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Laosen Does the Impossible

Based on the story by Sri Chinmoy
Laosen does the impossible. Performed on January 1st 2017 for students of Sri Chinmoy on a winter retreat in Kalamata, Greece.

CAST

Sun God
Karnasen
Ranjabati
Laosen
Gaur
Kripan


SCENE 1

[Enter Sun god from East, exit West]

[Enter Karnasen]

KARNASEN:
I am Karnasen, although perhaps you doubt my word.
This figure may not tally with the stories you have heard
from years long past, now lost within the annals of my youth.
Yes, I am Karnasen – it has turned out a heavy truth –
while I carry only dreams of all the battles I have scored,
and riches I collected then by way of my reward.
Lightning quick, they used to say, and stronger than a horse. [Laughs modestly]
Good and just, I hope at least – I never ruled by force.
That last war, though fairly fought, came at tremendous cost.
My childhood bride, my warrior sons, my palaces were lost.
My armies then were slaughtered – every animal and man.
But call it luck or call it fate, this new life then began.
My enemy soon let me free, and sent me on my way.
Go, good king, he gently said, your hair is fading grey,
your day is done, your time is past, go peacefully and rest.
Through his honour and compassion I knew I was blessed,
yet wandered here with nothing but the clothes upon my back,
peering at a future I saw miserable and black.
I slept in forests on the way – what else can outcasts do? –
till I was offered shelter and the kindest welcome too.
My rooms are bright, the air is sweet, the grounds are like no other.
[Enter Gaur]
King Gaur it was who took me in, as would a long-lost brother.
I want for nothing – I have been bestowed a second life.

GAUR:
Nothing? Are you certain? What about a second wife?

KARNASEN:
A wife! Then what, a family? At my decrepit age?
My heart is weak, my eyes are dull, how would I earn a wage? [Laughs ironically]
I take comfort in my peace – to marry would be madness.

GAUR:
Your defeat has worn you down – you are but aged by sadness.
A wife will do the power of good, her company will cheer you.
And can you doubt the joy of having little children near you,
to play and sport and learn from you all that your days have known –
the legends of your valour and the empires you have grown?
Teach them all the skill you earned and raise them even stronger!
But do it now, I urge you not to leave it any longer. [Laughs cheekily]
I have someone in mind – the youngest sister of the Queen –
sweet of nature, and the fairest face you will have seen.
Calm of bearing too – she will not rob you of your peace.
I promise you, your happiness then cannot but increase.
Must you stretch out all your days in quietude and sorrow?
Ranjabati is her name, I’ll send for her tomorrow,
then I shall introduce you, if you kindly would allow.

KARNASEN:
Will she like me?

GAUR:
Yes. [Pauses]
Oh must I list your virtues now?

[Exit Gaur and Karnasen, laughing]
[Enter Sun god from East, exit West]


SCENE 2

[Enter Kripan]
KRIPAN:
I am Kripan, as you know, world famous… in these parts –
brave, cunning, clever, and proficient in dark arts.
Second to the throne am I, that is but one credential.
Gaur’s only son died in his sleep [laughs guiltily] so I have great potential.
But I am parched with bitterness, I cannot bear the shame –
my sister Ranjabati has brought down my family name.
I was at war… or something of that nature I am certain,
when Karnasen, that devious brute, crept from behind the curtain
and took my sister for his bride, with none of my permission!
He is nothing but a beggar, with a fool’s ambition.
My sister is a failure, her honour is defiled:
two years since she married him and yet she has no child!
It was King Gaur’s grave error letting Karnasen in here.
My hackles rise whenever that foul parasite is near.
He wormed his way into our world and wants to overturn it.
There is some conspiracy, though I cannot discern it.
I hear the two men laughing, and their secrecy is sworn.
Some nights they do without their sleep, and talk until the dawn.
They ride together side by side, shoot arrows and play chess.
That ought to be my privilege, this is a rotten mess!
I must have what is my due – my fate is far from sealed.
[Enter Ranjabati]
You are a useless woman. You are but a barren field!

[Exit Kripan, Ranjabati starts to cry, enter Karnasen]

KARNASEN:
Ranjabati, come, tell me what has happened here!
Never since I met you have I seen you shed a tear.
What on earth could shake your poise and bring so much distress?

RANJABATI:
Shame and sadness both, and such that words cannot express!
A woman of good character I ever long to be,
and yet that self I cannot reach – a stranger still is she.

KARNASEN:
Unparalleled your character, and rich with every virtue.
People judge and criticise – you never let it hurt you,
but till you bear a child I know you will not feel complete.

RANJABATI:
I must go to the Sun god now and place this at his feet.
I know the chants and rites and I perform them every day,
but I must set aside my life and most sincerely pray.
Till I know he has heard me, I shall fast and forego sleep.
I must leave at once, for I have promises to keep.

KARNASEN:
Godspeed, good wife, I do believe your answer is secure.
How can the gods ignore petitions from a heart so pure?

[Exit Karnasen]

[Enter Sun god from East, exits West, Ranjabati follows with folded hands]


SCENE 3

[Enter Laosen, running]

LAOSEN:
You do not know me yet, hello, they call me Laosen –
my mother Ranjabati and my father Karnasen.
I have not much to tell you as I am but seventeen.
I have not cut my teeth on life, but am keyed up and keen!
[Exit Laosen, running. Enter Karnasen and Gaur behind.]

GAUR:
That boy of yours! Where does he get his energy and strength?
Every day it seems he covers half the country’s length!
Right from childhood he was drawn to wrestle and to fight.
Yet he is charming, sweet of nature, ever a delight.
You have raised him well, the boy must ever do you proud.

KARNASEN:
He does, and does so every day – by nothing is he cowed.
He fights with tigers and with whales, the boy is in his prime!
Three or four grown men you know he takes on at a time.
But I take no credit for the way he has turned out.
He is the Sun god’s gift to us, of that I have no doubt.
The child is a phenomenon, a miracle, a boon.
To all things born of darkness it appears he is immune.
Had not Ranjabati made her solitary prayer
we would not be fortunate to have him in our care.

GAUR: [looking behind]
Ah, now here comes Kripan, he is constantly suspicious –
the atmosphere around him is distinctly inauspicious.
Though he is of this kingdom, does he seek to overturn it?
There is some conspiracy, though I cannot discern it.

[Exit Gaur and Karnasen. Enter Kripan from behind.]

KRIPAN:
Why ever did I taunt my sister? Then from worse to worse!
The child Laosen was born and bore me nothing but a curse.
The king adored him from a babe – how he would coo and dandle.
To watch him grow into a man is more than I can handle.
He sickens me – his frame so light, yet stronger than an ox.
He fights so fair, and thinks so fast, so tiresome to outfox.
And how they praise and cheer him on, and never will desist:
Oh Laosen this and Laosen that – so do I not exist?
I have royal blood and I am second to the throne,
yet these beggars take my place, it riles me to the bone.
Rage it boils within me such that I can barely function.
Kill Laosen? Oh if I could, I would have no compunction!
But how, I ask – how many times have I found new ideas,
only to be thwarted – there is nothing that he fears.
Once I hired ruffians to stab him in his bed.
He came out with a minor cut that hardly even bled.
Once I gave a banquet ‘in his honour’ at my palace.
My first idea went awry – that was a poisoned chalice.
So I sent mad elephants to chase him home at night,
but he saw it as a game and laughed while taking flight!
This has gone on long enough – we cannot coexist.
I shall make the king a threat that he cannot resist.
[Enter Gaur]
Banish Laosen from this place, King Gaur, I entreat you!
If not, then I shall leave and raise an army to defeat you!

