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Tree of Life


Updated July 30, 2003


Act II, Scene 1

The time is eight months later.  The set has been modified to resemble a Mycenaean throne room of the 13th Century BC Greece.  The crusade banners and other items particularly applicable to Elizabethan and/or Norman England are now missing.  The thrones themselves, however, are merely altered, continuing to resemble the thrones from the previous sets.

As the lights go up, JACK is slouching in the Kingís throne, his legs stretched out, his arms crossed, apparently asleep.  He is dressed in clothes which might be more appropriate to 13th Century BC Greece.  He is obviously relaxed and not at all concerned that he might be discovered on the Kingís throne.

PERCEVAL enters from the ramp, still in his Elizabethan costume, but one that is torn and generally in very bad shape.  The image of PERCEEVAL is that he has just returned from wrestling several grizzly bears in succession. PERCEEVAL  stumbles a bit as he enters, looking around, trying to recognize the place.  As the set now contains items more appropriate to 13th Century BC Greece, this is not particularly easy for PERCEEVAL.  But then, he recognizes JACK and is obviously relieved.  PERCEEVAL then draws himself into a position of military attention -- all done with considerably more noise than necessary -- and salutes JACK.  The noise wakes JACK, who with very little movement looks up at this strange apparition with considerable suspicion.  Then JACK recognizes the apparition before him, and sits up very quickly.  JACK is amazed.

            JACK:  Perceeval!?

            PERCEEVAL:  Reporting back sire!  From my mission.

            JACK:  Mission?

            PERCEEVAL:  Escorting the lady Anne to the City on the Platonic.  I am happy to report that the mission was successful, and that the Platonic philosophers were delighted at her arrival.

            JACK:  They were?

            PERCEEVAL:  Yes.  (trying hard to remember)  They said something about a great opportunity to study anatomy by the Braille method.

            JACK:   But that was eight months ago!

            PERCEEVAL:  We were delayed.

            JACK:  Delayed?

            PERCEEVAL:  On the way to Platonic, we got lost.

            JACK:  Lost!!?  (PERCEEVAL shakes his head in the affirmative.)  For eight months?

            PERCEEVAL:  Well, only seven actually.  It took me a month to recover from my wounds.

            JACK:  What wounds?

            PERCEEVAL:  When I handed Anne over to the Cityís philosophers, I forgot to wear my armor.

            JACK:  (grimacing)  Oh, that must have hurt!  (PERCEEVAL merely raises his eyes, as he tries to maintain his composure.)  At least, youíve returned, safe and... whatever.  (PERCEEVAL smiles.  JACK rises and moves toward him, where he gently places his hand on PERCEEVALís shoulder.)  How is it you managed to get lost between here and the City on the Platonic?  Didnít the aardvark give you a map?

            PERCEEVAL:  (chagrined)  Yes.

            JACK:  So?

            PERCEEVAL:  Well, the aardvarkís Dutch, you know.

            JACK:  No, I didnít know.

            PERCEEVAL:  So the map was in Dutch.  I donít read Dutch.

            JACK:  Perceeval.  The map is a picture...

            PERCEEVAL:  But itís in a foreign language!

            JACK:  (realizing the pointlessness of the discussion)  Of course.

            PERCEEVAL:  I figured that if we just moved around long enough, weíd eventually run across a sign pointing the way to the City on the Platonic.  Then weíd take that road and be there in no time.

            JACK:  The City on the Platonic is on an island.

            PERCEEVAL:  So thatís why we never found a road to it!

            JACK:  Itís a possibility.

            PERCEEVAL:  Wow!  We could still be looking for the place, if we hadnít been kidnapped and taken there by those pirates!

            JACK:   Pirates!?

            PERCEEVAL:  I was really concerned when they first came ashore to grab us, but as it turned out, I guess everything worked out okay.

            JACK:  (incredulous)  Pirates!?

            PERCEEVAL:  Pirates.  Theyíre the ones to took us to the City on the Platonic.

            JACK:  But wait a minute!   Why did they let you go?

            PERCEEVAL:  Iím not real sure.  Something about theyíre not needing a woman on board their ship who kept wanting to redecorate everything.

            JACK:  So they let you go?

