'Gold' An alchemical adventure.A play by Andrew Dallmeyer
Act I. Scene 4.
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SCENE 4 The room in Alexander Seton's house, as in Scene 1. Seton bursts into the room, shutting the door behind him. He is very distraught. SETON What a sorry state is the world in to be sure! How full of cruelty and confusion! God bless you Ann for I see that you have not yet disturbit the arrangement. I must continue with the work and yet I know that it cannot be approachit in such a frantic fashion. I must calm myself a moment and collect my scatterit thoughts. (He sits) And yet it is not easy to be calm when others are in pain. It is not easy to become a bubble of serenity within a sea of suffering. But still it is a precondition of the work. Firstly the fire. There is no gold without fire, for fire is the agent of Transformation and must be attendit with due attention. I am fortunate in having a good pair of bellows close at hand. (he starts to operate the bellows) Come on lazybones. Stir yourself! Stir yourself! How many times have I kindlit in vain? Four hundred perhaps? Five hundred? Too many to count and that is for certain. And yet I know in my heart that it is only after many hours of fruitless practic and empty striving that an adept may hope to achieve anything of substance. The crucible should now be heatit. See how the orange tongue of the flame licks the base of the vessel. Now it is time for the led to be addit. There is no shortage of dross in these parts. Base metals abound. It is gold that is scarce. (he places the lead in the crucible) There. Now to leave it a moment in order that it may melt and dissolve. How many times have I watchit the led melt? Perhaps Ann is right and I should renounce the entire unhappy business forever and ever. A plague on all such thoughts for they serve no purpose whatever! See how the led is beginning to bubble. Now is the moment to add the powder, the sacrit powder of projection. Where is the powder? Ah! Now I have it. There. In it goes. Now to sprinkle it in. (He does so, reciting the while.) Oh mighty phoenix From your flame May my soul Be born again And like our Savoir Jesus Christ Be born not once But twice. (A pause then a curl of white smoke) How elegant is the swan's neck! What a delicate curl of fine, white smoke! (a puff of black smoke) Now the crow's head. What a fine sight is that! (A multi-coloured flame emerges from the crucible) Now best of all, the peacock's tail, fannit out and displayit in full finery. I have reachit this stage several times previously but have never succedit in going any further. (A golden glow emerges from the crucible) What? What is this? I cannot believe it. It starts to grow golden. Jesu Christe is't possible? Perhaps I am dreaming. Yet the room is suffusit. It starts to glow golden. Gold! Pure gold! (The room is bathed in a golden aura. Seton is transfixed. The glow dies away) Gold! I have gold! God be praisit! Now I must put it to the test to be certain. (He picks up the gold with tongs and dips it in water. It hisses.) If it be not gold it will tarnish in acid. (He dips it into the acid pot. He withdraws it). Still golden! Now to touch it. (he puts the gold down and lays aside the tongs. He picks up the gold very cautiously) It feels like gold. It has the right weight. Does it bite like gold? (he bites it) It does, in deed. God be praisit for I have succedit! Ann! Ann! (He runs out of the room) Ann! ANN (off) Here! SETON Ann! ANN Aye. What is it? SETON I have something to show you. ANN Oh Alexander I am much occupiet presently. SETON It is something of momentous consequence Ann. ANN It had better be indeed or else I shall be greatly annoyit. SETON Come with me! (Seton and Ann enter the room) SETON Look what I have done! ANN What Alexander? SETON There! ANN Where? SETON There! See! I have made gold. ANN Gold! Where pray? Where is there gold? SETON Here Ann. See! ANN I do not believe you. SETON See for yourself. Pick it up! (Ann does so) How can you be sure that it is gold? SETON I know gold when I see it. Besides I have testit it. It was not found wanting. ANN Oh Alexander! SETON It is true. I swear to you Ann, this time I have done it. ANN You are too easily gulled. SETON Had you been in this room, you would not have said that. It was suffusit in magic as the action took place. Well, are you not thrillit by the news Ann? Do you not understand what this means for us? Our troubles are over. ANN How so? SETON Now we have unlimitit money. ANN Then our troubles are only beginning. SETON How so? ANN How are we to explain away the sudden acquisition of innumerable pieces of fresh-mintit gold, if indeed this substance be