GAUR:
Kripan, are you ill? What has inflamed this fit of rage?
Let us calmly talk this through, your anger to assuage.
How could I consider banishing a dear relation?
And why should I do it when there is no accusation?
If he goes, he leaves us with the odds against us stacked –
who would then defend us if our kingdom is attacked?
He is our secret weapon – no opponent can defeat him.

KRIPAN:
Really? Is he such a god that mortals cannot beat him?
Will he do what is impossible, this darling boy of yours?
I speak of things beyond the mere art of waging wars.

GAUR:
Impossible? He does not know the meaning of the word.

KRIPAN:
Really? I will show you that your statement is absurd.
I will take your word for it but on one sole condition:
this one feat, and this alone will bow me to contrition –
can Laosen the hero make the sun rise in the West?

GAUR: [Pauses to think]
I am certain you will even see him pass that test.

[Exit Gaur]

KRIPAN:
Ah, what sport will follow on the folly of the king!
Blinded by his love… and love does have a nasty sting.
Sunrise in the West? Oh I will come and watch that show.
Pigs will fly, presumably, and hell will have some snow.

[Exit Kripan]


SCENE 4

[Enter Laosen, running, looking. Enter Gaur, tentatively.]

LAOSEN:
Do not worry, good King Gaur, your promise I have heard.
I cannot see how just yet, but I shall keep your word.
My mother asked the Sun god for my life, thus I was born.
He is my progenitor – I am the child of dawn.
I offer my devotions and I thank him every day,
but I must set aside my life and most sincerely pray.
Till I know he has heard me, I shall fast and forego sleep.
I must leave at once, for we have promises to keep.
[Exit Laosen to the East, running. Exit Gaur, worried.]

[Enter Sun god from the East, Laosen follows with folded hands. They stand beside each other. Enter Kripan and Gaur.]

KRIPAN:
Look at this rank fool who thinks the sun will change its course.
Here is one thing he cannot accomplish just by force.
Three days we have waited – clearly it cannot be done.

GAUR:
Give him time and he will do it, you have not yet won.

[Exit Kripan and Gaur]

SUN GOD:
Laosen, I am pleased with you, o child of my light.
I will try to grant your wish, but heavy grows the night.
I must leave your company, come back to me at morn.
Continue in your prayer meanwhile, as sleep you have forsworn.

[Exit Sun god to West. Laosen follows, then returns.]

LAOSEN:
He will try, but gods are not aware of earthly time.
My uncle is impatient and is predisposed to crime.
I must preserve the honour and the safety of the king,
but for the sun to change its course is not a trifling thing.
I must find a way to show him I am most sincere –
that I truly am his child and have transcended fear.
The ultimate in sacrifice is difficult indeed,
but it is the only way in time I might succeed.
[Pauses]
I shall cut off my own head to show him my devotion.
Words have strength, but deeds contain the power of an ocean.
If I merely die, I know that I have done my best,
but if my gesture pleases, let the sun rise in the West.

[Exit Laosen East.]

[Enter Sun god from East, holding Laosen’s head.]

SUN GOD:
All now hail, and look upon the face of true devotion!
Yea, for this would all the stars and gods adjust their motion.
If you say I am bound by my predictable condition,
I will answer: you are right, I am no great magician.
I do not change my course for entertainment or for threats,
or because some braggart has decided to place bets.
If Kripan had come to me and challenged me directly,
I would still be navigating through the sky correctly,
but what will I not do for my sincere devotee?
Myself perhaps you can defeat, but surely never he.
God has never any need to prove He is Supreme,
and knows impossibility is but a human dream.
For devotees impossibility does not exist,
as God Himself will change the course of nature to assist.
Never challenge devotees, for you will surely lose.
[to Laosen]
Now you must away and tell your family the news!
[Pauses teasingly, then continues, laughing fondly]
Come, Laosen, I will undo the workings of your knife.
You have pleased me such that I will give you back your life.
And Kripan, for his cruelty, I have devised a curse:
leprosy. You see in his case nothing could be worse.
To you a life in exile was the fate he tried to deal.
Now comes his opportunity to learn how outcasts feel.


SCENE 5

[Sun god exits West. Laosen enters West. Karnasen, Ranjabati and Gaur enter East, followed by Kripan.]

LAOSEN:
Father, Mother and King Gaur, I have tremendous news!
The Sun god now has promised, so we surely cannot lose –
From the West the sun will rise for certain in the morning!
Come, the night has nearly passed, and day will soon be dawning!

KRIPAN:
Ah, he specifies a time, I hold him to that word!
In the morning – that is set, and cannot be deferred.
If it does not come to pass, then you must throw him out.

GAUR:
Yes, but he will do it, I am not in any doubt.

[Enter Sun god from West.]

THE END

Photo by Bijoy

1

We need money-power to live on earth

A rhyming play, based on the story We need money-power to live on earth by Sri Chinmoy. Performed for Sri Chinmoy’s students in Dubrovnik on January 11th 2015. The actors played their parts behind large masks on sticks, while their lines were read aloud off-stage.


CAST:
2 Husbands
2 Wives
2 Doctors

[Enter Husbands]

HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
Dearest friend, it must be twenty years since last we met!
So much time has passed, yet here’s a face I’d not forget!
In fact I must confess it comes to me as some surprise
to see you so unchanged, is it the failing of my eyes?
No, even up close I see it is indeed the truth
What’s your secret? Tell me, how have you retained your youth?
How’d you come to keep yourself so vigorous and strong?


HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Friend, I’m glad to see you back, it has been far too long!
Yes I have a secret, let me give you the whole tale
Of how I have remained through age so hearty and so hale
To tell the truth at first I suffered throughout nineteen years
These twelve months have been a breeze since I have switched careers!
Amongst my many ventures great, a café was the first
Where customers could while away their hunger and their thirst
At tables on a terrace, soaking up the midday sun
Or in gentle evenings when their working day was done
But of course I never had the heart to charge enough
No I was too soft, to turn a profit turned out tough
So within a year I’m sad to say that business failed
I defaulted on my taxes such that I was nearly jailed
Then I came into a little money from an aunt
And set about applying to the council for a grant
I opened up that very year a trendy art gallery
I was sure I’d draw the crowds and then a big salary
Soon I realised my mistake in choosing the location
Half a mile from any road and four miles from a station
So in very little time another dream had folded
You should have heard my wife by then! Oh how she raged and scolded
She had no time for what she called my castles in the air
And that was just my second chance, I hardly thought it fair!
Another thirteen businesses of mine would bite the dust
But here comes the secret as to how I’m so robust
I let go my ambitions of attaining earthly wealth
And now you see all the results reflected in my health
I’ve renounced it all, and have no need to strike it rich
I cannot say what brought the change, I simply lost the itch
Who wants to wither out his days weighed down by gems and gold?
All that responsibility would make a young man old
Who needs to own a yacht or have a name at the casino?
Who wants a brand new sports car from the showroom? Oh, not me, no
I have watched in wonder as my own desires decrease
Growing in their stead only new happiness and peace
I’m turning my attention to a quiet, simple life


HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
I am with you brother, but if only were my wife!
You’re a radiant example of your spiritual ideal
But I know exactly how my other half would feel
How I wish that I could be as practical as you
Then I would be happy, carefree, therefore healthy too
Yet alas I know she will not take the same position
She has her mind on other goals, a woman of ambition
Never satisfied, she always wants a higher rank
A shrewd and watchful eye on how much money’s in the bank
I work my fingers to the bone, I toil away all hours
I’m certain that convincing her is far beyond my powers


HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Can you believe brother that I share this very plight?
My own wife as well as yours has failed to see the light!
She’s set up her own business now, and hopes to make a mint
No, she’ll never understand the perks of being skint
I forget now what it was she said she plans to sell
Dresses, handbags, chocolate, oh who knows and who can tell
It’s all the same to me of course, this giddy women’s stuff
But one thing is certain, you and I have had enough!


HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
So have countless others like us, since the fall of man!
But now listen brother as I have a cunning plan
Let the women work together in their shared pursuit
And sell whatever’s sweet or fragrant, delicate or cute
And make a fortune doing it if that is what they need
You and I forever from our bondage will be freed
We’ll spend our days in quiet leisure, deep inside the woods
Far beyond the cares and woes of all our worldly goods!


HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Brother you are right, of course, our problems will be solved!
It is not their fault they can’t be spiritually evolved
Let us leave them to their life of working and of wishing
We can build a hut from logs and spend our mornings fishing
So with little effort we will have our food and shelter
While the women chase after their fortune helter-skelter
Let us go and give them a brief outline of the news
Then grab a bite and slope off to the garden for a snooze

[Enter Wives]

HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
Dear, my friend and I have found an excellent solution
To the parting of our ways in terms of… evolution
We’re leaving for the forest, you can keep the car and house
From this day on you need no longer think of me as spouse


HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Dear, it seems the crux of it has already been said
Bye then, don’t forget to put the cat out before bed

[Exit Husbands]

WIFE 1:wife-1a
Just like that they change their minds, and yet they call us fickle?
Just like that they walk away and leave us in a pickle?


WIFE 2:wife-2a
Sister, I confess it comes to me as some relief!
My husband and his harebrained schemes have gone beyond belief
First he tried to make the world into his own possession
Then doing nothing, earning nothing, soon was an obsession
I have wondered night and day how we could make ends meet
And realised the time is past for taking a backseat
I’m tired of going hungry, never mind his lofty goals
My clothes are full of patches and my shoes are full of holes
I’d already decided I can’t take it anymore
If only I had realised my folly long before
But now at least I tell you I am growing more astute
And I believe the future is in… vegetables and fruit!
Many people nowadays are looking to the diet
for the causes of diseases, I’ve researched it on the quiet
There’s a profit to be made in salads and fresh juices
The simple reason is that many people make excuses
Having little time for washing, peeling, grating, chopping
Adding yet more tins and packets to their weekly shopping
So last month I went to meet the farmers down the lane
And in the very little time it took me to explain
They’d given me their blessing and the use of an old truck
and the pick of their own goods, can you believe my luck?
They said it saves them time and effort taking it to market
Next door even have a spare garage where I can park it
So around the village I deliver door-to-door
Vegetables and fruits, salads freshly made, and more
But my friend I’m certain: this is just the very start
It’s a winning formula, I know it in my heart!
The work is hard, I won’t deny, but how it brings me joy
To be of use, and all of my capacities employ
For some good purpose every day, a reason for my labours
To pay the bills, and also be of service to my neighbours
Say you’ll join me, sister? I have more work than I need
Can you see we have not been abandoned, we are freed!


WIFE 1:wife-1a
Yes, my friend, I’ll join you, and I thank you for the chance
Now that both our husbands have led us a merry dance!
Mine was not so wealthy as he’d like to have you think
Little wonder that he’d turn and leave it in a blink
He says he works but actually he’s decadent and lazy
All our early hopes and dreams were starting to grow hazy
The house is mortgaged to the hilt, the car is hire-purchase
As for making ends meet, I have done my own researches
Recently my money worries also have been mounting
So I went to evening school and studied cost accounting
Book keeping and all manner of services financial
Over time my mental wealth was growing quite substantial
And my friend, this new-found knowledge soon relieved my tensions
Just for fun I learned about indemnities and pensions
Then of course remembered the predicament at hand
What’s the point in thinking of a future safe and grand
When here and now there are so very many bills to pay
All the answers to my prayers it seems have come today
What if I can tell between a bond and a debenture
Little good it does me without starting a new venture
Sister, it does look as though our darkest hour has ended
I believe between us we can create something splendid!

[Exit Wives, Enter Wives with older and happier masks]

NARRATOR:
So it happened that the men and women parted ways
And were very satisfied with how they spent their days
The men in simple peacefulness, released from worldly cares
The women tired but happy in the selling of their wares
So it was for many years, that is at least until…

[Exit Wives, Enter Husbands with older and unhealthier masks]

HUSBAND 2:husband-2b
Brother, I do not believe I’ve ever felt so ill
Every passing mosquito just bites me as it pleases
I suppose the bugs out here are riddled with diseases
I’m burning with a fever, yet I shiver with a chill
Every day is worse, I’m going rapidly downhill
Every joint is aching and my head is in a vice
I can’t find any comfort… and it isn’t very nice


HUSBAND 1:husband-1b
Brother, I believe this lifestyle starts to take its toll
Once I used to hanker for a life without a goal
For a time it seemed idyllic moving slow and lazy
But I have a feeling it’s just served to drive me crazy
First I spoke in riddles and I didn’t bother shaving
Then I thought I was a goat, that’s positively raving
Now I barely know my name, I only sit and stare


HUSBAND 2:husband-2b
Yes my friend between us we are quite a sorry pair
I believe the hospital’s about a mile away
Let us start our journey now on foot without delay

[Enter Doctors]

DOCTOR 1:doctor-1
Sirs, you cannot wander in here of your own accord
First we need to see some proof that you are both insured
Or have you sufficient funds to cover all our fees?
Contrary to legend, money doesn’t grow on trees
It’s plain to see you’re vagrants and have nothing on your person


HUSBAND 1:husband-1b
Help us please, I beg you, for our symptoms only worsen
As you rightly guessed we two are penniless and poor
Won’t you listen first, instead of showing us the door?


DOCTOR 2:doctor-2
Do you think you’re living in a world of milk and honey?
We are busy people here, and frankly time is money
Hence we must abide by all the rules and regulations
Family may pay the bills though, have you no relations?


HUSBAND 2:husband-2b
Yes, we have, I mean… we sort of… used to… have our wives
But I fear they’d chase us off their property with knives
Long ago all people and possessions we renounced
So you see it’s… awkward… if we turn up unannounced
All we wanted was a simple life, just to be happy


DOCTOR 1:doctor-1
All right, let us talk to them, we’d better make it snappy
The pair of you need treatment and you clearly need it fast
Or in such a desperate state who knows how long you’ll last
Who can really blame you two for seeking an escape
from all your worldly bondage, but it’s left you in bad shape!

[Exit Husbands, Enter Wives]

WIFE 2:wife-2b
No, why should we help them, they are scallywags and fools!
They wandered off and left us here to toil away like mules
Paying off the mortgage and a mountain of their debts
Too bad if they changed their minds, we now have no regrets


DOCTOR 2:doctor-2
Madam, I can understand, but now your husbands suffer
Their decisions left them both without financial buffer
They need urgent care now, and we need your help to treat them
Their conditions worsen, and such ailments could beat them
Come with us, we really would encourage you to visit
Just to see them for yourselves, that’s not a big ask, is it?


