King. (who preserves a stately and dignified air, notwithstanding his disguise.) At last we are in the brigands’ lair, and before many moments I shall have an opportunity of testing our scheme to take back my thoughtless daughter to my arms. Zapeter, it is to your diplomatic brain that this experiment is due. It was you, my trusty and well-beloved cousin, who suggested that we should take advantage of her taste for novelty, and disguise ourselves as Red Indians, in the hope that the peculiarity of our appearance and the quaintness of our attitudes might fascinate her volatile mind – Zapeter, I cannot thank you too affectionately for the suggestion.
Jamilek. But should the lynx-eyed maiden see through our disguise, and detect the imposition that we have practised on her?
King. Oh, heavens! The laugh would then be turned against us. If ever it should get abroad that I, King Portico, have stooped to disguise myself in this mountebank’s dress, to shave my head and paint my face, I should expire with confusion. If the tidings of this unutterable degradation were to reach the ears of surrounding nations, I should never hold up my head again. (suddenly.) Zapeter, it is to your shifty and tortuous brain that this device, this monstrous device is due. If it should fail, before heaven, your head shall pay the penalty.
Zapeter. Fear nothing. The wary paleface has diligently studied the works of Fenimore Cooper, and they have made him downy. He is familiar with the methods of expression of his red brother and the wary paleface courts investigation; his tread is the tread of the wild cat, his eye is the eye of the hawk, his jump is the jump of the opossum. Why should he tremble? The Unmitigated Blackbird has spoken. Wagh!
King. And you, Jamilek, do you feel yourself equal to sustaining the character you have assumed?
King. My true and trusty Jamilek, as for myself, fortified with the assurance that in assuming my present garb I have made myself sufficiently ridiculous, I will not further stultify myself by affecting a method of expression as artificial as it is inconvenient. I have stooped to this, I will stoop no lower.
TOTO is heard singing without loudly. ZAPETER listens with his ear close to the ground.
King. What do you hear? (KING and JAMILEK are eager for a reply.)
Zapeter. Softly, and the Red Man will interpret. His ears are long and his patience proverbial. (listening while TOTO sings very loudly.) It is the sound of a voice – as it articulates words, it is a human voice. (KING and JAMILEK surprised at ZAPETER’s keenness of ear.) It is fresh and bell-like, and therefore it is a woman’s voice – a young woman’s voice – behold! (TOTO runs on singing.) Said I not well? Wagh!
King. It is our Toto. (KING, ZAPETER and JAMILEK strike attitudes.)
Toto. Why, bless my heart! Who are these? They’re the funniest people I ever saw in the whole course of my life.
King. (aside.) Funny? Have I lived to be considered funny? Oh! The humiliation of it! And in this tom-fool’s dress – and before my own daughter too. (to JAMILEK.) Tell her who we are, for upon my soul I forget.
They all strike attitudes; the KING quickly recovering himself and becoming dignified.
King. That I should have lived to hear myself described as an Abernethy Biscuit. ‘Abernethy Biscuit’. Oh, it is hard – it is hard.
Toto. And do you always paint your face?
King. (aside.) To have to admit it to my own child. (aloud.) Yes, always. It – it – it is a sign of distinction. (Skips, then resumes dignity – aside.) A sign of distinction! Bah! It is the sign of a mountebank.
Toto. And where are you going?
King. To – to the island of Brandee-pawnee. There are our wigwams, and our squaws.
Toto. And how do you intend to get there?
King. A vessel is awaiting us at the nearest port.
Toto. And are you quite primitive, and unconventional, and all that?
King. Primitive? Unconventional? Look here! (They skip absurdly about the stage.) Don’t you call that unconventional? (aside.) Oh, degradation!
Toto. That sort of thing is just what I’ve been seeking for years in vain. I have been educated in a court where such innocent gambols would be punished with instant death. I’ll go with you!
All. (affecting surprise.) What?
Toto. I’ll go with you; I’m tired of being a brigand, and there’s nothing to detain me here – at least, I don’t think so. (reflecting.) No, I don’t recollect anything. No, nothing. Come along; I’m delighted at the idea. I shall wear feathers, and paint, and perhaps marry one of the tribe, and be a squaw. I’ve often wished I was married. I once dreamt I was married to a beautiful prince named – named – let me see – Doro. But that was only a dream. Come, if I’m to be a squaw, the sooner I’m a squaw, the better.
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