A Wood in Uraemia in the Rain.
Enter FELIX, VISCUS and SOLDIERS.
VISCUS: Behold us sitting ’neath a dripping tree
Soaked to the skin, our garments caked with mud,
Trying to coax a fire from soggy twigs
To roast snared rabbits for our scanty meal.
Long weeks without a roof over our head
Have turned us into beggars, and we lack
E’en powder, ball and flints to serve our pistols.
What kind of soldiers are we, may I ask?
FELIX: The best kind, brother: what the Spanish call
Guerillas – they who always win i’ th’ end;
We are of the people, and th’ invading throng
Will drown deep in the sea of hostile folk.
VISCUS: I do not like that name, we sound like apes.
FELIX: I trow the Thetans like it even less.
Thou know’st we cannot dwell in villages:
If any folk are thought to give us any aid
The Thetans murder them and burn their houses.
Like it or not, we live i’ th’ fields and woods.
Now, men, I have a plan to win us powder,
Bullets, and all the military gear
We need to fight our war. Do ye remember
The ruined village shop in Librium
Where I made you collect the paper bags
And put them in a sack, and keep them dry?
VISCUS: Only too well: we have been lugging them
Around for days, the silly worthless things.
FELIX: Tonight they’ll prove their worth: listen to me.
Ye know that, at the bottom of the hill,
A company of Thetans is encamped.
We’ll raid them in the dark, and take their stores.
VISCUS: How will we do that, prithee?
FELIX: On this wise:
Remember ye the tale of Gideon
The Israelite, and how he overcame
The hosts of Midian who outnumbered him?
VISCUS: Aye, he sent out his men with lamps and pitchers,
And trumpets, which they blew, and smashed the pitchers,
And waved their lamps and made a horrid din,
And the foe thought they were a mighty army
And fell to panic, and slew one another.
We have no trumpets, and but two cracked pitchers,
And not a single lamp. And every child
Hath heard this tale: it would not trick a toddler.
FELIX: It would not trick a true Uraemian;
We are schooled i’ th’ Bible, and know all the tales.
But think on this: the filthy Satanists
Read only a black book of windy nonsense
Penned by a madman. They know naught of Gideon.
We have few pitchers, not a single trumpet
Nor lamp, but we have swords and we have armour
And, most essential, we have paper bags.
Men, I shall divide ye in two parties.
One, under Viscus, goes to th’ forest edge.
And when ye hear my signal, an owl hoot,
Ye clash swords on your armour, run around
Shouting loud orders in the army fashion,
Blowing up paper bags and bursting them
With a blow o’ th’ hand. And thus the foe will think
A sizeable troop’s advancing, firing guns –
But they’ll not panic like the Midianites:
They’ll come for you, and when ye see them coming
Climb up a tree and wait for them to pass.
Meanwhile I and th’ other men will run
Into their empty camp, take what we can,
And hasten out again. We’ll not return:
This place is far too near. Instead we’ll meet
At th’ waterfall beside Delirium hill.
Now, men, I’ll take Dudgeon, and Sprout, and Wormwood,
Merkin, Wee Gonk and Stinker for my party.
The rest o’ ye go with Viscus. When ye are placed
I shall hoot thus.
(He utters the Cry of a Barred Owl.)
’Tis an exotic owl,
Lest that a true Uraemian owl should cry
And set you off before the proper time.
VISCUS: He saith Who, who, who cooks for you?
O how I wish we had some proper cooking!
– But trust me, brother, I’ll not let thee down.
FELIX: I trust thee: now go down to th’ forest edge
And take your places. We shall follow soon.
(Exit VISCUS and his SOLDIERS.)
Men, what we need foremost is ammunition,
Look to that first. Seize only what we need
And we can carry. Now, let’s to our station.
(Exit FELIX and his SOLDIERS, leaving the Stage empty. A Moment later, the Cry of an Owl is heard, followed by Shouts, Clashing and Explosions, and sounds of confusion. Enter two THETAN SOLDIERS, in Haste.)
FIRST THETAN: In Satan’s name, where are these damned Uraemians?
SECOND THETAN: They flit around the woods like sodding squirrels;
We cannot touch them. Satan’s blood! I wish
We’d stayed in Theta, reading our black book
That comforts and resigns us to our lot.
I wish not to be shot i’ a northern wood.
FIRST THETAN: Hold thy tongue, man, or by the grace of Satan
Thou’lt find thyself being thrashed with red-hot wires.
Now to the chase, for if we find them not,
By Satan, we’ll be flogged and burnt and shot.