.          all rights belong to Tanis Harms, © 2016
.             refer to

CASTLE OF ABDA - written by Tanis Harms

PREMISE:    Having business elsewhere, the King asks
.           his children to rule his kingdom together.
.           Having already established the laws,
.           all the King asks is that they continue
.           to serve for the good of all;
.           but pride, greed and doubt creep in
.           and brings darkness to the land.
STYLE:      drama
TOPIC:      as God’s ambassadors, we are servants
.           who should work at remaining faithful
SCRIPTURE:  Mt.5:16; Luke 12:35-48; 1Cor.3:19;
.           2Cor.5:20; 1Pet.2:9-17

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SCRIPT:                  ACT 1

(ROBERT and GAYLYNN stroll in arm in arm.  
ROBERT motions grandly around himself.)

ROBERT      Someday, all of this shall be mine.

GAYLYNN     The Castle of Abda and its entire kingdom?
.           So confident are you.  I hear that
.           the king rules with great wisdom,
.           and his children take after him.

ROBERT      Things can change.

GAYLYNN     Then you do not hear the stories.
.           It is a family – all above reproach –
.           each gifted with grace as well as strength.

ROBERT      People’s strength can become their weakness.
.           And, with a little help from me-

GAYLYNN     From you only?  Am I not right here
.           by your side?
.                                                      2
ROBERT      Shall a criminal trust another criminal?

GAYLYNN     Why, my dear, at this point, we have no choice.
.           Besides, we both want the same thing,
.           so there is a common bond – a mutual agreement.
.           And there is an understanding
.           of potential consequences –
.           when schemes are crossed or go awry.

ROBERT      WHEN schemes are crossed or go awry?

GAYLYNN     When?  Did I say “when?”  I meant “if.”
.           But to avoid that completely, I must know,
.           what is the first plan of action?

ROBERT      To study their strengths, naturally.

(GAYLYNN and ROBERT slink away slyly.)

(Carrying a basket, KENDRA meets up with BERNICE,
who curtsies.)

BERNICE     How do you do, Princess Kendra?

KENDRA      I am well.  Thank you, Bernice.
.           I pray that your family is doing well.
.           Is your husband able to work yet?

BERNICE     The doctor you sent the other day
.           says that he is hopefully on the mend.
.           Thank you so much for that provision.

KENDRA      Nonsense.  I am just happy to hear
.           that there is some hope.  Oh, this is
.           for you and the family.  Food and such.
.           You must be overwhelmed with many concerns.

(BERNICE takes the basket gratefully with more curtsies.)

BERNICE     I cannot express how appreciative we are
.           for all that you have done for us.

KENDRA      And please let me know if there
.           is anything else you might need.

(KENDRA nods with a smile, and both exit.)
.                                                      3
(MICHAEL wanders in reading from a small book.
YOUNG MAN 1 enters, noticing, and shyly interrupts.)

MAN 1       Prince Michael?  (with a bow)

MICHAEL     (looking up with a little nod)
.           Good sir?

(MAN 1 fidgets, like he wants to speak,
but doesn’t know where or how to begin.)

MICHAEL     You have a question?

MAN 1       Yes?  Is that – ah – is that – THE book?

MICHAEL     (smiling)  It is not THE book,
.           it is just a book.  I do like to read.

MAN 1       But you have read – the book of wisdom?

MICHAEL     I have – and I still do.  It contains
.           the wisdom from all the ages past,
.           which may answer all questions
.           considered in ages to come.

MAN 1       Can it answer any question of the present?

MICHAEL     Of course.  Do you have such a question?

MAN 1       Every night, I see my neighbor stealing
.           apples from our orchard.  What do you-
.           what would the book suggest I do about that?

MICHAEL     Hm, naturally, stealing is always wrong.
.           But never assume other people’s motives.
.           Perhaps he is unable to feed his family.
.           Next time you see him, ask him pleasantly
.           how it goes.  If he says times are tough,
.           you might suggest that he ask you for help.
.           This way you are helping him,
.           and he will not feel the need to steal,
.           but to trust you as a good neighbor.

(MAN 1 nods his understanding, but still wonders.)

MAN 1       And what if he says that times are good?
.                                                    4
MICHAEL     Then ask him if he is sure about that.
.           Because if it is not, you would be more
.           than willing to give him some apples
.           from your orchard in order to help him out.
.           This way, if he is stealing, he will feel
.           the guilt of it, and the fear of getting
.           caught in the act.  As well, he will
.           hopefully consider you a worthy neighbor
.           to be respected – but still on good terms.

MAN 1       Ah, either way – it keeps the peace.
.           Thank you indeed, Prince Michael.

MICHAEL     I trust this advice was favorable.

(MAN 1 bows and rushes off.  MICHAEL wanders off
going back to reading his book.)

(RYAN enters with MAN 2, already deep in a discussion.)

MAN 2       How kind of you to give immediate attention
.           to this matter, Prince Ryan.

RYAN        No matter the status, we are a community
.           of people who need to work together.

MAN 2       Do you think the kingdom will
.           require the supplies within a week?

RYAN        We will get by for at least a month.
.           So worry not.  And I will send Finley
.           over within the week to
.           see to the necessary repairs.

MAN 2       That will be most helpful.

RYAN        You still seem anxious, though.

MAN 2       I just know that while the mill is being
.           repaired, the other men will get anxious
.           about being out of work for that time period.

RYAN        Reassure the men that the king will
.           not expect taxes during this time.
.           Now, show me which shaft is damaged
.           so we know exactly what we are dealing with.
.                                                     5
(RYAN and MAN 2 exit while talking.)

MAN 2       It is the main shaft, so replacing it
.           will be a challenge.

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(LAURENCE enters upper stage right, followed by
STEWART and FINLEY, who carry in a throne.  
LAURENCE stops to monitor the task of seeing that
the throne is set down next to the two other thrones
that are there already.)

LAURENCE   Thank you, gentlemen.  Yes, please,
.          make sure they are set straight and even.

(STEWART backs away, thinking he’s done a good job,
but backs up into the podium, which almost tips over.  
FINLEY catches it and sets it in its original position.)

LAURENCE   Careful with that.  Thank you, Finley.

STEWART    I apologize, sir Laurence.

LAURENCE   No need to worry, Stewart.  All is well.
.          You may go about your usual work.

(STEWART and FINLEY exit lower stage right.  
KENDRA and MICHAEL enter upper from stage left.)

MICHAEL    Sir Laurence, you called us?

LAURENCE   King William requested your presence.

KENDRA     What does Father want?

LAURENCE   This is not for me to say.
.          Where is your brother, Ryan?

(RYAN enters from upper stage left.)

RYAN       I apologize for being late.
.          There was an accident at the mill.

LAURENCE   Has it been resolved?

RYAN       It is being managed, yes.              6
.          (sees the three thrones on the dais)
.          Why are there three thrones?

MICHAEL    We have not been told anything yet.

(WILLIAM enters upper stage right.  
LAURENCE bows then backs up to stand behind WILLIAM.  
RYAN, KENDRA and MICHAEL bow slightly.)

WILLIAM    Children!  I hear that you have been seeing
.          to your responsibilities with prevailing
.          wisdom and commitment.  This is all good,
.          considering the news that I have to share.
.          I must urgently attend to some issues
.          elsewhere.  This will take me away
.          from the Castle of Abda for some time.

KENDRA     How long of a time?

WILLIAM    I cannot say, but I cannot see it being
.          any less than half a year.

RYAN       And who will oversee whilst you are away?

WILLIAM    This is why there are three thrones up here.
.          You children will rule the Castle of Abda
.          simultaneously.

RYAN       What if we disagree on something?

WILLIAM    I know I have taught all three of you well.
.          And you have grasped the teachings
.          from the book of wisdom.  These laws
.          of guidance have been established
.          and passed down throughout many generations
.          and have proven themselves worthy and true.
.          The principles found within, will apply
.          to every circumstance you could possibly face.
.          As well, my faithful aide, Sir Laurence,
.          will remain behind to offer sound counsel.
.          He has extensive knowledge and
.          many years of experience alongside me...

RYAN       But who will ultimately be in charge
.          of things?

WILLIAM    I am still king, am I not?              7
.          Each one of you has individual strengths,
.          which complements the others.  If you work
.          together, in strength, wisdom and grace,
.          you will continue along in unity.
.          There will not be anything you cannot tackle.
.          All I ask is that you maintain the peace
.          that already exists in the kingdom.  Ryan,
.          remember to stay faithful.  Michael, allow
.          humility to influence your reasoning.  And
.          Kendra, keep compassion close to your heart.
.          Now, all of you, please come with me
.          to say our goodbyes.

