Act III

Scene 1

A royal yacht off the coast of Syria.

Algonquin: (pacing the deck.) The stripes, as you may have observed.

Armand: Leave nothing to be desired.

Algonquin: I am thinking, of a rhyme I heard once described.

Armand: It went off, with a bang, did it?

Algonquin: It was lovely.

Aloysius: Melord.

Algonquin: Yes? What is it?

Armand: Setting placemats is your trade, is it not?

Aloysius: Sir?

Armand: I was wondering...

Algonquin: Could I 覧

Armand: What if you were wondering...

Algonquin: Wait, if, until 覧

Armand: Placemats. If indeed...

Algonquin: I am the hotel manager. Edo, Tokyo, was the birthplace of my small affair with the countess.

Aloysius: Sense and Sensibility was one of my favorite books. (to Armand) Have you got it right?

Armand: What? Have you got it right?

Algonquin: I'm telling you now.

Armand: She hated me, from the moment I laid eyes upon her.

Aloysius: I'm telling you now.

Armand: And she was fascinated, you know, like a pythoness. Revealed, declared, oh, dark secrets unto me.

Algonquin: Declared, revealed, dark secrets, what fol-de-rol.

Armand: Yes, indeed. What of your opinion?

Algonquin: Nothing at all, I'm afraid.

Aloysius: Sirs, them candlesticks.

Armand: Is all rusting yes, you may know, all in good time!

Algonquin: My servant, you know, likes his jokes all the time he's on duty. He's a rascal, but he's good with mustard, I know, my wife tells me all that, in bed.

Armand: I bet that's true, too.

Aloysius: Which, sir? If you please.

Algonquin: "Likes his jokes", perhaps?

Armand: "Likes his jokes" you silly fool. I'm going to bed, presently.

Algonquin: I'll light the way, presently.

Aloysius: Oh, good God! I'm awfully tired, the mistress presently asks, "Aloysius, come and tend to me, there's a buttonhole waiting for you, presently." And I'm tired again, presently.

Armand: Can you light my bed?

Algonquin: I have the duty, my, the guests are all welcome.

Aloysius: I would do it for you, sir, but I've a little work to be done presently.

Armand: Begone, then and get my breakfast, in the morning.

Aloysius: I'll bring it to you straight, sir.

Armand: See that you do. (Goes.)

Aloysius: I'll do, and I'll do, and the覧

Wives and lovers of the (voice) of horror and terror: (entering gaily) Services, and this under do this, I'll be begone in no this, no that, in here this, no that 覧 in no time begone.

(A voice) of horror and terror: Begone! indeed, these are my lovers and my wives, male and female he made them all, to be forgotten?

Wives and lovers: Oh, in the bathroom we've all begun to forget! All we can be we is to forget!

Armand: (entering, with a lamp) How is to be? Forgotten, that is?

Aloysius: Oh shit, sweet Jesus i' the mornin', I'll go and make very some coffee!

Wives and lovers: As strong as that, as very some coffee can be!

(A voice) of horror and terror: Begone! and in no this or no that I'll make do this beribboned do gaily or this 覧

Armand: Stop! or I'll shoot 覧

Wives and lovers: (singly) The lights, out? The windows, open? The head, holey? The boat, unseaworthy?

(blackout)

 

Scene 2

A lifeboat on the China Seas.

Armand and Alphonse.

Armand: The weather's getting better.

Alphonse: I've arf a mind to chuck it out, this bunghole. I've had a piece of cheese, and I'm still hungry.

Armand: (looking at him.) Courage, mon enfant.

Alphonse: These gateaux is spoiled.

Armand: I've had a mind to tell you for a long time now 覧

Alphonse: Yes? I'm still feeding.

Armand: What on?

Alphonse: Seabiscuit. Have one?

Armand: Haw!

Alphonse: You don't have to be too brusque about it!

Armand: What's the course?

(blackout)

 

Scene 3

The gaming hall of the palace.

