The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 4, Scenes 3-6c

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Scene 3: The French Camp

A young woman is sat on the snow holding her dying husband’s head between her knees – she sheds no tears – leaning on her shoulder is her 13-year old daughter, sobbing bitterly – her tears fall & freeze on her father’s face – near them a soldier stands in silence – enter Vachain & Valentina

Vachain
{to Soldier}
Excuse me, friend, my company I seek
Have you seen the Guard within the camp

Soldier
Perhaps, but everything is confusion
& thro this growing gloom one better try
To call their names, & hope above the din
They hear your voice, but best to keep your breath
& send warm blows enthawing thro’ your hands

Vachain
Thank-you… wait… yes it is, Madame Dubois
Madame Dubois, over here, over here!

Enter Madame Dubois

Madame Dubois
Why, Captain Vachain, we thought you done for

Vachain
I might have been but for my bonnie beau,
This masterpiece of nature saved my life

Madame Dubois
I’ve seen your face before… now where was it

Valentina
Moscow, Madame, I am Valentina

Madame Dubois
The Russian girl… what… how…

Valentina
I shall explain
The queerling quirks of fate that caught our love

Madame Dubois
Love?

Valentina
Yes love, we love one another

Madame Dubois
Love!
Well… enjoy love while love lasts, be in love
The hues of bliss grow brightly in thy smile
& why not, in this constant spectacle
Of distresses, miseries, oerwhelming,
You offer proofs that beauty still may move
Thro this stupid world

Vachain
Love is beauty, yes
Madame, we are to marry in Auzin
Your attendance would delight us

Valentina
Please come

Madame Dubois
I think you would be very fortunate
& ought to thank Heaven if you make it
As far as France

Valentina
Our love will take us there

Vachain
Sharing incredible concaulescence
What jot could halt our fate’s inburning drive

Madame Dubois
Bless you both, whatever may befall ye
Preordained has been from everlasting,
But from such oracles I’ll take my leave
& seek a fire, without one I should die

Vachain
Before you off, where is my company

Madame Dubois
You are the first of them I’ve seen in days

Vachain
Very well, Madame, good luck tomorrow

Madame Dubois
& you

Exit Madame Dubois

Vachain
Come Valentina, let us share
Each other’s heat beneath my dry warm cape

Valentina
I love you so much

Vachain
& I you, darling

Vachain & Valentina huddle under a cape & begin to kiss


 

SCENE 4: The French Camp

Bourgogne & his company are sleeping soundly – the morning is beginning but the sun is not yet risen – there is a sound of gunfire in the distance – Bourgogne wakes

Bourgogne
Wake up Graingier, wake up

Graingier
What is it

Bourgogne
The bridge is completely empty, lets go

Graingier
There’ll be time for that later – let me sleep

Bourgogne
Leboude

Leboude
What

Bourgogne
Come with me across the bridge

Leboude shrugs off Bourgogne with a grunt

Bourgogne
There will come to pass an almighty crush
We need to leave now

Rossi
Let us catch you up

Bourgogne
Nobody

Legrande
It is freezing sergeant

Bourgogne
Pah!

Bourgogne collects his firearms & exits


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SCENE 5: The western end of the bridge

A soldier, Marcelin, is guarding the bridge – he is immaculately presented – enter Borgogne

Marcelin
Halt, who goes thee

Bourgogne
I am sergeant Bourgogne
Of the Guard

Marcelin
Alone?

Bourgogne
Yes

Marcelin
Well off you step
I am Marcelin

Bourgogne
May I please admire
A moment your astonishing attire
So smart, well-fed, clean shaven, are you real?

Marcelin
We have spent the Autumn with Oudinot
On the banks of the Davina River
When first I saw the army how I swoon’d
As if enchaunted by evil spectres
Feebling & emaciated phantoms
Unfit for the struggles of existence
Are these the men who march’d with dash & fire
To scuttle Russia’s capital, I said
Aloud & to my colonel in the shock –
He simply nodded back in silent gloom
& watch’d still silent as they came like tears
An unmanicured mob of tatter’d ghosts
Drap’d in woman’s clothes, old carpet pieces
Dragging feet wrapp’d in all sorts of rough rags
Gaunt grey faces neath disfiguring heads
Marching shamelessly out of step, heads low,
Eyes to the ground like an old convict gang

Bourgogne
We are in a sorry state, that’s for sure,
& foolish too, all night the bridge like this,
The crossing would have taken a minute
But no, each content in their symmory
Out of Athens they think the world a dirge
Civilisation is precarious
& if a panic starts, then…

Marcelin
A panic?

