'Gold' An alchemical adventure.A play by Andrew Dallmeyer
Act II. Scene 1.
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SCENE 1 The Street of the Alchemists, Prague The street is alive with people. Fortune tellers, astrologers, soothsayers, musicians, acrobats, jugglers, palm readers, tumblers and fire-eaters. Stalls with relics for sale and tarot cards laid out. Enter Meg and Seton. They stroll through the crowd. MEG Well, Alexander, what think you now? SETON I think that life be worth the living. (They walk on. Soon they are approached by a stranger. He is an alchemist.) ALCHEMIST Sir. Madam! By your strange appearance I see that you are visitors to this kingdom. Could I interest you perchance in a demonstration of the noble art of alchemy? SETON Aye, sir. You could. ALCHEMIST Good man, good man! I will not disappoint you rest assurit. A moment pray. (He goes off) SETON This should be of great interest. MEG I'll wager he will be counterfeit and will want money as reward. SETON And money he shall have if he be genuine. MEG Small hope of that. (The alchemist returns with a bucket of fire.) ALCHEMIST I have here in my hand a piece of lead. SETON May I feel it pray? ALCHEMIST Feel it? SETON Aye. ALCHEMIST Why feel it? SETON To feel the weight of it. ALCHEMIST Tis most irregular, but if you must.... (He hands the lead to Seton) SETON Tis somewhat light for lead. No matter. (He hands the lead back to the Alchemist) Precede! ALCHEMIST (angrily) I will indeed! I take this LEAD and I place it in the flame. (He does so) Now see what comes! In no time at all it will be turnit to gold. MEG (to Seton) See how the pigment melteth Alexander. He is counterfeit as predictit. Will you now expose him for what her really is? ALCHEMIST There. Tis finishit. Now for to cool it. (He dips the 'gold' in water) See for yourself! (He hands the 'gold' to Seton. Seton inspects it.) SETON It has much the quality of brass about it. Tis but a lump of brass colourit with grey pigment. (He gives the 'gold' back to the alchemist.) ALCHEMIST How do you dare insult me sir? Who do you think you are? My name is much esteemit in these parts. I am a man of great distinction, yea, and honour too. what are you but foreign scum! A plague on both your houses. Seldom have I seen such a disreputable pair. The sight of you offends me, to say nothing of the smell! (The Alchemist leaves in a rage. Meg and Seton burst out laughing) Poor soul! What a picture was his face! (The banging of a drum.) HERALD Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! We now perform, for your diversion, our moral tale, 'The Fall of Man'. Here ye, hear ye, hear ye! (All stop what they are doing and watch. The play is performed on a raised area.) 'The Fall of Man' Scene 1 Hell Enter Satan. SATAN Here stand I, Satan, In my Hell Evil monster Ne'r do well Now God hath made A creature - man Who now in Paradise Doth stand. And from his rib hath made a wife To hold his hand and share his life And now to her shall Saton go In guise of serpent to bring her woe. (Exit Satan. He disguises himself as a snake.) Scene 2 Paradise. A tree. Eve in the garden. SATAN Eve! Eve! EVE Hark! Hark! What noise is that? SATAN Tis I, a friend, behind your back. EVE A fiend more like! SATAN Why think you that? EVE Your body is foul. Your colour black. SATAN Of all the trees in God's green wood this tree is best (he indicates the tree) the fruit is good. EVE But God has warnit Both Adam and I Should we taste this fruit We both shall die. SATAN The reason is God knows full well That eating his fruit Will his secrets tell Small wonder then He it forbids For your wisdom is then As great as his. Come taste it, taste And you will see How this fine fruit Will set you free. (Eve hesitates) Do you not now believe in me For I but tell the truth to thee? Take it, take now and boldly bite. Eat! Eat! All will be right. (She bites into the apple) Now make Adam amend his mood And eat also this tender food. (Satan retires. Enter Adam.) ADAM Alack! What dark strife have you made For you have done what God forbade Alas! Alack! You have done amiss. And destroyit all our earthly bliss. EVE No, Adam! No! It is not so For this fruit bears the power to know What is evil, what is good We are now Gods within this wood. ADAM Can you be sure? EVE Aye. Eat and see! It hindereth not me. (Adam eats) ADAM Oh woe is me, for far from bliss is now revealit our nakedness And for this fall we are to blame And we must hide our sinful shame. (A distant bell is heard, growing closer) ADAM (out of character) Lepers! EVE Lepers! Lepers! ALL Lepers! Lepers! Lepers! (Everybody leaves the stage as quickly as possible. Only Seton and Meg remain.) MEG Come, Alexander, come! You surely do not mean to stay? SETON I do. MEG Then you are taken leave of your senses. Come, away man! Come away! SETON Leave me Meg! MEG I beg of you! I for one will no longer risk it. (She exits) (Enter the lepers) Ist LEPER Why do you not retreat from us like all the rest? SETON Because I am not afraid of you. 1st LEPER And why are you not afraid of us? What right have you to be not afraid? SETON I have nothing but pity for your plight. 