(from The King by Donald Barthelme)
t is the king!"
"Why is he solitary upon this brownish sullen plain, where every prospect vexes?"
"Methinks he's taking thought!"
"He's frowning a great frown!"
"His visage is stark with pain!"
"He is wearing a simple white lawn shirt with black trousers!"
"His noble locks, now gray, fall about his shoulders in a fullish manner!"
"He smites himself across the brow with his right hand!"
"He is remembering!"
"A grand life means grand sins!"
"What, think you, was the grandest?"
"I would say trying to have Mordred killed when Mordred was a child!"
"Yes, that was pretty close to unacceptable!"
"Now he's putting something together!"
"What is it?"
"It appears to be a fishing rod!"
"But there are no fish here!"
"And no water, either!"
"Still, he sits, the king sits!"
"He's fishing as hard as he can!"
"They say it's a sign of senility, fishing under such conditions!"
"It doesn't make much sense to me!"
"A clear indication of a weakening grasp of reality, they say!"
"I do in part believe it! He appears to have hooked something!"
"He strains against the rod! He is pulling an object from the bowels of the earth!"
"Sweet Jesu mercy, it's a fish!"
"Not only a fish but a good fish, a large fish, a plump fish, a ripe and bouncing fish!"
"Certes, this is a true wonder that we see here!"
"This puts paid to all talk of the king's inadequacy!"
"He is as able as ever he was!"
"It is a miracle of the rarest order!"
"Let us hurry to the towns and cities to amplify the deeds to every man and woman in those shires!"
"With the best will in the world!"
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