King Henry IX - The War of the Noses

 

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 corn-oration 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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