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song - -

(Hark! is it the voice of our dear MISS PINNIGER? It is.)

GOVERNESS (off). Oliver! Oliver! Jill! You may get up now and come
down to tea.

CHIEF. Having, as I say, slept off our carouse - -

GOVERNESS (off). Oliver! Jill! (She comes in) Oh, I beg your pardon,
I - er - -

(All the PIRATES rise and draw their weapons)

CHIEF. Pray do not mention it. (Polishing his pistol lovingly) You
were asking - -

GOVERNESS. I - I was l-looking for a small boy - Oliver -

CHIEF. Oliver? (To 1ST PIRATE) Have we any Olivers on board?

1ST PIRATE. NO, Captain. Only Bath Olivers.

CHIEF (to GOVERNESS). You cannot be referring to my brother-in-law,
hight Two-Toed Thomas, the Terror of the Dyaks?

GOVERNESS. Oh no, no - Just a small boy and his sister - Jill.

CHIEF (to 2ND PIRATE). Have we any Jills on board?

2ND PIRATE. No, Captain. Only gills of rum.

CHIEF (to GOVERNESS). You cannot be referring to Mrs. Crookshank,
styled the Pride of the Pampas?

GOVERNESS. Oh no, no, I am so sorry. Perhaps I - er -

CHIEF. Wait, woman. (to 6TH PIRATE) Ernest, offer your seat to the

(The 6TH PIRATE stands up.)

GOVERNESS (nervously). Oh please don't trouble, I'm getting out at the
next station - I mean I -

6TH PIRATE (thunderously). Sit down!

(She sits down tremblingly and he stands by her with his pistol.)

CHIEF. Thank you. (to 1ST PIRATE) Cecil, have you your pencil and
notebook with you?

1ST PIRATE (producing them). Ay, ay, Captain.

CHIEF. Then we will cross-examine the prisoner. (to GOVERNESS) Name?

GOVERNESS. Pinniger.

1ST PIRATE (writing). Pincher.

CHIEF. Christian names, if any?


1ST PIRATE (writing). Letisher - how would you spell it, Captain?

CHIEF. Spell it like a sneeze. Age?

GOVERNESS. Twenty-three.

CHIEF (to 1ST PIRATE). Habits - untruthful. Appearance - against her.
Got that?

1ST PIRATE. Yes, sir.

CHIEF (to GOVERNESS). And what are you for?

GOVERNESS. I teach. Oliver and Jill, you know.

CHIEF. And what do you teach them?

GOVERNESS. Oh, everything. Arithmetic, French, Geography, History,
Dancing - -

CHIEF (holding up his hand). A moment! I would take counsel with
Percy. (to 2ND PIRATE) Percy, what shall we ask her in Arithmetic?
(The 2ND PIRATE whispers to him.) Excellent. (To her) If you really
are a teacher as you say, answer me this question. The brigantine
_Cocktail_ is in longitude 40° 39' latitude 22° 50', sailing
closehauled on the port tack at 8 knots in a 15-knot nor'-nor'
westerly breeze - how soon before she sights the Azores?

GOVERNESS. I - I - I'm afraid I - -You see - I - -

CHIEF (to 1ST PIRATE). Arithmetic rotten.

1ST PIRATE (writing). Arithmetic rotten.

CHIEF (to 3RD PIRATE). Basil, ask her a question in French.

3RD PIRATE. What would the mate of a French frigate say if he wanted
to say in French, "Avast there, ye lubbering swab" to a friend like?

GOVERNESS. Oh, but I hardly - I - -

CHIEF (to 1ST PIRATE). French futile.

1ST PIRATE (writing). French futile.

CHIEF (to 4TH PIRATE). I don't suppose it's much use, Francis. But try
her in Geography.

4TH PIRATE. Well now, lady. If you was wanting a nice creek to lay up
cosy in, atween Dago Point and the Tortofitas, where would you run to?

GOVERNESS. It-run to? But that isn't - of course I - -

CHIEF (to 1ST PIRATE). Geography ghastly.

1ST PIRATE (writing). Geography ghastly.

CHIEF (to 5TH PIRATE). Give her a last chance, Mervyn. See if she
knows any history.

5TH PIRATE. I suppose you couldn't tell me what year it was when old
John Cann took the _Saucy Codfish_ over Black Tooth Reef and laid her
alongside the Spaniard in the harbour there, and up comes the Don in
his nightcap. "Shiver my timbers," he says in Spanish, "but there's
only one man in the whole of the Spanish Main," he says, "and that's
John Cann," he says, "who could - -"

(The GOVERNESS looks dumbly at him.)

