‘The knave does a good impression,’ whispered Sir Toby. ‘He’s a good rogue.’
Malvolio’s voice came, echoing out of the darkness. ‘Who’s calling?’
‘Sir Topas the curate, who comes to visit Malvolio the lunatic.’
‘Sir Topas! Sir Topas! Dear Sir Topas, go to my lady.’
Feste jumped back. ‘Get out of him diabolical fiend! How you’re tormenting this man! Can you talk of nothing but ladies?’
Sir Toby and Maria clung to each other, working hard at stifling their laughter. ‘Well said, Mister Parson,’ mouthed Sir Toby.
‘Sir Topas,’ came the echoing voice. ‘Never has a man been so wronged! Dear Sir Topas, do not think I am mad. They’ve imprisoned me here in hideous darkness.’
‘Shame on you, lying Satan! I’m calling you by the most modest terms because I’m one of those gentle men who would treat the devil himself with courtesy. Are you saying that place is dark?’
‘As hell, Sir Topas.’
‘Why, it has bay windows as transparent as shutters and the windows on the south-north side are as bright as ebony and yet you complain that the light is obstructed?’
‘I am not mad, Sir Topas. I’m telling you, this house is dark.’
Feste tutted. ‘Madman, you’re mistaken. I say there is no darkness except ignorance, in which you are more bogged down than the Egyptians were in their fog.’
‘I’m telling you, this house is as dark as ignorance, the ignorance that’s as dark as hell, and I’m telling you that no man has ever been so abused. I’m no more mad than you are. Test me with some penetrating question.’
Feste paced before the guardhouse door and stroked his beard. ‘What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild birds?’
‘That the soul of one’s grandmother might possibly inhabit the body of a bird.’
Feste grunted. ‘What do you think of his opinion?’
‘I think nobly of the soul and in no way agree with his opinion.’
Feste turned. ‘Farewell,’ he said. ‘Remain in darkness. You’ll have to hold the opinion of Pythagoras before I’ll certify you sane. And be careful about killing a woodcock in case you displace the soul of your grandmother. Farewell.’
Malvolio’s voice, crying in desperation, ‘Sir Topas! Sir Topas! followed him as he went to where Sir Toby and Maria waited. Tears rolled down Sir Toby’s cheeks.
‘My most exquisite Sir Topas,’ he gasped, embracing the jester.
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