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The Queen-s Worm ACT II

posted on Saturday, February 11, 2012, 9:00:34 AM | fractalbob


2.1   Enter Olivia and Lady Echo.
OLIVIA  Here art my clues. Fractus art young but not very. Witty, learnèd, lettered and strong.
LADY ECHO  Is he fancy free? Lass-lorn or widowed?
OLIVIA  None, for he art betrothed to a fair lady of the House of York and means to return to her.
LADY ECHO  Then this guessing game wastes our youth.
OLIVIA  This lady is leagues hence and we are near. Why worship a darkened face when the brighter one glows with such ready promise?
LADY ECHO  Why settle for nearby trifles when true love awaits a mere distance to be covered in half a day?
OLIVIA  Vexing speech, my lady, and its reason doth make it no prettier to mine ear.
Enter Bone Simple.
OLIVIA  Spy thee now our sworn enemy, the misplaced huntsman who triumphed over Pistol when last they stood.
LADY ECHO  Seek thee trouble, butt shaft? If not, be gone. Thy sight offends this maid and I.
BONE SIMPLE  Just a word, fair lady, and a warning. Sir Toby art once again at risk.
LADY ECHO  Thy news hath yellowed, Simple. Sir Toby hath lived many years under thy black cloud.
BONE SIMPLE  I command no weather, fair lady, nor even mine own will. Don John hath charmed a worm of length and teeth I hath not before known. Sir Toby’s name art branded on its scaly head.
LADY ECHO  Why dost thou reveal Don John’s secrets and put thy hide at risk? Art thou deboshed or hast thy heart reshaped itself?
BONE SIMPLE  Sir Toby hath the means to flee, and I fear to see the worm unleashed lest its appetite seek small furry minds as digestif before it slithers away.
LADY ECHO  Small furry minds like thine own, perchance?
Enter Angry Finches.
BONE SIMPLE  I fear dawdling now that this feathered crew erects its bow.
OLIVIA  How hath these fowl turned the tables on thee, huntsman?
BONE SIMPLE  They hath indicted me beyond reason, for I was merely nigh when thieves lifted their eggs from their nests and did abscond with them.
OLIVIA  Nay, truly. Didst thee pilfer their eggs?
BONE SIMPLE  Those of my House refrain most convincingly from “yes” and “no,” two words that brand like no others with waterproof mark.
Angry Finches hit Bone Simple with a launched bird and he falls.
LADY ECHO  Well done, clever fowl.
2.2   Enter Fang, Sir Toby and Pistol.
SIR TOBY  There art no enterprise in it, Fang. I shall not be driven away by the Queen. My land is my land, and the Queen and her House prosper beyond our dreams.
FANG  Thy speech art sound and fearless, sir, but hath no thought for those who wouldst mourn thee.
SIR TOBY  A dribbling and a cowish man his daughters’ tears doth not entitle.
PISTOL  The law protects an innocent man, and the Queen hath no higher stronghold.
FANG  I trow it well, Pistol, but doth the Queen? The law is not Sir Toby’s shield but his daughters’ remedy if the Queen doth order violence to his person or seize his lands.
SIR TOBY  Come, drop your cares where we stand and lead us forward to drink.
Enter Lady Echo and Olivia.
OLIVIA  Uncle, we hath come forth to tender warning. The Queen hath bought a serpent and engraved it with your name.
SIR TOBY  Serpents art creatures of the Lord just as thee and me. If they preferred wine to blood, I wouldst invite them come along to share a jug.
LADY ECHO  Fear not, Olivia, for Sir Toby wears the bull’s-eye on his back for sport.
SIR TOBY  Sporting doth leave the Queen to guess my moves, and in this way I keep her always vigilant and unnerved.
PISTOL  A merry thought and one to celebrate.
Enter Fractus and Angry Finches.
FRACTUS  What say you, birds? Mine own House moves to end Sir Toby’s?
ANGRY FINCHES  You hath quit Ravenswood long ago whilst still green to wander. It hath been thus between them for two overlong generations.
FRACTUS  And yet no armies moving o’er ground, no colors raised, and no bloodshed.
ANGRY FINCHES  From Hades world below it comes, rising as an ill mist, traveling as a whisper. Ah-ha-ha.
FRACTUS  But how to stop a mist or restrain a whisper? Armed knights and war machines could be felled much quicker.
ANGRY FINCHES  Indeed. There is no honor in it.
FRACTUS  Wouldst that honor be gold and then my House would snatch it up.
Enter Runnymede.
RUNNYMEDE  Why so dour, Fractus, when thy tracts art well in circulation?
