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Here Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess

MIRANDA

Your color be your choice, my liege,

And therefore mine.


FERDINAND

All honor leave my body

Should I allow my mind conceive the deed

Wherein I steal a choice from you, fair goddess!


MIRANDA

And does your honor know a better means

To designate the teams? For I will not,

Not for a thousand touches from your mouth,

Since I esteem your choices none the less.


FERDINAND

Perhaps we may ask Fate to tell the odds.

By Fate I nearly lost my life, by Fate

I lost my father and am a slave to yours.

But if it be the same that brought me you,

And made it possible that in my life

I’d live to see you smile, nay! even cause you one,

Then I forgive its pranks, its silly ways,

And trust it with our game, may it decide.


Ferdinand hides two pieces and lets Miranda decide. After some hesitation.


FERDINAND

Alea iacta est, the die is cast!

My lady shall play white.


MIRANDA

What a fool

I am to want to play in black.

Would it be vile of me to change my heart

And plead to change my coat? ‘tis friendly match.


FERDINAND

Were it another soul to ask, I’d give the nay,

The love I hold for you turns “n” to “y.”

This field of diamonds is no jesting space.

No capers, quips, delightful measures fit

Amongst these bishops, knights and rooks,

As they protect the royal seat from pawns.

The sport of chess, my love, is naught if not

A metaphor for cruel war.


MIRANDA

What is that?


FERDINAND

Milady, what is what?


MIRANDA

Why, what is war?


Pause. Starts setting up the pieces.


FERDINAND

The cleanliness shone by your eyes is such

That you could never be suspected of deceit,

Therefore I feel both these my legs unpulled,

And trust that on this isle you have indeed

Been shielded not just from the fiend itself,

But altogether its reports, and very notion.

Tis better such, believe you me, sweet light,

And let us play. My lady shall play black!


MIRANDA

My patient log-man, how the dizzy tremor

Of your limbs doth jerk my very health,

As I am witness to your youthful fingers

Succeeding not in setting up the board.

Permit me then to…


FERDINAND

Lift a finger? None.

Although this puny pawn does seem to weigh

More tons just now than all your father’s wood,

As said afore, my mistress, dearest wife,

I’d rather burst my tendons, twist my wrists,

Than you should any labor undergo,

While I sit lazy by.


MIRANDA

What labor, sir?

You will not wish to suffer such a wife

That husbands her resources just for sun,

Siestas, snacks and strolls, will you, my shrine?

These pieces are but sport, now pray but rest

While I arrange them…


FERDINAND

Fancily, bravo!


MIRANDA

I beg your pardon?


FERDINAND

No no, ‘tis nothing!


MIRANDA

‘Tis breeding taught me to insist on naught,

Yet fails now to breast my curiosity.

What was your subtle meaning, gentle sir?


FERDINAND

In placing of the camps I am afraid

You have most wondrously performed

With the exception of one slip, my queen.

The kings are those who don’t mind change,

And shift their colors if the match begins,

Whereas the queens, my sovereign love, do stick

To that fair hue which they appear to be.

Your pretty queen is black on white, thus false.


MIRANDA

Oh, that I knew!


FERDINAND

Of course!


MIRANDA

I lied, and had no clue. Unless my ear

Deceives me, kindest lord, you do but try

To humor my naiveté, which proves

Itself suspected of deceit. Your move!


FERDINAND

Seek not a harm in any of my humor,

For should a lash fall from your rosy cheek,

Sans thought I’d throw myself at it and catch,

Lest it should suffer any dust, or pain.

But I’d be wary of the snare that is a lie.

White beards say lies can’t stand to be alone,

And do whatever they can do to breed,

And find their partners easier than men.

Your move!


MIRANDA

Young though I am, not out yet fifteen years,

I have seen vice enough to last me all the rest

(In Caliban, my father’s serf, the most),

So I encounter it, and walk the other way.

Ergo, my king, I would not have you fret

A second for my being so ensnared

As lies to breed within me. Please, your move!


