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'Gold' An alchemical adventure.

A play by Andrew Dallmeyer
Act II. Scene 3.
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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!


	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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