(WILLIAM leads the way through the main doors.  
KENDRA and MICHAEL follow, but RYAN stops
to address LAURENCE, who is about to follow.)

RYAN       Sir Laurence, I would like you to gather
.          all overseeing help.  We should hold a meeting
.          in order to understand operations and –
.          perhaps set some parameters.

LAURENCE   (unsure)  As you wish, Prince Ryan.

(RYAN spins around and exits through main doors.
FINLEY enters through the main doors with a bow.)

RYAN       Ah, Finley, please assist Sir Laurence.

(As RYAN exits, FINLEY bows and turns to LAURENCE.)

LAURENCE   We have been asked to summon all
.          overseeing help.

(FINLEY exits lower stage right, while LAURENCE
paces the floor, thinking.  Soon, FINLEY returns
They ALL stand in a line, at attention.)

CORNELIUS  What is this about?

LAURENCE   I was only told to collect you.

TATIANA    Mysterious.  (noticing the thrones)
.          I wonder if this has something to do
.          with there being three thrones.
.                                                     8
(RYAN, KENDRA and MICHAEL return, with RYAN in the lead.)

RYAN       (to LAURENCE)  Is this everyone?

KENDRA     (to RYAN)  Ryan?  What is this?

RYAN       I decided to hold a meeting immediately.
.          We need to understand who does what.

MICHAEL    You have already made a decision
.          without Kendra and me.

KENDRA     Well, it certainly would not hurt
.          to learn who is in charge of what
.          before we begin ordering people about.

(RYAN approaches the lineup, then looks at LAURENCE.)

RYAN       You should be in line, Sir Laurence.

(A little offended, LAURENCE joins the line.
RYAN still tries to remain diplomatic.)

RYAN       (to LAURENCE)  Please explain to us
.          exactly: what is your focus of affairs?

LAURENCE   My focus - would be law enforcement
.          as well as maintaining peace
.          with the political relationships
.          of the surrounding lands and kingdoms.

RYAN       In case there is the threat of war?

LAURENCE   Mostly, we always try to avoid that.
.          My overall concern is to see that
.          everything runs peacefully, with others,
.          as well as within the kingdom.

(RYAN passes by FINLEY and addresses STEWART.)

RYAN       Who are you, and what do you oversee?

STEWART    Um, ah, I am Stewart, and I see to
.          the supplies and, ah, inventories-

RYAN       You are new to this position.
.                                                    9
LAURENCE   And he is doing a fine job!

RYAN       I have heard that a few things
.          have been broken already-

LAURENCE   Accidents happen.  But he shows potential.

MICHAEL    Stewart has also been acting as
.          my personal valet.  I noticed that
.          YOU skipped over YOUR personal valet.

RYAN       I already know Finley and his tasks.

KENDRA     Well, but we do not.  What does he do
.          besides seeing to your personal needs?

FINLEY     I oversee the servants,
.          and the maintenance of the castle.

(RYAN moves on to TATIANA.)

TATIANA    I am Tatiana, designer and head seamstress.

RYAN       Is that it?

TATIANA    Is that it?  I beg your pardon, Prince,
.          but who do you think designs and sews
.          all of your fabulous clothes
.          to make you look presentable?  As well
.          as all the clothes for all the help?

RYAN       I will remind you to watch your attitude.

(TATIANA sighs rigidly as RYAN moves on to CHARITY.)

KENDRA     (quickly)  This is Charity, my handmaiden.
.          My best friend and confident.

CHARITY    (gently)  I also oversee housekeeping.

RYAN       Is that not the same as castle maintenance?

CHARITY    It is more the cleaning of things
.          and making sure everything
.          is kept in order, and kept in stock.

RYAN       Is that not the same as supplies            10
.          and inventories?

CHARITY    I let Stewart know when something
.          is running low so he can procure it.

RYAN       Very well.  Although there seems to be
.          a tiny bit of overlap here.

(RYAN glances at KENDRA, who is slightly taken aback.  
RYAN turns and walks over to face CORNELIUS.)

CORNELIUS  Besides being highly thought-provoking
.          and amusing, I oversee the kitchen
.          and all entertainment events.

RYAN       I do not know what to make of you.

CORNELIUS  I am extremely imperative.  I decide
.          what will be served, then keep the cooks
.          in line so that you get to eat every day.
.          But I do aspire to so much more.  Please,
.          if any of you are in need of anything –
.          I beg that you ask me, and I will see to it.

RYAN       (sighs and steps back)  Very well, for now,
.          carry on as you have been.  But I’m keeping
.          my eyes on all of you.  Off you go, then.

(ALL HELP exits except for LAURENCE.)

LAURENCE   Prince Ryan – a word?  Might I urge you
.          to be a little more – encouraging to the help?
.          The effect will be a lot more favorable for all.

RYAN       (sincerely considers the words of advice)
.          Thank you, Sir Laurence.  I thought
.          I was only being businesslike.
.          Well, carry on – then.  Thank you again.

(LAURENCE pauses before exiting upper stage left.)

MICHAEL    Ryan, what exactly are you doing?

RYAN       Taking charge.  You both could step it up
.          a little more, as well.

MICHAEL    We should still treat others well.         11
.          Especially Sir Laurence,
.          who has earned his position in life,
.          as well as our respect – despite our status.

RYAN       I am taking my position seriously,
.          so that others will take me seriously.
.          Behave in such a way so as to command respect.
.          And - I was being respectful.  

KENDRA     I do not know if I ever saw Father being
.          THAT demanding - or - commanding.

(RYAN goes to sit austerely on the middle throne.)

RYAN       We are now rulers of a kingdom.

KENDRA     But do we really know what we are doing?
.          Sir Laurence will prove to be very helpful.

MICHAEL    It would be unwise to tarnish that relationship.

RYAN       Are you implying that I will?

KENDRA     I do not wish to argue...  so, I am now going
.          to withdraw and do something lighthearted.

(KENDRA goes to the library at lower stage right.  
Taking a small book, she reclines on the sofa to read.)

RYAN       (calls out)  Finley!? I wish to go out riding!

(FINLEY enters from upper stage right entrance
with a coat and approaches RYAN with a bow.
FINLEY helps put the coat on RYAN, while MICHAEL goes
to the podium to flip through the book of wisdom.)

RYAN       (sincerely)  Thank you, Finley.  And ah,
.          I have been a bit blown away with everything.
.          I apologize if I took it out on you.

(FINLEY bows and exits lower stage left.  
RYAN glances at MICHAEL who is still at the podium.)

RYAN       As you heard, I’m going to ride about,
.          oversee the land, and all.
.          Try not to burn down the castle.
.                                                     13
MICHAEL    And just what do you mean by that?

RYAN       Figure of speech.

MICHAEL    Which still has implications.

(As RYAN exits through main doors, STEWART enters
lower stage right and approaches MICHAEL.  
CORNELIUS has followed behind STEWART but stands
just around the corner, out of sight from KENDRA,
but before the fireplace to eavesdrop.)

STEWART    Do you need anything, Prince Michael?

MICHAEL    Something to drink, thank you.

(CORNELIUS rushes out – on a mission, almost running
into CHARITY as she enters lower stage left.  
KENDRA glances up, shocked, then smiles.)

CHARITY    Princess Kendra, what will the plans be
.          for tomorrow?

KENDRA     (putting the book back on the shelf)
.          You have mentioned that the silverware
.          needs polishing.

CHARITY    I can see to that in the morning.

(KENDRA sits back down and pats the spot next to her
for CHARITY to sit down as well.)

KENDRA     Besides that, I want to put out fresh flowers.
.          And - I would like to go through storage
.          in order to bring what we do not need
.          to those in the village who are in need.
.          I heard of a family who just lost everything-

(TATIANA comes through the door with gusto.)

TATIANO    OOoorrrrr, we design for you
.          a beautifully stunning gown.
.          I am thinking a golden taffeta.  May I?
.          I would be most honored to design
.          something more befitting of your new status.

KENDRA     That sounds lovely, but-                   13

TATIANA    No “buts.”  I do.  It will bring me
.          the greatest pleasure to bring you pleasure.

(CORNELIUS rushes in with a cup to bring to MICHAEL,
bowing slightly before handing it to MICHAEL.)

CORNELIUS  Prince Michael.

MICHAEL    Thank youuu... (trying to remember his name)

CORNELIUS  Cornelius.

