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The Rivals

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"Well, that was disappointing..." Cheedo sighed.

"What was? Didn't you have a good time?" 

"Oh, yes...it was a Happy New Year for sure."

"What then?"

"The play. Nobody had the faintest idea what we were going on about. I wasn't too sure, myself. And I think people were only laughing because the men were wearing dresses."

"That's theatre for you. Isn't it supposed to be like that?"

"I think...maybe...it's supposed to make sense. I think maybe people in 1775 actually got the jokes."

"It's just too old, then. Don't we have any new plays?"

"No, Giddy just had old books. She said people had lots of lots of old books because they were cheaper than new ones. Something about lapsed copyright."

"I wish she was here. She'd have got the jokes."

"I miss her."

"You should write a new play."

"It'd be too hard. To write something just out of my own head. I thought, though..."

"What?"

"Maybe we could change the play. So that it made more sense to people now."

"Maybe you could." Capable patted her sister on the shoulder and smiled. Cheedo was already wandering through the lines of the play in her head. She left her to it.

*

Cheedo was at a loss, though. Their scanty and treasured stock of literature from the end of the last century amounted to little more than science books and a few scraps of coloured pages stapled together. They were mainly pictures of people, but one page seemed to list the shows that were on television one day in 1985. She wished they had more information on what life was like just Before, not hundreds of years ago. She had an inkling that the audience would be more interested in the play if it showed more recent history. It wouldn't work if she set it in the present day. It was just too alien. People didn't act like that now. They wouldn't be able to relate to the characters.

So she would have to rely on the oral tradition...

Cheedo sought out the oldest of the Citizens, asked them about their lives Before, took notes. One day she overheard an interesting conversation between some of the People. This was way better, she thought, than the stuff people were actually telling her. So she listened, remembered names and descriptions, and made Sheridan's characters more real.

She listened to the singing box as she scribbled...

 

PROLOGUE

Back when rivers flowed with water instead of sand and people traded for gold-pressed latinum, the aquifer was a rich town. That town was called Wellspring, and those who could afford to would visit to drink the health-giving waters. It was reputed to cure sickness and give the drinker a long and happy life. But people mainly came to meet their friends, show off their wealth and to get paired. 

Thus, Wellspring prospered for twelve-month after twelve-month. But, as rumours were whispered that water was running out in the wide world, the leaders began to fear. They had no army, only men and women in bright uniforms and shiny buttons who caught thieves and fined the citizens for leaving their vehicles in the wrong place. 

The leaders of Wellspring were a class known as the Ferengi, who valued wealth above all else. Over generations, they sought to forge alliances with stronger neighbours on whom they could rely for protection when needed.  

The Klingazons were a force to be reckoned with.  Clans of warriors each led by a matriarch, they fought with fearsome bat’leth and were expert lasso handlers while riding out in battle.  

In the neighbouring region was a clan which, it just so happened, was running dangerously low on latinum.  

The Boss of that clan had a daughter. 

The recently-deceased Grand Nagus of the Ferengi had left a fine son.  

Pretty straightforward, surely… 

They didn’t bank on the young people having their own plans.  

Meanwhile, a craze sweeps the Wellspring, distracting Ferengis’ attention from profit and family duty. 

 

DRAMATIS PERSONAE 

KLINGAZONS 

  • Boss Anthoni Absolute (Althea)     Klingazon chief. Mother to Jak Absolute. Good natured disciplinarian. Plans to ally with the Ferengi, Wellspring’s wealthy elite. 
  • Jak Absolute (Cheedo)                   Eldest daughter of Boss Anthoni Absolute. Captain in the Klingazon army, has worked her way up through the ranks from an early age. In a secret relationship with Lyd Languish, a Ferengi, to whom she has passed herself off as Beverley, an impoverished soldier of fortune. 
  • LuckO'Trigger (Toast)                 A travelling mercenary from a Northern Klingazon clan. Plans to find a rich husband in Wellspring, and has her eye on Lyd Languish. 
  • Missis Fang (Phyllis)                      Servant to Jak Absolute. 
  • Tommy (Nan)                                 Boss Anthoni’s driver. 
  • Girl (Willy)                                      Servant

FERENGI 

  • Malaprop (Zal)                               Younger brother to the late Grand Nagus. Uncle and guardian to Lyd Languish. He hopes to make a strategic marital alliance with the Klingazons. 
  • Lyd Languish (Dek)                        Rebellious son of the late Grand Nagus, and nephew of Malaprop. In love with Beverley, a low-ranking Klingazon mercenary, and plans to elope with her against his uncle’s wishes. 
  • Jool Melville (Taggy)                      Cousin to Lyd Languish. His mother was a Ferengi who eloped with a Foodlander. Musician employed by Boss Anthoni to teach young Klingazons. Engaged to Faulkland, a Foodlander. 
  • Luke (Karl)                                     Servant to Lyd Languish.  

FOODLANDERS 

  • Faulkland (Capable)                       Sheep farmer. Close friend of Jak Absolute. Engaged to Jool Melville. Neighbour and friend of the late Mrs Melville.  
  • Dag Acres (Dag)                             Plant farmer adjoining the Klingazon territory. Hopes to marry Lyd Languish. 
  • Dolores (Dolores)                           Servant to Dag Acres. 

Chapter Text

Scene I. The Wellspring, A Street 

Tommy crosses the stage. Enter Fang, waving after her. 

FANG Hey! Tommy! Tommy!  

TOMMY Missis Fang! Is that you? 

FANG  How’s my little revhead? Good to see you, my girl! What brings you to Wellspring? 

TOMMY Boss felt a touch of the gout comin’ on. She declared she’d give it the runaround and whoosh! we were all off at an hour's warning. 

FANG Indeed...retaliate first is the Boss’s maxim. 

TOMMY But Boss weren’t expectin’ to see the Captain here. 

FANG I’m not working for Captain Absolute now.   

TOMMY Eh? How come? 

FANG At present I am employed by a young woman by the name of Beverley. A…soldier of fortune, one might say. 

TOMMY Bit of a change for the worse there, eh? 

FANG No change at all, Tommy.  

TOMMY No? But...dint you say you’d left the young Boss? 

FANG Nope. Well, young Tommy, I’ll come clean. To cut a long story short, Captain Absolute and Beverley are one and the same person. And she is currently in her role of mercenary. 

TOMMY Well now, I smell a story! Tell, go on. 

FANG You’ll keep it quiet? 

TOMMY As a hybrid. 

FANG. Why then the cause of all this is Love...Love, Tommy, which you may have seen, has been nothing but a source of drama ever since the days of Sons and Daughters. 

TOMMY Hmm...I guessed that’d come into it...but I don’t get it, why’s she acting a mercenary? Why don’t she pass herself off as a…a Duchess or something? 

FANG Ah! Tommy, there lies the mystery of the matter. Listen, Tommy, my boss is in love with a young man of a very peculiar taste: one who likes her better as a penniless scav than if he knew she was daughter and heir to Boss Anthoni Absolute, a Klingazon Chief with three thousand bikes at her command. 

TOMMY That’s a strange one, to be sure! But what about the fella, Missis Fang? Is he rich, then? 

FANG Rich! Why, I believe he owns half the land hereabouts! He could muster a hundred convoys as easy as I could pay my bootmaker! He has a coupe plated with shiny gold, he feeds his dog with chicken meat, and he gives all his friends flying machines at Christmas. 

TOMMY Quite the catch. But has he, y’know…got an eye for the Captain? 

FANG They're like a pair of lizards. 

TOMMY What’s his name? 

FANG Lyd Languish. But there’s a tough old Uncle in the way; but, and this’ll work in our favour, he’s never seen my boss, for she got acquainted with the lad while on a visit to the Blue last winter. 

TOMMY Well, I wish they were paired tomorrow and driving off into the sunset in a shiny gold coupe. Or a flying machine, for that matter. But, Missis Fang, what kind of a place is this Wellspring? I’ve heard a fair bit about it. Party town, is it? 

FANG Pretty good, Tommy, pretty good...if you’re after a rest; in the morning we go to the pump-room, after breakfast we saunter on the terraces, play at Subbuteo or bet on the lizard races; at night there’s music and dancing; but damn the place, I'm tired of it: their regular hours bore me...everyone asleep by eleven! But Tommy, you must dress up a little, indeed you must. Here now...these coloured braids! What are you wearing those for, Tommy? None of the Wellspring drivers wear colours anymore. 

TOMMY More fool them, I say. Flaming wheels! When I heard how the Chieftains and money-wranglers had took to their own hair, I thought I’d heard it all. Flaming wheels! But I’m determined I'll never give up my colours...the Bosses and bankers can do what they like… 

FANG Well, Tommy, we'll not argue...  

TOMMY ...and it’s not like everyone's doing it, neither...for in our village now, Jacky Blue the money-taxer is wearing her ginger mane natural, but then, there's little Dick, the atomic blackthumb, swears she’ll never get rid of her rainbow brights even if all the Master Engineers show up with their own hair! 

FANG Really? Well, you tell 'em, Dick! But wait...Take a look over there, Tommy... 

TOMMY Flaming wheels! It’s the Captain! Is that the young man with her? 

FANG No, no, that's Mister Luke, my Boss’s young man’s man. That's their house. But I must go tell her the news... 

TOMMY Bit weird...She's giving him latinum! What's that all about, Missis Fang...? 

FANG Got to go, Tommy. Meet me in Ten Forward this evening at eight; I'll fill you in then.  

(exeunt severally) 

 

Scene II. A room in MALAPROP's house.  

[LYD sitting at a table, fiddling with a singing box. Luke has just returned from running an errand.] 

LUKE Well, sir, I’ve been round half the town looking for it. I don't believe there's a record trader in Wellspring I haven’t tried. 

LYD And you couldn't get “Roll Over Beethoven?” 

LUKE No sir. 

LYD "Reet Petite?''  

LUKE No sir. 

LYD "Footloose? " 

LUKE Sir, sod's law, sir. Mrs. Colombia said Sally Mustang had got the last one.  

LYD Typical. Did you ask for “The Land of 1000 Dances?” 

LUKE Or “You Never Can Tell”? Yes sir, I asked everywhere for it; and I might have got it at Chess’s place, but Baron Hancock who'd had it on loan, had so scratched, it was jumpin’ all over the place. 

LYD Typical! I always know when Baron Hancock has had a record before me. He has a most careless needle. Well, young Luke, what have you brought me?  

LUKE Oh! here, sir. [Taking records from under his jacket and from his pockets.] This is “You Make My Dreams Come True”, and this “He’s The Greatest Dancer”. Here are “Too Hot To Trot” and “Boogie Oogie Oogie”.  This is “Dancing In The Street”, and here “The Harlem Shuffle”.  

LYD Nice! What's that one by the mirror?  

LUKE Only 'The Very Best of Coldplay', which I use to hit bugs, sir.  

LYD Alright then. Hand me my herbal refreshment, will you? 

LUKE Is that in a blue sleeve, sir?  

LYD The rollup, you boofhead!  

LUKE Oh, the weed! Here, sir.  

LYD Wait! Here's someone coming...quick, see who it is. [Exit LUKE ] Thought I heard my cousin Jool’s voice. [Re-enter LUKE]  

LUKE Sir, here is Mister Melville.  

LYD Can it be? [Exit LUKE] 

[Enter JOOL]  

LYD Jool! Good to see you, mate! [knock foreheads] I wasn’t expecting to see you in this old town!  

JOOL Thought I’d surprise you. But what’s the matter? You look a bit uptight. 

LYD Oh, it’s a long story. But first tell me what’s brought you to Wellspring? Is Boss Anthoni here?  

JOOL She is. We are arrived in the last hour, and I suppose she’ll be here to see Uncle Malaprop as soon as she’s unpacked.  

LYD Then before we’re interrupted, let me get this off my chest. You’ll say I’m being an idiot, but I think you’ll see my dilemma. I’ve written to you all about me and Beverley; but it’s all over, Jool! My uncle has got hold of my last note. He knows everything, and he’s been watching me like a hawk ever since! But, would you believe it? He’s smitten with a Klingazon mercenary he met one night at the Shuffle. 

JOOL You’re kidding. 

LYD No, it's true. He’s been messaging her...under a false name though, till he’s ready to be known...Zak or a Zal, something like that.  

JOOL Then I'd have thought he’d be more likely to understand your situation?  

LYD Well, you’d think so...But now he's got a woman in his sights, he's become more suspicious of me. And that’s not all…that annoying Dag Acres is to be in Wellspring today; she’ll be after me for the foreseeable... 

JOOL Don’t worry, Lyd, hope for the best. Boss Anthoni will talk Uncle Malaprop round.  

LYD But that’s not the worst of it. I’d just had a steaming row with Beverley before I got caught out, and I haven’t seen her since to make it up.  

JOOL Why, what did she do?  

LYD Nothing. But, you know how it is; it was really bugging me that we'd never had an argument, and I thought she would never give me an opportunity. So, last Thursday, I wrote a letter to myself, to inform myself that Beverley was at that time chatting up another man. I signed it ‘a friend’, showed it to Beverley, accused her of messing around, and declared we were finished. 

JOOL You let her go, and haven’t seen her since?  

l

LYD It was just the day after that Uncle found the whole thing out. I only meant to have kept her hanging three and a half days, and now I've lost her for ever.  

JOOL If she’s as keen on you as she seems to be, she won’t stand by and let you mess things up. But this whole thing doesn’t seem right, Lyd...you tell me she’s a scav barely making enough to get by and you have thirty thousand pounds of gold-pressed latinum.  

LYD But I only inherit that if I marry with my uncle’s approval, at least until I’m twenty one; and that is what I’m determined NOT to do. And if a woman asked me to wait even a day to do the thing properly, well…she would not be the one for me.  

JOOL You’re just going through a rebellious phase. A whim. A fad. 

LYD You’re talking to me about whims? I thought you’d be well used to them by now. Faulkland? 

JOOL Hey. Nobody’s perfect. Not even her. 

LYD But, hang on, she knows you’re here, right?  

JOOL Not yet. Boss Anthoni upped and brought us all here so suddenly I hadn’t time to send a message.  

LYD Jool, this is ridiculous. You've been engaged to her for a twelve-month and she keeps putting off the pairing. She's keeping you hanging. You have to put up with her moods and jealousy like she's your wife, without having any of the benefits. She doesn't deserve you, mate.  

JOOL It's not like that. It's not her fault. There have just been so many delays. First Mum died, and then there was all that trouble on the sheep station...She’s not playing games, really she's not. You don't know her as well as I do. And she’s not jealous, not really. She just worries too much. She doesn't meet many people, it's just her on that huge farm. That’s a good thing, though...she's happy like that...and I would be too... But the trouble is, she doesn't understand what I see in her, and frets that I don't love her enough. I admit, it's been difficult at times. But then, I know she's only acting this way because she loves me. 

LYD Well, I can hardly blame you for defending her. But be honest, Jool, if she hadn't saved your life, do you think you would have fallen for her? I think that brown snake must’ve bitten you after all...with some of stupid Cupid’s poison...before she leapt in and killed it. 

JOOL  I loved her before that; though sometimes I think that her saving me as she did would have been enough in itself.  

LYD What, would you pair with a saltwater crocodile if it'd done the same? Well, I'd never think of going head over heels for a woman just because she could rip a snake in half. 

JOOL Come on, Lyd, I'm being serious.  

LYD Oh, I'm only messing. Here, what now? [Re-enter LUKE in a hurry.] 

LUKE. Oh sir, here's Boss Anthoni Absolute and your uncle.  

LYD Oh, they'll hardly come in here. Luke, keep an eye out for us. [Exit LUKE]  

JOOL  Still, I should go. Boss Anthoni doesn't know I am here, and if she sees me, she'll offer to show me the town. I'll come back another time to see Uncle Malaprop... [Re-enter LUKE.]  

