A Street outside the Cellars of the Royal Palace at Purdonium. Below, the
Royal Kitchen. HODGE and the COOKS are preparing a Repast for the King.
HODGE: Ho, numbskull, slowly with that chafing dish!
Thou’lt burn the palace down about our heads.
Border that pasty, undertranch that porpoise,
Culpon that trout now, and untach that curlew.
Timber the fire! Quick, lad, unjoint that bittern,
Unlace that coney and allay that pheasant.
Tire all the eggs, unbrace a brace o’ mallard,
And when thou’st tranched the sturgeon, spoil the hens!
FIRST COOK: What mean’st thou by these words?
HODGE: Fie, I care not:
They are from Robert May’s Th’ Accomplisht Cook.
They mean you cut them up. Get on with it!
Ho, thou, make me a double bordered custard,
An egg compounded big as twenty eggs,
Two turkeys in stoffado, and a bisk.
Hast thou distilled the pig?
SECOND COOK: ‘Tis nearly ready:
It wanteth but an hour till it be clear.
HODGE: We’ll have a spitchcock o’ eels, and a tart royal,
And puddings cheveridge and liveridge,
And forty quail farced in th’ Spanish fashion.
THIRD COOK: The sauce is curdled, master.
HODGE: Idiot boy!
Make it again; see thou o’erheat it not.
The carp boiled in carbolion is spoiled:
We’ll make do with some puddings o’ heifer’s udder.
(Enter HOB, JESS and TILDA in the Street above.)
JESS: Ah, I be glad that play-acting be over.
‘Twere mighty hot inside that camel’s pelt,
And when I think what they made Tilda do
I do come over faint. ‘Twere most indecent,
That dance with all the scarves.
TILDA: Nay, ’twas artistic:
Radio told me that, and he should know.
I do confess I felt a mite exposed
After the fifth, but th’ applause made up for it.
I’ll miss those theatre folk.
HOB: Aye, so shall I,
And thou’d ha’ liked to stay with ’em, I know.
‘Tis an uncertain living, but a merry.
Here be the door the porter told us of:
Let’s go inside and seek out Mudge’s brother.
(They descend to the Cellar.)
SECOND COOK (to HOB): What do ye here, ye simple country folk?
This is the royal kitchen o’ King Vusillus,
And we are busy making him a feast.
HOB: We be come here to speak to master Hodge:
His brother Mudge ha’ sent us. We be homeless.
Mudge said that mayhap ye could find us work.
SECOND COOK: Ye’ll have to speak to him, he’s over there:
The one with th’ red face, waving a cleaver.
JESS: He do look fierce.
SECOND COOK: Truly, he is a sweetie:
He likes to shout at us to ease his mind.
Be not afraid. (To HODGE) Master! Some folk to see ye,
They come fro’ thy brother.
HODGE: What, thou poxy knave?
Attend to thy damned pig. Where are those collops?
SECOND COOK: Your brother Mudge hath sent these folk to you.
HODGE: Forsooth, that’s diff’rent. (To HOB) Welcome to you, good folk.
So, were ye thrown out by that tinpot tyrant?
My brother hath sent folk to me before:
They were good workers, better ‘n these town idlers.
HOB: Aye, that Sir Percy did pursue my daughter
And drove us from our farm, that he might have her.
HODGE: I can see why, the lass is some tomato.
JESS: She be a good girl, we did raise her proper.
Mudge do send love to ye, so do his wife;
She do be new delivered of twin boys,
Their names be Fudge and Bodge.
HODGE: Glad news indeed!
That do make twelve o’ them in th’ old cottage.
Do ye seek work?
HOB: We do, if work there be:
We’re farming folk, we’ll turn our hands to aught.
HODGE: Ye’ll have to start as scullions for a while,
And if ye work well, there’s preferment for ye.
(To JESS) Say, canst thou sew? This day the queen’s own seamstress
Hath perished of a griping of the guts.
JESS: My daughter, she do stitch a pretty seam:
Look at her dress, she sewed on all them sequins,
And done th’ embroidery along the hem.
I be quite happy with my husband here,
Keeling the dishes, be they ne’er so foul:
‘Tis nothing if ye’ve shoved your arm i’ a cow.
– They would ha’ sundered us two in the workhouse.
HODGE: ‘Tis settled, then. The money’s none too good,
Twopence a day, but there is food aplenty.
(To the SECOND COOK) Show them the scullery and the sluicing room.
(To TILDA) Come now, my lass, I’ll bring thee to th’ equerry,
And he’ll arrange a time to see the queen.
(To the COOKS) Attend to th’ quelque chose and calves-foot pie,
And quodling tarts. I’ll see ye by and by.
(Exit HODGE and TILDA. The COOKS go to their Tasks.)