Ha! said Marguerite. I should've guessed.
What possible use could I have for that?
Fingerprints, Jonah, said the warlock.
The spell itself is, in full, as follows:
How much time is left to change your ways?
September, month nine, hath thirty days,
And thirty days hath the Ninevites yet
For Godhead's terms are thirty days net.
That's enough evidence, announced Quintus.
Note that the two spells are identical.
Note that their properties are similar.
Note too, said the Toad, the single name
That this prophet and that surveyor share,
Although I'm not sure why that is so.
It's a bad luck name. Call me Dhul-Nun.
So, prophet, why should I not have you charged
With criminal conspiracy, collusion,
Necromancy, plagiarism, corruption,
And taking possession of stolen property?
I know nothing of this surveyor, sire.
Look at his eyes shift, said Toad. He lies.
That warlock taught this Jonah too.
I received my information from a fish,
And that fish, in turn, received it from God.
And you expected to sell me your sackcloth?
The charlatan warlock and the surveyor,
May the Lord have mercy on their crooked souls,
Possessed, at least, a more attractive scam.
It wasn't camel meat they tried to sell
But fine leather motorcycle jackets.
Or so they claimed. The confiscated goods
Turned out to be as bogus as the vendors:
Cheap sweatshop knockoffs, poorly stitched.
The surveyor, Jonah, hanged last week,
The other, the warlock, only last night.
This means I don't get the job? I said.
You're a fool, prophet, he said. Go away.
It was time, I saw, to play my last card.
But what of my faithful disciples? I said.
They worship the pavement I walk upon,
The sackcloth I wear, the sermons I preach.
The great mob of them assembled outside
Will be extremely disappointed to hear
Of your disregard for the message I bear.
If their mood grew ugly, grew hostile,
Would you want to be the object of their wrath?
If they grew violent, began looting shops,
Hurling stones and dung, and crashing through doors,
Where could a monarch safely hide himself?
And some, the hotheads, may be armed, I fear,
May have brought along or grabbed as they went out
Makeshift knives, a petrol bomb or two.
The smile that spread over his face stunned me
With the spectacular malice it conveyed.
That would indeed be a concern, he replied,
But I cannot worry myself too much
About a crowd outside chanting praise
For one as low on the praiseworthy scale
As the complete incompetent before me.
Do you really believe people exist
Who eat insects, dance a graceless dance,
Wear sackcloth and follow an idiot,
Who are not employed by me to do so?
Who, Jonah, would cram a struggling locust
Down his throat without a royal paycheque
Padding his back pocket as an inducement?
They are all, every one, my agents.
Liber Jonae Contents