gold. Think hard about that Alexander. Sooner or later someone will hear of it and what then? It cannot forever be kepit a secret. SETON I could always claim that I had dug it up struck it with the plough. A piece of good fortune. ANN Who would believe you? With your reputation. SETON Perhaps you are right Ann. But what must I do? I cannot be expectit to keep my light forever hidden under a bushel. Such a thing is not possible. I have been chosen among men. I cannot now turn my back upon this responsibility. I must go forth into the world around me and share this great gift among mankind. ANN Oh Alexander, I fear for you. SETON Do not be afraid! AN~ I fear for us all. (A dog barks) SETON Who is it? ANN I know not. SETON See who it be Ann. ANN None is expectit. SETON It must be a stranger. See who it be! (Ann goes out, shutting the door. We hear the sound of her opening the front door. The following conversation takes place offstage.) WARDLAW Ah! Mrs. Seton! ANN Meenister Wardlaw! WARDLAW I am sorry to disturb you. Is your husband at home? ANN No. He is not. WARDLAW May I enquire as to his whereabouts? ANN You may enquire, but I know not where he is. He went out this morning but I have not seen him since. WARDLAW I understand. Do you mind if I enter Mrs. Seton? ANN Enter? WARDLAW Aye. ANN For what purpose? WARDLAW Certain allegations concerning your husband have recently come to my ears. (Seton locks the door from the inside) Naturally I am loath to believe them Mrs. Seton but it is my duty to see for myself. Do you mind if I make sure? ANN Very well. If you must. But be quick about it. WARDLAW May I look in here? ANN There is nothing in there (We hear the door tried on the outside.) WARDLAW Yet the door is lockit. Have you a key? ANN I am afraid that I have not. My husband has it. WARDLAW I see Mrs. Seton. It has been my experience that if a door is lockit, more often than not, there is something to hide. ANN It is my husband's reading room. Nothing more. WARDLAW Then you surely will not mind if we take a look. James! Hercules! A hand with the door pray! (James and Hercules start to push and shove at the door. Mrs. Seton shouts 'Stop it! How dare you! Enough o' that!' Seton looks around in panic. He puts the powder of projection into a leather pouch and the gold into his pocket.) SETON Only one way out! (Seton climbs up the chimney) (James and Hercules break the door open and charge into the room, followed by Meenister Wardlaw and Ann. Wardlaw surveys the pots etc.) WARDLAW Just as I thought! My worst fears are confirmit! The evidence is plain for all to see: James! Take the crucible and the alembic away! JAMES I am gie sorry Mrs. Seton. I am only doing my duty. WARDLAW Where is your husband? ANN I have told you. I know not. WARDLAW Do not lie to me woman! ANN I know not. I swear it. WARDLAW Very well. For the time being I will accept your word. But I will return for him later. Meanwhile I have the proof that I came for. This is a very serious matter. It seems that Mister Sibbet was telling the truth. Come along lads! (Exeunt, all but Mrs. Seton. The dog barks again as the men leave. Eventually all is quiet) (Seton descends from the chimney, coughing and covered in soot) ANN Oh, Alexander! Look at the state of you! I do not know whether to laugh or cry. SETON A narrow escape Ann! ANN What are we to do for he is to return before long? SETON There is only one thing I can do Ann. I must leave Port Seton. Immediately. I must head for Prague. ANN No! SETON In Prague I will be welcome. ANN But how will you travel? SETON I will go directly to the harbour Ann. Captain Maxwell is sailing tomorrow for Amsterdam. I am certain that he will be willing to take me along with him. ANN But Alexander how will we manage? You cannot just leave us. We have no money. SETON Here. Take this gold. Break it in pieces and sell it to a goldsmith in Edinburgh or Leith. Should he enquire as to how you came about it, tell him it came from Arabia. It is enough to provide for yourself and the children for some years to come. ANN Some years? Some years? But how long will you be gone? SETON I know not exactly. ANN Oh Alexander! Will I ever see you again I wonder? SETON Have faith, my belovit, and I will return. I love you Ann. ANN And I love you too. SETON I will take with me the remainder of the powder of projection. ANN Aye and at least take your cloak along with you. Something to keep you warm on your journey. SETON Goodbye Ann. ANN Farewell. Oh Alexander! SETON No more of that! Have courage belovit! I will return Ann. Of that I am certain. (He goes out. Ann weeps.) (The noise of the sea to denote the passage of time.)
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