CHIEF. She couldn't. History hopeless.

1ST PIRATE. History hopeless.

CHIEF (to GOVERNESS). What else do you teach?

GOVERNESS. Music, dancing - er - but I don't think - -

CHIEF. Steward!

STEWARD (coming in). Yes, sir, coming, sir.

CHIEF. Concertina.

STEWARD (going out). Yes, sir, going, sir.

CHIEF (to GOVERNESS). Can you dance a hornpipe?


CHIEF. Dancing dubious.

1ST PIRATE (writing). Dancing dubious.

STEWARD (coming in). Concertina, sir.

CHIEF. Give it to the woman. (He takes it to her.)

GOVERNESS. I'm afraid I - -(She produces one ghastly noise and drops
the concertina in alarm.)

1ST PIRATE (writing). What shall I say, sir? Music mouldy or music

CHIEF (standing up). Gentlemen, I think you will agree with me that
the woman Pinniger has proved that she is utterly incapable of
teaching anybody anything. Twenty-five years, man and boy, I have
sailed the Spanish Main, and with the possible exception of a dumb and
half-witted negro whom I shipped as cook in '64, I have never met any
one so profoundly lacking in intellect. I propose, therefore, that for
the space of twenty-four hours the woman Pinniger should be
incarcerated in the smuggler's cave, in the company of a black beetle
of friendly temperament.

GOVERNESS. Mercy! Mercy!

1ST PIRATE. I should like to second that.

CHIEF. Those in favour - ay! (They all say "Ay.") Contrary - No! (The
GOVERNESS says "No.") The motion is carried.

(One of the Pirates opens the door of the cave. The GOVERNESS rushes
to the CHIEF and throws herself at his feet. OLIVER and JILL appear in
the nick of time.)

OLIVER. A maiden in distress! I will rescue her. (She looks up and
OLIVER recognises her) Oh! Carry on, Commodore.

(The GOVERNESS is lowered into the cave and the door is shut.)

CHIEF (to his men). Go, find that black beetle, and having found it,
introduce it circumspectly by the back door.

PIRATES. Ay, ay, sir. [They go out.

OLIVER. All the same, you know, I jolly well should like to rescue

JILL (excitedly). Oo, rescue me, Oliver.

CHIEF (solemnly). Two-toed Thomas, Terror of the Dyaks, and Pest of
the North Pacific, truly thou art a well-plucked one. Wilt fight me
for the wench? (He puts an arm round JILL.)

OLIVER. I will.

CHIEF. Swords?

OLIVER. Pistols.

CHIEF. At twenty paces?

OLIVER. Across a handkerchief.

CHIEF. Done! (Feeling in his pockets) Have you got a handkerchief? I
think I must have left mine on the dressing-table.

OLIVER (bringing out his and putting it hastily back again). Mine's
rather - Jill, haven't you got one?

JILL (feeling). I know I had one, but I - -

CHIEF. This is an ill business. Five-and-thirty duels have I
fought - and never before been delayed for lack of a handkerchief.

JILL. Ah, here it is. (She produces a very small one and lays it on
the ground. They stand one each side of it, pistols ready.)

OLIVER. Jill, you must give the word. JILL. Are you ready?

(The sound of a gong is heard.)

CHIEF. Listen! (The gong is heard again) The Spanish Fleet is engaged!

JILL. _I_ thought it was our tea gong.

CHIEF. Ah, perhaps you're right.

OLIVER. I say, we oughtn't to miss tea. (Holding out his hand to her)
Come on, Jill.

CHIEF. But you'll come back? We shall always be waiting here for you
whenever you want us.

JILL. Yes, we'll come back, won't we, Oliver?

OLIVER. Oo, rather.

(The whole population of the Island, Animals, Pirates, and Dusky
Maidens, come on. They sing as they wave good-bye to the children who
are making their way to the boat.)

JILL (from the boat). Good-bye, good-bye.

OLIVER. Good-bye, you chaps.

JILL (politely). And thank you all for a very pleasant afternoon.

[They are all singing as the boat pushes off. Night comes on with
tropical suddenness. The singing dies slowly down.


