The Pirates of Penzance


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Dialogue following No. 13

General. And now that I’ve introduced myself, I should like to have some idea of what’s going on.

Kate. Oh, Papa – we –

Samuel. Permit me, I’ll explain in two words: we propose to marry your daughters.

General. Dear me!

Girls. Against our wills, Papa – against our wills!

General. Oh, but you mustn’t do that! May I ask – this is a picturesque uniform, but I’m not familiar with it. What are you?

King. We are all single gentlemen.

General. Yes, I gathered that – Anything else?

King. No, nothing else.

Edith. Papa, don’t believe them; they are pirates – the famous Pirates of Penzance!

General. The Pirates of Penzance! I have often heard of them.

Mabel. All except this gentleman – (indicating FREDERIC) – who was a pirate once, but who is out of his indentures to day, and who means to lead a blameless life evermore.

The Pirate King (Darrell Fancourt) looks over having a Major-General (Martyn Green) as his father-in-law.
Click on picture to enlarge

General. But wait a bit. I object to pirates as sons-in-law.

King. We object to Major-Generals as fathers-in-law. But we waive that point. We do not press it. We look over it.

General. (aside) Hah! an idea! (aloud) And do you mean to say that you would deliberately rob me of these, the sole remaining props of my old age, and leave me to go through the remainder of my life unfriended, unprotected, and alone?

King. Well, yes, that’s the idea.

General. Tell me, have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?

Pirates. (disgusted) Oh, dash it all!

King. Here we are again!

General. I ask you, have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?

King. Often!

General. Yes, orphan. Have you ever known what it is to be one?

King. I say, often.

Pirates. (disgusted) Often, often, often. (Turning away)

General. I don’t think we quite understand one another. I ask you, have you ever known what it is to be an orphan, and you say “orphan”. As I understand you, you are merely repeating the word “orphan” to show that you understand me.

King. I didn’t repeat the word often.

General. Pardon me, you did indeed.

King. I only repeated it once.

General. True, but you repeated it.

King. But not often.

General. Stop! I think I see where we are getting confused. When you said “orphan”, did you mean “orphan” – a person who has lost his parents, or “often”, frequently?

King. Ah! I beg pardon – I see what you mean – frequently.

General. Ah! you said "often", frequently.

King. No, only once.

General. (irritated) Exactly – you said “often”, frequently, only once.

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