Scene 29B (optional)
(AT FONTHILL ABBEY)
(THE WINDS ARE BLOWING ROUND FONTHILL ABBEY)
BECKFORD:Oh, the horrible din of winds round the Abbey! I can't sleep! The whole night - I've hardly slept a half hour in succession! What are these sounds? Of sobs and lamentations, cannon shots, bomb explosions, and all the delights of the battles of Borodino and Waterloo! Really, this habitation may be magnificent, but it is wretched in the stormy season. I'm more yellow, rent, and wretched than a dry leaf! Howl, you winds - (A BROADER ROAR) And sometimes it seems to me it's like that divine auto-da-fé of that November a hundred years ago. A fine mixture of fireworks and flames from burning folk, of torments below and dancing above ground! Blow on winds! Outside the air is full of leaves! branches! and peacocks! fleeing from the force of the wind. Never has it been more terrific or raging. All the walls in the Fountain Court have had to be rebuilt in stone, rather than cement on wood, Wyatt's favourite materials. The chimney flues have been changed, together with a hundred and one errors which sooner or later would have resulted in disaster. Night falls again and this place makes my flesh creep. Yesterday the Abbey swayed so much that at three in the morning I thought that everything was coming down! The dwarf awoke with a terrific "Goddam!", flew down the staircase and ran for safety. Where? In the closet? Worse! In the coalhole? No, worse. In the cesspool? No, worse! Then where? In the dog's litter! You can imagine the fresh and delightful appearance he had this morning! What misery! (LOSE WINDS) And then these forests! The monotony of these eternal dense dark woods wearies me. What are forests without fauns, or thickets from where there does not emerge some gay frolicsome clown of a satyre, making his sport? Or, worst of all, without any objects within them of the kind I prefer above all others.
Scene 30B (optional)
PINDAR:It was in December that myself, Lord Nelson, and Lord and Lady Hamilton, were invited by Mr William Beckford to enjoy a few days of repose at Fonthill, uncontaminated, he said, by the sight and prattle of drawing room parasites. It was his intention to throw open the Abbey to our public gaze, for the first time. We were met at the entrance to the park.
(BELOW THIS FIND THEIR CARRIAGE WHEELS AND THE ENTHUSIASTIC BRAYING OF THE BAND OF THE FONTHILL VOLUNTEERS PLAYING RULE BRITANNIA)
PINDAR:The cortege, which apart from those mentioned included Benjamin West, the painter, Wyatt, the architect, and Mme Banti, the soprano, was met by the Fonthill Volunteers and their band, and we were accompanied up to the old house.
(OUTSIDE THE OLD HOUSE, THE MARCH ENDS. FIREWORKS. ENTHUSIASTIC CRIES)
PINDAR:A feu de joie was let off. And the volunteers were inspected. A not uncommonly smart body of men!
BANDMASTER:Band of the Fonthill Volunteers! Quick march!
(ANOTHER MARCH AND THE CARRIAGES CONTINUE. FADE UNDER:)
PINDAR:We then continued up to the Abbey, driven through the demesne between two lines of the volunteers, armed with flambeaux!
(THE ROLL OF TIMPANI)
EMMA:What is that thunderous sound?
BECKFORD:Well, it is effective is it not? It is the continued roll of drums placed at different distances in the hills!
PINDAR:Ingenious, very. Flambeaux, torches, and many thousand lamps, were distributed on the sides of the road among the woods; whilst bands of music and files of soldiers were stationed in different places to greet and charm the company ...
EMMA:Oh, what pleasure to hear the sounds of distant, near, and varied instruments, with their reverberations among the woods and dells!
PINDAR:We passed through a long winding umbrageous avenue.
BANDMASTER:Band ... Slow march!
(THE BAND PLAY SOLEMN MARCHES)
PINDAR:We arrived outside the Abbey ...
(FANFARES AND THE CREAKING OPEN OF THE GREAT DOORS)
PINDAR:The doors swung open. We entered and (THEY SIT DOWN), sat down at a long table occupying nearly the whole length of the room to a superb dinner served in one line of enormous dishes in the substantial costume of the ancient abbeys (FOOD BEING SERVED AND EXCLAMATIONS OF PLEASURE), unmixed with the refinements of modern cooking ... Dinner being ended, the company moved upstairs. (STEPS ON THE STAIRCASE) The staircase was lighted by certain mysterious living figures, at different intervals, dressed in hooded gowns, and standing (CRACKLING WAX) with large wax torches in their hands ... As we entered the gallery - (MORE SOLEMN MUSIC STRIKES UP) more solemn music struck the ear from some invisible quarter ... a collation was presented, consisting of various sorts of confectionery in golden baskets. (FANFARE. EXCLAMATIONS)
NELSON:And what is this?