SCENE I. - The drawing-room of the HUBBARDS before Fame and Prosperity
came to them. It is simply furnished with a deal table and two cane

MR. and MRS. HUBBARD, in faultless evening dress, are at home, MR.
HUBBARD reading a magazine, MRS. HUBBARD with her hands in her lap.
She sighs.

MR. HUBBARD (impetuously throwing down his magazine). Dearest, you

MRS. HUBBARD (quickly). No, no, Henry. In a luxurious and
well-appointed home such as this, why should I sigh?

MR. HUBBARD. True, dear. Not only is it artistically furnished, as you
say, but it is also blessed with that most precious of all things - (he
lifts up the magazine) - a library.

MRS. HUBBARD. Yes, yes, Henry, we have much to be thankful for.

MR. HUBBARD. We have indeed. But I am selfish. Would you care to read?
(He tears out a page of the magazine and hands it to her.)

MRS. HUBBARD. Thank you, thank you, Henry.

(They both sit in silence for a little. She sighs again.)

MR. HUBBARD. Darling, you did sigh. Tell me what grieves you.

MRS. HUBBARD. Little Isabel. Her cough troubles me.

MR. HUBBARD (thoughtfully). Isabel?

MRS. HUBBARD. Yes, dear, our youngest. Don't you remember, she comes
after Harold?

MR. HUBBARD (counting on his fingers). A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I - dear
me, have we got nine already?

MRS. HUBBARD (imploringly). Darling, say you don't think it's too

MR. HUBBARD. Oh no, no, not at all, my love . . . After all, it isn't as
if they were real children.

MRS. HUBBARD (indignantly). Henry! How can you say they are not real?

MR. HUBBARD. Well, I mean they're only the children we thought we'd
like to have if Father Christmas gave us any.

MRS. HUBBARD. They are just as real to me as if they were here in the
house. Ada, Bertram, Caroline, the high-spirited Dennis, pretty Elsie
with the golden ringlets, dear little fair-haired Frank -

MR. HUBBARD (firmly). Darling one, Frank has curly brown hair. It was
an understood thing that you should choose the girls, and _I_ should
choose the boys. When we decided to take - A, B, C, D, E, F - a sixth
child, it was my turn for a boy, and I selected Frank. He has curly
brown hair and a fondness for animals.

MRS. HUBBARD. I daresay you're right, dear. Of course it is a little
confusing when you never see your children.

MR. HUBBARD. Well, well, perhaps some day Father Christmas will give
us some.

MRS. HUBBARD. Why does he neglect us so, Henry? We hang up our
stockings every year, but he never seems to notice them. Even a
diamond necklace or a few oranges or a five-shilling postal order
would be something.

MR. HUBBARD. It is very strange. Possibly the fact that the chimney
has not been swept for some years may have something to do with it. Or
he may have forgotten our change of address. I cannot help feeling
that if he knew how we had been left to starve in this way he would be
very much annoyed.

MRS. HUBBARD. And clothes. I have literally nothing but what I am
standing up in - I mean sitting down in.

MR. HUBBARD. Nor I, my love. But at least it will be written of us in
the papers that the Hubbards perished in faultless evening dress. We
are a proud race, and if Father Christmas deliberately cuts us off in
this way, let us go down proudly. . . . Shall we go on reading or would
you like to walk up and down the room? Fortunately these simple
pleasures are left to us.

MRS. HUBBARD. I've finished this page.

MR. HUBBARD (tearing out one). Have another, my love. (They read for a
little while, until interrupted by a knock at the door.)

MRS. HUBBARD. Some one at the door! Who could it be?

MR. HUBBARD (getting up). Just make the room look a little more homey,
dear, in case it's any one important.

(He goes out, leaving her to alter the position of the chairs


MR. HUBBARD (coming in). A letter. (He opens it.)


MR. HUBBARD (whistling with surprise). Father Christmas! An invitation
to Court! (Reading) "Father Christmas at Home, 25th December.
Jollifications, 11.59 P.M." My love, he has found us at last! (They
embrace each other.)

MRS. HUBBARD. Henry, how gratifying!

MR. HUBBARD. Yes. (Sadly, after a pause) But we can't go.

MRS. HUBBARD (sadly). No, I have no clothes.


MRS. HUBBARD. How can I possibly go without a diamond necklace? None
of the Montmorency-Smythe women has ever been to Court without a
diamond necklace.

