Jonathan Chait

Lebowski Shakespeare Blogging

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Mark it zero:

WALTER
Thou cross’st the line!

JACK SMOKE
Your pardon, noble sir?

WALTER
Thou cross’st the line, Jack Smoke, O cavalier,
As clearly demarcated in our rules,
In tumbling past the throw. ‘Tis play most foul.

JACK SMOKE
But see the pins struck down in fair play’s course!
Knave, mark thou mine eight pins; mark it eight.

WALTER
Not eight but l’ouef; you’ll mark it nought, O Knave,
And so we carry on to the next frame.

JACK SMOKE
Peace, Sir Walter!

WALTER
Smokey, this be not the foul jungles of the darkest East Orient. This be ninepins. We are bound by laws.

THE KNAVE
Nay, Walter; the quality of mercy is hardly strain’d. But a fraction of his toe tripp’d over the line, not God’s line but man’s. Of late I have read much of toe-nails. Suit the punishment to the action, and shame not Smoke in sport.

WALTER
O unrightful judge!
This forfeiture is set in iron law
As drawn by great authority of league.
One roll might well determine that our side
Advance to glory; or be instead retired
As moss upon a tree-stump, while the Smoke
Drifts out to glorious summer. Canst thou hear
The call of robin redbreasts? If robin shall
Restore amends, we must serve justice
Here. Be I wrong?

JACK SMOKE
Yea, but

WALTER
Be I wrong?

JACK SMOKE
Thy words are hard; I must equivocate.
Put up thy pen, that I may mark it eight.

WALTER
Nay! I do protest, and draw my sword;
It shall teach thee to disobey my word.
Mark none but none into that bowler’s frame,
Else thou shalt enter into a world of pain.
A world of pain, think upon’t; unhappy world!
A lake of fire, rich with damnèd souls,
Gulfs of anguish ‘twixt vales of agonies.
Mark me; we stand at twisted, jealous gates
Of cast-iron, above which, in vulgar tongue, reads
“Here is a world of pain, thou enterest thus.”
My steel before thee, ‘tis the last of keys
That might could lock these doors, and keep thee
From this world of pain, or with one flick
Ope its mashing maw, and summon winds
To cast thee down within; an excellent key!
Farewell to earthly delights, farewell to friends,
To fellowships and follies and amends.
The choice to spare thy passage through these trials
Is thine alone; take heed, I entreat thee,
And turn thy back upon this world of pain!

THE KNAVE
Walter, put up thy sword; tarry a moment.

WALTER
Hath this whole world been mired in madness?
Remain ye men of faculty complete,
Of full arithmetic and prudence fair,
Attending to our noble bond and contract?
Or does here stand the last remaining man
To give a fig for rules and order yet,
No noble savage, but a stave unbroken
Who loves the law and bids it no misdeed.
I’ll not be bent to lawlessness. Mark it nought, if we be men of honour.

THE KNAVE
Walter, too long we have tarried on public fields; the constable is notified. I pray you, sheath thy piece.

WALTER
Mark it nought, else I’ll none.

JACK SMOKE
Good Sir Walter, speak with reason!

WALTER
Dost thou think I tarry idly? Mark it nought!

JACK SMOKE
Yea, I shall yield, and leave it to your pleasure.
Mark as thou wilt, in full and legal measure.

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