King Henry IX - The War of the Noses

 

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, pious 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.

 
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