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Fool, Chapter 1.

December 25th, 2008 · 64 Comments · Uncategorized

Well kids, here’s my Christmas present to you. It’s not much, but it’s what I do.
The chapter will be footnoted in the book, with some of the more obscure
terms defined, but I couldnt’ figure out how to get the footnotes to hyperlink
in the blog, so they’re at the end of the chapter.

Fool Cover, full

Fool

by

Christopher Moore

WARNING

This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, spit infinitives, and the odd wank. If that sort of thing bothers you, then gentle reader pass by, for we only endeavor to entertain, not to offend. That said, if that’s the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened onto the perfect story!

Chapter 1 – Always a Bloody Ghost

Tosser!” Cried the raven.

There’s always a bloody raven.

“Foolish teachin’ him to talk, if you ask me,” said the sentry.

“I’m duty-bound foolish, yeoman.” said I. I am, you know? A fool. Fool to the court of Lear of Britain. “And you are a tosser[1]” I said.

“Piss off!” said the raven.

The yeoman took a swipe at the bird with his spear and the great black bird swooped off the wall and went cawing out over the Thames. A ferryman looked up from his boat, saw us on the tower, and waved. I jumped onto the wall and bowed — at your fucking service, thank you. The yeoman grumbled and spit after the raven.

There have always been ravens at the White Tower. A thousand years ago, before George the 2nd, idiot King of Merica, destroyed the world, there were ravens here. The legend says that as long as there are ravens at the Tower, England will stand strong. Still, it may have been a mistake to teach one to talk.

“The Earl of Gloucester approaches!” Cried a sentry on the west wall. “With his son Edgar and the bastard Edmund!”

The yeoman by me grinned. “Gloucester, eh? Be sure you do that bit where you play a goat and Drool plays the Earl mistaking you for his wife.”

“That would be unkind,” said I. “the Earl is newly widowed.”

“You did it the last time he was here and she was still warm in the grave.”

“Well, yes. A service that – trying to shock the poor wretch out of his grief, wasn’t I?”

“Good show, too. The way you was bleatin’ I thought ol’ Drool was givin’ it to you right proper up the bung.”

I made a note to shove the guard off the wall when opportunity presented.

“Heard he was going to have you assassinated, but he couldn’t make a case to the King.”

“Gloucester’s a noble, he doesn’t need a case for murder, just a whim and a blade.”

“Not bloody likely,” the yeoman said, “everyone knows the King’s got a wing o’er you.”

That was true. I enjoy a certain license.

“Have you seen, Drool? With Gloucester here, there’ll be a command performance.” My apprentice, Drool – a beef-witted bloke the size of a draught horse.

“He was in the kitchen before the watch,” said the yeoman.

The kitchen buzzed – the staff preparing for a feast.

“Have you seen Drool ?” I asked Taster, who sat at the table staring sadly at a bread trencher[2] laid out with cold pork, the King’s dinner. He was a thin, sickly lad, chosen, no doubt, for his weakness of constitution, and a predisposition toward dropping dead at the slightest provocation. I liked to tell him my troubles, sure that they would not travel far.

“Does this look poisoned to you?”

“It’s pork, lad. Lovely. Eat up. Half the men in the England would give a testicle to feast thus, and it only mid-day. I’m tempted myself.” I tossed my head – gave him a grin and a bit of a jingle on the ol’ hat bells to cheer him. I pantomimed stealing a bit of his pork. “After you, of course.”

A knife thumped into the table by my hand.

“Back, Fool,” said Bubble, the head cook. “That’s the King’s lunch and I’ll have your balls before I’ll let you at it.”

“My balls are yours for the asking, milady,” said I. “Would you have them on a trencher, or shall I serve them in a bowl of cream, like peaches?”

Bubble harrumphed, yanked her knife from the table and went back to gutting a trout at the butcher block, her great bottom rolling like thunderclouds under her skirt as she moved.

“You’re a wicked little man, Pocket,” said Squeak, waves of freckles riding o’er her shy smile. She was second to the cook, a sturdy, ginger-haired girl with a high giggle and a generous spirit in the dark. Taster and I often passed pleasant afternoons at the table watching her wring the necks of chickens.

