Scene:  In a hallway within Malcolms castle.  Enter Spurius  and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth:  Spurius, the die is not yet cast.  Couldst thou forgive Malcolm’s transgressions and trade your vengeance for my love?

Spurius:  Vengeance this is not, but justice.  Wouldst thou trade virtue for the golden yoke of sovereignty?  Let us be free, and to none accountable, preferring hard liberty before the easy yoke of servility.  Let your fainting courage dispel your fears, and let us be law to ourselves, let justice and reason be our law!

Elizabeth:  What if you are destroyed?

Spurius:  Destruction clears and gives us breathing space and liberty.  Fear not my death.  Would I were dead!  If god’s good will were so; for what is in this world but grief and woe?  Besides, what of your honour?  It must be restored, and can only be so by Malcolm’s death.

Elizabeth:  I would that you had life above mine honour.  Oh, how many fools serve blind justice.

Spurius:  Be off, pray, wait for me, but keep thy distance.  I must now do my duty.  *Elizabeth exits.  Enter Amon and Leopold.*  Pray, gentlemen, where be his majesty?

Amon:  What want thee with our king?

Spurius:  I must see him that I may assert eternal providence.

Amon:  Your words offer no clarity.

Spurius:  To bait fish withal: if it feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. *Drawing his sword.  Amon follows suit.* 

Amon:  Your actions be far more clear than your words.

Spurius:  He hath disgraced me, and hindered me my family, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his reason?  I am a subject. Hath not a slave eyes?  Hath not a serf hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?  Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a king is?  If you prick us, do we not bleed?  If you tickle us, do we not laugh?  If you poison us, do we not die?  And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?  If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.  If a subject wrong a king, what is his humility?  Revenge!  If a king wrong a subject, what should his sufferance be by kingly example?  Why, revenge!  The villainy he hath taught me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

Amon:  Rogue!  If you will jest with me, know my aspect, and fashion your demeanour to my looks!

Spurius:  Know that I am resolved for dignity or death.

Amon:  Then ye shall have one of the two, and it will be not dignity!  *Amon waves Leopold back, wanting the glory of the fight to himself.  The men do not engage their swords, but move slowly, studying the other’s motions.*

swordfightSpurius:  You defend a tyrant!  One who would take your houses over your heads, ravish your wives and daughters before your faces!  For me, I will make shift for one; and so, god’s curse light upon you all! *Lunges forward, Amon steps back, sweeping the sword aside.  Spurius steps back also and both men measure their next move.*

Amon:  Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

Spurius:  The devil’s office must thou do for your master.

Amon:  Soonerthe Devil be my master than Delusion, for Delusion is your master, for he masters you, and he that is so yoked by such a fool, methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.  Sooner I would serve for the coinage of my king than your dignity which doth not provide me sustenance or comfort.

Spurius:  You desire what many men desire!  That many may be meant by the fool multitude, that choose by show, not learning more than the fond eye doth teach, which pries not to th’interior, but like the martlet builds in the weather on the outward wall, even in the force and road of casualty, I will not choose what many men desire, because I will not jump with common spirits, and rank me with the barbarous multitudes!  And when you die, you can thankst him who puts me loath to this revenge.  *Amon bring his sword down, Spurius blocks the attack with the width of his sword, throwing his attacker off.*  Should I at your destructive guilt be forged stronger yet, let me use that strength against he who puts me loath to this revenge!  Wrath without end on man whom death must end.  *Spurius brings his sword down upon Amon who blocks it with the width of his sword and throws it off of him, then lunges straight forward, only to have Spurius bring his sword around to sweep it away.*  All the peers of Malcolm shall be mourners, and weep out bloody tears until their empty veins be dry and sere.

Amon:  Wouldst thou murder thine own king?

Spurius:  I had rather be a thief than a pauper, I had rather be a murderer than a slave.  I don’t want to be either, but if you force the alternative on me, then, by heaven, I’ll choose the braver and more moral one.  For no man is good enough to be another man’s master, and I would not let myself out to be a serf to a tyrant.

Amon:  The king is god in the flesh.  He speaks as god would speak.

Spurius:  I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions: his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing. Therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours.  And so I bring my sword to avenge my family as though he were any man.

Amon:  All have the right to fight, but I warn you now, take heed what guests you receive, for just as you have welcomed pride and vanity, along with wrath and vengeance into your soul and allow’d them to poison you against your true and rightful king, so to shall you take my steel and house it in your body!  *Amon lunges forward with his sword while Spurius against sweeps it away, and with both swords engaged, Amon bring his body close to Spurius and buries a knife, which was pulled out quickly with great caution to hide the motion, into Spuriuss chest.  Spurius drops to the floor and Amon follows him, keeping his hand on the knifes handle and pushing it in harder still.  Both men drop their swords*

Spurius:  *Spurius, taking Amons hand with both of his, pushes harder still upon his wound.*  It is not killing and dying that degrades us, but base living, and accepting the wages and profits of degradation.  Better ten dead men than one live as a slave or master.

Amon:  Submit to my wrath!

Spurius:  My flesh, but not my will, consents.  Oh, the tyranny of the flesh!  *Enter Elizabeth. Weeping.* 

Amon: *Twisting the knife.*  Enjoy this, for ’tis good for men to love their present pain.

Spurius:  *Looking up to Elizabeth.*  Tell Scotland from me, she hath lost her best man; and exhort all the world to be cowards

Amon:  *Looking up to see Elizabeth.*  Are you this man’s whore?  Then you shall share death with him.  *Pulling out the knife and rising, Amon points the summit of the knife to her chest and begins to approach her, but Leopold takes hold of him.*

Leopold:  O, let us yet be merciful.  *To Elizabeth.*  There are tears for his love, joy for his fortune, honour for his valour, and death for his ambition.  *To Amon.*  Who is here so base that would be a bondman?  Would he be a criminal that wishes to be free?  We all lie; we all bully as much as we dare; we all bid admiration without the least intention  of earning it; we all get as much rent as we can out of our powers of fascination.  This man would not be bullied and dared to earn hard liberty by risking death.

Amon:  Listen not to that man’s words, for by our ears, out hearts oft be tainted.  Mercy is a weakness, expunge if from you or let it disease your body and make you weak.

Leopold:  Hell is a country much like Scotland when it is peopled by the like of you, who value pride and battle over mercy and peace.

Amon:  I will receive much glory for what I have done here today.  Your mercy will be punished.

Leopold:  He that is proud eats up himself.  Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle, and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise.  *Enter, Malcolm.*

Malcolm:  What commotion plagues these majestic halls?  *Malcolm looks around, and takes stock of what has happened.*

Elizabeth:  When I think of the society that tolerates you, and the laws that protect you, when I think of how helpless nine out of ten young girls would be in the hands of you…  My stained blood to Malcolm I’ll bequeath.  *Elizabeth runs into Amons outstretched knife, sheathing it into her chest.*  Deflowered, defaced, and now to death devote!

*The Lights go down.*


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Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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