Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
Orosius’ Castle, several Days later.
Enter OROSIUS, TILDA, VULPECULA, JESSICA and ATTENDANTS.
JESSICA: Uncle, say, may I do the moving trick?
OROSIUS: Aye, sweetest child, but prithee take more care;
Thou nearly hadst the house down the last time.
Try with the table: move it near the wall
Slowly – and halt it just before it strikes.
(A Table laden with Food and Drink rises in the Air, moves to the Wall and Hovers.)
Well done, my dear, now set it on the floor.
(The Table descends slowly.)
Thou hast not spilt a drop from any cup;
’Tis well indeed, I could not do it better.
(To TILDA) Thy girl astounds me; not in all my years
So apt and quick a pupil have I seen.
Now let us see how well thy power hath grown.
Say, wilt thou move that chair? Hold out thy hand
Just so, fingers extended; say the words.
OROSIUS: Alas! I did say move,
But thou hast turned it to a bunch of flowers.
Thou didst not fully concentrate thy mind.
Practice makes perfect; prithee work on this.
(He restores the Chair to its proper Form.)
VULPECULA (to TILDA): Nevertheless, the arts thou hast acquired
In a few days have won my admiration;
I had not seen the slightest gifts in thee.
And I myself, thinking to be a witch
Of mighty power, have found there’s much to learn,
And have gained spells and skills I never knew,
All thanks to you, Master Orosius.
OROSIUS: We’ll learn a few more things i’ th’ coming days,
But there’s no time to strive for full perfection.
Your country writhes under the tyrant’s hand
And to release it from his deadly grasp
First we need knowledge. As the marshal said
So wisely, time spent in reconnaissance
Is seldom wasted. (To an ATTENDANT) Bring me my scrying glass.
VULPECULA: Ah, I had one of those in former times;
We never knew whether we saw the truth
Or an illusion made of our false hopes.
OROSIUS: Its use needs skill: first thou must clear thy mind
Of expectation, then must fasten on
The person whom thou seek’st, and on naught else.
See, I will show thee Gonbad, chief o’ th’ Thetans.
(The Glass having been set before him, he gazes into it.)
VULPECULA: Alack! I see him in our own king’s chamber
Lolling beside the fire, feet on the table.
And with his muddy boots on our fine damask!
May he be struck with griping of the guts,
The pox and palsy and the marthambles;
Pustules and carbuncles blacken his skin;
May molten lead course through his bursting veins,
Meteors rain upon his scabby head!
(The Room trembles and is filled with Smoke.)
OROSIUS: Prithee, contain thy wrath. No curse can reach him
Through the mere agency of the scrying glass;
It is an image, not of flesh or blood.
Nevertheless, thy power comes on apace.
Tilda, wouldst thou desire to see thy king?
(He gazes into the Glass once more.)
TILDA: Felix, my dearest love! How gaunt thou art,
Muddy and ragged in a rainy wood.
But O my darling, thou art safe and well,
And Viscus stands by thee, and ye are laughing.
Would I could hear thy voice, and speak with thee!
OROSIUS: This scrying glass, though of the latest mode
Can only summon images, not words.
Nevertheless, I have some strange devices
Called skyping crystals which, if thou hast one,
And someone hath another, lets ye converse;
And furthermore, if thou canst set a glass
In an unnoticed corner of a room,
Thou’lt see and hear everything a man does.
I’ll give ye some of these when ye depart.
VULPECULA: Again, our grateful thanks for all your aid.
But tell me, pray you: her we have three strong witches
Well versed in arts. What do we strive against?
What witches have the Thetans of their own?
OROSIUS: I have good news for thee: they are so vile,
No witch will work for them; and their religion,
Such as it is, imparts no power at all.
They can exert their will through deeds of blood
But in no other way. To our advantage,
Their dark beliefs bring on such superstition
That suitable illusions, justly used
Will drive them into panic and confusion.
This is your strongest weapon: use it well;
With it ye shall defeat the power of hell.