ACT ONE: SCENE THREE

 

 

The quadrangle at dusk two days later.One window is lighted. PHILLIPS enters carrying basin and cloth.He is about to go into the Scholarsí chamber when FORDEíS voice is heard calling for help at a distance, getting nearer.PHILLIPS puts basin and cloth on a bench and goes to investigate.He returns with FORDE, who is limping and whose head is bleeding.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† They left me for dead, the bastards!

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Who were they?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† I donít know, but they were hired. Bastards!

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Where did they attack you?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Kingsgate.My head, Iíll bleed to deathÖ

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Donít talk nonsense.Sit down.

 

Lifts the basin and cloth while FORDE collapses groaning on the bench.He eyes

PHILLIPS resentfully.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† You donít believe me.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Does that matter?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† You think I just got into a brawl.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Keep your head still.

 

He cleans the wound.FORDE makes a fuss.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Donít yell, man.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† They were hired, I tell you.Ow!They didnít even rob me. Ouch!

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Keep still.The smallest chorister would make less fuss.Your headís hardly broken.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† My lifeís in danger.Ouch!

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Weíre all mortal, Master Forde.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Lucky I sensed danger and put my gown over my head, otherwiseÖ

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Ah, you fear death?I thought perhaps your heresy made you immune.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Donít mock me, you hypocrite!

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Keep still, man.Iím nearly finished.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Youíve got to believe me.It was deliberate.They were waiting for me.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† And where had you been?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Whatís that got to do with it?

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Itís the first question Warden White will ask if you tell him.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Iím not going to do that.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Why not?

 

FORDE (sulky)†††††††††† Because he already knows.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† What are you saying?That the Warden hired those ruffians?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† These are desperate times for his faith.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Take care, Hostiarius.Thatís a very serious allegation.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Heís no other way of getting rid of me.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† So where were you tonight?Let me guess.The Plume of Feathers?The Golden Rose?I can see it in your face.The Golden Rose.Do you owe Jack Swaddon money?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† I do not!

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Despite your perpetual complaints about your small salary?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† I donít owe money anywhere.I tell you, once and for all, I was attacked and left for dead on account of my religion.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Well, Master Forde, if thatís the case, rejoice.Plenty have willingly gone to the stake in the same cause.No doubt your own martyrdom will shortly be assured in a second attack.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† But I donít want to beÖ

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Martyred?You should have tried hypocrisy.

 

Steps back.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† There.Your head will mend.For the present.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† You do think theyíll try again?

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Very possibly.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Sweet ChristÖ

 

He stands up and looks about him for the first time.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Why are there candles lit so late?

 

JOLYFF enters unseen by them and stands well back.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Stephen Born is not expected to last the hour.The Warden is with him now.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† And Master Cole, I presume?

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† You stay away.At sixteen, Born could teach you how to die, but we canít have his last moments disturbed by a heretic, can we?

 

Exit PHILLIPS with basin and cloth.JOLYFF steps forward hesitantly.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Master FordeÖ

 

FORDE jumps in fright, then turns on him

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† You!What have you been up to?

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Nothing.Master Forde, BornísÖ

 

FORDE †††††††††††††††††††† Who have you been talking to?

 

Grabs JOLYFF and shakes him

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† No one!

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Then explain this!

 

Points to head wound.†† JOLYFF stares at it.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Someone knows I spoke to you!

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† I havenít told anyone.

 

FORDE†††††††††††††††††††††† Youíre lying!

 

Cuffs JOLYFF

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† They nearly killed me!

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Master Forde, Born is near deathÖ

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† As I was tonight!

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† But Born will die.What am I to do?

 

At this FORDE calms down and becomes sarcastic

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† So you havenít spoken to him yet?

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Heís so peaceful, I canítÖ

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Heíll not be peaceful soon.Have you even read my books?

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Yes.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† And?

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† They have much sense in them.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Now you tell me, when itís too late.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† But isnít there still time?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† And now you want my advice, now you come running to me.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Master Forde, pleaseÖ

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Hereís my advice.Do nothing.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Nothing?

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Itís too dangerous now.

 

He points to his head wound.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† But BornÖ

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Itís too late.Too late and too dangerous.

 

Eyeing FORDE dubiously, JOLYFF begins to edge away.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Think Iíve gone mad, do you?Stop!

 

Seizes JOLYFF before he can get away

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Let me go!

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Not until you give me a promise.

 

Shoves JOLYFF up against the wall.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Youíll see nothing to anyone about our conversation the other night.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† ButÖ

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Promise!

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† I promise.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Youíd better keep it.

 

Releases JOLYFF then grabs him again.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another promise.That when you see them perform their mummeries over Born, youíll do nothing.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† I promise Iíll do nothing.Now let me go.

