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The Queen-s Worm ACT III

posted on Saturday, February 18, 2012, 10:14:33 AM | fractalbob


3.1   Enter Sir Toby and Olivia.
OLIVIA  What is it thou fancies here, Uncle?
SIR TOBY  These castles of mine, dost thou not know them? Dost thou not recall my vision of a lighted promenade with inns and taverns?
OLIVIA  It still looks like discrete heaps of antique rubbish to me.
SIR TOBY  Thee hast little more imagination than the Queen, in whom I once hoped to ignite a passion for history and architecture.
OLIVIA  How did that work out, Uncle?
SIR TOBY  Ah, but she was beautiful then and there was hope for her.
Enter the Angry Finches.
SIR TOBY  These birds here.
OLIVIA  With hammers and awls.
SIR TOBY  I hired them to turn this place into my dream. I have grown tired waiting for my visions to be verified by the Queen and endorsed by her House. T’will be lovely whether it has her blessing or not.
OLIVIA  And nothing is gained from letting it rot just to spite her. I art happy for thee, Uncle.
Enter Pistol and Lady Echo.
SIR TOBY  Fair lady, wouldst thou stand whilst I read thy soul?
LADY ECHO  Peace, break thee off, Sir Toby. The Queen’s men are on the hunt for Fractus, and he will hang as soon as her henchmen can slip a noose around his neck.
SIR TOBY  This is most inconvenient. I have just decided to realize my dream, a great plaza in the heart of Ravenswood. Cannot Fractus hide ’til I am ready to see him off to safety?
PISTOL  Clearly not, Sir Toby. Riders with their hounds crash through holt and heath following his scent.
SIR TOBY  I am curious. What smells like a goblin? What scent betrays Fractus?
OLIVIA  He smelleth like sweet, sweet man.
LADY ECHO  Od’s Bodkin, Olivia! Keep thy skirts and stays in place.
Enter Fang.
FANG  O, generous sir, what have you to hide our fugitive tractster lest his neck be soon rope burned?
SIR TOBY  They are many, Constable, for every use but refuge.
LADY ECHO  Then who willst give him shelter?
SIR TOBY  All my industry I must expend on my dream, for dreams rise not on warm breezes but burst heavenward on gusts of mania.
3.2   Enter Fractus with John Stomp.
FRACTUS  You might as well dig my grave, too. Don John is on my heel with those who would yank off my cloak. I’d rather be buried by enemies than serve as sport to friends.
JOHN STOMP  Jump into this fresh one, brother Fractus. At least the Queen is not aloft the viewing stand, waiting for thy neck to snap. A man marries his own life for better or worse.
Enter Fang.
FANG  Get back from the edge of that grave.
FRACTUS  John Stomp here gives me good reason.
FANG  Why wouldst thou listen to a gravedigger over a man of the law?
FRACTUS  The lawman seeks to unbend a crooked path. The gravedigger waits at the end of it. I did not break bad, I have broken off.
JOHN STOMP  Jump, Fractus, and do your House and mine some good.
FANG  Stay, Fractus. I’ll work you past the gallows and back into your House in good shape.
FRACTUS  I don’t belong there and if I go where I belong, I will be as good as dead. I am my own hero, neither thy refugee nor their pariah.
FANG  Stop, don’t cover him. It’s only a drop of a few feet. If he didn’t break his neck, he will be saved.
JOHN STOMP  Look! See for yourself, Constable. There art nothing left but cloak and mask. Fractus was but conjured and hath now returned to mist.
FANG  I cannot fathom tricks and magic. Fractus must be someone and he must be somewhere. I must find answers, or by end of day I will be as mad as the rest. Give me cloak and mask, John Stomp, and I will find their owner.
Exit Fang.
JOHN STOMP  The Queen would do well to listen to her gravedigger. These horn-mad knaves will become extinct by their own moody causes. Every time the full moon rises, one jumps into an open hole, and I am all the richer for it. Greed art cold and steady like the arrow. Greed lives forever, kills when it must, moving ever forward toward the glint of gold. I admire greed but it is crazy that I love since crazy keeps my pockets filled.
Exit John Stomp.
3.3   Enter Lady Echo, Pistol, Murrow and Olivia.
MURROW  The Queen’s Council meets nigh to proclaim the order of execution.
PISTOL  There are two names on it. Sir Toby and Fractus. The Queen hath found another lie, a good one. She says Sir Toby hath hidden Fractus from her justice and by so doing put his own neck in a noose. It matters not if it t’were false. The Queen doth not lie because her own law says she speaks the truth.
LADY ECHO  Let us all take mask and cloak and defy the Council to choose who fits its bill. The Queen cannot kill us all.
MURROW  Though she wouldst relish it.
PISTOL  Even the Queen needs cause and with our silent witness we will give her none.
Enter The Queen, Don John, Bone Simple and five Councilmen.
QUEEN  Where are my constables with Sir Toby and his pamphleteer? I must read this order before the end of day. There is much to do to ready Ravenswood for a hanging or two.
Enter a Constable with a masked figure in black.
CONSTABLE 1  Here is one, my lady.
Enter a Constable with a masked figure in black.
CONSTABLE 2  Here he is, my lady.
Enter a Constable with a masked figure in black.
CONSTABLE 3  My lady, I have collared the knave.
