Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
The Deck of the Pirate Ship. A Month later.
Enter TILDA, FELIX, ETTY, VULPECULA, JESSICA, KEVIN and PIRATES.
Voice of a LOOKOUT, from above: Sail ho! Bound this way on the starboard beam.
KEVIN (to FIRST PIRATE): Take up a glass, tell me what thou dost see.
(Exit FIRST PIRATE.)
My friends, ye have been faithful to your word.
We’ve sent four treasure ships to a safe port
And sacked the temples in six coastal cities;
We are rich beyond a miser’s wildest hopes.
Yet, with the other ships some months away,
We must bide our time for now. Therefore I deem
’Tis time to head for Hedera, and for home.
TILDA: Aye, it hath been a profitable voyage:
We have more gold than we can shake a stick at;
But what of gold?
KEVIN: I like it, anyway.
LOOKOUT (from above): She is the Cockroach of the Seven Seas,
I’d know that tatty mainsail anywhere,
’Tis patched with all the colours of the rainbow.
TILDA: She’s not worth taking: I know her of old;
Etty and I once made a voyage in her
And nearly sank three times. I stand amazed
The rotten scow is still above the waves.
Kevin, prithee run up a flag of truce:
We’ll speak with them and hear the latest news.
KEVIN: Fly the white flag, and steer a course to meet her.
SECOND PIRATE: Aye, sir. (Exit.)
TILDA: It will be good to meet the captain
And speak of old times. But, while she approaches,
Let us confer to plan our course ahead:
We have more pressing matters than mere riches.
We have struck the enemy in his very vitals.
His ships are robbed, his sacred temples looted;
The Thetans rush around like poison ants
When ye destroy their anthill with a stick.
Say, shall we look to see how Gonbad fares?
(VULPECULA looks into her Scrying Glass.)
VULPECULA: See how he foams at th’ mouth and chews the carpet!
His vizier is gone.
FELIX: I trow, to the headsman:
’Tis perilous to serve an angry tyrant.
TILDA: How heartening to see him in such straits!
But I regret our carpet. When we come back,
We’ll have to fumigate the whole royal palace
And burn the furnishings, fouled with the fell miasma
Of Gonbad and his crew of hideous henchmen.
At least we can afford new furniture.
VULPECULA: Kevin, when we reach port we must part ways.
We have a land to save, and thou’lt return
Unto the usual business of a pirate.
But I have one more boon to ask of thee:
In some days we have need to sail to Theta
And land in secret on a lonely shore
To carry out a task I have in mind,
And then return as softly as we came.
To do this, and to find the other ships,
I’ll give thee this: it is a skyping crystal,
The fellow of the pair I shall retain.
When thou dost wish to speak with me, rub it
And say the magic words, Alexa, Open.
Where’er I be, my crystal shall hear thine
And call me with a burst of cheesy music,
And then we’ll see each other in its lens
And speak together; and when we are done,
Alexa, Close shall set the spell to rest.
I warn thee that the image is not clear,
The voice distorted; we may lose the link
And have to start anew, but it will serve.
Thus, by its aid, we can call thee to come
When we quit Theta. But to thine advantage,
I’ll call thee when a treasure ship comes nigh
And tell thee of its bearing and its distance
As well as if I stood on th’ deck with thee.
Thou shalt have all the ships, as I did promise.
KEVIN: ’Tis well. I shall be faithful to my word
And carry thee where’er thou need’st to roam.
But here’s the Cockroach, lowering a boat.
ETTY: Ho, captain, my old friend, we have not seen thee
These eight years, but I see thou’rt still afloat
If only just.
CAPTAIN: Etty, my lass, what cheer!
Tilda! I heard thou wert a royal queen,
But now I see two pirates dressed in breeches.
TILDA: ’Tis a long story. But well met indeed;
Pray come aboard, and tell us of thy news.
(The CAPTAIN comes up on the Deck.)
KEVIN: Welcome aboard my ship, good sir. Fear not,
We’ve no desire to seize thy precious cargo,
Whate’er it be.
CAPTAIN: Forsooth, thou wouldst not want it:
We bear firewood, ironware and cheap tin trays.
Tilda, is this thy daughter? A fine lass.
TILDA: Jessica, meet the captain of the Cockroach.
JESSICA: It is an honour. Mother told me o’ you
And how ye saved her life, and she saved yours
When your ship fell to pieces in a storm.
FELIX: Good sir, pray tell us of Uraemia.
CAPTAIN: Why, ’tis king Felix. Gracious majesty,
’Twill be my pleasure.
FELIX: No need for fine words:
Our land’s invaded, we are on the run,
But fighting back against the poxy Thetans.
CAPTAIN: Then ye’ll be glad to hear what I shall tell.
The Thetans, hearing of their country’s losses,
Withdrew four regiments to guard their ports.
I heard they’d lost three others in the north,
But how I know not.
FELIX: Truly, ’twas our doing:
We buried them with snow i’ a mountain pass.
This is fine news: three regiments remain
From ten they launched at us. Were we an army
Fighting ’gainst soldiers on a battlefield,
We’d call it victory, crown ourselves with bay,
And have a grand parade through th’ city streets.
But we’re not finished till we oust them all.
KEVIN: Dine in my cabin, and we’ll take our ease
And talk of old times on the seven seas.