LUKE To warn you, sir, they're both coming upstairs.  

LYD Well, I'll not keep you. I'm sure you're in a rush to message Faulkland. [winks] There's another exit that way.  

JOOL Later! [Forehead knock, and exit.]  

LYD Here, Luke, quick, hide these records. Fling 'Theme From Shaft' under the bed...throw 'God Made Me Funky' into the cupboard...hide 'Boogie Nights' in the drawer...shove 'Night Fever' under the sofa...cram 'Barefootin’' behind that cushion...there...put 'A Town Called Malice' in your pocket—right, good —now lay Patsy Cline in sight, and leave Perry Como face-up on the table.  

LUKE. Oh sod it, sir! There’s a massive coffee ring right on Slim Dusty’s face.  

LYD Never mind—flip it over to the other side – right, throw on some Keith Urban - Now for 'em. [Exit LUKE.] [Enter MALAPROP, and Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE.]  

MALAPROP There, Boss Anthoni, there sits the idiot boy who wants to disgrace his family, and lavish himself on a girl not worth an ounce.  

LYD Uncle, I thought you once... 

MALAPROP You thought, pup! I don't know any business you have to think at all. Thought does not become a young Ferengi.  

LYD Uncle, what have I done to be treated like this?  

MALAPROP Now, don't try to talk your way out of this one. Once and for all, will you forget this Beverley and take a wife of my choosing? 

LYD Even if I wasn't already in love, I would object to any woman you chose for me. 

MALAPROP What business have you, pup, with love and objections? They don't become a young Ferengi; and you ought to know, that as both always wear off, it's safest in pairing to begin with a little objection. I’m sure I couldn’t stand the sight of your poor dear aunt before we were paired...and yet, pup, you know what a good husband I was! And when it pleased the good V8 to release me from her, no-one knows how grief-stricken I was! But if we were to give you another choice, would you promise to give up this Beverley?  

LYD I will not! [Exit.]  

MALAPROP There's a stubborn little bastard for you! 

BOSS ANTHONI  It's no surprise to me...that's what happens when you let boys listen to this new-fangled fancy dancy music. If I had a thousand sons, by the stars, I'd as soon let them loose in a nuclear blacksmiths than a dancehall! But, Malaprop, to the more important point in debate...you say you have no objection to my proposal?  

MALAPROP None at all, you can be sure of that. I’d never agreed anything with Miss Acres, and as Lyd is so determined not to have her, perhaps your daughter may have better success.  

BOSS ANTHONI Well, sir, I will send for the girl directly. She knows nothing of this yet, though I've been thinking this over for some time. She is with her regiment as we speak.  

MALAPROP We have never seen your daughter, Boss Anthoni; but I hope she will have no objection to the match.  

BOSS ANTHONI Objection! Let her object if she dares! No, no, Malaprop, Jak knows that I won't tolerate disobedience. My process was always very simple...when she was younger, I would only have to say "Jak, do this"; if she objected, she'd get a cuff round the earhole...and if she grumbled at that, I always sent her out of the room.  

MALAPROP That's the way to manage young people, that's for certain! Well, Boss Anthoni, I shall show Miss Acres the door, and prepare Lyd to meet your daughter. And I hope you will represent my nephew to the captain as an eligible match.  

BOSS ANTHONI  I'll take care of it. Well, I must be off; and mark my words, Malaprop, take my advice...keep a tight hand: if your boy rejects this proposal, keep him confined; and if you were just to let the servants forget to bring him dinner for three or four days, you've no idea how quickly he’d change his mind. [Exit]  

MALAPROP Well, at any rate, I shall be glad to get him from under my feet. He has somehow found out my partiality for Miss Lucky O'Trigger...surely Luke can't have betrayed me...? No, the boy is such a boofhead, he wouldn't be able to carry off a trick like that. Luke!—Luke!—[ Calls.] If he had been one of your sneaky ones, I'd never have let him into my secret. [Re-enter LUKE.]  

LUKE Did you call, sir?  

MALAPROP Yes, boy. Did you see Miss Lucky while you were out?  

LUKE No sir, not a glimpse of her.  

MALAPROP You're sure, Luke, that you never said a word to anyone...? 

LUKE Oh sir! I'd sooner cut my tongue out.  

MALAPROP Well, don't let anyone take advantage of your trusting nature.  

LUKE No, sir. 

MALAPROP So, come back in a few minutes, and I'll give you another letter to Miss Lucky; but mind, Luke...if I ever find out you’ve been gossiping...about me, I mean, not about other people...you'll be out on your ear; and stupidity will be no excuse! [Exit.]  

LUKE Hahaha – let's turn down the stupidity dial a little...[ Altering his manner.] There are some boys in my line of work who like to appear pretty sharp. I, on the contrary, find it pays to wear a mask of silliness with a pair of sharp eyes behind it looking out for number one! Let's see what my stupidity has earned me lately [Looks at a piece of paper] Covering for Mister Lyd Languish in his plan of running away with a mercenary! In money, twelve pennyweight of latinum; five shirts; hats, socks, scarves, etcetera etcetera, too many to count! From said mercenary, within this last moon, sixty grains. About three moons' pay! From Mister Malaprop, for betraying the young people to him...when I found their affair was on the point of being discovered...four pennyweight and a black jacket. From Miss Acres, for carrying letters...which I never delivered...two pennyweight and a pair of buckles. From Miss Lucky O'Trigger, thirty grains, two gold buttons and a silver tobacco-box! Well done, stupidity! But, for all that, I had to persuade the little Klingazon that she was in amorous negotiations with the nephew, not with the uncle. Because, although she's only after hard cash, she's still got to have some standards. [Exit.]  

Chapter Text

Scene I.—CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE's Lodgings. [CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE and FANG.]  

FANG  Ma’am, I saw Boss Anthoni while I was out: I told her you had sent me to see how she was, and to know if she had any time in her schedule to see you later. 

ABSOLUTE: How did she take the news I was in Wellspring?  

FANG Ma’am, in all my life I never saw an elderly lady more surprised! She sat down, got up again, and asked, what under the stars had brought you here.  

ABSOLUTE Well, and what did you say?  

FANG Oh, I lied, ma’am—I forget the precise lie; but take it from me as an honest woman, she got no truth out of me. Having said that...for fear of making a mess of the thing, I’d be more comfortable if we agreed on the details. Boss Anthoni’s servants were curious, ma’am, very curious indeed.  

ABSOLUTE But you didn’t let anything slip, though?  

FANG Oh, not a word, ma’am,—not a word! Of course, young Tommy (whom I know to be the discreetest of revheads)—— 

ABSOLUTE Tell me you didn’t… 

FANG Oh, no, ma’am—no—no—not a syllable, upon my honour!—She was a little inquisitive; but I was ready for it, ma’am. My boss (says I), honest Tommy (you know, ma’am, one says honest to one's inferiors,) is come to Wellspring to trade—Yes, ma’am, I said to trade—and whether for parts or hearts, you know, ma’am, is a minor detail.  

ABSOLUTE Trading…yeah, okay, that might do.  

FANG Oh, ma’am, trading will do amazingly well —indeed, to give the thing a polish, I told Tommy, that your honour had already acquired fifty camels, four Yamaha and a three dozen pair of boots. 

ABSOLUTE No no...never say more than is necessary.  

FANG I beg pardon, ma’am—I beg pardon—but it’s a poor lie that doesn’t whir and click with complicated workings. Ma’am, whenever I stir up my brain for a good lie, I always make sure it’s good and intricate. 

ABSOLUTE Just be careful the whole contraption doesn’t break down when we can least afford it. Tell me, did Faulkland say what time she would call round? 

FANG Shortly after noonday, she told me. 

ABSOLUTE Does she know that Boss Anthoni and Mister Melville are in town? 

FANG I doubt it, ma’am; she and her woman arrived in town only within the hour. Oh, there’s a knock at the door… 

ABSOLUTE Go and bring her up.  

FAG Yes, ma’am.— [Going.] Just to remind you, ma’am, if you speak to Boss Anthoni, you’re in town trading, if you please.  

ABSOLUTE Yes, yes… 

FANG And, for the sake of my credibility, if you could mention the bikes and boots, I’d be much obliged to you…reason being, though I never hesitate to lie for a good cause, it’s no joke being caught out [Exit.]  

ABSOLUTE Now for my whimsical friend—if she doesn’t know her man’s here, I'll tease her a bit before I tell her——[Enter FAULKLAND.] Faulkland, good to see you in Wellspring again! [embrace] 

FAULKLAND So, what’s new? How’s it going with you and Lyd?  

ABSOLUTE Oh, no change really; I haven’t seen him since that argument; but I expect he’ll message me soon. 

FAULKLAND I don’t understand why you can’t just persuade him to elope with you. Right now, I mean. 

ABSOLUTE And lose two-thirds of his inheritance? You’re forgetting that. If it wasn’t for that, I’d have talked him into running off long ago.  

FAULKLAND So why do you need to wait? If you’re so sure of him, speak to the uncle in your own name, and message Boss Anthoni to ask for her consent. 

ABSOLUTE Ha. This is Lyd we’re talking about…he’d elope with me like a shot as Beverley, but as Captain Absolute?…with the conventional trappings of parental consent, a regular humdrum wedding, and a hefty inheritance to set us up in comfort? Not so much. I’ve got to prepare him gradually for unromantic reality...while making myself necessary to him…before I can risk it. Well, but Faulkland, you'll come for dinner tonight?  

FAULKLAND Don’t think I can...not in the mood for company.  

ABSOLUTE Oh for... Grawlix, Faulkland! Since Jool came along you’ve been insufferably mopey! Look at me…Ive got ten times more reason to fret about Lyd, but am I behaving like a character from a soapy show? Full of fears and worries and drama? 

FAULKLAND Yeah, but it’s different for you. You love Lyd, but it was all over tomorrow, you’d dust yourself off and move on, find another. But, Jak! my whole future happiness, my life, depend on Jool, and if I ever lost him...  

ABSOLUTE Hmph…But, look, what under the stars could possibly make to think you might lose him? 

FAULKLAND Thousands of things! His happiness —his health—his life!— all so precious and fragile! What if he’s missing me? Worrying about me? What’s that doing to his sensitive and artistic soul? And for his safety...aren’t there a million reasons to fear? If it rains chunks of ice, he might be hit! If flocks of sheep pass by, he might be trampled! Oh Jak! when sensitive and loving souls are separated, there is not an object in the sky, not a movement on the horizon that doesn’t give a lover reason to fear! 

ABSOLUTE Maybe so, but we can still choose whether or not to take the hint…So, then, Faulkland, if you were convinced that your Jool were well and happy, you would relax a little?  

FAULKLAND I would be over the moon — after all, that’s the only reason I’m anxious.  

ABSOLUTE Then to put you out of your misery…Mr Melville is in perfect health, and is at this moment in Wellspring.  

FAULKLAND Come on, Jak—don't mess with me.  

ABSOLUTE He arrived here with my mother less than an hour ago.  

FAULKLAND Can you be serious?  

ABSOLUTE I thought you knew Boss Anthoni better than to be surprised at a sudden manoeuvre of that sort. Seriously, then, it’s true...on the honour of a Klingazon captain.  

FAULKLAND Oh!—Hey, Du-Peigne! Bring my coat! You dear lovely Jak—nothing on earth can fret me now. [Re-enter FANG .]  

FANG Ma’am, Dag Acres has just arrived. 

ABSOLUTE Wait, Faulkland... Dag is a near neighbour of Boss Anthoni. She can tell you how your man’s been since you saw him last.—Fang, show her up. [Exit FANG.]  

FAULKLAND What, is she a close friend of the clan? 

ABSOLUTE Oh, very much so. You must stay and meet her. Besides, you’ll get a laugh.  

FAULKLAND Well, I would like to ask her a few questions.  

ABSOLUTE She’s also a rival of mine—that is, of my other self's. After all, she has no idea her friend Captain Absolute has ever met Lyd; and it is ridiculous enough to hear her sniping to me of this Beverley, some sneaky hag of a rival, who’s wheedled her way—— 

FAULKLAND Ssh!—she’s here. [Enter ACRES.]  

ACRES Hey! Good old Jak, you’re a sight for sore eyes! How’ve you been? Oh, hello, nice to meet you. Just got here, phew! Shocking traffic! Bumper to bumper all along the Fury Road. 

ABSOLUTE Dag, Dag, you’re an eccentric planet, but we know what brings you to Wellspring! Allow me to introduce my friend Faulkland; Faulkland, Dag Acres.  

ACRES Faulkland, any friend of the Captain’s is a friend of mine.—Hey, Jak—what, this is Foodlander Faulkland, who—— 

ABSOLUTE Aye, Dag, Mr Melville's Faulkland.  

ACRES There’s a coincidence! He and your mother can only have arrived a couple of hours ago. I suppose you’ve seen them already. Ah, Faulkland, you’re a lucky woman! 

FAULKLAND I have not seen Mr Melville yet;—I hope he has been well since he moved to Orchard County? 

ACRES Oh yes, he’s been a great addition to the neighbourhood.  

FAULKLAND Ah, really? I’d heard that he’d been looking a bit down. Melancholy, even. Not much of a spring in his step. 

ACRES Oh not at all! You know what rumours are like. You don’t need to worry about that, I’m certain. 

FAULKLAND There, Jak, separation doesn’t seem to hurt him at all…while I’ve been fretting myself sick over it. 

ABSOLUTE Now are you angry with your man for not moping himself silly? 

FAULKLAND No, no, don’t exaggerate...but, isn’t it pretty standard to be down in the dumps when you’re missing someone? To struggle to get up in the morning? Can’t eat, can’t sleep…Don’t you think…isn't there something wrong with this picture? 

ABSOLUTE When you put it like that…yes, it was positively insulting of him to cling to life in your absence... 

ACRES Nice hotel, Jak. 

FAULKLAND So, er...you were saying that Mr Melville has been a good addition —what then, he’s been chatty and cheerful, I suppose? A bit of a favourite among the clan, eh?  

ACRES You can be sure of that! He’s been the life and soul of the party wherever I’ve seen him - so funny and friendly – so considerate of his company – so attentive! 

FAULKLAND You hear that, Jak? Oh, men have no feelings to hurt, that’s why! Life and soul and me a hundred miles off… 

ABSOLUTE Can you hear yourself? This is ridiculous! A minute ago, the only reason you were anxious was that he wasn’t happy.  

FAULKLANDI mean... Jak, have been the life and soul of the party?  

ABSOLUTE No, safe to say, you have not.  

FAULKLAND Have been considerate and attentive?  

ABSOLUTE Nobody could accuse you of that. 

FAULKLAND Have I been a great addition to the neighbourhood?  

ABSOLUTE No, to do you justice, you’ve been bloody boring.  

ACRES What's the matter?  

ABSOLUTE She’s Just been expressing her joy that Jool has been so well and happy—that's all—right, Faulkland?  

FAULKLAND Oh! I am so glad to hear it—yes, yes, he’s always so cheerful…great with people. 

ACRES Bloody oath!—and he’s so talented!—such a great singing voice—amazing on the piano—There was this time last month—oh what a night! he had everyone on the floor at young Phoebe’s coming of age party! And she was looking so lovely too… 

FAULKLAND There. Again. What about this? you see he has been revelling with a bevy of gorgeous young Klingazons—not a thought of me! 

ABSOLUTE Oh Faulkland! Don’t you think his thoughts were with you while he played? 

FAULKLAND Well…Maybe…Tell me....—, what's her name again?—Do you remember what songs Mr Melville sung?  

ACRES Couldn’t tell you.  

ABSOLUTE Think a minute…they were some pretty maudlin tunes, I’ll bet; it might come back to you - did he sing, Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone...? [Sings.] 