Pocket is my name, by the way. Given to me by the Abbess who found me on the nunnery doorstep when I was a tiny babe. True, I am not a large fellow. Some might even say I am diminutive, but I am quick as a cat and nature has compensated me with other gifts. But wicked?

“I think Drool was headed to the princess’s chambers,” Squeak said.

“Aye,” said Taster, glumly. “The lady sent for a cure for melancholy.”

“And the git went?” Jest on his own? The boy wasn’t ready. What if he blundered, tripped, fell on the princess like a millstone on a butterfly? “Are you sure?”

Bubble dropped a gutless trout into a bushel of slippery cofishes[3]. “Chanting, ‘off to do ma duty’, he was. We told him you’d be looking for him when we heard Princess Goneril and the Duke of Albany was coming.”

“Albany’s coming?”

“Ain’t he sworn to string your entrails from the chandelier?” Asked Taster.

“No,” corrected Squeak, “That was Duke of Cornwall. Albany was going to have his head on a pike, I believe. Pike, wasn’t it, Bubble?”

“Aye, have his head on a pike. Funny thing, thinkin’ about it, you’d look like a bigger version of your puppet-stick there.”

“Jones,” said Taster, pointing to my jester’s scepter, Jones, who is, indeed, a smaller version of my own handsome countenance, fixed atop a sturdy handle of hardened hickory. Jones speaks for me when even my tongue needs to exceed safe license with knights and nobles, his head pre-piked for wrath of the dull and humorless. My finest art is oft lost in the eye of the subject.

“Yes, that would be right hilarious, Bubble – ironic imagery – like the lovely Squeak turning you on a spit over a fire, an apple up both your ends for color — although I daresay the whole castle might conflagrate in the resulting grease fire, but until then we’d laugh and laugh.”

I dodged a well-flung trout then, and paid Bubble a grin for not throwing her knife instead. Fine woman, she, despite being large and quick to anger. “Well, I’ve a great drooling dolt to find if we are to prepare an entertainment for the evening.”

Cordelia’s chambers lay in the north tower, the quickest way there atop the outer wall. As I crossed over the great main gate house, a young spot-faced yeoman called. “Hail, Earl of Gloucester!” Below, the greybeard Gloucester and his retinue were crossing the drawbridge.

“Hail, Edmund, you bloody bastard!” I called over the wall.

The yeoman tapped me on the shoulder. “Beggin’ your pardon, sirrah,[4] but I’m told that Edmund is sensitive about his bastardy.”

“Aye, yeoman,” said I. “No need for prodding and jibe to divine that prick’s tender spot, he wears it on his sleeve.” I jumped on the wall and waved Jones at the bastard, who was trying to wrench a bow and quiver from a knight who rode beside him. “You whoreson scalawag!’ Said I. “You flesh-turd dropped stinking from the poxy arsehole of a hare-lipped harlot!”

The Earl of Gloucester glowered up at me as he passed under the portcullis.

“Shot to the heart, that one,” said the yeoman.

“Too harsh then, you reckon?”

“A bit.”

“Sorry. Excellent hat though, bastard,” I called, by way of making amends. Edgar and two knights were trying to restrain the bastard Edmund below. I jumped down from the wall. “Haven’t seen Drool, have you?”

“In the great hall this morning,” said the yeoman. “Not since.”

A call came around the top of the wall, passing from yeoman to yeoman until we heard, “The Duke of Cornwall and Princess Regan approach from the South.”

“Fuckstockings!” Cornwall: polished greed and pure born villainy; he’d dirk[5] a nun for a farthing[6], and short the coin, for the fun.

“Don’t worry, little one, the King ‘ill keep your hide whole.”

“Aye, yeoman he will, and if you call me little one in company, the King ‘ill have you walking watch on the frozen moat all winter.”

“Sorry, Sir Jester, Sir, ” said the yeoman. He slouched then as not to seem so irritatingly tall. “Heard that tasty Princess Regan’s a right bunny cunny, eh?” He leaned down to elbow me in the ribs, now that we were best mates and all.