WIFE 1:wife-1b
Fine, then let us see them, but it will not change my mind
Based on past experience, I’m quite far from inclined
to bail them out of hardship they have brought on their own heads
But we could pay a visit if they are on their deathbeds

[Exit Doctors]

WIFE 2:wife-2b
Sister, I am thinking time has passed, we have no quarrel
To leave a husband dying there is… probably immoral
I might change my mind again when I yet see his face
But let’s see, I’ll take along a credit card in case

[Enter Husbands]

WIFE 1:wife-1b
Fools! Who wanted you to become very, very rich?
Just we didn’t want to end up living in a ditch!
And… to have a few nice things, you know how I love shoes
It’s not as though I wanted you to take me on a cruise
It was… mostly in your heads, you had the wrong impression
What’s so bad in seeking a respectable profession
Just enough to pay the bills, a simple occupation
Perhaps a little in the bank to guard against inflation


WIFE 2:wife-2b
You decided that the time had come to turn a page
You believed too long we had you living in a cage
Now where has your freedom led you? Do you call this peace?
Who’d have thought we’d come to save you, wonders never cease
We admit, initially we were a little greedy
But we couldn’t stand to end up with the poor and needy
We had no idea just how hard we’d end up working
Partly to pay back the debts accrued by all your shirking
Yes it’s fair to say we had not done our share before
But such a claim is certainly not valid anymore


WIFE 1:wife-1b
We’ve all learnt our lessons now, each one has since matured
Let us pay the doctors, and in time you will be cured

[Husbands change back to their healthy masks]

NARRATOR:
Soon the husbands were released to their respective spouses
Then to live a normal life in two adjoining houses
All four shared the work of selling vegetables and fruit
So they each could put behind a very long dispute
We need money power so that we can live on earth
But giving it too much attention takes away life’s worth

0

The Seeker-Writer

Lion MaskA rhyming play, based on The Seeker-Writer, by Sri Chinmoy. Performed for Sri Chinmoy’s students in Albufeira, Portugal, on December 27th 2013. The actors played their parts behind large masks on sticks, while their lines were read aloud off-stage.


CAST
Narrator
Writer
Lion
Tiger
King
Minister
Soul
Heart
God
Cosmic God
Sage


[Enter Writer]
Narrator:
Once there was a seeker who’d developed much sincerity.
By writing books he’d also gained considerable prosperity.
His first book was a comprehensive study of zoology,
His second was a very famous tome on anthropology,
His third one was his favourite: it was autobiographical,
His fourth was his most lofty, and was largely theosophical.
Animals, humans, self and God: each subject he’d applauded.
So by the greatest in each realm he hoped to be rewarded.

Writer:
Each book that I have written, let me go and read aloud
to the best in each field. They will certainly be proud!
The first one I will offer to the king of beasts: the lion,
The second to my country’s king: the highest human scion.
The third unto the highest in myself I shall address,
The last to God: my loftiest is certain to impress!

[Exits, and re-enters a forest scene. Enter lion.]

Writer:
Lion, lion, your life-force and power all admire!
Your mane so rich, your eyes so deep and wise yet full of fire!
Your poise, your grace, your speed and all deportment so majestic!
Your paws so lithe, your teeth so bright, your pouncing so elastic!
You are noble, for you only kill when you are hungry.

[Lion roars]

Writer:
Ah! and so it’s written, only roar when you are angry!
How dare you roar at me you rude and most ungrateful beast?
I sing your praise, and what? You want to make of me a feast?

[Exeunt]

[Enter Writer and King]

Writer:
Majesty! Your royal highest height of human highness!
This fine work of prose I bring to you, despite my shyness.
In it I explore the farthest reaches of humanity,
And in you I see the heights of goodness, grace and sanity,
So to you I offer my research on human nature.
Your kindness and compassion bathe this continent in rapture!
Faith and certitude arise in everyone you meet!
Bravery and wisdom just two puppies at your feet!
Blessèd are your people since your pure and noble birth:
In you we see the representative of God on earth.

King:
Thank you.

[Exit King]

Writer:
‘Thank you’? ‘Thank you’? Well my ears must need a clean.
How could it be that one so fine and noble speaks so mean!
I offer my own heart in words, all praise and admiration.
Is `Thank you’ all he has to say for such appreciation?
So for nought this life is spent in wordy adoration.
What can a humble writer do, when doomed by his vocation,
but weep into the night and seek the solace of his soul.

[Enter soul]

Yes! Let me read my third book, it is sure to reach its goal!
This, my favourite work of prose is all about myself,
How can I sit and let it gather dust upon a shelf?
Soul, my soul you are the brightest, dearest of possessions,
The purest and the best in me, imparter of great lessons,
To your beauty, this my earthly body is no parallel
You are the fastest whitest horse upon my life’s carousel!

[Soul smiles]

Fifteen minutes solid, soul, I have admired and praised,
And all you do is smile? Now I really am amazed.
Of all the aspects of myself I thought you were the best,
But you are much more mean and more ungrateful than rest!

[Soul stops smiling. Exit Soul]

But wait, my finest literary work I shall reveal!
If not beast or man or soul, then God will surely feel
The meaning of my words; their depth and clarity.
If no-one else, then God will see my brilliance and rarity.

[Enter God]

God, I stand before You now in grateful, warm elation
Reflecting in amazement at Your vast and grand creation
Upon your little Finger-Tip the planets make their dance.
Your Grace is in the eye of Time, of Mystery and Chance.
Throughout the universe Your fond Compassion reigns supreme.
I am glowing with delight to play my part inside Your Dream!

God:
It is all right.

[Exit God]

Writer:
‘All right’? ‘All right’ only? No! Alas!
My finest and most lofty work waved off like so much gas?
How could God Himself be so devoid of love and gratitude?
To think I hoped to be like him! Well I don’t like His attitude!
I hoped at least my Heavenly Father could say something nice,
But in Him instead I found a heart as hard as ice.
I found only disappointment in so-called superiors,
Let me teach them something! I’ll visit their inferiors!
The tiger stands in second place for bravery and might.
I’ll choose my words to cunningly assure him of his height.
[Exits, and re-enters a forest scene. Enter tiger.]
Tiger, tiger burning bright! Your markings are the oddest,
But in the forest hierarchy, surely you’re too modest!
With your deft skills and courage all lions you’d defeat!
Such claws! such teeth! You’d mangle any hero into meat!
Lions are just pansies, all strutting, pompous fluff!
All they really do is roar to make themselves look tough!

Tiger:
Yes. Yes! Thank you little human! Now I see!
I’m Top Cat, I’m all that, it’s all about me!

[Writer nods]

[Tiger struts around, then finds a gold ring on the ground and carries
it in his mouth]

Tiger:
What’s this? Let’s see, is it something nice to eat?
Yeuch, it’s made of gold! What use is anything but meat?

[Drops the ring by the Writer, and exits]

Writer:
O! Such a fine, expensive, jewelled, golden ring!
Such gratitude the tiger has to give me such a thing!
At last someone has felt my love, my efforts were worthwhile!
So much more one ring is worth than just one measly smile!
With pride and joy abundant now I’ll carry on my quest!
One realm adores me, now I’ll seek the praises of the rest.
If the tiger loves, then let the dumb lion abhor me.
If not the king, then let his minister adore me.
[Exits, and re-enters a palace scene. Enter minister.]
Minister, do you see you are much greater than the king?
Your humility is greatness, I am not just flattering!
Your selfless life in service to your country will pay off,
Every pauper, every lord to you their cap will doff.
With your virtues, wait and see, in time you’ll take the throne;
All the riches of this realm are sure to be your own!
You do all the work, and still the king gets all the glory,
But wait and see, in time it’s sure to be a different story.

[Minister looks around, gives Writer a big bag of money, then exits.]

A thousand rupees! I was right, and here’s the proof!
The so-called highest do not know and do not care for truth.
Those below them really see the wisdom of my mind.
In spiritual height I see they leave superiors behind.

[Enter Heart]

Heart, my heart, you are so nice, to everyone so kind.
They say the soul’s the highest, strongest, deepest, most refined,
But where is that fickle rogue? You’re here for all to see.
Your love so steady offers shelter like a generous tree.
Even doctors know you, and I feel you with each breath.
When you stop, I cannot live, and follow you to death.