MICHAEL    What happened to Stewart?

CORNELIUS  Who?  Oh, Stewart- I have not seen him since
.          the meeting.  I just had an intuition that
.          you might like something to refresh yourself.

MICHAEL    Most excellent intuition.

CORNELIUS  And now an observation –
.          why are you studying the book of wisdom?

MICHAEL    One should never stop learning.

CORNELIUS  I highly doubt you could learn
.          too much more.  Word is that you are
.          already very knowledgeable and wise.

MICHAEL    Well, I have studied at length.
.          But more important is the necessity
.          to practice what you have learned.

CORNELIUS  Exactly, you just demonstrated my point.

(STEWART rushes in and trips, but catches himself
and saves the drink.  MICHAEL sees the second drink,
so he quickly drinks the first one, and takes
the second while handing the empty cup to STEWART.)

MICHAEL    Thank you, Stewart.  I was very thirsty.

(STEWART takes the empty cup, but fumbles-juggles the cup.
CORNELIUS rolls his eyes and looks back at MICHAEL.
After STEWART has left, MICHAEL comments.)
.                                                  14
MICHAEL    He means well.

CORNELIUS  He seems a little shifty, to me.
.          (catches MICHAEL’S reprimanding stare)
.          Normally, I find anyone who is that nervous
.          to be hiding something.

(MICHAEL wonders at this, then looks back to the book.)

CORNELIUS  Am I wrong?  I’m just thinking –
.          perfect is perfect.  One should always
.          strive for perfection in every avenue of life.
.          To be above reproach!  As you are.
.          So for your personal valet –
.          you really need someone who reflects
.          your impeccable qualities.

MICHAEL    One’s inner motives are most important-

CORNELIUS  Of course, but what is on the inside
.          will become evident on the outside.

MICHAEL    (carefully)  You do have a point there.

CORNELIUS  Thank you.  It is such an honor
.          to be acknowledged by you.

.                  STAGE LEFT/INN

(ROBERT and GAYLYNN sit at a table, postures implying
boredom.  RYAN slinks in and sits at the other table.  
GAYLYNN sits up as she takes notice.  She nudges ROBERT,
who refuses to look up, until GUS enters, while
polishing a mug and approaches RYAN.)

GUS        Prince Ryan, is it not?  Or am I mistaken?
.          What are you doing in these here parts?
.          Coming to see what us commoners
.          are all about?

ROBERT     Speak for yourself, Gus.

GUS        What will it be, young man.  Or am I  
.          expected to say - your majesty?

RYAN       No matter.  You are outside of my kingdom.
.                                                  15
GUS        YOUR kingdom!?  Well-well – sire,
.          so what will it be?

RYAN       Whatever it is you serve.

GUS        Blackberry root, coming up.

(GUS goes behind the counter to pour a drink.)

ROBERT     Good evening to you, sire,
.          Sir Robert the Great at your service.
.          This here’s Lady - GayLynn.

GAYLYNN    (creeps over to RYAN’s table)  
.          I am Lady GayLynn.

ROBERT     Yes, love, I’ve already mentioned you.

GAYLYNN    Am I not worth mentioning twice?
.          Now, I am still most curious,
.          are you a prince?  Or a king?

RYAN       Still technically a prince.

ROBERT     And what exactly does such a prince do?

GAYLYNN    I’d like to think – whatever he wants!

GUS        So what happened to the king?

(GUS places a mug down in front of RYAN.  
More curious, ROBERT moves over to the other table.)

RYAN       He went away on business matters.
.          He has left the kingdom to me.

GAYLYNN    All by yourself?

RYAN       I am ruling alongside my brother and sister.
.          (sees their expressions)
.          But I am the eldest.

ROBERT     Does your father not trust you?

RYAN       I am sure that he does.

ROBERT     You are?  You do not sound so convinced.   16
.          So I ask, who is looking out
.          for your interests?

RYAN       Father left behind his aide: Sir Laurence.

ROBERT     That was only to make sure that
.          your father’s interests are maintained.
.          Who looks after yours?

RYAN       As I have said, my brother and sister.
.          And I do have a personal valet.

ROBERT     A valet?

(ROBERT and GAYLYNN laugh hysterically then become sober.)

ROBERT     Well, now, in all honesty and with the utmost  
.          sincerity:  you need an experienced knight
.          who not only can remain objective, but
.          understands the dangers and dimensions
.          of possible schemes and plots against you.

RYAN       (dryly)  I suppose that would be you?

ROBERT     They do not call me Robert the Great
.          without reason.

RYAN       I have not heard of you.

GAYLYNN    He is famous beyond your castle walls,
.          and has important connections and relations
.          with all neighboring kingdoms.
.          You would be most wise to utilize
.          his knowledge and political savvy.

ROBERT     For example, I know for a fact
.          that the kingdom of Barryton
.          is always vying for your farmlands.

RYAN       We have peace with them, and yes,
.          they do lease farmland from us to use.

ROBERT     Do you think that stops them from plotting?
.          Sounds like your Sir Laurence is not on top
.          of things – as much as you’d like to think.

GAYLYNN    Would you not like to prove your father wrong?
.          That you alone are completely capable of
.          protecting and ruling your kingdom?

(RYAN does not want to give in to GAYLYNN’S flattery,
so tries to swing his focus back to ROBERT.)

RYAN       And just what would you recommend?
.          Should I make Sir Laurence aware
.          of this issue, or should I approach
.          Barryton Castle on my own?

ROBERT     Now what would that accomplish?
.          If they are giving you the impression
.          that there is peace, why would they
.          admit to any underhanded plots?
.          Since I have inroads and connections
.          with them, I could go feel out the situation
.          for you.  To see what is really happening.

RYAN       I cannot just hire you-

ROBERT     No-no, of course not.  That would blow
.          the whole thing wide open.  In fact,
.          no one should know that I am helping you,
.          or that there is any connection between us
.          at all.  Especially Sir Laurence!

RYAN       So you would be a spy.

ROBERT     You very rarely get the truth by any
.          other method.  Do you always tell the truth?

RYAN       I try- There are proven guidelines to protocol,
.          found in the book of wisdom.

ROBERT     Interesting, I suppose.  Interesting that
.          I have found success – without such a book.

RYAN       Perhaps we define success differently.

GAYLYNN    Sounds like this book might be misleading.

ROBERT     Exactly.  Take for instance, this advice  
.          of always trying to tell the truth...
.          there are always exceptions.

GAYLYNN    For instance, if the truth               18
.          would upset someone needlessly.

ROBERT     It is the same way between kingdoms.
.          Now - if I am right, Queen Ashley of Barryton
.          will pay you a visit very soon.
.          Especially once word gets out that you
.          are now reigning in place of your father.

RYAN       What do you think her excuse will be
.          to pay such a visit?  Should I speak with her?

ROBERT     By all means, speak with her, but consider
.          every word she speaks - with skepticism.
.          She will want to reinforce your arrangement,
.          but will probably twist a few words around,
.          A very manipulate maneuver to make inroads
.          into your kingdom.  Takeovers can begin with
.          something just that small.  If Queen Ashley
.          does visit you, you may want to return here,
.          next week this time, to speak with me further-
.          about – an arrangement.

RYAN       I will consider that.

ROBERT     And do yourself a favor - burn that book.
.          Has it really brought you success?
.          You ARE sharing your throne.
.          Your father clearly does not trust you
.          to think for yourself.

RYAN       I should be on my way now.
.          (to GUS)  What do I owe?

ROBERT     Nonsense.  Gus, it is on me.

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(KENDRA walks through the room with CHARITY.)

CHARITY    The flowers are lovely.
.          They really brighten up the dining room.

KENDRA     No more than the polished silverware.
.          You always manage to keep the rooms
.          in such pristine order.

(TATIANA meets up with them and smiles.)          19

TATIANA    Of course, our dear Princess is such
.          a brilliant artist when it comes to
.          flower arrangements.  And, well, (glibly)
.          Charity does what is expected, to be sure!
.          Now, Princess Kendra – let me demonstrate
.          what an artist I am with dress designing.

CHARITY    We were going to go through the storage-

TATIANA    The old things will always be there.
.          But in order to have new things, we must
.          always be working towards that.  Yes?
.          Now, if it pleases your majesty to sit-

(TATIANA motions and guides KENDRA over to a throne.
CHARITY stands off to the side.)

TATIANA    I will now bring out a parade of fabric,
.          from which you will choose.

(WOMAN 1 comes out with some fabric swatches and
holds it out to KENDRA with a curtsy.)

