Tilda — A Comedy in Six Acts — 5.1

Tachybaptus, Going Postal
The Harbour of Saint Trinian on the Coast of Aquilegia. SAILORS, including
the CAPTAIN of the Ship Cockroach of the Seven Seas. Enter TILDA and
ETTY: Four weeks on th’ road, and here we are again,
Back in Saint Trinian, looking for a ship,
And not an inch nearer to thy poor Felix.
Dost think we’ll pull that sailor trick again?
We barely got away with it before.
TILDA: We’ll do it if it be the only way
To get a passage to Constantinople.
But see, there is the captain of the Cockroach:
What ho, captain, back so soon again?
CAPTAIN: Ho, Tilda, Etty! Good to see you lasses!
I’ve been twice to Opprobrium since ye left.
How went your quest? What news have ye of Felix?
TILDA: He lives, but we have sad news of his fate:
He’s sold to th’ Turks, chained to a galley bench
Bound for Constantinople, as I trow,
And we must go there with the utmost speed.
CAPTAIN: I’ve heard a tale about a Turkish galley
That tangled with the pirate Vindalo
And took his ship, and slew him and his scoundrels.
Would that be anything to do with him?
TILDA: I know not; yet if my dear prince were there
He would have fought like the Nemean lion.
O that he be not hurt, my dearest Felix!
CAPTAIN: I heard the galley’s casualties were light:
Two sailors killed, and a score of cutlass wounds.
She came up under th’ guns o’ th’ pirate brig
– Ye will appreciate, she is low built –
And thus escaped destruction from their broadside,
Thou it fair mammocked all the masts and rigging.
The brig came here to port, with a prize crew:
See, there’s one of the men: ho, Suleiman!
Here be two lasses, seeking news of thee.
SAILOR: And how may I assist ye lovely girls?
‘Tis a great pleasure to address such beauty,
If I may make so bold.
ETTY:          Ye may indeed.
Say, what hast thou in mind when thy watch be over?
TILDA: Etty, this is no time for pulling men.
(To the SAILOR) We seek news of a rower on thy galley
By name of Felix: know’st thou aught of him?
SAILOR: Aye, Felix! He slew two o’ th’ pirate dogs
And drove their first assault back up the ladders;
Indeed, without him we should not have won,
We owe him all a debt of gratitude.
The captain cannot grant him liberty,
Which is th’ prerogative o’ th’ Sublime Porte;
But he hath promised to do all he can
To ease his burden in Constantinople.
TILDA: And would that gratitude extend, think ye,
To giving us a passage to the city?
We can reef topsails in a howling gale,
And haul the mainsheet well as any man.
ETTY (sings): Worm and parcel with the lay,
    Away, aye, O;
But always serve the other way,
    Haul, my bonny boys, smartly.
TILDA: Aye, and my friend here can sing silly songs.
CAPTAIN: ‘Tis true, they sailed with us aboard the Cockroach,
And made themselves quite useful, in a way.
ETTY: What meanst thou, in a way? We were amazing:
Ye would have foundered twice were ‘t not for us.
Remember when the lashings of the mainmast
Parted off Salvia, on a lee shore,
And all thy sailors stood about like dimbos
While we knitted it up in a brace of shakes?
In a way? We were the best men on thy vessel.
CAPTAIN: ‘Tis true, ye girls made us feel very old.
TILDA (to the SAILOR): Forgive my friend, she is not right i’ th’ head.
Say, wilt thou sign us on aboard thy ship?
SAILOR: Indeed, ‘twould be my pleasure t’ welcome you,
For we are sadly short of able seamen.
The brig is new repaired after the battle,
And sails at sunset for Constantinople
Where we shall sell her: these Christian ships are tubs,
Completely at the mercy of the wind.
Give me a galley any time, with oars
Manned by strong Christian slaves – I beg your pardon,
Fair ladies, I meant no offence to ye.
TILDA: None taken, ’tis not thy fault that the world
Is as it is. But I do warn thee now:
When we make landfall in Constantinople
We’ll do our level best to rescue Felix
Whate’er thy captain may intend for him.
SAILOR: That is not my affair. I do not know ye,
And did not hear what ye did say just then.
Strictly between ourselves, I wish ye well.
Now come, we’ll speak to th’ captain of the prize,
I’m sure he’ll take ye. Mind now, hold your peace
About your plans at t’other end o’ th’ voyage.
TILDA (to the CAPTAIN): Farewell, good captain, may we meet again.
ETTY: And if ye ever feel like a bit o’ the other,
Just for a change, ye know who ye may ask.
CAPTAIN: Etty, this leopard shall not change his spots,
But I do thank thee for thy kindly offer.
Farewell, good lasses, and a happy voyage!
(Exeunt SAILOR, TILDA and ETTY. Exeunt the CAPTAIN and the other
SAILORS the other Way.)
© Tachybaptus 2017