            PERCEEVAL:  Yup!  And now Iím back!  I just hope Iím not too late to rescue my beloved mother.

            JACK:  Late?  Itís only been eight months.

            PERCEEVAL:  I know.  Howís she been these last eight months?  Is her tormenter still inflicting terrible pain and anguish on her fragile body?

            JACK:  (offended)  Excuse me.

            PERCEEVAL:  (growing increasingly angry)  I canít wait to get my hands on the evil monster that has demeaned my mother!  Nobody harms her and gets away with it!  Boy!  Will he rue the day he was born!

            JACK:  (worried)  What do you mean?

            PERCEEVAL:  Look!  When we were with those pirates, I didnít just sit around and waste my time.  No, sir!  I kept my ears and eyes open.  And I learned more about torture from those guys than you can shake a stick at!

            JACK:  Torture?

            PERCEEVAL:  Iím practically an authority on torture now.  Which will come in handy when I rejoin the revolution.  A person can always find work if theyíve got the right skills.

            JACK:  (saving his skin)  Good news, Perceeval!  You wonít have to remember any of those terrible tortures!  The King has been gone all these months, fighting a war.  He hasnít harmed your mother at all.

            PERCEEVAL:   The Kingís gone?

            JACK:  Yes.

            PERCEEVAL:  He hasnít been deflowering my mother all this time?

            JACK:  No.

            PERCEEVAL:  Gee, thatís a relief.

            JACK:  I knew youíd feel that way.

            PERCEEVAL:  Of course, I was really sort of looking forward to torturing someone.

            JACK:  Hey!  Youíll get plenty of chances!  Youíre just starting out in life! 

            PERCEEVAL:  Well, I sure hope so.  Wouldnít want my new found skills to atrophy.

            JACK:  Nor would I.  It would be such a waste.

            PERCEEVAL:  In the meantime, I suppose I could always rescue mother.  Rescuing women is always a good skill to have on your resume.

            JACK:  Unfortunately, that may not be as easy as it sounds.

            PERCEEVAL:  I didnít know that it sounded easy.

            JACK:  The King is due back at any time now.  You could be in grave danger.

            PERCEEVAL:  Ha!  I live for danger!

            JACK:  But if youíre killed, what will become of your mother?

            PERCEEVAL:  Thatís true.

            JACK:  I think it would be best now, if you concealed yourself.

            PERCEEVAL:  (insulted)  Concealed myself!!?  You mean... hide!?

            JACK:  Of course not!  Youíd never hide!  Maybe get lost for a few months, maybe go undercover for a time... that can be fun.  But never hide!  On the other hand, you could wear a disguise!

            PERCEEVAL:  A disguise?

            JACK:  Yes!  But quickly!  I think I hear someone coming!

            PERCEEVAL:  But where will I get a disguise?

            JACK:  (pushing him toward the ramp)  Check with the aardvark.  But hurry!

            PERCEEVAL:  (concerned, as he reaches the ramp)  Will I have to go Dutch?

            JACK:  (with one final push)  Just go!

PERCEEVAL exits via the ramp. 

The QUEEN enters, dressed in 13th Century BC Greek style, but dressed considerably nicer than JACK.

            JACK:  (returning from the ramp)  Ahhh, Queen Catherine!  Welcome!

            QUEEN:  Jack.   Itís not necessary to address me so formally, when weíre alone.

            JACK:  Of course.  (They briefly kiss.)  I have news, my lady.  The King returns within a fortnight.  Maybe sooner.

            QUEEN:  (observing herself in the mirror)  Who?

            JACK:  The King.  Your husband.

            QUEEN:  George?  (JACK nods ďyesĒ.)  I had forgotten all about him.

            JACK:  Heís been at war you know.

            QUEEN:  So Iíve been told.  (bored)  And how did you obtain this terribly topical information?

            JACK:  I talked to the aardvark.  He keeps himself pretty well informed.

            QUEEN:  Iím sure.  One can only wonder why he bothers.

            JACK:  Heís a writer.  He constantly collects useless information.  And he has exceptional sources.

            QUEEN:  What do you mean?

            JACK:  He has a small army of trained ants, who report to him.

            QUEEN:  Ants?

            JACK:  Ants.

            QUEEN:  How do you train an ant?

