Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 1. The Banqueting Hall
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 1. The Banqueting Hall Post by :matrixmarketer Category :Plays Author :August Strindberg Date :May 2012 Read :2220

Click below to download : The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 1. The Banqueting Hall (Format : PDF)

The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 1. The Banqueting Hall

PART II ACT III SCENE I. THE BANQUETING HALL

(Room in a hotel prepared for a banquet. There are long tables laden with flowers and candelabra. Dishes with peacocks, pheasants in full plumage, boars' heads, entire lobsters, oysters, salmon, bundles of asparagus, melons and grapes. There is a musicians' gallery with eight players in the right-hand corner at the back.)

(At the high table: the STRANGER in a frock coat; next to him a Civil Uniform with orders; a professorial Frock Coat with an order; and other black Frock Coats with orders of a more or less striking kind. At the second table a few Frock Coats between black Morning Coats. At the third table clean every-day costumes. At the fourth table dirty and ragged figures of strange appearance.)

(The tables are so arranged that the first is furthest to the left and the fourth furthest to the right, so that the people sitting at the fourth table cannot be seen by the STRANGER. At the fourth table CAESAR and the DOCTOR are seated, in shabby clothes. They are the farthest down stage. Dessert has just been handed round and the guests have golden goblets in front of them. The band is playing a passage in the middle of Mendelssohn's Dead March pianissimo. The guests are talking to one another quietly.)

DOCTOR (to CAESAR). The company seems rather depressed and the dessert came too soon!

CAESAR. By the way, the whole thing look's like a swindle! He hasn't made any gold, that's merely a lie, like everything else.

DOCTOR. I don't know, but that's what's being said. But in our enlightened age anything whatever may be expected.

CAESAR. There's a professor at the high table, who's supposed to be an authority. But what subject is he professor of?

DOCTOR: I've no idea. It must be metallurgy and applied chemistry.

CAESAR. Can you see what order he's wearing?

DOCTOR. I don't know it. I expect it's some tenth rate foreign order.

CAESAR. Well, at a subscription dinner like this the company's always rather mixed.

DOCTOR. Hm!

CAESAR. You mean, that we... hm.... I admit we're not well dressed, but as far as intelligence goes....

DOCTOR. Listen, Caesar, you're a lunatic in my charge, and you must avoid speaking about intelligence as much as you can.

CAESAR. That's the greatest impertinence I've heard for a long time. Don't you realise, idiot, that I've been engaged to look after you, since you lost your wits?

PROFESSOR (taping his goblet). Gentlemen!

CAESAR. Hear, hear!

PROFESSOR. Gentlemen! Our small society is to-day honoured by the presence of the great man, who is our guest of honour, and when the committee...

CAESAR (to the DOCTOR). That's the government, you know!

PROFESSOR. ... and when the committee asked me to act as interpreter and to explain the motives that prompted them I was at first doubtful whether I could accept the honour. But when I compared my own incapacity with that of others, I discovered that neither lost in the comparison.

VOICES. Bravo!

PROFESSOR. Gentlemen! A century of discovery is ending with the greatest of all discoveries--foreseen by Pythagoras, prepared for by Albertus and Paracelsus and first carried out by our guest of honour. You will permit me to give this feeble expression of our admiration for the greatest man of a great century. A laurel crown from the society! (He places a laurel frown on the STRANGER'S head.) And from the committee: this! (He hangs a shining order round the STRANGER'S neck.) Gentlemen! Three cheers for the Great Man who has made gold!

ALL (with the exception of the STRANGER). Hurrah!

(The band plays chords from Mendelssohn's Dead March. During the last part of the foregoing speech servants have exchanged the golden goblets for dull tin ones, and they now begin to take away the pheasants, peacocks, etc. The music plays softly. General conversation.)

CAESAR. Oughtn't we to taste these things before they take them away?

DOCTOR. It all seems humbug, except that about making gold.

STRANGER (knocking on the table). Gentlemen! I've always been proud of the fact that I'm not easy to deceive...

CAESAR. Hear, hear!

STRANGER. ... that I'm not easily carried away, but I am touched at the sincerity so obvious in the great tribute you've just paid me; and when I say touched, I mean it.

CAESAR. Bravo!

STRANGER. There are always sceptics; and moments in the life of every man, when doubts creep into the hearts of even the strongest. I'll confess that I myself have doubted; but after finding myself the object this sincere and hearty demonstration, and after taking part in this royal feast, for it is royal; and seeing that, finally, the government itself...

VOICE. The committee!

STRANGER. ... the committee, if you like, has so signally recognised my modest merits, I doubt no longer, but believe! (The Civil Uniform creeps out.) Yes, gentlemen, this is the greatest and most satisfying moment of my life, because it has given me back the greatest thing any man can possess, the belief in himself.

CAESAR. Splendid! Bravo!

STRANGER. I thank you. Your health!