SERVANT:It is, Sir, spiced wine ...
NELSON:Such treasure of wrought plate, cups, vases, and ewers of - solid gold!
BECKFORD:Now, an especial pleasure ... Lady Hamilton will dance.
BENJAMIN:(QUIETLY CYNICAL) Once again!
(MUSIC AND LADY HAMILTON DANCES AN 'ATTITUDE')
BECKFORD:Her subject - Agripina.
A LADY:What is she carrying?
NELSON:Well, of course, the ashes of Germanicus are in that urn.
BECKFORD:She's enjoying doing it. It should be Cleopatra!
(THE 'ATTITUDE' FINISHES)
OTHERS:Hear, hear! (APPLAUSE)
PINDAR:On leaving this strange nocturnal scene of vast buildings and extensive forest all seemed as if waking from a dream, or just freed from the influence of some magic spell ...
Scene 31B (optional)
GAMEKEEPER:Hey! Sir! You there! You!
(A CHASE IS FOLLOWED BY A PERSON BEING SEIZED)
GAMEKEEPER:And who are you, Sir?
INQUISITIVE PERSON:Apologies ...
GAMEKEEPER:What brings you here?
INQUISITIVE PERSON:Apologies ...
GAMEKEEPER:You don't look like a poacher. Yet, are you a gentleman?
INQUISITIVE PERSON:Well ... Yes ... I am a Gentleman.
GAMEKEEPER:What brought you here then?
INQUISITIVE PERSON:I will be honest with you. My own curiosity. I climbed the wall.
GAMEKEEPER:Oh you did, did you?
INQUISITIVE PERSON:In order to see with my own eyes the fabulous domain of Mr William Beckford. And if possible to catch sight of the Abbey itself! But who is this approaching?
GAMEKEEPER:Oh - good morning, Sir!
BECKFORD:Who is this?
GAMEKEEPER:Sir, he is an inquisitive gentleman who climbed over the wall to view the property.
INQUISITIVE PERSON:Are you by any chance the famous William Beckford, Sir?
INQUISITIVE PERSON:That most renowned and ingenious gentleman, William Beckford.
BECKFORD:Oh no! No. No, I must disappoint you. But I am sure that Mr Beckford would wish that you are well entertained. Would you not agree, George?
GAMEKEEPER:Yes, Sir. Well, should I show him?
GAMEKEEPER:Come this way, Sir. I'll show you the park and thence to Fonthill Abbey.
INQUISITIVE PERSON:Many thanks! (FADE OUT)
BECKFORD:(FADE IN. SERVANT VOICE) So, that just about brings to an end our tour.
INQUISITIVE PERSON:It has been most remarkable, Sir.
BECKFORD:I see that the night is darkening outside ...
INQUISITIVE PERSON:You will, I am sure, forgive this curiosity but do you, Sir, really maintain that that person we saw some hours ago is not Mr Beckford? He looked so uncommonly like him. Here he is.
GREGORIO:Oh, hullo, Sir.
BECKFORD:Me, William Beckford? Oh, good heavens, no! No! Just a humble servant of that noble person. This way, please, Sir. My friend here will show you out.
GREGORIO:(DISGUISED AS SERVANT. SINISTERLY) Yes Sir. This way. (DOOR CREAKS. FADE OUT)
INQUISITIVE PERSON:(FADE IN. A LITTLE APPREHENSIVE) I am very sorry not to have seen Mr Beckford.
GREGORIO:Yes. He did, however, send a message.
INQUISITIVE PERSON:A message?
GREGORIO:Mr Beckford says he hopes you will take care to avoid the animals.
GREGORIO:Well, merely the bloodhounds that are loose in the grounds by night.
INQUISITIVE PERSON:The, er, bloodhounds ...?
GREGORIO:Yes, Sir, take care to avoid them ...
INQUISITIVE PERSON:But, er ...
GREGORIO:The storm blows somewhat furiously!
INQUISITIVE PERSON:(SOMEWHAT FREAKED OUT) Good night!
(THE HEAVY DOORS SLAM TOGETHER)
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