            JACK:  Simplicity itself.  He takes a few hundred of them, and tells them what to do.  Those who donít, he eats.  The trainable ones are the survivors.

            QUEEN:  The aardvark eats ants?

            JACK:  And termites.

            QUEEN:  (turning back to her mirror)  Disgusting!

            JACK:  Possibly.  On the other hand, such a diet contains plenty of protein, iron, digested wood...

            QUEEN:  (admiring herself in the mirror)  What do you think of my new dress?

            JACK:  Your dress?

            QUEEN:  Itís an original from the House of Atreus.  They made it especially for me.

            JACK:  Quite lovely.  Iím sure all of the fashion reviewers will praise it without restraint.

            QUEEN:  One would hope so.

            JACK:  About the King...

            QUEEN:  The King?

            JACK:  Heís been at war you know, and...

            QUEEN:  Yes, I remember. 

            JACK:  And he will soon return.

            QUEEN:  Too bad.  I had hoped we could spend the season in Crete.

            JACK:  We?

            QUEEN:  Naturally, I would want my consort to accompany me.

            JACK:  But Iíve never really liked Crete.

            QUEEN:  Donít be absurd.  Creteís lovely this time of year.

            JACK:  Itís just I was lost there once.  Took me forever to find my way out.  Very painful experience.

            QUEEN:  (showing little concern for JACK)  When is the King expected to return?

            JACK:  Very soon.  We have only today received word of his latest victory.

            QUEEN:  His latest victory?

            JACK:  The City on the Platonic.

            QUEEN:  I thought he was at Troy.

            JACK:  He was.  But on the way home, he decided to stretch his legs by plundering a defenseless city.

            QUEEN:  Typical!  Wait a minute!  Isnít the City on the Platonic where we sent that wench, Anne?

            JACK:  As a matter of fact, it is.

            QUEEN:  With any luck sheíll have been killed in the melee.

            JACK:  Killing does seem to be a byproduct of war.    

            QUEEN:  But as I recall, the king originally set out to attack the City on the Platonic.  How is it he is only now getting around to them?

            JACK:  Unfortunately, he attacked the wrong city.

            QUEEN:  The wrong city?

            JACK:  Yes, he made his normal amphibious landing and would have done fine, but he discovered too late that he had attacked Troy.  And as you may know, Troy is not a defenseless city!

            QUEEN:  I canít say Iím surprised.  The King never could read maps.  And of course, he never asks for directions.

            JACK:  (aside)  Particularly when theyíre in Dutch.  (to the QUEEN)  Fortunately for the King, a troupe of Greek heroes happened to be sailing by, saw all the festivities, and joined in.

            QUEEN:  So the Greeks attacked Troy?  (JACK nods ďyesĒ.)  Too bad.  I know how the King likes to keep things within the family.  He absolutely hates to share the spoils of war.

            JACK:  Itís really quite fortunate they did join him.  Troy is a major war power.  The King himself could have been seriously injured.  Or killed.

            QUEEN:  I can handle his being killed.  As heroic war widow and surviving Queen, I could manage somehow.  Itís not the worst problem Iíve ever faced.

            JACK:  You would not grieve the loss of your husband?

            QUEEN:  I lost my husband years ago, when he tossed me aside for a younger version.  I grieved then.  Oh, how I grieved!

            JACK:  I can imagine.

            QUEEN:  And now he houses that other woman, that surrogate mother, within my home!

            JACK:  Why are you so concerned with her?  Heís your husband!

            QUEEN:  Only in name.  I have done no wifely duties in ages -- only those duties of the Queen.  Which means little or no control over my own destiny.  The King meanwhile constantly runs amuck, doing whatever he fancies, regardless of my feelings.

            JACK:  He is somewhat uncontrollable.

            QUEEN:  But Iíve learned my lesson.  I may not be his wife, but I will be Queen!

            JACK:  Admirable, Iím sure.

            QUEEN:  Unfortunately, his return will cause, among other things, complications.  You, of all people, should know that.

            JACK:  I should?

            QUEEN:  As the Queenís consort, you would become a very important person, should the King fall prey to some... battle wound.

            JACK:  But my lady, it is my understanding that the King has never been wounded in battle.