Enter a Constable with a masked figure in black.
CONSTABLE 4  Here, my lady. He surrenders to you.
Enter more constables with more masked figures in black.
QUEEN  What is this? Which of these is Fractus?
BONE SIMPLE  What tricorned herd is this, what black madness? Look at all those eyes staring and blinking at us. Would that we could also see teeth that might be set in smiles and hands that might hold knives.
DON JOHN  They hide Fractus by their numbers, leaving their homes safe from search and seizure. Clever. Who knew these woodcocks could think so well outside the box?
QUEEN  Constables, pull off those masks!
CONSTABLE 1  We have tried, my lady, but they are sewn in place. We would have to take off whole heads to cut them free.
BONE SIMPLE  Make haste, my lady, for all these Fractuses are staring murder at me.
QUEEN  This order will keep on my say-so and thus we will adjourn.
Exit Queen, Don John, Bone Simple, Councilmen and Constables.
MASKED FIGURE 1  Now what? We bought time but not a happy ending. Fractus, where for art thou?
Enter Fang carrying Fractus’ mask and cloak.
FANG  He is here in my arms.
MASKED FIGURE 2  What has happened? Is he dead? But the execution order was postponed.
FANG  He did it to himself. There is nothing left of him but this, the dark flimsy garb of a fragile-minded phantom.
MASKED FIGURE 1  Well, then let us do magic to bring him back. Shall we all applaud? It worked for Tinkerbell.
MASKED FIGURE 2  If you believe in Fractus, bring your hands together.
FANG  I see nothing, not even the cloak hem stirs with the breeze of your applause.
MASKED FIGURE 1  Harder, all. Clap!
FANG Still nothing.
MASKED FIGURE 2  Then he is truly gone, off to something more weird.
MASKED FIGURE 1  Yet I feel hearty now and with much energy. All this activity has stirred my blood most pleasantly.
FANG  Then, my liegemen, fear nothing and go about doing good. Show each other that you are true friends of this ground.
MASKED FIGURE 2  Hark, the cloak, the mask, the hat that Fractus once hath worn, it smokes!
MASKED FIGURE 1  It flames!
FANG  Proof that Fractus hath served his purpose and is truly passed.
3.4   Enter Fang, Lady Echo, Olivia, Pistol and Murrow.
MURROW  We come to bury these ashes, all that is left of Fractus.
LADY ECHO  Bless him and his wit, which we knew but briefly.
PISTOL  All our hopes and fears, dreams and rages in one hand.
Enter Sir Toby.
SIR TOBY  What comes to pass here? What have I missed?
LADY ECHO  Fractus is dead and spontaneously combusted before our eyes.
SIR TOBY  Sorry I missed that. But I am glad he is gone, for Fractus liked me not.
OLIVIA  Thou art mistaken, Uncle. He loved us all. He wrote last that without Sir Toby the heart of Ravenswood would not be ours.
FANG  Yes, t’is true. A great thoroughfare cleaves dear Ravenswood in two. The crown cares only for the west side, where rich lands lay still fallow but for timber. This leaves the very heart for us. Make a trade with the crown. Your silence about the west side for free rein on the east side.
PISTOL  What makes you think the crown will loose its greedy grip on any of Ravenswood?
FANG  Where goes the money? Not in old Ravenswood but new. ’Tis simple, really, as simple as that. Fighting Sir Toby hath left their energies depleted. They will yield the heart to mine the gold that lies in the extremities.
MURROW  But they will tax the heart and use the money for their own gain.
FANG  The west side’s new tenants will want a strong heart even if the crown would bleed it dry. If we keep the pressure on, the crown will not begrudge a sum to keep it pumping. This is our best gambit for today.
SIR TOBY  But will they still hate me, will they rue my sacrifices and scoff at my noble impulses, will they call lies to all my truths?
FANG  Yes, Sir Toby. And we are better off for it. Thou art immovable, a contrarian investor in wild schemes and for this reason they hath left the heart of Ravenswood untended. We will slip in and make better use of it. For art, for commerce, for culture and history and all things the crown would destroy if it were idle.
MURROW  But Sir Toby will bring us only promise of these things and not the things themselves.
FANG  My point is thus, Murrow. Bring them yourselves and let Sir Toby be the fortress. The price to you aside investment is a little wabi-sabi. And if you know not what that means, look it up.
LADY ECHO  But how will it grow?
FANG  Like a garden. With gardeners to pull the weeds and keep the flowers and the fruit trees in fragrant bloom.
PISTOL  Forward then!
FANG  But with caution and in increments. One step at a time so as not to attract the attention of a crown well busy on the west side.
SIR TOBY  I understand not what my role is to be.
FANG  Thy role is to do as thou hath always done. Worry not, Sir Toby. The crown will hate thee as it hath always and we will no more vex thee with our reasonable entreaties. Thou art now truly free. And we art free to let thee be.


Author’s disclaimer: This play is a work of original fiction; thus any resemblance these characters bear to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
(I am no one.)

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