A Pointed Argument

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: House of Ghosts
7 men are in a room. All of them are lords, nobles, generals, and their king. A problem arises when one man accuses the other of treason, and the argument escalates into murder.

Submitted: May 16, 2016

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Submitted: May 16, 2016

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A POINTLESS ARGUMENT

A one act play

By

Joshua Kepfer

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Eamon

Declon

Rhys

Conley

Multan

Sweeny

McCauley

Roger

 

TIME

1700s

SCENE

An old, elegant room. Monarchy or other government system in which Declon is king, the six others are lords, advisors, and military leaders, and Roger is a guard standing outside the room.

The seven men enter the room one by one. Before he is allowed to enter, each man removes his sword or dagger and is checked by Roger, the guard. The 7 men sit down along a long table, and talk to each other too quietly for audience to hear. Declon carries a stack of documents to his seat and raises his hand to quiet the others. Conley and Eamon are still arguing quietly.

DECLON: (clears throat. Anxious to start.) Good morning, Gentlemen (cut off immediately by Eamon raising his voice.)

EAMON: Did you or did you not, I ask you! (Everyone stares at them) I know what I saw: Conley has a blade hidden in his coat.

McCAULEY: What kind of accusation is this, Eamon?

EAMON: A dispicable, outrageous accusation, but true nonetheless.

MULTAN: Stop this now! What you're suggesting is unthinkable.

DECLON: Indeed it is. This is a civilized group, and I will not tolerate any mutinous talk among you.

EAMON: I saw it, I did.

CONLEY: Did you indeed?

EAMON: Dare you call me liar?

SWEENY: Well I may call you liar if Conley shan't, Eamon.

DECLON: Good morning, gentlemen! As I was saying, we are of a tight schedule on this day, so we must try to make the most of our time, no matter what obstacles lay in our path, please put them aside this hour, that we may negotiate and discuss what would be best for this nation's peace. (Eamon starts to

speak) Eamon, and all, if you have any complaints, please store them in your minds to voice at a later time.

EAMON: Please, then, accept my apology, my lord Declon. I was not meaning to complain. I only reacted how any of you would had you seen what I have.

SWEENY: If I saw a knife in this room, I would expose it immediately instead of making conversation of it.

EAMON: (Stands up and tries to unclothe Conley.) Very well.

(People shout at Eamon)

DECLON: Compose yourself, Eamon! There is no purpose in this.

EAMON (moves back) I've told you all my purpose. It is that this man hides a blade, and I wish to verify it to all of you.

MULTAN: I would trust Conley with my life.

DECLON: Indeed, Multan, you spoke those words only before I could. Conley has never disobeyed any of my commands, and I would doubtlessly trust him with my life. I will trust no one more perhaps, save for good Rhys. Therefore I find it inconceivable that he would hide a blade in a meeting such as this.

EAMON: I know not his motive, only what I saw. This sounds incredible, but you really must believe me! Can't we only search him again?

McCAULEY: Search him? Twice now Declon has called us gentlemen.

EAMON: Not us, Have Roger come in here and check Conley.

MULTAN: He did already, and I trust in his skill.

DECLON: And more than this, our meeting is devoted to the utmost secrecy. We all are agreed on this, and even to not tell our own wives. That is because we will be discussing very delicate matters. The reason Roger is outside is that I trust him to not listen to us, and to not let another soul in this room. Also it is just one less mouth to store a secret.

EAMON: Please check him, it's for your sake, Declon. For all your sakes. Only minutes, seconds it will take.

RHYS: Seconds aren't much to secure our minds of suspicion.

SWEENY: You've wasted enough time, Eamon. We must attend fully to the business at our hands. (Eamon is about to interrupt.) Even if Conley is hiding a knife, how will he attack our king with it? He would have to run past half the table.

McCAULEY: Hear, hear.

DECLON: Thank you for ending this argument. (Rhys looks as if he wants to speak. Declon is annoyed.) Rhys, do you have something else to add.

RHYS: We must check him, and right away, if you want this meeting to be fruitful, and undisturbed. For we cannot continue in peace discussing what is intended if we do not trust each other wholly. Now Eamon does not trust our Conley.

EAMON: (Interrupts) I do trust him, and I don't hope to question his motives; only what is stored in his belt.

