Scene Four


The Messenger's Cottage some hours later. Dusk is beginning to fall across the stage. OSWYN, AVERY and GILES are still playing cards at the left table. ROLAND is seated at the right table reading the periodical Humphrey left behind. He is now dressed in his regular Elizabethan clothes rather than the monk's outfit. MAUDE is standing, trying to read over his shoulder while a frustrated ROLAND attempts to alter his position so that she cannot see. Door to the office flies open and CUTHBERT appears, angry and distraught.
CUTHBERT
Any sign of 'em? (GILES and AVERY shake their heads. CUTHBERT returns to the room slamming the door behind him.)
MAUDE
                                                           (still trying to read over Roland's shoulder)
'Tis dreadful what transpireth with that lawsuit where that monster Caliban doth sue his master Prospero for filling the island with spirits to tormenteth him for being late with the firewood. (ROLAND gets up and moves to the opposite side of the table. But SHE pursues him.) Hast thou ever heardeth of such a thing? People will sueth for anything these days. Dost not thee agree, Handsome Roland?

ROLAND

Lady,
Cease and desist!
You're getting me pissed!
Basta, arretez,
And fermez la bouche.

Lady,
Leave me alone!
I can't stand that drone!
It sounds like your larynx
Was given a douche!

All that chatter,
All that garbage
Makes me want to flee---
Besides your language is absurd!
Why do you insist on
Placing a "t" and an "h"
Or an "s" and a "t"
On the end of the simplest word?

Lady,
You'd make any man
An absolute wreck
And cause him to solve it
By wringing your neck
Or pulling out your tongue!

So unless you want your tongue pulled out
Or your neck severely wrung---
You'd better shut the fuck up right now!

MAUDE
But everyone doth be interested in a monster suing his master because of what his master hast doneth because of his being late with firewood.

ROLAND

                                                           (to Giles, Avery and Oswyn)

I'm going out for a smoke.

(HE leaps to his feet, grabs the periodical and flees out the entrance door. HE seats himself under a tree, lights a cigarette and proceeds to read in peace.)
MAUDE
Well! He doth certainly not act like Humphrey and Benedict!

OSWYN

                                                           (with a wink toward Avery and Giles)
Ah, but Humphrey and Benedict like women.

MAUDE

You mean he---!

AVERY

You saw how he acted when Reams told him to give back the monk's outfit?

GILES

He hates giving up that monk's outfit. It reminds him of a dress. (SHE collapses into one of the chairs in shock. The door bursts open and CUTHBERT again appears.)
CUTHBERT
It's almost closing time and those two rabbit-suckers ain't back yet! And messages are piling up for tomorrow! (At that moment, BENEDICT races up the path and enters the cottage.)
CUTHBERT
Where the devil---?

BENEDICT

She's after me! And she's got him with her!

CUTHBERT

Who she? And who him?

BENEDICT

The Macbeths, of course! Listen. I'm getting out. There's a lovely lady in Eastcheap who said if I ever get into trouble I can come to her.

AVERY

Eastcheap? You mean Doll Tearsheet?

OSWYN

Lovely lady? That syphilitic whore who gave the clap to the Fat Man?

GILES

A syphilitic whore becomes a lovely lady when you're hiding out in her bedroom.

CUTHBERT

But where's Tubney?

BENEDICT

Isn't he here?

CUTHBERT

I won't have enough messengers for tomorrow.

BENEDICT

Sorry. But I gotta run.

MAUDE

But what about me? (HE pays no attention whatsoever and races back out of the door. HE then pauses, looks to the left and then to the right.)
BENEDICT
I forgot where Eastcheap is. (ROLAND, overhearing him, points to the right. BENEDICT disappears down that path.)
MAUDE
He hath doneth me wrong!

CUTHBERT

Doneth you wrong! Look what he's doneth to me! A fine kettle of canker-blossoms! I need five for tomorrow, and I only have four!
                                                            (suddenly glancing at Maude)
You ever deliver a message?

MAUDE

Nay.

CUTHBERT

Well, you're going to tomorrow. Only not in those rags. Come back here. I got an outfit in the costume closet I think will fit you.

                                                          (HE grabs her by the arm and drags her into the office.)

OSWYN

                                                           (glancing out the window)
It's closing time. We've done nothing today but sit on our rumps and play cards.

AVERY

And you know how many farthings that comes to?

GILES

If this continues I'm gonna have to look for some other means of survival.

AVERY

Where does one go from messenger?

OSWYN

Town crier?

ALL THREE

Men with no names,
Men with no faces---
Rushing about
To alien places.

Men with no backgrounds,
Men with no goals,
Men with no shadings,
Men with no souls.

