Part Five -
Meanwhile, inside the village perimeter it hadn't taken Bob long to buy some sandwiches and assorted pots of dripping and other sundry victuals, some of which were literally dripping. He was soon walking down a pretty cottage lane to meet his friends again. Then the hungry lad was struck in the head by a terrible thought: he would wolf down all of the victuals himself.
Which he did - and went on his way again. When a yet more heinous thought fell into his head...
(The scene changes. We see Bob who is back in the village again. He enters a chemistís shop. The chemist is rather deaf and tends to shout)
Hello. Good day - are you an apothecary
Whatís it to you?
I want to buy some poison.
What for? To kill my friends because we've all come into some money, and... Oh dear! I've given me game away! Please don't turn me over to be hanged sir, please. I've never fancied it really. I wouldn't be very good at it, I'm sure. It's, itís - think, Bob, think! - itís to get rid of rats under me floor.
I've got rats!
At my home!
At my house!
A sly mouse? I thought you said rats! Have you both?
A fib? Don't lie!
A shock? You shouldn't produce falsehoods. Criminals always get their just deserts.
I don't like puddings. I haven't a sweet tooth.
Planning on a meat booth, eh? A crazy experiment but I'm not going to let my education stand in your way. Anyway, I - .
Bob & Apothecary (Together, slowly and deliberately):
- havenít got time to stand here passing the time of day with the third runner up in last monthís village idiot competition.
Have you got an ear trumpet?
Yes, about half past ten.
Bob (Finding an ear trumpet):
Ah. Can you fill these two flasks with poison, your best most dangerous stuff, if you please? I can pay you handsomely.
(The Apothecary fills both the flasks)
That's very kind of you. No one's ever called me handsome before. Though I was once voted alchemist most likely to have a long beard.
Oh. (He pays) There's mead in this one. (He points to a third, smaller flask)
I know. I think it's better to take them out of the oven after twenty minutes myself, just to let the mixture gel, and then stick it in, at a slightly lower temperature, near to boiling point, till you've given it forty five minutes in all. Anything else, was it?
(Bob leaves the chemists, shaking his head)
Where am I? One of the things I hate, about this, about being a pardoner, is the travelling. Moving from place to place. Oh, I should say I get some satisfaction from the job - from the way that people respond, not just from the money. People are so grateful to me for letting them be able to buy their piece of Heaven. You should see some of their faces, hear what some of them have come up to me and said. Yet I didn't pick this profession. I more like kind of fell into it really.
What's that there? I will be selling relics at the end of my tale - . And I haven't just got cloth but all different kinds of fragments of possessions which once belonged to the saints - . I've got a sandal belonging to a Celtic hermit. And he wants it back. No - . It's only a joke. He's hopping mad. Yes! Thank you - Iím here all week!
I've got a stool that was given by a fool to the Bishop of Goole by a sacred pool. I've got bits off a chair which was once sat on by Saint Augustine - for three guineas. What was I going to say? My wife Rebecca wants me to stop, stop all of this life, and settle down with her and live out our days in peace. I don't know 'cause it's the only life I've known, except when I was growing up on our farm. I tell her that I'm working to serve the Lord, helping to cleanse people's souls and she says God - only God can wash the soul.
Are you gonna be interested in what I'm going to offer? It won't be long. I've almost finished. When she's asleep I watch her, her eyes shut and hair on her face. It's beautiful, the most beautiful sight to see in the world, more beautiful than any sky or field or sea I've seen. I think there's no need for me to keep travelling around. What is it I'm seeking? What's it for? Because the most beautiful piece of God's creation is here with me. Then I do feel blessed by God. When I'm there, thinking these things I feel that I could easily throw it all in. Do something else, start a new line of work; something positive, which doesn't involve - as she calls it - fleecing. She's not one to beat around the haystack, my wife, but. I look at her and think, 'you're a good woman, the best, Bec. I want to do this for you, change my life.í And she speaks, without speaking, if you see what I mean: 'I'll help you. I'll be your strength what you won't know.í
I said once to her about going and working in a town - someday. I would be a cobbler, which of course is my trade. She would earn extra money sewing - and she sounded keen. There's no money in cobbling, not like this. Or sewing. But when I'm lying next to her at night, as I say; stroking her face, her warm breath and hair on me; kissing her closed eyes and little cheek...
I'm sort of going on. Anyway.
(Enter Bob, eventually coming up to where Tam and Log House sit)
Bob thought not about such things as breath - just florins. He left the chemists and wandered up to the place under the boughs of the tree where he had left his friends. Now - neither of them were pleased that Bob hadn't either florin or food for their feckless, festive fortune-feting feast - but because of their plan they let it roll...
Thanks, mate, for the mead. Eh, you were right not to bring us back any scran.
I'm not very hungry, ta lad.
That's right. And who wants the florin back or wants to know on what it was spent, like?
We don't! Ha ha ha ha!
Tam & Log House:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - ey.
But I did get some best quality mead, from the finest mead shop in the village. Here are your two flasks, and that small one's mine.
Thanks, Bob. Cor!
(Tam and Log House jump on Bob, attacking and killing him)
Stop! Murder! Ahh!
But they didn't stop and, do you know what? (Pause) After they had murdered Bob they found they were very thirsty. Wait a minnow - you're ahead of me there, aren't you? Thatís right, seizing on the flasks they drank until they had finished every solitary drop...
Ey - Tam - I thought this was - er - our lucky day. (He dies)
When I have gone, I want but one thing. Tell my old dog, Nuzzle, that I've only gone and died. And left the land of woe and pain. I never sought to call upon my dog this loss. May he truly be a nuzzler and nestle my earthly shell, though the soul be absent from within. May I find assurance when my spirit has flown, that this paltry walk in the garden isn't all. (He dies)
Oh - what wrong! What wickedness! What moral dearth, what woe! And all so that they may fill their perishing worm-holed mortal sacks with wine instead of mead; with celery instead of swede; with grapes instead of apple tart, despite grapes being a bit fiddly.
But, you should all agree with me that this has been a lesson of immense moral importance - and has more than proved my text. What I've wanted to say is: radix malorum est cupiditas - the love of money is the root of all evil. Think! Yes! Of the better ways in which your money could be invested rather than licentiousness and drinking. Think not of how a pardoner will spend the florins which he will gladly receive and probably put on a dog, but rather what the benefits will be, claimed by your soul thereon.
You are more than welcome, now, to view my holy merchandise; to unburden yourselves of money, the love of which leads, as I say, to death and unthinkable suffering. I think it's only fair that any elderly are served first. Anyway - . Yes, don't wait before you take your opportunity to lighten your financial agenda. I'm gonna be behind that table, over there, till about sundown. Now that's a good length of time, isnít it? And think! The more money you give away to me the more money I will have; which will mean, in converse proportions of course, I will have to pray all the harder, for both you and particularly for me, that I donít fall into fiscal malatractions. Thank you very much. Good afternoon to you.
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