IAMG: Scenes 8-11


Scene 8: The bedroom of RLS, Heriot Row

RLS is in bed, Cummy is ending her bedtime story with a flourish

Cummy
Then, after forty days of constant deluge the rain had finally stopped & the world was completely cover’d in water. The Ark & Noah, his family & all the animals then floated for six long months’ here, there & everywhere, but never siting land. Then, one day, God sent a mighty wind very much like the one blowing tonight, to dry up all the waters suck them all up like this
{she slurps, RLS laughs}
Then slowly & slowly but surely & surely the waters grew less & less & less & the very tippy-tops of the tallest mountains began to be seen. Next came the mountains & the hills & eventually the Ark settl’d upon the slopes of Mount Ararat

RLS
Where’s that, Cummy

Cummy
It is somewhere in the Ottoman Empire, but in those days there were no Ottomans or anybody, because all of the humans, except for Noah & his family of course, had been drown’d in the water for being naughty

RLS
I won’t be naughty I promise

Cummy
I know you won’t my laddie… anyway, we shall finish off this story tomorrow, & as for today, the last thing a good boy must do his say his prayers

RLS
I will – I want to live in Heaven when I’m all grown up

Cummy
No, you don’t live in heaven you go there after you… oh, never mind, as you say your prayers every night & always remember to be good, heaven will welcome you with open arms

RLS
& I will never go to Hell

Cummy
Not if you are good, no

RLS
Cummy Mummy

Cummy
Yes, dear

RLS
Why does God make Hell?

Cummy
It is to seperate the good hearts from the bad

RLS
So, what kind of hearts we got – mummy & daddy & me

Cummy
Well, what do you think

RLS
I think they are good

Cummy
& what kind of hearts have I

RLS
I think you have a nice one

MS
Well, laddie, if you are right, then there is a very good chance we will meet again in Heaven

RLS
I shall make a prayer now… dear God in Heaven & the baby Jesus I promise to be a good boy for my mummy & my daddy & I promise to love Cummy for ever & ever & I promise to all the angels that I will do all my schooling & never be naughty so me, mummy, daddy & cummy can all meet in Heaven, amen

Cummy
Amen – that was a most beautiful prayer, my boy – but, why you are crying

RLS
It is for what those beastly Sannhedrim & the naughty Romans did to Jesus – but, if he died to save us all then why do I still have to say my prayers

Cummy
Jesus showed us the way & we must follow

RLS
I will follow, I promise, I love you

Cummy
I love you too – now good night my darling boy

RLS
Goodnight my gentlest of mothers – if I’m spared I shall see you in the morning

Exit Cummy – RLS becomes frighten’d by the wind – he goes to the bedroom window

WINDY NIGHT

Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, he screams in terror & and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

RLS screams in terror & runs back to his covers & looks around in terror, jumping from time to time at sounds & shadows before covering his head with the covers



Scene 9: La Solitude

RLS in bed – his right hand is strapp’d tightly to his side – he is playing the melody to Windy Nights on his flagolet / enter Fanny

Fanny
Good you are awake

RLS
I am that

Fanny
How are you feeling today

RLS
A wee pinch better – I feel I can pretty much fight off any ailment these days

Fanny
Well, you’ve had a lot of practice

RLS
Indeed, by the age of nine I had recover’d from, wait a second… scarlatina, bronchitis, gastric fever, whooping cough, chicken pox, scarlet fever, croup & even the Bluidy Jack – I dare say this pincer attack of sciatica & opthalmia will be dispens’d of in the same way – but please don’t open the curtains – it hurts my eyes

Fanny
Ah well, you will need at least a little light to read & write by

RLS
True

Fanny
Here they are – the things you ask’d for

RLS
Ah! a writing board, where did you get it

Fanny
There is a stationers in town, it was a little expensive, but worth every franc if it helps you compose your poetry – if you rest it against your knees

RLS
What about chalk

Fanny
Yes, I got you some here

RLS
So, the plan is I will fill this board with stanzas & when it is fill’d you could transcribe them for me in fair copy, then wipe the slate clean & return the board to me

Fanny
Of course, a fine plan darling

RLS
I do hope you will be able to read my words – writing with my left hand will lead to a certain illegibility

Fanny
I will figure it out – I know my husband more than he knows himself sometimes

RLS
Well, I really wanted to be a soldier – but my health is too sketchy – thus writing it will have to be – I can do it all from my bed, however, but, how much longer must I be this, this amputee

Fanny
The doctor said you should bind your arm for a full week – it was a particularly chaotic haemorrhage

RLS
It certainly was – did he say he what he thought was wrong with me

Fanny
O god, he suspects it was your nerves

RLS
My nerves! but do nerves produce expectoration & blood in large quantities

Fanny
No, darling, they don’t – & how is the sciatica

RLS
A little better – but still flaring up like a damned demon – still, I will now be able to take my mind off the pain by composing many more songs of my childhood