“You’re new, aren’t you?”

“Just two months in service. “

“Advice, then, young yeoman: When referring to the King’s middle daughter, state that she is fair, speculate that she is pious, but unless you’d like to spend your watch looking for the box where your head is kept, resist the urge to wax ignorant on her naughty bits.”

“I don’t know what that means, sir.”

“Speak not of Regan’s shaggacity, son, Cornwall has taken the eyes of men who have but looked upon the princess with the spark of lust.”

“The fiend! I didn’t know, sir. I’ll say nothing.”

“And neither shall I, good yeoman. Neither shall I.”

And thus are alliances made, loyalties cemented. Pocket makes a friend.

The boy was right about Regan, of course. And why I hadn’t thought to call her bunny cunny myself, when I of all people should know – well, as an artist, I must admit , I was envious of the invention.

Cordelia’s private solar[7] lay at the top of the North Tower on the outer wall, up a narrow spiral staircase lit only with the crosses of arrow loops. I could hear giggling as I topped the stairs.

“So I am of no worth if not on the arm and in the bed of some buffoon in a cod piece?” I heard Cordelia say.

“You called,” said I, stepping into the room, codpiece in hand.

The ladies in waiting giggled, young Lady Jane, who is but thirteen, shrieked at my presence — disturbed no doubt, by my overt manliness, or perhaps by the gentle clouting on the bottom she received from Jones.

“Pocket!” Cordelia sat at the center of the circle of girls — holding court, as such — her hair down, blond curls to her waist, a simple gown of lavender linen, loosely laced . She stood and approached me. “You honor us, Fool. Did you hear rumors of small animals to hurt, or were you hoping to accidently surprise me in my bath again?”

I tipped my hat, a slight, contrite jingle there. “I was lost, milady.”

“A dozen times?”

“If you want a navigator I’ll send for him, but I’ll not lend him Jones or my coxcomb.[8] And hold me blameless should your melancholy triumph and you drown yourself in the brook, your gentle ladies weeping damply around your pale and lovely corpse. Let them say, ‘She was not lost in the map, confident as she was in her navigator, but lost in heart for want of a fool.’”

The ladies gasped as if I’d cued them. I’d have blessed them if I were still on speaking terms with God.

“Out, out, out, ladies,” Cordelia said. “Give me peace with my fool so that I might devise some punishment for him.”

The ladies scurried out of the room.

“Punishment?” I asked . “For what?”

“I don’t know yet,” she said, “but by the time I’ve thought of the punishment, I’m sure there’ll be an offense.”

“I blush at your confidence.”

“And I at your humility,” said the princess. She grinned, a crescent too devious for a maid of her tender years. Cordelia is not ten years my junior ( I’m exactly not sure of my own age), seventeen summers has she seen, and as the youngest of the king’s daughters, she’s always been treated as if fragile as spun glass. But, sweet thing, her bark could frighten a mad badger.

“Shall I disrobe for my punishment?” I offered. “Flagellation? Fellation? Whatever. I am your willing penitent, lady.

“No more of that, Pocket. I need your counsel, or at least your commiseration. My sisters are coming to the castle.”

“Unfortunately, they have arrived.”

“Oh, that’s right, Albany and Cornwall want to kill you. Bad luck, that. Anyway, they are coming to the castle, as is Gloucester and his sons. Goodness, they want to kill you as well.”

“Rough critics,” said I.

“Sorry. And a dozen other nobles as well as the Earl of Kent are here. Kent doesn’t want to kill you, does he?”

“Not that I know of. But it is only lunch time.”

“Right. And do you know why they are all coming?”

“To corner me like a rat in a barrel?”

“Barrels do not have corners, Pocket.”

“Does seem like a lot of bother for killing one small, if tremendously handsome fool.”

“It’s not about you, you dolt! It’s about me.”

“Well, even less effort to kill you. How many can it take to snap your scrawny neck? I worry that Drool will do it by accident some day. You haven’t seen him, have you?”

“Father is marrying me off !”

“Nonsense. Who would have you?”

