A Tartar Settlement – the House of Gulag. Evening. Enter TILDA and ETTY.
ETTY: This is the sixth place that we’ve tried today,
And we have been through scarce a hundreth part
Of the wide territory of Astrakhan,
And I am dropping, and thy voice is hoarse
From singing of Pythagoras and his organ.
TILDA: Let’s give it one last try, and then I promise
We’ll find some farmer’s barn and hit the hay. (She sings)
In hydraulis dum Pythagora, etc.
(Enter GULAG, from within.)
GULAG: Who’s there, singing strange songs without the door?
Why, ’tis two lasses! What are ye about
At this late hour?
TILDA: I beg your pardon, sir.
We needs must sing this lay at every gate
To find my lover, brought here as a slave,
But where we know not. ‘Tis our special song,
And if he hear it, surely he will join in.
GULAG: A pretty story: it doth touch my heart.
I have no slaves, my last one died on me
A month ago, and I must buy some more.
But there’s a neighbour o’ mine, by name of Toerag,
Hath lately visited Sebastopol:
I know he bought some fresh slaves in the market.
TILDA: And pray, how would we find your neighbour Toerag?
GULAG: Neighbour is not the word I should have used:
He lives some seven leagues from here, by th’ Volga.
I see you are fatigued: come in and rest,
And in the morn I’ll set you on your way.
TILDA: I thank you, sir, we have walked since th’ crack of dawn.
(They go within.)
ETTY (aside): I have a nasty feeling about him.
TILDA (aside): What, dost not fancy him one little bit?
ETTY: I mean not that, though surely he is foul.
GULAG: Here, ladies, eat and drink. May I recommend
The leg of goat aged for three weeks i’ a dunghill?
‘Tis very tasty. This is our local brew:
We make it out of dandelion and burdock.
TILDA: ‘Tis very interesting; Etty, what think’st thou?
ETTY: I cannot say, I feel quite overcome. (She falls down in a Swoon.)
TILDA: Forgive my friend, for she is very weary,
And as for me … (She also falls down.)
GULAG: O what a stroke of luck!
Two strong young women fall into my lap,
And not a penny paid for either of them.
When I have had my fill o’ them, they shall toil
Chained to the sorghum mill both night and day.
I’ll have the dark one first, I rather think.
(He drags them out, reappearing above carrying them one at a Time.)
‘Twas only a small dose, they’ll wake anon,
And then I’ll have some pleasant sport with them.
‘Twere well to tie them up ere they awake.
(He binds them with Cords. TILDA begins to stir.)
Aha, she wakes! Girl, thou art in my power.
Wilt thou be easy, or have I to hurt thee?
TILDA: What is this place? What hast thou done to me?
My hands and feet are tied. Loose me at once!
This is an outrage: I am a free woman,
I am thy guest! Thou hast transgressed the laws
Of hospitality beyond all reason.
I say, unbind me!
GULAG: Ah, a lass with spirit,
I like that well. But I may have to whip thee
Before thou wilt comply with my desires.
TILDA: O whip me not! Come over here to me
And I’ll do anything thou dost require.
(GULAG embraces TILDA. She strikes him in the Privy Parts with her Knee.
GULAG: Zounds! I am mammocked in the privy parts:
‘Tis like a red-hot poker in my loins.
Thou bitch from hell, thou shalt be sorry anon:
I’ll flog thee till thy ribs stick through thy flesh.
Where is my whip? O how my bollocks smart!
(Exit. ETTY wakes.)
ETTY: What happened? I recall a dirty Tartar.
O, I am bound! Tilda, are thou still here?
TILDA: Aye: we were given a drug in that dark drink,
And this foul heathen hath us in his power:
He tried to violate me, but I kneed him
Where thou didst tell me to. It made him angry,
And presently he’s gone to get his whip:
O my dear Etty, what shall we do now?
ETTY: Pretend to faint again: he will not whip thee
If thou art in a swoon and cannot feel it.
I will divert him with my usual arts
And mayhap I can get him to untie me.
TILDA: O Etty, he is filthier than a toad:
How wilt thou bear it?
ETTY: He is not the worst
That I have known. When I was very drunk
I once slept with an African gorilla.
In fact the ape was quite considerate,
Though sadly not too well endowed.
TILDA: O Etty!
My friend, I know full well thou meanst to cheer me,
But this is serious. Alack, he comes!
(She pretends to be in a Swoon. Enter GULAG, bearing a Whip.)
GULAG: What, in a swoon again? I’ll flog her later.
What about thee? Wouldst like a bit of sport,
Or art thou just as stubborn as thy sister?
ETTY: Nay, not at all, I like a spot of fun:
I’ll sport with thee as often as thou like,
Thou pretty boy. Truly, thou art in luck,
For I am highly skilled i’ th’ arts of love
From reading that great work, the Kama Sutra.
Lik’st thou the Congress of the Elephant Woman?
GULAG: Say, what is that? I never heard of it.
ETTY: It is an Indian book, and it doth show
The way to reach the pinnacle of pleasure
In several hundred modes: come, and I’ll teach thee.
Thou, put thy leg like this, and t’other one thus,
While I do this … Alas, I cannot manage
While I am tied. Wilt thou unloose my bonds?
I promise thee that I’ll be a good girl,
So good thou never couldst imagine it.
GULAG: I will unloose thee, for I cannot wait
To see what treats thou hast in store for me.
(He unties her and they lie on the Floor.)
ETTY: Now I shall show thee just what I can do.
(She seizes a piece of Wood and belabours him.)
ETTY: Take that, and that, for what thou didst to Tilda!
Thou stinking scum o’ th’ earth, with thy tiny member!
(GULAG retreats under her Blows, runs bleeding through the Door, and
locks it behind him.)
ETTY: Alas, I meant to kill the evil cur,
But ’tis not easy with a bit of wood.
Still, we have won ourselves a breathing space.
(She unties TILDA.)
TILDA: The window’s far too high for us to leap:
The only way we can get out of here
Is through the door. We must think of a plan.
ETTY: I read in one of my adventure books
About a hero in just such a plight
And how he got away.
TILDA: What did he do?
ETTY: ‘Twas not described in detail. What it said
Was no more than, ‘With one bound Jack was free.’
TILDA: We could bound till we drop, and still be here.
Let’s set the furniture against the door
So that we’ll hear if he tries to come in,
And we must get some sleep. Mayhap i’ th’ morning
We’ll think of somewhat. Etty, I am sorry
That I persuaded thee to join my quest
And thou art stuck in this sad place with me.
What thou didst with that man, I did admire,
And I regret my past disdain o’ thy actions.
ETTY: Thou art my dearest friend, and where thou goest,
I shall go too, while thou hast need of me.
Sleep well, dear Tilda, and the morning light
Shall bring new hope to us, I trow. Good night.
© Tachybaptus 2017