            QUEEN:  Well... if not the battle, thereís always the inherent dangers of home life.  Did you know accidents around the home are a major cause of death?

            JACK:  Oh?

            QUEEN:  Itís true.  Thereís a multitude of ways a person can inadvertently kick the bucket at home.

            JACK:  I can imagine.

            QUEEN:  We simply have to decide on what sort of accident would be most... likely.  And then take suitable... preparations.   

            JACK:  (gingerly)  What sort of accident were you thinking of?

            QUEEN:  (again, all smiles)  Nothing in particular.  Perhaps... a fall in the bathtub?

            JACK:  The King seldom bathes.

            QUEEN:  I know.

            JACK:  What about food poisoning?

            QUEEN:  And have him throw up all over my table?  Letís not get sickening!

            JACK:  Sorry.

            QUEEN:  But maybe a slooooow poison.

            JACK:  Unfortunately, Fatís Fabulous Fast Food Franchise closed last month.

            QUEEN:  Blast!

            JACK:  Hey!  Thereís an idea!

            QUEEN:  What do you mean?

            JACK:  A bomb!

            QUEEN:  What!!?

            JACK:  (glancing around the Mycenaean throne room)  On second thought... never mind.

            QUEEN:  What about a deadly snakebite?

            JACK:  (shivering)  I hate snakes!

            QUEEN:  So do I.  Letís forget that one.

            JACK:  Good!

            QUEEN:  Could he get caught in the blender?

            JACK:  The blender?

            QUEEN:  That way, he could be cut down to size in... painfully small increments.

            JACK:  We donít have a blender.  We donít even know what one is... yet.

            QUEEN:  Too bad.  (brightening)  How about an assassin?

            JACK:  Everyone I know of, is at the Libyan Assassinís Convention.

            QUEEN:  It doesnít have to be a professional.  Any dastardly, corrupt, lower than a snake, disgusting creature with absolutely no morals, would do.

            JACK:  Iím afraid all the lawyers were exiled during the last inquisition.

            QUEEN:  I forgot.  Well, never let it be said that inquisitions donít have their bright side.

            JACK:  Especially with all that burning going on.

            QUEEN:  (getting upset)  Where are the scum of the earth when you need them?

            JACK:  In wartime, everything is in short supply.

            QUEEN:  (excitedly)  I have it!

            JACK:  (startled)  What!!?

            QUEEN:  Weíll kill him!

            JACK:  By accident!?

            QUEEN:  Who cares?  Hereís my plan.  We welcome him home with a lavish reception as befits the conquering hero.  I mean, weíll pull out all the stops!  Music, dancing girls, wine by the barrel, ice carvings of Greek heroes and assorted myths...

            JACK:  Sounds great!

            QUEEN:  And magnificent carpets laid out everywhere!

            JACK:  Carpets?

            QUEEN:  When he becomes drunk, disoriented, thinking only of his own lust, we will allow him to become entangled in the rich carpets.  I will then use your sword to avenge myself.

            JACK:  But I donít have a sword.

            QUEEN:  No sword?

            JACK:  I donít like to carry one.  Theyíre heavy!

            QUEEN:  Perhaps I can find one in my hope chest.

            JACK:  Really?

            QUEEN:  Youíd be surprised what I put away.  Admittedly, some items are rather useless...

LIZ enters, 8 months pregnant and dressed in Mycenaean costume.

            LIZ:  Is it true?  Is he really returning to my bosom?

            JACK:  Has who returned?

            LIZ:  My lord and master.  The father of my child.

            JACK:  Which child?

            QUEEN:  Which father?

            LIZ:  The King!

            JACK:  Oh, him.  Yes, heís returning.

            QUEEN:  (sweetly)  Weíve been planning a little welcome home party for him.  Perhaps youíd like to join in the festivities.

            LIZ:  May I?

            QUEEN:  Weíll give you a major part.

            LIZ:  Youíre too kind.

            QUEEN:  Undoubtedly.

            LIZ:  Such a blessed event.  And just in time.

            JACK:  Heís only been gone for eight months.

            LIZ:  (looking at her swollen belly)  Seems more like ten years.

            QUEEN:  (looking at JACK)  Itís amazing how time flies when youíre having fun.

