Mrs Fancy Hawkins
Long John Sliver
Chorus of commoners in the pub
Chorus of customers and stall-holders in the market
Chorus of pirates
Act 1, Scene 1
The Admiral Benbow Inn, Near Bristol
The scene is one of cosy rural life in a humble, but comfortable Inn. A number of customers are enjoying an evening drink. There is a main entrance on one side and a back door the other. Fancy serves at the bar while Jim is collecting empty glasses and taking fresh drinks to the tables.
SONG 1: A Life in the West Country (Tune: Popeye the Sailor Man)
Chorus: A loif in the West Country, is purrfect as loif could be,
We ooh and we aah as we drink at the bar,
With a missy upon each knee.
Chorus: We’re ‘appy for folks to share our vistas and country air,
Our fresh clotted cream is a city man’s dream,
And their wenches just don’t compare.
Mrs Hawkins: My loif in the West Country, is dandy as loif could be,
I ooh and I aah as I serve at the bar,
And it’s scrumpy and toast for tea.
Chorus: Her loif as a landlady, is peachy as loif could be,
She winks at the men and she struts like a hen,
As she lifts up her skirt at the knee.
Jim: A boy living in a pub, will never go short of grub,
I finish the dregs from the half-empty kegs,
And I’m pissed as a newt in a tub.
Chorus: If you speak in the Country way, the girls will be blown away,
When you offer them Zoider, they grin even wider,
And might lead you quite astray.
Chorus: Our life in the West Country, Idyllic as loif could be,
We ooh and we aah, we moo and we baa!
If you stay awake you’ll see.
JIM: Mother, why do you keep doing that?
MOTHER: What dear? JIM All that ooh aah stuff.
MOTHER: We do live in the West Country, dear.
JIM: But mother, we only moved here three weeks ago from Yorkshire.
MOTHER: Yes, well it’s easier than doing all that ee bah gum stuff. It makes my jaw ache.
(Billy Bones crosses from the bar and finds a seat.)
JIM: Captain Bones, please tell us one of your stories.
(Everyone starts to gather round.)
MAN 1: Tell us about your life at sea.
BONES: Well, it’s a hard life to be sure. And you meet some right rum types aboard ship.
MAN 2: Tell us about them, Captain.
BONES: Pirates, some of them; pirates and privateers. They have no honour and no regard for human life. But they look out for one-another, they do. And if a pirate betrays a confidence or is considered a traitor he is given the black spot.
JIM: What’s that? Is it a dog?
BONES: No son, it’s the pirates’ death penalty. (He stares into the distance.) He will die a slow and lingering death. (Stretching out his words.) Slow and lingering. Lingering and slow!
JIM: Tell us about the pirates.
BONES: Well, there was Cap’n Bluebeard. ‘E was a strange one. ‘E fancied ‘imself as an opera singer and was fond of dressing up in women’s clothes. Every evening he would go to his cabin, put on a red velvet dress and spend the night trilling in a rich soprano.
MAN 1: Didn’t she mind him doing that?
MAN 1: The rich soprano. (Everyone chuckles.)
BONES: Now there was old Blackbeard. ‘E had his own ideas on combat. When the enemy was sighted he would insist his crew dance the hornpipe naked on deck.
MAN 2: Why on earth was that?
BONES: He reckoned it would scare off the enemy.
MOTHER: And did it work?
BONES: It certainly did. Even the blackest-hearted buccaneers would flee at the sight of the men’s ‘do si dos’ as they bounced on deck.
JIM: Tell us about Redbeard.
BONES: Aargh, Redbeard, the strangest of the lot. A stranger tale I never heard tell. He would climb up to the crows nest with a crate of rum and not come down for three days. Three days, I tell ye! And while he was up there the men would hide below deck.
JIM: Why was that, were they scared?
BONES: No! ‘E drank all the rum you see and he was so wobbly with all that drinkin’ he wouldn’t dare climb down when he was caught short. Any man crossing the deck may well be caught in more than a rain shower.
MOTHER: That can’t possibly be true, Billy.
BONES: No, it ain’t but it makes a good yarn. And I likes a good yarn! (Sound of something dropping through the letter box.) Aargh! What be that?
MAN 1 That be a letter. (He goes to pick it up.)
MAN 2: (Looking through the curtains.) There’s an ugly-looking crowd of men outside.
BONES: (Bones goes to the window.) Shiver me capstan chain, it’s Sliver and his gang of cut-throats.
MAN 1: (Holding the letter.) It’s for you, Captain Bones. (Hands him the letter.)
BONES: What is this? A letter for me? (He opens it with his dagger and unfolds it.) What the…..? No! No, not the black spot; it can’t be! They’ve given me the black spot. (Holds up the paper for all to see.)
JIM: Quick mother, bar the door. (She does so.)
BONES: I’m done for! I knew they would come for me one day. (He gasps in pain and clutches his chest, leaning against the bar. Jim and mother run forward to help him.) It’s too late to help me now – it’s me heart. My time has come. You look to yourselves.
JIM: Hang in there, Captain. You don’t have to die yet.
BONES: My chest, my chest.
MOTHER: We know where your heart is. We’re not stupid.
BONES: (Points) My sea chest! It’s in there; I want you to have it.
JIM: What’s in there, Captain? What do you want us to have?
BONES: Aargh! Aargh! Look after it – it will bring you good fortune.
MOTHER: What will, Billy?
