'Gold' An alchemical adventure.A play by Andrew Dallmeyer
Act II. Scene 3.
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SCENE 3 The Palace (Enter courtiers.) HERALD My lords, ladies and gentles, pray silence for the King and Queen of Poland, her Royal Higness Queen Catherine and his Royal Highness King Klaus. (Fanfare. Enter the King and Queen.) My lords, ladies and gentles, pray silence for the King and Queen of Saxony, her Royal Highness Queen Gertrude and his Royal Highness King Frederick. (Fanfare. Enter the King and Queen) My lords, ladies and gentles, pray silence for his Majesty King Rudolph the Second of Bohemia. (The King is led in by Alberto.) KING First we wish to thank you all for coming to the feast. As I am sure you will agree we have already eaten royally, as befits our state. ALL Aye, aye! KING To your royal highnesses in particular do we extend our special greetings. You have travellit far to be with us and your presence makes this day the more memorable. ALL Aye, aye! KING All that now remains for me is to introduce the piece-de-resistance of the evening, that rare and precious deed, that feat of heavenly alchemy, from that enchantit kingdom of mountains and forests in the North, ladies and gentles, the master magician and alchemist, Mister Alexander Seton. (Applause. Enter Seton) Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentles, I have here a small piece of lead. Pray take and hold it to see that it be lead! (He hands it to the King of Poland who inspects it and passes it round.) POLAND I agree that it be lead. QUEEN I would not know lead if I saw it. POLAND Do not show your ignorance! SAXONY We agree that it be lead. (They hand it back.) SETON Now stir I the flame with the bellows thus. KING Watch you! It will amaze! POLAND Is it trickery then? KING No, no! There is no conjuring or counterfeit. POLAND (with sarcasm) Ah! Tis then a miracle. KING Mock not! Be patient and you will see. POLAND I fear that I can scarcely wait! QUEEN Patience never was your strong point! SETON Now add I the metal to let it melt. (He places the lead inside the crucible.) POLAND You know that I am not easily deceivit? QUEEN I know nothing of the kind. POLAND A man came to me the other day with what he claimit was a ruby from the East. He wantit five hundred gold pieces for it. I held it up against the light and could immediately see that it was nought but a piece of red tintit glass. I told the man in no uncertain terms what he could do with his ruby. KING Pray silence Poland! You irk me with your prattle QUEEN Well said! SETON Now add I the powder of projection new manufacturit here in Bohemia. (He does so.) I mix the powder with the thick hot fistula. POLAND Alchemy be damned! Tis nought but an odious form of cookery! KING Watch and attend Poland! You will soon eat your words! POLAND I once had a cook who stole from my clothes chest. She gave all my finest furs to her husband. She did not deceive me for long however. One day I discoverit her with her hand in the chest. I orderit her hand removit from the wrist. KING Cease Poland or else I shall order you gaggit! Go to it, Seton! Go to it! SETON Now will the mixture be transformit to gold. (A pause) Be transformit to gold. (A very long pause.) KING What is this? SETON Nothing. KING Nothing? How nothing? SETON Sire, nothing comes. KING Be warnit Seton. No good will come of 'nothing comes'. Keep stirring! (Another pause. Poland starts to laugh.) POLAND See! What did I tell you? See! KING Shut your mouth Poland! Keep stirring! POLAND You are highly offensive Bohemia! Besides, you cannot fool me. I never have and I never will believe alchemy to be other than sleight of hand. You know what is the matter with you Bohemia? You ar too easily gulled. SETON Still nothing sire. KING This is deliberate. Add more powder! SETON But there is no more sire. KING No more? No more? Imbecile! Cretin! How dare you do this dastardly deed? It is deliberate! Let me lay, my hands on you. Come, cane. I will punish you for this. Come, come. Where are you? where are you Seton? (He lurches to where he last heard Seton's voice. He lunges at Seton. Seton naturally moves aside. The King crashes to the ground.) KING Come, come you coward! POLAND Stop, Bohemia, stop! SETON Sire, this is too foolish. KING Ah! Now I have you. POLAND Stop Bohemia! You will suffer serious injury. (Once more the King lunges at Seton. Once more Seton moves aside. The courtiers are unsure as to how they should respond.) SETON Sire, I beseech you! KING Ah! Now I have him. (He lunges once more. Seton steps aside. The king crashes into the fire, burning his arm. He cries out in pain.) KING Take him away! Throw him in the dungeon! (Pause.) Take him away! (Two courtiers move forward to remove Seton.) I do most humbly apologise to all of you. It would appear that I have invitit you all here under false pretences. This banquet is now over. POLAND Hah! So much for alchemy. (All disperse. The King lets out an exasperated yell.) KING Damn him! Damn him! A thousand curses on his blastit head! To be mortifiet in front of all my guests. To see all Poland's sneering justifiet. What shame is now descendit on this Kingdom! What ignominy is now alightit on my crown. Now all my grand designs are left in ruins and all my dreams of power turnit to dross. (Enter the jailer.) JAILER Your majesty. KING What now? JAILER Seton is in the dungeon as instructit. KING Good! JAILER Will he require attention sire? KING He will indeed. JAILER And what form should this attention take? KING Drive a spike through his hands and feet! That should keep him occupiet. JAILER I will sire. KING. Good. Go to it! We will soon see how human this master magician will suddenly become. Oh and jailer? JAILER Yes sire. KING Send the Lady Isolde in to see me! JAILER I will sire. (Exit the jailer.) ALBERTO Sire, the punishment seems somewhat harsh. KING Harsh? Not harsh enough. Leave me Alberto! I wish to be alone. ALBERTO Yes, sire. As you wish. (Exit Alberto) KING What torment to be forever in the dark! (Enter Lady Isolde) ISOLDE You sent for me your Majesty? KING I did indeed. Come here Isolde! I wish to touch you. Come here! (Reluctantly Isolde moves forward.) I am sorely in need of some distraction. Do you understand me? ISOLDE I do sire. KING Good. Then let us not delay. (A scream is heard from offstage. It is Seton.) ISOLDE Is that the alchemist? KING It is. ISOLDE You are too hard on him. KING Not you as well! He has caused me deep humiliation in front of all my guests. (A second scream is heard.) KING Madam, it gives me no pleasure I assure you. In fact, quite to the contrary. I find it most distressing. Come here! ISOLDE Sire, I.... KING Come here! The flesh, the flesh! (A third scream.) KING Such soft flesh. ISOLDE Poor man! How can you tolerate so fearful a sound? KING Ha has failit me and so must pay the price. (A fourth scream.) ISOLDE Pray give the order to halt sire. It is too much to bear. KING It becomes you not to petition on his behalf. To the bedchamber Madam where your skills may be seen to best advantage. Come away, come away! (Isolde runs off in tears.) Isolde! Where are you? Isolde! Isolde! (The King runs off.)
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