MR. HUBBARD. The Hubbards are a proud race. No male Hubbard would
dream of appearing at Court without a gentleman's gold Albert
watch-chain. . . . Besides, there is another thing. There will be many
footmen at Father Christmas's Court, who will doubtless require
coppers pressed into their palms. My honour would be seriously
affected, were I compelled to whisper to them that I had no coppers.

MRS. HUBBARD. It is very unfortunate. Father Christmas may have
hundreds of presents waiting for us.

MR. HUBBARD. True. But how would it be to hang up our stockings again
this evening - now that we know he knows we are here? I would suggest
tied on to the door-knocker, to save him the trouble of coming down
the chimney.

MRS. HUBBARD (excitedly). Henry, I wonder! But of course we will.

(They begin to take off - the one a sock, the other a stocking.)

MR. HUBBARD. I almost wish now that my last suit had been a
knickerbocker one. However, we must do what we can with a sock.

MRS. HUBBARD (holding up her stocking and looking at it a little
anxiously). I hope Father Christmas won't give me a bicycle. A
stocking never sets so well after it has had a bicycle in it.

MR. HUBBARD (taking it from her). Now, dear, I will go down and put
them in position. Let us hope that fortune will be kind to us.

MRS. HUBBARD. Let us hope so, darling. And quickly. For (picking up
her page of the magazine) it is a trifle cold.

[He goes out and she is left reading.

SCENE II. - Outside the house the snow lies deep. The stocking and sock
are tied on to the door-knocker. There is a light in the window.

A party of carol-singers, with lanterns, come by and halt in the snow
outside the house.

PETER ABLEWAYS. Friends, are we all assembled?

JONAS HUMPHREY. Ay, ay, Peter Ableways, assembled and met together in
a congregation, for the purpose of lifting up our voices in joyous
thanksgiving, videlicet the singing of a carol or other wintry melody.

JENNIFER LING. Keep your breath for your song, Master Humphrey. That
last "Alleluia" of yours was a poor windy thing, lacking grievously in

JONAS (sadly). It is so. I never made much of an Alleluia. It is not
in my nature somehow. 'Tis a vain boastful thing an Alleluia.

MARTHA PORRITT. Are we to begin soon, Master Ableways? My feet are

JONAS. What matter the feet, Martha Porritt, if the heart be warm with
loving-kindness and seasonable emotions?

MARTHA. Well, nothing of me will be warm soon.

JENNIFER. Ay, let's begin, Peter Ableways, while we carry the tune in
our heads. It is ill searching for the notes in the middle of the
carol, as some singers do.

PETER. Well spoken, Mistress Jennifer. Now listen all, while I unfold
the nature of the entertainment. _Item_ - A carol or birth song to draw
the attention of all folk to the company here assembled and the
occasion celebrated. _Item_ - Applause and the clapping of hands.
_Item_ - A carol or song of thanksgiving. _Item_ - A collection.

JONAS. An entertainment well devised, Master Ableways, sobeit the
words of the second song remain with me after I am delivered of the

MARTHA. Are we to begin soon, Master Ableways? My feet are cold.

PETER. Are we all ready, friends? I will say one - two - three - and at
"three" I pray you all to give it off in a hearty manner from the
chest. One - two -

JONAS. Hold, hold, Master Ableways! Does it begin - No, that's the
other one. (JENNIFER whispers the first line to him) Ay, ay - I have it
now - and bursting to get out of me. Proceed, Peter Ableways.

PETER. One - two - three - (They carol.)

PETER. Well sung, all.

HUMPHREY. The applause followed, good Master Peter, as ordained.
Moreover, I have the tune of the second song ready within me. Likewise
a la-la-la or two to replace such words as I have forgotten.

MARTHA. Don't forget the collection, Master Ableways.

PETER. Ay, the collection. (He takes off his hat and places it on the

HUMPHREY. Nay, not so fast, Master Peter. It would be ill if the good
folk thought that our success this night were to be estimated by an
empty hat. Place some of our money in it, Master Ableways. Where money
is, money will come.

JENNIFER. Ay, it makes a pleasing clink.

PETER. True, Mistress Jennifer. Master Humphrey speaks true. (He pours
some coppers from his pockets into his hat.)

MARTHA. Are we to go on, Master Ableways? My feet are cold.

PETER (shaking the hat). So, a warming noise.

HUMPHREY. To it again, gentles.

PETER. Are all ready? One - two - three! (They carol.)

PETER. Well sung, all.

HUMPHREY. Have you the hat, Master Peter?

PETER (picking it up). Ay, friend, all is ready.