RHYS: And I trust Eamon, that at least he saw something suspicious. Whether that was a blade, or a buckle of his belt, or a shiny pen in Conley's coat, we cannot know, unless we check him. To not do so would be to show our own selves to be distrustful, and incompatible as gentlemen of nobility, which we

cannot do. We've shown Conley we trust him by refusing even the idea of his treachery. Now we must trust our Eamon by checking for what there is not.

DECLON: You carry a valid point with your talk, Rhys. I suppose we must give this further observation.

MULTAN: So now we check him? Shall I call Roger?

Declon: I personally do not wish to have Conley checked again for treason, but I shall submit to your opinions, since we must maintain democracy. We shall vote now, once and for all, to end this quicksand argument.

CONLEY: Does my opinion hold any merit? Or is my position only that of yield?

MULTAN: Your opinion should count as much as ours.

DECLON: Indeed, you may vote of course, Conley, and I've a feeling that your vote will be the fourth of one side, whichever you choose. Both will hold you in dignity, I promise.

CONLEY: Then, gentlemen, I shall vote first for us, but if I may, I would like to add reason to my vote, and since I have not spoken up to this moment, I shall offer my defense for this case. I will first say that this argument is a foolish one, and should not have even taken place for three reasons. One: I am innocent, two: as Rhys surmised, we must have trust in this room above all other rooms. And thirdly: even if I had a knife, or deadly weapon on myself, It would truly not be treason. We have established already that it is unbelievable that I would dare commit a treason of any kind. Never have I disobeyed the slightest of our leader's commands. Also, Declon, you are considered by me as a friend, even a brother, after an authority. To accuse me of betraying this one whom I love is at the least a foolish thing to do. If I were to conceal a knife it would be only to protect Declon from threat of harm. What if an attacker were to now burst in through the doors, or this window? Are we prepared for this outcome?

MULTAN: That is either impossible or highly unlikely to happen. Nobody knows about this meeting.

McCAULEY: We are completely safe here.

CONLEY: And this is why we should have taken extra caution in this meeting. Is not the perfect assassination one where none predict it? Please, listen to me! None of us have any weapons, and we have only one guard. This argument should not have taken place because this meeting should not have taken place. We are setting up ourselves for a disaster in this room.

McCAULEY: Do you dare to speak out against Declon's rule?

EAMON: Yes, what is the meaning of this?

DECLON: His meaning is to add some real intelligence to your otherwise witless banter. He brings up some valid points, but before I will let you continue, Conley, I'll have you know that yes, I knew the huge risk I was taking with this secret counsel, but in my mind it was worth it. As we carry on with the real topic at hand, I think you will agree with me. No one may know what we are discussing in this room.

SWEENY: If I may, your honor, may I ask a pondering question?

DECLON: You may, John Sweeny.

SWEENY: I thank you. And I apologize for continuing this harsh thought. And I ask all of you, though it would be very unlikely for an assassin to come through these doors, are we prepared for this? If someone with an evil heart were to speed in here, armed with a pistol or a sabre, could he not easily dispatch each one of us, or at least you, Declon?

MULTAN: Do you think our king ruler hasn't thought of this as of yet? Surely we all knew this risk.

CONLEY: But the consequence of this actually happening is so immense, I believe it cannot be overlooked. Hear me out, now, gentlemen. If just one were to be holding a weapon in this room, maybe a pistol or simply a throwing knife, it would make me feel much more safe. We can assume that the attacker knows enough about our customs to assume we will all have laid down out arms in the room past. Therefore he would be the one surprised when one of us has not.

EAMON: What an interesting proposal coming from the mouth of the one who is accused of this very deed.

McCAULEY: Our customs exist to ensure trust between ourselves. All they seem to be doing now is creating mistrust.

RHYS: Yes, we seem to be distrusting each other rather a lot this day.

DECLON: All this could be ended with a vote, then we may carry on with our business. You all bring up good points, and I see that I may need to rethink our weapons custom, but I need not remind you again that we are on a schedule. To prevent any further immediate discussion on this topic, I will give my vote first. My vote is to not check Conley.

RHYS: Check him.

CONLEY: To not check myself.

EAMON: To check him.

SWEENY: To not check him.