ACRES No, not that.  

ABSOLUTE Or, Why does the sun keep on shining…? [Sings.] 

ACRES Oh, no! nothing like it. Wait! now I remember one of them—Don’t stop me now, I’m having a good time, I’m having a ball… [Sings.]  

FAULKLAND I knew it! Mother always said…never get involved with a rockstar…and what do I go and do? Fall for one first chance I get. His head’ll be turned with all these young girls running after him…! Hardly ever thinks of me, I’ll bet!—What do you say to this, Jak?  

ABSOLUTE Well, for one thing, Jool is hardly a rockstar. Secondly, it’s nice that he’s happy doing his job, and that he’s valued for it. 

FAULKLAND Oh no, I'm not sorry that he’s been happy—no, no, I’m glad of that—I wouldn’t have wanted him to be sad—but... surely if he was really missing me, he’d be, well, singing the blues —he might have been broodingly entertaining, expressing his temporary emptiness through his music;— I bet he’s even been dancing!  

ACRES What’s that about dancing?  

ABSOLUTE She says that Jool dances as well as he sings.  

ACRES You’re right there, I must say, he has got some moves—I was invited to the clan’s last monthly get-together —— 

FAULKLAND There!—there—didn’t I tell you! I told you so! Oh...He’s living it up while I’m away!—Dancing too!—I’ve got to go—I’m losing my cool here—and that bloody woman knows it. [Going.]  

ABSOLUTE No, but stay, Faulkland, and thank Dag for her good news.  

FAULKLAND Stuff her news! [Exit.]  

ABSOLUTE Oh gods...poor Faulkland, just five minutes ago it was all —"that’s the only reason I’m anxious”! 

ACRES She wasn’t annoyed at me singing her man’s praises, was she?  

ABSOLUTE A little jealous, I think, Dag.  

ACRES Oh come on? Ha! ha! jealous of me—that's a good one!.  

ABSOLUTE There's nothing strange about that, Dag; let me tell you, that way of yours will cause a dust among the fellas here.  

ACRES Ah! You’re having me on—ha! ha! Way of mine—ha! ha! but you know I am no longer my own woman, Lyd is the one for me. He would never give me a second glance back home, because I used to dress so badly—but darn it all to heck! I’ll do things differently here, now my old man has no say in it: I'll make my old clothes know who's the boss of them. I shall chuck the overalls, and say farewell to the wellies. My hair has been in training some time.  

ABSOLUTE I can see that!  

ACRES Yep—and though the front’s having its own ideas, the rest is playing its part. 

ABSOLUTE Ah, you'll get the hang of it, I’ve no doubt.  

ACRES Absolutely I reckon so too—then if I can find this Scav Beverley, darn it all to heck! I'll make her know who she’s dealing with.  

ABSOLUTE Spoke like a woman! I don’t doubt it for a second [Re-enter FANG.]  

FAG Ma’am, there is a lady downstairs asking to see you.—Shall I bring her up? 

ABSOLUTE Yes, do. 

ACRES Well, I must be off—— 

ABSOLUTE Wait a minute; who is it, Fang?  

FANG Your mother, ma’am.  

ABSOLUTE You boofhead, why did you keep her waiting? [Exit FANG .]  

ACRES I’ll not keep you from Boss Anthoni.—I’m expecting a message from Mister Malaprop at my hotel. And my mate Lucky O'Trigger will in town too. Later, Jak! Usual place - we’ll have a drink or several to Lyd, eh? 

ABSOLUTE I’ll second that.——[Exit ACRES.] Now for a parental lecture—ugh I hope she hasn’t got wind of why I’m really here—I wish the gout had kept her grounded in Orchard County! [Enter Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE.] Mother Boss, good to see you here, and looking so well! When I heard you’d arrived so suddenly in Wellspring, I was concerned for your health.  

Boss ANTHONI Very concerned, I dare say, Jak.—What, you’re trading here, hey?  

ABSOLUTE Yes, ma’am, I am on regimental business.  

Boss ANTHONI Well, Jak, I’m glad to see you, though I didn’t expect it. I was about to write to you on a little matter of business.—Jak, I have been considering that I’m growing old and creaky, and probably won’t be around to trouble you much longer.  

ABSOLUTE Oh, ma’am, I never saw you look in better shape; and long may you continue so.  

Boss ANTHONI Now that you mention it, I’m inclined to agree with you. Well, then, Jak, I’ve been considering that I am in such good shape I may stick around to plague you for many years to come. Now, Jak, I’m aware that your pay, and what I’ve given you to date, is a piddling amount for an girl of your energy to live on. 

ABSOLUTE Oh, Ma’am, you’ve been very… 

Boss ANTHONI And what I want, before I get put out to pasture, is to see my girl put her stamp on the world. I have decided, therefore, to grant you a income fitting for an independent Klingazon... 

ABSOLUTE Ma’am, this is too much—too generous...  

Boss ANTHONI …and you shall be mistress of a large fortune in a few weeks.  

ABSOLUTE I have no words, ma’am, to express my gratitude….all my life I’ll be in your debt as a favoured daughter —I must ask though, ma’am...I can’t imagine you would mean me to quit the army?  

Boss ANTHONI Oh, that shall be as your husband wishes.  

ABSOLUTE My husband, ma’am? 

Boss ANTHONI Yes, Yes, you can settle that between you.  

ABSOLUTE A...husband, ma’am…did you say?  

Boss ANTHONI Aye, a husband—why, didn’t I mention him before?  

ABSOLUTE Not...a word of him, ma’am.  

Boss ANTHONI Right enough…!—I mustn't forget him though.—Yes, Jak, the independence I was talking of is by marriage—the fortune is saddled with a husband —but I suppose that makes no difference.  

ABSOLUTE Ma’am’! ma’am!—can you be serious? 

Boss ANTHONI Why, what the devil's the matter with the girl? Just now you were all gratitude and duty. 

ABSOLUTE I was, ma’am,—you talked to me of independence and a fortune, but not a word of a husband.  

Boss ANTHONI Why—what difference does that make? By the stars, miss! if you have the estate, you must take it with the livestock on it, as it stands.  

ABSOLUTE If I’m to risk my happiness, I’d just as soon leave it. Who is this man, ma’am, whom you’d have me marry?  

Boss ANTHONI If you’re going to be so obtuse, miss, I shan’t tell you...first, give me your promise to love, and to marry him directly.  

ABSOLUTE Sure, ma’am, this is not very reasonable, to expect me to fall in love with a man I know nothing of!  

Boss ANTHONI I am sure, miss, it’s more unreasonable in you to object to a man you know nothing of.  

ABSOLUTE Then, ma’am, I must confess that I’m in love with another—the man of my dreams!  

Boss ANTHONI Then it’s time to wake up. Business calls! 

ABSOLUTE But I’ve promised to marry him!   

ANTHONY Oh, unless you put it down in writing, he can’t keep you to it.

ABSOLUTE You must let me off, ma’am, once for all... in this point I cannot obey you.  

Boss ANTHONI Listen Jak;—I’ve been very patient—I have been calm; but watch it —you know how easy-going I am —when I get my own way;—but don't push me.  

ABSOLUTE Ma’am, I must repeat it—in this I cannot obey you.  

Boss ANTHONI Now damn me! if ever I call you daughter again while I live!  

ABSOLUTE Now, ma’am, do listen to me...  

Boss ANTHONI Miss, I won't hear a word—not a word! not one word! so give me your promise by a nod—and I'll tell you what, Jak—I mean, you ungrateful…—if you don't, by— 

ABSOLUTE What, ma’am, promise to tie myself for the rest of my life some rich old...!  

Boss ANTHONI  Grawlix! Miss! the man shall be as old and as ugly as I choose: he shall be as blistered as a lizard; his one eye will be as red as the setting sun; he shall wheeze like a mended bellows and have the table manners of a Buzzard and all the charm of a cabbage-slug —he shall be all this, young lady!—yet I will make you adore him. 

ABSOLUTE Well, this is all entirely reasonable!  

Boss ANTHONI None of your sneering, miss! no grinning, cheeky madam!  

ABSOLUTE I promise you, ma’am, I was never less inclined to laugh in my life.   

Boss ANTHONI None of your lip, miss! none of your tantrums, if you please!—It won't do with me, I promise you.  

ABSOLUTE I promise you, ma’am, I’ve never been calmer.  

Boss ANTHONI Well that’s a damned lie!—I know you are in a rage inside; I know you are, you hypocritical young madam! but it won't do.  

ABSOLUTE No, ma’am, that’s not the case at all—— 

Boss ANTHONI Look, you’re losing your temper! can't you be calm like me? What’s the point of losing your temper?—There, you go again, making that face! don't provoke me!—but you’re playing on the mildness of my temper—you are, you hellion! You’re playing upon the meekness of my disposition!—But be careful —even a saint has limits!—but hear this! I give you six hours and a half to think this over: if you then agree, without any condition, to do everything on earth that I ask, why—dammit! I might just forgive you, eventually.—If not, dammit! don't enter the same hemisphere with me! don't dare to breathe the same air, or use the same light with me; but get an atmosphere and a sun of your own! I'll strip you of your commission.—I'll disown you, I'll disinherit you, I'll unbirth you! and damn me! if ever I call you daughter again! [Exit.]  

ABSOLUTE Mild, gentle, considerate mother—I kiss your hand!—What a tender way of giving her opinion in these matters Boss Anthoni has! I don’t dare trust her with the truth.—I wonder what wealthy old codger it is that she wants to bestow on me!—Yet she herself paired for love! and was an audacious schemer as a girl! [Re-enter FANG.]  

FANG My word, ma’am, your mother is a raging Fury indeed; she comes down stairs eight or ten steps at a time—muttering, growling, and thumping the banisters all the way: the cook's dog and I stand bowing at the door—bop! she gives me a smack upside the head with her stick; tells me to carry that to my mistress; then, kicking the poor mutt into the yard, damns us all for a pack of mongrels!—My word, ma’am, if I were you, and I found my mother such very bad company, I would certainly drop her acquaintance.  

ABSOLUTE Quit your yap, now’s hardly the time for it.—Is this all you came in for?—Shift! [Pushes her aside, and exit.]  

FANG Oh right! I see how it is…Boss  Anthoni gives my mistress a scolding; she’s afraid to speak back to her mother—then turns round and vents her spleen on poor Fang!—To be aggravated by one person, only to take it out on the next person who comes along! the vilest injustice! it shows the worst temper—the most low-down——[Enter GIRL .]  

GIRL  Missis Fang! Missis Fang! your mistress is calling you! 

FANG Well, you dirty little brat, you don’t need to yell!—The lowest-down...! 

GIRL Quick, quick, Missis Fang!  

FANG Quick! quick! you cheeky anklebiter! am I to be ordered about by you as well? you little unmannerly, lippy, pert——[Exit kicking and beating her.] 

 

Scene II.—The North Tower. [Enter LUKE.]  

LUKE So—I’ll have another rival to add to my master’s list—Captain Absolute. However, I’ll not enter her name till my pocket has received due notice. So poor Acres has been dismissed!—Well, I’ve done her a last friendly turn, letting her know Beverley’s been here.—Miss Lucky’s running late; odd that, when she expects to hear from her dear Zal, as she calls him: I wonder she's not here!—I almost feel a grain of compunction in this case; though I certainly wouldn’t be paid so well if my warrior knew that Zal was near fifty and has no tyrannical guardian to interfere. [Enter LUCKY O'TRIGGER.]  

LUCKY Ha! my little ambassador—flaming wheels, I’ve been looking for you; I’ve been on the South Tower this half hour.  

LUKE [Speaking simply.] Oh miss! and I’ve been waiting for you here on the North.  

LUCKY Ah, that’ll be why our paths didn’t cross then; and it’s sod’s law, now, how you could pass by and I not see you—for sure I was only resting my eyes at the Tavern, and I sat by the window so I wouldn’t miss you.  

LUKE You don’t say! Now I'd bet an ounce I went by while you were asleep.  

LUCKY  Sure enough, that must have how it happened —and I had no notion it was so late, till I woke. Well, my young fella, how’s your master today? 

LUKE Ah! Miss Lucky, if you were to hear how he talks of you!  

LUCKY  Oh, tell him I'll make him the best wife in the world!—But we must get the old man’s consent—and do everything fairly.  

LUKE Now, Miss Lucky, I thought you weren’t rich enough to be so particular!  

LUCKY  My word, young man, you’ve hit it:—I’m so poor, I can't afford not to play by the rules.—If I didn’t want money, I'd run away with your master and his fortune quite happily.—However, my lad, [Gives him money] have a pint on me, and take a little kiss so you don’t forget me. [Kisses him.]  

LUKE Oh my word! Miss Lucky—I never saw such a lady! My master won't like you if you're so free. 

LUCKY  Oh he will, Luke!—That same—pff! what's the name of it?—modesty—is a quality in a lover more praised by the men than liked; so, if your master asks you whether Lucky ever gave you a kiss, tell him fifty, my lad.  

LUKE What, would you make me a liar?  

LUCKY  Oh yeah? Then I'll make it true enough…! 

LUKE Ssh! Behave yourself! Here’s someone coming.  

LUCKY  Oh, don’t you worry, I'll spare your reputation [Exit, humming a tune.] [Enter FANG.]  

FANG Excuse me! What are you up to? 

LUKE Oh my heart! Missis Fang —you startled me! 

FANG A word in your ear, Luke, here's nobody around —so a little less of that fakery, if you please.—You play false with us, lad.—I saw you give the Northern mercenary a letter.—My boss’ll know this—and if she don't call her out, I will.  

LUKE Ha! ha! ha! you women’s women are so hasty.—That letter was from Mister Malaprop, boofhead. — he’s got an eye for young Miss Lucky O’Trigger.  

FANG What? The tastes some people have!—Hmph, I reckon I’ve walked by his door a hundred times.—But what says our young man? any message to my mistress?  

LUKE Sad news, Missis Fang.—A worse rival than Acres! Boss Anthoni Absolute has proposed her daughter.  

FANG What...Captain Absolute?  

LUKE True enough —I overheard it all.  

FANG Ha! ha! ha! very good, that. Good-bye, Luke, I’m away to pass on the news.  

LUKE You may well laugh—but it’s true, I promise you.—[Going.] But, Missis Fang, tell your boss not to worry! 

FANG Oh, she'll be so put out!  

LUKE And tell her not to think of challenging young Absolute.  

FANG No worries! 

LUKE Tell her to keep her chin up! 

FANG Oh I will—I will. [Exeunt severally.]  

Chapter Text

Scene I—The North Tower. [Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]  

ABSOLUTE [Laughs] You couldn’t make it up! My mother wants to force me on the very man I’m plotting to run away with! I can’t tell her the truth…at best, she’d charge in like a wrecking ball and obliterate the whole delicate situation. I’ll have to go to her straight away and tell her I’ve changed my mind. It’ll be a sudden conversion, true —but I can be very sincere when I have to be. Oh hey—here she comes. She still looks pretty mad. [Steps aside.] [Enter Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE.]  

BOSS ANTHONI No—I'll die sooner than forgive her. Die, did I say? No, that’d make things too easy for the girl. I say I’ll live another fifty years to plague her. She  almost made me lose my temper! An obstinate, wilful, stubborn little madam! Who can she take after? This is my thanks for birthing her before all her sisters and brothers!—for putting her, at twelve years old, into a marching regiment, and allowing her almost a whole ounce of latinum a year besides her pay ever since! But I’m done with her; she's anybody's daughter but mine. I never will see her again, never—never—never. 

ABSOLUTE [Aside, coming forward.] Time to put on my repentant face. 

BOSS ANTHONI I don’t know you, girl, step aside. 

ABSOLUTE Ma’am, you were right and I was wrong... 