The lady darkened a bit, then, blue eyes gone cold. Badgers across Blighty[9] shuddered. “Edgar of Gloucester has always wanted me and the Prince of France and Duke of Burgundy are already here to pay me troth.”

“Troth about what?”

“Troth!”

“About what?”

“Troth, troth, you fool, not truth. The princes are here to marry me.”

“Those two? Edgar? No.” I was shaken. Cordelia? Married? Would one of them take her away? It was unjust! Unfair! Wrong! Why, she had never even seen me naked.

“Why would they want to troth you? I mean, for the night, to be sure, who wouldn’t troth you cross-eyed? But permanently, I think not.”

“I’m a bloody princess, Pocket.”

“Precisely. What good are princesses? Dragon food and ransom markers — spoiled brats to be bartered for real estate.”

“Oh no, dear fool, you forget that sometimes a princess becomes a queen.”

“Ha, princesses. What worth are you if your father has to tack a dozen counties to your bum to get those French poofters to look at you.”

“Oh, and what worth a fool? Nay, what worth a fool’s second, for you merely carry the drool cup for the Natural[10]. What’s the ransom for a jester, Pocket? A bucket of warm spittle.”

I grabbed my chest.. “Pierced to the core, I am,” I gasped. I staggered to a chair. “I bleed, I suffer, I die on the forked lance of your words.”

She came to me. “You do not.”

“No, stay back. Blood stains will never come out of linen — they are stubborned with your cruelty and guilt…”

“Pocket, stop it now.”

“You have kilt me, lady, most dead.” I gasped, I spasmed, I coughed. “Let it always be said that this humble fool brought joy to all whom he met.”

“No one will say that.”

“Shhhh, child. I grow weak. No breath.” I looked at the imaginary blood on my hands, horrified. I slid off a chair, to the floor. “But I want you to know that despite your vicious nature and your freakishly large feet, I have always–”

And then I died. Bloody fucking brilliantly, I’d say, too, hint of a shudder at the end as death’s chilly hand grabbed my knob.

“What? What? You have always what?”

I said nothing, being dead., and not a little exhausted from all the bleeding and gasping. Truth be told, under the jest I felt like I’d taken a bolt to the heart.

“You’re absolutely no help at all,” said Cordelia.

The raven landed on the wall as I made my way back to the common house in search of Drool. No little vexed was I by the news of Cordelia’s looming nuptials.

“Ghost!” said the raven.

“I didn’t teach you that.”

“Bollocks!” Replied the Raven.

“That’s the spirit!”

“Ghost!”

“Piss off, bird,” said I.

Then a cold wind bit at my bum and at the top of the stairs, in the turret ahead, I saw a shimmering in the shadows, like silk in sunlight — not quite in the shape of a woman.

And the ghost said:

“ With grave offense to daughters three,

“Alas the King a fool shall be.”

“Rhymes? You’re looming about all diaphanous in the middle of the day, puking cryptic rhymes? Low craft and tawdry art, ghosting about at noon — a parson’s fart heralds darker doom, thou babbling wisp.”

“Ghost!” Cried the raven, and with that the ghost was gone.

There’s always a bloody ghost.

———————————————————-

1 Tosser -One who tosses, a wanker

2 Trencher – a thick, wide slice of stale bread, used like a plate

3 Cofishes – other fish in a group, coworkers, cohorts etc. Shut up, it’s a word.

4 Sirrah –form of address, “dude”

5 Dirk – a knife, especially a dagger, or the act of using a dagger on someone

6 Farthing – The smallest denomination of English coinage – equal to one quarter of a penny.

7 Solar – a sitting room or parlor in the top story of a tower

8 Coxcomb – a jester’s hat

9 Blighty – Britain, Great Britain – slang
10 A Natural – the “Natural” jester was one who had some physical deformity or anomaly, a hunchback, a dwarf, a giant, Down’s syndrome etc. Naturals were thought to have been“touched” by God.

Merry Christmas, kids!

Photobucket

February 10th you can get the rest.

Let’s all resolve to buy it on the first

day or two, shall we? A perfect thing

to spend your gift certificate on.

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64 Comments so far ↓

  • Kailey

    Bahhhh!!! It’s awesome! I can’t wait! Thank you soooo much and a Merry Christmas!

