Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
A wooded Hill above Tritium, overlooking the Valley of the River Drongo.
Enter TILDA, VULPECULA and JESSICA.
VULPECULA: My scrying glass tells me the spies are near.
TILDA: Aye, I can hear one lower down the hill,
Lurching about the bushes like a cow.
VULPECULA: Let’s hide within this thicket while he comes;
Surely he’ll climb the hill to take a view.
Jessica, art thou ready?
JESSICA: Say the word, granny.
(Enter GHASTLI, dishevelled and perspiring.)
GHASTLI: May Satan’s malison rest on this country!
Two days I have been thrashing through the thorns,
Steaming up sodding hills and down again,
And not a whiff of the damned Zinnian army.
O, were I at headquarters in Purdonium,
Sitting behind a desk with a mug of blood.
VULPECULA (whispering): Jessica, now! An army on that mountain.
(On the side of the Mountain an Army appears, clad in pink Armour, with Cavalry on pink Horses under a pink Banner. A Sound of Clashing, Neighing, and shouted Orders.)
GHASTLI: By Satan’s trousers, what a fearful sight!
The foe is come upon us! I must flee.
(Exit in Haste.)
Jessica, thou canst let that army go.
The other spy is coming up the valley
Less than a mile hence. We will wait for him,
Then do thy trick again, where I shall point.
JESSICA: O what a jape!
TILDA: We’ll lead them such a dance
’Twill outdo the fandango and the twerk.
(Enter ETTY. She looks about her.)
TILDA: Quick, Etty, we are hiding in these bushes;
One spy is not long gone, and t’other comes.
What news of Felix?
ETTY: He sent me to tell thee:
They go to th’ Chankly gorge three leagues upstream,
’Tis a precipitous place with snowy slopes
Fit for an ambush of the deadliest kind,
If we can lure the Thetans t’ enter it.
VULPECULA: Aye, for these spies know naught of where they go;
They blunder and see visions that dear Jessica
Doth fashion for them. Wait to see her army!
’Tis a gay spectacle, all clad in pink.
TILDA: In truth, I fret about that nursery colour;
It seems not serious in a time of war.
VULPECULA: Nay, for the Thetans it shall be a hue
Laden with terror, vengeance, wrack and death.
Also, it shows most sharply at a distance:
There’s no way that a spy can overlook it.
ETTY: Think’st thou the slogan The Pink Revolution
Would serve our cause?
VULPECULA: Aye, there have been full many
Uprisings named for red and green and black,
But never one called pink: go for it, Etty.
Hast thou contrived to print in the wild woods?
ETTY: Aye, I have soot, bear’s grease and a paving stone
We lifted from the streets of Delirium.
It takes two men to haul, but ’tis a weapon
As full of power as fifty arquebuses.
Paper we stole from a Thetan quartermaster.
When we are met again at Felix’s camp
I’ll show thee what I’ve made, and we shall post them
Upon the walls of Sputum and Delirium,
Yttrium, Erbium, Terbium, and Ytterbium
And all the local towns with silly names,
Fomenting the resistance of the people.
They’ll rise when we do call: mark how they will.
VULPECULA: Witch though I be, this is a power I lack.
If my kind had the glamour that thou wieldest
We’d never have to face a ducking stool.
TILDA: All sorts shall fight together in this war,
Yet none as mighty as my little lass.
VULPECULA: Quiet, for the spy approaches: he’s below us
Plodding along the riverbank, seeing naught.
Jessica, make thine army on yon hill!
(The Army reappears on the Hill. The voice of ORFEL is heard in the Distance.)
ORFEL: O mighty Satan! Shield me from these terrors!
I’ll sacrifice my eldest son to thee
If thou preserve me from this frightful foe!
(A Sound of Running.)
VULPECULA: Jessica, ’twas well done: let go thy army,
But we shall need it in the days to come
When the whole Thetan force is lured this way.
Then we shall meet them in the Chankly hills
And find a cure for our poor nation’s ills.