FERDINAND

By my troth, well played!


MIRANDA

I thank your noble knight!


He moves enthusiastically.


FERDINAND

I thank your mirror on this board, the queen

That gave the shield, her pawn, so easily!

Not one of all my thoughts could ever build

Your temple as a home for any ill.

I fear behind your dulcet words may lie

The doubt of that, milady. Prithee, move!


MIRANDA

I made my move, sir.


FERDINAND

Oh!


MIRANDA

No doubt at all!

But for the illusory instant methought

I heard my father’s voice come from your pipe.

The wizard’s hefty teaching already is a yoke,

And even less uplifting when it comes from you.

I’d love no more of it. Why takest that pawn?


FERDINAND

En passant, fair mistress, was the pawn abducted.

Hath not the wizard’s teaching taught you how?

A prisoner is any spy that moves too quick,

For sentinels that close their eyes but do not sleep.


MIRANDA

Sweet lord, you play me false.


FERDINAND

No, my dearest love,

I would not for the world. The turn is yours.


MIRANDA

Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,

And I would call it fair play.

And yet I heard not of this childish rule.


FERDINAND

Tis as childish as any other, my sweet child.


MIRANDA

My ear buds have grown sour at the name,

I am your wife, your woman, your sister

If you will. Since you expostulate on lying,

Once and one time only I pass your rule as truth.

It is your turn, dear husband.


FERDINAND

That I see…

I’m not quite certain, darling, why my rule,

As other cherished principles I’ve shared,

Is so unpalatable. Not to know

Is thirst of curiosity, thus knowledge.

It is to not want to know that’s ignorance.

Check!


MIRANDA

Is it your royal etiquette of birth

That asks of you such pompous platitudes?

And I am fairly certain you accused

Me of the sin of ignorance. Your move.


FERDINAND

Ignorance is…


MIRANDA

Bliss? Please!


FERDINAND

Not a jewel proper

To adorn my mistress, nor would I dare

To gift her anything she won’t desire.

I merely thought she’d have well known the game

That she had boasted she had played a million

Times or more. Prithee, lady, careful, check!


MIRANDA

Another insult for my present, sir?

This necklace getting bigger by the move

Will end up choking your beloved and leave

You widower. I am a liar now!

Your move.


FERDINAND

I never said such thing! You’d best

Cease stealing of my mouth to say your words

And focus on the championship. Lo, check!


MIRANDA

When you first walked into my eyes,

I saw the noblest creature ever seen.

I see now, sir, the rank lies not in you,

But in how few the creatures in my eyes.

Please move.


FERDINAND

And I see now my patience is mistook

For such a thing that will outlive all time.

Your fairness begs you not to act so harsh,

As I do now to not forget your fairness.

Check mate!


MIRANDA

What? When? Wait! How? Why? Oh!


FERDINAND

Yes.


Long Pause.


MIRANDA

I apologize.


FERDINAND

I do too.


MIRANDA

You needn’t apologize. The fault lies solely on this side of the board.


FERDINAND

False, my love. I was inconsiderate and patronizing, without realizing it.


MIRANDA

Nay, you were trying to protect yourself from my iciness. This island… Let us go far, until we get extremely tired. No more islands. I won’t mind the change one particle. Get me out of here. I would even be comfortable learning war.


FERDINAND

I would think not. But I understand the aplomb. We’ll leave right away. Tonight.


MIRANDA

I will say, you play mean chess. (mimicking him) “This field of diamonds is no jesting space. Careful, lady, check”!


FERDINAND

Culpable of that, yes. I take it from my father.


MIRANDA

Speaking of which, I think I hear my own father’s voice.


FERDINAND

I’m not hearing anything.


MIRANDA

Yes you are! Quick, give me a kiss, before he comes…


They Kiss. Prospero opens the cell.


MIRANDA

Sweet lord, you play me false.


FERDINAND

No, my dear'st love,

I would not for the world.


MIRANDA

Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,

And I would call it, fair play.


04 14 15


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