(THEY sing it now as though it were a dirge. They are stopped by the office door opening and MAUDE appearing dressed as a boy followed by CUTHBERT)
OSWYN
Well, look at that!

CUTHBERT

                                                (grabbing her rump)
I shall see you here tomorrow at nine sharp.

MAUDE

But where can I stayeth?

CUTHBERT

Not here, you can't!

MAUDE

But where? (At that moment ROLAND enters. MAUDE takes one look at him and an idea pops into her head.)
ROLAND
Sun's going down, and I'm getting out of here.

MAUDE

                                                           (lowering her voice to simulate a man's.)
Good evening. My name is Ted.

ROLAND

                                                          (backing away in revulsion)
Gimmeabreak!
                                                          (at the door)
See you guys tomorrow. Unless I come down with the infectious pestilence.

                                                          (HE starts down the path. CUTHBERT shouts after him.)

CUTHBERT

Don't you dare!

                                                          (HE disappears into his office.)

MAUDE

But you hath told me…

                                                          (SHE begins to cry.)

OSWYN

It's all right, Ted. You can bunk in with Avery and me. Ain't much room, but…

CUTHBERT

                                                          (returning with five scrolls in his arms all in different colors)
This is what's up for tomorrow. Now if any of you fuck up like Chylton and Tubney…

OSWYN

Of course we won't!

CUTHBERT

Ok. I'm leaving them right here on this table. You three go home. And take Ted with you. I'll lock up. (OSWYN, AVERY and GILES exit with MAUDE. CUTHBERT watches them disappear down the left path, takes a key from his doublet and locks the door. HE exits on the right path. A moment's pause. LADY MACBETH and MACBETH enter from the right, he lagging a few steps behind her.)
LADY MACBETH
Is this it?

MACBETH

Aye, 'tis where I pay the monthly messenger bill. Otherwise, I would have to hire a messenger to pay the messenger bill. Messengers ain't cheap, you know.

LADY MACBETH

Thou certainly shall not pay it this month! If I was thee, I wouldst demand a rebate.

MACBETH

Once thought of going into the messenger racket meself, but then all this king stuff came up.

                                                              (SHE is at the door now.)

LADY MACBETH

Tis locked!

MACBETH

Methinks we arrived too late.

LADY MACBETH

Too late? Of course we arrived too late---with you futzing around with those accursed witches! We've missed catching that fly-bitten viper!

MACBETH

We hadst better return to Inverness.

LADY MACBETH

Have you got feathers in your noggin? Break the door down!

MACBETH

Tis against the law.

LADY MACBETH

You, who are on the verge of murdering half of Scotland---you worry about breaking down one little door! Put thy shoulder to the wood this instant! (Obediently, he pounds his shoulder against the door, but to no avail.)
LADY MACBETH
Those witches were right about one thing---you're getting too long in the tooth and too round in the belly. (SHE shoves him aside and pounds her shoulder against the door. The door gives way. THEY burst into the room.)
MACBETH
How now! Tis anyone here?

LADY MACBETH

Of course there's no one here!

MACBETH

Let us away. One never knows who might be in our castle right now. You heard what those witches were saying to that young man. (SHE pays no attention to him. Surveying the room SHE spies the scrolls on the table, goes to the purple one, unfurls it and begins to read.)
LADY MACBETH
"Letters, my lord, from Hamlet:
"This to your majesty, this to the queen…"
Ah, I see how it is done! If we cannot find the messenger to kill him, there are other ways…

                                                          (SHE moves to the office door, opens it and disappears.)

MACBETH

We couldst burn the place down if only I had brought matches.
                                                           (no response)
Sweetikins! (SHE reappears through the door carrying five colored scrolls, two quill pens and two bottles of ink. SHE sets three of the scrolls, one of the pens and one of the bottles on the left table, the other two scrolls and the other pen on the right table.)
LADY MACBETH
Sit!

MACBETH

What art thou doing? (SHE pushes her husband into a chair facing front, hands him the purple scroll she was just reading and a pink scroll from the ones she had taken from the office. Then she pushes the quill pen in his fingers.)
LADY MACBETH

Copy.

MACBETH

Copy what?

LADY MACBETH

Imbecile! Copy what is on the purple scroll to the pink scroll I, in turn, shall copy what is on this pink scroll to this yellow scroll. (MACBETH shrugs his shoulders and begins to copy. SHE, in turn, seats herself at the right table, unfurls the pink scroll and begins to copy it to the blank yellow scroll. A great malevolent smile crosses her face.)
LADY MACBETH
And by tomorrow evening, we shall see absolute mayhem.
 
 

LIGHTS SLOWLY DIM