My Fool is a Crock
It was a cold and blustery morning. The weather being such as it was, I hardly expected to get any visitors to the castle. Imagine just how surprised I was when I heard a knocking at the door. It was a crisp, clean, efficient sort of knock that made you want to quickly tidy up and straighten your robes before you answered the door. Or, rather, before you sent your footman to answer the door. Either way, nothing could have prepared me for the man that was about to walk into my life.
He was of medium height, medium build- nothing extraordinary there. But what struck me almost at once was his face. It was the most orderly face I’d ever seen. It was devoid of all emotion and expression, and his features seemed to have been quickly and tidily etched out of glass.
‘Ho,’ thought I. ‘What have we here? Another applicant for the opening in the treasury?’
Before I could speculate much further he crossed the great hall in, I dare say a very proficient way, to stand but five feet from where I sat.
"Your Highness," he swept competently into a tidy bow. "I am here to apply for the position of Court Fool. Vincent St. Ives, at your service, Madam."
What could I do? What could I say? I couldn’t just lie to him and tell him the position had been filled. He’d probably know I was lying. I did the only thing I could do:
While other applicants usually jump for joy, (or at the very least, smile), Vincent St. Ives gave me a curt nod, turned crisply and, I assume, made his way to his new quarters. He most likely already had blueprints of the castle.
By the next day I had already forgotten that I’d even hired the man. It came as a total shock to me when he came briskly into the kitchens where I was watching Hilda prepare my oatmeal, and joking with Marcel the boot-boy.
"Madam..." It wasn’t so much a question as a demand.
I ignored him, wanting to deliver the punchline of my joke.
Vincent cleared his throat.
I turned around, startled and a little perturbed.
"Ah, yes. I meant to ask you yesterday whether I would be required to wear the standard fool’s uniform or not." He looked at me expectantly, and a little impatiently. I could tell that he did not approve of my colloquial attitude with the help.
I wasn’t sure what to say. Only two minutes ago I hadn’t remembered that this man even existed.
"Uh, no- you don’t have to. Uh...whatever- do whatever you want. Go crazy."
His stare bored through me; "Yes, Madam. Thank you, Madam."
He showed up in the hall later that day in a grey, tailored suit. Hardly fun and whimsical, but I couldn’t really question his methods when he appeared so - together. I decided to test out his jestering abilities:
"Mr. Ives, would you mind entertaining us during this afternoon lull?"
He rose from his chair quickly and smoothly, brushing the invisible wrinkles out of his crisp, linen suit. He strode to my side, as crisp as his suit.
"Don’t you think, your Highness, that perhaps your time would be better spent running the country then wasting your precious time watching me prance about like some great lummox?" he asked smoothly, arching one manicured brow.
My eyes were cast downward in shame. "Yes, Vincent, I suppose you’re right. None of that foolishness for me. No, indeed. I see the error of my ways."
He gave an affirmative nod, and stode back toward the court, ushering everyone out of the great hall.
I sighed and rubbed my temples. What had I gotten myself into?
After much deliberation, I decided to confront him the next morning.
"Vincent?" I called, walking down the drafty corridors.
"Yes, Madam?" replied Vincent, stepping smartly out in front of me.
"Ack!" I screamed, tripping on the hem of my robes and plowing into the unfortunate fool.
He stood me up efficiently and tidily. "What is it that you were needing, Madam?"
I struggled to straighten my robe and crown. "Uh..nothing. Oh, wait! Yes! That was it! Um...I was meaning to ask you a question, Vincent. And I hope you don’t take offense, but... ack...ahem. Um...why did you want to become a fool? I mean, uh...well... you just don’t really fit the usual standard for that sort of thing...um" I eventually petered out and looked at him half sheepish, half expectant.
He looked at me with what I believe was his equivalent of surprise. "Well, Madam, it was brought to my attention that it was believed that I was devoid of any sense of humour... vicious gossip that I had to dispel. So the logical conclusion was to be to become the court fool. I had to prove to the world what a fun-loving man I am."
My jaw hung open and I stared with disbelieving eyes, and he looked back at me reproachfully.
"Really, your Highness. Your conduct is hardly becoming of a woman of your stature." He cast a quick, disapproving glance down at my fuzzy chamber slippers.
No doubt about it...my fool was a crock!