times and talk of deaths dost stir my blood. Parlez vous "la petite mort," mademoiselle?

HUCKLEBERRY

Ugh! [An audible shudder] Footsteps, methinks.

GIOVANNI approaches. The KING is in thrall to the puzzle. Sporadic revels are heard still from outside the castle.

GIOVANNI

Woeful day sirs!

HUCKLEBERRY

What news of the King's faithful army and most loyal following?

GIOVANNI

Decimation!

BANNCOCK

Come now, Mayor Shallow. Particular tidings? Intelligences?

GIOVANNI

Just this, sloven sir: treachery, witchcraft, infection, madness!

HUCKLEBERRY

More roundly sir!

The King continues at the cube with increasing vigor and evident frustration.

GIOVANNI

Nothing of closed Parliament but rumor. But contagion from that vestal varlet Gonereal Stormborn doth strangely infect men of our base. They cry "Witchcraft!" and hie to strange self-servéd deaths. A goodly army of red-beanied fit men didst go a-leaping o'er the white cliffs of Dover, a frightful sight to see. Only here in the city, men from London Bridge go falling down; falling down to cold, wat'ry graves. Northward some take the high road, some take the low road, all avow and say "I'll die in Scotland afore ye."

BANNCOCK

Bewitchéd knaves! They couldst not the stewed prunes? Ill-trained soldiers.

The KING throws the cube in frustration, then looks up...

KING

Good Giovanni, well met! What news?

GIOVANNI

Well...

BANNCOCK

Your army doth dissolve.

KING

Japing Banncock, thou dost jest unseemly. I'll not hear thy cankered tongue!

BANNCOCK

Knock knock.

KING

Ooh! Who's there?

BANNCOCK

Howard.

KING

Howard who?

BANNCOCK

Howard you like new rooms in the Tower?

KING

O scurrilous knave! I like not thy bloated hungry look.

HUCKLEBERRY

Liege, didst not you purpose for Banncock to attend your disgracéd lawyer Cozen? Would now be the moment?

KING

Say more, cryer. I misremember the occasion.

HUCKLEBERRY

He was to go the weeping scoudrel's cell below and box the trait'rous Cozen about the ears for sport.

KING

Ooh, I'd have that done!

BANNCOCK

My ham-fisted pleasure, Lord. I go at once.

He departs as the giddy KING, risen from his chair, feigns a one-two punch combination.

HUCKLEBERRY

Giovanni, know this, the King's gaolers Rosenstern and Guildencrantz...

KING

One's named Gus, one's named Alfie!

HUCKLEBERRY

... art bidst lock Banncock in the cozy box where, at the King's pleasure, the twain shall rot.

KING

He shouldst not grown tiresome. Come, Giovanni, our news. What of my troops?

GIOVANNI

Some passing trouble as I hast relayed to Huckleberry, whose nose is e'er to the ground in your service, dread King. Perhaps she will the particulars share.

He casts a pleading look her way, but she is moving to greet Princess Iwanna Kushy of YORK, who arrives at the door.

HUCKLEBERRY

Greetings King-daughter! What concession negotiate of Parliament?

KING

Negotiation's an whoreson game. We'll none.

YORK

Ancient Father, be still.

KING

What means thou, gentle Iwanna? Thou'll "ancient" me?

YORK

You shouldst sooner grown wise, but still a sale is a sale.

KING

Sale? Negotiation? What hast my serpent-fangéd daughter sold in my name? 'Zounds!

YORK

Not so much my sire, just...

A tumult in the hall as Donjonny Thumpingbroke, Prince of JERSEY arrives on his hobbyhorse, pulling a red Radio Flyer. A crudely-tied load, covered with a sheet, overflows the wagon.

JERSEY

[Shouting] What ho! King Father! Daaaad!

KING

My militant son the Prince of Jersey is come with regiments behind to foreswear Giovanni's "some passing trouble" intelligence!

Radio Flyer.YORK

[Wearily] O brother.

JERSEY

He leans carefully his hobbyhorse against the door frame.

Bigger news, my sire. I know not of regiments, but...

KING

Ooh, famous tales of brave ventures north of the wall with strong Splooge? I spy a bloody boar's tusk hung of thy Thumpingbroke neck. Spin, boy, spin!

JERSEY

Ah Dad, I blush to speak o' the tail of our ventures. As for this foot [Indicating the cat's paw], modesty stays my tongue.

YORK

What poor pussy maimed, brother?

JERSEY

[Whining] Iwanna! Daaaad! Bother the kitty. I have news of great import.

HUCKLEBERRY

Come Jersey, speak it.

JERSEY

Strange sayings of Gonereal Stormborn's wonders-working contagion art heard. I hast revealéd her most fell jape yet!

KING

The sporks!?

JERSEY

No, wise Father. Worser!

With a flourish, he pulls the cover from his wagon load.

The Queen, most reverent and loyal Queen, my loving third mother: turned stone!

He gasps at his own reveal; all others are unmoved.

KING

Thou clot-brain, dullard son of a groomsman! That's masonry of the Queen's pet painter, Antonio Bel Corpo! She's with him on far Bohemia's sandy shore.

JERSEY

O, famed coastline paradisical!

KING

Yon bust 'tis none of Gonereal witchery. 'Zounds! Thou fly to us for this?