FRACTUS  I fear for Sir Toby and the rest of thy House.
RUNNYMEDE  What House hail thee from then, stranger?
FRACTUS  The Queen’s House. Thou must knowest all this time. How else could I know so much about their thoughts and whims?
RUNNYMEDE  How do I know thou art not a spy who lurks amongst us watching our movements to report to the Queen.
FRACTUS  I ask for nothing yet I put myself at risk.
RUNNYMEDE  Thou ask not but take what is proffered.
FRACTUS  I hoped thee proffered only what thou wouldst me take.
RUNNYMEDE  And I invite thee to take more from my proffered hand.
ANGRY FINCHES  Pull off your disguises and show each other what lies beneath for surely it belongs together.
FRACTUS  Nay, busy fowl. I am well betrothed and willst be ever faithful. And who is Runnymede if he art in disguise?
RUNNYMEDE  Only thy servant and thy loyal friend who will be even more a boon to thee if thee takest off thy cloak and mask.
FRACTUS  Cast aside thy persistence, Runnymede, and leave thy entreaties to the dust. There art much work to do. Be serious and pay attention.
RUNNYMEDE  What work and to what purpose?
FRACTUS  To bring peace to two Houses pitched on the same hills. To make a healthy life together with a happy ending.
RUNNYMEDE  Dost thou see faeries in this wood, fey Fractus, or some other will o’ wisp that escapes the rest of us? No happy ending can there be until the Queen and her House renounce their greed and air their fetid secrets in the sun. An azure moon willst rise before that comes to pass.
2.3   Enter the Queen, Don John and Bone Simple.
QUEEN  One more lowly antick put to waste, one more broken printing press. How many more, Don John?
DON JOHN  Go ahead, chuff. Bestow upon the Queen the most rueful news.
BONE SIMPLE  Read these tracts, madame. They will thrill this House with most delicious rage.
QUEEN  Fie! What bald and blatant truths are these! My words straight from the throne! Whose crimes are these and where art thy ready noose, Don John?
DON JOHN  We know not who doth take his pen and point it at your heart, my lady. But we know he lurks within your own House and so near to your own skirts as to hide beneath them.
QUEEN  Find him, Don John. Off him. Bring his body blood boltered back to me. And quickly. I will not rest before any other sight but that.
Exit the Queen.
BONE SIMPLE  Shit, master. We might as well jump ourselves into a hole and meet peacefully our death before the Queen’s murderous disappointment. We art not quick or clever enough to find this goblin unless he throws his mask right at us.
DON JOHN  Some knoweth this rogue’s true face and some fear the Queen’s wrath. Must I draw thee a Venn diagram and point thee at the encircled few? We must ply our terrors liberally round Ravenswood until they bear their wretched fruits.
Enter Fang, Pistol and Murrow into the graveyard.
PISTOL  We have looked hither and yon and found not our Nym.
FANG  Not at the printing press?
MURROW  Nay, not there.
FANG  Hearth? Ale house, brothel, shitter?
PISTOL  Nay, not kirk, nor surgeon’s either. This place is the last.
MURROW  So few names above these holes but many unencumbered bones. How wouldst we even know our Nym now if we should find him?
Enter Sir Toby.
SIR TOBY  I hath found Nym. He comes nigh, but we must hide and watch his approach for he art not alone.
Enter John Stomp and a gravedigger carrying Nym.
PISTOL  Look, a rope round his neck and his visage mottled.
FANG  I remember when I thought this was a comedy. I must arrest them.
PISTOL  Stay thee, Fang, in these friendly shadows. Thou canst not arrest the Queen’s executioners for they art legal even if their deeds art not.
FANG  I am just as legal. And the Queen is not the queen. She rules by no divinity.
PISTOL  Note that to her henchmen, why doth thou not?
JOHN STOMP  Stop digging. I hear something.
GRAVEDIGGER   I hear dirt upon bones. I hear progress with this hole. I hear a pint moving closer and closer down the bar if you but let me finish.
JOHN STOMP  Go on then.
SIR TOBY  I see my grave from here. It hath yawned there empty for so long it hath grown over with roots and leaves. If they want to plant me, they must dig a new one.
MURROW  How Nym and not thee, Toby?
SIR TOBY  I have no need for commerce under their control. Fire cannot consume the earth I own and gold melts but does not burn. A press is much easier to throw upon the char.
PISTOL  They have finished now and Nym is under ground.
John Stomp and the gravedigger exeunt.
MURROW  Let us bid adieu to our friend.
PISTOL  Dear Nym, who served with me in public trust. We will miss thy true tracts, thy wit and, alas, thy humours.
