Tilda — A Comedy in Six Acts — 6.5

Tachybaptus, Going Postal
A Passage in the State Treasury at Kamysyak. On the Wall is a Rack of
Yataghans. Behind a closed Door, the Coining Room, occupied by FELIX and
GINFIZ. Next to it, another Door. Enter the SOLDIER with ETTY, followed
by the invisible TILDA.
SOLDIER: And thou sayst truly that he is a prince?
How then did he come to the slave market?
If they had known his worth, they would have held him
To ransom for a sack of golden thalers –
And not the kind we make here, which are brass.
ETTY: He must have chosen to keep mum about it,
And hoped he could escape his slavery,
For princes held to ransom are well guarded.
SOLDIER: But not as well as here at th’ treasury:
That was a sad misfortune for the lad,
Though haply I shall turn it to my gain.
ETTY: What dost thou aim to do, now that thou know’st?
If I were thou, I should keep quiet about it,
Send for the ransom, let Prince Felix go,
And run with th’ gold before thou art discovered.
SOLDIER: Or keep the ransom and keep Felix in:
‘Tis simpler thus.
ETTY:        I praise thy enterprise.
Now, let’s see Felix and full soon thou’lt find
That I have spoken true.
SOLDIER:        This is his cell.
(He unbolts the Door, and all go in.)
SOLDIER: Ho, Felix, here’s a pretty lass to see thee:
She says thou art a prince.
FELIX:        Why, it is Etty!
What a surprise! And didst thou come with …
ETTY (loudly, to the SOLDIER):        There!
Did I not tell thee that he’d recognise me?
Your royal highness, tell him who I am.
FELIX: I see the truth is out. I am a prince,
And this lass is a servant of my mother
Vulpecula, the Queen of fair Uraemia.
O Etty, ’tis divine to see thy face,
But how I wish that thou hadst held thy tongue.
SOLDIER: What kind of ransom would they pay for thee?
(Behind the SOLDIER’s Back, ETTY gestures to indicate great Size.)
FELIX: A million ducats: I am the crown prince
And shall inherit the high throne o’ my father.
SOLDIER: Then we shall see what we can do for thee.
I leave the room wi’ thy highness’s permission.
(He makes a mocking Bow and leaves the Room, followed by ETTY and the
invisible TILDA, and draws the Bolt on the Outside of the Door.)
SOLDIER: Etty, so that’s thy name! Let’s to a cell,
And I shall shag thee till thou cry for mercy,
And then some.
ETTY:        O, what an enticing prospect.
(The SOLDIER and ETTY go into a Cell within, closing the Door behind
them. The invisible TILDA unbolts the Door of the Coining Room and enters
FELIX: Who’s there? Who was it did unbolt the door?
I see no man.
TILDA:         ‘Tis I, my dearest prince:
I am invisible.
GINFIZ:        Ye gods, a ghost!
FELIX: Hush, ’tis my Tilda in a cloak of darkness.
O Tilda, my sweet love, thou cam’st for me
Where none but thou did dare, my own true lass!
Each morn of my captivity, I thought
Of thy dear face the moment I awoke.
TILDA: Keep thy voice down! the soldier is next door.
Etty will keep him there while we escape.
FELIX: And shall we all be made invisible?
The place is stiff with guards, as ye well know.
TILDA: Aye, but the charm hath limits to its power.
I placed a magic peach stone in my mouth
To make me vanish, and I’ve but one more;
But with it I can save both thee and Ginfiz.
I give the stone to him, and I kiss thee,
And we’re invisible while we embrace.
We’ll have to walk out thus.
FELIX:        A joyful scheme!
O Tilda, make me invisible with a kiss!
(TILDA puts the other Peach Stone into the hand of GINFIZ, who starts at
her Touch.)
TILDA: One moment yet, for I do have to warn ye:
The charm works only once. If thou leave off
From kissing me, thou canst not vanish more.
FELIX: Would I leave off from kissing thee, my Tilda?
(From next door, ETTY is heard uttering loud Screams.)
Alack! ‘Tis Etty: run, we must assist her!
No time for caution!
TILDA:        Etty, we are coming!
(FELIX, and GINFIZ run out of the Coining Room, followed by the invisible
TILDA. They fling open the Door of the Cell, and go within. FELIX seizes
FELIX: Thou filthy Tartar dog, to hurt poor Etty!
(They fight. The SOLDIER draws a Dagger and tries to stab FELIX. A Chair,
wielded by the invisible TILDA, rises up and smites the SOLDIER on the
Head. He falls.)
FELIX: Dear Tilda, was that thou? I’m in thy debt.