  • mllefifi

    I love a novel with footnotes.

    ‘Course, it takes me a little longer to read — especially in a foreign language.

    ;)

  • tami

    But, soft what light through yonder blog does break?
    It is the AG with the first chapter of the Fool,
    To brighten our weary spirits this Xmas day…

    Thanks, it was just what I wanted!

  • Sephonae

    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! ::Does Myposian dance of joy, with a little Snoopy jig for emphasis::

  • Bean

    Finally, a resolution I can stick to! Thanks for the suggestion.

  • albertriehle

    Now how in the gee golly whiz to heck am I supposed to wait until February for the rest of this????

    I can’t wait. If the first chapter is any indication (and I’m sure it is) another great read is on the way!

  • Dave

    So, the AG chums the cyber waters with a snippet of his new book. Well, it worked. I have preordered the book even though it will mean I will have to go without my medication. I am hooked and unable to resist even though I have far less than a farthing.

  • mattw

    Thanks for posting! My giftcards await!

  • Kevin

    Thanks for posting this!

    Are you and your publisher going to release an electronic version for the Kindle? Please say yes…

  • Adele

    looking forward to it.

  • Henry Cruz

    As usual, great pockets of humor and will be a fun read.

    Happy New Year!! — and write faster so we get more goodies like this.

  • Patty Jean

    Does this mean I need to read King Lear? I guess if I want to get every single thing, I do… but I’m lazy.

    February 10th is too far away!

  • Sky

    whoa…
    That was awesome!
    ah, February is way to far…
    I will never survive this.

  • Mysterio

    I don’t want to pee in the punch, but I’ve noticed something odd. I don’t particularly like this first chapter. That said, I also didn’t like the first chapter from ‘You Suck’ when it was posted here and ended up really enjoying the book. I’ve loved all of Moore’s books.
    The above chapter seems rough and unedited.
    I am also probably wrong.

  • christopher carfi

    what the heck is a “spit infinitive?”

  • andy

    awesome first chapter… I am a huge fan of yours and cannot wait to buy it…my kid is due two weeks after the release so he can still be clothed even though i buy the book!!!

  • rusty

    I was a bit put off by the pseudo-olde-english banter at the start, but it grew on me rather quick. I’ll be looking forward to when this is released…something for me to read during the freezing cold lunchtimes!

  • gaia61

    Currently re-reading King Lear so as not to miss a single nuance! My copy of the play has only slightly less footnotes, but they are not nearly as entertaining!

  • LIW

    Thanks again for continuing to provide first chapter previews. I just about onomatopooped myself this time.

    LIW

  • Deirdre

    As I never read the last chapter of a book before I finish it, I think I will also not read the first chapter of a book I’ve been dying to read for months now until I can keep going on to chapter 2, 3 etc… really looking forward to the whole experience, though!

  • Josh

    My life sucks right now and this has made the horrific pool of blackened and acidic heartache that I have been treading water, and slowly sinking in a bit less fucking awful. Please work on a time travel device to eat up the next month and perhaps, while you are making yourself useful, write several more books. Help me, Christopher Moore Kenobi; you’re my only hope.

  • Greg

    Thanks for the laughs and the history lessons. From Fluke to Lamb your books are the best. I just wish you could write them as fast as I read them. The next one never comes fast enough.

    Please make this available right away on an electronic format for Sony’s E-Reader. Its just a PDF format but now that my girlfriend gave it to me for Christmas she will chop my nuts off if she sees me buying new hardovers. Please……..

  • Greg

    Am I supposed to moderate my comment?

  • Kelli

    I really can not wait to read this. Right now I need one of your books. (I need to laugh my ass off.) February is not going to come soon enough. My in-laws are going to be so estatic when I tell them you have another book coming.

  • JoeyTheSquash

    I really like it. I still need to read “The Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove,” but maybe I’ll read this one first.

  • Mobiustrip

    Chris Moore meets Monty Python – it couldn’t be anymore delicious!

