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The Queen-s Worm ACT I

posted on Saturday, February 04, 2012, 8:12:16 AM | fractalbob


Enter Angry Finches.
With your help, we cram this epic
Into Bob’s blog and divide by three
Its action, comedy and resolve.
Suppose within these electrons’ walls
Art now confined two halves of a divided House
And each doth love our sleepy, wooded land
But vie with dueling futures for its virgin hand.
Exeunt into nearby tavern, The Star Chamber.


1.1   Enter Don John, emissary to the Queen, and Bone Simple, his attendant, to loiter outside The Star Chamber.
DON JOHN  Peer with caution, Simple, but see thee well. They make merry though they have lost everything.
BONE SIMPLE  Lost what, have they? Under thy wish, I will grovel along the ground sniffling for it, for my nose is my finest sense and I smelleth good.
DON JOHN  To my fine nose, thou smellest rotten. Hark, who doth approach so daubed?
Enter Fractus in disguise to peer into Star Chamber windows.
BONE SIMPLE  Who is that in goblin garb, and why doth he lurk thusly to spy at the pomp within?
DON JOHN  Shut up and hide in the shadows like oft we doth.
BONE SIMPLE  Why doth he not go forth to drink like a man? Doth he not like spirits and the incense of smoldering tobacco?
DON JOHN  Cease comment on the whims of this cloaked goblin lest we be discovered.
Enter Lady Echo with Olivia, a maiden, and her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, the Earl of Winds. Fractus hides himself.
BONE SIMPLE  Good thing there was another shadow for him or we would have had to share this one.
DON JOHN  Hush at last or I will thrash thee, geck.
BONE SIMPLE  Notice, sir. The Earl of Winds is but three sheets already yet he seeks to sink even further into his cups.
DON JOHN  Notice thee, clown, at how entranced the goblin is at the sight of Lady Echo. This will make for either terror or tragedy. Here’s hoping it transpires within my sight.
Sir Toby throws open the door of The Star Chamber for the group to enter.
ANGRY FINCHES  (from within) Ah-hee-ah.
BONE SIMPLE  Snort! I do shudder to hear those pigeons ruffled. Their slingshots must hang nearby, forgotten briefly amidst their merriment.
DON JOHN  Hark, there. The goblin hath sunk further into the shadows and is gone. The fun hath past. Let us go now and tell the queen we have seen Sir Toby for the night.
BONE SIMPLE  And of the love-sick goblin.
DON JOHN  Do not speak of that, Simple, unless I encourage thee. He is a chance curiosity and our secret.
1.2   Enter Lady Echo with Olivia and Nym, the printer, bearing tracts penned by the mysterious Fractus.
LADY ECHO  Admit to us, thine own friends, dear Nym, that thou art publisher of this wit.
NYM  I know not which defeatured rogue doth pen this hilarity. He employs a hidden press to defy the agents of the Queen.
OLIVIA  Whoever he might be, our anonymous scribe, I will woo him and when the time is right, he will take off his mask and look at me with his sensitive eyes.
NYM  Coy maid, it is but Murrow, our most prolific and most witty, who hath taken the mask to save himself from the hanging rope.
Enter Murrow, the pamphleteer, with Pistol, the lawyer.
MURROW  What ho? Who takes the Murrow name in vain?
NYM  Myself, scarce knave. We meant the masked poet who calls himself Fractus. Have you not read him?
MURROW  If I say I have not, that will prove he is not me. But I have read Fractus, and I am not he. Or she.
LADY ECHO  She? Could our master be our mistress? Might a woman be as capable in expressing herself and so dangerously?
OLIVIA  Nay, for Fractus is a man. In his latest tract, Fractus has declared his love for me.
MURROW  How so, sweet Olivia, when Fractus strays from romance to take heed only of the plots and scandals of the crown?
OLIVIA  He speaks of his cockles and how I have warmed them. It is romance and politics wed, for I was a contender and will stand again when elections are called.
NYM  If I knew what humour had me, I would know how I must take such news. If I am choleric, I would be angry. For what hath this Fractus to do with commingling his cockles and our Olivia in unlawful publication? For shame, Murrow. What foul sport is this for an old man?
MURROW  Nay, it is not I, thou rabb’ling woodcock.
PISTOL  If it be Murrow, I wouldst know, for I am his lawyer. It is not Murrow.
NYM  If I were sanguine, I would confess it t’were me who writes such sweet nothings to our favourite maiden.
LADY ECHO  What troth! Recall, Nym has published his own witty treasons.
PISTOL  Think it not, mob. It is not Nym, for I am his lawyer, too.
MURROW  Nym has fortune Fractus covets. The crown gives Nym a pass because of the rapid cycling of his moods, and Fractus is no such temperamental genius.
LADY ECHO  Who is thy lawyer, Pistol? Shall we ask him if thou art to blame?
PISTOL  I am not nearly so clever as Fractus. My writing is dry and meant for wiggèd men clustered on the bench, not a heart that heave beneath the bosom of a wench.
LADY ECHO  Methinks that clever answer unravels thine argument.
Enter Sir Toby Belch.
BELCH  I seeketh relief, three fingers of that which primes the gullet and drives away my dancing demons.
MURROW  Here is your Fractus, all. He madeth the mark of Fractus on his last missive to me.
OLIVIA  Uncle, not thee! It can’t be! Thou art not my Fractus.
BELCH  That was only to amuse brother Murrow. Let us venture into The Star Chamber where we will talk less and drink more.
PISTOL  Belch is Belch through and through, and Fractus art a mystery. I represent Belch and thus I am sure of this, too.
NYM  Then who is this Fractus?
LADY ECHO  He asks not to be known.