(All, including ETTY, her Dress torn, come out. Enter more SOLDIERS in
TILDA: Quick, take these yataghans from off the wall!
(They arm themselves. GINFIZ seizes ETTY and forces the Peach Stone into
her Mouth. She vanishes.)
GINFIZ: There, do not spit it out, ‘twould be a waste.
We’ll fight the Tartars: run for it, my girls!
ETTY: Think’st thou we’d run?
TILDA:        We’ll stand and fight with ye!
(They fight with the SOLDIERS. TILDA and ETTY, aided by their
Invisibility, account for many of them. All the SOLDIERS fall.)
FELIX: Well, that takes care of them. Thank you, my dears:
Ye fought like Trojans of the antique kind.
Tilda, I love thee more, the more I know thee:
Thy courage is stupendous as thy beauty.
(Enter GROBAG.)
GROBAG: What is this din? Turn out the guard at once!
Ah! What is this? My soldiers are all dead!
Did ye do this, ye brace of poxy slaves?
FELIX: Halt, slavedriver, or I will spit thee through.
‘Tis time to leave thy guesthouse, without thanks.
(Enter SHOBIZ.)
SHOBIZ: We heard a fair commotion, and we thought
That possibly ye needed some assistance.
GINFIZ: Nay, father, we have done it by ourselves:
It is the Mongol way.
SHOBIZ:        My dearest son,
‘Tis grand to see thee! And I also see
That thou art a true chip off the old block.
(They embrace.)
GINFIZ: I have to mention that we had some help
From two bold lasses of uncommon valour.
(He indicates a pair of bloody Yataghans held by the invisible TILDA and
SHOBIZ: Aye, I’ve no doubt of that, I know them well:
They fight like tigresses o’ th’ eastern steppe.
Ladies, pray you appear and take a bow.
(TILDA and ETTY become visible, still holding their Weapons.)
ETTY: O Ginfiz, that was a fine act of thine:
I owe my life to thee, beyond a doubt.
GINFIZ: Think nothing of it: ’twas a simple choice
To save so fair a maiden from the Tartars.
I wish that I could offer thee my hand,
But I’m betrothed to a fine lass o’ my people;
Her name is Doliz, and I love her dearly.
ETTY: ‘Tis well, for I have lost my appetite
For t’other sex. But I am greatly honoured.
GINFIZ: I understand, after thy sore ordeal.
But come, let’s quit this fortress and its dead,
And talk of merrier things upon the way.
(Enter one of SHOBIZ’S MEN, bearing a Sack, and followed by GENERAL
MAN: We found this old man in another cell.
FELIX: ‘Tis Dubio! Well met, my general!
DUBIO: Well met, my prince! I have grieved much o’er ye.
FELIX: No time for grief, for we are free again.
MAN: All ye, draw nigh and look within this sack.
GROBAG: Nay, it is mine: take thy vile hands off it!
MAN: What shall we do with th’ dirty bugger?
SHOBIZ:        Kill him.
(The MAN breaks GROBAG’s Neck, then holds the Sack open. It is full of
vast Jewels.)
FELIX: Why, ’tis enough to pay the national debt!
A soldier told us he was on the take:
He stole the gold sent him to make new coins
And issued coins of brass to th’ poor people.
It was a righteous act to wring his neck.
SHOBIZ: Dost thou desire these trinkets? They are thine.
FELIX: Nay, let us share them out about us all:
‘Tis only fair that all should gain by this.
SHOBIZ: Nay, we are Mongols, we’ve no use for wealth:
We value it as nothing, next our freedom
To ride the steppes upon our shaggy steeds.
Also, thy Tilda told us of thy kingdom,
How e’en the king and queen did scrimp and save,
And how he sold his royal crown to buy thee.
FELIX: O my good father! I am not surprised
To find his crown too light to pay my ransom:
Long since the jewels were all replaced with glass.
SHOBIZ: But these are real; and, Felix, they are thine:
Go and restore thy realm to fiscal health.
FELIX: I thank thee, Shobiz, for thy shining goodness.
Our people shall be friends of thine for ever,
If e’er they meet, which is not very likely.
SHOBIZ: O, I may raise a horde in a few years;
But if I do, I’ll halt it at thy border,
And we shall have a laugh about old times.
Come, let’s to horse before the watch doth come.
FELIX: Aye, we have killed enough men for today:
‘Tis time for liberty, and mirth, and love.
Sweet Tilda, we have missed our magic kiss,
But we shall have another, and another,
And yet some more, and never tire of them.
TILDA: Felix, my prince, how I have longed for thee!
(They embrace. All cheer. Exeunt Omnes, with FELIX and TILDA Hand in
© Tachybaptus 2017