[Heart starts to cry]

Heart:
Never! No! Words like that come only from a fool.
Have you not learned the ABCs yet at your inner school?
How can I ever match the divine beauty of the soul?
I am simple as a child, and earthly is my role,
I am honoured all my earthly life the soul to serve,
And praise for higher virtues I never shall deserve.

[Exit heart, crying]

Writer:
In passing on my lavish praise the heart was O so hasty
And to my soul, ungrateful, undivine and O so nasty!
How my heart is melting at my own sweet heart’s humility.
The heart’s the greatest part of me, the source of all nobility.

[Exits, and re-enters a Heavenly scene with a flower. Enter a cosmic god.]

Writer:
Cosmic god, I come to offer you all my devotion;
I found that God is empty of all Fatherly emotion.
I spent my life in serving Him with each breath of mine.
‘It is all right,’ He said! How very cold and undivine!
God does nothing well! I made of Him a lovely fuss,
And did He even thank me? How can the world be thus?
‘All wrong,’ I say. My praise was lofty and immense!
I think He has grown old, and is no longer speaking sense.
Your beauty and your wisdom are remarkably superior.
You need not be suspicious that my motives are ulterior;
I see in you the future God, and offer my obeisance.
I bow to you. In you I hail divinity’s renaissance.
I place the flower at your feet that God did not deserve.
In my undying service, I shall love without reserve.

Cosmic God:
Idiot! Get out with your foul words to the Supreme!
I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when He lets off steam!
How can you appreciate the love He has for all
With such a craven attitude and with a mind so small?
You fool! You think that I deserve this kind of fancy thing
He is the Lord, the ultimate and universal King
[Enter God. Cosmic god places flower at God’s Feet]
Supreme, I bow to Thee, to Thee, Supreme I bow and bow.
[Exit God and Cosmic god]

Writer:
Respect is due, I say again, if not before then now!
All of my devotion for himself he could have kept,
But he gave it all to God, I swear I could have wept!
Now I know for certain that the highest are inferior,
And that the so-called greatest are in no way superior!
In so many ways I put my theory to the test
And now I think it’s time for me to take a well-earned rest.

[Lies down to sleep. Enter Saint]

Writer:
Is it a dream? Are you a saint or do my eyes deceive me?

Saint:
A vision and a saint I am, I hoped you would receive me.
You’re a fool. Your silly theories only tricked your mind.
You tried to seek the highest, but you left the truth behind.
God sent me to you, and with some exasperation.
When the lion roared it was with joy and inspiration!
Your love brought him new courage so he spoke his mighty thunder.
It was his way of thanking you, and showing you he’d heard.
What did you think, he’d dance a jig? Or twitter like a bird?
What of the king? You think he likes verbose appreciation?
He thanked you, and you felt such vehement indignation?
He hears praise from many who are greater, more refined,
Less long-winded than you are. To thank you was most kind!
You were lucky that he let you ramble on at will.
From him a nod is praise indeed. A ‘Thank you’, greater still!
And from your soul you think a smile is such a common thing?
Did you hope to see it jump for joy or start to sing?
Your soul is God on earth, and its smile is His Divinity!
To know that you have pleased your soul is to receive Infinity!
Talking of God, there is one more thing I have to say.
‘It is all right’ means that you are right in every way!
God told you to your face your words were all perfection.
You became disgusted, but you missed His true Inflection!
For God to give such praise means all your words are ratified!
Much more than you deserved, but still you were dissatisfied!
Only a fool would choose self-pity over glory.
Your call, your life, your progress, end of story.
The highest are the highest, but those who won’t believe
Are missing out on blessings they could easily receive.
If we are earnest, pure in faith, and true unto the soul
We may let the greatest lead us to the highest Goal.

THE END

0

The Princess and the Pirate

During a recent trip to Bali a few friends and I performed a play for some of Sri Chinmoy‘s students, based on two stories by Sri Chinmoy: The Sailor and the Parrot, and Light is the Only Wealth Worth Having.

Since we had a lot of fun with the performance, I thought I’d at least post the script here in case anyone is in the mood for humour (with a soulful twist of course)…

Please note that no animals were harmed in this production. Katy the canary in fact stole the show, and should probably win some sort of award for being cute on demand, and for ‘playing dead’ when such was required.

THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE

CAST:
Pirate Venturo
King
Queen
Princess Fortuna
Duchess Fifi
Duchess Mimi
Prime Minister
Prince Admiral Alphonse
Sailor 1
Sailor 2
Monk 1
Monk 2
Angel

* * *

ACT 1, SCENE 1: AT THE PALACE

[Enter Pirate Venturo, secretly, hides behind thrones]
[Enter King & Queen, followed by Prime Minister]

KING:
Prime Minister, what news today of life beyond our borders?
Make it brief, the chef is soon to come and take our orders
And then we have a manicure at twenty-five past ten.

QUEEN:
Then probably when that is done we’ll need to eat again.
Surely it is splendid sport to reign as queen and king
But leaves short time for long reports, much less for idling.
And speak up, the King’s new hair does so affect his hearing.

PRIME MINISTER:
Majesties, a war is closer than I have been fearing.
To this matter I entreat your full and close attention.
Yes, the King’s new periwig does first deserve a mention
— The royal visage is within it admirably framed —
But I dread that noble head beneath it may be claimed:
Inside a year I dare predict a Southerly invasion,
Our little nation does not look so well in that equation.
For your safety I must urge a Northerly alliance;
Unlike manicures, the matter can afford no dalliance.
I propose a marriage match between Princess Fortuna
And Prince Admiral Alphonse, within six months or sooner.
As your only daughter the Princess’s role is crucial.
Her virtues and her lineage will make the profit mutual.
Prince Alphonse is first in line to his Father-Emperor’s throne.
(His love of gambling and his love of wine we must condone),
Let’s focus on his… bravery and… gallantry instead,
His stature and… his wit are sure to claim her fair young heart.
With your blessing certainly her hand would be a start.
Suppose you hold a ball for him tomorrow tonight or sooner,
There involve the Duchesses and fair Princess Fortuna,
Then will the Navy Fleet have all their joy of jolly dancing,
There the merry music and the finest wine enhancing
All the many merits of our small but noble land.
Before the night has sung its last the Prince will ask her hand,
Then our two countries, th’major and the minor, will be one,
(Pardon please my musical but quite amusing pun).

KING (to Queen):
What was that he said my dear? I hardly caught a word.
Something about dancing and the finest wine I heard.
He is indeed a lovely man, his waistcoats are fantastic,
But in speech he mumbles and his style is so… bombastic.

[Venturo listens to conversation, steals ornament from the Queen’s hair and exits]

QUEEN [loudly]:
He says this little land of ours is in a spot of danger.
If we treat the Northern Empire as a foe or stranger
We will be swallowed from the South… in some unpleasant way,
And so he says we must not waste a single night or day.
In order to avert this irreversible calamity
We must approach the Northern lands with courtesy and amity,
Offer to the Northern Emperor’s son our only daughter,
And thus the matter’s settled well, as blood’s thicker than water.
The North will naturally give their full and sure protection
Against a brute intrusion from a Southerly direction.
And so at once we must induce a favourable response
From the Northern (dashing brave) Prince Admiral Alphonse.

KING:
And so we hold a splendid ball at once with jolly dancing,
There the merry music and the finest wine enhancing
[Prime Minister joins in]
All the many merits of our small but noble land.
That I heard! And then the Prince will surely ask her hand!
Wizard! Corking! Cracking! What a super duper plan!
There will not have been a finer ball since… time began.
I do so love these good excuses for a proper bash!
So much to prepare my dear, come, come, now we must dash!

[Exeunt (at a leisurely pace)]

* * *

ACT 1, SCENE 2: THE MASKED BALL

[Enter Queen, followed by Fortuna, followed by the Duchesses.]
[Fifi pauses to take a cake.]