TATIANA    Consider this multi-colored silk brocade
.          for a day dress as you attend to
.          the castle’s business.  With a velvety soft
.          drape of wool for a coverlet.
.            (WOMAN 2 follows after and does the same)
.          Whilst enjoying afternoon tea,
.          adorn yourself in flouncy taffeta
.          with embroidered floral embellishments.
.             (then WOMAN 3)
.          Then when you entertain dignitaries
.          at a formal dinner, imagine wearing a gown
.          made of this exquisite pearl-studded linen.
.             (then WOMAN 4)
.          As the feasting turns to dancing,
.          you would change into a stunning
.          ballroom dress of flowing chiffon.
.              (then WOMAN 5)
.          And while the party comes to an end,
.          see your guests off while wearing
.          a simple formal gown of luxurious cashmere.

(Then WOMAN 6.  MICHAEL enters and stops to watch.)
.                                                  20
TATIANA    Then, indulge yourself before you retire
.          each night wearing organza and lace-
.          with a robe made of mink and ermine-

(KENDRA has become more and more impressed,
and finally turns to CHARITY to comment.)

KENDRA     So beautiful!  What do you think, Charity?
.          I have never seen such brilliant designs-

CHARITY    It is extremely extravagant, yes?

TATIANA    We cannot expect a simple housekeeper
.          to fully understand the importance
.          of personal appearances-

CHARITY    But- Princess Kendra- what about
.          your desires to help out the poor?

KENDRA     We – can still help them-

TATIANA    I have lived amongst those poor people.
.          I have seen firsthand that they are very lazy.
.          They really do not deserve any help at all.

MICHAEL    If I may interrupt- some have had
.          tragedy befall them-

TATIANA    If true, these people have to learn how
.          to save up and prepare for such times.

KENDRA     Perhaps offer them education on such things.

(MICHAEL thinks about this solution.)

TATIANA    Such an excellent idea, Princess Kendra.
.          This is something that I learned on my own-
.          how to be resourceful and ambitious...
.          so one can look after themselves.
.          Meanwhile, you work very hard, and thus-
.          you deserve to be rewarded.

MICHAEL    Rewards should be within reason.
.          And there is conflict of interest
.          when one begins to reward themselves.

TATIANA    You are royalty, are you not?             21
.          How would it look to other kingdoms
.          if your princess was dressed in rags?

MICHAEL    How would it look to our people
.          if they are suffering in the streets
.          because we over-tax them in order to
.          adorn ourselves in selfish majesty?

TATIANA    You work harder than they do- and so-
.          deserve more.  There is a balance.
.          As I said, I know of people who take advantage
.          of the kindness shown to them.  Take Bernice,
.          for example.  You have been supplying that
.          family quite generously-

KENDRA     Her husband became very ill-
.          our doctor saw this for himself-

TATIANA    What?  That the husband’s skin looked sallow?
.          Did you know that you can take the dust
.          from yellow flower petals and rub it
.          on one’s face to give it a deathly pallor?

KENDRA     (gasping)  Why?  Who would do such?

TATIANA    The family - you were going to help out
.          with the extra furniture and supplies-

CHARITY    Thieves broke in and stole everything-

TATIANA    Or did they sell everything for a profit, then
.          ask for your benevolence in order to replace
.          everything with finer furniture than before?

MICHAEL    Is this gossip?

(As they talk, RYAN enters, and eyes the book of wisdom
with intensity.)

KENDRA     Tatiana is only letting me know where there
.          are real needs.  I do see the benefit
.          of weeding out those who take advantage.

(RYAN tries to approach the book of wisdom casually,
but MICHAEL suddenly marches over with purpose.)

MICHAEL    I will still consult the book of wisdom   22
.          on these issues.

KENDRA     You do that.  But we also need to consider
.          the things that we see-

CHARITY    Sometimes things can appear to be one way,
.          but-

KENDRA     But?  (suddenly reprimanding)  Is there not
.          work to which you should be attending?

(CHARITY bows and exits quickly.)

TATIANA    If it please your majesty, we could
.          take your measurements.

KENDRA     It does please me.  We may continue this
.          in my chambers.

(KENDRA walks off upper stage right, followed by TATIANA
and WOMEN 1-6, still holding the fabrics.)

MICHAEL    (noticing RYAN)  You do not have any opinion?

RYAN       This trivial matter does not require my input.
.          I need to follow up on the issue at the mill
.          with Finley.

(RYAN exits and MICHAEL goes back to reading.  Knocking
at the main doors brings STEWART rushing out to answer,
followed by CORNELIUS.  MAN 1 steps in, cap in hand.)

MAN 1      If it is at all possible, I request
.          an audience with Prince Michael.

STEWART    If you would follow me-

(CORNELIUS arrives just in time to block the way.)

CORNELIUS  Excuse me, sir.  Prince Michael is busy
.          at the moment and probably does not wish
.          to be interrupted.  Is this at all urgent?

MAN 1      I was merely intending to thank Prince Michael
.          for his guidance the other day.

CORNELIUS  Give me your name, and I will pass along   23
.          your sentiments.

MAN 1      The name is Tailor, sir.

CORNELIUS  Thank you, Tailor,  I will be certain
.          to give Prince Michael your message.

(MAN 1 bows slightly and exits.  STEWART spreads out
his arms in a helpless gesture of wonderment, then rushes
toward MICHAEL.  CORNELIUS sighs and tries to intervene.)

STEWART    Prince Michael, there was someone here-
.          by the name of-  the name of-


MICHAEL    Yes, I overheard most of that conversation.

CORNELIUS  Sorry, sire.  I was going to make sure
.          that you got the entire message at a time
.          when it was most convenient for you.

STEWART    But it is my job to-

CORNELIUS  To think things through before acting.
.          You are too irrational.

STEWART    But- Prince Michael has said-

MICHAEL    Stewart, you do lack a few social graces.
.          More importantly, you lack intuition, and
.          the skill of knowing what are priorities-

STEWART    I will work at that.

MICHAEL    You will work at refining your skills
.          at overseeing supplies and inventories.
.          A period of probation seems to be necessary.


MICHAEL    We will assess your efficiency and
.          performance at a later date.

STEWART    But what about being your valet-

MICHAEL    Cornelius will act as my personal valet.   26
.          He has lost no time in proving his value
.          for this position.  I would be a fool
.          to keep using a fool as my right hand.

STEWART    (bowing humbly)  As you wish, Prince Michael.

MICHAEL    And from now on, you will not be free to roam
.          these quarters unless specifically asked.
.          And in the areas you do roam,
.          I will require you to walk, not run.
.          And - do not speak, unless requested.

STEWART    Yes- ah –

(STEWART bows, then exits, first quickly, then slowly
at the sound of CORNELIUS clearing his throat.)

MICHAEL    I hope I was not too harsh with him.

CORNELIUS  People need guidance, your majesty.

(FINLEY steps in at the doorway to announce loudly.)

FINLEY     Queen Ashley of Barryton requests
.          an audience with the rulers that be.

MICHAEL    Allow her welcome and entrance.
.          (to CORNELIUS)  Please tell Prince Ryan
.          and Princess Kendra to come at once.

(CORNELIUS bows and exits stage right.  QUEEN ASHLEY
enters and FINLEY remains vigilantly at the door.)

MICHAEL    (bowing)  Queen Ashley, welcome.

ASHLEY     (nodding)  Prince Michael, is it?

(CORNELIUS enters and steps to the side.  RYAN steps in,
studying ASHLEY with suspicion before checking himself
and approaching her with a curt bow.)

RYAN       Queen Ashley – from the castle of Barryton,
.          no less.  I am curious what brings you
.          to our kingdom at such a time?

(KENDRA enters and curtsy-bows.)
.                                                      25
KENDRA     Queen Ashley, most pleased to meet you.

(LAURENCE enters quietly with a bow to ASHLEY
then stands in background observing.)

RYAN       I will be more pleased to know –
.          what is the nature of your visit?

ASHLEY     Such a direct young man.

KENDRA     (aside warning)  Ryan.

RYAN       Is there business to address?

ASHLEY     As well as goodwill wishes.

KENDRA     Thank you.

ASHLEY     Since stepping into your father’s place,
.          I felt we should reiterate the farmland
.          agreement that has been already established.

RYAN       You want more land?

ASHLEY     I simply want to make sure that we continue
.          to hold to the agreement, even though
.          the king is away.  That you still allow
.          Barryton to use the land set aside, and
.          we will continue to reimburse you accordingly.