Time-keepers, horologists, chronometers, and chronoplasts descending the grand staircase.

Time-keepers: Where do you get the whiskey?

Horologists: I'll bet she was a cunning wench.

Chronometers: Ding-dong, all's a hoping we'll soon be on an excursion.

Chronoplasts: I make money do the work for me.

enter Armand.

Armand: The simplest place for an excursion would be the town hall, I think.

Aloysius: (entering) You look ravishing, doesn't she look ravishing?

(Vivienne having entered.)

Algonquin: I've seen too many registers, in my time.

Victourin: Godawful! (enters.) I never saw such luxury.

Victorine: (by another door) The way those chaps carry on.

Alphonse: (entering) I've never had such a load on. Oh! Never a good book to lean on, in my necessities!

Vivienne: (calling out strumpets) Hie! Bedeviled as you are, come on out!

Shell-game enthusiasts: The nutshell of the universe is in the palm of my hand.

Time-keepers: (admiring the many old clocks around the room.) Fine old pieces, they are, in my opinion, that's what I think, anyway, what's the use of all this? old machinery.

Chronoplasts: In the continuum of memory, what's the use of all this? Memory, to be sure, is under contract to the underwriters.

Horologists: Don't you believe it, too. The construction of memorious undertakings is too vast and great to be believed.

Chronometers: I for one believed it to believed.

Alphonse: Aloysius, I think you said your name was. Yes, I think that it was, Alphonse is my name. How d'ye do?

Aloysius: How do you do?

Alphonse: Can you tell me whether it was in the vicinity of the hotel Rasmussen that the good doctor took his own life? Or what does it took, precisely, by his own hand, the good doctor?

Aloysius: I cannot not presume.

Algonquin: So help me!

Vivienne: (running to him.) You rang?

Chronometers: I adduce the pleasures of the senses in a function of memory.

Chronoplasts: The function of memory is a function of my own desire exerted retroactively.

Horologists: Can you be more specific?

Vivienne: Oh, the unrelieved horror of it all!

Time-keepers: I am subdued by all that wills, to be more specific...

Armand: I say, can you be more specific? (to Vivienne.)

Aloysius: I値l set your watch going.

Algonquin: What time is it?

Aloysius: A quarter past eight. In the morning, guv'nor.

Strumpets: Oh, dear, it's past my bedtime, I am sure.

Time-keepers: Make a note of that gilt bronze and enamel clock, standing on the s馗retaire.

Horologists: Exquisite workmanship.

Chronoplasts: Its exquisite shape reminds me of an astrolabe I knew once, remind me.

Aloysius: An orrery, you mean.

Chronoplasts: No, it was an astrolabe, let me tell you...

Aloysius: I obtrude...

Chronoplasts and Chronometers: Its sinuous perfection was all made to order me to perfection. I loved it, all to me was as if perfection had arrived, the clockwork means of perfection unalloyed in the way of love, do you know? It rang, oh, it rang!

Horologists: The temerity of the wicked suggests, does it not, the obnubilation of the proud?

Armand: In what way?

Algonquin: I'm glad you asked.

Aloysius: Why?

Horologists: Bee-cause, says I, the further I go in my life the more I feel recalcitrant to go on.

Armand: The denial must be used with great caution, and with full understanding that the relationships of the forms cannot be expressed accurately by a linear nomenclature.

Vivienne: And why not?

Armand: The quodlibet I use to amuse the abstruse. Give me my citation.

Time-keepers: I loved her, any way. The way she had, in spite of any obstruction, of rising above it, to ring the clocks.

A Strumpet: In her way, she was very admirable.

Aloysius: She way, way above the rest deserved praise.

Armand: And now (finishes his drink) I must be off.

Vivienne: Don't go. Don't be ridiculous.

Time (a voice from above): To ring above the clouds, in succession, is my dream.

Victourin: Come now, my love, for a game of croquet, among the leaves.

Victorine: (across the room) To fly among the hoops, that is my dream.