QUEEN:
Come Fortuna! Now employ your finest regal charms.
Our country’s fate depends upon the way you hold your arms,
And maybe hold your tongue throughout the evening for a change;
I fear these Northern gentlemen may find your accent strange.
Stand straighter please, but gracefully, chin up, that’s it, eyes down,
Smile in moderation but don’t let me see you frown.
Tread as if your feet are downy feathers on the floor.
It’s up to you now to avert this nuisance of a war.
Duchess Mimi! Try to match your cousin’s good behaviour.
Duchess Fifi, come! Manners could be this country’s saviour.
Do not take the sweets or cakes and thus outgrow your dress!
Now do excuse me for a while, the King’s hair is a mess!

[Exit Queen]

FORTUNA:
Oh cousins! I can scarcely breathe in my anticipation!
That we will meet the Northern Fleet defies imagination.

FIFi:
I heard Prince Alphonse is stronger than a dozen men.
I heard he swam to Tuscany and then… straight back again!
And all the while he held aloft a standard in one hand
Displaying his own Navy crest.

MIMI:
I cannot understand
What drives a man to strive for so much valiance and strength.
It seems in feats of daring some will go to any length.
I heard that he once felled a tree with one stroke of his sword,
And with that self-same implement shaved it into a board
With which to plug a gaping hole beneath his own ship’s helm.
(And this I warn you ladies may your senses overwhelm)
He dove beneath the ocean and repaired it in one breath!
A full ten minutes! Any man would sooner meet his death!

FIFI:
Yes, and his heroic heart of goodness never fails.
What about the time he saved a family of whales
Who one by one had accidentally wandered to the shore.
(Here I must confess I’ve never seen a whale before
But I have heard they’re even bigger than our royal yacht.)
Undaunted though, the Prince Alphonse was out there like a shot
And on his shoulders lifted he each one without commotion
And gently placed it (belly downwards) back into the ocean.

MIMI:
Hush! The Prince’s entourage is on its way I think! [listens right]

[Enter Prince Alphonse & Sailors left to a sailing song]

FIFI:
Oh! My hands are trembling! Wait there, I need a drink.

[Runs away left, accidentally toward the entourage]

ALPHONSE (in a Yorkshire accent):
Land ahoy me’hearties! Let’s bring down the anchor here.
[to Fifi] Oh what a pretty thing have we? What is your name my dear?

FIFI:
Fff F… Fifi

ALPHONSE:
A little minuet I’m sure would see your stutters calmed.
Find me later, I can guarantee you won’t be harmed.

[Mimi tries to pull Fifi away]

ALPHONSE contd.:
And who is this? I see we have an even brighter gem
That glitters so divinely as on Heaven’s diadem.

MIMI:
Mimi

ALPHONSE:
Yes you, you stammer like your sister, come on don’t be wary;
My combat skills are legend but with ladies I’m not scary.
We’ll talk about it later then, you needn’t be alarmed.

[Enter Queen hurriedly dragging King along, adjusting his hair]

QUEEN:
Prince Alphonse! Your Highness, by your presence we are charmed!
Please do enjoy the feasting and the drinking and the dance!
Although it is a masked ball I won’t leave one thing to chance;
That fair young lady standing in the pale and seemly dress
Is our only heir and daughter, our Fortuna the Princess!

ALPHONSE:
Indeed, a regal bearing, I can sense it from afar.
In this glowing galaxy she seems the brightest star.

[Fortuna approaches timidly to join the Duchesses]

ALPHONSE contd.:
Majesties, how charmed am I to have your invitation.
As a rule I only socialise in moderation,

[Sailors cough]

But your timing’s perfect, for I’m seldom found at home.

[Sailors nod]

An Admiral (as I am), was forever born to roam.
My life is dedicated to my country’s preservation!
Saving lives has always been my foremost aspiration!

[Fifi swoons, Mimi catches]

(And… taking them of course whenever circumstance dictates)
I am setting sail tomorrow — with my merry mates —
On a swashbuckling and extremely dangerous quest.
The infamous Venturo, Pirate of the Southern Seas
Has been spotted by my lookout in the Channel of Belize,
So at dawn we leave to cross the perilous Atlantic!
As you can imagine my dear mother will be frantic,
But the foul Venturo has adventured long enough.
Now it’s time to show him Alphonse also can play tough!

[Mimi swoons, Fifi catches]

QUEEN:
Oh! Belize! My goodness would you go to such a length?
There are many… closer… places to display your… strength,
And all for just one pirate? Is a he really such a threat?

ALPHONSE:
Yes, it is essential, for my honour is in debt!
Last year he ransacked all the wealthy harbours of the North,
He pillaged and he plundered and he looted back and forth,
Then broke into my father’s vault and stole his favourite crown,
But like a shadow in the night I never tracked him down.
He always lurks one step before me in his wicked fun.
This time I will show him all his trickery is done.

QUEEN:
I hear… the weather will be turning dreadful overnight,
Are you certain it is wise to take such sudden flight?
You may meet your peril if you take that weighty chance!
Wait until you taste our wine! Now come and start the dance!

[Exeunt in pairs]

* * *

ACT 1, SCENE 3: LETTERS AT THE PALACE

[Enter Fortuna (centre) & Duchesses (left & right facing away) each reading letters privately to themselves]

MIMI:
Mimi,

FORTUNA:
Fortuna,

FIFI:
Fifi,

(ALPHONSE’S VOICE):

Dearest, since I met you I have been in quite a trance
Remembering in detail every step of our last dance.
I am a blinded man now, one who looks but never sees,
My eyes are for you only, even here in bright Belize.
My heart is only yours, and I would send it in a jar.
Can you hear it beating for you even from afar?
Without you I’m like a… cracker that has lost its cheese,
A ship without a… shipment, or a forest without trees.
Every day I catch a… fish and name it after you,
Every night I make a wish and… wish it will come true:
That in a month I may return and look upon your face.
Truly you must know that nobody could take your place.
Signed by Prince Algernon Derek Reginald Alphonse
Ardently awaiting your alacritous response.

[Mimi and Fifi roll up their letters and exit]

(ALPHONSE’S VOICE contd.):

P.S. I do promise you my dear Princess Fortuna
I will return to marry you sometime… soon… or sooner.
Without you my humble life is ever incomplete.
More seemly and agreeable a girl I’ll never meet.
For company I send you this to while away the hours.

[Fortuna reveals a live bird in a cage]

It is a token of my love, like chocolates or flowers
But lasts a good while longer. Like my love it is alive.
Keep it by you as a sign of me ‘til I arrive.
Only in the farthest countries can one find this bird.
Such a sweet melodious voice you never will have heard.
It was the favourite of Venturo, whom I have beheaded;
That wicked pirate is long gone, no longer to be dreaded.
His treasured pet is now a trophy of my brave conquest.
I know you’ll be delighted, and I hope you are impressed.

FORTUNA:

Mama! Mama! I have the news we’ve waited for at last!

[Enter Queen]

Our days of fear and trembling are firmly in the past.
I have an offer from the Prince, he’s promised to return.
I have a letter from him full of fondness and concern.
He promised me that sometime soon we shall be man and wife.
Now our country is protected from all future strife.
And look! He sent me this fine bird as proof of his largesse,
But also it’s a symbol of his soldierly prowess!
Venturo he has found and he has valiantly vanquished!
Our seas are safe and now my Prince will be no longer anguished!
This was the pirate’s favourite pet, it is a living prize!
I’m overcome with gladness! What a manifold surprise!
Look how its eyes and feathers shine and sparkle in the sun!
It’ll be my dearest playmate, we will have no end of fun!

