The scene opens in a large public marketplace. Dozens of people mill about, visiting tents filled with food and merchandise. People gesture in greeting to friends and loved ones. Others bicker animatedly over the price of goods.
Into the scene walk two figures, Mittonmnius and Royal Anne, dressed in obviously fine garb. They survey the scene, dodging young children who are chasing each other through the square. The fine couple cautiously crane their necks to survey the market square, as if searching for someone they might possibly know. Both shake their heads and begin to walk arm in arm across the square, trying unsuccessfully to avoid touching the rowdy rabble around them.
Just as they are about to reach the far side of the market, a pair of women dressed in dull, shabby clothing trot up behind the harried yet still austere couple. "Excuse me fine sir," one of them asks loudly. "Can you tell us where to find a good pear in the marketplace?"
Casting an eye over the people, the austere Mittomnius glances about. "There does not appear to be a fine pair here, as far as I can see?"
The two women look at each other in apparent confusion, shrug their shoulders and turn immediately around to a booth in the marketplace bearing a sign that says "Fresh Pears." They excitedly engage with the merchant, filling a small sack with pears.
Glancing back at the women, the royal-looking couple tips their heads low in obvious disdain for their excited behavior, and begin to make their way toward the end of the market again. The two seem eager to move on, as if important business awaits them elsewhere.
Then, at their very feet, a man collapses to the ground. He is grasping his throat, choking for air. The two royals turn their heads aside and take a step back, watching the man writhe on the ground. A circle of people gathers around the struggling form, while Mittomnius cranes his neck over the crowd, looking for a way out. Royal Anne at first reaches down, then draws back her hand when the man coughs up dark spittle. Mittomnius grasps both her hands in his, and they smile for a moment, then turn in horror as the man loudly soils himself.
At that point a penitent looking man pokes through the crowd to lay hands on the choking man, who suddenly grows still. The crowd gasps, fearing the man has died. But then a slap on the man's back dislodges food from his throat. The stricken man falls to his back, breathing a huge sigh of relief. The crowd murmurs. Someone whispers, "It's a miracle!"
Mittomnius leans carefully forward to regard the expelled food. "Oh thank heavens above," he says. "It was only a piece of cake. It would be a sad thing indeed to die over a piece of cake!"
"Indeed," says Royal Anne. "For cake is a treat for all. Fortunately there is always plenty of cake to go around, if you know where to look. Perhaps this poor soul was simply too eager in his appetites! How unbecoming a commoner!"
A ruckus breaks out in a booth across the marketplace. Two men are fighting over a loaf of bread. The bread breaks in two, one piece flying across the marketplace, almost striking Mittomnius and Royal Anne. Someone picks up the bread, offering it to the couple. "Welcome to our little town," the old woman says. "Here is a gift from all of us. We can see you are not from our city."
"How do you mean?" Mittomnius asks. "We are citizens of the whole world. Everywhere we go we are welcomed with gifts and asked to offer our advice and wisdom. We buy and sell and bring riches to all who abide by our ways. How can you say 'We are not from your city?' "
"She meant no harm," pipes a man from deep within the crowd. "She was only inviting you to enjoy our marketplace."
"Don't you see?" replies the imperious Mittomnius. "If I truly wanted to enjoy your marketplace, I would buy it. All of it! I would be free to pick and choose what to keep and what not to keep. That is how the world works for those with wisdom like I possess. Do I not speak the truth, Royal Anne?"
"You do," she replies. "For I have seen this truth manifested in my own life, and repeatedly. Only a fool would think otherwise."
At that moment, a small man with a wild look in his eye darts out from the thick of the crowd. He has not been seen prior to the moment when he bursts forth, throwing off a dark cloak with a flourish, and tossing his hands in the air, says robustly: "Truth trickleth down from the heavens!" the little Jester exclaims. "But is it possible to run through a rain storm and not get wet? I ask you that?"
"Of course not," says Mittomnius. "No man is so swift or so bold as to make that claim!"
"Then it appears you are soaked to the bone in your own wisdom," the Jester replies. "For if you provide a cloak to those lost even in the most violent storm, they will not get wet!"
"That is not what I meant!" Mittomnius roars. "You trick me with words!"
"Not with words, but with facts," the Jester mocks. "For these are facts you refuse to see, because you challenge us with your bearing, and render nothing but threats and to buy and sell the marketplace. For rather than share in the fruits of our fair city, what would you do; sell the very market upon which we depend to buy our food and eat, and where our local merchants sell their wares?"
