Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
Outside the temple at Thurralibad. The Street is deserted.
Enter TILDA, FELIX, ETTY, VULPECULA, JESSICA, KEVIN, Uraemian SOLDIERS and PIRATES.
KEVIN: Men, stand round Jessica and guard her well.
She is the greatest weapon that we have,
Yet she’s a little girl of seven summers;
A puff of wind’ll blow her like thistledown.
ETTY: Jessica dear, those skeletons were wondrous,
Twenty feet tall, enwrapped in glowing mist;
The citizens are skulking ’neath their beds.
TILDA: I had my doubts at bringing her with us,
But look what she can do! How wrong we were
To shut her below decks in the last fight;
We’d not have lost a man were she with us.
And yet my mother’s heart is full of care
To see her treading in a hostile city.
Let’s not expose her longer than we must:
On to despoil the temple of its wealth!
(Exeunt SOLDIERS and most of the PIRATES. Enter two other PIRATES with a Horse and Cart.)
FIRST PIRATE: Captain, this is the best that we could find.
’Twill bear the Virgin, but regard that horse!
Starving and drooping, sadly scarred by th’ whip.
SECOND PIRATE: How cruel those Thetans are! We gave him an apple,
And now he follows us like a tame dog.
KEVIN: We’ll set him free. Now let him crop the weeds
I’ th’ temple precinct, while we set to work.
Men, go in boldly, fear not Satan’s wrath;
I do not think he loves his worshippers.
(A few THETANS come out in the Street.)
VULPECULA: Jessica! Make a goat, and make it big.
(A huge pink Goat appears. VULPECULA speaks through it in a dreadful Voice.)
VULPECULA: Down, Thetan dogs! Ye have not served me well,
Torturing prisoners for your own delight,
Not for my glory. Now your goods are forfeit:
My demons bear your Virgin and your rack,
Thumbscrews and pincers, scourges and tickling sticks,
To my domain, where they’ll be rightly used
On you, when death shall gather you to me.
Your cities shall be pillaged, one by one,
And there is naught that ye can do to save them.
I have spoken. Now, run for your wretched lives,
Or what remains of them till I shall claim you.
(Exit THETANS in Haste.)
TILDA (to JESSICA): Well done, my love, that is a fearful goat;
See how they run in fear and consternation.
Put it away now, for its task is done.
(The Goat disappears.)
JESSICA: Why are these silly men scared of a goat?
ETTY: They think it is the devil, lord of this world,
Master of hell, which is where they shall go.
JESSICA: He’s a good goat, I’ll call him Lucifer.
(Re-enter some SOLDIERS and PIRATES, ten of them bearing the Golden Virgin on their Shoulders like a Coffin.)
FIRST SOLDIER: Gadzooks, this thing is heavy.
SECOND SOLDIER: Where’s the cart?
I have to put this lump down in a minute,
Else it will slip my hand and crush my toes.
(They set the Golden Virgin down on the Cart. Enter more PIRATES, carrying a golden Rack and other Instruments of Torture.)
FIRST PIRATE (on the Cart): Any old iron, any old iron, good prices paid!
SECOND PIRATE: Let’s melt these down as quick as e’er we can,
They fair give me the creeps, and no mistake.
JESSICA: What do they do with that big golden coffin?
Is there the body of a king within?
FIRST PIRATE: Best that thou shouldst not know, my little girl;
’Twould give thee nightmares. Let’s away with it.
(Exit SOLDIERS and PIRATES with the Cart. As they go, a THETAN appears with a Pistol.)
TILDA: Jessica, down!
JESSICA: Thetan, I conjure thee
By th’ demons Xbox, Sega and Nintendo …
(TILDA rushes over and claps her hand over JESSICA’s mouth.)
VULPECULA (continuing the Spell): … To turn t’ a toad and wallow in the mire.
(The Thetan is transformed into a Toad.)
VULPECULA (To TILDA): Didst thou catch her in time?
TILDA: Aye, but ’twas close.
Jessica, darling love, hear what I say:
Never exert thy power to harm a man,
Not even if thy life depends on it.
Better – I hate to speak so, but I must –
To lose thy life than to invoke a doom
That casts thy soul to bottomless perdition.
Granny can do this: she is old and tough …
VULPECULA: I thank thee. But ’tis true, I must confess.
TILDA: … But not thou, precious. Keep thy power in check.
JESSICA: Mother, I know. I shall. But I was frightened.
TILDA: As were we all: war is a dreadful trade.
Thou shouldst not have to ply it at thy age.
And yet thou art the strongest of us all.
ETTY: Thy bears and goats shall cause the foe to fall.