            LIZ:  (surprised)  My mother used to tell me that that was one of my fatherís favorite sayings.

            JACK:  (to LIZ)  Your father!?  (to the QUEEN)  Wasnít your father fond of that saying?

            QUEEN:  (trying to avoid the implication)  My father was a King!  He never said clever things like that.  Only a peasant would say such a thing.

            LIZ:  Never?

            QUEEN:  Never.

            LIZ:  Thatís too bad.  I was just thinking...

            QUEEN:  Donít!  I havenít time right now.  There are... matters of state to be taken care of!  My minister has his duties as well!

The QUEEN abruptly turns and exits.

            JACK:  (acknowledging the QUEENís orders)  Yes, your majesty.

            LIZ:  We must prepare a feast for my Kingís return.

            JACK:  We must?

            LIZ:  Something very special.  A lavish...

            JACK:  Reception?  (LIZ looks interested.)  Music, dancing girls, magnificent carpets everywhere?

            LIZ:  Oh yes!  Perhaps we can bring in a troupe of wandering minstrels.

            JACK:  Minstrels?

            LIZ:  Maybe the Caroling Cretins or... Lyres for Hire.

            JACK:  How about a few retarded slaves screaming in pain?

            LIZ:  The Who?

            JACK:  No, no.  Some local talent.

            LIZ:  You think the King would like that sort of thing?

            JACK:  Trust me.

LIZ and JACK are interrupted by a high pitched moaning sound coming from off stage, much like a first century BC Roman soothsayer.  OHHHHHHHH!!

            JACK:  (to LIZ)  Was that you?

            LIZ:  (touching her belly and looking down at it)  I donít think so.

PERCEEVAL comes down the ramp, dressed as a first century BC Roman soothsayer.  He is moaning and making a variety of weird noises, as if in some noisy trance.  As he sees LIZ and JACK, he becomes more mercantile.

            PERCEEVAL:  (in a disguised, yet weird voice)  Sooths for sale.   Sooths for sale.

            LIZ:  Are you a soothsayer?

            PERCEEVAL:  Does God make little green apples?  Does it rain in Indianapolis?

            LIZ:  Wonderful.  Then you must say us a sooth.

            PERCEEVAL:  Must I?

            LIZ:  Yes.  The King is just returning from sacking several cities, I am about to give birth to his heir, and my two youngest children have been missing for months.

            PERCEEVAL:  Have you any money?

            JACK:  Money?

            PERCEEVAL:  Special today only.  Three sooths for a drachma.

            JACK:  We donít have any drachmas.

            PERCEEVAL:  No problem.  Any hard currency will do.

            JACK:  Hereís a Krone.

            PERCEEVAL:  A Krone?

            JACK:  (explaining the apparent paradox)  Itís for later.  (i.e. the next scene)

            PERCEEVAL:  Oh.  What the heck.  (PERCEEVAL pulls himself up and prepares with great fanfare to say a sooth.  Abruptly, it comes out, in a loud, weird voice.)  Beware the Ides of April!!

            JACK:  April?

            PERCEEVAL:  Take my word for it.

            LIZ:  (to JACK)  But what does it mean?

            JACK:  (to LIZ)  Undoubtedly, doom for all the common folk.

            PERCEEVAL:  Life begins... when the kids move away and the dog and the cat die.

            LIZ:  Huh?

            PERCEEVAL:  (holding up his hand to quiet everyone.)  No news is good news!   I have spoken. 

PERCEEVAL exits, as LIZ and JACK look bewildered.

            LIZ:  But what did he spoke?

            JACK:  I think he said your children are alive and well, youíre definitely pregnant, and the King may be in danger.

            LIZ:  The King?  In danger?  (JACK merely nods his head, whereupon LIZ suddenly sees a vision.)  Ah, yes!  I see it all now.

            JACK:  You do?

            LIZ:  Yes.  It came to me in a dream.

            JACK:  Youíre kidding!

            LIZ:  No.  And just last night.  I was in bed, when the watch came and recounted most horrid sights.

            JACK:  Like what?

            LIZ:  (Shakespearean)  A lioness whelped in the streets.  Graves opened up and yielded up their dead.  Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds.  The Capitol drizzled blood, while the noise of battle hurtled in the air.  Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan.  And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.  The heavens themselves blazed forth the death of princes.