Armand: What if I remembered, to the cost of it all, the seacoast, a sordid nightmare, or a dream of lust? Can you think of it all, remembering?

Chronometers: And now, gentlemen and ladies, if you are all here and present, succumb to the present tense, for a moment, at least. Note the gilt bronze wall clock decorated with panels of red, green, and cream painted horn, standing above the commode.

Aloysius: I see it.

Chronometers and Time-keepers: Can you see it? The red cream and green painted horn cease from occlusion, then!

Vivienne and another Strumpet: Well, what of it, then!

Armand: So begins to see, if seeing be to neither occlude nor disabuse objects, Aloysius.

Chronometers and Time-keepers: Ah, but, there's more. You're fooling, bare-tits and all!

Vivienne and another Strumpet: My tits are not bare!

Chronometers and Time-keepers: Well, they should be, then! The marvel of this clock, lying in between the vestibule and the pantry, is its workmanship, its revetry, calling to mind an exquisite parquetry of coquetry, coquinage, cozenage and concurrence, all at the same time!

Vivienne and another Strumpet: And yet, it rings, does it not?

Chronometers and Time-keepers: TO BE SURE, it does, and no mistake.

Vivienne and another Strumpet: Harrumph!

(it rings.)

Strumpets: Oh, dear, that reminds me.

Chronoplasts: The fraudulent tempo of this timepiece races my blood.

Armand: Fraudulent?

Algonquin: Time has exploded, every fool knows that. God is dead, etcetera, etcetera, and, of course, etcetera.

Armand: How explain the compression I suffer, the compulsion of time, the hand of God?

Vivienne and another Strumpet: The weather, I suppose, is a kind of link, to the hereafter, and the eternal?

Armand: Not at all, I 覧

Vivienne and another Strumpet: THINK WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!

Chronoplasts: The buttocks of the other slim one are curiously 覧

Chronometers: I don't suppose she 覧

Horologists: Yes, unfortunately.

Time (a voice from above): I am the voice of Time, an element known to you all.

Victourin: Dear God, did you hear that?

Time (a voice from above): Unfolding, as I do, the course of natural events, be it supposed, among you, that I love?

Algonquin: Is it my room?

Time (a voice from above): Tell me, can you above all the others who hear me, my imperious voice, answer that?

Vivienne and another Strumpet: Is it the riddle of the Sphinx? Or what?

Algonquin: The riddle of death?

Time (a voice from above): The riddle of life, I should think, or are you defeated? Utterly, I mean, non-temporal means are denied me.

Strumpets: He means, has the cat got your tongue, or are you free to answer him, in your own way.

Armand: What fol-de-rol.

Victorine: The zephyrs of this climate are being, beyond belief.

Chronometers: Well put, out of my mind, that last bit, out of my mind, altogether.

Time (a voice from above): You shall be wed. Each to other. As the case may be.

Aloysius: What is he, a priest, or summat?

Armand: I'm having a drink.

Vivienne and another Strumpet: The follies of this berg鑽e demand no less, than any other cocotte, in this distress.

Victourin: To arms, to arms, the Mussulman awaits! (Drawing his sword.)

Chronoplasts and Chronometers: I observe, in his region, the commonplaces of this country.

Armand: Drinks all around.

Time (a voice from above): Where do you think you are, in a Western bar? The drinks are all free, you are all my guests, this is my palace.

Aloysius: The dead, if they could talk, would have a field day, here.

Time (a voice from above): Synchronous Time, the bane of useless existences, am I. The brave dead you speak of, are no more dead than you are. Their dimension, their element is of no other accord or derision than is your own. On another plane, of course.

Vivienne and another Strumpet: Listen to that, will you?

Algonquin: I'm brave, when I drink.

Aloysius: Demon rum, where is thy succor?

Armand: Another round.

Victorine: He loves me, but my amulet de cheval is slipping down my neck. Will you reach down the front of my dress and succor me?

Armand: Certainly, and with great pleasure.