BOSS ANTHONI Arguing still, I see! …wait, what?.  

ABSOLUTE …and I wanted to find you, to say I’d made a huge mistake and so... 

BOSS ANTHONI So? 

ABSOLUTE I have been recollecting my younger days and everything you’ve done for me… 

BOSS ANTHONI Go on, miss. 

ABSOLUTE …and what devoted respect the clan have for you….  

BOSS ANTHONI Well, madam?  

ABSOLUTE So then ma’am, I concluded that only a fool would fail to do exactly as you command.  

BOSS ANTHONI Why now you talk sense—absolute sense—I never heard anything more sensible in my life. Dammit! you shall be Jak again.  

ABSOLUTE Delighted to be so, ma’am.  

BOSS ANTHONI Why then, Jak, my dear Jak, I will let you into the secret of who the lad really is. If it weren’t for your tantrums, you silly girl, I’d have told you in the first place. Prepare, Jak, for swooning and rapture—wait for it... What would you think of…Lyd Languish? 

ABSOLUTE Languish! What, the Languishes of Castle Grayskull? 

BOSS ANTHONI Castle Grayskull? No! Did you never meet Mister Malaprop and his nephew, young Mister Languish? who came into our county just before you were last ordered to your regiment?  

ABSOLUTE Malaprop? Languish? Doesn’t ring a bell.. Wait—I think something’s coming back to me. Languish...Languish...Wonky teeth? Cross-eyed, looks like he’s trying to see up his own nose?  

BOSS ANTHONI Cross eyes? Wonky teeth? Grawlix, no! 

ABSOLUTE Probably not the same person, then.  

BOSS ANTHONI  He’s the very Prince Charming! 

ABSOLUTE Oh, ma’am, I’m not bothered about that. If I can please you in the matter, that’s the main thing.  

BOSS ANTHONI No, but Jak, such eyes! such eyes! so innocently wild! so bashfully teasing! A glance that would send any woman down a winding path of daydreams! Then, Jak, his hair! his hair, Jak! So elegantly tousled! Then, Jak, his lips! So entrancingly shiny! 

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] That's him, indeed. Well done, mother dear.  

BOSS ANTHONI Then, Jak, his clothes! O Jak! Jak! 

ABSOLUTE And which am I to pair with, ma’am, the nephew, or the uncle?  

BOSS ANTHONI What’s the matter with you, girl? When I was your age, a description like that would have made me fly like a rocket! The uncle indeed! Dammit! when I ran away with your father, I wouldn’t have touched anything old or ugly to win an empire.  

ABSOLUTE Not even to please your mother, ma’am? 

BOSS ANTHONI To please my mother! Ha! That’s a good one…not to please—Oh, my mother —hmm, well!—yes—yes; if my mother indeed had wanted me to —that's quite another matter. Though she wasn’t the indulgent mother that I am, Jak.  

ABSOLUTE I dare say not, ma’am. 

Boss ANTHONI But, Jak, you are glad to hear Lyd’s a good looking lad, aren’t you?  

ABSOLUTE Ma’am, if I can make you happy, that’s all that matters. Not that I think any the worse of a man for being a bit of a spunk…but, ma’am, I think you hinted something about him having skin like a lizard, one eye…? Of course, it would be preferable to have a husband without deformities, if only for the sake of the neighbours… 

BOSS ANTHONI  I can’t believe my ears! What’s the matter with you, girl? You, a soldier? By the stars, I’m starting to think I’ll marry the boy myself! It would be a waste not to!

ABSOLUTE It’s entirely up to you, ma’am: if you’d like to make an offer to Mister Languish yourself, I suppose there’s always the uncle; or if you should change your mind, and take the old man—it’s all the same to me—I'll wed the nephew.  

BOSS ANTHONI My word, Jak, you’re either a hell of a hypocrite, or—but, come on, I know you can’t mean it —I'm sure you don’t —come, now—damn your demure face!—come on, admit it Jak—you’ve been playing me, haven’t you? You’ve been having me on, eh? I'll never forgive you, if you aren’t having me on! 

ABSOLUTE I'm shocked, ma’am, that my respect for you to you could possibly seem insincere, not to mention my sense of duty. 

BOSS ANTHONI Away with your respect and duty! But come along with me, I'll message Mister Malaprop, and you’ll go and visit the lad this very minute. He’ll light your fire for you, just see if he doesn’t—come along, I'll never forgive you, if you don't come back stark mad about the boy —if you don't, bloody hell,  I will marry him myself! [Exeunt.] * * * * * * * 

 

Scene II—JOOL’s room. [FAULKLAND sits alone.]  

FAULKLAND They told me Jool would be back soon; I wonder what’s keeping him. Oh, I’ve been such a dill! I can see that, now I’ve cooled down a bit. This isn’t me. There’s only one thing that makes me act like that, and to him toothe person I love more than life. I just can’t seem to stop myself. And he looked so made up to see me! I planned to make my annoyance obvious but, when I saw him, I was too ashamed. And Boss Anthoni was there, so I could hardly say anything…but…I just need to hear him say he’s missed me, just a little bit. Oh, I hear him coming! I could tell his step anywhere. And he’s hurrying, he knows I’m here... [Enter JOOL.]  

JOOL You’re back! I didn’t think you’d have a chance to come again so soon. 

FAULKLAND Well, it was hardly much of a reunion with Boss Anthoni in the room, was it? 

JOOL Oh Faulkland, I’m so glad you came back…I couldn’t help but think you seemed a bit off with me earlier. 

FAULKLAND What? No! What an imagination...didn’t I look glad…? It was good to see you in such good…good...why would you think there was anything wrong? 

JOOL Okay now I know something’s the matter. Talk to me, what is it? 

FAULKLAND Well, then—if you must know, I was a bit put out to hear that you’d been having such a good time without me. The parties and the concerts and dancing and no sad songs anywhere! While I’ve been miserable, missing you every waking hour…pretty much all the time, since I can’t sleep…and that’s how it should be. The smallest smile would be a betrayal of our love while you’re not with me. 

JOOL [Sighs] Oh Faulkland! How can a few words from gossiping neighbours shake your belief in me? 

FAULKLAND They don’t shake me, Jool : No, no—I am happy if you’ve been having a tolerable time—but, I’d feel more comfortable if I thought you were putting up a front—that you thought of me on the dancefloor.  

JOOL I never stop missing you. If I wear a mask on these occasions, it’s to show I have confidence in our relationship. If I seemed down, the gossips would have a field day. Believe me, Faulkland, you don’t know how often I wished I could just sit in the corner...but I can’t, because then people would speculate as to what’s wrong, and I’m not prepared to let that happen.  

FAULKLAND You’re too good to me. Oh, I hate myself for saying these things to you!  

JOOL And I would hate myself if I ever stopped loving you one iota without good reason…I’d be an empty-souled, ungrateful… 

FAULKLAND Ungrateful…Ask yourself, Jool, and answer truthfully; do you really love me, or do you just feel you owe me for saving you from a snake bite? 

JOOL So what can I say I love about you? 

FAULKLAND Nothing! If you love my mind, I'm only as good as a friend. And sometimes I wish I was hideous, so I’d know you weren’t just with me for my looks. 

JOOL You’re complaining about being beautiful? Besides, I’m hardly so superficial as that. I’m surrounded by stunning Klingazon warriors all day everyday…am I in love with them? 

FAULKLAND Oh, great - that’s just great—I don’t care if I’m beautiful or not—but if you really truly loved me, you wouldn’t even notice a stunning Klingazon. 

JOOL I can't say anything right! But, count to ten - when mother blessed us on her deathbed…we promised to look after each other, no matter what... 

FAULKLAND That’s another thing. If your mother hadn’t set us up together as she did, would you ever have chosen me?  

JOOL Well, if it’ll make you feel better, lets try that. If we forget the promise to my mother, and tear up the record of our betrothal…I’d still choose you every time!  

FAULKLAND Wow, you're clearly ready to get rid of me. Surely, if you really loved me, you wouldn’t let me go, even though I asked you to! 

JOOL Oh, this is torture! you’re twisting everything I say! I can’t take any more of this! 

FAULKLAND I’m not trying to torture you. If I loved you less I wouldn’t worry like this. But listen. My worry is this: men don’t tend to be very…analytical…about their feelings; they might mistake admiration, gratitude, even practical considerations for love. Not to be a total figjam but, what with the inheritance and being still young and not bad looking—it seems only right for me to be cautious…  

JOOL  I can't believe you'd think such a thing…[Exit, in tears.]  

FAULKLAND Oh, I’ve made him cry! Wait, Jool, please, let me explain.—He’s locked the door!—Jool!—my love —do let me explain!—I hear him sobbing!— Oh gods! How could I…? But, wait!—Yes—he’s coming now:—how little consistency men have!—how little it takes to talk them round!—But no, it’s all gone quiet!—he’s not coming after all.—Oh Jool —my darling—say you forgive me—that’s all I ask. Oh come on, he’s taking it too far now. Wait! He is coming too—I thought he would - so inconsistent: just trying to mess with my head—I won’t let him see I was hurt by his storming off.—I'll act like I don’t care —[hums a tune; then listens.] No—damn it, he’s not coming!—no intention to, I suppose.—This isn’t consistency, just stubbornness! But I deserve it. To behave like this after such a long absence! I’ll go – I don’t think I could look him in the face if I saw him now. I won’t push him, I’ll wait for his forgiveness. And if I ever do this again, he can leave me alone with my own despicable moods for company! And then, as penance, I’d pair with some cranky old bastard and be miserable for life. [Exit.] * * * * * * *  

 

Scene III – Mister  MALAPROP's Lodgings. [MALAPROP, with a letter in his hand, and CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]  

MALAPROP Your being Boss Anthoni’s daughter, would be a sufficient recommendation in itself, Captain; but, on your own conspicuous merit, I am honoured by your wish to court my nephew.  

ABSOLUTE Permit me to say, sir, that as I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing young Mister Languish, my principal inducement in this affair is the honour of being allied to the Wellspring Ferengi; of whom Mister Malaprop is, to many who understand these matters, the most celebrated representative. 

MALAPROP Captain, you do me infinite honour! I beg, ma’am, you'll be seated.—[ They sit.] Ah! few people, nowadays, know how to value the qualities essential for leadership. In truth, the true burden of state lies upon the deputy rather than the figurehead. 

ABSOLUTE It is but too true, indeed, sir;—when you consider that leaders too often have either wisdom or charisma —it’s the toss of a coin which attribute will land uppermost – only rarely,  like in your own case sir, does the coin land on its edge!  

MALAPROP Ma’am, you overpower me with politeness!  You are not ignorant, captain, that this buffoon of a boy has somehow contrived to fix his affections on a beggarly, strolling, eaves-dropping mercenary, whom none of us have seen, and nobody knows anything of. 

ABSOLUTE Oh, I have heard the silly affair before.—I'm not at all prejudiced against him on that account.  

MALAPROP You are very good and very considerate, captain. I am sure I have done everything in my power since I discovered the affair; long ago I positively commanded him never to think of the girl again;—I have since laid Boss Anthoni’s proposal before him;  but, I am sorry to say, he seems resolved to decline.  

ABSOLUTE It must be very distressing, indeed, sir.  

MALAPROP Oh! It is very provoking.—I thought he had desisted from corresponding with her; but, behold, this very day, I have intercepted another letter from the girl; I believe I have it in my pocket.  

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Oh, Grawlix! my last note.  

MALAPROP Aye, here it is.  

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Aye, my note indeed! Oh that sneaky little bastard Luke.  

MALAPROP There, perhaps you may know the writing. [Gives her the letter.]  

ABSOLUTE I think I recognise it — yes, I certainly must have seen it before—— 

MALAPROP Read it, captain.  

ABSOLUTE [Reads.] My Prince Charming, my adorable Lyd! All this about your latest admirer worries me no end, especially as this new rival—— 

MALAPROP That's you, ma’am.  

ABSOLUTE [Reads.] …is a reputed badass and an all-round ace Klingazon - Well, that’s polite enough. 

MALAPROP Oh, she’s up to something, I’ll bet. 

ABSOLUTE I guarantee it, sir.  

MALAPROP But go on, captain —you'll get to the worst part shortly. 

ABSOLUTE [Reads.] As for the lofty old codger who guards the door—Who can he mean by that?  

MALAPROP Me, ma’am!—me!—she means me!—There—what do you think now?—but go on a little further. 

ABSOLUTE Oh the cheek!—[ Reads.] But no worries, I’ll get past him without much trouble, since I don’t rate the judgement of someone who aspires to Grand Nagus when they’re about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike … 

MALAPROP There, ma’am, an attack upon my leadership skills! what do you think of that?—an aspersion upon my many talents! was ever such a barbarian!  

ABSOLUTE She deserves to be hanged and quartered! let me see—[ Reads.] ashtray on a motorbike—— 

MALAPROP No need to read it again, captain. 

ABSOLUTE Beg pardon, sir.—[ Reads.] so it’ll be easy to pull the wool over his eyes with a bit of flattery and general brown-nosing —oh how dare she!—I’ve got a plan to see you shortly with the old galoot’s consent, and even to make him a go-between in the process.—Unbelievable!  

MALAPROP Did you ever hear anything like it?—she'll get past me without trouble, will she—yes, yes! ha! ha! She's very likely to enter these doors;—we'll see who can plot best!  

ABSOLUTE So we will, sir—so we will! Hahaha! She doesn’t know who she’s dealing with, clearly! hahaha!—Well, but Mister Malaprop, as the young gentleman seems so infatuated by this mercenary, suppose you were to turn a blind eye to his corresponding with her for a little while —let him even plot to run away with her—you’d set up his escape—while I, just in the nick of time, will engineer some dramatic scene whereby I rescue Mister Languish from terrible danger and win his heart myself.  

MALAPROP I’m sure I’ve never heard a better plan!  

ABSOLUTE But, sir, could I see the gentleman for a few minutes now?—I would like to see how strong his inclinations are. 

MALAPROP Why, I don't know—I’m sure he’s not prepared for a visit of this kind. There is a decorum in these matters, you must be aware.  

ABSOLUTE Oh! he won't mind me—only tell him Beverley—— 

MALAPROP What’s that? 

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Careful now...  

MALAPROP What did you say about Beverley?  

ABSOLUTE Oh, I was going to suggest that it'd be funny to tell him that Beverley was waiting to see him; he’d come down fast enough then—hahaha!  

MALAPROP He’d well deserve it; besides, you know the mercenary tells him she'll get my consent to see him—haha! Let her try! Lyd, come down here!—[ Calling.] She’ll make me a go-between, will she? hahaha! Come down, Lyd! I don't wonder at your laughing, hahaha! her arrogance is truly ridiculous.  

ABSOLUTE Very ridiculous, sir, hahaha!  

MALAPROP The little bastard’s ignoring me. Well, I'll go and tell him who it is—that Captain Absolute is come to see him. And I'll make him behave as becomes a young Ferengi.  

ABSOLUTE Whatever you think best, sir. 

MALAPROP So I’ll take my leave of you, captain, it’s been a pleasure. Ah! you've not done laughing yet, I see—get past me easily; yes, yes; hahaha! [Exit.] 

ABSOLUTE Ha! As tempting as it is to throw off all disguise at once and meet Lyd under my own name, it’d be a damn stupid thing to do. No, I must keep up the act a little longer. I'll see whether he recognises me. [Walks aside, and seems engaged in looking at the pictures.] [Enter LYD.]  

LYD Ugh! This is going to be awful! To be flirted at when you’re not interested and can’t get away. I’ve heard of men who’ve appealed to the romantic side of a woman - telling them a sob story about being cruelly kept from their one true love —suppose I could try that—there she is—an Klingazon too!—but not a patch on my Beverley! I wonder why she doesn’t come over —probably trying to play it cool - Hmph, that's pretty arrogant!—I suppose I’ll have to speak first—Captain Absolute! 