  • Jacob

    Ahh!, the pain of temptation. How dare thee tease with literary crack cocaine. Only to withhold the desired blessing of further lines. An addict I am! Be sure I shall purchase your seductive wares.

  • dl in san antonio - where AG never goes!

    Alas! just get the friggin’ thing out and in the bookstores, will you, already?

  • kerry

    Perfect. Thanks.
    I wonder though, after writing a novel in that style does the language creep into your everyday vocabulary? Do you have to read the collected works of Raymond Chandler to get back to normal?
    Cheers,
    K

  • Luka-chan

    dude, i love you. this is fantastic, i will DIE before 2/10…not least because i have the hell known as midterms this week. ugh. i’ve read all the books, loved ‘em (though it took me like six months to find Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and i’m still technically not allowed to read You Suck though i have 3 times. XP). ah, i needz time warp! and to figure out when you’re coming anywhere near me. XD

  • Joan

    I’ve just reread Island of the Sequined Love Nun and enjoyed it as though it were the first time. I read every word, and hoping for more turned to the internet . What a treat! A new book coming out in a few weeks…..Thanks you for your profundity and your prodigious body of work. Keep it coming!

  • Carrie

    That is going to be the best week ever. I’m going to see Spamalot on the 7th, then read Fool on the 10th, I read King Lear yesterday, hopefully your version has a happier ending…

  • Haney

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. You are truly a genius. A mad genius, but a genius none the less. I made my high school English students read the first two chapters of A Dirty Job. They loved it. Thank you for your many gifts.

  • Brittany aka ginormous CM fan

    there are no words to express the enjoyment i recive from reading christopher moore novels.

    i am in love. with these words of literary and comedic genious.

    so, uh, whens it available in Canada?

  • Rachelle

    awesome.
    pre-ordered.
    yaaaay :)

  • CodScotts

    Magnificent…am currently spinning on a thimble my advanced readers copy that I just finished…now off to buy a monkey and NOT call it Jeff!!!

  • kerry

    hi, me again.
    i’ve been rereading your books while waiting on this new one.
    “coyote blue” is a really funny book.
    um, yeah… well, that’s it.
    keep up the good work.
    ta

    k

  • Rodney

    Quite a jump from earlier novels, but intriguing nonetheless. You should consider running your next few books, as seen through the beta male eyes through the ages. Perhaps Canadian history of Upper/Lower Canada and the English/French conflicts which are a joke in itself. Well the aftermath anyhow.

  • Tabasco

    Chris,

    How smart would you be if you didn’t know how smart you was?

    I ask because, within the first paragraph of your books, I am struck dumb and useless until the final chapter. It ain’t right.

  • Jill Jones

    I made my list of FB Friends who have helped me! I need 21 BOOKS..YIKES! Does this book store in San Fran have shopping carts? I hope there is parking near by!

    Seriously Chris, you can’t make your links work? ;-)

  • Rune

    Please… somebody translate every Christopher Moore book to danish!… IM DESPERATE! he satisfies my fun needs fully… and it’s not sex! :)

    – Cicero has given up the translation, and on the edge of crying because, they have only translated 3 books. :(

  • Cindy B

    Fantastic book that! I only put it down to teach my crow to shout obscenities – hopefully to tossers.

  • Deb

    Oh ye Crap-not a read aloud for my third graders! I can’t wait-better go to the bloodbank to get some extra cash for all the hardcovers I have to get for belated birthday presents I said I’d buy:)

  • Kyle

    Just another adventure courtesty the Host, Christopher Moore. This time I get to travel back in time (kinda like Lamb). FUN STUFF!

  • bill

    On my way to the bookstore… thanks

  • Brenda

    Will be waiting by the mailbox for Fool to come in…love the 1st chapter…and the footnotes. Takes me back to the Tower…

  • papu

    Thought I would see if there was a new book you were writing, and presto, I read a chapter of fool
    thanks

  • Andrew

    Just got my copy….. can’t wait to devour!
    Thanks for making me laugh out loud with your wit! Cheers!

  • Kelly (widow)

    This first chapter has me going to the library for
    a copy of King Lear and to the book store for yourversion, ” Fool”. Keep the laughs coming and we might get through this “recession” intact.

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