McCAULEY: To check him.

MULTAN: Check him, and let us be done with it.

DECLON: Though I am against it, I know we must check this trusted man for treason now. Conley, what say you to this now that we've decided.

Conley: I will show rather than say. And I know you all shall be just on my cause. (Pulls a dagger out of his cloak and drops it on the table.)

MULTAN: I cannot believe this.

McCAULEY: Treason! Eamon, you were right.

EAMON: Even I am a little surprised, friends. This was not what I have desired to see.

McCAULEY: None of us have desired this, but here it is: Conley has committed an act of treason.

SWEENY: For what, may I ask? For bringing in a knife? Yes this was against Declon's rule, but treason? You think Conley planned to kill our king?

McCAULEY: I'm afraid in this situation, we must assume the worst. Conley must be hanged.

RHYS: The worst of Conley has never been to disobey the slightest of our king's commands. This is what confuses me.

DECLON: Conley, why have you done this? Now our meeting is ruined, and we distrust you whom we once held in high esteem.

CONLEY: I know what this means to some of you, and I accept whatever punishment you give me. My conscience will be clear, knowing that I have served my part, and planned for the worst.

MULTAN: I as well as many of you, I'm sure, find it completely incredible for Conley to commit treason against our king. Perhaps, Declon, you could give him a detention of service, or a punishment of similar nature.

DECLON: Fear not, brothers, I do not wish Conley dead. Nor do I even wish him punished for this crime.

McCAULEY: But, your honor, it is the law that he at least be banished.

SWEENY: Banished! Or Hanged! For this act? Though it is technically illegal what he as done, is it not also illegal for us to be here, in secret, without inviting certain members of the court? And we have all just heard Conley give his defense, that he has brought in this weapon as a last resort against an assassin. He knew the risk of breaking custom, but he hid his dagger still. The act, similar to the act of us meeting, was illegal, but necessary.

EAMON: Well spoken, friend. I now see the truth of this, and I regret now that I had not the wit, nor the courage to risk my own head for the preservation of my lord's.

MULTAN: However, he knew the cost of his choice, and the cost must be true.

RHYS: I agree, there should be punishment for this act. For myself, my mind has not been cleared of mistrust for Conley, though he is a friend.

EAMON: How can you say such things after his motives have been named purer than our own.

McCAULEY: He brought a knife to our trusted meeting. He must be punished.

EAMON: He doesn't deserve this! His behavior has been saintly.

McCAULEY: Whether or not he deserves his sentence is not our question. It is the law he has broken, and innocent, or not of heart, we must treat him as guilty.

DECLON: Enough! This meeting is adjourned. We have discussed nothing of what was planned, and clearly we are not going to begin with this imbroglio in front of us. Go home, therefore, and clear your minds until I summon you again. I want everyone to stand up, and apologize to Conley on your way to

the door. And Conley, in our next meeting, I will take precautions of my own, and there will be no need for you to bring any weapon. Dismissed. (Sits down and fingers through his papers.)

(People one by one shake hands with Conley then walk out the door.)

EAMON: (Embraces Conley) I am so sorry, dear friend, for causing you shame for something noble.

CONLEY: No, Eamon, you did what needed to be done. I apologize for lying to your face. It is true I feel ashamed, but only for this.

RHYS: (Last one to shake hands with Conley. Gives him a suspicious look before leaving.)

DECLON: (Looks up from paperwork) It is now my turn to apologize. (Stands up and embraces him.) I am sorry, loyal Conley, for the shame and annoyance they've given us.

(Conley bows in respect to Declon.)

DECLON: You never cease to surprise me, old friend.

(Conley smiles.)

DECLON: I think I'll have Roger bring me in some tea. (Turns his back and walks to the door.)

(Conley quickly snatches his knife from the table, and stabs Declon's back and puts his hand over Declon's mouth. There is a short struggle as Conley lowers Declon to the floor. He makes sure he's clean, then walks out. Audience hears, but doesn't see him talk to Roger. Fade noise out.)

CONLEY: Our king wishes for you to bring him his favorite tea. It is his order, Roger, I'm sure he'll be alright. Surely no one knows he's in this room.

END


© Copyright 2017 Joshua Kepfer. All rights reserved.

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