            JACK:  (skeptical)  You sure that wasnít the soccer match next door?

            LIZ:  No.  It was a vision.  My King is in danger, and I must rush to his aid.

            JACK:  But why?

            LIZ:  Are you kidding?  He came back!  Donít you see?  None of my former husbands have ever come back!  Oh sure, one promised to.  I can still remember his stirring words:  ďI shall returnĒ.  But he never did.

            JACK:  Have you ever been to the Philippines?

            LIZ:  And because this one did return, I going to make darn sure I keep him.  This is one relationship thatís going to work!

            JACK:  I admire your confidence.

            LIZ:  I have to save him!!

            JACK:  But what can you do?  I mean, with warriors, lions, horses, and the like...

            LIZ:   I donít know.  Itís true I canít go it alone.

            JACK:  Of course not.

            LIZ:  I must go for help!

            JACK:  Help?  Who in this kingdom would possibly help the King?

            LIZ:  None perhaps.  But there are those who will do as I bid them.

            JACK:  Are you serious?

            LIZ:  I will find my son, Perceeval.  He will do what I ask him.

            JACK:  He will?

            LIZ:  Never underestimate a motherís ultimate weapon when it comes to motivating children.

            JACK:  Whatís that?

            LIZ:  Guilt.

            JACK:  But thatís deceitful!

            LIZ:  Look.  When it comes to motherhood, thereís a lot of deceit.  Everything depends on control... by any means whatever... just as long as they do what you tell them to do.

            JACK:  And what of poor Perceeval?

            LIZ:  What about him?

            JACK:  What if he is unable to help?

            LIZ:  Then I will go to the revolutionariesí central committee.  They owe me a favor.

            JACK:  Are you sure thatís wise?  I mean, youíre sort of identified with the royalists now.

            LIZ:  My life is no matter.  I must save my King, and the father of my unborn child.

            JACK:  Yeah, well Liz... Let me explain about the father of your unborn child.

            LIZ:  (LIZ puts her hand to JACKís lips.)  It is not for you to speak now.  I know of your concern for me, but I cannot fail to go.

            JACK:  Itís just that I wouldnít want you to do anything rash.

            LIZ:  Hush, my darling.  Our lives are in the hands of fate, the winds of destiny and the whim of our lifeís plan.  I go now to do what I was fated to do.  For what I do now, is far, far greater than anything I have done before.

LIZ turns dramatically and rushes up the ramp.  Or tries to, inasmuch as sheís eight months pregnant.

            JACK:  (shouting after LIZ)  I donít think itís fate!  I think itís something else.

The QUEEN enters, with a long and bloody sword in her hand.

            JACK:  (stunned at the sight of the sword)  My lady!  Has the deed been done!?

            QUEEN:  What?

            JACK:  (gesturing to the bloody sword)  Has the King met his fate?

            QUEEN:  Of course not.  Heís not even returned yet.

            JACK:  But the sword?

            QUEEN:  Oh that.  It belonged to my father.  I think he got if from his Aunt Mary in England.

            JACK:  A family heirloom?

            QUEEN:  Yes.  Daddy gave it to me for my hope chest.

            JACK:  With fresh blood?

            QUEEN:  The butcher let me test it on the fatted calf.  Still works fine.

            JACK:  How nice.

            QUEEN:  Now!  As soon as the carpets arrive, weíll be ready for the Kingís ďhomecomingĒ.

            JACK:  Iíll order the carpets immediately.

            QUEEN:  What about... whatís her name?

            JACK:  Liz?  She went to find her son.

            QUEEN:  The dimwit?

            JACK:  Yes.  And if she fails to find him, sheís going to the revolutionariesí central committee.

            QUEEN:  Why?

            JACK:  She thinks she can enlist their aid in protecting the King from an untimely death.

            QUEEN:  But the revolutionaries hate the King.

            JACK:  It does seem an uphill battle.

            QUEEN:  Sheís crazier than her son.

            JACK:  Personally, I donít think thatís possible.

They are interrupted by a trumpet blast.

            KING:  (announcing from off stage, in a loud, dramatic voice)  The King!!

