The Yeomen of the Guard


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Dialogue following No. 7

1st Citizen. Well sung and well danced!

2nd Citizen. A kiss for that, pretty maid!

Elsie (Helen Gilliland) draws a dagger to protect herself from the unruly crowd.

All. Aye, a kiss all round.

Elsie. (drawing dagger) Best beware! I am armed!

Point. Back, sirs — back! This is going too far.

2nd Citizen. Thou dost not see the humour of it, eh? Yet there is humour in all things — even in this. (Trying to kiss her.)

Elsie. Help! Help!

Enter Lieutenant with Guard. Crowd falls back.

Jones Hewson as the Lieutenant, 1897

Lieutenant. What is the pother?

Elsie. Sir, we sang to these folk, and they would have repaid us with gross courtesy, but for your honour's coming.

Lieutenant. (to Mob) Away with ye! Clear the rabble. (Guards push Crowd off, and go off with them.) Now, my girl, who are you, and what do you here?

Elsie. May it please you, sir, we are two strolling players, Jack Point and I, Elsie Maynard, at your worship's service. We go from fair to fair, singing, and dancing, and playing brief interludes; and so we make a poor living.

Lieutenant. You two, eh? Are ye man and wife?

Point. No, sir; for though I'm a fool, there is a limit to my folly. Her mother, old Bridget Maynard, travels with us (for Elsie is a good girl), but the old woman is a-bed with fever, and we have come here to pick up some silver to buy an electuary for her.

Lieutenant. Hark ye, my girl! Your mother is ill?

Elsie. Sorely ill, sir.

Lieutenant. And needs good food, and many things that thou canst not buy?

Elsie. Alas! sir, it is too true.

Lieutenant. Wouldst thou earn an hundred crowns?

Elsie. An hundred crowns! They might save her life!

Lieutenant. Then listen! A worthy but unhappy gentleman is to be beheaded in an hour on this very spot. For sufficient reasons, he desires to marry before he dies, and he hath asked me to find him a wife. Wilt thou be that wife?

Elsie. The wife of a man I have never seen!

Point. Why, sir, look you, I am concerned in this; for though I am not yet wedded to Elsie Maynard, time works wonders, and there's no knowing what may be in store for us. Have we your worship's word for it that this gentleman will die today?

Lieutenant. Nothing is more certain, I grieve to say.

Point. And that the maiden will be allowed to depart the very instant the ceremony is at an end?

Lieutenant. The very instant. I pledge my honour that it shall be so.

Point. An hundred crowns?

Lieutenant. An hundred crowns!

Point. For my part, I consent. It is for Elsie to speak.

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