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The Carp
WEB OPERA


Dialogue following No. 1


(Piscator busies himself with his rod and reel. Amandus enters at left, wildly distracted. He does not see Piscator, who, on his part, is equally engrossed.)

AMANDUS. (wildly) I can endure no longer; I just die!
  Better to perish in a final plunge
Than live in everlasting misery!
Farewell, ye fields, where once we walked together;
Farewell, ye skies, 'neath which (and an umbrella)
We strolled, unconscious of the constable,
Who watched us with a sympathetic smile,
And thought of all his cooks! Farewell, farewell!
Farewell, yon sun, that freckled her fair nose;
And (as I cannot stop to say Good-bye
To everything in Nature) all things, please
Accept this as an intimation that
I bid you an adieu! And now to —
      [He rushes towards the pond.
PISCATOR. (turning) Eh?    
  May I enquire what you're about to do?
AMANDUS. I want to drown myself!
PISCATOR. Indeed! and where?
AMANDUS. (pointing to pond) In yonder pool.
PISCATOR. (taking Amandus's arm and bringing him away from pool)
          Not if I know it, sir!
AMANDUS. Indeed! And if I choose to drown myself,
  Who shall prevent me?
PISCATOR. (calmly).   I! (Pointing) See you yon bubble?
  That bubble means a fish!
AMANDUS. (with indifference). Does it?
PISCATOR (impressively).   A carp!    
  My carp!
AMANDUS. Is it?
PISCATOR. You do not ask me how
  It's "mine"?
AMANDUS.   I don't.
PISCATOR. (cheerfully).   No matter. I'll inform you.
  'Twas I discovered him!
AMANDUS. (unimpressed). Oh, did you though?
PISCATOR.   One day I saw him basking in the sun;
  His fins were working, and his tail he waved
Like this (he imitates the fish's motion with his coat-
     tails
);his globous mouth opened and shut,
  Solemn and slow, like this (imitating). It was a sight
That thrilled me with delight. And from that hour
I vowed to catch that carp.
AMANDUS. (impatiently). Well, well, go on!
PISCATOR. I am going on! I went: I tried him first
  With ordinary gentles, all in vain!
Then meal-worms, brandlings, gilt-tails I essayed;
Calves' brains, and pieces of o'er-ripened cheese;
Through all the fish bill of fare I went,
Until at last one day — I had a nibble!
AMANDUS. And what of that?
PISCATOR. What of it! Ecstacy!
  Half-hesitating, trembling ecstacy!
But — 'twas some years ago, and I was young —
I struck too soon — (sadly) and lost him!
AMANDUS.           Very sad!
PISCATOR. But I was not discouraged. Though I failed,
  I tried again.
AMANDUS. (aside). Ah Cupid, so did I!
PISCATOR. But with the same result! Why, sir, I've thrown
  Some tons of ground-bait in this peaceful pond!
And now I've ta'en the house across the fields,
And every evening for the last five years
I've come to catch that carp!
AMANDUS. (going to him). But what's all this
  To one who wants to die?
PISCATOR. Young man, young man!
  You have some sense of charity, I hope?
AMANDUS. I hope I have, sir! Well?
PISCATOR. When younder sun goes down, and half-past six,
  My hopes are at an end. But one small hour
Is left me for my task. While you can come
At any time to-night, and drown yourself, —
And yet you will not wait!
AMANDUS. (moving towards the pond). Certainly not!
PISCATOR. Oh, listen to me yet! My very soul
 

Is centered on that carp. In business hours
My thoughts oft wander carpward. Think, oh, think —
Think of the envy of admiring friends!
The contradiction of the incredulous spouse,
Who never saw me bring home anything,
And thinks I never shall! Think of the joy
When I shall have him stuffed, in a glass case —
A life-long monument of fishy fame!
This is the only evening for a week
That seems to promise that the fish will bite;
My hopes are at their highest; and you come
To plunge into this pond, and blast them all,
Because, forsooth, you "want to drown yourself!"
Young man, young man, you cannot have a heart!

AMANDUS. (relenting and returning to Piscator)    
  Your pleading leaves me not insensible:
I, too, have had a nibble!
PISCATOR.     From a fish?
AMANDUS. No; from a maiden. But (sighing) she would not bite!
PISCATOR. Perhaps she scratched?
AMANDUS. No, no!
  E'en that would have been something! She is cold,
Unfeeling, heartless, stony, hard as nails;
And I, alas! I loved, and love her still!

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