ABSOLUTE Sir. [Turns round.]  

LYD Oh charity! Beverley!  

ABSOLUTE Ssh! Ssh, my Prince!  

LYD I can’t believe it! Oh gods, is it safe? This is amazing!—are you a ninja? how did you get in? 

ABSOLUTE Long story. I’ve tricked your uncle —I heard Captain Absolute was due to call round this evening, so I punctured her tyres and passed myself off as her to your uncle. 

LYD Oh wow! And he really thinks you’re young Absolute? 

ABSOLUTE Oh, he’s convinced of it.  

LYD Oh that’s hilarious! I knew the old man was a brick short of a load. 

ABSOLUTE But we haven’t much time—this may be our only chance; do tell me, my Prince, when can I take you away from all this? 

LYD Oh Beverley, you’d give up my inheritance?—it’s such a heavy shackle to a free spirit! 

ABSOLUTE Oh, if you’d be my own ragged Prince—rich only in your own dear self! I want nothing but your love— that’s more than I could ever hope for—you know it’s all I have to offer in return.  

LYD [Aside.] That’s exactly what I wanted to hear…  

ABSOLUTE Oh Lyd, picture it! On the open road, alone with my bike and your music box! We won’t need money as long as we’re together. Curled up in an abandoned train wagon, we’ll claim the protection of Love; ridiculing all worldly trash, caring about nothing but each other. And as we wither under the pitiless sun, we will live on nothing but our pure love, which outshines even the glare that grills us. By the stars! I would fling all food and drink from me right now if it meant I could hold my Lyd to my heart, and say 'the world offers me nothing more precious than this' —[ Embracing him.] [Aside.] If that doesn’t do it, I’m screwed. 

LYD [Aside.] I could ride with her into the sunset right now! But I’m having too much fun to cut this short [Re-enter MALAPROP, listening.]  

MALAPROP [Aside.] I’ve got to find out how the stroppy little bastard’s conducting himself.  

ABSOLUTE You’ve gone awfully quiet, Lyd. It’s not like you. 

MALAPROP [Aside.] So!—he’s been free with his opinions, has he? 

LYD Not at all, I’m merely pausing for breath. 

MALAPROP [Aside.] An ill tempered little bugger! He’ll fly off again in a minute, I suppose! 

LYD I mean, it’s not as if that old codger’s ridiculous threats could carry any weight with me.  

MALAPROP [Aside.] Very dutiful, upon my word!  

LYD He can pair with Captain Absolute himself if he likes, but I’m Beverley’s ‘til the end! 

MALAPROP [Aside.] I can’t believe he’d be so rude!—to her face as well! 

ABSOLUTE Oh Lyd, now and for all…put me out of my misery... [Hands clasped to her breast dramatically.]  

MALAPROP [Aside.] Aye, poor young woman!—She’s miserable without him!—I can listen no longer.—[ Coming forward.] Why, you little mongrel!—I have overheard you.  

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Sprung! he’s been earwigging all along!  

MALAPROP Captain Absolute, I cannot begin to apologise for his shocking rudeness.  

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Phew!.—[ Aloud.] I have hopes, sir, that time will bring the young gentleman —— 

MALAPROP Oh, there's nothing to be hoped for from him! 

LYD What do you accuse me of now?  

MALAPROP Why, you’ve got some front—didn't you tell this lady to her face that you wanted to pair with another woman?—didn't you say you would never be hers? 

LYD No, sir —I did not.  

MALAPROP Lyd, Lyd, you ought to know that lying don't become a young Ferengi…unless for financial reasons. Didn't you boast that Beverley, that scav Beverley, possessed your heart forever?—Tell me that, I say.  

LYD That is true, sir, and no-one but Beverley—— 

MALAPROP Zip it, pup! Don’t be so rude! 

ABSOLUTE Come on, Mister Malaprop, don't stop the young man’s speech: he’s very welcome to talk so —it does not hurt me in the least, I assure you.  

MALAPROP You are too good, captain—too good and patient—but come with me, pup.—Come back again soon, captain—remember what we talked about.  

ABSOLUTE I shall, sir.  

MALAPROP Lyd, take a graceful leave of the captain.  

LYD A million kisses to my Beverley, my own Bev— 

MALAPROP Pup! I'll wring your neck!—come along—come along. [Exeunt severally; CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE kissing her hand to LYD—Mister MALAPROP bundling him out the door.] * * * * * * *  

 

Scene IV—ACRES' Lodgings. [ACRES, as just dressed, and DOLORES.]  

ACRES Be honest, Dolores —do you think it suits me? 

DOLORES You shine up something spectacular, Miss! You’ll be on the cover of Who within a month, I’ll bet!  

ACRES Fashion does matter, Dolores. 

DOLORES It’s all in all, I think.—Say you showed up at Verdant Acres in that getup, I’m sure your old man wouldn't know you: Missis Butler would roll out the red carpet and Mister Pickle his book of famous scribble names for you to write yours in. The shock might stop the combineharvester from shouting for two minutes, and I bet young Davy Tester would blush like a tomato. 

ACRES There’s nothing like a bit of gloss, Dolores. 

DOLORES That’s what I say about your boots; but the girl just ignores me...

ACRES But, Dolores, has Madame De-la-Grace been in touch yet? I must practice my vogueing. 

DOLORES I'll call again, ma’am.  

ACRES Do—and see if there are any letters for me at the post-office.  

DOLORES I will.—You know, I can't help looking at your head!—if I hadn't been by at the welding, damned if I’d have known the Rig again myself! [Exit.]  

ACRES [Practising a pose.] Step, turn—look back – Damn these fashion magazines! It’s like a black art to us country Foodlanders—it used to be enough to brush my hair a hundred times before bed and slick on a bit of lippy for a party.—! I was always turned heads at the Young Foodlanders ball! But these city styles are something else! The makeup’s alright, not so scary-looking as at first. But the Big Hair! If it doesn’t stand on end, you’re nobody. Look at my head! Two hours and four combs I'll never see again! [Enter SERVANT.]  

SERVANT Here's Miss Lucky O'Trigger to see you, ma’am. 

ACRES Show her in. [Exit SERVANT.] [Enter LUCKY O'TRIGGER.]  

LUCKY Dag Acres, good to see you, my girl! 

ACRES Lucky! [hugs]  

LUCKY So, girl, what’s brought you to Wellspring?  

ACRES Ugh! I’ve followed a man, and it’s served me as well as might have been expected.—In short, I have been thoroughly shat upon, Lucky. Naming no names, but I am the proverbial woman scorned.  

LUCKY But what’s happened?—naming no names of course. 

ACRES Listen to this, Lucky, I fall head over heels with a good looking fella, big bikkies too —his family are all in favour — I follow him to Wellspring —send word that I’m here; and receive answer, that he’s otherwise engaged. This, Lucky, I call being shat on.  

LUCKY That’s bang out of order. Any idea why?  

ACRES Well, that’s the thing; he’s got another woman, one Beverley, who is now in Wellspring. Some bimbo! She must’ve stepped in while I was away.

LUCKY A rival in the case, is there?—and you think she’s taken your man unfairly?  

ACRES Unfairly! Well, yeah! She never could have done it fairly. 

LUCKY Then sure you know what you’ve got to do! 

ACRES Um. No? 

LUCKY We carry no bat’leth here, but you know what I’m getting at. 

ACRES What? fight her? 

LUCKY Well, yeah. What else is there?  

ACRES But she’s given me no provocation.  

LUCKY She’s given you the greatest provocation in the world. Can a woman commit a bigger crime than to fall in love with the same man? Oh, by the stars! The most unpardonable breach of friendship.  

ACRES Breach of friendship! Well, yeah, it would be if we were friends. But we’re not. I’ve never even met her.  

LUCKY That doesn't matter—in that case, she has even less right to take that kind of a liberty.  

ACRES Dammit, that's true—that’s a good point! Okay, I’m getting riled up now! But couldn't I just argue my point instead? 

LUCKY Why stop at arguing when your honour's concerned? Do you think Achilles or my little Alexander the Great ever paused to argue their point? No, by the stars, they drew their blades, and left a bunch of lawyers to settle the justice of it. 

ACRES True again! Courage must be catching! I definitely do feel a kind of warrior instinct rising up in me. Dammit! I'll have words with her, and more if honour demands it.  

LUCKY Ah, my little friend, if I had Blunderbuss Hall here, I could show you the O'Trigger family trinkets! The chieftain's house and lands might've slipped through my fingers, I thank the stars our family honour stands defiant still.  

ACRES I’ve had ancestors too!—every one of them mayor or tax accountant. Grandad might never have killed a man outright, but he could do considerable damage with a well-placed final demand. Dammit! say no more—I'm fired up for it. Bring it on!!! 

LUCKY Alright, but calm down - these things need to be done with a cool head.  

ACRES I must be fired up, Lucky —I must be in a rage. Lucky, be a dear and let me be in a rage. Come on, here's pen and paper. [ Sits down to write.] I wish the ink was red! A proper colour for a challenge! How to start? Dammit! It’ll be in shouty capital letters, that's for sure.  

LUCKY Just calm yourself.  

ACRES Come on, now, shall I begin with a swear? Go on, Lucky, let me start with a damn.  

LUCKY No no! do the thing decently, and like a warrior. Begin now—Madam...

ACRES Pff! Polite...  

LUCKY To prevent the confusion that might arise...

ACRES Carry on...

LUCKY From our both addressing the same gentleman...

ACRES Yeah, that’s thing —same gentleman —well— 

LUCKY I shall expect the honour of your company...

ACRES Dammit! I'm not asking her to dinner.  

LUCKY Will you settle down! 

ACRES Well, then, honour of your company...

LUCKY To settle our pretensions...

ACRES Exactly! 

LUCKY In the new Thunderdome. 

ACRES So, that's done—Wait, need to add an angry face – there!  

LUCKY There now! This'll clear up any confusion or misunderstanding between you.  

ACRES Exactly, we don't want any misunderstanding. 

LUCKY You’d be as well to do it this evening: so whatever happens, you’ll not have to worry your head about it tomorrow.  

ACRES Very true.  

LUCKY So if I don’t hear otherwise, I’ll see you this evening at the Thunderdome. I’d deliver your message myself; but, between ourselves, I reckon I’ll have something similar on the cards. There’s a Captain here who I've heard taking the piss out of my hometown, and as soon as I cross paths with the lady, I’ll be calling her out. 

ACRES Now you mention it, it’d be an education to see you fight first. Dammit! I'd be glad to see you kill her, just to learn how it's done.  

LUCKY I’d be happy to teach you. Well, til later—but remember, when you meet your antagonist, be calm and polite. Your courage should be like you bat'leth - sharp-edged and polished! [Exeunt severally.]  

Chapter Text

Scene I—ACRES' Lodgings. [ACRES and DOLORES.]

DOLORES Oh, ma’am! I’d do no such thing—it’d take more than Miss Lucky O'Trigger to make me fight when I hadn’t a mind to. Flaming wheels! What’ll the old man say, when he hears about it?

ACRES But Dolores, if you’d only heard her! She would've brought out the warrior in even you!

DOLORES No chance, I hate those vultures. Listen, ma’am, if you wanted to challenge the lady with your fists I wouldn’t be trying to talk you out of it: but those fearsome looking spiky blades, they’re nothing but bad news.

ACRES But my honour, Dolores! I’ve got to look after my honour.

DOLORES Sure, sure - as long as your honour looks after you in return.

ACRES Dammit, Dolores, no woman of standing can risk the loss of her honour!

DOLORES Then it’d be only fair if her honour didn’t risk the loss of her. Listen, ma’am, this honour’s a bad kind of friend, as far as I can see. Let’s pretend I’m a woman of standing (which, thank gods, no one can say of me) - well, my honour gets my heckles up against another lady of my acquaintance. So, we fight...pleasant enough that...Stab! I kill her (the more's my luck!) Tell me, who gets credit? My honour does. But if she kills me? By the stars - I go to the worms, and my honour sheds no tears over the matter.

ACRES No, Dolores. In that case, dammit, your honour follows you to the grave!

DOLORES The one place where I’m not bothered either way.

ACRES Dammit, Dolores! Don’t be such a wuss! Why am I even listening to you? You’re saying I should just disgrace my ancestors? Think of that, Dolores...think what it would be to disgrace my ancestors!

DOLORES Hmph, I think it’d be best to steer clear of them as long as you can. Being in such a hurry to join them...with a bat’leth in your gut, no less...that’ll hardly please them. Besides, ancestors are very good sorts of folks, I’m sure, but they’re the last people I’d want to be on visiting terms with.

ACRES But, seriously Dolores, you don't think there is such very great danger, eh? Dammit, people fight all the time and no harm done!

DOLORES I don’t fancy your odds...flaming wheels! here to meet some crazed Klingazon, fearsome blade in one hand and spiked battle axe in the other! Gods, it makes me lightheaded to think about it! Such desperate bloody-minded weapons! I never could stand 'em, even as a pup!

ACRES Well, you won't put me off. Here’s the challenge, and I’ve messaged my good friend Jak Absolute to ask her to carry it for me.

DOLORES Aye, sure, let her send it. I wouldn’t lay a hand on it for twenty acres of my own. By the stars! I can almost see the blood oozing out…

ACRES Get away, you chicken! You’re as cowardly as a lion!

DOLORES Well, I’ll say no more...it’ll be sad news, to be sure, at Verdant Acres! How Dog will howl! - poor lad, he’s got no idea what danger his best friend’s heading into without him! And old Nag, who’s carried you about the farm since you was this high, she’ll be off her hay, no doubt. [Sniffing]

ACRES You can't stop me, Dolores. I’m determined to fight, so...get lost, you’re spoiling my buzz. [Enter SERVANT.]

SERVANT Captain Absolute, ma’am. 

ACRES Oh good! Show her up. [Exit SERVANT.]

DOLORES Well, hopefully we’ll all alive this time tomorrow.

ACRES Don't push it, Dolores!

DOLORES Goodbye, ma’am. [Sniffing]

ACRES Get away, you spineless jellyfish! [Exit DOLORES.] [Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]

ABSOLUTE What's up, Dag?

ACRES That croaking raven! If I hadn’t the courage of...

ABSOLUTE But...what did you want with me, Dag?

ACRES Oh! There...[Gives her the challenge.]

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] To Miss Beverley. So, what's going on now? [Aloud.] Well, what's this?

ACRES A challenge!

ABSOLUTE Oh...? But, you won't fight her; will you, Dag?

ACRES Oh, but I will, Jak. Lucky’s fired me up to it. She’s left me fuming...and I'll fight this evening, so that all my fury won’t be wasted.

ABSOLUTE But what’s this got to do with me?

ACRES Well, seeing as how you know the woman, I’d like you to give her this mortal defiance for me.

ABSOLUTE Oh well, give it to me, and I’ll make sure she gets it.

ACRES Thanks, mate...it’ll give you a lot of trouble, though.

ABSOLUTE Not at all, don’t mention it. No trouble in the world, I promise you.

ACRES Where would I be without my best mate? But hey, you couldn't be my second, could you, Jak?

ABSOLUTE Ah no, Dag...not in this business, it wouldn’t be right.

ACRES Well, then, it’ll have to be Lucky. But you’ll barrack for me, Jak?

ABSOLUTE Whenever she meets you, believe me. [Re-enter SERVANT.]

SERVANT Boss Anthoni Absolute is below, asking for the captain.

ABSOLUTE I'll come now. [Exit SERVANT.] Well, my little hero, best of luck to you. [Going.]

ACRES Hang on a minute, Jak. If Beverley happens to ask you what kind of a woman this Acres is, you'll tell her I’m a proper hellcat, won’t you, Jak?