JERSEY

I didst hear sounds of raucous battle 'fore the castle.

KING

Clotpoll!

HUCKLEBERRY

You did hear nought but fireworks and celebrations, Prince. No battle joined, we wait the Parliamentary verdict.

YORK

Which I hast here, being late ensconcéd there.

KING

Say it out! I'll no more attend my rumored son.

GIOVANNI

Know what e'er it is, my liege, we'll out-face it with stratagems judicial.

YORK

King, my ever lord, they o'erlook thine 'haviors in close detail and do findst grievous faults...

KING

Never!

YORK

To wit: noxious compacts hid with that most notorious foe of this isle, Louis the Terrible, King of France.

KING

Fakery!

GIOVANNI

The King knows him not.

YORK

Your sometimes friends—Manifold, Cozen, Flint—do sing your most disgracious faults as one tune.

KING

Low screeching pipers! I'll have 'em hang!

YORK

You? Without one tree in command? No. I hast struck a deal most fair.

KING

I like not the art of thy dealing.

HUCKLEBERRY

Go on Princess, let's hear the terms.

The Prince of JERSEY is busy standing up the statue of the Queen and dusting it with a kerchief.

YORK

First, a fair share in the profits of some mirthful remembrances of your reign to be hawked in the White Castle's gift shoppe and, betimes, packed together with table scraps for purchase at the ride-up window.

KING

A clause fair won.

YORK

A comfortable lodging in the Tower as befitting an redundant king.

KING

Covfefe! That's not cromulent!

YORK

Spike Ha'penny will consort with but not possess the crown. He hast a writ of divorce from his wife, as she stood not for his dining at table with the fled Queen. So 'tis specified he takes your eldest blood—a daughter—to wife and she comes Queen...

KING

Outrage!

YORK

... but—I vow— he'll never bed her.

HUCKLEBERRY

And the Merchant: how 'round this impediment?

YORK

'Tis yet a mystery: I know nought but that Parliament hast fixed it so. The blue-nosed lords seem very merry o' the idea of Ha'penny so yoked, which I take an affront.

The Prince JERSEY gapes at a piece of paper retrieved from the statue.

JERSEY

God's liver! Most foul scribbles herewith secreted twixt the stone-queen bosoms. O infamy!

GIOVANNI

Come, read it out young Prince.

JERSEY

I'll never!

He attempts to stuff the paper in his mouth, but HUCKLEBERRY snatches it away.

HUCKLEBERRY

To the King's barking dog falls such an office. I'll read.

She pauses to scan the paper before speaking again.

It is another of the Queen, writ as a type of codicil to her last.

She reads.

My most wind-blown husband, greetings. I wrote of my tea with lusty Gonereal Stormborn, your bouncy bedmate. Thereat did she unfold to me a most strange tale. She recalls her own most unfortunate mother you long ago didst keep for sport. A most secretarial and notarizing mother she was, too, and did but of late leave certain papers incontrovertible to this daughter. To this new-revealéd eldest daughter of your most royal loins! The case is made tight, but pray not trouble much. Your Stormborn-Thumpingbroke child hast only shared else her tale and proofs with the Miller.

Your ever-absent wife,
Melancholia

During a momentary stunned silence, GIOVANNI slips out the door and is gone.

JERSEY

O most tragicomical report! I'll to a nunnery for silence ever. Or this!

He draws his sword and saws ineffectually at his neck as he exits the stage.

YORK

Unfaithful father! I'd gouge your eyes in Oedipal rage, but I'd have you see all the foilment of your folly. The knights and arméd might of the realm arrive this hour to pull your unseemly crown; this night you rest in the Tower! I'll away to France.

She strikes her brother's hobbyhorse a blow—sending it skidding on the stage—and departs.

KING

[Distractedly] But the sporks!

HUCKLEBERRY

Well now, once-King. [She removes her red nose] As a good Christian Puritan, I hast ever resolved to daily foreswear the truth only in service of a victorious and empowered master. I leave thee speechless, for I do smell the wind. Adieu.

She tosses the red nose in the gilded toilet. The KING sits in silence and grins vacuously. His grin, like the Cheshire Cat's, remains while the light dims in his room. One spotlight illuminates a spot on the stage where the Miller—as CHORUS— soon appears.

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EPILOGUE

Enter CHORUS

CHORUS

(Thus to Thumpingbroke) all the world’s his stage,
And all the men and women his players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And but one man, him alone, doth matter,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in silk sheetéd bed;
Cradled with but a nurse's cold comfort.
And then the whining school-boy, with foul mood
And pouting morning face, limo driven
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Burning like furnace, with a lustful boasting
On any mistress’ virtue. Then soldier
Not, for his sore foot and rank cowardice;
Yet full of strange oaths, jealous of honour,
Sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking still
Unearn'd reputation. And then magnate,
In gross round belly with good feeding lined,
With dry pufféd eyes and ill-color'd jowls,
Full of bald lies and 'uge inflated worth;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
To unearnéd glory, a rung too high
In his most vain and ambitous climbing.
His youthful gambols, neglected study,
His foreign mergers, entanglements rash;
High crimes and misdemeanors pull him down.
His big self-beclaiming voice, sounding out
Only inane babble. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans hair, sans friend, sans crown, sans everything.

Exeunt

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