Fanny
Most men would have succumbed to the force of circumstances, but undismayed, my love, you are as ever determined to circumvent the fate you refused to accept

RLS
However incapacitated – my work always comes first, the consuming, joyful passage of my life which animates all thoughts

Enter Valentina with a tray of coffee, croissants & flowers

Valentina
Your breakfast monsieur Stevenson

RLS
What is it today

Valentina
Coffee & croissants – I have also picked some flowers from the garden for you – something to amuse & distract the mind while you are doing your writing

RLS
Thank you – they are lovely

Valentina
I have also buttered the croissants for you

RLS
Perfect

Valentina
&, this letter came for you this morning

Fanny
Give it to here, Valentina, I will open it
{Valentina gives Fanny the letter & exits}
ah, it is from London

RLS
Cassel, perhaps

Fanny
Yes, it says Cassel & Company

RLS
What are they saying

Fanny
{sharp intake of breath}
Oh

RLS
What is it

Fanny
Treasure Island… Treasure Island! They have agreed to publish it as a book

RLS
For the hundred pounds

Fanny
The whole lot

RLS
Oh my – that is the best news – if my buccaneering jaunt does not fetch the kids, they have grown rotten since my day !

Fanny
I’m sure they will love it, its got so much depth, its going to be amazing, I felt it, I knew this was going to happen

RLS
Let me read it please – hah! my map, my treasure, my mutiny, my derelict ship, and my fine old Squire Trelawney with a yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum – god bless you all – one hundred pounds – & they agreed to let me keep the copyright as well, !

Fanny
Well, now you are in fine spirits, enjoy your breakfast & I’m off into town, I’ll see you for lunch
{she gives him a kiss & begins to leave}

RLS
Fanny

Fanny
Yes dear

RLS
I love you

Fanny
Ahh… I love you too, darling – now get to work – that hundred pounds will not last forever

RLS laughs / exit Fanny / he begins to eat his breakfast whistling a tune then begins to compose a poem to the same tune

THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.



SCENE 10: Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Cummy & RLS approach the Covenantors monument

THE GOOD CHILD

Cummy
A child should always say what’s true
And speak when he is spoken to,
And behave mannerly at table;

RLS
At least as far as he is able.
When I am grown to man’s estate
I shall be very proud and great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.
Every night my prayers I say,
And get my dinner every day;
And every day that I’ve been good,

Cummy
You’ll get an orange after food
The child that is not clean and neat,
With lots of toys and things to eat,
He is a naughty child, I’m sure

RLS
Or else his dear papa is poor… Cummy

Cummy
Yes my boy

RLS
What is the use of a butterfly when they don’t even make butter

Cummy
It is just a name, it doent mean anything

RLS
Well, it is a very silly name, I think, & names should mean something… but Cummy Mummy

Cummy
Yes, my boy

RLS
Why are we in a graveyard

Cummy
Well, before we went to hear your grandfather preach at Colinton, as were passing thro town I thought we could visit the Covenantor’s monument… & here it is

RLS
Who were the cov, conk, conkernonkers, Cummy

Cummy
The Covenantors dear, they were good honest proud Presbyterians who suffer’d for their faith during many years of persecution – let me read you some of the inscription – ah yes, this…

Though here their dust
Lies mixt with murderers, and other crew
Whom justice justly did to death pursue.
But as for them, no cause was to be found
Worthy of death, but only they were found.
Constant and stedfast zealous as
For the Prerogative of CHRIST their KING

RLS
Were they kill’d by Catholics, Cummy

Cummy
No, by a treacherous & perfidious king who turn’d his back on a most solemn oath, young man, removing the livelihoods of thousands of Presbyterians – toss’d out of churches & manses – ripping the heart out of proud congregations – they had no choice but to fight for their cause – 18,000 glorious soldiers of Jesus Christ went on to lose their lives in the struggles, & this monument is a memorial to their sacrifice – the Reverend Richard Cameron, Mr James Renwick & the Marquis of Argyle – let their names sing as powerful to you, child, as those of Moses, Daniel & St Paul

RLS
Was the bad king Cummy

Cummy
King Charles the Second

RLS
Was he a Catholic king

Cummy
No, but his brother James was, & I do have my suspicions – I do really think that every king & queen is a secret Jesuit papist

RLS
The Catholics are not very nice people are they

Cummy
No, not for a long, long time – so let us say a prayer, before we go to your grandfather’s

RLS
Will Aunt Jane be there

Cummy
She will, yes

RLS
& my cousins – Willie & Henrietta

Cummy
Yes, & a few more of your tribe I expect – but come back to the moment, young man, let us prayer

Our father in Heaven
Please give us the strength of the Covenantors – who, covering themselves with the blood of Jesus, vow’d, by the power of God, to never serve our enemies; like our proud honest Christian brothers & sisters of those former times, let us pull down all the strongholds erected against our spiritual progress, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen

