King Henry IX - The War of the Noses

 

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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