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THE KING-Matthew.T

A HOMELESS PERSON: (outside) food. food. food. Give me some food.

THE KING: Who is that crying in the street for food?

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: (fanning) Your majesty, it is a beggar.

THE KING: I don’t like the sound of his voice. It’s annoying. Make him go away.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Your majesty, he’s already been sent away.

THE KING: Then why do I still hear his voice?

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Your majesty, he has been sent away many times, yet each time that he is sent away he returns again, crying louder than before. Even yesterday, the man which you now hear crying aloud in the street was killed by your soldiers with a sword.

THE KING: Dead people cannot eat food! People who have been killed with a sword do not go about in the streets crying for a piece of food.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Yes, they do if they are like this beggar. Your soldiers already hit and injured this beggar for crying aloud in the streets for food, but his wounds are already healed. They cut out his tongue, but he immediately grew another. They killed him, yet he is now alive.

[A HOMELESS PERSON\’S voice suddenly cries out loudly.]

A HOMELESS PERSON: (outside) Food. Food. Give me some food.

THE KING: Ah! He is shouting again. His voice seems to be louder than it was before. Make him stop!

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: (fanning vigorously) A morsel of food, your majesty, dropped from your window–that might prove a remedy.

THE KING: (angrily). If I gave him some food today he would be just as hungry again tomorrow, and my troubles would be as great as before.

THE KING: Therefore, some other remedy must be found.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Perhaps a small morsel of food, your majesty-

THE KING: Ha! I have it. I have it. I myself will order him to stop.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: (horrified) Your majesty!

THE KING: Send the homeless person here.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Your majesty!

THE KING: Ha! I think the homeless person will stop his annoying voice and shut up when the king commands him to. Ha, ha, ha!

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Oh king, I will not have a beggar brought into our palace

THE KING: (pleased with his idea) Yes. Go outside and tell this beggar that the king desires his presence.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: (returning) Your Majesty, here is the homeless man.

[A HOMELESS PERSON follows THE KING\’S ADVISOR slowly into the royal chamber.]

A HOMELESS PERSON: (in a faint voice, after a slight pause) Are you the king?

THE KING: I am the king.

THE KING: (To the HOMELESS PERSON) I have ordered you here to speak to you concerning a very grave matter. You are a homeless man, I understand, who often cries aloud in the streets for food. Now, the complaint of your voice annoys me greatly. Therefore, do not beg any more.

A HOMELESS PERSON: (faintly) I…I do not understand.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: (to the HOMELESS PERSON) The king has commanded you to not beg for food anymore. The noise of your voice is garbage in his ears and annoying.

A HOMELESS PERSON: I…I do not understand.

THE KING: Uugh! He is deafer than a stone wall.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: Your majesty, he cannot be deaf, for he understood me quite easily when I spoke to him in the street.

A HOMELESS PERSON: The words of your mouth I can hear perfectly. But their noise is only a foolish tinkling in my ears.

THE KING: Your behind will be tingling if you do not follow my orders. I, your king, have ordered you not to beg anymore in the streets for food. Signify that you will obey the orders of your king by quickly kissing the floor near my feet thrice.

A HOMELESS PERSON: That is impossible.

THE KING: Come, now: I have ordered you to kiss your lips to the floor.

A HOMELESS PERSON: Why should I kiss my lips on the floor?

THE KING: In order to seal your promise to your king.

A HOMELESS PERSON: But I have made no promise. Neither have I any king.

THE KING: I have commanded you not to beg any more, for the sound of your voice is annoying. Kiss your lips now to the floor, as I have commanded you, and you shall go from this palace a free man. Refuse and you will be sorry that your father ever came within twenty meters of your mother.

A HOMELESS PERSON: I have ever lamented that he did. For to be born into this world a beggar is a more unhappy thing than any that I know–unless it is to be born a king.

THE KING\’S ADVISOR: (aside) It is wise to do as the king commands you. His patience is near an end.

THE KING: Do not be afraid to soil my floor with your forehead. I will graciously forgive you for that.

[A HOMELESS PERSON stands motionless.]

THE KING: Well? (A pause.) Well? (In a rage) WELL?

A HOMELESS PERSON: Oh king, you have commanded me not to begin the streets for food, for the noise of my voice annoys you. Now, therefore, I likewise command you to remove your crown from your head and throw it from your window into the street.

THE KING: Pfft! You command me! You, a beggar from the streets, command me, a king, to remove my crown from my head and throw it from my window into the street!

A HOMELESS PERSON: That is what I said.

THE KING: No! I will not throw my crown from that window, or from any other window.

A HOMELESS PERSON: (preparing to leave) Spoken like a king. You are a king, so you would prefer to lose your head than that silly circle of gold that so foolishly sits upon it. But it is well. You are a king. You could not prefer otherwise.

[He walks calmly toward the door.]

THE KING: (to THE KING\’S ADVISOR) Stop him! Seize him! Does he think to get off so easily with his impudence!

A HOMELESS PERSON: My strength is greater than a mountain and my words are more fearful than a hurricane. This servant of yours cannot even touch me. With one breath of my mouth, I can blow over this whole palace.

THE KING: Do you hear the impudence he is giving me? Why do you not seize him? What is the matter with you? Why do you not call the guards?

[He walks out. THE KING’S ADVISOR struck dumb, stares after him. THE KING sits in his chair, dazed.]

THE KING: (suddenly realizing) After him! After him! He must not be
allowed to escape! After him!

THE KING’S ADVISOR: (choking) I can’t breathe


THE KING’S ADVISOR: O king–I cannot seem to call them.

THE KING: How! Are you dumb? Ah!

[the HOMELESS PERSON\’S voice is heard outside.]

A HOMELESS PERSON: food. food. Give me some food.

THE KING: Ah. [He turns toward the window, half-frightened, and then, almost instinctively, raises his hands toward his crown, and seems on the point of tossing it out the window. But with an oath he replaces it and presses it firmly on his head.] How am I afraid of a beggar!

A HOMELESS PERSON: (continuing outside) food. food. Give me some food.

THE KING: (with terrible anger) Close that window!

[THE KING’S ADVISOR stands stupidly, and the voice of the HOMELESS PERSON grows louder as the curtain falls.]

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