 

Released at last by FORDE, he is about to run away when GRYMSTON enters.

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† So this is why you left Born on his deathbed, Tom.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Is heÖ?

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Not yet.For all you care.

 

FORDE††††††††††††††††††††† Be afflicted and mourn and weep.

 

Exit FORDE

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† But I do care.I must get to Born.

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Well, you canít.Scholars arenít allowed near him any more.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† But weíre his friends.

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† It doesnít matter.He has his soul to think of now.Thatís what Master Cole told us.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† I donít care.Iím going in to him.

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Donít be foolish.TomÖ

 

Moves in front of JOLYFF, who has already taken a few paces.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† It wonít help him to die in peace if he knows youíre in trouble for disobeying Master Cole.

 

This pulls JOLYFF up short.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† No, I donít suppose it will.Iím selfish, and Iíve left everything too late.Oh, Morgan, I donít know what to do.

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† What do you mean?

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Canít you guess?

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Youíre not still thinking about Master Fordeís books, when Bornís dying?

 

JOLYFF (anguish)†††† Yes, and what if theyíre wrong in there, Master Cole and the Warden?What if theyíre sending him not to God, but to the Devil?

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Youíre possessed already!

 

Crosses himself

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† No!Why canít you understand?

 

Enter COLE from the Scholarsí chamber

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Whatís all this noise out here?Have you no respect for the dying?On your knees!

 

GRYMSTON kneels but JOLYFF stands his ground

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† May I speak with Born one last time?

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† You may not.The last thing he needs is you disturbing him.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Iíll be very quiet.

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† No.Youíll pray for him out here.

 

Turns away

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† But Iíve got to see him.

 

COLE turns back

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Tom, you idiot!

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Thomas Jolyff, when your friend is dead your stubbornness will be whipped out of you.On your knees and pray.

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† No, I must speak to himÖ

 

Makes a run for it.COLE catches him, but he struggles violently

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Let me talk to Born!Iíve got to!

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Stop this!Grymston, hold him!

 

Reluctantly, GRYSTON stands up.††† PHILLIPS enters with another basin and cloth

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† JesuÖ

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Help me, will you?

 

Together PHILLIPS and COLE restrain JOLYFF who eventually goes limp

PHILLIPS lets go of him.COLE does not.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Itís a trick.Heíll bolt.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Hardly.Heís exhausted.

 

But COLE grips JOLYFF even tighter

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† You young savage.Youíll suffer for this.

 

PHILLIPS††††††††††††††††† Master Cole, heís distressed because his friendís dying.

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† No, heís always like this, always questioning and disputing, alwaysÖ

 

Enter WHITE; sudden, expectant silence.

 

WHITE†††††††††††††††††††††† Stephen Born has died in the faith of Christ.

 

COLE, GRYMSTON and PHILLIPS cross themselves.GRYMSTON starts to cry.

JOLYFF, still held by COLE, is rigid with shock.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† He has departed this life easily, like a ripe apple from a tree.

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† He is with the saints in heaven.

 

He pauses, then turns his attention to JOLYFF

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And as for this boy, WardenÖ

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Master?

 

Still tearful, but desperate, he kneels before WHITE

 

WHITE†††††††††††††††††††††† Yes?

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Grymston wishes to plead for his other, abandoned friend.

 

GRYMSTON†††††††††††† Master, Jolyff only wanted to say farewell to Born.His mother died of the same cause.It reminded himÖ

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Ha!We all know what happened to his mother!

 

JOLYFF††††††††††††††††††††† Youíve no right to say that!

 

WHITE†††††††††††††††††††††† Jolyff!

 

Turns back to GRYMSTON.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My child, your devotion to your friend does you credit.Jolyff shall not be punished.

 

COLE†††††††††††††††††††††††† Warden, order among the Scholars must be maintained.The boy was wild.

 

WHITE†††††††††††††††††††††† And arrangements must be made for the corpse.See to it.

 

COLE ††††††††††††††††††††††† Very well.

 

He exits, still indignant.GRYMSTON moves towards JOLYFF, who turns away.

 

WHITE†††††††††††††††††††††† Jolyff, you may pray for your dead friend in Chapel tonight if you wish.

 

JOLYFF (dull) ††††††††††† Thank you, Master.

 

WHITE†††††††††††††††††††††† Come, Master Phillips.We have much to do.

 

Exit WHITE and PHILLIPS, PHILLIPS glancing back at JOLYFF. GRYMSTON tries to speak to JOLYFF, who again ignores him. GRYMSTON exits, hurt. Slowly, fighting emotion, JOLYFF sinks to his knees and covers his face.

Blackout.End of scene.

© Karen MacLeod 2002.