Bourgogne
The Russians are expected to attack

Cannon shots are heard – one ball splashes in the river

Marcelin
Sometimes it is better to say nothing

Soldiers & stragglers start to rush by (until the end of the scene)

Bourgogne
What adverse planet heaves against our star
The camp is stirring slowly, the army
Now a wounded animal, its paths block’d
Impassable, fleeing its predator
It will enact all efforts to escape
I fear today a tragedy unfolds
On that bank lies destruction, this bank hope

Marcelin
The icy paralysis of the night
Is melting fast in a furnace of fear
Candent with excitement & sheer terror
Chaos is rising & doth fling itself
Fat surge of fleshment to a dread exploit
Towards the eastern bank, look Marcelin
It appears already heavy-headed
Block’d by a broken carriage on the planks

Bourgogne
Indeed! Into that incredible press
Cannonballs are falling, fell five at once
& the spaces fill’d up in mere moments
Horses leap on horses, trampled beneath
People scream shoot me or stab me to death

Marcelin
Into the waters some are stumbling now
Push’d by the crush, it looks like a sheep dip
Where bobbing heads of men & horses sink
& never more shall rise

Bourgogne
I cannot watch

A cannonball strikes Marcelin, killing him instantly

Bourgogne
Poor Marcelin, how lucky you are!

Bourgogne gazes once more on the bridge, then leaves


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SCENE 6a: The French Camp

Valentina is sleeping – enter Vachain in some agitation

***

CROSSING THE BRIDGE

Vachain
You gotta stand up my love
You gotta get up & go

Valentina
I cannot stand up my love
I’m frozen in all this snow

Vachain
You gotta stand up my love
We’ve gotta get up my dear

Valentina
I cannnot stand up my love
I’m frozen with all this fear

Vachain
They’re crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I’ve seen it
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I mean it
Gotta get up & cross the Berezina
Gotta get up my darling Valentina

 

 

 

 

 

Vachain
You gotta get up my love
We’ve gotta get up & go

Valentina
I cannot get up my love
To stumble through all that snow

Vachain
You gotta stand up my dear
We’ve gotta get outta here

Valentina
I cannnot stand up my love
I’m frozen with all this fear

Vachain
They’re crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I’ve seen it
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I mean it
Gotta get up & cross the Berezhina
Gotta get up & see the grass is greener
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I’ve seen it
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I mean it
Gotta get up across the Berezhina
Gotta get up my darling Valentina


 

Scene 6b: The eastern end of the bridge

Vachain & Valentina enter the press at the bridgehead

All
They’re rushing the bridge
They’re pushing the bridge
They’re crushing the bridge
Russians on the ridge

Prince Emile & several bodyguards arrive from the western bank, pushing the crowd back with brutal strikes from the flats of the swords – as they push their way through the crush, some unfortunates fall into the river

Prince Emile
Back, you swine, everybody must go back

Bodyguard
Remove yourselves at once

Woman
But why should we

Man
Not me

Prince Emile
Take one more step & you’ll be shot

Bodyguard
Be cautious man, retrorse yourself at once

Straggler 1
I cannot remain another second

Man attempts to break through the bodyguards & is shot dead

Prince Emile
Anybody else

Straggler 2
What are you doing

Prince Emile
In order to halt Kutuzoff’s forces
Aslant this bank, we must destroy the bridge

Vachain
I am with the Gaurd, you must let me cross

Straggler 3
I am with the gaurd

Straggler 4 (Female)
I am with the gaurd

Prince Emile
The Guard crossed half an hour ago

Straggler 1
Not me

Straggler 4 (Female)
Nor me

Prince Emile
It is too late, the flames are set

Straggler 3
You cannot just leave us to the Russians
It will be the most morbid massacre

Prince Emile
Get back! you are too late – do not attempt
To cross the bridge else suffer musket balls

Bodyguard
Sir, we need to return now before flames
Prevent the passage

Emile leads this bodyguards back over the bridge

Bodyguard
Back, get back, get back

Straggler 2
Wait

Prince Emile
Your sacrifice will be remembered
We burn the bridge to save the emporer

Straggler 3
Vive l’empreur

Exit Valentina & Vachain


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SCENE 6c: The River Bank

Enter Vachain & Valentina – the river is full of human corpses – some are beginning to freeze – a woman has fallen thro the ice & is frozen in, but still alive – one of her arms is cut & hangs loosely – her other arm holds a suckling baby which has wound itself around her neck – the woman is staring at a dead man frozen in the ice nearby – between them a dead child lies spread out on the ice

Vachain
Let us swim oer the water

Valentina
It will be too cold – look at the bodies

Vachain
But look up there, dispiteous Cssacks
Make orgiastic continguities
Murd’rous upon the comprecative mob

Valentina
I would not wish to die by native hand
I would rather hold yours in the water

Vachain
You will fare much better without your shawl
Save vital seconds vanish’d in its drag

Valentina takes off her shawl

Valentina
I love you

They kiss

Vachain
I love you too
{Vachain takes Valentina by the hand}
Ready

Valentina
Yes

Vachain & Valentina wade into the river hand-in-hand


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

 

 

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

 

Posted on May 19, 2020, in Conchordia, White Eagles. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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