            QUEEN:  Oh, no! 

            JACK:  Hide the sword!

The KING enters with all the flamboyance of a conquering hero.

            KING:  Home at last!  Boy!  What a year!  I havenít had so much fun since we torched those twenty cities in the southeast.

            QUEEN:  (shoving the sword into JACKís hand)  Welcome home, my King and beloved husband.

            KING:  (The KING barely notices the QUEEN, but sees the sword.)  Huh?  Oh yes.  (The KING gestures to the sword.)  Whatís the sword for?

            QUEEN:  Sword?

            JACK:  What sword?

            KING:  The one in your hand!

            JACK:  Oh this?  You mean... the exterminator?

            KING:  The what?

            JACK:  The rat exterminator.  Weíve had rats.

            QUEEN:  Vermin all over the place.

            JACK:  Itís the mating season you know.

            KING:  Youíre kidding.

            QUEEN:  Theyíre everywhere!

            JACK:  Mating.

            QUEEN:  Disgusting!

            KING:  (to the QUEEN)  You feeling okay?

            QUEEN:  Me?

            KING:  Never mind.  (The KING turns to JACK.)  You should have been there!  Our new Armenian Phalanx really stomped all over them!

            QUEEN:  Armenian?  But youíre Greek!

            KING:  My mother was Greek.  On the other hand, Dad was from Armenia.

            QUEEN:  I didnít know.

            KING:  Therefore Iím an Armenian, and a Greek.  Personally I prefer Armenian.  Whatís more, I have my Greek motherís permission to call myself an Armenian.

            QUEEN:  Does she know the difference?

            KING:  Careful!  Thatís my mother youíre talking about.  (The KING turns away and plops down on his throne, relishing his return.)

            QUEEN:  (aside, to JACK)  Take my advice.  Beware of Greeks bearing Armenians.

            JACK:  Right.

ANNE enters from the ramp, carrying a very small trunk of silks and other precious fabrics.

            ANNE:  Where do you want these?

            QUEEN:  (stunned and outraged at the sight of ANNE)  What is she doing here?

            KING:  (nonchalantly)  Spoils of war.

            ANNE:  Along with these.

            JACK:  What are they?

            ANNE:  Magnificent new fabrics from the four corners of the world.  Very heavy fabrics.  (JACK does not take the hint and take the trunk from her.)  It was everything I could do to get them up the stairs.

            JACK:  I can imagine.

            ANNE:  (Seeing that she will receive no help, ANNE puts the trunk down on a table, displaying a slight anger, quite inappropriate for a ďspoil of warĒ, toward JACK.)  Thanks for nothing!

            QUEEN:  (to ANNE)  Try thinking of yourself as a slave.  It will make your lot easier to accept.

            ANNE:  (shocked)  A slave!?

            QUEEN:  A worthless, expendable creature, of minimal value, a person that can be discarded with yesterdayís garbage at a momentís notice.

            ANNE:  (She looks in horror at the QUEEN, and then to the KING for help.)  My lord...

            QUEEN:  (pointing off stage)  You may leave us!!

            ANNE:  (shocked and stepping back)  What?

            QUEEN:  (bearing down on ANNE)  Are you not a slave, a servant, a spoil of war?  Do you not take orders from your Queen!!?

            ANNE:  (She takes a quick glance at the KING, who indicates that ANNE is to do what the QUEEN orders.  ANNE begins to pout when she discovers she is not yet in charge.)  Yes, of course!

            QUEEN:  Yes, your majesty!!

            ANNE:  (staring back at the QUEEN, hating every word)  Yes!  Your Majesty!!

ANNE abruptly turns and exits.

            QUEEN:  (to the KING)  And just what do you plan to do with her!?

            KING:  She can be a maid.

            ANNE:  (shocked, from off stage)  A maid!?

            QUEEN:  (astounded and trying to ignore ANNE)  A maid!?

            KING:  (grinning)  Everybody ought to have a maid.

            QUEEN:  What!!?  (The QUEEN is almost livid with rage.  But then she notices JACK.)  Is there some reason youíre still here?  Shouldnít you be putting out some orders?

            JACK:  Orders?  Oh, yes!  Of course!  Iím leaving right now!

JACK exits on the run.