ABSOLUTE I sure will. I'll say you’re a real scary beast, eh Dag?

ACRES Yeah, do...and if that frightens her, dammit, maybe she won’t come. So tell her I generally kill a trespasser a week; won’t you, Jak?

ABSOLUTE I will, I will; I'll say you’re known as Fighting Dag.

ACRES Right...right...it’s all to avoid unnecessary killing; I mean, I only want to clear my honour.

ABSOLUTE I’m very glad to hear it.

ACRES Why, you don't want me to kill her, do you, Jak?

ABSOLUTE No, to be honest with you, I don’t. But what a bitch, eh? [Going.]

ACRES True, true...but wait a minute, Jak...maybe mention that you never saw me in such a fury before...a raging fury!

ABSOLUTE I will, I will.

ACRES Remember, Jak—a scary beast!

ABSOLUTE Oh sure, sure, Fighting Dag! [Exeunt severally.]


* * * * * * *


Scene II—MALAPROP's Lodgings. [MALAPROP and LYD.]

MALAPROP Why, you awkward little mongrel! What’s the matter with her? Isn't she pretty enough? Tell me that. A polite, well-spoken, fine-looking young woman?

LYD [Aside.] He’s got very little idea whose praises he’s singing! [Aloud.] So is Beverley, sir.

MALAPROP No comparisons, pup, if you please. Comparisons don't become a young Ferengi. No, no! Captain Absolute is indeed a fine young woman!

LYD [Aside.] Yes, the Captain Absolute you’ve seen.

MALAPROP And she's so well bred. So full of proper respect and deference.

LYD [Aside] Oh, he’ll be furious when he finds out! [Enter SERVANT.]

SERVANT Boss Anthoni and Captain Absolute are below, sir.

MALAPROP Show them up here. [Exit SERVANT.] Now, Lyd, I insist on your behaving as becomes a young Ferengi. Show your good breeding, at least, though you’ve forgot your duty.

LYD Sir, I have told you my decision! I shall not only give her no encouragement, but I won't even speak to, or look at her. [Flings himself into a chair, with his face from the door.] [Enter Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE and CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]

Boss ANTHONI Here we are, Mister Malaprop; come to entice the young man into making a love-match...and hard enough it was to bring this lass to heel. I don't know what's the matter; but if I hadn’t dragged her by main force, she'd have given me the slip.

MALAPROP You’ve had infinite trouble, Boss Anthoni. I am ashamed how much trouble! [Aside to LYD.] Lyd, Lyd, get up! Pay your respects!

Boss ANTHONI I hope, sir, that Mister Languish has thought through the merits of this young woman, and the consideration due to his uncle’s choice, and my alliance. [Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] Now, Jak, go speak to him.

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] How am I going to get out of this? [Aside to Boss ANTHONI.] Oh, ma’am, he won't even look at me while you’re here. I knew he wouldn't! I told you so. Please, ma’am, do leave us alone together! [Seems to expostulate with her mother.]

LYD [Aside.] I wonder I haven’t heard uncle make a fuss yet? He can hardly have looked at her. Either that or they look alike and he’s half blind.

Boss ANTHONI I’m telling you, miss, I’m going nowhere til I see some progress!

MALAPROP I am sorry to say, Boss Anthoni, my nephew listens to no-one, least of all to me. [Aside to LYD.] Turn round, Lyd: you’re embarrassing yourself...

Boss ANTHONI I do wish Mister Languish would state the reason for his objection to my daughter! [Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] Step up, Jak! Speak, you giddy girl! Speak!

MALAPROP I don’t believe he has any objections. He’s never said anything against her, not outright. [Aside to LYD.] Answer, pup! why don't you answer the lady?

Boss ANTHONI Then it’s just a childish and hasty prejudice, and I dare say he’ll get over it by and by [Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] Grawlix! Madam! why don't you speak up?

LYD [Aside.] I think she’s no more in the mood for flirting than I am. Uncle must be blind not to see it’s a completely different woman!

ABSOLUTE Ahem! Mister…! [Clears throat. Attempts to speak, then returns to Boss ANTHONI.] Agh, ma’am, I’m lost for words!...and...so...so...flurried! I told you I would be, ma’am, I knew it. His handsomeness…from the rear view anyway…entirely takes away my presence of mind.

Boss ANTHONI But it don't take away your voice, fool, does it? Stop acting the goat and go speak to him! [CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE makes signs to MALAPROP to leave them together.]

MALAPROP Boss Anthoni, shall we leave them together? [Aside to LYD.] Oh you stubborn little maggot!

Boss ANTHONI Not yet, sir, not yet! [Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] What the devil are you up to? Stop beating around the bush, miss, or I’ll blow a fuse..

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Oh he’d better be in too much of a huff to look round! I’ll have to disguise my voice. [Draws near LYD, and speaks in a low hoarse tone.] Um…do you come here often…?

Boss ANTHONI What in hell’s wrong with the girl? Standing there mumbling like a feral...

ABSOLUTE Oh Ma’am, I’m a little shy…

Boss ANTHONI Hmph, that's news to me! I'll tell you what, Jak; if you don't get stuck in, boots and all, I shall lose my rag and no mistake! Mister Malaprop, I wish the young man would condescend to show his face to the company. [MALAPROP seems to chide LYD.]

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Oh, I’m not getting out of this one alive…right, here goes nothing…! [Goes up to LYD, speaks softly.] Don’t be surprised, my Prince...

LYD [Aside.] What? That’s Beverley's voice! She could hardly have fooled Boss Anthoni too? [Looks round by degrees, then starts up.] Am I seeing things? my Beverley! How can this be?...my Beverley?

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] I'm screwed.

Boss ANTHONI Beverley? What can the boy mean?—this is my daughter, Jak Absolute.

MALAPROP For shame, pup! for shame! You’ve got that girl stuck in your head, you’re seeing her everywhere you look!—apologise to Captain Absolute right now.

LYD That’s not Captain Absolute...that’s my Beverley!

Boss ANTHONI Grawlix! The boy’s mad! His brain's been turned by those infernal beats.

MALAPROP Oh charity, you’re right! What do you mean by Beverley, pup? You’ve seen Captain Absolute before today; that’s her, right there.

LYD Do you think I don’t know my Beverley when I see her?

Boss ANTHONI Oh! He’s as mad as a rabid dingo! Or... this girl’s been up to something. Come here, miss, who the devil are you?

ABSOLUTE In truth, ma’am, I’m not entirely sure myself right now; but I'll try to figure it out.

Boss ANTHONI Are you my daughter or not? Answer for the midwife, you brat.

MALAPROP Aye, Ma’am, who are you? Oh charity! No, it couldn’t be…

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] All the trickster gods that ever were, watch over me now! [Aloud.] Boss Anthoni, I am undoubtedly your own daughter, as I hope my respect for you has always made clear. Mister Malaprop, I am your most respectful admirer and, would be proud to call myself your affectionate niece. And Lyd knows, I’m sure he knows deep down, that he wouldn’t have given me a second glance if I’d made my connections known, and that I only hope he might, in time, overlook them.

LYD [Sullenly.] Oh great. That's the elopement off, then.

Boss ANTHONI My word, Jak, you are a barefaced young madam! To do you justice, I never saw a brassier brass neck in all my days!

ABSOLUTE Oh, you flatter me, ma’am...too much of a compliment...it’s my natural shyness, you see, ma’am...my modesty that’s stood in my way.

Boss ANTHONI Well, I’m glad you’re not the blind unfeeling stone you pretended to be, however! I'm glad you’ve made a fool of your mother, you minx, I am. So this was your penitence, your duty and obedience! I thought it was damned sudden! You never heard their names before, oh no! Hah, the Languishes of Castle Grayskull, eh? If you can only please me in the matter, that’s the main thing! Oh! You haven’t the morals of a carpet snake! What? [ Pointing to Lyd] Wonky teeth, eh? looks like he’s trying to see up his own nose, does he? Hey? Why, you hypocritical young rascal. I wonder how you dare look us all in the face!

ABSOLUTE It’s not easy, ma’am. It’s all very awkward, as I’m sure you can imagine.

MALAPROP Latinum preserve me! Boss Anthoni!...How didn’t I see it…? Captain, did you write those letters? What, I’ve got you to thank for the flattering description of a gangly old codger, eh? Oh charity!...was it you that reflected on my leadership skills?

ABSOLUTE Dearest Mother! my modesty will be overpowered at last, if you don't help me out, I’ll surely be defeated at last!

Boss ANTHONI Come, come, Mister Malaprop, we must forgive and forget. By the stars, things have taken so clever a turn all of a sudden, that I could find in my heart to laugh about it! Hey? Mister Malaprop?

MALAPROP Well, Boss Anthoni, since it’s you, we won’t relive the past!—so mind, young people—our views will be all to the future.

Boss ANTHONI Come, we must leave them together; Mister Malaprop, they long to fly into each other's arms, I’m thinking!—Jak—aren’t those the eyes I spoke of, hey?—and the hair, you rogue!—and the lips—hey? Come, Mister Malaprop, we'll not disturb them —how it is to be young and in love!—be young, be foolish, be happy —[ Sings.]—hey!—Birds and Bees! I feel thirty five again!—Allow me, sir—[ Gives her hand to MALAPROP.] Doop-de-doop —I wouldn’t half mind a bit of fooling around myself —Doop-de-doop. [Exit, singing and arm in arm with MALAPROP.— LYD sits sullenly in his chair.]

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Such a serious face does not bode well.—[ Aloud.] So pensive, Lyd?

LYD Ma’am?

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] So!—grawlix! I thought as much!—that damned monosyllable has froze me!—[ Aloud.] Well, so, Lyd…this’ll make things a little easier, eh?——

LYD [Snorts.] Easier!

ABSOLUTE Come on, babe, isn’t it time to take things a little more seriously? And a smooth road under our wheels would be no bad thing? As for your inheritance, the lawyers can figure out...

LYD Lawyers! I hate lawyers!

ABSOLUTE Okay then, we won’t wrangle over details, but just go ahead and get the paperwork sorted, and…

LYD The paperwork!—I hate paperwork!

ABSOLUTE Oh my Prince! Don’t be like that!—do see how much I...[Kneeling.]

LYD Hmph!—what’s the point in kneeling, when you know I have no choice in the matter?

ABSOLUTE [Rising.] No, Lyd, you’ll always have a choice, I promise you that much. If I’ve lost your love, all the rest is worthless to me [ Aside.] Last resort, I’ll have to see what a little dignity will do.

LYD [Rising.] Then, Beverley, let me tell you, if you ever had my love, it was through lies and trickery, and deserves the punishment of fraud.—You’ve been treating me like a child!—humouring my natural rebellion and laughing at me behind my back!

ABSOLUTE It wasn’t like that, Lyd, hear me out...

LYD So, while I fondly imagined we were deceiving my relations, that we would outwit and infuriate them all...all the while my hopes were being undermined... my uncle’s consent and approval! And in the end, I’m the only fool left! [Walking about in a fury.] But here, ma’am, here is the picture—Beverley's picture! [taking a miniature from his inner pocket] which I have worn, night and day, in spite of threats and entreaties!—There, Ma’am [Flings it to her.] And be assured I throw the original from my heart as easily.

ABSOLUTE I can match that.—Here [taking out a picture], here is my very own Lyd. What a difference! There is the sparkling smouldering smile that first made my heart flutter! Those are the lips which sealed a promise! Well, that’s all in the past…! All over now! Look at it—the picture doesn’t even do you justice, but because it hasn’t changed…can’t change…I can’t bring myself to let it go. [Puts it back in her pocket.]

LYD [Softening.] It was entirely your own doing—I, I, I suppose you’ve got what you wanted...

ABSOLUTE Oh, definitely, this is much better than being in love!—hahaha!—there's some drama to this!—What do a few promises matter? Nothing at all, you know. To be sure people will say, that the young man doesn’t know his own mind—but never mind that! Or, perhaps, they may be spiteful enough to hint that the girl grew tired of the boy and dumped him—but don't let that fret you.

LYD Oh! This gets better and better! [Folds arms angrily.] [Re-enter MALAPROP and Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE.]

MALAPROP Sorry, but we must interrupt your smooching a minute.

LYD This is worse than your all lies put together! [in a choking voice.]

Boss ANTHONI What the devil's the matter now?—Grawlix! Mister Malaprop, this is the strangest smooching I’ve ever seen!—but what the deuce is the meaning of it?

ABSOLUTE Ask the gentleman, ma’am.

MALAPROP Oh charity!—Why, Lyd, what is the meaning of this?

LYD Ask the lady, sir.

Boss ANTHONI Dammit! I’m losing all patience with!—Why, Jak, you haven’t turned out to be any one else, are you?

MALAPROP Aye, miss, there are no more tricks, are there? You are not like the triumvirate, three folks in one, are you?

ABSOLUTE Take my word for it, Lyd can account for this much much better than I can.

LYD Sir, you commanded me never to think of Beverley again—there she is—I’ll obey you: from this moment, I turn my back on her for ever. [Exit.]

MALAPROP Oh charity! What’s the meaning of this? Sure, captain, you haven't behaved disrespectfully to my nephew?

Boss ANTHONI Hahaha!—hahaha!—now I see it. Hahaha!—now I see it—you’ve been too frisky, Jak!

ABSOLUTE What? No, ma’am, I can promise...

Boss ANTHONI Come, no lying, Jak!

MALAPROP Oh! Boss Anthoni! Oh, how could you, captain?

ABSOLUTE Upon my soul, sir.,.

Boss ANTHONI Come on, no excuses, Jak; why, your mother, you rogue, was so before you: the blood of the Absolutes was always impatient. Hahaha! poor lad! why, you've frightened him, you minx, you have.

ABSOLUTE By all that's good, Ma’am…

Boss ANTHONI Grawlix! say no more, I tell you—Mister Malaprop will speak for you. You must speak for her, Mister Malaprop:—you must tell him it’s Jak’s way—tell him it’s all our ways—it runs in the blood of our family! Come away, Jak—Hahaha!—Mister Malaprop—a little rogue! [Pushing her out.]

MALAPROP Boss Anthoni!—Oh, captain! How could you? [Exeunt severally.]

* * * * * * *

Scene III—The North Parade. [Enter LUCKY O'TRIGGER.]

LUCKY I wonder where this Captain Absolute hides herself! I can’t think what men see in these feeble Southerners. Wait, is that her? Is she talking to herself? [Steps aside.] [Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]

ABSOLUTE [Aside.] Waste of time and effort! That stubborn fool!—I didn’t think his taste for rebellion could have made him so damned absurd. God dammit, I never was in a worse humour in my life!—I could cut my own throat, or any other person's, with the greatest pleasure in the world!

LUCKY Oh, gods! I'm in luck. I never could have found her in a sweeter temper for my purpose—to be sure I'm just come in the nick of time! Now to enter into conversation with her, and politely pick a fight.—[ Goes up to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] With regard to that matter, captain, I must beg leave to differ in opinion with you.

ABSOLUTE Upon my word, then, you must be a very subtle disputant:—reason being, I happened just then to be giving no opinion at all.

LUCKY That's no reason. Reason being, a person may think an objectionable thing as well as speak one.

ABSOLUTE True enough; but if a person doesn’t speak their thoughts out loud, I should think they might stand a chance of escaping controversy.

LUCKY Then, captain, you differ in opinion with me, which amounts to the same thing.

ABSOLUTE Look here, Lucky; if I hadn’t known you were a Klingazon before now, I’d never have found it out from this little chat. Unless you’re looking for a slap, I’ve no idea what you're getting at!

LUCKY I knew you were a sharp one, captain.—[ Bowing.] You have named the very thing I would be at.

ABSOLUTE Alright then; You’re on. But it’d be a courtesy to explain yourself first.