KENDRA     Of course.  You have our word.

(MICHAEL looks back at LAURENCE who nods.)

MICHAEL    We certainly will honor the contract
.          that our father established with you
.          and your kingdom.

KENDRA     Will you stay for refreshments, or
.          perhaps dinner?

ASHLEY     A very thoughtful and tempting invitation,
.          and much appreciated, but
.          I really do need to be going.
.          I hope this does not seem rude.

RYAN       Of course we understand.                28
.          You have a kingdom to run, as do we.

KENDRA     Thank you for your visit, Queen Ashley.

ASHLEY     Thank you for receiving me and your
.          most gracious and honorable understanding.

(ASHLEY exits with FINLEY escorting her out.
Then RYAN turns to MICHAEL and KENDRA.)

RYAN       I do not trust her!

KENDRA     From where is that coming?
.          Why would you not trust her?

RYAN       Tiny innuendos that she let slip.
.          Such as referring to “THE” land,
.          not “YOUR” land.  It should have been
.          stated clearly that they are using “OUR” land.

MICHAEL    Why did you not ask her about this
.          while she was here?  

LAURENCE   If I may?  We have always had a good
.          working arrangement and relationship
.          with the kingdom of Barryton.
.          Queen Ashley is our closest ally.

RYAN       Perhaps we cannot trust your input.  

MICHAEL    Ryan, how can you say this?  

KENDRA     What has gotten into you?  

RYAN       I could ask the same thing of you.

(KENDRA storms out.  Seeing LAURENCE calmly exiting,
MICHAEL rushes after him, with CORNELIUS in tow.
Seeing that he is alone, RYAN approaches the podium
to leer at the book of wisdom.  Looking around,
RYAN picks it up and carries it to the fireplace.  
As he is about to throw the book into the fireplace,
he hears MICHAEL’S voice.)

MICHAEL    Ryan?  Ryan!  We need to talk.

(RYAN quickly hides the book of wisdom under        27
a big pillow on the sofa.  RYAN now wants
to keep MICHAEL away from the sofa area,
and so, goes toward the door.)

RYAN       Is Sir Laurence leaving?  

MICHAEL    No, he merely stepped away to process things.
.          He did not want to blow up in anger.
.          I have half a mind to blow up,
.          but I will not.

RYAN       Because you are perfect?

MICHAEL    I am not causing waves, as you are.

RYAN       I do not need to be interrogated right now.

(RYAN exits stage left now.  MICHAEL tries follow.)

RYAN       (while leaving)  Do not follow me!

(MICHAEL stops and marches off upper stage right.
STEWART enters and sees the pillows on the sofa amiss.  
As he fluffs and arranges them, he finds the book of wisdom
and assuming it is just another book,
simply, quickly places it onto the bookcase.)

.                  STAGE LEFT/INN

(ROBERT and GAYLYNN sit at a table conversing, when RYAN
enters and seeks them out.  GUS calls out to RYAN.)

GUS        The – usual?

(RYAN ignores GUS who shrugs and continues his task
of cleaning.  RYAN starts speaking as soon as
he sits down with ROBERT and GAYLYNN.)

RYAN       You were right.  Queen Ashley
.          paid us a visit.  So, just how can you
.          help me avert any impending disaster?

ROBERT     I have contacts within the kingdom
.          of Barryton.  I will make inquiries
.          as to their strategy.

RYAN       Why would someone betray               28
.          their own kingdom?

ROBERT     For a price, anyone will.

GAYLYNN    There are also ways to make them think
.          that we are helping them,
.          when we are actually helping you.

RYAN       Wait, what kind of price are we
.          talking about?

ROBERT     In the long run, it is worth it.
.          Would you rather use some of your funds
.          to stop a takeover, or would you rather
.          lose your entire kingdom?

RYAN       That thinking is a little extreme.

ROBERT     Is it?  I’ve seen this sort of thing happen
.          many times.

(RYAN thinks for a moment, then nods.)

RYAN       All right, then.  What is the next step?

.                        ACT 2   
.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(STEWART enters and approaches MICHAEL, who is sitting
on one of the thrones.  STEWART bows and waits.)

MICHAEL    Yes?...  Stewart – you may speak.

STEWART    You called me.

MICHAEL    I did?

STEWART    Well, I was told that you had questions
.          about our inventories.

MICHAEL    Yes, I told Cornelius to look into that
.          for me.  But why are you bothering me
.          with this now?

STEWART    Well, with Cornelius as the middle-man,    29
.          things are getting rather confusing.
.          I need to know soon what to do regarding
.          the surplus that we are experiencing.

MICHAEL    And in your opinion, what should be
.          the solution?

STEWART    As far as I know and as far as I’m concerned,
.          we need to build another warehouse.

MICHAEL    There is not another solution more efficient?

STEWART    So much has changed in the procedures.
.          It’s all a little confusing.

(RYAN enters from the main doors, overhearing the
last bit and comments flippantly while sitting down
and pouring over documents, disinterested in
the conversation.  FINLEY takes his place nearby.)

RYAN       Well – un-confuse it!

STEWART    For whatever reason, we have surplus,
.          which is not within my area of control.
.          Where I am concerned, all I can do is
.          suggest that we build another warehouse.

MICHAEL    That would mean raising taxes.
.          I want to know how it is that we are
.          spending more and more- and for what?

(KENDRA swoops into the room while talking.)

KENDRA     I am going to need more funds!  I need
.          to replace all the furniture in my chambers.

MICHAEL    First clothes, and now redecorating?
.          What of the people who are struggling?

KENDRA     We are royalty.  We should live like it.
.          And I am actually creating more jobs by
.          hiring people to make clothing and furniture.
.          So the people are doing all right.
.          And after I redecorate and replace all
.          the furniture in my chambers, I will continue
.          my efforts in the rest of the castle.
.                                                   30
MICHAEL    If you are replacing everything, why do we
.          need to keep the things we are not using?

KENDRA     Perhaps one day we will need them.

STEWART    So we will need to build yet another warehouse.

(RYAN glares at STEWART who clamps his mouth shut.)

KENDRA     Besides, many of these things also come
.          with sentimental value.  We cannot just
.          give everything away.

MICHAEL    (to RYAN)  Do you not care?

RYAN       (looking up)  Over issues so trivial?
.          I would hope that we were a little more alert
.          over the possibility of being taken over,
.          instead of this internal squabbling.

KENDRA     You’re not exactly helping with that.

RYAN       If you would just listen to me and
.          take my lead.

MICHAEL    We are all to lead together, with one mind.

RYAN       See, exactly my point - you are not even
.          listening to me.

MICHAEL    You are not listening to ME.  I know
.          the wisdom of the book better than anyone-
.          We need to put a few more laws in place
.          to maintain control-

KENDRA     A little puffed up, aren’t we?
.          I question your memory, because
.          some of the things you are saying
.          do not align with what I remember.

MICHAEL    Then let us consult the book of wisdom.

(MICHAEL stands up and approaches the podium,
followed by KENDRA, but realize the book is not there.)

MICHAEL    Where is the book of wisdom?
.                                                     31
(RYAN inhales, then pretends not to know anything.)

KENDRA     It is obvious – someone has removed it.

MICHAEL    (to STEWART)  Send everyone in.
.            (STEWART starts to run out)
.          Stewart!  WALK!  Can you do nothing right?
.            (STEWART quickly exits in a walk)
.          Who would dare move the book of wisdom?

RYAN       You are really letting yourself
.          get all worked up about this.

(STEWART leads the way with LAURENCE, TATIANA,
CHARITY, CORNELIUS and WOMENH 1-6 following.  
As FINLEY joins the line, MICHAEL studies the lineup
with scrutiny.)

MICHAEL    Did anyone take the book of wisdom
.          from the podium?

(Those in LINEUP shake their heads or say “no, sir.”)

RYAN       (coolly)  When was the last time
.          the book was seen?

MICHAEL    I know I saw it the day Queen Ashley
.          of Barryton came by.

RYAN       (thinking of something)  That’s it.
.          Queen Ashley must have taken it with her.

LAURENCE   How can you accuse someone without evidence?
.          Or motive?  Why would Queen Ashley take it?

RYAN       Who else, then?...  See, what I have
.          been saying all along is coming true.
.          We could be in grave danger,
.          while we neglect being prepared.

LAURENCE   I believe you are making a grave mistake
.          by making such unfounded accusations.
.          I will keep my eyes peeled -
.          in case the book of wisdom has somehow
.          been misplaced – and NOT stolen.
.           (exits)
.                                                     32
RYAN       The rest of you are dismissed!
.            (LINEUP looks concerned)
.          Go! – To your work!