(The PROFESSOR gets up. Everyone rises and the company begins to mix. Most of the musicians go out, but two remain.)

GUEST (to the STRANGER). A delightful evening!

STRANGER. Wonderful.

(All the Frock Coats creep away.)

FATHER (an elderly, overdressed man with an eye-glass and military bearing crosses to the doctor). What? Are you here?

DOCTOR. Yes, Father-in-law. I'm here. I go everywhere he goes.

FATHER. It's too late in the day to call me father-in-law. Besides, I'm _his father-in-law now.

DOCTOR. Does he know you?

FATHER. No. He's not had that honour; and I must ask you to preserve my incognito. Is it true he's made gold?

DOCTOR. So it's said. But it's certain he left his wife while she was in childbed.

FATHER. Does that mean I can expect a third son-in-law soon? I don't like the idea! The uncertainty of my position makes me hate being a father-in-law at all. Of course, I've nothing to say against it, since....

(The tables have now been cleared; the cloths and the candelabra have been removed, so that the tables themselves, which are merely boards supported on trestles, are all that remain. A big stoneware jug has been brought in and small jugs of simple form have been put on the high table. The people in rags sit down next to the STRANGER at the high table; and the FATHER sits astride a chair and stares at him.)

CAESAR (knocking on the table). Gentlemen! This feast has been called royal, not on account of the excellence of the service which, on the contrary, has been wretched; but because the man, whom we have honoured, is a king, a king in the realm of the Intellect. Only I am able to judge of that. (One of the people in rags laughs.) Quiet. Wretch! But he's more than a king, he's a man of the people, of the humblest. A friend of the oppressed, the guardian of fools, the bringer of happiness to idiots. I don't know whether he's succeeded in making gold. I don't worry about that, and I hardly believe it... (There is a murmur. Two policemen come in and sit by the door; the musicians come down and take seats at the tables.)... but supposing he has, he has answered all the questions that the daily press has been trying to solve for the last fifty years.... It's only an assumption--

STRANGER. Gentlemen!

RAGGED PERSON. No. Don't interrupt him.

CAESAR. A mere assumption without real foundation, and the analysis may be wrong!

ANOTHER RAGGED PERSON. Don't talk nonsense!

STRANGER. Speaking in my capacity as guest of honour at this gathering I should say that it would be of interest to those taking part to hear the grounds on which I've based my proof....

CAESAR. We don't want to hear that. No, no.

FATHER. Wait! I think justice demands that the accused should be allowed to explain himself. Couldn't our guest of honour tell the company his secret in a few words?

STRANGER. As the discoverer I can't give away my secret. But that's not necessary, because I've submitted my results to an authority under oath.

CAESAR. Then the whole thing's nonsense, the whole thing! We don't believe authorities--we're free-thinkers. Did you ever hear anything so impudent? That we should honour a mystery man, an arch-swindler, a charlatan, in good faith.

FATHER. Wait a little, my good people!

(During this scene a wall screen, charmingly decorated with palm trees and birds of paradise, has been taken away, disclosing a wretched serving-counter and stand for beer mugs, behind which a waitress is seen dispensing tots of spirits. Scavengers and dirty-looking women go over to the counter and start drinking.)

STRANGER. Was I asked here to be insulted?

FATHER. Not at all. My friend's rather loquacious, but he's not said anything insulting yet.

STRANGER. Isn't it insulting to be called a charlatan?

FATHER. He didn't mean it seriously.

STRANGER. Even as a joke I think the word arch-swindler slanderous.

FATHER. He didn't use _that word.

STRANGER. What? I appeal to the company: wasn't the word he used arch-swindler?

ALL. No. He never said that!

STRANGER. Then I don't know where I am--or what company I've got into.

RAGGED PERSON. Is there anything wrong with it?

(The people murmur.)

BEGGAR (comes forward, supporting himself on crutches; he strikes the table so hard with his crutch, that some mugs are broken.) Mr. Chairman! May I speak? (He breaks some more crockery.) Gentlemen, in this life I've not allowed thyself to be easily deceived, but this time I have been. My friend in the chair there has convinced me that I've been completely deceived on the question of his power of judgment and sound understanding, and I feel touched. There are limits to pity and limits also to cruelty. I don't like to see real merit being dragged into the dust, and this man's worth a better fate than his folly's leading him to.

STRANGER. What does this mean?

(The FATHER and the DOCTOR have gone out during this scene without attracting attention. Only beggars remain at the high table. Those who are drinking gather into groups and stare at the STRANGER.)

BEGGAR. You take yourself to be the man of the century, and accept the invitation of the Drunkards' Society, in order to have yourself feted as a man of science....

STRANGER (rising). But the government....

BEGGAR. Oh yes, the Committee of the Drunkards' Society have given you their highest distinction--that order you've had to pay for yourself....

STRANGER. What about the professor?

BEGGAR. He only calls himself that; he's no professor really, though he does give lessons. And the uniform that must have impressed you most was that of a lackey in a chancellery.