            QUEEN:  (back to the KING)  Now...

            KING:  Now what!?

            QUEEN:  (Momentarily, she is brought up short by the KINGís tone.  She hesitates for just a moment.)  I am the Queen!

            KING:  And I... am the King!

            QUEEN:  Then act like one!

            KING:  What!!?

            QUEEN:  How dare you bring that woman in here and flaunt her in my face!

            KING:  Would you prefer I do it behind your back?

            QUEEN: Yes!  At least I do you the same honor.

            KING:  What do you mean?

            QUEEN:  I donít flaunt my lovers in front of you!

            KING:  What lovers!?

            QUEEN:  I donít like to kiss and tell.

            KING:  Ha!  You donít like to kiss at all!

            QUEEN:  Thatís not true!

            KING:  No one would have you!

            QUEEN: What would you say if I told you I had a lover!  Several of them, as a matter of fact!?

            KING:  Just give me their names, and Iíll... reward each of them for conspicuous bravery.  (The KING laughs.)   And then Iíll kill each and every one of them!

            QUEEN:  (regaining her composure)  Then I shall not tell you their names.  Any of them!

            KING:  And Iíll be eternally grateful!  I hate to execute innocent men.  (The KING stares her down, letting her know in no uncertain terms that he doesnít believe a word sheís said.  The QUEEN slowly backs off.  The KING smiles as he senses her admittance of defeat, and decides to rub it in with as much sarcasm as possible.)  Eternally grateful.

            QUEEN:  Grateful!?  You donít know the meaning of gratitude!  I've given you the best years of my life!

            KING:  (sarcastically)  Those were your best years?

            QUEEN:  Iíve been your devoted, faithful and constant wife all these years...

            KING:  To what avail!?  For me?  Certainly not!  For yourself!?  To fulfill your own ego, your own ambitions, your own sense of duty?  Most likely!

            QUEEN:  (Aghast at his statements.)  There are many who believe that a faithful wife is someone to be admired, to be held in high esteem.

            KING:  Only those who undertake to do it.  Those who have no other choices.  Or inclinations.

            QUEEN:  You did not talk so when we were first married.  Then it was words of sharing, of love...

            KING:  (cynically smiling)  You were younger then.

The KING abruptly laughs in her face and saunters off.  The QUEEN is stunned and very hurt.  But slowly her hurt turns to anger and thoughts of revenge.

            QUEEN:  (quietly, to herself, with genuine feeling)  Iíll kill him.  If itís the last thing I do, Iíll kill that stinking... (Suddenly she turns to yell off stage.)  Where is my minister!!?

            JACK:  (sticking his head into the room, looking worried)  You rang, mistress?

            QUEEN:  I want a plan for killing that bastard, and I want it within the hour!!

            JACK:  Iíll get to work on it right away.

            QUEEN:  One which is extremely painful, agonizing in the extreme...

            JACK:  Well, that may take a bit more planning.

            QUEEN:  No matter.  Just as long as he suffers!  I want him to feel all the hurts that Iíve ever felt, the pains of disloyalty, the frustration of continual injustice, the tearing of oneís heart from everything thatís meaningful...  (For a moment, she pauses, her killing instinct running ahead of her literary ability.)

            JACK:  (with immense calmness and gentleness)  My lady.

            QUEEN:  (responding to JACKís calmness)  What?

            JACK:  Surely you realize that it is not the King who is your enemy.

            QUEEN:  (astounded)  Are you kidding?  Did you hear what he just said to me!?

            JACK:  Heís merely playing his part in the scheme of things.  Itís the Kingdoms that are causing you pain.  You must redirect your anger.  Itís time to attack the problem in a different way.

            QUEEN:  (suddenly calm and thinking)  And what do you suggest?

            JACK:  Iím not yet certain, but if we all work together, Liz and Anne and the two of us, we could begin to attack the problem at its source.

            QUEEN:  Working together...?

            JACK:  (beginning to escort her to the exit)  Uniting our forces may in fact be essential.

            QUEEN:  This had better be good...

            JACK:  Oh, it is.  It is.

JACK and the QUEEN exit.



Act I, Scene 3 -- Crusades

Forward to:

Act II, Scene 2 -- Danish Treats



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