(LINEUP nod with understanding and exit.  RYAN waits until
LINEUP is gone.  Then CORNELIUS returns to eavesdrop.)

RYAN       I am suspicious that Sir Laurence
.          is playing both sides.

KENDRA     There is no proof of that.

RYAN       If he is, I will find the proof.

(RYAN exits through the main doors.)

KENDRA     What is happening?

MICHAEL    I could ask you the same thing.
.          You have changed.  You know full well
.          that you have been acting selfishly.

KENDRA     Get over yourself, you are not perfect.
.          It’s not like you to be so critical.

MICHAEL    I am not being critical!
.          We are to hold one another accountable.

(KENDRA exits with a gasp.  KENDRA sees CORNELIUS.)

KENDRA     What are you doing here?

(As MICHAEL looks concerned, CORNELIUS steps forward.)

CORNELIUS  Prince Michael, I was waiting to mention,
.          I will assist you in locating the book.

MICHAEL    Thank you, Cornelius.

.                  STAGE LEFT/INN

(RYAN sits at a table with ROBERT and GAYLYNN.
GUS puts a cup down in front of RYAN and retreats.)

RYAN       What have you found out?

ROBERT     The kingdom of Barryton’s plan             33
.          is to set up a military camp
.          on the land that you allow them to use.

RYAN       I need help deciphering who I can trust.
.          I suspect Sir Laurence of something.

GAYLYNN    You are right in doing so.  
.          His personal alliance with Queen Ashley
.          is very strong.  Reliable sources
.          have seen them together, when
.          they thought they were not being watched.
.          They overheard a plot to oust you three.
.          Then Queen Ashley would
.          put Sir Laurence in charge.

RYAN       My father is still king.

ROBERT     With you three out of the way,
.          we are talking about a plot to ambush
.          the king upon his return.

RYAN       How would they oust us?

GAYLYNN    Oh, they would be very clever at doing this.
.          They would use the Zeeda tribe to the north
.          of their kingdom to their advantage.  And
.          you know the reputation of the Zeeda tribe-
.          rebellious savages, those people.

RYAN       We are allies with them as well.

GAYLYNN    But the kingdom of Barryton and the Zeedah
.          barely tolerate each other.  So Queen Ashley
.          would frame the Zeeda tribe- make it look like
.          the Zeeda tribe attacked the Castle of Abda,
.          which would naturally destroy the trust
.          and alliance you have with the tribe.
.          That would get the Zeeda tribe out of the way.  

ROBERT     Sir Laurence would then encourage the
.          alliance of Barryton to grow stronger,
.          advising that the kingdom of Abda
.          would be best run by Queen Ashley –
.          in order to protect you from the
.          savage tribe of Zeeda.

GAYLYNN    Can you not see, you are very           34
.          vulnerable, the way things stand now?

ROBERT     The sooner you get rid Sir Laurence,
.          the better.

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(MICHAEL paces the floor when CORNELIUS enters.)

CORNELIUS  Wiser heads must prevail.

MICHAEL    Pardon me?

CORNELIUS  I request permission to keep a close
.          surveillance on certain people who work
.          in the castle.  I have my suspicions
.          of who might have taken the book of wisdom.

MICHAEL    Of course, permission granted.  Ah, but I
.          thought Queen Ashley was the biggest suspect.

CORNELIUS  I suspect Sir Laurence.
.          Think about it.  Who else understands
.          that book as much as you?  

MICHAEL    Well, besides my father, that would be-

CORNELIUS  Sir Laurence.  And with the book missing,
.          if and when you are not available
.          to offer advice, people would be likely
.          to go to him...  

(MICHAEL and CORNELIUS immediately stop talking
as SIR LAURENCE enters.)

MICHAEL    You were out on patrol?

LAURENCE   Training the men, sir.  Knights are
.          required to stay fit and ready.
.          Just in case.  One never knows.

(RYAN enters from the main doors, with FNILEY following.
FINLEY remains at the door, vigilant.)

RYAN       Maybe some know more than others.
.          Sir Laurence!
.                                                     35
LAURENCE   Prince Ryan?

RYAN       You have served us well,
.          but your time has drawn to a close.
.          We no longer have need of you.  You shall
.          leave and find your purpose elsewhere.

(KENDRA enters with TATIANA following after,
in time to overhear.  CHARITY also enters,
but remains in the background.)

LAURENCE   (to RYAN)  I fail to understand...

RYAN       Please leave peacefully, or I regret
.          that I will have to use force.

(SIR LAURENCE pauses, perplexed, then finally exits.)

MICHAEL    With what force?  With whom are we
.          going to replace him?

(RYAN motions for FINLEY to usher in ROBERT and GAYLYNN.)

RYAN       Do not worry.  I have it all under control.
.          This is Sir Robert the Great, and Lady Gaylynn,
.          his – I guess - philosophical muse.

MICHAEL    You are allowing strangers to enter
.          the Castle of Abda.  You have failed
.          to even consult with us on any of this.

RYAN       WE - are rulers.  And I have stepped up
.          to rule.  What have YOU done?

MICHAEL    I am trying to keep wisdom and logic intact.

RYAN       Meanwhile, our income has gone down.
.          We need to raise taxes and make people
.          work harder.  We will trust no one
.          on the outside.  We must self-persevere.
.          If you trust me, I will do all the work,
.          (to MICHAEL)  leaving you to your reading,
.          (to KENDRA)  and you – to whatever it is
.          that you have been doing.

MICHAEL    Kendra, do you have nothing to add?
.                                                    36
(KENDRA thinks, then throws up her hands.)

KENDRA     I am actually fine with this.  It -  
.          frees me up to do things that I wish to do.
.          Ruling comes with such high demands.

GAYLYNN    Very wise choice, Princess Kendra.
.          Why wouldn’t a lovely woman of royalty
.          want to be served, rather than serve
.          undeserving, unappreciative people?

KENDRA     Indeed.

(TATIANA throws a jealous glare at GAYLYNN.)

RYAN       (to MICHAEL)  I will consult with you
.          whenever I need another viewpoint.

MICHAEL    You mean when you wish to hear
.          a voice of reason and logic.

ROBERT     Your opinions – based on this –
.          outdated book of wisdom –

MICHAEL    If you have never read from the
.          book of wisdom, how dare you debate it.

RYAN       And without the book being here,
.          how can you enforce it?
.          (looks around)  Now, could someone please
.          show Sir Robert the Great to his quarters-

(CORNELIUS motions to lead ROBERT out stage left.)

GAYLYNN    (to KENDRA)  This will be so grand as
.          to have such a lovely friend in the castle.

KENDRA     Come – I will personally show you
.          to a suite.  Tatiana, see to her luggage.

TATIANA    I am a seamstress, not a servant-

CHARITY    I will see to it.

KENDRA     (taken aback)  Thank – you – Charity.

.                  STAGE LEFT/INN                   37

(SIR LAURENCE enters the inn and GUS jumps to attend.)

GUS        Sir, I’ve got a good pot of stew
.          on the fire today.

LAURENCE   I’m also looking for a place to stay
.          for a while.  Do you have a room for rent?

GUS        Aye, certainly.  How long do you think
.          you’ll need this room and board?

LAURENCE   Until I figure things out.

GUS        Your life is falling apart?

LAURENCE   Something like that.

GUS        Dare I ask?

LAURENCE   Probably best not to know.

GUS        I hear you.  It’s a shame, though.
.          Things happen.  A lot of that going around.

LAURENCE   Thank you for your understanding and
.          most respectable hospitality.

(GUS puts a bowl of stew down in front of LAURENCE.)

GUS        Best wishes, mate.

.                STAGE RIGHT/LIBRARY

(GAYLYNN marches into the main room, and sees CHARITY by
the sofa, tidying up the pillows.  She is about to wipe
down the bookshelves when GAYLYNN barks orders at her.)

GAYLYNN    Servant girl!  I need you to clean out
.          the pot in my chambers.

CHARITY    I will get a chamber maid to attend to that-

GAYLYNN    It cannot wait while you search
.          for someone else.  Chop-chop!

(CHARITY sighs and exits.  STEWART peeks in the door  38
by the bookshelves.  GAYLYNN sees him and calls out.)

GAYLYNN    You!  Who are you?

STEWART    Stewart, mi’lady.