LUCKY No no; it’s a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we’d only spoil it by trying to explain it. However, you’ve a short memory, to forget an affront you passed on me this very week. So, no more, but name your time and place.

ABSOLUTE Well, then, since you’re so keen, the sooner the better; this evening— the new Thunderdome – assuming we’ll get a slot.

LUCKY It’s a busy place, to be sure. But I know a man – we’ll get a slot, be easy about that, short notice or no. If it’s all the same to you, captain, I should take it as a particular kindness if you'd let us meet at five-thirty, as a little business will call me there about six o'clock, and I can clear both matters up at much the same time.

ABSOLUTE Fine, whatever. Five thirty, then, we’ll discuss this matter more seriously.

LUCKY And we’ll be all finished in time for dinner. So that matter's settled, and my mind's at ease! [Exit.] [Enter FAULKLAND.]

ABSOLUTE Faulkland! Good timing! I was going to look for you. Ugh! all the demons of spite and disappointment have conspired against me! I'm so pissed off that, if I hadn’t a good chance of being sliced in half by-and-by, I’d hardly be in any mood to tell you the cause.

FAULKLAND What do you mean? Has Lyd changed his mind? I’d have thought his duty and inclination would now have pointed in the same direction by now.

ABSOLUTE Yeah, just like the eyes of a person who squints: when his love-eye was fixed on me, his duty-eye was happily staring at the horizon: but when duty pointed my way, off love turned on a swivel, with a frown!

FAULKLAND But what's all this about being sliced in half…?

ABSOLUTE Oh, to make everything just perfect, a good-natured Klingazon from out of nowhere has breezed in and —[Mimicking] begged leave to differ in opinion with me; and I mean to oblige —that's all.

FAULKLAND Oh come on, be serious!

ABSOLUTE True enough, captain’s word! Lucky O'Trigger—you know the one —for some insult, which I am sure I never intended, has called me out to meet her this evening at five thirty: so that’s why I wanted to see you; will you come with me?

FAULKLAND No, come on, there must be some mistake, sure. You can talk it out, and resolve your differences that way. But this evening did you say? I wish it’d been any other time.

ABSOLUTE Why? As Lucky says, [mimicking] there’ll be no problem getting a slot, short notice or no. She can take her slot and…

FAULKLAND But I’m really kind of upset about Jool. I’ve been such a bitch to him, I’ll not be myself till we get it sorted.

ABSOLUTE Oh for gods sake! Faulkland, you don't deserve him! [Enter SERVANT, gives FAULKLAND a letter, and exit.]

FAULKLAND Oh, Jak! this is from Jool. I’m afraid to open it! What if he’s dumping me? Maybe he wants to break off the engagement —Oh, this my punishment, and I deserve it all!

ABSOLUTE Here, let me see.—[ Takes the letter and opens it.] Oh yes, a final sentence, indeed!—it’s all over for you!

FAULKLAND Oh Jak, don't!

ABSOLUTE Here then—[ Reads.] Since I’m sure you’re more sorry for your actions than I can ever make you, I’ll forgive and forget. I need to speak with you as soon as possible. Yours ever and truly, Jool. There's stubbornness and resentment for you!—[ Gives her the letter.] Why, girl, you don't seem relieved at all!

FAULKLAND O yes, I am; but...but...

ABSOLUTE But, but, but!! You never hear any thing that would make another woman bless herself, but you immediately damn it with a but!

FAULKLAND Now, Jak, as my friend, be honest, don't you think there is something flippant, unfeeling even, in this rush to forgive? What's he trying to hide...?

ABSOLUTE I am so sick of this! You’re a lost cause! Just…drop it. I’ve got things to do. Meet me before five-thirty, remember, at my lodgings. A poor industrious devil like me busting a gut to gain my ends, and am at last disappointed by other people's folly, might be allowed to swear and grumble a little; But YOU...you’ve got no problems but what you’ve created for yourself...you’re more fit for ridicule than compassion! [Exit.]

FAULKLAND [Sighing] I deserved that; but still, Jak’s so much tougher than me, she couldn’t possibly understand the depth of my feelings...! This duel business gives me an idea. It’ll test if Jool really loves me…and I swear on all that’s good I’ll stand by the outcome [Exit.]

Chapter Text

Scene I—Jool’s room. [JOOL alone.]

JOOL I’m worried sick! Has there been some kind of accident? Why is it so important that she speaks to me alone?—Oh Faulkland!—always so much drama, just when I could really do without it. [Enter FAULKLAND.]

JOOL Faulkland, what’s happened? Why all this mystery?

FAULKLAND It’s bad news — I’m sorry! — I’m going to have to go away for a while.

JOOL Oh no! Why?

FAULKLAND I’m in trouble — big trouble. No no, don’t worry. It’s my own fault. I was so upset when I left you, I got into a fight and — now I have to get out of Wellspring, get far away. Oh Jool, to go on the run and without you —

JOOL Oh, this is awful: if the circumstances weren’t so dreadful, I would welcome the chance to prove — but of course I’ll come with you! As soon as we're safe, we'll find a priest and be paired at last, never again to part. Then you will have a loving husband to take care of you and help you regain your peace of mind.

FAULKLAND Oh Jool! How can I ever thank you? But we don't have much time — you must decide now or it'll be too late. If only you had a few hours to think it over — to consider what you would lose and how little you would gain —

JOOL I don't need time. No, Faulkland, I want to be with you — besides, we’ve been betrothed for so long that our disappearing together will surprise no one. But we should go — what if someone comes for you?

FAULKLAND Oh, no, I shouldn’t go out til after dark — but I can’t help feeling dreadful about putting you through all this!

JOOL I don’t know the law — maybe your sheep and land will be forfeit? But that doesn’t matter. I have what mother left me, and I can teach some more, maybe get a few gigs — it’ll be okay!

FAULKLAND Yes but under pressure — pushing down on me, pressing down on you — I may become so morose and moody that there will be no living with me! — Perhaps the guilt of my crime will make me resent your attention and care!

JOOL That’s all the more reason why you’ll need someone to take care of you. I couldn’t bear the thought of you feeling like that, all alone!

FAULKLAND Oh Jool, finally! — now I see and understand! This stupid necessary trick — I’ve been such a fool, but never again, I promise you!

JOOL What do you mean? — there’s been no disaster?

FAULKLAND I admit — I made it up; but please understand — I can never do it again, you know — if you can pity and forgive your Faulkland, we can get a fresh license and pair as soon as the registrar can take us —

JOOL Wait, Faulkland!—gods know that I’m glad you aren’t a criminal! But that you could doubt me enough to do this? It’s hurt me more than I can ever express —

FAULKLAND Oh Jool—

JOOL Let me finish — my mother thought the world of you, Faulkland! — and you saved my life, her only child; by her sickbed I promised myself and everything I had to you—joyfully, because you already had my love. When she died, I still had you. You became my everything. That’s why I’ve put up with so much from you. I won’t list the ways that you’ve hurt me, but —

FAULKLAND I know!! But Jool —

JOOL After a year of separation and patience, I might have hoped that I had been tested enough — this, so cruel, so unnecessary! But I see now that you’re incapable of feeling contentment or confidence in my love. And that’s why we must end this now. I had hoped that patience and love would win you round, but I see that it does nothing. And I can’t be harsh with you — that might work, but it’s not my way —

FAULKLAND No, but, Jool, I swear – if I ever do anything like this again —

JOOL Just one more thing. I love you and I always will, although we can never be together. I only hope you will be happy someday, really I do. For my sake, if not your own, you’ve got to change this behaviour! We could have been so happy but for this — — [Exit.]

FAULKLAND He’s gone—this is it!—He really means it! I’m paralysed — Oh fool!—idiot!—monster! The dregs of humanity — but blessed to have an angel by my side. And I’ve driven him away! Oh, I need to go! It should be my duel, not Jak’s! It would be only justice. Love has tested me — shown me for what I am — and I’ve failed. I guess I’m just too sensitive for this — [Exit.] [Enter LYD and SERVANT.]

SERVANT Oh! Mr Melville was here just now — I’ll go see if I can find him. [Exit.]

LYD It’s simply ridiculous! I just can’t get Jak out of my head. I’ve got a dreadful feeling that I still love her. I’m still furious though —Where’s Jool? I need him to talk me into forgiving her — [Re-enter JOOL.] Oh Jool, I’ve had such a shitty day — Hey, what's up with you? You look like terrible!—Has Faulkland been tormenting you again?

JOOL No no, it’s not that!—It’s something or nothing. I’m probably just tired — [Aside.] It’s nobody else’s business, not even family.

LYD Hmph well, I bet this will be worse! Wait til you hear this. You know who Beverley has turned out to be?

JOOL I’ll stop you there, Lyd — Faulkland told me all about it some weeks back. That’s the only reason I didn’t try to talk you out seeing her in the first place. If Captain Absolute had really been a penniless mercenary, I couldn’t have stood by and watched you get into trouble.

LYD Oh, great, so everyone’s been lying to me? Well, it doesn’t matter — it’s all ruined now.

JOOL Come on, Lyd—

LYD Well, isn’t it unfair? Just when I thought I could finally tell The Man where to stick it, I end up being just another lawful acquisition! It was going to be such a dramatic elopement too! — stylish disguise!— rope ladder !— roar of engine! —smell of leather!— imagining Uncle Malaprop’s face when he found out!—the scandal in the newspapers!—Oh, I shall die with disappointment!

JOOL Poor Lyd —

LYD Now—quite the opposite!—what have I to expect now but a designer suit and four pages in Hello! Magazine — Lyd Languish’s society wedding to Captain Absolute! Oh to think I’d ever be such a square!

JOOL Tragic!

LYD It IS tragic! Especially when I think of the exciting dramatic dates we used to have. How she would climb up to my balcony on moonlit nights like a ninja. I would wake in the morning to a lingering scent of Poison on the pillow and a box of chocolate-covered crickets by the window. Ah, Jool, that was something like love.

JOOL Oh Lyd, I would normally just laugh at you. But after today, I ask you — beg you – if you’re fortunate enough to have someone who truly loves you, don’t play around with their feelings. Trust me, I know how much that hurts.

LYD Oh no, what’s Uncle doing here? [Enter Mr. MALAPROP, FANG, and DOLORES.]

MALAPROP So! so! here's fine mess!—a Klingazon bloodbath and Boss Anthoni nowhere to be found!

JOOL For Heaven's sake, sir, what's going on?

MALAPROP That lady can tell you—it was her that told me.

LYD [To FANG.] What’s the news, ma’am?

FANG Sir, I would consider myself no lady at all if I wasted any time in conveying such important news to a young gentleman as deeply and personally involved in the business as you are.

LYD What is it? Tell me quick!

FANG True, sir, as you say, one should be concise in breaking news of this kind; for should we string it out, perhaps before we reach the end of the sentence, two or three lives may be lost!

LYD Grant me patience!—Uncle, for Heaven's sake! — tell us what is the matter!

MALAPROP Why, battle’s the matter! slaughter's the matter! killing's the matter!—but she’s got the technical details.

LYD Then please ma’am, keep it brief.

FANG Why, then, sir, as to battle — it don’t qualify unless there are more than two combatants —and as to slaughter, or manslaughter, that will depend on the jury.

LYD But who — who are the combatants?

FANG I’m sorry to say, one is a young lady whom I should be very sorry anything was to happen to — a very fine and gallant young lady — we have been good friends for many years.

LYD But who is this? Who? Who? Who?!

FANG My boss, sir—my boss — I speak of my boss.

LYD What, Captain Absolute?

MALAPROP Oh so, NOW he cares!

JOOL But who else are with her, ma’am?

FANG As to the rest, sir, this girl will tell you better than I can.

JOOL [To DOLORES.] Please tell us, miss!

DOLORES Oh sir—there's trouble, sir. Back in the country, folks would settle their differences with a good punch-up or maybe a welly throwing contest. I’m not used to this kind of trouble, with the blades and the Thunderdomes — this doesn’t look good to me, sir!

JOOL But who is there beside Captain Absolute, miss?

DOLORES My poor boss — forgive me for mentioning her first — you know me, sir — I’m Dolores — and my boss of course is, or was, Foodlander Acres. And then there’s Foodlander Faulkland —

JOOL Uncle, we’ve got to do something!

MALAPROP Oh no, we shouldn’t interfere in Klingazon disputes! It would be culturally insensitive!

DOLORES Oh do interfere, Mr. Uncle, save a few lives — they don’t know what they’re doing, believe me. Above all, there is that crazed troublemaker Lucky O'Trigger —

MALAPROP Miss Lucky O'Trigger? Oh charity! Have they drawn poor little dear Miss Lucky into the business? Why are you just standing there, boy? Have you no feelings?

LYD What should we do, Uncle?

MALAPROP Well, run! Run as fast as we can to stop this! Here, madam, the Thunderdome you say?

FANG Yes sir, I believe so — Dolores, you go and look for Boss Anthoni. [Exit DOLORES.]

MALAPROP Come on, you boys!

FANG One good thing is, we shall hear the sounds of fighting as we get near, so we can't well miss them — never fear, sirs, never fear. [Exeunt, she talking.]


* * * * * * *

Scene II—The South Parade. [Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE, concealing her bat’leth under her coat.]

ABSOLUTE A Klingazon blade in the streets of Wellspring would cause as much panic as a two headed goanna — Dammit Faulkland!—always late! I’ll have to go without her at last — Oh, gods! here's Boss Anthoni! How can I dodge her? [Muffles up her face, and takes a circle to go off.] [Enter Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE.]

Boss ANTHONI That’s strange! I could have sworn that was Jak!—Hey! Dammit! it is.—Why, Jak, what are you hiding for? Hey! It is her! Hey Jak, Jak Absolute! [Goes up to her.]

ABSOLUTE Really, ma’am, you must’ve mistaken me — my name’s not Jak—I’m— I’m — Betsy-Ann.

Boss ANTHONI Oh, I beg your pardon—I thought you were my —hey?—what! it is—Wait a minute —[Looks up to her face.] Happy to make your acquaintance, Miss Betsy-Ann! You scheming madam, what frauds are you embroiled in now?

ABSOLUTE Oh, a joke, ma’am, just a joke! I came here to look for you, ma’am.

Boss ANTHONI You did? Well, I am glad you were so lucky. But what are you wrapped up so for?—what's this for, hey?

ABSOLUTE it’s chilly, ma’am, isn't it?—rather cold today — but I’ll be late—I have an appointment.

Boss ANTHONI Hang on, I thought you were looking for me?— where is it you’re going?

ABSOLUTE Going, ma’am?
Boss ANTHONI Yes, where are you going?

ABSOLUTE Where am I going?
Boss ANTHONI You unmannerly puppy!

ABSOLUTE I was going, ma’am, to—to—to—to Lyd—ma’am, to Lyd—to make matters up if I could;—and I was looking for you, ma’am, to—to—

Boss ANTHONI To go with you, I suppose — Well, come along.

ABSOLUTE Oh! Gods!! no, ma’am, not for the world!—I wished to meet with you, ma’am,—to—to—to—You find it chilly, I'm sure, ma’am—you'd better not stay out.

Boss ANTHONI Chilly!—not at all.—Well, Jak—and what will you say to Lyd?

ABSOLUTE Oh, ma’am, beg for forgiveness, humour him—promise and vow: but I’m keeping you out —think of the cold air on your gout.

Boss ANTHONI Oh, not at all!—Not at all! I'm in no hurry — Ah! Jak, you youngsters, one little bit of heartache — [Patting CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE's shoulder.] Hey! what the deuce have you got here?

ABSOLUTE Nothing, ma’am—nothing.

Boss ANTHONI What's this?—here's something damned hard.

ABSOLUTE Oh, shinies, ma’am! Shinies!—a gift for Lyd!

