The Fool

Once upon a time, and only because all good stories happen then, there was a Land of Castles. In these castles lived Kings, Queens, Knights, Princesses, Pages, Ladies, Thieves, and Fools. The last requires a bit of explanation: a fool was someone so intelligent that they became muddled in their thoughts. Sooner or later, they lost all perspective in their world or they rose above it. All in all, they were considered harmless by those seeking power, fortune, and fame.

Our story concerns one such fool from one of the many castles. Our fool possessed a rapier tongue sharpened by his misfortune and wit; enough smarts and innocence to go stumbling into (and through) compromising situations; and a knack for being in the right place at the right time (though not always). So, as fools go, he was very good, if you can imagine someone being competent as an incompetent.

One day this fool decided to go to one of the parties, or fete as they were called, that were always being thrown somewhere within the castle. The fool had attended many times before. And as he had always done before, he searched up and down, right and left, back and forth for a lady to dance with. In reality he really didn’t know how to dance. He reasoned he’d worry about that when the problem occurred.

So, after searching the length of the evening, the fool felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned and found a true Princess. The fool had never seen a real Princess so close before. He was, for the first time in his life, short on words. Somehow, he managed to ask her for a dance that lasted the rest of the evening. The fool just followed the lead of the Princess and his feet picked up the slack. As the night wore on, the fool found out that the Princess had never met a true Fool before. They talked of themselves and each was surprised at how alike the other was.

That night the fool was very happy. He was happy because he could imagine this Princess surrounded by some of the castle’s greatest knights battling and jousting for her favor and attention. That night he had her attention without struggle. The fool felt such profound happiness.

After the fete, the fool boasted to his friends of what had happened: how smooth everything had gone, how easy it was to make her smile and laugh (with him more than at him). A very good friend of the fool, a thief, warned the fool, “He dies by what he lives by.” Once the thief’s heart had been stolen and the fool had told him those words. But the fool shrugged his shoulders at his own words. He lived by fortune and his wits; how could those things betray him? They had done a good job of preserving him.

At the next fete the fool saw the Princess dancing with a tall, handsome Knight. The fool was crushed. Just as he was capable of soaring the greatest heights of happiness, so was he able to plummet to the lowest depths of depression, where he was surprised to find he had no power.

Later that night, the fool talked to the Princess. She said she was sorry. She said the Knight was a friend of days past and to be of stronger ties in the future. He replied how that was wonderful news and it was fine by him. That was the only time he lied to the Princess. Then he turned on his heel and walked away to find another. Yet somehow, no matter where the fool looked, he saw the Knight and the Princess.

After the fete the fool crept back to him chamber in the great castle in the land that made him. That night he wept for a while. After deciding it was time for a change, he fell asleep and was unable to remember his dreams.

1979
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