MURROW  We will miss thy loud mouth and unedited courage.
SIR TOBY  I will miss thy spectacles in public, which rivaled mine own.
MURROW  Let us move on for I would rather be drunk than weep in front of other men.
Enter Fractus who leaves a bundle of tracts.
FRACTUS  There art no hilarity in my tracts today. Nym is dead. My House hath had him killed, we all know, and yet they’ll say he aggravated himself to death and nothing more. And now the serpent becomes the charmer. He may stroll around as if on two feet to entrance us with pleasant whispers and weird smiles.
Enter Fang.
FANG  You there!
FRACTUS  A constable! I am seen!
FANG  Reveal yourself to this lawman for your own safety.
FRACTUS  I am safer with my mask and cloak.
FANG  By my troth, you have both Houses in an uproar. The Queen and her henchmen seek you. And so doth Pistol and his men since you began to woo the fair Olivia. Or are you wooing Olivia to get to Lady Echo?
FRACTUS  What fig! Who says I woo anyone?
FANG  The ladies do and so do these sly, witty tracts which tickle female fancies and likewise amuse their men.
FRACTUS  I swear, Constable, who says that tells a lie. My heart sleeps whilst my mind churns. I was born in Ravenswood, grew up here among gentle friends. My home was once cradled in history amidst tall pine and clean rivers. And now greed’s only foe in these woods is entropy. It’s harder to see a home eaten from within than to watch a ravenous army march upon it.
FANG  I aim to help make it right with the help of hale and hearty citizens. But it will take months and years, not hours and weeks.
FRACTUS  Where art the hardy leaders of this crusade? I see none, for they cower like me but for the horn mad and the mead borne, and they hath moved already to cage and gallows.
FANG  If patience art not your strongest suit, your heart and mind willst spoil in waiting for it.
2.4   Enter Don John and Bone Simple with a large basket.
DON JOHN  Let’s leave it here by the goblin’s pamphlets, and even if we don’t kill Sir Toby, at least our serpent might snack on the goblin’s readers.
BONE SIMPLE  What if Sir Toby doesn’t lift the lid of this basket?
DON JOHN  He will be too curious not to, for he is as acquisitive as we. We might have had this asshole on our team if they hadn’t mistreated him where ere they were young. He was lofty whilst we were low. He was frivolous whilst we were cheap. But Sir Toby is a worthy villain just the same. He hath his own strategy and his own poison.
BONE SIMPLE  Hark, the clatter of cloven hooves when the devil we doth mention.
Enter Sir Toby Belch.
SIR TOBY  Here are fresh pamphlets by our imp Fractus. I will take some to read, some to share and some to wipe my ass with. But right now they will serve as seat to rest myself. What is this, a basket woven so prettily in African rushes? What stirs within? A serpent! And what a big one coiled many times in this small space. Come out, serpent, and sit with me. Let me warm thy cold skin. Come with me to my sanctuary built just for thy kind. What do you hunger for, Sir Snake? I bet the same as me. Roast or raw? What goes better with a side of mice than an entreé of long pig?
Exit with serpent.
Enter Pistol, Murrow and Lady Echo.
LADY ECHO  There goeth the Queen’s asp.
Enter Don John and Bone Simple.
PISTOL  But not her johnson.
MURROW  Or her boob.
BONE SIMPLE  Move aside. We hath come to seize these tracts as evidence of treason.
LADY ECHO  Whose? You know not his name and will not from us.
DON JOHN  We have his press and his name will come from the pressman.
MURROW  Remember, sir, the Queen hath just dispatched with two who authored tracts under one banner. Hath you not heard of Martin Marprelate? One was hanged and the other caged. And to what purpose? It doth not deter this bold Fractus. Cut down one and another grows. You can’t kill everyone. The truth will out.
DON JOHN  Politics holds no truths, feeble Murrow. There art myths, there art legends and there art believers enough for all. The Queen hath ripe, blushing myths that leave the believer hungry. Think no further than the last election. You offered gloom, we offered bloom, and what hath come to pass in Ravenswood but Spring?
BONE SIMPLE  Pray, master! Look at their frozen faces. What a relief these candle-wasters hath nothing more to say.
DON JOHN  Don’t get used to it. Come, geck, let us treat the Queen with yet another of our failures. Sir Toby hath made the asp his toy, and we must hire something with a wiser venom.
Don John and Bone Simple exit with tracts.
MURROW  Come, Pistol and my lady. Let us drag our bitterness to the tavern and drown it by the neck.
LADY ECHO  Not this time, you two, for an idea doth flower within my pretty head, and by sober minds must it be borne.

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