BONES: The…. The…. The….. (He dies and slithers down the bar into a sitting position, head lolling to one side.)
MOTHER: The chest! It’s behind the bar.
(Men 1 and 2 lift up the chest and put it on the bar. Jim looks inside.)
JIM: I don’t understand. It’s empty!
MAN 1: No, look! Fixed to the underside of the lid.
MAN 2: It’s a piece of parchment – a scroll! (He passes the map to Jim.) JIM Look, mother, it’s some sort of map.
MOTHER: It’s a treasure map.
JIM: How do you know.
MOTHER: Look! It says, ‘this is not a treasure map’ on the top. Someone is trying to confuse us.
MAN 1: That’s not difficult. (Others begin to gather around.)
JIM: But the words are funny, mummy.
MOTHER: No they’re not, clot. There in Irish. And it looks as though it were written by a pirate.
JIM: How do you know that?
MOTHER: Lots of the words have an aargh in them.
JIM: Can you speak Irish?
MOTHER; A little; I’ll try: (In an Irish accent.) To follow these instructions now, do not go alone. You need to be in a tree.
JIM: In a tree?
MOTHER; Make sure yew trees stick together.
JIM: This is silly!
MAN 1: It means you three. JIM Oh, I see.
MOTHER: Take the track up the hill, ignoring the first and second turnings but pick up the turd.
JIM: What does it mean, ‘pick up the turd’?
MOTHER: Hush, boy. Once you have picked it up, keep following it and don’t take your eyes off it.
JIM: Don’t take your eyes off it?
MOTHER: When it goes downhill, follow it.
JIM: I can’t believe this!
MOTHER: When it starts to get marshy, it will begin to break up. Please tread warily on it, following the footprints of people who’ve trodden before you and make sure you pick it up again on the other side of the marsh.
MOTHER: Provided you have followed my instructions at the beginning, you should be able to smell something by now.
JIM: Double yuk! (Holds his nose.)
MOTHER: When the road branches, the tree of you should stick together and leaf the first two large forks but take the turd.
JIM: Not the turd again.
MOTHER: Follow it into the trees and the smell will grow stronger.
JIM: I should think it would by now.
MOTHER: The smell should be on your right hand side.
JIM: How does he know which hand you’re holding it in?
MOTHER: By now you should be able to tell where the fragrance is coming from.
JIM: Isn’t that obvious?
MOTHER: You are descending through a grove of magnolias.
JIM: That should disguise it a bit.
MOTHER: This is where you may leave the turd turning.
JIM: Thank goodness.
MOTHER: Leave it behind you and as the trees get tick and you go into a dark wood, hold hands with the second and turd person so you don’t get lost.
MOTHER: At the hollow tree, stop, do a tree-point turn and take tree steps backwards from the tree.
JIM: Then what?
MOTHER: Turn around and follow the instructions on the bottom. (She turns round and Jim inspects her bottom.)
JIM: There’s no instructions there.
MOTHER: The bottom of the map, child!
JIM: Do you suppose it tells us where the treasure is interred?
MOTHER: Look, that’s enough, Jim. (Sounds of angry, drunk voices approaching outside.)
MAN 1: (Peeping through the curtain.) Now there’s going to be trouble. Here comes that good-for-nothing pirate Long John Sliver and a crowd of his friends.
JIM: Mother, bar the door.
MOTHER: I already did. (We hear a fearful banging of fists on the door. The drinkers hide under their tables in fright.)
JIM: Mother do something, quickly.
MOTHER: Jim, I will try to distract them. You must leave by the back door and take the map to Squire Trelawney. He will know what to do with it.
JIM: But I can’t remember how to get to the Squire’s house. I’ve only been there once.
MOTHER: It’s quite easy; I’ll remind you. Follow the footpath through the fallow field and take the first fork to Falconer’s ford.
JIM: Follow the footpath through the fallow field and take the first fork to Falconer’s ford.
MOTHER: Risk wading the river and take the track till it meets Truscott’s trail.
JIM: Whisk raiding the wiver and trake the tack till it meets Tuskrots tail.
MOTHER: Hike up the hill to the holly in the hollow by the hickory hedge.
JIM: Hack up the hole to the hickow by the hollery hedge.
MOTHER: The third thoroughfare by the thorny thistles threads through to Three Thimbles Cottage.
MOTHER Now, repeat it all back to me.
JIM: Follow the fork to Falconer’s field and wade the river. Take the hickory up the hill to the hollow track by the holly hedge. The third thistle threads through the thimble to the thorny cottage.
MOTHER: You weren’t paying attention, boy, were you?
JIM: I was mother. I just can’t remember… (There is a fearful banging on the door.)
MOTHER: Oh, to hell with it, just take the number 23. It stops right outside the Squire’s house. And be careful, Jim. There’s something evil in the air.
MAN 2: Must have been them beans you served for dinner.
JIM: Bye, mum. I’ll be back soon.
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Royal Manor Theatre Company, Royal Manor Theatre, Portland, Dorset, England
Kilgarn Entertainers Southern Cross Community Centre, Southern Cross, Australia
Westwood Theatre, Yorkshire Coast College, England
Radford College, Canberra, Australia
Starlight Productions, Southend High School for Girls, Southend, Essex, England
Wranglers Children’s Theatre Group, Plymouth Athenaeum, Plymouth, England
Cranbourne Community Theatre, Victoria, Australia
Westward Theatre, Yorkshire Coast College, Scarborough, England