GAYLYNN    Well, Stewart, you seem to be lurking about
.          a lot.  I do not appreciate nosy servants.
.          If you cannot respect that, beware,
.          I’ll see to it that you are discharged.

STEWART    Last I heard, you were not put in charge-

GAYLYNN    I have the trust of Prince Ryan, as well as
.          the ear of Princess Kendra.  We are becoming
.          fast friends, we are.  Now – get to your work!

(STEWART rushes out.  Pleased with herself, GAYLYNN
turns around just as RYAN and ROBERT enter.
FINLEY takes his place by the main door.)

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(GAYLYNN approaches RYAN and ROBERT.  
RYAN sits down on a throne to listen to the news.
ROBERT dares to sit down on one of the other thrones.)

ROBERT     Sir Laurence has taken up residence
.          at the kingdom of Barryton, as predicted.

RYAN       You were right again.

ROBERT     Now, you really must do something about
.          Prince Michael.  He cannot be trusted.
.          He has been overheard plotting against you.

RYAN       What?  Why would he do that?  He’s my brother.

ROBERT     Because he wants to have complete control.

GAYLYNN    (sits on throne)  If he would be out of
.          your way, you could really make this kingdom
.          a mighty force to be reckoned with.

RYAN       We should not hear too much out of him
.          from this point forward-
.                                                    39
ROBERT     Yet, all we do is hear from him.
.          I grow tired of his incessant criticism.
.          It is very difficult to work with that.
.          It will undermine all of the authority
.          you DO have.  You do not want to lose control.

GAYLYNN    Mutiny or open rebellion would be your death.
.          And with two or three royal members in control,
.          there is division in power.
.          Division in power equals weakness.

ROBERT     Just keep your guard up.  I have seen
.          brothers turn on each other many times.

GAYLYNN    Do not wait until it is too late.
.          Now please excuse me, I must see that
.          certain orders are being carried out.

ROBERT     And I need to check out the stories
.          of a few rumors that are circulating.

(As soon as ROBERT has left by the main entrance,
FINLEY calls out to RYAN.)

FINLEY     Excuse me, Prince Ryan, permission to speak?
.          Prince Ryan, I have a bad feeling about them.
.          It’s just that-

RYAN       Making a false accusation is a very
.          serious offense.

FINLEY     It is how they treat everyone.

RYAN       They have proven their loyalty to me.
.          Now, do you really wish to be
.          the next casualty of unemployment?
.          Then go make sure my horse
.          has been fed and brushed down.

(As FINLEY bows and rushes out,
CORNELIUS coyly steps around the corner.)

CORNELIUS  I see that your personal valet
.          does not respect your intuitions.

RYAN       How is that your concern?
.                                                 40
CORNELIUS  Finley was also disrespecting my friends-
.          whom I would trust with my life.
.          You are wise to have allied with them.

RYAN       Sir Robert and Lady Gaylynn?  You know them?

CORNELIUS  I not only know them well, I know that
.          they are astute in the political arena.
.          And might I say, I am here to serve YOU.

RYAN       I thought you became Prince Michael’s
.          personal valet?

CORNELIUS  Only as it pleases you, your majesty.
.          I am here to serve you in any way
.          you have need.  I am willing to die for you.

RYAN       I pray that will not be necessary.

CORNELIUS  You think?  As Prince Michael’s personal
.          valet, I know that Prince Michael has been
.          speaking with the head chef’s assistant-
.          the one who prepares all your drinks.
.          Sire, I have been pretending to go along
.          with Prince Michael’s – arrangements –
.          to poison you.  For now, I am in the know,
.          but I am willing to act as your cupbearer.

RYAN       What you are implying is madness.

CORNELIUS  Is it?  Let us say, that if there should
.          ever be a drink sent specifically to you,
.          I’d suggest - you command me to taste it
.          for you.  I will feign ignorance, and
.          maybe even subtle fear, but will obey.
.          Then, if I die of poisoning from the drink,
.          you know that your brother has committed
.          treason.  You would be justified in giving him
.          a death sentence.  This is for your safety,
.          as well as the kingdom’s.  But no one should
.          know what we have arranged.  For my safety
.          as well as yours.  Now, I should quickly go.

(CORNELIUS exits, leaving RYAN to pace.  When
MICHAEL enters.  RYAN becomes wary of the conversation.)

RYAN       Still no sign of the book of wisdom?      41

MICHAEL    No, and I cannot help but feel
.          how disappointed Father would be.

RYAN       I believe he would be more disappointed
.          in the lack of trust that is between us.

MICHAEL    Do not accuse me of not trusting you.
.          I believe it is quite the other way around.
.          Naturally, I believe you are making
.          very unwise decisions;  but time will
.          only reveal which one of us is in the right.

RYAN       And is that to happen?

MICHAEL    I do not know.  But yet somehow,
.          things always seem to work out that way.
.          Somehow justice will be executed.

(MICHAEL exits.)

.                  STAGE LEFT/INN

(ROBERT enters and looks around.  Satisfied that
only GUS is in the room, ROBERT approaches.)

GUS        Ah, Robert – the greatest.
.          Did you want something to eat,
.          or do you need me to do something else?

ROBERT     Are you seeing to it that your guest’s time
.          is being continually occupied?

GUS        Fortunately he has taken to gardening.
.          Something about it being - cathartic.

ROBERT     Do not ever attempt to convince me
.          of that one, Gus.

GUS        You best leave before he comes back in
.          for dinner.

(ROBERT throws a bit of money onto the counter.)

ROBERT     Cheers, mate.

.                STAGE RIGHT/LIBRARY                42

(TATIANA follows KENDRA in.)

KENDRA     You promised that my new evening gown
.          would be finished by now.

TATIANA    I have been met with interruptions-
.          and demands – from your newfound friend.

KENDRA     Lady Gaylynn?

TATIANA    Exactly.  She claims you expressed very clearly
.          that she should make herself at home.

KENDRA     Well, I did, but-

TATIANA    Really, I do not want to-  I mean-
.          she is most ungrateful-

KENDRA     Careful, she is my friend!

(CHARITY approaches KENDRA with a forlorn look.)

KENDRA     Charity, can you not see I am
.          in the middle of something here?

CHARITY    But- I-

KENDRA     What?!  And why the long face?

CHARITY    I just heard.  Bernice’s husband –
.          just – passed away.

KENDRA     (swings a look over to TATIANA)
.          You said he was just faking his illness.

(TATIANA is afraid to answer.)

KENDRA     Then what about the family you said just
.          faked having everything stolen?

TATIANA    I was just repeating what I thought I heard.
.          It’s not my fault if I got it wrong.

(KENDRA tries to control her emotions.)

KENDRA     Indeed!  It was my fault for listening     43
.          to your gossip, and letting you go on!
.          How will I ever face these people?

TATIANA    I – will go – finish your gown-

KENDRA     Truly, I really do not care about
.          a silly gown!  How selfish I have been.

(TATIANA rushes out.)

CHARITY    Is there anything I should do?

KENDRA     Just, leave me alone.  (thinking better)
.          Wait, perhaps get a basket of food ready.
.          And some freshly cut flowers.
.          I shall take that to Bernice’s family later.

(CHARITY nods and exits, while KENDRA paces in front
of the bookcase, then begins to run a sad finger
along the books – then notices the book of wisdom.
Shocked, KENDRA quickly pulls the book out to
make sure that her eyes are not deceiving her.  
KENDRA is about to step out into the main area,
but hears GALYNN and ROBERT enter from the main door.  
KENDRA quickly presses against the wall to hide.)

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(ROBERT does a careless check of the room, and
believes it is empty, then sits on the center throne.)

ROBERT     This feels about right.

GAYLYNN    We finally have everything under control.

ROBERT     Nothing can fail.  The plan is foolproof.

GAYLYNN    And once all three have been put away,
.          you will rule as king and I as your queen.
.          (primly sits down on a throne)

ROBERT     It is most helpful when people become
.          selfish and prideful enough to the point
.          of distrusting anybody you suggest.
.          I only regret that we must pick them off
.          one by one.  It becomes a little tedious.
.                                                   44
GAYLYNN    So easy to plant the seeds of doubt,
.          but we require patience,
.          Sir Robert the Great.
.          Patience, and then there will be
.          a great enough reward.

(MICHAEL enters at lower stage right and
sees KENDRA with the book.)

MICHAEL    You found the book?  Where was it?

(Hearing these voices, ROBERT and GAYLYNN quickly jump up
off the thrones and try to look casual, while
listening in with great concern.  KENDRA speaks loudly
like she just entered the area with MICHAEL, trying
to use facial signals to get him to play along.)