1st LEPER Pity? We do not want your pity. SETON Give me your bell! 1st LEPER What? SETON Give me your bell! 2nd LEPER It is unclean sir. SETON I care not. Give it to me! MEG Alexander! I beg of you! Stop this madness! (The leper hands Seton the bell.) SETON The crucible is still hot. It will not take long. 2nd LEPER (to 1st.) Now look and see what you have done. 1st LEPER We will have to purchase another bell. 2nd LEPER That is easier said than done. 1st LEPER Forgive me but this man would brook no contradiction. 2nd LEPER Plainly he is of unsound mind. What on earth can have possessit you to cooperate? 1st LEPER I crave your pardon, but I know not. SETON Pass me the powder of projection Meg! MEG But Alexander..... SETON Pass it! MEG There remains but little. Why waste it on these wretched creatures? What good will it do? They are past saving Alexander and have but weeks of life ahead of them. The children of the forest I can understand, but these miserable mortals are already doomed to die. Better by far to speed them on their way than to prolong their agony unnecessarily. SETON At least they may die in comfort. Pass the powder! MEG Oh, Alexander! (She reaches into her sack and produces the last of the powder of projection. Seton adds it to the crucible, muttering the incantation. Cautiously at first, various of the crowd who have earlier left the stage allow their curiosity to get the better of them. They creep back on and surround the crucible in a semi-circle but at a distance. They watch in silence. Gradually the fire starts to grow gold. The witnesses are amazed. Seton pulls the gold from the fire. All gasp in amazement.) 1st RESIDENT (to 2nd) Fetch the King! He must be informit of this immediately. (Exit 2nd Resident.) (To Seton) I know not your name, sir, but I honour you. Clearly we are in the presence of a maker of miracles. SETON (to Lepers) Here. Take it! Though I cannot cure you of your sickness, at least I can ease your suffering. This will buy you a hundred bells and more besides. 1st LEPER (to 2nd) Should I take it? 2nd LEPER Aye. Why not? 1st LEPER Perhaps it is a trap. 2nd LEPER We have naught to lose. (The 1st Leper takes the gold) Ist LEPER Sir, we are forever indebtit to you. 2nd LEPER Indeed we are. 1st LEPER Upon my knees I pay you homage. I was once an educatit man but never have I seen such a thing as this. 2nd LEPER Already we have sufferit much and I have lost my thumbs and several fingers. But it is not the physical pain which breaks us but the avoidance of us by the rest of mankind which hurts us more deeply. 1st LEPER Was I not right to give him the bell? 2nd LEPER Indeed you were, but how could I have forseen these strange events? 1st LEPER Praise be to God! 2nd LEPER Gloria! Gloria! (they pray - the 'gloria') 1st RESIDENT The King approaches! 3rd RESIDENT It is his Majesty! 4th RESIDENT Long live the King! (Enter King Rudolph the Second of Bohemia. He is led by his servant Alberto. Everybody kneels, but Seton. Alberto whispers something into the King's ear. KING Do you not know who I am Englishman? SETON I am a Scotchman, sir. KING Do you not know who I am? I am the King. SETON Forgive me, sire. (Seton kneels) KING Good. That is better. How many languages can you speak? SETON But one sire. And that inadequately. KING I can speak five. English, Spanish, Ukranian and Polish. I can curse in a dozen others. SETON That is but four, according to my calculation. KING In addition to the ones aforementionit there is my own, of course. What is your name? SETON Alexander Seton. KING I understand Mister Seton that you have successfully performit a transmutation? SETON Yes, sire, I have. KING You know of course that all gold successfully transmutit in Bohemia is the rightful property of the King? SETON No, sire, I did not know that. KING Ah! However in view of the fact that this particular piece of gold has obviously been contaminatit with leperousness it would be better left in the soilit hands of those who already hold it. Besides, we shall no doubt have many opportunities for further transmutations. Where are you intending to stay, Mister Seton, during your visit to Prague? SETON Sire, I do not know. KING Good. Then you will stay with me at the Palace. SETON I thank you, sire. There is also the question of my travelling companion. (Meg steps forward.) Might she accompany us also? KING She is your weddit wife? SETON No sire. (Alberto whispers in the King's ear.) KING I am afraid that I cannot be expectit to accommodate her also. The palace is not an inn Mister Seton. I hope you will understand. SETON Where I go, she goes also. KING Indeed? Such loyalty is touching. MEG You go Alexander! You go with him! You cannot miss such an opportunity. SETON But what of you Meg? MEG It is my intention to stay in Prague so no doubt we will meet again in future. Go with the King Alexander! SETON I thank you sire for your hospitality, and I most gratefully accept. KING Good. That is settlet. Come with me! We have much to discuss. Alberto! Lead us!
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