Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
The Royal Palace at Purdonium.
Enter FELIX, VISCUS, ETTY and SOLDIERS.
FELIX: So we have come into the tyrant’s lair,
Or what we once called home.
VISCUS: And when ’twas home,
Footmen would bow and smile to welcome us,
But now we have to smash our way through guards.
ETTY: Well, we did smash ’em. Just look at that carpet;
We’ll never get the bloodstains out of it.
FELIX: ’Tis nothing to the wreck Gonbad hath wrought:
I found the portraits of our ancestors
– Norman the Terrible, Montague the Fat,
Queen Halitosis and the Thane of Throop –
Out in the garden on the compost heap.
He hath been wiping something on the curtains;
I’d rather not think of what it might be.
But that is naught beside our pressing question:
Where is the coward Gonbad lurking?
(GONBAD springs out from behind an Arras, seizes FELIX and holds a Dagger to his Throat.)
I have thee, and if any of you move,
I’ll slit his throat as one would kill a swine.
FELIX: Alas, I am surprised! Do as he bids.
VISCUS: Gonbad, we’ll have thee!
FELIX: Brother, stay thy hand.
GONBAD: Nay, lift thy sword: see what befalls thy brother.
(Enter TILDA, invisible, wielding a Cutlass. She strikes GONBAD down, then becomes visible.)
FELIX: Tilda, my love! Just in the nick of time;
Things had become a little difficult,
But thou hast saved me, as thou always dost.
TILDA: That was the last stone of invisibility
And the best used. Felix, my love, well met!
GONBAD: May Satan’s curse lie heavy on you twain:
May molten lead pour from the stinking sky
And rains of burning crocodiles impede you
Where’er ye stagger, racked with searing cramps,
Festooned with boils, bleeding from every pore.
And when at last, after an age of pain,
Ye kick the bucket, may my master Satan
Devise new tortures for the pair of you
Fiercer than any seen before in hell. (He dies.)
ETTY: Truly he had a mouth on him. I wonder
What welcome he’ll get from his precious devil.
(Enter VULPECULA and JESSICA.)
FELIX: Mother! And O, my darling little daughter,
What deeds ye wrought while we hid in the woods!
VULPECULA: Nay, sons, ye fought like bears of Turkestan;
I am proud of you. That trick with th’ avalanche
Was something that I never would have hatched.
It turned the tide in our favour; after that
A little witchcraft helped to win the day.
FELIX: Mother, thou art too modest. And thou, Jessica,
Thy beasts and navies decked in brilliant pink
Were worth an army of ten thousand men.
Not only have ye saved Uraemia
But have brought Theta crashing to the ground;
Her threat to th’ world eternally destroyed.
JESSICA: ’Twas so exciting, I have had such sport,
But O, ’tis good to be back home again.
How long is it till supper? I am hungry.
TILDA: We’ll try to rustle up a goat or two;
People are trickling back from their hiding places.
ETTY: Say, what of Theta? Are the priests o’erthrown?
VULPECULA: Aye, they are slain or fled, the temples burnt,
The golden racks and flesh-hooks melted down.
Ethylene reigns as queen o’er a humbled nation;
The people breathe a sigh of sheer relief.
And, in thanksgiving for our aid to her,
She gave us a good share o’ th’ temples’ gold
To mend the damage wrought upon our country.
Kevin hath brought it home; he hath so much,
He knows not what to do with it. E’en a pirate
Can have a surfeit of the prize he seeks.
(Enter KEVIN, with PIRATES.)
KEVIN: I’m not so sure of that: a little gold
Is always welcome, and a load of it
More welcome still. But now there’s so much gold
Floating around, its worth hath dropped by half.
My advice is to sit on it awhile
Until the price recovers. When it doth,
I’ll buy an island and set up a nation.
What do ye think to th’ name Kevinia?
ETTY: Nay, never change the name of anything,
A ship or an island; it attracts ill fortune.
Though it be called The Buttocks, let it be.
KEVIN: Thou sayst sooth, though I draw the line at that;
How could I style myself the king o’ th’ Buttocks?
FELIX: Welcome, good Kevin, to our humble home,
Though it hath need of tidying.
KEVIN: Hail, king:
We tidied up some Thetans that we found
Skulking around the scullery and the stables.
Methinks it is game, set and match to us.
VULPECULA: Aye, so it seems. But peace is an illusion,
Merely the interval between two wars,
For fighting is the natural state of men.
Yet, while we can, let’s drink to our success.
The day brings victory: we’ll take the chance
To eat and drink and love and laugh and dance.