KENDRA     Oh, why yes, I just – JUST found it.  
.          I had - been in– the garden.

MICHAEL    The garden?  But – you – were – just -

KENDRA     JUST in the garden – and- THERE it was!
.          (motioning to the bookshelf)
.          What it was doing there, I do not know.
.          But – I just found it - and thought I should
.          quickly return it.  We bumped into each other
.          just as I was rushing in to do so.
.          Is this not exciting?  Come,
.          let us put it on the podium at once.

(MICHAEL takes the book and enters the main area.
KENDRA follows, although unbeknownst to them,
CORNELIUS sneaks in after them and listens in.)

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(GAYLYNN and ROBERT scramble and quickly decide to
pretend they are just entering by the main doors.)

GAYLYNN    That was such a wonderful carriage ride,
.          thank you, Robert for showing me around.
.          (pretending surprise)  Oh - Prince Michael,
.          Princess Kendra.  I must say, the
.          countryside in this area is so charming.

KENDRA     Lady Gaylynn, have you seen –              45
.          our garden yet?  It is most magnificent.
.          Just like our countryside.  Especially
.          as the roses are all in full bloom.

(GAYLYNN and ROBERT are now somewhat relieved.
CORNELIUS shakes his head and quickly exits.)

GAYLYNN    Well, I shall have to take a garden walk
.          with you later, perhaps.

(RYAN enters and sees MICHAEL placing the book
onto the podium.)

RYAN       You found the book of wisdom?

(ROBERT and GAYLYNN show fear.)

ROBERT     THAT – is the book?

GAYLYNN    Why, it looks just like any ordinary book.

MICHAEL    It is not just any ordinary book.
.          And I am most anxious to read it again.

(CHARITY and STEWART enter with trays of drinks.
STEWART’S tray only has one cup.
CORNELIUS follows them in with a smirk.)

CHARITY    We were told to serve refreshments.

KENDRA     (to BROTHERS)  But, we really must talk-

MICHAEL    But first!  Finding the book of wisdom
.          is certainly a call to celebrate!

(KENDRA is about to take the cup from STEWART’S tray,
but STEWART quickly holds the cup firmly to the tray.)

STEWART    I was told to serve this one
.          only to Prince Ryan.

(STEWART bows to RYAN and holds out the tray to him.
ROBERT sees RYAN take the cup and clears his throat.)

ROBERT     Sire, should precautions not be taken?

RYAN       You are quite right.                     46

(RYAN feigns looking around.)

MICHAEL    What is the big concern?

RYAN       Oh sure, put on an air of innocence.
.          Now, let me see... Cornelius –
.          you shall act as my cupbearer.

CORNELIUS  Me, sire?

RYAN       Yes, you.

CORNELIUS  Ah, as you wish, sire.

(CORNELIUS steps up to take the cup.  As he takes
a drink from the cup, and while people wait and watch,
GAYLYNN suddenly creates a diversion by stepping between
CORNELIUS and RYAN.  While they speak, CORNELIUS quickly
slips something into the cup from a vial.  But KENDRA
observes everything as it unfolds, with horror.)

GAYLYNN    Oh, I hope nothing is amiss, sire.
.          This is terrible, just terrible.
.          To think anyone would try something like that.

(ROBERT aids in the diversion by reaching out to
pull GAYLYNN back gently.)

ROBERT     This is merely a standard safeguard
.          for any royalty, Lady Gaylynn.
.          It is wise that precautions are taken.
.          Just in case.  No need to worry, my dear.

(As GAYLYNN and ROBERT step back, feigning concern,
CORNELIUS is visible to RYAN again.  CORNELIUS stands
there waiting, then sighs and hands the cup back to RYAN.)

ROBERT     There.  Seems you are safe, Prince Ryan.
.          I know of no poison
.          that works any slower than that.

(RYAN is about to drink.)

KENDRA     Stop!  Cornelius added something to the drink
.          after he tried it.
.                                                  47
CORNELIUS  How could I?  You were all watching.

ROBERT     The lady is acting a little paranoid.
.          You took the appropriate precautions.

KENDRA     But- Gaylynn and Robert stepped in front
.          of Cornelius to create a diversion.
.          During that muddle- that is when Cornelius
.          added the poison.

GAYLYNN    How could you accuse us of being
.          accomplices to such-

KENDRA     Ryan, I overheard Robert and Gaylynn
.          speaking just now about their plot
.          to do away with all three of us.
.          If there is no concern, I would like to see
.          all three of them drink from this cup.

ROBERT     I am unworthy to drink from the cup
.          of a prince.

RYAN       Still, I would like to see you drink it.
.          You, after all, were just reassuring me
.          that it would be safe to drink...
.          Nothing clever to say?

GAYLYNN    (to ROBERT)  Think of something!
.          (proclaiming)  We are innocent.

RYAN       (to FINLEY and STEWART)  Take them away!
.          And when you are done locking them up,
.          try to find Sir Laurence.  It is obvious-
.          we need his help.

.                  STAGE LEFT/INN

(LAURENCE marches in and up to GUS and
puts a bag of coins down onto the counter.)

LAURENCE   That should pay for everything owed
.          up until today.

GUS        You’re leaving?  But, ah-

LAURENCE   I just heard some very interesting news.  
.                                                  48
GUS        Oh?

LAURENCE   Have you ever heard of someone named
.          Sir Robert the Great... or Lady Gaylynn?

GUS        Um, Ahhh...  I’m – thinking.

LAURENCE   If I ever get down to the truth
.          of you helping them  - in any way,
.          you will be seeing me again.

(LAURENCE exits and GUS grabs his money to leave.)

.               CENTER STAGE/MAIN ROOM

(RYAN, MICHAEL and KENDRA sit on their thrones.
RYAN shakes his head sadly as he reflects.)

RYAN       We did not even find Sir Laurence
.          at the kingdom of Barryton.
.          He was staying at the inn, exactly where
.          I first met up with Robert and Gaylynn.
.          As well, we had our leased lands checked out,
.          and - there were no hidden armies.
.          These were all lies, and I believed them all.
.          Even the one about you attempting-
.          to kill me.  (composing himself)
.          I truly apologize that I doubted any of you.
.          I thought all I could do was rely
.          on my own power.  All the while – I was actually
.          giving all my power over to those two.  Well,
.          THREE, as it turns out.

MICHAEL    Well, I simply fell prey to the words of
.          Cornelius.  All he had to do was flatter me
.          about my wisdom – and I began to neglect
.          my pursuit of wisdom.  How stupid is that?
.          Pride goeth before the fall.

KENDRA     We all fell prey to lies.  Listening
.          to empty gossip – I became very skeptical
.          and selfish.  And I regret squandering
.          the castle’s taxes.  I hope you, and
.          all the people, can forgive me.
.          (realizing the entire gravity)
.          I wonder if Father can ever forgive me.
.                                                       49
RYAN       I hope Father can forgive all three of us.

(WILLIAM enters the main doors.)

WILLIAM    And why would Father not forgive
.          his own children?

KENDRA     Dad!

(KENDRA rushes over to WILLIAM and hugs him.  
MICHAEL timidly approaches, but WILLIAM grabs him
in big bear hugs.)

WILLIAM    I see you have all learned some lessons
.          along the way?

MICHAEL    It is not the way I would have chosen
.          to learn them.

(RYAN is too ashamed to approach.)

WILLIAM    Ryan?  What keeps you from approaching
.          your father, the king?

RYAN       I, I still have to confess... something.

(MICHAEL and KENDRA look at RYAN, curious what else
there could be.)

RYAN       I was the one – who hid the book.
.          I was about to burn it.

MICHAEL    But obviously you did not.

RYAN       I was – indeed about to – but,
.          I don’t know, something interfered
.          and thwarted my attempt.

(WILLIAM nods knowingly.)

WILLIAM    An intervention of providence.

RYAN       And then I lied about it, and wrongly
.          accused others of taking the book.
.          I am so sorry that I failed in following
.          your orders.
.                                                     50
WILLIAM    You thought you would be a leader
.          without making any mistakes?

RYAN       That was our first mistake?
.          Our first – lesson?

MICHAEL    I’m assuming our second lesson will be:
.          “How to fix our mistakes”.

KENDRA     Hopefully we can learn how to avoid
.          making mistakes in the first place.

WILLIAM    Over and above everything you learn,
.          this you should know -
.          you are always my children.
.          Never forget that.

(WILLIAM walks over and puts an arm around RYAN
to usher him and the rest offstage.)