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ACT II - Scene 1

Dialogue

RUPERT. My good friend, Simeon, thou who singest songs and art by way of being a musician, tell me, what is thy private judgment on these strains with which it is our habit to beguile our lighter moments?

SIMEON. I'sooth, they be saintly airs.

RUPERT. At the same time, dost thou not think, something a trifle more melodious —

KILL-JOY. Melody! 'tis the invention of Satan!

BARNABAS. To us hath been revealed the higher law, that discord is the soul of all true harmony.

RUPERT. Barnabas, thou wert born before thy time. Two centuries hence, and thou wouldst be a leader amongst musicians; but as things are, thou art an anachronism.

KILL-JOY. Verily, we are all anachronisms.

SIMEON. But conscience is a great comforter.

NICODEMUS. Even in such weather as this.

BARNABAS. Troth, 'tis a gruesome night!

RUPERT. (glancing at window). But they seem to be enjoying themselves within. High jinks, within. And why are we out of it? This feast is given in our especial honour, and here we are cooling our heels in this particularly moist and most unpleasant atmosphere, simply because our conscientious scruples will not permit us to countenance such carnal junkettings. But for our consciences we should probably at this moment be enjoying a stoup of something hot —

KILL-JOY. With spice in it! (ALL sigh and gaze at the windows.)

RUPERT. Our withdrawal has not cast that gloom over the proceedings which might have been anticipated.

SIMEON. But heed them not! We are the salt of the earth.

RUPERT. My faithful Simeon, is not that an additional reason why we should be kept in a dry place? This excess of moisture without and this phenomenal aridity within are beginning to tell upon me. I feel my Puritanic principles are tottering. It will do me a world of good to refresh myself at the uncompromising fount of The McCrankie.

NICODEMUS. But where is he?

RUPERT. He is certainly late, but he has a long way to come. The Island of Rum is situate in a remote part of the west coast of Scotland; but between you and me, I sometimes wish it were further. The McCrankie is a Puritan above proof, and a little of him goes a long way -- especially when he accompanies himself on the national instrument. (PURITANS groan.) Let us hope he will leave it behind him. (The bagpipes are heard in the distance.) Oh, this is worse than the weather!


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