Boss ANTHONI Alright, let me see what you’ve got him.—[ Pulls her coat open, the bat’leth falls.] Shinies!—a gift for Lyd!—Dammit! girl, you are not going to run him through are you?

ABSOLUTE Ha! ha! ha!—I thought it would amuse you, ma’am, though I didn't mean to tell you till afterwards.

Boss ANTHONI You didn't?—Yes, this is a very amusing shiny, truly!

ABSOLUTE Ma’am, I'll explain to you.—You know, ma’am, Lyd is dramatic, very dramatic, and very absurd of course: now, ma’am, I intend, if he refuses to forgive me, to take this blade, and declare I'll stab myself, and die at his feet!

Boss ANTHONI Fall over your own feet more likely!—why, I suppose that might well impress him.—Get along, you fool!

ABSOLUTE Well, ma’am, you shall hear of my success—you shall hear.—Oh Lyd!— I don't know what to do anymore, except maybe die! says I.

Boss ANTHONI Oh, you clown! Die and welcome—says he.—Get along! and damn your shinies! [Exit CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] [Enter DOLORES, running.]

DOLORES Stop her! stop her! Murder! Thief! Fire!—Oh Boss Anthoni—call! call! make 'er stop! Murder! Fire!

Boss ANTHONI Fire! Murder!—Where?

DOLORES She’s out of sight! and I'm out of breath! Oh Boss Anthoni, why didn't you stop her? why didn't you stop her?

Boss ANTHONI Dammit! the girl’s mad!—Stop whom? stop Jak?

DOLORES Aye, the captain, ma’am!—there's battle and slaughter—

Boss ANTHONI Battle?

DOLORES Aye, truly, Boss Anthoni, there's all kinds of battle, all sorts of slaughter in the ring: there's fighting going on, ma’am—bloody slash-and-stab fighting!

Boss ANTHONI Who are going to fight, fool?

DOLORES Everybody I know of, Boss Anthoni:—everybody is going to fight, my poor boss, Miss Lucky O'Trigger, your daughter the captain—

Boss ANTHONI Oh, the little —! I see what she’s up to.—Do you know the place?

DOLORES The New Thunderdome.

Boss ANTHONI You know the way?

DOLORES Not a bit of it; but I'll call the council — constables—officials—the Grand Nagus hisself—we can't be too many to part them.

Boss ANTHONI Come along—give me your shoulder! we'll get help along the way— Oh the lying madam!—Well, I shall be in such a rage!—So—this was the truth behind her shinies! I'll gift her! [Exeunt.]


* * * * * * *
Scene III—The New Thunderdome. [Enter Miss LUCKY O'TRIGGER and Dag ACRES, each carrying bat’leth.]

ACRES Forty yards is a good distance, Lucky. I say it is a good distance.

LUCKY Pfft! A good distance for blades or for arrows? Just you leave those matters to me.—Wait a minute —I'll show you.—[ Measures paces along the stage.] There now, that is a very respectable distance—a good Klingazon distance.

ACRES Good gods! we might as well fight on a pinhead! Trust me, Lucky, the farther she is off, the surer I shall make my swing.

LUCKY Pfft! then I suppose you’d swing at her best of all if she was out of sight?

ACRES No, Lucky; but I do think forty or thirty-eight yards—

LUCKY What? nonsense! three or four feet between the edges of your blades is as good as a mile.

ACRES Good gods, no! There’s no merit in killing her so close up; do let me bring her down at a distance — a good long distance, Lucky, please.

LUCKY Well, Beverley’s second and I must settle that — But tell me now, Dag, in case of an accident, is there anything I could do for you?

ACRES That’s very nice of you Lucky —but I don't understand—

LUCKY Why, you may think there's no fighting without a little risk—and if an unlucky stab should bring a long sleep with it—I say it that would be no time to be bothering you about your funeral plans.

ACRES A long sleep!

LUCKY For instance, now—if that should be the case—would you rather be pickled and sent home?—or would it be the same to you to get composted in the Gardens? I'm told there are lovely plants and things in the Gardens.

ACRES Pickled!—Composted in the Gardens!—Good gods! Lucky, don't talk like that!

LUCKY I’m starting to think, Dag — you’ve never done this sort of thing before?

ACRES No, never.

LUCKY Ah! that's a pity!—there's nothing like being used to a thing.—Tell me, how would you receive the lady’s attack?

ACRES Oh! Yes!—I've practised that!—like this, Lucky —how’s that? [Puts herself in an attitude.] Warrior Two, hey? I'll make myself small enough: I'll stand edgeways.

LUCKY Now—you're quite wrong there —because if you stand so when I take my swing — [Backing up a few paces.]

ACRES Gods! Lucky!—careful with that thing!

LUCKY Don’t flinch —

ACRES But—but—you don't know—you may hit me!

LUCKY Oh alright then, relax!— I’ll go easy. Well, now if I hit you in the body like that, my stab has a double chance—if it misses a vital part of your right side, it’ll be very unlucky if it don't succeed on the left!

ACRES A vital part!

LUCKY But, there—stand like this—[repositioning her]—let her see your full front—there—now a blade or two may pass clean through your body, and never do any harm at all. Better! That’s why it’s called Warrior One.

ACRES Clean through me!—a blade or two clean through me!

LUCKY —and it’s the most intimidating stance too. Especially if you do a face like this.

ACRES Look, Lucky! —if I’m going to be run through, it hardly matters whether I’m the right position or not; so I’ll just stand edgeways, alright?

LUCKY [Looking at her watch.] Sure they don't mean to disappoint us?—Hah!—no—I think I see them coming.

ACRES Hey!—what? — coming? —

LUCKY Yeah. Coming through the turnstile. Is that them?

ACRES You’re right. Two of them!—well—let them come—hey, Lucky? we—we—we—we—won't run.

LUCKY Run?

ACRES No—I say—we won't run!

LUCKY Hell’s the matter with you?

ACRES Nothing—nothing—my good friend—my dear Lucky —but I—I—I don't feel quite so furious, somehow, as I did.

LUCKY Oh come on now!—consider your honour.

ACRES Yeah—true—my honour. Do me a favour, Lucky, edge in a word or two every now and then about my honour.

LUCKY [Looking.] Well, here they're coming.

ACRES Lucky —if I wasn’t with you, I should almost think I was afraid.— If my fury should leave me!—Fury will come and go.

LUCKY Then keep a tight grip on it while you have it.

ACRES Lucky — I think it’s going—yes—my fury is certainly going!—it is sneaking off!—I feel it oozing out as it were at the palms of my hands!

LUCKY Your honour!—your honour! Here they are.

ACRES Oh gods! — I wish I was safe at Verdant Acres! or that I could be slaughtered quickly before I knew it was coming! [Enter FAULKLAND and CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]

LUCKY Ladies, your most obedient — Hah!—what, is that Captain Absolute? So, I suppose you’re here, just like myself—to do a favour for a friend—then to proceed to business on your own account?

ACRES What, Jak? my dear Jak? my dear friend!

ABSOLUTE Hi, Dag. Beverley's here.

LUCKY A civil greeting! Well, it’s better than a curse, since it saves the fighting spirit for the action.—[To FAULKLAND.] So, Beverley, if you'll choose your weapons, the captain and I will measure the ground.

FAULKLAND My weapons?

ACRES Good gods, Lucky! I'm not going to fight Foodlander Faulkland. These are my particular friends!

LUCKY What, then, did you not come here to fight Dag Acres?

FAULKLAND Not me, I promise you.

LUCKY Well, now, that’s disappointing! But come on now, Foodlander Faulkland, here’s the three of us ready for a fight. You wouldn’t be such a spoilsport as to ruin the numbers?

ABSOLUTE Oh go on, Faulkland, fight to oblige Miss Lucky.

FAULKLAND Alright, if Foodlander Acres is so set on it—

ACRES No, no — I'll bear my disappointment like a woman. Look here, Lucky, there's no need at all for me to fight; and if it’s all the same to you, I'd be just as happy to leave it.

LUCKY I don’t take my job as second lightly, Acres. You have certainly challenged somebody — and you came here to fight them. Now, if that lady is willing to represent them — I can't see, for the life of me, why it isn't just the same thing.

ACRES Wait no — Lucky — Listen, it’s Beverley I've challenged — a person that clearly doesn’t dare to show her face! — if she were here, I'd show her who’s boss!

ABSOLUTE Wait, Dag — let me set you right there — there is no such person as Beverley. I’m the one who went by that name; and as my intentions are the same in both characters, I’m ready to defend them in whatever way you ask.

LUCKY Well, that’s a stroke of luck! — Now you can—

ACRES What, fight my dear friend Jak Absolute?—no! not if she were fifty Beverleys! Good gods, Lucky, I’m not a monster!

LUCKY So you’ve lost your taste for duelling then?

ACRES Not at all! If you’re set on fighting, I'll second you with all my heart — if you should get a touch of the long sleep, I’m your woman. I'll get you composted; or pickle you and send you over to Blunderbuss Hall or anywhere you like, with the greatest pleasure.

LUCKY Pfft! You’re little better than a coward.

ACRES Hear that, friends? She called me a coward; coward was the word!

LUCKY And what do you propose to do about it?

ACRES Look here Lucky. It’s not that I mind the word coward — coward may be said in joke, friendly-like —But if you had called me mediocre, good gods—

LUCKY Well?

ACRES I should have thought you very rude.

LUCKY Pfft! You’re beneath my notice.

ABSOLUTE Not at all, Miss Lucky — you couldn’t get a better second than my friend Acres — Fighting Dag, they call her back home. She generally kills one a week — don't you Dag?

ACRES Yeah!

LUCKY Well, then, captain, we should crack on — so out you come, my little Piecemaker — [ Draws her bat’leth] — and ask the lady to give up the young man. Because you’ll get very angry if she doesn’t, isn’t that right?

ABSOLUTE Alright Lucky, since you won't let us resolve this any other way, here's my reply [Draws]. [Enter Boss ANTHONI ABSOLUTE, DOLORES, Mr. MALAPROP, LYD, and JOOL.]

DOLORES Knock 'em all down, good Boss Anthoni; knock down my boss in particular; and clap ‘em all in irons til they put their weapons down!

Boss ANTHONI Drop ‘em, Jak, drop ‘em, or I shall be in a rage — how did you end up in a duel, miss?

ABSOLUTE Better ask her, ma’am — she challenged me and, as you know ma’am, I’m obligated to fight for my honour as a Klingazon!

Boss ANTHONI Here's a dutiful daughter; I catch her going to run a warrior through, and she tells me, she’s a Klingazon!—Dammit miss, what are you doing fighting with one of your own sisters?

ABSOLUTE Mother! I tell you, that Klingazon called me out, without explaining her reasons!

Boss ANTHONI Lucky O’Trigger! How came you to call my daughter out, without explaining your reasons?

LUCKY Ma’am, your daughter insulted me in a manner which my honour could not stand.

Boss ANTHONI Dammit Jak! How dared you insult this woman in a manner which her honour could not stand?

MALAPROP Come on now, let's have no honour before Ferengi — Captain Absolute! How could you alarm us like this?—Here's Lyd has been terrified to death for you.

ABSOLUTE For fear I should be killed, or survive, sir?

MALAPROP No, no, we must forgive and forget —Lyd is convinced; speak, lad.

LUCKY If I may, sir, I must put in a word here: I believe I understand the young gentleman —

LYD What do you mean?

LUCKY Come on now, ‘Zal’, it’s time to be serious.

LYD Quite right, ma’am; seriously, then, it’s time for me to offer Jak Absolute my hand, in hope that she returns my affection [goes down on one knee].

ABSOLUTE Oh! my Prince, do you really mean it?—Miss Lucky — there’s been some dreadful misunderstanding here. With regard to the affront which you say I’ve given you, I can only assure you it was unintentional and offer to make amends. However, where this gentlemen is concerned, I will defend my claim against any challengers.

Boss ANTHONI Well said Jak, and I'll stand by you, my girl!

ACRES Don’t forget, I give up all my claim — I make no pretensions to anything in the world; and if I can't get a husband without fighting for him, I’ll happily stay single!

LUCKY Captain, give me your hand: a gracious apology merits a gracious return; and as for the young man there, if he chooses to deny his own handwriting, here—[Takes out letters.]

MALAPROP Oh, my secret! Miss Lucky, perhaps there's some mistake—perhaps I can explain —

LUCKY Stay out of this, grandad. Mister Languish, are you my Zal, or not?

LYD Indeed, Miss Lucky, I am not. [Walks aside with CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.]

MALAPROP Miss Lucky O'Trigger — ungrateful as you are — I admit it — pardon my blushes, I am Zal.

LUCKY What? You’re Zal?—Pfft! Piss off!

MALAPROP Why, you barbarous hellcat — those letters are mine! When you are more aware of my eligibility — perhaps I may be persuaded to encourage your attentions.

LUCKY Mr. Malaprop, I am extremely aware of your eligibility; and whether you or Luke have put this trick on me, I am equally grateful to you.—And, to prove that I’m amicable, Captain Absolute — since you’ve carried off Mr Languish, I'll give you my Zal into the bargain.

ABSOLUTE I am much obliged to you, Miss Lucky; but here's my friend Fighting Dag unprovided for. Perhaps she might consider — ?

LUCKY Hah! little Fury, will you make your fortune?

ACRES Good gods! No! But shake my hand, Lucky, lets make it up; but if ever I give you a chance of pickling me again, say Dag Acres is a fool, that's all.

Boss ANTHONI Chin up Mr. Malaprop, don't let this bring you down — you’re at your peak, man!

MALAPROP Oh Boss Anthoni—women are just — really mean. [All retreat but JOOL and FAULKLAND.]

JOOL [Aside.] She looks like a kicked puppy —not sullen or angry; and there was some truth in her fiction about the duel. Oh gods! I can’t resist those big puppy dog eyes! So much for my decision!

FAULKLAND Jool!—I can’t ask — I don’t deserve — but I can’t help but hope —

JOOL Oh Faulkland, we’re both to blame for our weakness. You for your unkind treatment of me, and I for my inability to do without you. And since I blame my weakness on love, it would be unfair not to allow you the same excuse for yours.

FAULKLAND Oh! You’re so good to me!

Boss ANTHONI [Coming forward.] What's going on here? So you two have been fighting as well, have you? Come on, Jool, I’ve never interfered before — but let me stick my beak in at last. All the faults I’ve ever seen in my friend Faulkland here seem to come from her being head over heels for you. So just marry her, lad — you'll find she'll mend surprisingly! [The rest come forward.]

LUCKY Right everyone, I hope you’re all happy! Having been a bit disappointed myself, I’d at least like to see everyone with something to celebrate!

ACRES Quite right, Lucky! So Jak, I wish you all the happiness in the world! Same to Foodlander Faulkland! And to prove that I'm not at all put out by this turn of events — drinks are on me in Ten Forward!!!

Boss ANTHONI Dammit, young Acres, I like your style! Us single ladies will drink to the paired-off ones! — and we’ll find a wife for Mr. Malaprop!


****
Scene IV Ten Forward [Band plays “Twistin’ the Night Away”]

FAULKLAND Well Jak, our men are over there, hopefully congratulating each other. Yours for finally getting his fill of drama and excitement. And mine for having reformed a damn fool.

ABSOLUTE True, Faulkland, we’ve both had quite a time of it; with this difference only, that you always created your own difficulties, while I—

LYD Could always rely on me to do it for you, hey? But enough of that sort of talk — all’s well that ends well.

JOOL Still, though, as the song goes “It’s gonna take patience and time, oh-ho to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right”. We need to calmly reflect on the years to come and —

Boss ANTHONI You! You young folks! Less talking, more dancing!

[general cheering, all dance, curtain drops]