"How can I answer such questions?" Mittomnius replies. "They are only conjecture. I do what I will, when I will it. That is enough, is it not? Does not a man not deserve to be free, to do with his wealth as a he wishes, not to quarrel with this man or that man over what he should do, or why? That is the way the gods themselves would wish it for all of us!"
"So you are a god, then?" the Jester sneers.
"That is not what he said," Royal Anne protests. "No one truly knows the way of the gods. Your god and my god may not be the same. But we should not have to justify our god, or our actions, to a man such as you. Especially one so obvious a fool!"
"Yet the whole market stands before you, wondering what your answer would be? Your royal bearing gives no clue, which makes us believe you also have none."
"Enough with your riddles and clues," Mittomnius roars. "Royal Anne, let us take leave. These people are neither hospitable or wise to the ways of the world."
"Who is the less wise," warns the Jester. "The man who wins favor with the crowd through the truth, or the man who tries to buy it, at risk that such actions reap only bitterness, distrust and resolve. Can you buy hope through money and force?"
"This is not a court of justice," Mittomnius insists. "We are not on trial here. We came only to survey the marketplace, on a fair day in June. It is you who have chosen to torment us thus."
"On a fair day in June, indeed. And yet you cannot find any way to be cordial, to answer even the simplest questions. For it appears to be beneath you. Even a possibly dying man wrought no sympathy or action on your part, and two simple women you could not bear to entreaty in their search for a simple pear. So perhaps it is you that has served as your own judge and jury. Your countenance is itself your verdict. We will indeed leave you alone, as you seem to prefer. For if you do buy and then sell off the marketplace to the highest bidder, who would gouge us over the very food we need to survive, to the point where we cannot, you will have won everything for yourself, but the hearts of the people will be consumed by grief and distrust. Many will be lost, and even the man to whom you sold the marketplace will be bitter at the trickle of your false tears. Indeed, you will be rich for a time, but poorly vested."
At that point a young girl wanders over to grasp the hand of Royal Anne. For a moment she is touched by the gesture, for it reminds her of a daughter she lost in childbirth. She smiles at the girl, then looks up at the crowd standing stolid before her, and recoils her hand from the child's grasp.
Just then a murder of crows can be heard flying over the marketplace. The entire crowd looks up, but not Mittomnius and Royal Anne. They are adjusting their robes and patting their garments while the rest of the crowd is distracted by the birds.
In the distance, thunder can be heard. A storm is approaching. Mittomnius glances at Royal Anne. They wave their hands to someone nearby and a coach can be heard approaching. They walk across the marketplace toward the sound. The crowd parts as they walk. One reaches out to touch the robe of Mittomnius, who stops momentarily, holding Royal Anne back for a moment as well. He stares at the commoner for a moment, then smiles.
"You are right to reach out to me," he tells the man. "And therefore righteous as well. If we do buy the marketplace, you will be the first I will employ. The rest of you!" he raises his voice. "There are lessons to be learned! For I can make this marketplace come or go. And you as well. That is the real way of the world! You can be part of it, or choose to go your own way. And in that," he raises his chin a bit. "I truly wish you well. For the selfmade man is the most noble creature in the world."
Mittomnius and Royal Anne approach the coach and are about to get in when lightning flashes, striking the top of the carriage, which bursts into flame. Mittomnius and Royal Anne step back, fairly cowering with the crowd as their prized coach threatens to crumble before their eyes.
The marketplace swings into action, dousing the coach with water, putting out the flames while the royal couple walks backward into the crowd. Surrounded now by commoners pressing in on all sides, they appear to panic, not knowing whether the crowd is threatening or protecting them. "Ease your hearts!" Mittomnius cries. "We mean you no harm!"
"No harm taken," crows the Jester. "And none given. For we have rescued your royal coach. Our value is proven, if not appreciated."
"Will we see you here again?" a voice in the crowd calls out.
Anne glances expectantly at Mittomnius. "We have many more cities to visit," he replies. "It will depend on what welcome we receive there."
"Then allow us to send word ahead," the Jester wryly says. "So that you will receive the grand welcome you deserve."
Mittomnius glares at the Jester, who suddenly stands straight and tall, as if at attention, mocking the next words of Mittomnius, whatever they would be.
"Can the word of a man like you be trusted?" Mittomonius demands. "Or is it more folly you wish to prepare, distracting from the mission of my travels, which are to bring prosperity to this land."
"Prosperity is your promise. Authority is what you crave. And yet you can give no answer to the simplest questions of the crowd, and how will you treat our marketplace? Indeed, the question remains as to whose preparations are folly, and upon whom folly is being played."