Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
Aboard the Pirate Ship. Night.
Enter TILDA and ETTY in Sailors’ Garb, FELIX, VISCUS, KEVIN and PATRICK, with PIRATES. They speak in hushed Voices.
TILDA (to ETTY): Is’t not passing fine to be in breeches?
We’ve not worn them since we were in the Cockroach,
Poorly disguised as jolly sailor boys
With bosoms battened down with bandages.
I tire of petticoats of bombazine,
Of corsets, hoops and stomachers, and all
Those sad bags stuffed with horsehair that they say
Are necessary adjuncts for a lady.
ETTY: Aye, I feel young again in mind and body.
They say war’s terrible, and so it is,
But ’midst the terror there’s some sport to have.
FELIX: What ravening tigresses ye are, my dears;
I never was as warlike as ye twain,
But when a fight approaches, still I deem
That I can wield a blade as well as you.
PATRICK: Faith, it reminds me of my time with th’ Greeks,
Ransacking Turkish galleys in th’ Aegean.
What days those were, when I was but a lad.
KEVIN (whispering): Quiet, for we are but fifty yards from them
And still unseen. I hear the rowers snoring,
And, may I dare to hope, their guards as well.
Helmsman, steer for the midst of th’ bank of oars
And when we strike, then set us well alongside.
Men with the grapnels, stand ye by to cast them.
Be sure that all your pistols are well primed.
Gunners, aim high: we must not kill the rowers.
PIRATE: Aye sir, but we have done all this before.
KEVIN: We strike! Grapnels away! One broadside now!
(The Ship’s Cannon fire. SAILORS and all rush on to the Galley, where they encounter THETANS roused from Sleep. Cries, Clashing of Swords, and Shots.)
THETANS (severally): Satan! Satan is great! By th’ beard of Satan!
By Satan’s arse, what th’ hell is going on?
PATRICK: Go to thy master Satan, Thetan swine!
KEVIN: Blacksmiths, below! Men, guard them as they work.
Have ye the bale of extra cutlasses
To give them as they’re freed?
PIRATE: Aye sir, we do.
(Exeunt KEVIN and SAILORS, with VISCUS.)
ETTY: Tilda, beware! A Thetan with a gun!
(PATRICK flings himself on TILDA and bears her to the Ground. The Bullet aimed at her strikes him.)
PATRICK: By all the saints, I’m hit.
TILDA: Alack, I see
’Tis next thy heart, and there’s no staunching it.
Patrick, dear friend, I had not known thee long,
Yet thou becam’st my loved and faithful comrade
Till in the end thou gav’st thy life for me.
’Tis truly said: Greater love hath no man
Than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.
HUMPHREY: Patrick, alas, what have they done to thee?
PATRICK: I’ve had a short life but a merry one;
’Tis over now, but I have no regrets.
Humphrey, old friend, the best times were with thee.
(He dies. HUMPHREY seizes his Sword and runs into the Fray.)
TILDA: Ah, no! Humphrey is not a man of war;
He’ll surely perish.
FELIX: Tilda, let him be;
This is the only way that he can go.
He may kill dozens ere they cut him down,
And then he’ll be united with his friend.
VISCUS: The rowers are all freed, and coming up;
Kevin sent me to warn you to take care
We do not shoot our friends wi’ our enemies.
But say, is Patrick gone?
ETTY: Aye, Humphrey too;
Patrick saved Tilda from a Thetan bullet
And Humphrey, mad with grief, ran into th’ fray.
VISCUS: I know not what to say, for good or ill.
We lost two pirates on the lower deck,
But th’ day is ours: we are masters of the galley.
KEVIN: ’Tis done. I never saw such a pile of gold,
Ye’d build a goodly house with half of it.
But th’ butcher’s bill is higher than I’d hoped:
We have lost Spigot and old Turpentine,
And Lurcher is sore wounded in the belly
And may not live.
TILDA: Let me minister to him;
I have no small skill in the medical arts,
And herbs and simples to allay infection.
KEVIN: ’Tis well: for all our surgeon Jones the Butcher
May boast his skill, he knows not what he does.
(Enter a PIRATE.)
PIRATE: We’ve thirty Thetans, what to do with them?
Throw them o’er the side?
KEVIN: Nay, stay thy hand.
Chain them to th’ oars, and we shall give our rowers
An easier time during the voyage home.
When ye reach port, ye’ll sell them in the market;
I do not think they will fetch very much,
Since no one wants to buy a scurvy dog
Sold to the devil, and well whipped for it.
FELIX (to KEVIN): I am sorry for thy loss.
KEVIN: And I for thine;
At least they died to free Uraemia.
FELIX: Patriotism is a tawdry cause,
But when the enemy comes, we must oppose him
And bear our losses.
KEVIN: Aye, and when these men
Joined with our company, it was for gold.
They knew the risks, and gambled, and have lost.
We’ll give a double share t’ their families;
It is the rule. And as for their poor chattels,
My men will auction them for a high price
Paid out of kindness, adding to the sum.
But now, we must not brood on these sad matters:
We have our tasks, to set up a prize crew
To take the galley back to Hafnium
While we sail on to sack Thurralibad
And add the Golden Virgin to our treasures
With all the jewels that deck her evil body.
Ye serve your country, we our lust for gold;
What boots it, if it makes our soldiers bold?