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Dialogue following No. 9


Robin. Well — what news? Have you spoken to her?

Richard. Aye, my lad, I have — so to speak — spoke her.

Robin. And she refuses?

Richard. Why, no, I can't truly say she do.

Robin. Then she accepts! My darling! (Embraces her.)

Bridesmaids. Hail the Bridegroom — hail the Bride! etc.

Rose. (aside, referring to her book). Now, what should a maiden do when she is embraced by the wrong gentleman?

Richard. Belay, my lad, belay. You don't understand.

Rose. Oh, sir, belay, I beseech you!

Richard. You see, it's like this: she accepts — but it's me!

Robin. You! (Richard embraces Rose.)

Bridesmaids. Hail the Bridegroom — hail the Bride!
                                     When the nuptial knot is tied —

Robin. (interrupting angrily). Hold your tongues, will you! Now then, what does this mean?

Richard. My poor lad, my heart grieves for thee, but it's like this: the moment I see her, and just as I was a-goin' to mention your name, my heart it up and it says, says it — "Dick, you've fell in love with her yourself," it says; "be honest and sailor-like — don't skulk under false colours — speak up," it says, "take her, you dog, and with her my blessin'!"

Bridesmaids. Hail the Bridegroom — hail the bride —

Robin. Will you be quiet! Go away! (Chorus makes faces at him and exeunt.) Vulgar girls!

Richard. What could I do? I'm bound to obey my heart's dictates.

Robin. Of course — no doubt. It's quite right — I don't mind — that is, not particularly — only it's — it is disappointing, you know.

Rose. (to Robin) Oh, but, sir, I knew not that thou didst seek me in wedlock, or in very truth I should not have hearkened unto this man, for behold, he is but a lowly mariner, and very poor withal, whereas thou art a tiller of the land, and thou hast fat oxen, and many sheep and swine, a considerable dairy farm and much corn and oil!

Richard. That's true, my lass, but it's done now, ain't it, Rob?

Rose. Still it may be that I should not be happy in thy love. I am passing young and little able to judge. Moreover, as to thy character I know naught!

Robin. Nay, Rose, I'll answer for that. Dick has won thy love fairly. Broken- hearted as I am, I'll stand up for Dick through thick and thin!

Richard. (with emotion) Thankye, messmate! that's well said. That's spoken honest. Thankye, Rob! (Grasps his hand.)

Rose. Yet methinks I have heard that sailors are but worldly men, and little prone to lead serious and thoughtful lives!

Robin. And what then? Admit that Dick is not a steady character, and that when he's excited he uses language that would make your hair curl. Grant that — he does. It's the truth, and I'm not going to deny it. But look at his good qualities. He's as nimble as a pony, and his hornpipe is the talk of the Fleet!

Richard. Thankye, Rob! That's well spoken. Thankye, Rob!

Rose. But it may be that he drinketh strong waters which do bemuse a man, and make him even as the wild beasts of the desert!

Robin. Well, suppose he does, and I don't say he don't, for rum's his bane, and ever has been. He does drink — I won't deny it. But what of that? Look at his arms — tattooed to the shoulder! (Richard rolls up his sleeves.) No, no — I won't hear a word against Dick!

Rose. But they say that mariners are but rarely true to those whom they profess to love!

Robin. Granted — granted — and I don't say that Dick isn't as bad as any of 'em. (Richard chuckles.) You are, you know you are, you dog! a devil of a fellow — a regular out-and-out Lothario! But what then? You can't have everything, and a better hand at turning-in a dead-eye don't walk a deck! And what an accomplishment that is in a family man! No, no — not a word against Dick. I'll stick up for him through thick and thin!

Richard. Thankye, Rob, thankye. You're a true friend. I've acted accordin' to my heart's dictates, and such orders as them no man should disobey.


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