|Sullivan > Major Works > The Beauty Stone > Web Opera > Act I
DEVIL. Ha, ha, ha! thou'rt a merry one!
JACQ.. And, sooth, thou'rt a right merry gentleman.
DEVIL (smacking his lips). I like you. There's plenty of ripe mischief in ye! mischief! mischief!
JACQ. (wilfully). Mischief! ha, ha! I pray so.
DEVIL. Pray so, do ye! H'm! have half a mind to take thee.
JACQ.. Take me! (Going.) I wish you good morrow, sir gentleman.
DEVIL (following her). Stay! Hast ever been in love?
JACQ.. Tuh! not I; nor shall.
DEVIL. Ha! hast no fancy for men, eh?
JACQ.. Why, I hate 'em, as such.
DEVIL. That's right! that's capital! thou'rt the playfellow for me! (Leading her back.) The direst mischief i' the world is done by the women that hate men. And I — I hate women.
JACQ. (releasing herself). So saith the baker, yet I keep my distance when I go for the bread.
DEVIL. Ha, ha! nay, I say sooth — I do most cordially hate women, as such. Come nearer! (Wheedlingly.) Don't be frightened of a gentleman.
JACQ. (approaching him cautiously). What would you?
DEVIL (looking into her face). Upon my travels I have often lacked a young, fresh companion to jest with. Wilt be my page, vixen?
JACQ.. I! I am no boy.
DEVIL. Nor of the other sex, sith thou hatest men. Yea, thou shalt be my page.
JACQ. (endeavouring to avoid his gaze, faintly). Let me hence! prithee!
DEVIL. Thou shalt lead an easy life, lazy-bones. Thou shalt lie late; eat and drink till thou'rt surfeited. I will teach thee the lute —
JACQ. (in a tremble). What art thou? I — I fear thee! (He grips her arm. ) Ah — ! (Wincing.) Truly thou'rt a gentleman, for labour hath not blunted thy nails.
DEVIL. Go. At five on the great dial, rummage beneath the straw where thou sleepest; thou wilt find boy's attire. By sundown present thyself at the castle as the Count of Foscano's page.
JACQ. (humbly). Oh, pardon me, my lord — but folks do know me here as a mere girl.
DEVIL. After thou hast knotted the ties of thy new shoon, look you into a mirror; thou'lt not know thyself. (Playfully.) Shall call thee Jacques; (Pinching her ear.) mischievous little Jacques. Go.
JACQ. (leaving him, unsteadily — with a last effort). I will not obey thee.
DEVIL (harshly). Wilt not! (Pointing towards the left.) The castle, at sundown!
She departs. He turns on his heel and enters the town-hall. The bells, silent
NICHOLAS. Come, knaves! range your seats deftly, and begone. (To the crowd.) Stand aloof there, they that would not have heads cracked by the lord Philip's most gallant pikemen!
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