NYM  Nay, we must settle it now for mystery aggravates my melancholia.
Enter the Angry Finches.
BELCH  He is the Duke of York. I know it to be true.
ANGRY FINCHES  Fractus, the Duke of York. Ah, ha ha.
MURROW  I know well the Duke of York. Fractus art not he.
OLIVIA  Drat. What profit that marriage wouldst be.
BELCH  ’Tis the Earl of Tides what calls the Gulf Coast home.
ANGRY FINCHES  The Earl of Tides. Yee-ah!
LADY ECHO  Not him. Too old he is for Fractus.
BELCH  I meant the House of Lancaster. Surely, a son of that house.
ANGRY FINCHES  Lancaster! Ah, ha ha.
MURROW  These birds need shooting, and I a pacifist life have led. Let us abandon this game and drink to Belch as he hath recommended.
NYM  A phlegmatic surely would have wisdom to bear, but barring that, this late humour willst best be served by grape or grain with deep sleep to follow.
Exit Murrow, Pistol, Nym and Belch.
LADY ECHO  Olivia, what means that glint in thy dark eyes?
OLIVIA  A thought, a scheme, my lady. Fractus will not fear a lowly boy, an attendant kindly dispatched for his use. I will know him and bring him willingly into our fold. He will drink with us in person before the next moon.
LADY ECHO  Tread lightly and with care. The man behind the mask could be more demon than friend. And if he’s our friend, then we might be demons for tugging at his mask.
OLIVIA  I know his heart already, for he wears it outside for all to see. And thou knowest mine and so will he.
1.3   Enter Don John and Bone Simple.
DON JOHN  What joyful felonies art these! They work for us, and we must only hide and take note.
BONE SIMPLE  Shall I dispatch John Stomp on Murrow? Pistol? Or is it Nym we doth desire for our gallows?
DON JOHN  None of the above, though I mourn there is not sufficient cause for Stomp to separate Nym’s skull from his spine. I wouldst so cherish its place within my chambers. My hate for him passes long unconsummated.
BONE SIMPLE  Why hate him whose mazard is full of rear-mouse droppings?
DON JOHN  He calls me what I am, the specious rogue, just as doth this faceless Fractus. Only the Queen may call attention to my nature and when she doth, it is with soothing tones. I will see Fractus hang beside the others who share his calling. And then the hearts of fair Ravenswood will be easy pickings once again. The best hearts are the broken ones.
BONE SIMPLE  Broken hearts don’t pump as well. Art thou not afraid of overkill?
DON JOHN  The Queen hath salve to ease the pain of fracture. But by devilish dint, it must be applied at each cock’s crow lest the pain revive. Now go, Simple, and take a razor to thy huntsman’s whiskers. I seek the view of thy lips as well as thine eyes since lying makes its mark double.
1.4   Enter Fractus with a bundle of tracts.
FRACTUS  Here shall I leave these and hope if they be witty, they be read.
Enter Olivia disguised as a boy, Runnymede
RUNNYMEDE  Witty enough but also true. Dost thou know the author of these tracts?
FRACTUS  I know him well. Like a brother.
RUNNYMEDE  There, a wee morsel of your wit. Would ye remove your mask?
FRACTUS  Thy name, boy, and thy purpose with me?
RUNNYMEDE  To know ye, sir. To be amused further and in person.
FRACTUS  Heed this, er —
RUNNYMEDE  Runnymede, good sir.
FRACTUS  Runnymede, our Houses are at war and I cannot reveal my sympathies lest I am turned away from my own by my own blood. Or worse, hanged for treason by the crown.
RUNNYMEDE  Then let me help you, sir. I mean to guard your tracts and keep them in friendly hands alone.
FRACTUS  Thou wouldst have my generous thanks. Here, take these and set out. Meet me here again in a week’s time, if thou art willing, and we’ll divvy them up again.
RUNNYMEDE  If I learn of something ripe to your satire, sir, by what means shall I notify you?
FRACTUS  Draw for me a map to your home, and I will send my pigeon to thee between cock crows. If thou hast nothing, return him home lightly to his roost.
RUNNYMEDE  Thank you, good sir. I look forward to your bird that I may give him wing with something worthy.
Enter the Queen, Don John and Fang, the constable.
QUEEN  Another sunrise and Sir Toby is yet free. His vast holdings lay long fallow and unoccupied, and my earth-movers itch with envy.
FANG  The earl commits neither misdemeanors nor felonies, my lady.
QUEEN  But many unseemly indiscretions which doth leave a putrid film upon our name.
FANG  Unseemly yet not illegal, your majesty.
DON JOHN  Fang, why dost thou greet this simple need with such foolish penury? Sir Toby roams the town fapped and lacking. How can it be that he doth not buy at least one night in the Queen’s captivity?
FANG  I must see Sir Toby drunk outside the public house to restrain him, sir, and I have not.
QUEEN  There art gaols and nooses over more in Ravenswood, so you have no alibi. Your promise to the crown has ripened, Constable. It would not be wise to let it rot.
Exit the Queen.
DON JOHN  Cleave to it in haste, Fang. If not, thou dost beg for thine own tower room.
FANG  Why dost the Queen fear Sir Toby so? He is but a poor and dirty lag.
DON JOHN  Sir Toby doth fool the humble Fang. Belch is a rich and clever traitor.
FANG  If Belch be traitor, how doth his head remain atop his shoulders?
DON JOHN  He is slippery as a sea serpent and see here, Fang, I will fight venom with venom.
Don John opens a hamper.
FANG  Quickly! Close the lid on those slitted eyes. I have seen enough.
DON JOHN  Thou hast seen nothing yet. Stand aside and let me answer history’s call on deeds long overdue.
Exit Don John.
FANG  Don John is the Queen’s worm, and she would make the law her puppet. I must rewrite the ending of this history if these halves be whole.

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