QUEEN:
Oh! I knew that he would fit his heart to our agenda;
I was sure we should not fail and to the south surrender.
Plus that wretched pirate now has met a sticky end.
The Prince was born to win your heart and our kingdom defend!
You have saved the dignity and pride of this whole land!
This bond will be invincible; no shifty rope of sand.
And what a lovely time to marry! Just before the spring!
Quickly, right this instant we must go and tell the king!
Then I’ll tell Prime Minister directly of the news!
He’ll be cock-a-leekie!… I mean he’ll be cock-a-hoop!
It’s not a bad idea though, I fancy a bowl of soup.
Go, I’ll catch you up, my feet are killing in these shoes.
(Lord, is there no limit to the price we pay for vanity?
This infinite discomfort is enough to claim my sanity)

[Exeunt]

* * *

ACT 1, SCENE 4: RETURN OF THE ADMIRAL

[Enter Princess, kills bird and rips up letters. Enter Queen.]

FORTUNA:
Three months have been wasted now, all in this fruitless wait.
Next I dread to wonder what will be our country’s fate.
That two-faced duplicitous insufferable betrayer!
That so-called dashing Prince I’ve found is nothing but a player!
He has written rhymes of love to both of the duchesses
And all the meantime his undying troth to me professes!
And one poem he has sent to each of us the same.
We are all but pieces in his sordid little game!
Anyway his poetry was genuinely appalling,
His letters, like his company, were far short of enthralling,
I heard he’s useless with a sword, and is a dreadful coward.
(I should have known at once the way his perfume overpowered.)
He didn’t fight the pirate and was nowhere near Belize,
He’s in Britain with no plans to cross the Southern Seas.
I have heard Venturo is as yet alive and well,
Last seen checking out of a 5-star French hotel.
Goodness knows where he is plotting his next buccaneering,
Plus we risk invasion now as we had long been fearing.

QUEEN:
Oh my dear, have faith, perhaps there is an explanation,
Though of course I understand your anger and frustration.
Maybe he is only shy beneath that brave exterior,
And with his… modest… stature he is bound to feel inferior.
Some seem over-confident when they are truly… meek.
Give him another chance my dear for just another week.
Let us see if he returns and if he can explain.
His true nature and intentions we must ascertain;
These scant facts you have revealed need not be so sinister.
In the meantime I will seek the counsel of Prime Minister.

[Exit Queen]

FORTUNA (crying):
What happened to the days gone by of honour and nobility?
What are words and wit in lieu of goodness and integrity?
…Invertebrate, unmannerly, unmanly, ham-fisted,
Pompous pom-pom! Treacherous, chicken-chested, limp-wristed,
Spongy, sissy, cowardy-custard with a heart as yellow
As a … bullfrog’s eye, and an eye as … Oh hello!

[Enter Prince Alphonse]

[Enter Angel, stands behind Fortuna, blesses her and exits.]

ALPHONSE:
Fortuna, noble lady, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.
Though it is true I am as bloodthirsty as a fruit bat,
I couldn’t fight my way out of an open paper bag,
All I learned in navy school was how to boast and brag.
My favourite sport is playing cards, I’m not too bad at poker,
But exercise just does me in, I’m that much of a smoker.
I couldn’t swim to save my life, how’s that for an Admiral?
And jogging in this get-up is a terrible rigmarole.
I admit it, I’m a fraud, I’m sorry that I lied.
In coming back at last… at least… I put aside my pride.
Today I mean to see an end to all t’tears you’ve been shedding.
I promised you I would return and we would have a wedding,
I must say I have a very slightly… different plan,
But you’re mature, and I’m quite sure you’ll take it like a man.
As consolation for my insolence and impropriety
I invite you to remain always in my society.
Though not our wedding, I could take you to a wedding party,
There I fully guarantee the welcome will be hearty.
I have met… another girl, I’ll wed her now in spring.

[Fortuna almost faints, angel catches]

I really couldn’t help myself, she has me on a string.
I’ve fallen hook line and sinker, I’ve quite lost my head,
So I hope you’ll be to her like a sister instead.
Really I meant to return and be your loyal husband,
But I was up in t’Hebrides, and… no man is an island,
And… there she was all dressed in sacks — been working on the farm —
Sling-ful of turnips on her back, ten piglets in one arm,
Puffing from a great long pipe, sat on a cask of cider.
Something melted in my heart when I sat down beside her.
At that moment I resolved: who cares about her breeding!
I’ve no backbone myself, that’s the woman I’ve been needing!
Actually I already married her last week.

[Fortuna almost faints again, angel catches]

I told another lie to you, can you believe my cheek?
She already is my Mrs., and I am her… Mister.
I will bring her here tomorrow, and she’ll be your sister.

[Fortuna starts to cry, then so does Alphonse]

FORTUNA:
Prince Alphonse, I’m sorry I insulted you so gravely.
I shall choose to take this news respectfully and bravely.
I was… distracted… when I found you’d written to my cousins,
And you had been courting other ladies … by their dozens,
But I suppose it surely is perfectly natural
And logical for an Admiral to admire … all.
My language was unholy, unbefitting a princess.
What’s more I have been far from rational, I must confess.
I tore up all your letters, and I slaughtered that poor bird,
Though … if you were in earshot you’d possibly have heard.

[Alphonse nods]

I have been dishonest from the start, it must be said,
I did not love you much at all, it was a ploy instead.
I only sought to use you as a shield from invasion,
And as luck would have it you needed little persuasion.
It was a clumsy trick and I am terribly ashamed.
In this awful tragedy I’m really to be blamed.
What is to become of us, we surely cannot tell,
But this must be good-bye now, and I truly wish you well.

[Exit Alphonse]

FORTUNA:
Mamaaaaaa!

[Exeunt]

* * *

ACT 2, SCENE 1: KING AND QUEEN PLAN AT THE PALACE

[Enter Venturo (secretly), King & Queen, Prime Minister, Fortuna (secretly)]

[King now holds aside his hair when others speak]

QUEEN:
Prime Minister! Well what a dreadful mess your plan has left!
That awful Prince has snubbed us, poor Fortuna is bereft!
We cannot afford to take your counsel on this matter!
One more two-faced suitor and our daughter’s heart may shatter!
We insist that you assist in bringing her true peace!
We cannot rule the country on the back of your caprice!

[Angel enters and blesses King]

KING:
She is such a good girl, she would never hurt a fly
(Although that bird did come off rather badly by and by).
She has spirit but she is a truly… soulful thing.
In most circumstances so much wisdom does she bring.
Yes, we are in danger from the South still, as you’ve said,
(I am likely to forego my crown if not my head),
But I think it best that we let God be our Defender;
Not unto the South but to the Heavens let’s surrender.
I say that we give Fortuna a more spiritual life;
How could she be happy as a military wife?
It is plain: to please us was the reason she agreed
To all this Admiral nonsense, now God bless us she is freed.
If we let her live as God intended in His Game,
She is sure to bring us luck and live up to her name.

PRIME MINISTER:
Majesties my heartfelt apology I submit,
Please proceed to rule this kingdom as you both see fit.
Too long have you struggled with my mind as your dictator,
Your two gentle hearts combined are infinitely greater.
I have been of service to you forty-seven years,
And I always dreaded it may one day end in tears.
My judge of character has led me to a grave mistake,
The one I thought the hero has admitted he’s a fake.
Please allow me one last act of aid in my employment,
Or I’ll live out all my days in penitence and torment.

KING:
Excellent, I’ve always known you were a decent chap,
Let’s forget our differences, and this awkward mishap.
What say you find her a new spouse who leads the life monastic?
Most may shun you, though the opportunity’s fantastic.
He will have our kingdom — or whatever still remains —
And dear Fortuna will at last be free from earthly chains.
We have seen monks praying at the river in the morning.
Go and do a reconnoitre while tomorrow’s dawning.
See if you can ask them while they’re praying by the water
Which of them is willing to be wedded to our daughter.
Any man would love our fair princess to be his bride,
But most saintly people are reluctant to be tied.

