Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
Felix’s Camp in the Hills overlooking Purdonium.
Enter FELIX and VISCUS.
VISCUS: Say, brother, goes it well with our tigresses?
FELIX: Last night I looked into the scrying glass
And saw the three with a great band of folk
Marching along the streets of Thurralibad,
All armed with pickaxes, cleavers and scythes.
VISCUS: Knowing our mother, that doth not surprise me;
She had a marshal’s baton in her handbag
For many a year, and I have felt its blows.
FELIX: Only because thou wert a mardy brat,
My dearest brother. Any blows received
Were no more than thou truly didst deserve.
But that’s behind us; thou’rt a soldier now
Tried in the field – rather, the muddy woods
Where we are forced to skulk in this campaign.
(Enter a SOLDIER.)
SOLDIER: Sire, I have tidings from Purdonium:
Gonbad hath sent two regiments home to Theta,
Leaving but one to hold Uraemia down.
That much is certain; but I met a sailor
Newly arrived from th’ port of Opprobrium
Who spoke of turmoil broken out in Theta:
Great bands of women ranging through the streets,
And all the people rising ’gainst their rulers;
Riots in cities right across the land.
And when the priestly guards ordered the army
To fire upon the mob, they mutinied
And shot the guards instead, and th’ officers
Who ordered them to murder their own folk.
Gonbad himself, cowering in your palace,
Hath called two hundred men back from the shires
To shield him from the anger of the people,
But will they serve him in his hour of need?
FELIX: ’Tis joyful news indeed. And didst thou hear
Gossip i’ th’ market, merest rumour, yet
Something that we should heed, if not believe?
SOLDIER: Aye, there is wild talk of pink bears and goats
Rampaging through the streets of Uttalibad,
Aiding the people to o’erthrow the priests.
I paid it not much mind, but since ye ask
I tell you.
FELIX: Aye, I can believe that tale:
This is the doing of my little daughter
Who hath powers well beyond her tender age
But not the judgement to control them well;
She can call spirits from the vasty deep,
But when they come, they are of gaudy hue.
(Enter ETTY, bearing a Sheet of Paper.)
ETTY: We’ve made ten thousand of this little pamphlet
And sent our riders all about the kingdom
To spread it to the folk. ’Tis very simple:
Uraemians, when ye see the beacon’s light
Take up your arms, the hour is come to fight!
See, here’s a picture of a fire on a hill,
And one of farmers armed with staves and axes
For the unlettered, who will get the drift.
FELIX: ’Tis well, Etty, and done i’ th’ nick of time.
This soldier brings us news of revolution
In Theta, sparked by Tilda and my mother
And little Jessica; their troops fall back,
Leaving too few to hold our kingdom down.
’Tis time for us to rise and cast them off.
Soldiers, draw nigh; hear what I have to say.
(Enter more SOLDIERS.)
FELIX: Men of Uraemia, the time is come!
Theta is fallen into rank disorder;
Their bullies scuttle home like frighted rats.
A few remain; we’ll swiftly deal with them:
We march upon Purdonium i’ th’ morn.
Now let the beacon blaze upon the hill
To spread the word throughout Uraemia;
Our folk will rise and fight, and who’s like us?
We are slow to anger but, when th’ cause is just,
No one can face us in our righteous ire.
Huzza! Uraemia shall be free tomorrow.
SOLDIERS: Huzza, huzza, our country shall be free!
ETTY (sings): The people’s flag is shocking pink;
O how it makes the Thetans shrink!
We beat their army to its knees
With animals of bright cerise.
Then raise the rosy standard high,
To make the cowards cringe and cry;
Though they have Satan on their side,
Our flag will make them run and hide.
(Exeunt SOLDIERS, cheering.)
ETTY: ’Tis a brave song, but Jessica’s abroad;
We have no magic to assist us now.
Yet I believe the tide has turned for us
And as it sweeps in, we’ll sweep them away.
FELIX: Gonbad remains within the royal palace;
He dare not sail back to the Thetan shore
For fear of being torn to bloody shreds,
Yet he hath still some power to harm our land.
He is our target for tomorrow’s raid;
If we cut off the head, the body dies.
ETTY: Indeed, brave Tilda and her sister witches
Have crushed the head o’ th’ spider with their power.
Gonbad is but a pimple on that head;
Without blood to sustain it, it will wither.
What though he’s guarded by two hundred men?
We have the same, and anger on our side,
Worth hundreds more. Should Satan show his face,
He’ll quail at one verse of Amazing Grace.