Victorine: Can you tell me, if anything, do you feel me under your hand, with anything like your aforesaid pleasure, hmm?

Armand: Yes, I think I do.

Victorine: Well then, think, as I do, of the consequences of your desiring me?

Aloysius: De dragoons is sounded dere horns under de lake, I tink.

Algonquin: You are very drunk, my friend. Don't let's spoil it, my friend, let's get on with it, my friend.

Aloysius: The hotel is open. The drinks are on the bar.

The crowd: Hiccup!

Armand: The various deservings of your likes 覧

Vivienne: Are to be finished in my bed.

The crowd: I mean, hooray!

Chronometers and Chronoplasts: I call your attention to the small cartel clock hanging on the wall close by.

Armand: The thingum next to is a pedestal clock. Notice the oval dial, with the expanding and contracting hour hand, and the finely modeled figures of the four continents flanking the clock.

Vivienne: On the mantelpiece stands a gilt bronze clock in the form of a palm tree surmounted by a lion's pelt.

Victorine: The large clock standing between these two commodes is known as a planisphere. It once contained an extremely elaborate mechanism which enabled the viewer to see the phases of the moon, the times of the eclipse of the first satellite of Jupiter, the times of the tide in various French and English ports, and the time at various parts of the world 覧 including "La Californie" 覧 and other astrological details.

Aloysius: In a showcase is a terra cotta model of a clock. Members of the French royal family often commissioned furniture models to be made in terra cotta or wax, but very few have survived. This full-size model, dating from about 1700, is a sculptural tour-de-force. The scene below the dial shows Pluto abducting Persephone.

Time (a voice from above): In a word, have done. The time is up.

Armand: Fui! the gentlemen's have done, but de ladies is only just beginning.

Aloysius: That's my line!

Armand: Snooze, you lose! There's country wisdom for you.

Horologists: Proverbial, I might add.

Armand: The virginal virginity of the virginal virgin Virginia woods, is just aching to be proverbial, in my own view, and, I might add, the lumberjacks are fell fellows.

Time-keepers: Done a bit of lumbering in your day. Major?

Armand: I have loved, as who has not?

Time-keepers and Chronoplasts: Hah! Hah! Hah!

Vivienne and another Strumpet: So there, then, is it resolved? Do we go and powder our noses now, or delicately flick their wing-tips?

Time (a voice from above): Very amusing, watching all this, from up here.

Armand: I think it's time to have done with you. Pardon my expression.

Time (a voice from above): Oh, think nothing of it, I never have done.

Victourin: The Mussulmen are routed! Jerusalem is saved, by a hair!

Shell-game enthusiasts: It's about time, I'll say, what do you think, can we get a drink, hereabouts?

Victorine: Great gulps of drink, if you please, waiter.

Time (a voice from above): The voice is doomed to extinction, if you loiter.

Aloysius: I'm be-damned if my gaiters aren't falling down between my knees.

Algonquin: The fellow's a tyrant, if he begins to sneeze...

Aloysius: The whip, the whip to me, if I care to please.

Armand: And that's that.

(blackout)

 

Scene 4

the gaming hall of the palace

(bodies strewn around, pieces of furniture broken or mangled, somebody snoring in great distress, numerous details of a great orgy.)

Time (a voice from above): The clocks have unwound, the silence is unmeasured, the palace is empty of activity.

Armand: I annul Time's masterpiece. Gentlemen, if you please. (the bee-wing enthusiasts enter.)

B.-W. E.'s: The bee wings, the many striations of which strike me as so many colors differentiated, to be as many colors as that must take great handiwork, I'll be blessed, the labors of the many going on into the many simultaneous colors, all for the manifold humming of one bee's wingbeat, which is a kalpa if some ancient authorities are to be believed.

Armand: Gentles, all my men are at your disposal, the way to the sessions of sweet silent thought is through here.

(exit.)

Armand: (re-entering) I sit up on my bed, and my rose.

(blackout)

Curtain.

Finis.