The Princess


Original Plays, by W. S. Gilbert

SCENE FOURTH.--Hildebrand's Camp before Ida's Castle.



HILDE.The Princess Ida still holds out, although
Our camp is fairly pitched before her walls.
King Gama, if Hilarion comes not back
All safe and sound, you'll surely suffer death!
Your head for his!
GAMAThe stakes are poorly matched:
It's Lombard Street against a China orange!
HILDE.In the mean time, pray make yourself at home,
Direct my army as it were your own.
On every matter that concerns the state,
Your orders give;--they will not be obeyed,
But that don't matter!
GAMADon't it?
HILDE.Not a jot!
The ecstasy of absolute command
Is seriously dashed when you reflect,
That for all consequences that ensue,
You by the world are held responsible!
But here, where all are bound to hear your word
With every outward token of respect,
They systematically disobey it,
Your power of high command is just as great,
The consequences absolutely nil.

Enter ATHO.

ATHOMy liege, three gentlemen await without,
Attended by a troop of soldiery. (Gives note).
GAMA(reads). "The Princes Arac, Guron, Scynthius,
King Gama's sons, desire that you will set
Their father free." (To ATHO.) Admit these gentlemen.
[Exit ATHO.
My sons! That's brave!


HILDE.What would you, gentlemen?
ARACWhat would we? Why look you, King Hildebrand--
You hold our father in unkingly bonds,
Our sister you beleaguer in her home,
You threaten to lay waste our richest lands,
And then you coolly ask us, "What would we?"
GURONWe come to claim our father at your hands.
SCYNTHIUSWe come to save our sister Ida from
The rude assault of savage soldiery.
Why they are girls--mere girls--and should be stormed
As other girls are stormed, if stormed at all!

HILDE.As other girls are stormed so shall they be;
We'll use no cannon, bayonet, or sword,
For such ungentlemanly arguments--
Convincing though they be--would but convince
These women 'gainst their will! We'll witch them forth
With love songs, odes, and idle fripperies,
Such as a woman can not long withstand.
Stay, you shall see--

Enter ATHO.

ATHOAll is prepared, my liege
To storm the walls----
HILDE.Then let the siege commence!


Who leads the serenading party, eh?
FIRST OFFICERSir Michael Costa--
HILDE.Good! The light guitars
Fall in at six--the King's own baritones,
Led by Sir Santley--
FIRST OFFICERHe's not knighted sir!
HILDE.He shall be, then--they will parade at five.


SECOND OFFICERWho leads the scaling party, sir?
HILDE.Of course
The first light tenors--they can highest go.
ATHOAnd who shall first climb up the outer wall,
And reconnoiter what goes on within?
HILDE.Some tenor, fool, who can "go up to see!"
[Exit ATHO.
Let all be furnished with their photographs,
And scatter them among these amazons.
Bid the director of the poets direct
And post five hundred valentines, and see
They get them by to-night's delivery.
Go, tell the gallant lady, who commands
The horse brigade of royal milliners,
To place five hundred toilet tables out
Within full view of Princess Ida's walls.
Upon them place five hundred mirrors--then
Lay out five hundred robes of French design;
And if they still hold out they're more than women!
KINGIf all this fails, I have a deadlier scheme,
Five hundred waltzing bachelors--tried men,
Who can waltz forwards--backwards--anyhow--
Shall twirl and twist before their dazzled eyes,
Thrumming soft music on a light guitar.
Song -- KING HILDEBRAND, Air, "Largo al Factotum"
Like a teetotum with a guitar--
Just so!
La, la, la, la!
Bachelors spin at 'em thus from afar--
Just so!
La, la, la, la!
Oh, tickle their vanity;
Oh, never be chary,
Oh, flatter your fairy,
Ever unwary,
Tickle it, ah!
Bravo bravissimo,
Serve her it, ah!
Flatter her beauty,
With an acute eye,
Say it's your duty,
Call her a star!
Sneer at another,
Coddle her mother,
Butter her brother,
Ever so far!
La, la, la, la!
Load her with frippery,
Glovery, slippery,
Cleverly planned, no going too far!
Marabout feather,
Gossamer airy,
Fastened together,
Give to your fairy.
La, la, la, la!
Oh, tickle her vanity,
Oh, never be chary,
Oh, flatter your fairy,
Ever unwary,
Tickle it, ah!
Marry her merrily,
Change it all, verily;
Snapping and wrangling,
Jingling and jangling,
Snarling and snapping,
Rubbing and rapping.
"Why are you mum to me?
"Why don't you come to me?
"Why are you mum to me?
"Why don't you come to me?
"Quicker, oh! quicker, oh! quicker, oh!"
My goodness! my gracious!
A row, sir!
Pucker your brow, sir,
Pucker it, ah!
Pucker it, ah!
Lick her, oh, no more!
Quicker, oh, "The door!"
Set it ajar!
Light a cigar!
Set it ajar!
Light a cigar!
Give her a sou!
Bid her adoo!
Give her a sou!
Bid her adoo!
Bravo bravissimo,
Finish your capering.
Like a teetotum
With a guitar!
With a guitar!
With a guitar!
Bravo, bravissimo,
Take her and marry her,
Worry her, harry her;
Oh, you may carry her
Ever so far!
Just like a teetotum
With a guitar!

Enter ATHO.

ATHOMy liege, I bring good news, your plan succeeds.
Three ladies of the Princess Ida's band
Are coming towards your camp.
HILDE.The mirrors did it!
Admit them.

Enter HILARION, CYRIL and FLORIAN, still in women's clothes.

Why--Hilarion! Cyril too!
And Florian! dressed as women. Ho! ho! ho!
(all jeer them).
HILAR.We gained admission to fair Ida's halls,
By this disguise--We were detected though,
And should have suffered death, but that she knew,
In killing us, she killed her father too!
GAMA(in high glee). Here, set me free! Hilarion safe again--
Is this indeed Hilarion?
HILAR.Yes it is--
GAMAWhy you look handsome in your women's clothes,
Stick to 'em--man's attire becomes you not!
(to FLORIAN and CYRIL) And you, young ladies,
will you please to pray,
King Hildebrand to set me free again?
Hang on his neck and gaze into his eyes,
Bring all your woman's wiles to bear on him.
He never could resist a pretty face!
CYRILYou dog! Though I wear woman's garb, you'll find
My sword is long and sharp.
GAMAHush, pretty one!
Here's a virago! Here's a termagant!
If length and sharpness go for any thing,
You'll want to sword while you can wag your tongue.
FLORI.What need to talk of swords to such as he?
He's old and crippled--(to GAMA) Oh, if you were young,
And tolerably straight--and I could catch
You all alone, I'd--Ah!
GAMA(bashfully).Oh, go along,
You naughty girl--why, I'm a married man!
But I've three sons--see, ladies--here they are--
Fine fellows--young and muscular and brave.
They'll meet you, if you will. Come, what d'ye say?
ARACAy, pretty ones, engage yourselves with us,
If three rude warriors who have spent their lives
Hacking at enemies, affright you not!
HILAR.(to GAMA). Old as you are, I'd wring your shriveled neck
If you were not the Princess Ida's father!
GAMAIf I were not the Princess Ida's father,
And so had not her brothers for my sons,
No doubt you'd wring my neck--in safety too!
HILAR.Enough! I speak for Florian and Cyril.
Arac, we take your challenge--three to three--
So that it's understood that Ida's hand
Depends upon the issue.
ARACThere's my hand;
If she consents not--sister though she be
We'll raze her castle to the very ground!


Last updated November 9, 1997