Scene Seven


Outside the Messenger's Cottage the following morning. GILES is alone on stage, reflectively leaning against the wall and smoking a cigarette. In a moment ROLAND enters from the left limping slightly.
ROLAND
Not open yet?

GILES

                                                                (shaking his head)
How come you're limping?

ROLAND

I may be coming down with gout.

GILES

What happened to the infectious pestilence?

ROLAND

Haven't noticed any outbreaks yet. I've heard, though, it sometimes takes a few days.

GILES

In the meantime, you've got the gout to worry about.

ROLAND

                                                                     (lighting a cigarette)
It's from all that rushing about---eating those quick meals at those crummy taverns. All those bangers and gooseberry tarts.

GILES

An occupational hazard of messengering.

ROLAND

If I'd had any sense, I would have followed my Dad's advice and gone into highway robbery. But I'm allergic to horses.

GILES

Looks like you followed your Dad's advice.

ROLAND

What are you talking about?

GILES

According to some of our clients, this is highway robbery.
                                                       (after a pause)
I was just thinking. Do you ever have the feeling that we're on some kind of strange revolving treadmill?

ROLAND

Whatdya mean?

GILES

We go hither, thither and yon,
And all the scenes we come upon,
I often feel we've come upon them before.
Sometimes you find the faces have changed
And certain things have been rearranged
But it's really the same at the core.

Time's revolving wheels
Seem to slip a gear.
Didn't we do the same
Earlier this year?

Time's revolving wheels
Seem to have a cog;
Patterns will repeat,
Memory will fog.

We tell ourselves our will is free
When there's something that we prize;
But character is destiny
No matter what the guise.

We know little or naught
Of the truth life conceals
For all of us are caught
In time's revolving wheels.


ROLAND

Heav-y!

GILES

You sound like Benedict.

ROLAND

Who do you think I got it from?

                                                             (CUTHBERT enters from the right.)

CUTHBERT

Just you two? Where's Pottesley and Lyttlebourne and the "done doneth me wrong" girl?
                                                              (GILES and ROLAND shrug.)
And no word from Tubney, I gather. I swear to God trying to run this establishment is like sailing a canoe into the Spanish Armada. Why did I ever go into this business? If I'd only been a little taller, I could have been a courtier.

ROLAND

I didn't know they had height restrictions at court.

CUTHBERT

Yeah. They don't tell you that, but they do. They want you to keep telling your kids, "When you grow up, you can be a courtier." Bullshit! (GILES and ROLAND follow him to the door. CUTHBERT is about to place the key in the lock when he sees it is open.) What the---? Someone's been here! My God, the safe! (HE rushes into the room then into his office. In a moment, HE returns.) No. It's okay. The blank scrolls are there---and there are the scrolls for today. I don't notice anything has been touched, do you? (AVERY and OSWYN enter from the left followed by MAUDE still in her male outfit. She appears depressed. THEY all move to the door and enter the room.)
CUTHBERT
Well, look who's here! Did any of you decide to come in the middle of the night?

MAUDE

No, they saideth they were too tired.

CUTHBERT

I'm not talking about that! I'm talking about here! Some one broke in last night.

OSWYN

Anything missing?

CUTHBERT

Not that I can tell.

AVERY

Why would someone break in and leave everything the way it was?

CUTHBERT

You tell me! Later I'll probably find some rival company's planted a bomb.

ROLAND

At least that'll be after we're gone.

CUTHBERT

Why? You allergic to bombs like everything else?

ROLAND

Very funny.

CUTHBERT

Okay. To work now. There's no bidding today. You'll take what I give you. Except the bear.

AVERY

What bear?

CUTHBERT

Some place in Bohemia. The directions are on the scroll. (HE disappears into his office as the OTHERS look one to the other quizzically. Then HE reappears with a bear suit.)
CUTHBERT
How about you, Shoreditch? You like dressing up.

MAUDE

Only in gowns.

                                                          (ROLAND shoots her an angry look.)

ROLAND

What's it made out of?

CUTHBERT

Whatever it's made out of, you're probably allergic. Okay. Anyone for bear?

OSWYN

Extra farthings for that?

CUTHBERT

Look. All you have to do is go there and eat someone named Antigonus. You'll recognize him because he's leaving this kid in the desert.

ROLAND

Cannibalism?!

CUTHBERT

Idiot! You don't really eat him. You chase him off and pretend you're going to eat him.

GILES

That should be an extra three thousand farthings.

AVERY

At least.

CUTHBERT

Jesus God! It's the easiest one of all. You just come on, say nothing and then disappear. All right. Put the bear aside for the moment.
                                                           (taking a purple scroll)
Here. This is an easy one. I'm giving this to Ted, because this'll be her first time. (MAUDE takes the scroll, unfurls it and begins to read slowly as CUTHBERT hands an orange scroll to Avery and a red one to Giles.)
MAUDE
Who wroteth this?

CUTHBERT

Why?

MAUDE

Tis terrible.

CUTHBERT

What???

MAUDE

I knoweth good writing. And this tis terrible. (CUTHBERT grabs the scroll from her and stuffs the bear suit in her lap. Music begins in the background as we hear "Men Without Faces" played at an accelerated pace. CUTHBERT then takes the scrolls from Avery and Giles and decides to rearrange them. As HE is handing out each of them the music builds. Suddenly over the p.a. system, we hear the voice of Lady Macbeth, very loud and very clear.)
LADY MACBETH'S VOICE
And by tomorrow evening, we shall see absolute mayhem.
 
 

CURTAIN