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JOAN. Wretches!

SIMON. Fiends!

LAINE. Look! they have made me break the pitcher.

JOAN. Grieve not for that; thy mother has thee safe.

SIMON. Out of my house, all of ye! (to JACQUELINE.) And you, you wastrel, you plague o' the town, get you gone speedily, lest I forget thou'rt a woman, and snap thine arm with my staff!

CROWD. Ha, ha, ha, ha!

LAINE. Nay, father, scold not poor Jacqueline. But for her coming to my aid I had not only broken the pitcher, methinks; they pressed about me so roughly.

SIMON. Say you!

JACQ. True, I am for as much fun as any man or maid in Mirlemont, but I will take no share in teasing a girl because her face is pinched, her nose is sharp, and her back awry. (To the crowd.) Pigs! swine of all colours!

CROWD (threateningly). Ah-h-h-h!

A handsome, shrewish-looking, dark girl detaches herself from the
crowd and approaches
JACQUELINE.

THE GIRL (to JACQUELINE). Thou rag-heap, thou art not over well- favoured thyself; thou dost wisely to ply thy tongue in behalf of this ugly tribe.

CROWD. Ha, ha!

THE GIRL. But once wag tongue at me, and I'll teach thee! —

JACQ. Ho, ho, ho! Who speaks here? — the Beauty of Mirlemont! (to the girl.) Yea, I hear thou offerest thyself to-day as candidate for the prize of loveliness. Why, thou lank, bony thing, dost thou imagine that Lord Philip will award the wreath of rose- buds and the girdle of virgin silver to thee? To thee, when all the pretty ones from Bovigny, and from St. Hubert, and from Lenalede, and from the whole country- side, are trooping into the town! Beshrew me, but the Lord of Mirlemont is at least a true judge of what is passable in woman. Holy Mother! regard thyself!

THE GIRL. I'll scratch thine eyes out!

JACQ. Best tear out thine own ere thou competest for this prize, lest thy squint should disqualify thee.

THE GIRL (seizing JACQUELINE). Ah — !

SIMON (coming between them). Peace, cats!

A LAD (to JACQUELINE). Nay, Jacqueline, let us have no bad blood at holiday time. Remember, you promised us pure fun —

JACQ. (to the crowd). Cease baiting cripples then. Away! let us to the house of old Peter Thilbrugge, the miser, and hurl stones through his windows!

CROWD (joyously). Ah-h-h-h!

The crowd gradually disperses. As PEPPIN is clambering out of the window,
JACQUELINE gives him a push, and he falls. The crowd disappears, laughing.

LAINE (embracing JACQUELINE). I thank thee, dear Jacqueline.

JOAN. Ah, Jacqueline, if thou but hadst a mother — !

SIMON. Thou hast served us a good turn, jade that thou art. I cannot repay thee —

JACQ. Canst thou not! Give me thy staff.

SIMON (giving her his staff). For what?

JACQ. That I may break the dwarf's skull. I'll learn him to be impudent to Laine again! Whoop! (She runs out, gleefully.)

JOAN (to LAINE). Why, what has Peppin, the dwarf, said or done to thee?

LAINE (sitting, gazing into the fire). They bade him kiss me, and — though in sooth he made a wry face at the task — he was for obeying them.

SIMON. Kiss thee!

JOAN. Put his lips to thine!

LAINE. Yea. For they said that no straight and fair man would ever kiss a maid so unshapely as I, and that I ought to thank God and the Saints for being kissed even by a
dwarf.

JOAN (aside to SIMON). Oh, good man — !

SIMON (aside to JOAN). Tush! she will soon forget this insult, as she hath forgot many others. Let us leave her for a while, wife. Close and bar the shutters. Will fetch another pitcher and go to the well with thee.

LAINE. Listen, mother! here comes one of the strange girls who offer themselves for the lord Philip's prize.

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