STRANGER (tearing of the wreath and the ribbon of the order). Very well! But who was the elderly man with the eyeglass?

BEGGAR. Your father-in-law!

STRANGER. Who got up this hoax?

BEGGAR. It's no hoax, it's quite serious. The professor came on behalf of the Society, for so they call themselves, and asked you whether you'd accept the fete. You accepted it; so it became serious!

(Two dirty-looking women carry in a dust-bin suspended from a stick and set it down on the high table.)

FIRST WOMAN. If you're the man who makes gold, you might buy two brandies for us.

STRANGER. What's this mean?

BEGGAR. It's the last part of the reception; and it's supposed to mean that gold's mere rubbish.

STRANGER. If only that were true, rubbish could be exchanged for gold.

BEGGAR. Well, it's only the philosophy of the Society of Drunkards. And you've got to take your philosophy where you find it.

SECOND WOMAN (sitting down next to the STRANGER). Do you recognise me?

STRANGER. No.

SECOND WOMAN. Oh, you needn't be embarrassed so late in the evening as this!

STRANGER. You believe you're one of my victims? That I was amongst the first hundred who seduced you?

SECOND WOMAN. No. It's not what you think. But I once came across a printed paper, when I was about to be confirmed, which said that it was a duty to oneself to give way to all desires of the flesh. Well, I grew free and blossomed; and this is the fruit of my highly developed self!

STRANGER (rising). Perhaps I may go now?

WAITRESS (coming over with a bill). Yes. But the bill must be paid first.

STRANGER. What? By me? I haven't ordered anything.

WAITRESS. I know nothing of that; but you're the last of the company to have had anything.

STRANGER (to the BEGGAR). Is this all a part of the reception?

BEGGAR. Yes, certainly. And, as you know, everything costs money, even honour....

STRANGER (taking a visiting card and handing it to the waitress). There's my card. You'll be paid to-morrow.

WAITRESS (putting the card in the dust-bin). Hm! I don't know the name; and I've put a lot of such cards into the dust-bin. I want the money.

BEGGAR. Listen, madam, I'll guarantee this man will pay.

WAITRESS. So you'd like to play tricks on me too! Officer! One moment, please.

POLICEMAN. What's all this about? Payment, I suppose. Come to the station; we'll arrange things there. (He writes something in his note-book.)

STRANGER. I'd rather do that than stay here and quarrel.... (To the BEGGAR.) I don't mind a joke, but I never expected such cruel reality as this.

BEGGAR. Anything's to be expected, once you challenge persons as powerful as you have! Let me tell you this in confidence. You'd better be prepared for worse, for the very worst!

STRANGER. To think I've been so duped... so...

BEGGAR. Feasts of Belshazzar always end in one way a hand's stretched out--and writes a bill. And another hand's laid on the guest's shoulder and leads him to the police station! But it must be done royally!

POLICEMAN (laying his hand on the STRANGER). Have you talked enough?

THE WOMEN and RAGGED ONES. The alchemist can't pay. Hurrah! He's going to gaol. He's going to gaol!

SECOND WOMAN. Yes, but it's a shame.

STRANGER. You're sorry for me? I thank you for that, even if I don't quite deserve it! _You felt pity for me!

SECOND WOMAN. Yes. That's also something I learnt from you.

(The scene is changed without lowering the curtain. The stage is darkened, and a medley of scenes, representing landscapes, palaces, rooms, is lowered and brought forward; so that characters and furniture are no longer seen, but the STRANGER alone remains visible and seems to be standing stiffly as though unconscious. At last even he disappears, and from the confusion a prison cell emerges.)

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell

The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 3 - Scene 2. Prison Cell
PART II ACT III SCENE II. PRISON CELL(On the right a door; and above it a barred opening, through which a ray of sunlight is shining, throwing a patch of light on the left-hand wall a large crucifix hangs.) (The STRANGER, dressed in a brown cloak and wearing a hat, is sitting at the table looking at the patch of sunlight. The door is opened and the BEGGAR is let in.) BEGGAR. What are you brooding over? STRANGER. I'm asking myself why I'm here; and then: where I was yesterday? BEGGAR. Where do you think? STRANGER. It seems in hell;
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 2 - Scene 2. The 'Rose' Room The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 2 - Scene 2. The 'Rose' Room

The Road To Damascus: A Trilogy - Part 2 - Act 2 - Scene 2. The 'Rose' Room
PART II ACT II SCENE II. THE 'ROSE' ROOM(A room with rose-coloured walls; it has small windows with iron lattices and plants in pots. The curtains are rose red; the furniture is white and red. In the background a door leading to a white bed-chamber; when this door is opened, a large bed can be seen with a canopy and white hangings. On the right the door leading out of the house. On the left a fireplace with a coal fire. In front of it a bath tub, covered with a white towel. A cradle covered with white, rose-coloured and light-blue
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT