Tilda — A Comedy in Six Acts — 3.4

Tachybaptus, Going Postal
An Inn in Purdonium. CITIZENS are being served by FLOSSIE, the
Innkeeper’s daughter. Enter HOB and JESS.
HOB (to Jess): Now, my old lass, let me buy thee a good dinner to celebrate
my first payday as a sewer at the king’s table. I trow it do feel grand to be
able to afford it.
JESS: Aye, pet, and I’ll buy thee a bottle of malmsey to celebrate my first
payday as Princess Sheba’s tiring-woman. She be a fine young thing, though
dreadful wild. That Viscus ha’ taken her to meet his low friends, and last
night she came not home till four, and out of her pretty little head on cheap
brandy. My, how she did puke this morning, I did think she’d never stop.
But when I do get to know her, maybe I can give her a bit o’ friendly
advice, for she be not a bad lass at heart.
HOB: That young flibbertigibbet will never listen to thee, love, unless thou
turn her over thy knee and give her a right walloping wi’ the back o’ her
gold hairbrush. Which would not be amiss, i’ faith. (To FLOSSIE) Excuse me,
miss, can we have somewhat to eat and sup?
FLOSSIE: I ain’t got eight hands, I’ll be wi’ ye presently.
JESS (aside, to Hob): Stap me, it be the squire! Quick, man, away!
HOB: We’ve naught to fear, we be the king’s servants
And he be a long way from Sebum village.
Besides, ’tis dark in here, he shall not see us.
We’ll stay and eat our meat, and see what he doth:
I trow he be up to no good again.
PERCY: Flossie, my lass, let’s have a quart of sack
And we’ll forget the cares o’ th’ rotten world;
How wouldst thou like a tumble in the hay?
FLOSSIE: Thou’lt get thy sack if thou do pay for it:
I’ll see the colour of thy money first.
As for the tumble, go and fuck thyself.
PERCY: Come now, my sweet, that is no way to speak
Unto a gentleman of quality.
FLOSSIE: And if thou be a man of quality
What be thou doing in this poor men’s inn?
PERCY: I have an assignation with a prince.
FLOSSIE: Ho, pull the other one, thou poxy sot.
Thou and a prince? Be the pope coming too?
(She serves HOB and JESS with Food and Drink. Enter PRINCE VISCUS.)
FLOSSIE: ‘Tis Viscus! What do bring him to this place?
PERCY (to VISCUS): Well met, sweet prince: pray ye, draw up a seat,
And have a swig of this atrocious sack:
‘Tis all that I could get in this low dive. (He lowers his Voice.)
So, have ye got the ducats from your father?
VISCUS: Aye, Percy, that I have. We raised six thousand.
PERCY: What, only six? Well, it will have to serve.
Give it me quickly, and I’ll to my broker.
(VISCUS gives PERCY a Purse under the Table.)
VISCUS: And art thou sure the enterprise is sound
And that the Eskimoes yearn for ice cream
And we shall make our fortune in a week?
That purse is all the money that we have.
PERCY: ‘Tis safe as houses: take my word on that:
Within a week I’ll mutiply it sixfold.
VISCUS: Well enough, then. I must return to th’ palace:
‘Tis in a rare commotion. Farewell, friend. (Exit.)
HOB (to FLOSSIE): That were Prince Viscus, I do know him well.
FLOSSIE: Aye, so do I, but what hath brought him here?
HOB: The man he spoke with be the squire of Sebum,
The cruel tyrant of a little village
Where we did live, till he evicted us.
He be a blackguard, rotten to the core,
Thieving our money while he rapes our daughters.
FLOSSIE: He hath come here about a dozen times
To drink his fill and trifle with a whore;
I knew not where he came from. Didst thou see
The prince did pass him money under th’ table?
HOB: Alack, I be afraid ’twere Felix’s ransom!
And if it were, it do be lost for ever.
How could the prince put trust i’ th’ stinking dog?
JESS: He do not know him as we twain do know him.
(Enter two RUFFIANS bearing Cudgels. They advance on SIR PERCY.)
FIRST RUFFIAN: Ho, Percy, what a lucky stroke that we should fall in wi’
thee here. Thou be two days late wi’ the interest, and Don Perfidio be not a
happy bunny, not in no wise. Thou hast had thy warning: this time it be the
number one mammocking. Art thou sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
SECOND RUFFIAN: Be it my turn to do the kneecaps? That do be my
favourite part.
PERCY: Nay, hold, I have the money, all of it!
FIRST RUFFIAN: What, all six thousand? Do not mess with me:
Let’s see the gold.
PERCY: ‘Tis here, to the last ducat.
(He gives the Purse to the FIRST RUFFIAN, who seizes it and counts the
FIRST RUFFIAN: Why, so it be, I scarce believe my eyes.
SECOND RUFFIAN: We do not get to whack him to a jelly?
FIRST RUFFIAN: Never thou mind, he’ll owe six thousand more
Come Martinmas, and then we’ll crush his bollocks.
Let’s take the money to Perfidio;
He shall be mighty pleased to see it back.
Mayhap he’ll let us have a twirl wi’ his whores. (Exeunt RUFFIANS.)
PERCY: Ha! That was a near thing. Well, as I say,
Easy come, easy go, that is the way o’ th’ world.
Flossie, fill up my glass, there’s a good girl.
JESS: We have to tell the king his gold be gone.
Hob, do thou think that he shall punish us?
HOB: Nay, lass, the king do be a moderate man,
He’ll treat us justly if we do our duty.
Alack, I fear his heart shall be full sore,
For how shall he ransom his Felix now?
But there’s no help. Let us be off and tell him.
(Exeunt HOB and JESS.)
© Tachybaptus 2017