Princess Ida


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Dialogue following No. 1

(Enter King Hildebrand, with Cyril.)

Hildebrand. See you no sign of Gama?
Florian.   None, my liege!
Hildebrand. It’s very odd indeed. If Gama fail
To put in an appearance at our Court
Before the sun has set in yonder west,
And fail to bring the Princess Ida here
To whom our son Hilarion was betrothed
At the extremely early age of one,
There’s war between King Gama and ourselves!
(aside to Cryril) Oh, Cyril, how I dread this interview!
It’s twenty years since he and I have met.
He was a twisted monster – all awry –
As though Dame Nature, angry with her work,
Had crumpled it in fitful petulance!
Cyril. But, sir, a twisted and ungainly trunk
Often bears goodly fruit. Perhaps he was
A kind, well-spoken gentleman?
Hildebrand.   Oh, no!
  For, adder-like, his sting lay in his tongue.
(His ‘sting’ is present, though his ‘stung’ is past.)
Florian. (looking through glass) But stay, my liege; o’er yonder mountain’s brow
Comes a small body, bearing Gama’s arms;
And now I look more closely at it, sir, I see attached to it King Gama’s legs;
From which I gather this corollary
That that small body must be Gama’s own!
Hildebrand. Ha! Is the Princess with him?
Florian.   Well, my liege,
  Unless her highness is full six feet high,
And wears mustachios too – and smokes cigars –
And rides en cavalier in coat of steel –
I do not think she is.
Hildebrand.   One never knows.
  She’s a strange girl, I’ve heard, and does odd things!
Come, bustle there!
For Gama place the richest robes we own –
For Gama place the coarsest prison dress –
For Gama let our best spare bed be aired –
For Gama let our deepest dungeon yawn –
For Gama lay the costliest banquet out –
For Gama place cold water and dry bread!
For as King Gama brings the Princess here,
Or brings her not, so shall King Gama have
Much more than everything – much less than nothing!
Cyril (Leonard Osborn) & King Hildebrand (Fisher Morgan), 1950s
Click on picture to enlarge

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