Yet another school assignment! We rewrote a scene from Hamlet. This was originally a comic scene between two gravediggers Albert and Other. I tried to give it a different feel.
GRAVE DIGGING WITH ALBERT
Albert stopped to lean on his shovel, frowning down at me from the edge of the grave. The man just wouldn't let it go would he. "Is she to be buried in Christian burial, when she willfully seeks her own salvation?"
"I tell you she is," and for the third time too, "therefore make her grave immediately. The coroner has examined her case, and has decided she can have a Christian burial." Not that what the coroner has said will make any difference to him. Even I knew the doctor's decision wasn't based on the facts of the poor girl's death, rather, he was more interested in her family's connection to the throne.
"How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defense?"
"Because the coroner says so." I said tersely, I felt like cursing at him to get back to work already, so I can get home while there is still some of the day left to enjoy.
"It must be se offendo," or rather, 'se defendendo,' I silently corrected, "it cannot be else. For here lies the point: If I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act has three branches - it is to act, to do, to perform. Argal," 'ergo,' damn it, if you are going to use Latin, use the right words. "she drowned herself wittingly."
Yes, I paid attention to the commotion about Sir Hales' drowning too. Although, the three parts were the imagination, the resolution, and the perfection. If I told him, would it do aught to shorten this endless discussion? Probably not. "Yes, but listen here master digger-"
"Give me leave." He gestured towards the grave. "Here lies the water - good." I gave up on waiting for him to start digging again and drove my shovel into the dark soil. "Here stands the man" he said pointing at himself "good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, whether he intends to or not, he goes - mark you that." I marked both that and the shower of soil he created in his jump to the edge of the grave. "But if the water comes to him and drowns him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life." Albert gave me a wide grin, pleased with his definition.
I'm quite content to spend my days digging, my evenings drinking, and my nights with my family. I don't need anything else in life. But Albert? His passion is words. He gets his kicks from forming a sentence that has ten meanings, each one with subtle jokes and different intentions. Sometimes though, the poor man unknowingly allows himself to become so overwrought with creating meaning, he looses sight of reality and forgets to act. Just like he's forgetting to dig. I realised that silence had fallen, and was beginning to stretch tight across the seconds. "But is this law?"
"Ay marry it is, crowners quest law." Said with another pompous smile.
"Must you have the truth? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she would have been buried out of Christian burial." Just so, must we have the truth? For all that Jesus may bless the meek, it is the powerful for whom all is forgiven. Why, even if they had not the excuse of her madness they would have found someone with money and sufficiently eloquent lies to prove her innocence. Where lies the point in articulating, in bothering with such things? Ignorance is bliss. Just because we know that our society is corrupt, does this mean that we can make any difference? Or rather, do we simply suffer in our wisdom. Where is the purpose in such language, the purpose in wit and words, if all that can be accomplished by it is to delay getting off work? Albert certainly does not have more than a handful of people who will even pretend to listen to his pretentiousness. All he gains by his obsession is alienation and loneliness. Although, to hear him speak of it you would think that he had the entire world at his feet, that he had princes and courtiers visit him every other day to engage in witty banter.
"Why, there thou sayst - and the more pity that great folk should have permission in this world to drown or hang themselves more than their fellow Christans. Come, my spade."
His spade? Truly? Did I just hear that? This man never digs! Is there a chance that we may finish this hole before the body arrives? Albert clicked his fingers impatiently, jolting me out of my stupor. I was gaping like a half-wit. And almost dropped my own shovel. And damn, but he didn't need to look at me like that.
Then Albert started up again. "There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam's profession."
"Was he a gentleman?"
"He was the first that ever bore arms"
Still a little flustered I blurted "What? He had none."
"What, art thou a heathen? How dost thou understand the scripture? The scripture says Adam digged. Could he dig without arms? I'll put another question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself-"
All right, I'll admit I deserved that one. "Go to!"
"What is he that builds stronger than the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?"
"The gallows-maker, for that frame outlives a thousand tenants."
"I like thy wit well in good faith. The gallows does well, but how does it well? It does well to those that do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the church; Argal, the gallows may do well to thee. To't again, come."
Since when has slicing off someone's head been 'doing well' to them? "Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?"
"Ay, tell me that and unyoke."
"Ha! Now I can tell."
"Go on then"
The artist? Their work affects many hearts, but not more than the church. God? Most definitely, but I doubt that's the answer he is looking for. "Ahhh, I give up, who?"
Albert sneered. "Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with a beating; and when you are asked this question next, say a grave-maker. The houses he makes lasts till doomsday." Last till doomsday? Did the man not realise that we were digging up an old grave at this very moment? He started speaking slowly, with helpful hand gestures in case I could not follow his words. "Go,-fingers walking over a hand- "get thee" -A finger in my chest- "to Yaughan," -a finger down the street- "fetch me" -a finger to his own chest- "a stoup" -a lift of his cup- "of liquor."
The man should have been a mime.