RLS
Amen

Cummy
Let us go & see your grandfather now

Exit Cummy & RLS


Scene 11: La Solitude

RLS is working at the Roses in the garden – enter Fanny

Fanny
What a positively delicious day

RLS
It is, yes, but no more than any other recently – I take it the treatment went well

Fanny
Doctor Vidal is an absolute sorcerer – a curious navy man, very clever indeed

RLS
What is so marvellous about him

Fanny
Well, he kind of experiments with these red hot needles- its call’d thermal cautery, he heats a sort of little hammer red hot & burns spots on me with it – the effects are sublime, I feel positively brand new

RLS
As do I my love, tho flower-frail I’m iron born, & yes, I’m back on my feet now with an absolute flourish – these roses are inspiring, & all of this glorious nature surrounding – as Bunyan says, ‘I dwell already the next door to heaven.’

Fanny
This view is certainly celestial

RLS
Those mountains are as graceful as ever serv’d Zeus – & underneath them all this tiny spot of heaven – such a fragrant garden, & so lovely to look at it

Fanny
It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.

Fanny
There is one flaw, however

RLS
What is it

Fanny
At a word my dear, snails! Those pesky parasites are everywhere

RLS
Yes, but, I haven’t the heart to kill them

Sam
Mother, father!

RLS
Sam

Sam
Well hello

Fanny
You made it

Sam
What the devil is that contraption

Sam
This new-fangled instrument, Luly, made from 100 percent steel might I add, is call’d a velocipede

Fanny
Ah the boneshaker – they are all the rage in America right now

RLS
Well, whatever its call’d, it looks ridiculous – & dangerous

Fanny
I quite agree, it appears some kind of infernal death contraption – you don’t sit on that thing do you Sam

Sam
Yes – there’s the seat there, like a saddle on a horse

Fanny
Well, you are completely forbidden from mounting the thing while you are staying with us

Sam
Its fine mother, it is all about finding your balance, like walking a wall, its easy – anyway enough of that – is this where we’re living

Fanny
It certainly is

Sam
Aren’t you going to give me the tour

Fanny
Of course, you must be starving too – Valentina, Valentina !

Sam
Who?

Enter Valentina

Sam
My word

Fanny
Sam, this is the maid, Valentina

Valentina
Hello

Sam
Oh – hi – I’m Sam

Valentina
I know

Sam
Could you fix my son some food – as many delicacies you can find in the kitchen

Valentina
Yes, madame

Exit Valentina

Sam
She is absolutely exquisite

Fanny
& she is out of bounds – no fraternizing with the staff – so come indoors, tell me all about your trip – down – you’re looking really well

Sam
& you mother… Robert

RLS
I will join you inside in a wee while, I’ll just finish off this bush here

Fanny
Coffee

RLS
Well, I think wine now, to celebrate the return of the prodigal

Fanny
Red

RLS
Yes… a vin pays would be perfect

Sam
How is your writing coming on

RLS
I have many irons in the fire & some are coming out

Sam
Well, you’ll have to read me some this evening after dinner

RLS
Of course

Fanny
Come on, let’s go in

RLS continues gardening – we are able to hear him thinking

RLS
A man is a twofold being – for in his physical form there dwell other powers tributary, but independent. If I now behold one walking in a garden, curiously colour’d & illuminated by the sun, digesting his breakfast with elaborate chemistry, breathing, circulating blood, directing himself by the sight of his eyes, accommodating his body by a thousand delicate balancings to the wind & the uneven surface of the path, & all the time, perhaps, with his mind engag’d about France, or the Dog Star, or the attributes of God – what am I to say, or how am I to describe the thing I see? Is that truly a man, in the rigorous meaning of the world? or is it not a man & something else? It is a question to be much debated. He is he just a mass of nerves & blood & skin & organs, or is he an exiled piece of heaven blown upon & determin’d by the breath of God; & both schools of theorists will scream like scalded children at a word of doubt. Yet either of these views, however plausible, is beside the question; either may be right; & I care not; I ask a more particular answer, & to a more immediate point? What is a man?

What a monstrous spectre he is, irremediably condemn’d with the disease of the agglutinated dust, lifting alternate feet or lying drugged with slumber; killing, feeding, growing, bringing forth small copies of himself; grown upon with hair like grass, fitted with eyes that glitter on his face – poor soul, here for so little, disturb’d by so many hardships, fill’d with desires so incommensurate & so inconsistent, savagely surrounded, savagely descended – stalking the universe on our planet’s rotary island loaded with predatory life, & more drenched with blood, both animal & vegetable,m than ever mutinied ship, soaring through space with unimaginable speed, while turning its alternate cheeks to the reverberation of a blazing world, ninety million miles away

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