Actions

Work Header

The Worthy Seaman or The Lowly Slave of Duty

Work Text:

(SCENE. -- The cabin of the PIRATE KING aboard his ship. The room is furnished with a large hammock, a small writing desk and several chairs and cushions. Chests spilling forth gold coins, jewellery and other pirate loot are visible. PIRATE KING, SAMUEL, the Pirate Lieutenant, and FREDERIC, their apprentice, are all ranged about the cabin tending to their weaponry.)

KING: Frederic, I believe it is time for you to withdraw for the evening. You've done well today. A shame those Cunarders turned out to be orphans, but we'll get the next ones, I venture.

FRED: (SAMUEL puts down the cutlass he was sharpening, but makes no move to leave the room. FREDERIC looks from him to KING, hesitates, then appears to resolve himself to speak.) Sir, if I may say, each night you dismiss me while keeping Sam here to perform some final service for you. I cannot help but wonder what is this duty that you consider me unworthy to perform. I am here as an apprentice to learn all aspects of the pirate calling. It was an error that bound me to this life, but since it is done I have resolved to always do my duty and study the trade with the same dedication I would any other vocation.

KING: No, no, you have quite misunderstood the situation. You have taken the wrong idea. You have misjudged it. My reliance on Samuel to perform this duty is no reflection on your worthiness. You are simply rather young to involve yourself in matters of this nature.

FRED: But it has been years since I was too clumsy to be trusted with the delicate instruments.

SAM: (aside) Oh, the instrument is not so very delicate.

KING: This is not so much a question of the instrument you would be using as how you would be using it.

FRED: I feel certain that I am up to it. I was among the first to board our quarry today!

KING: Well, boarding is rather part of it.

FRED: Can I not ship a handspike as well as any man aboard? Do I not climb the mainmast at double-quick speed? Is there anyone of our company as skilled as I at polishing a sabre?

KING: Yes, you are quite the one for sabre polishing: a most admirable technique. Perhaps you are right, and I have been wrong, Frederick, by neglecting your education in this manner. It is indeed an integral skill to learn, if you would become a true seaman.

FRED: I am glad to hear you say it sir, for it pains me to think that I might be neglecting any one of my duties, no matter how small.

SAM: I would not call this duty "small" at all!

KING: No, surely, it is not small!

FRED: Then pray, let us begin the instruction at once, and I pledge to learn the task to perfection.

SOLOS AND CHORUS - From the day I took my station

FRED:

From the day I took my station
I resolved on the intention
To accept the situation
And learn each task to perfection.


As a lowly slave to duty,
I o'ercame my predilection,
Aiding pirates' quest for booty
Without any insurrection.


KING:
Yes, Frederic, you, have reached your goal.
You scarcely need correction.
Your knots are sound, your halyards whole.
They pass every inspection.

KING and SAM:
Yes, he passes all inspection.
He's learned his tasks to perfection.

KING:
You've made me see that it is time
To take a new direction,
And trust in you the duty prime
Of tending my er--

SAM: (loudly) Sir! Sir!

KING: (irritably Yes, Samuel?

SAM: As the most experienced member of our crew in this area, perhaps I might aide in his instruction.

KING: Yes, I suppose that is a good suggestion. I accept. I give my consent. I accede. I--

FRED and SAM: Very well, then. Let us begin.

KING: (claps his hands)Yes! We shall begin by having you kneel there. ( PIRATE KING indicates a cushion upon which FREDERIC promptly kneels. KING moves to stand in front of him so that his back is to the audience.) Now observe the instrument.

FRED: An impressive apparatus, to be sure, and far less complicated than a sextant! I'm sure I shall learn quickly.

KING: That's the spirit! Now clap on there.

SAM: (Coming round next to the PIRATE KING and looking down on the proceedings) A little higher and firmer, I should say.

SOLO - So listen now

SAM:

So listen now what I advise
Proceed section by section
Take a deep breath and close your eyes
Consider it a confection.
KING: Yes! There's the idea!

SAM:

The tongue and lips, my darling boy,
Applied in good connection
I think you'll find can bring more joy
Than our saviour's resurrection.
KING: Most true, most true!

FRED: Why, this is much easier than taking a sight of the moon.

SAM. (aside) That shall come later.

FRED: And you taught me that years ago!

KING. There's still a great deal more to take in, young Frederic. Do not speak too soon.

FRED: (muffled) Yes, sir.

KING: (a little breathlessly) My, he certainly is taking to it.

SAM: A natural, I should say.

KING: You take my place here, Samuel, so that Frederic can continue to practice his technique while I ready the boarding party.

SAM: Yes, sir!

(KING moves away from FREDERIC. His shirt has come un-tucked and billows out as he moves to take one of the lanterns from his writing desk and kneels behind FREDERIC. KING motions for SAMUEL to lower himself to his knees in the same manner and guides FREDERIC on to all fours.)

SAM: Now imagine yourself as one of the great guns which must be sponged and primed before we can ram the ball home.

KING: Well said, Samuel. I shall swab out the barrel with some oil to ease the passage of the rammer. Brace yourself, lad.

FRED: Oh my!

SAM: Not to worry, Freddy. It only hurts for a moment. Perhaps if you continue with your previous lesson you won't notice so much. Ah, there's a good lad.

KING: Almost there, now.

SAM: Yes, yes that's the idea! Oh, yes, you've got it now.

KING: Ah. There you are. That's all of it.

SAM: Very good, just like that! (very loudly) Yes!

FRED: Oh my!

KING: All right there?

FRED: Well, it was rather like sucking on a lolly, as Sam said, but then the flavour was more akin to seawater.

KING: A keen observation. Brace yourself for another round of artillery.

FRED: Oh, sir!

KING: You're doing handsomely there, Frederic. Handsomely!

SAM: I shall aide in the boy's comfort. (SAM, who has remained seated in front of KING and FREDERIC, crouches low, bracing one hand on the floor and reaching forward with the other.)

FRED: Oh, oh, oh!

KING: Wonderful, wonderful! Astounding, superb, magnificent, delightful--

FRED: Yes!

SAM: Handsomely.

FRED: Yes! Oh, sir. (very loudly) Yes!

KING: (gets louder) Smashing, extraordinary! (shouts) Stupendous!

FRED: Oh my!

(All three pant silently and look about them for a few moments)

KING: Well, then! I say, you are a quick study, Frederic.

SAM: A marvellously quick study!

FRED: I feel certain I could improve upon my performance with time.

KING: And so you shall. There is no shortage of opportunity aboard a pirate ship.

SOLO- The Pirate Life, though grand and free

KING:

The Pirate Life, though grand and free, is not without privation.
Occasionally we lack the means of staving off frustration.
The average man may serve our Queen in causes good and glorious,
And take a decent home and wife and duties more laborious.
We fight and plunder for ourselves, not serving dear Regina,
Relying on our shipmates where others seek points finer.
Society may scorn our ways and call them all skullduggery,
That's so much fuss about what's just a harmless bit of b--

FRED: Sir, sir!

KING: Yes, Frederic, what is it?

FRED: I have a question, sir.

KING: Well then you may ask it. You may enquire. You may--

FRED: I only wonder, how soon may we try it again? For, truly, it is a joy to do one's duty.

KING:: We must practice again soon and often, Frederic. We shall ensure that you keep your solemn promise to yourself and learn the task to perfection.

END

 
Please post a comment on this story.
Read posted comments.