'Gold' An alchemical adventure.

A play by Andrew Dallmeyer
Act II. Scene 1.
Back to play main page . Back to literary works.

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!



If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.