Zapeter. Whew! That’s hot work; but what’s worth doing at all is worth doing well. When you’re Red Indians you must do as Red Indians do; and a Red Indian tribe without a war-dance were a degrading spectacle indeed.
Follette. What a contrast to the ceremony and formality of our pompous court at home. For my part, I don’t like living in the open air, and I should like to get back home at once. Brown paint don’t become me.
Zapeter. Local colour, my dear, nothing more.
Follette. Local colour is all very well, but a girl’s complexion is her complexion.
Zapeter. (dancing.) Not always, my dear, not always. Brown suits you very well. You’re just what a meerschaum should be after three days’ smoking; you’re colouring beautifully.
Follette. But, Zapeter, don’t it occur to you that we are taking a rather roundabout way to lure the Princess back to civilization?
Zapeter. No doubt, my dear, but we must be diplomatic.
Follette. But her father has got her away from the brigand! Why don’t he reveal himself and put an end to it all? Instead of that, he makes us all disguise ourselves as Red Indians, and encamp on a desert rock ten miles from anywhere.
Zapeter. All this is diplomacy. (dances down stage.)
Enter KING PORTICO as Red Indian. He sees ZAPETER dancing ridiculously.
King. Zapeter, Zapeter, what are you doing?
Zapeter. Sire, I am practising the war-dance of the tribe.
King. It cuts me to the heart to see you, a man of high position and education – a minister, a grave, earnest gentleman – compelled to resort to such buffoonery.
Zapeter. Sire, so great is our love to you, so earnest our desire that you and yours may be more happy, that we care little what personal humiliation we may undergo. (dances.)
King. My faithful friend! It now remains to be answered how we shall break the news to the Princess, that we have deceived her. Oh, Zapeter, I know her wayward temper well, and it will be necessary to proceed with the utmost caution. I dread the consequences of telling her that she must return with us to our court.
Zapeter. But why return to your court at all?
Zapeter. Why not live here for ever? You look a Red Indian! Why not be a Red Indian? As for your kingdom, great as would be the pain of quitting you for ever, I would even return, and rule in your place; such, sire, is the love I bear you.
King. My faithful and self-denying Zapeter, it is wisely and kindly purposed – we will think of it! But, soft, she approaches.
They all resume dance and chorus as TOTO enters, dressed as an Indian princess.
King. Ha! Hum! The brow of the ha – paleface young woman is clouded. Is anything wrong?
Toto. Yes, I’m bitterly disappointed – and that’s the truth. It has been the aim of my life to throw of the trammels of conventionality, and to revel in the society of barbaric man in all his primeval magnificence. I thought I had found it in the brigand’s lair, but the brigand, imposing at a distance, turned out, on close inspection, to be a thing of petty fears, insignificant jealousies, and underdeveloped intelligence. I thought I had found it amongst the Red Indians, but the Red Indians eat caviare, and shave with a Mappin’s razor. His very tomahawk has the Birmingham stamp on it.
King. And yet we are considered a very fair representative tribe.
Toto. (contemptuously.) A Red Indian with a double eye-glass.
King. The fact is that the hawk-eyed Red Man is getting on in years, and his eyesight isn’t what it was. There was a time when he could see the wind, when he had – a – no difficulty in following the flight of a bullet, when he was known as – as – Zapeter, what was I known as before my eyesight went?
Zapeter. You were known, sire, as ‘Pish-tush-pooh-bah’, or the Oxy-hydrogen Microscope.
Toto. Yes. I dare say you were all you say, but civilization has set its stamp upon you, and you interest me no more. True, you are called, ‘Chumpee Chookee’, the ‘Abernethy Biscuit’, that sounds very well; but for anything primeval there is about you, your name might be Watkins, and you might keep a penny ice shop in the Borough Road. Why, your very dinners are civilized; boiled mutton and caper sauce. Why don’t the Red Man go and hunt the wild buffalo like a Red Man?
King. Because, to be quite plain with you, I do not think the Red Man would succeed in capturing that animal. If the Red Man depended for his meals on the wild buffaloes he might happen to secure, the Red Man would go supperless to his – what do you call it?
King. Wigwam – thank you, that is the word I wanted.
Toto. But it’s very easy! You’ve only got to disguise yourself in a buffalo’s skin, and when you see a herd approaching, go up to them on all fours, bellowing like a bull. Now, do go and catch a wild buffalo.
King. Never, never; now understand me, Toto, I will not do it.
Toto. This is rebellion. (retires up stage.)
King. Very likely. I can’t help it, I will not catch wild buffalo.
Zapeter. (aside to KING.) Sire, I think if I were you I should humour her.
King. Zapeter, I will not do it. I have stooped to so much since I came here. I have painted my face like a clown in a pantomime, I have danced ridiculous war-dances, I have dressed myself in unpleasant things that tickle dreadfully, but go on all fours bellowing like a bull – I will not; now understand me, I will not do it.
Toto. Well, I declare, I wish I’d never left the brigands. (comes over.) I was very happy there, although I didn’t know it. One never knows when one’s well off. I like the old story of the King of the Pigs.
King. The King of the Pigs? The Red Man cannot recollect that he ever heard of that potentate.
Toto. Then I’ll tell you all about him.
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