FORTUNA:
Mother, Father I have overheard your conversation,
I always obey your wishes without hesitation.
But to hear you speaking thus has moved my heart to tears.
Your two hearts of love are sure to quell our country’s fears.
I have pondered many hours since my sad discovery,
Now my aching heart has found immediate recovery.
Father’s right, I cannot find true happiness in status.
My spell of disillusionment came as a cold hiatus.
My heart and head so full of doubts, like walking through a storm,
Now I’ve reached a turning point, returning to the warm.
I know I must trust my heart now; Father’s words are true.
I must marry one who’s made of goodness through and through.
I would follow all your decisions without complaint,
But yes, I would be happiest if I could wed a saint.
I’m too shy to go out and investigate myself;
Prime Minister please do ensure I’m not left on the shelf.

[Exit Prime Minister (humbly), and Venturo (hurriedly)]

QUEEN:
Dearest girl, I always knew your outlook was unique.
I can almost see our golden future as you speak.
I first thought your father’s plan was far beneath our dignity,
But he’s right, in order to create an opportunity
Of finding you a simple man devoted to religion,
We must try to tone down our highhandedness a smidgeon.
Fortuna, you will always be our brightest joy and treasure.
We may be a bit batty, but we love you without measure.

[Exeunt]

* * *

ACT 2, SCENE 2: MONKS AT THE RIVER

[Enter monks followed by Venturo dressed as a monk]

[Enter Prime Minister]

PRIME MINISTER:
By order of the King and Queen I come here for research,
I have a proposition for you good men of the church.
I have come to seek a husband for the fair Princess:
Fortuna the most radiant possessor of finesse,
Of graceful elegance, propriety, beneficence.
Whose pure heart itself is a rare gem of magnificence.
(Plus she is the royal couple’s only child and heir,
So she’ll inherit everything without the need to share).

MONK 1:
How dare you come and taunt us with your nauseating bargain!
You revolting viper, spouting foul temptatious jargon!
So the Princess needs a husband, and you think we’d care?
Be gone now from this sacred place or you’ll pollute our air!

PRIME MINISTER:
Do you know who I am you little sack-clothed inconsequence?
I could have you put in prison just for thoughts of insolence,
And yet you speak as freely as a fish wife at her stall.
It seems you do not know how to preserve your life at all.

MONK 2:
Nothing you can say or do will convince me to marry;
On my road to God a wife is but a rock to carry.
How can I go forward with a yoke around my neck?
Even if the King came here and wrote me a blank cheque,
Even if you say you’ll drown me, burn me at the stake,
Deep fry me in boiling oil, I’ll not make the mistake
Of squandering my life on gold or on a woman’s beauty.
My vocation is in prayer, and I’ll not shirk my duty.

PRIME MINISTER (to Venturo):

You seem… different… to the others; you have peace and poise,
While these fellows seek to crush my ears with their noise.
As it seems they have no clear intention to relent,
May I take your silence as a sign that you consent?

[Venturo remains silent]

MONK 1:
Shame, shame, shame! He has cast a slur upon us,
He does not defend us while this sinner tries to con us,
Turns up out of nowhere dressed like one of our good kind,
(He didn’t much disturb us so we didn’t much mind),
Now he is agreeing to be married with this silence,
What a coward, falling for this rascal’s threat of violence!
Agreeing without question to a life of earthly pleasure,
Living out his days in idle luxury and leisure!

VENTURO:
And you strut about like you’re the spiritual aristocracy,
I am so disgusted with your heinous hypocrisy.
You’re all talk, you reckon that you’ve conquered your desires.
You are not true saints, but filthy counterfeits and liars.
Outwardly you say you have no care for earthly life,
That you’d rather be deep fried in oil than have a pretty wife,
But inwardly you crave a life of opulence and pleasure.
Your impurities are far too plentiful to measure.
I may not be perfect but at least I am sincere,
In writing off the outer life I’m not so cavalier.
I have not transcended yet the outer earthly senses,
But I cannot overcome them merely by pretences.
I will marry her, and sooner realise the Supreme,
Than these dishonest fellows merely living in a dream.
I will slowly transcend my desires one by one.
Instead of just pretending all my inner work is done.

PRIME MINISTER:
Excellent! At last I found a level-headed saint!
The Princess and your worthy self, I shall at once acquaint!

[Exit Prime Minister]

MONK 2:
Well I never! Such discourtesy is a disgrace!
Come, brother, I can stand no more, we have to leave this place!
His company is far beneath us! Marriage is frustration,
Frustration is destruction, but we want illumination!
We must dedicate our lives to prayer to win delight.
This fellow is deluded, I am sure our way is right!

[Exit Monks]

[Venturo paces up and down, anguished, enter Angel blessing him, he then stands with hands folded and head bowed in prayer]

[Enter Prime Minister & Princess]

PRIME MINISTER:
I have brought the Princess to you as I said I would.
Won’t you let her see your face? Do please remove your hood.
[Venturo removes hood, then removes robe altogether to reveal pirate clothes]

VENTURO:
Prime Minister I must confess that I have changed my mind.
I know that she is beautiful, courageous and refined,
And she will inherit quantities of earthly wealth.
I thought I’d truly care for her in sickness and in health.
In a twinkling I thought I’d bestow on her my heart,
And spend my life beside her until death would make us part.
But I’m not a monk; I am a thieving buccaneer,
I’m nowhere near as saintly as my robes made me appear.
I am Venturo, bravest and the fastest with a sword,
The strongest and the smartest, but I can’t take this reward.
I could defend this country just depending on my wit
And an army of a hundred, but I cheated, I admit.
I overheard the King when his idea was devised,
So I ran ahead of you, but heavily disguised.
In truth it was the money that encouraged me to do it,
But how can money be enough? Just as you left I knew it.
I can have the Princess and her wealth by telling lies,
But if I pray sincerely — not just in a monk’s disguise —
I will attain the highest Truth, real happiness will follow.
The wealth I gain by trickery is tenuous and hollow.
She is beautiful, but she is blossoming in youth.
God’s Attraction is immortal; it is born of Truth.
I’ve plundered and I’ve pillaged and I’ve looted here and there,
But from today I dedicate my life to Truth and prayer.

[Enter Angel]

ANGEL:
Venturo, I am pleased with your conviction and sincerity,
But allow me to augment your notion of prosperity.
You must marry the Princess but you will still find Truth.
Your past is now behind you, it was greedy and uncouth.
I am happy that your days of thievery are gone,
I am giving you the wealth of Spirit from now on.
This you must combine with money power to succeed.
Your life’s inner cry has reached the highest height indeed,
You have inner light now, and your life is truly blessed,
But you need the outer wealth to make it manifest.
Use this wealth to serve the Truth that now abides inside you.
Heed my words and trust in me, have faith that I will guide you.
I unite you; from this day you will be man and wife,
Spirit of the inner, matter of the outer life.
Fortuna, your husband needs your full and sure assistance.
As one you’ll have a happy and harmonious existence.
With him you will realise God much sooner than without.
With her you will please the Absolute without a doubt.
The King and Queen are getting old, it soon will be your turn.
Defend the land with courage, kindness, honour and concern.
Realise God, manifest God, and God you will fulfil.
In oneness you have every strength, and strength you will instill.
This country will be safe if you abide by this one principle:
When the inner and the outer work as one they are invincible.

[Venturo and Fortuna bow down to Angel]

[Enter all]

* * *

THE END

* * *

5