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'Gold' An alchemical adventure.

A play by Andrew Dallmeyer
Act I. Scene 4.
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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 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 (off)	Here!
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?
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.
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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