(The door opens and MR. HUBBARD appears at the entrance.)

MR. HUBBARD. Good evening, friends.

PETER. Good evening, sir. (He holds out the hat.)

MR. HUBBARD (looking at it). What is this? (PETER shakes it) Aha!

PETER. Remember the carol singers, sir.

MR. HUBBARD (helping himself). My dear friends, I will always remember
you. This is most generous. I shall never forget your kindness. This
is most unexpected. But not the less welcome, not the less - I think
there's a ha'penny down there that I missed - thank you. As I was
saying, unexpected but welcome. I thank you heartily. Good evening,

[He goes in and shuts the door.

PETER (who has been too surprised to do anything but keep his mouth
open). Well! . . . Well! . . . Well, friends, let us to the next house. We
have got all that we can get here.

[They trail off silently.

MARTHA (as they go off). Master Ableways!

PETER. Ay, lass!

MARTHA. My feet aren't so cold now.

(But this is to be an exciting night. As soon as they are gone, a
Burglar and a Burglaress steal into view)

BILL. Wotcher get, Liz? (She holds up a gold watch and chain. He nods
and holds up a diamond necklace) 'Ow's that?

LIZ (starting suddenly). H'st!

BILL (in a whisper). What is it?

LIZ. Copper!

BILL (desperately). 'Ere, quick, get rid of these. 'Ide 'em in the
snow, or - -

LIZ. Bill! (He turns round) Look! (She points to the stocking and sock
hanging up) We can come back for 'em as soon as 'e's gone.

(BILL looks at them, and back at her, and grins. He drops the necklace
into one and the watch into the other. As the POLICEMAN approaches
they strike up, "While shepherds watched their flock by night," with
an air of great enthusiasm.)

POLICEMAN. Now then, move along there.

(They move along. The POLICEMAN flashes his light on the door to see
that all is well. The stocking and sock are revealed. He beams
sentimentally at them.)

SCENE III. - We are inside the house again. MRS. HUBBARD is still
reading a page of the magazine. In dashes MR. HUBBARD with the sock
and stocking.

MR. HUBBARD. My darling, what do you think? Father Christmas has sent
you a little present. (He hands her the stocking.)

MRS. HUBBARD. Henry! Has he sent you one too?

MR. HUBBARD (holding up his sock). Observe!

MRS. HUBBARD. How sweet of him! I wonder what mine is. What is yours,

MR. HUBBARD. I haven't looked yet, my love. Perhaps just a few nuts or
something of that sort, with a card attached saying, "To wish you the
old, old wish." We must try not to be disappointed, whatever it is,

MRS. HUBBARD. Of course, Henry. After all, it is the kindly thought
which really matters.

MR. HUBBARD. Certainly. All the same, I hope - Will you look in yours,
dear, first, or shall I?

MRS. HUBBARD. I think I should like to, darling. (Feeling it) It feels
so exciting. (She brings out a diamond necklace) Henry!

MR. HUBBARD. My love! (They embrace) Now you will be able to go to
Court. You must say that your husband is unfortunately in bed with a
bad cold. You can tell me all about it when you come home. I shall be
able to amuse myself with - (He is feeling in his sock while talking,
and now brings out the watch and chain.)

MRS. HUBBARD. Henry! My love!

MR. HUBBARD. A gentleman's gold hunter and Albert watch-chain. My

(They put down their presents on the table and embrace each other

MRS. HUBBARD. Let's put them on at once, Henry, and see how they suit

MR. HUBBARD. Allow me, my love. (He fastens her necklace.)

MRS. HUBBARD (happily). Now I feel really dressed again! Oh, I wish we
had a looking-glass.

MR. HUBBARD (opening his gold watch). Try in here, my darling.

MRS. HUBBARD (surveying herself). How perfectly sweet! . . . Now let me
put your watch-chain on for you, dear. (She arranges it for him - HENRY
very proud.)

MR. HUBBARD. Does it suit me, darling?

MRS. HUBBARD. You look fascinating, Henry!

(They strut about the room with an air.)

MR. HUBBARD (taking out his watch and-looking at it ostentatiously).
Well, well, we ought to be starting. My watch makes it 11.58. (He
holds it to her ear) Hasn't it got a sweet tick?

MRS. HUBBARD. Sweet! But starting where, Henry? Do you mean we can
really - But you haven't any money.

MR. HUBBARD. Money? (Taking out a handful) Heaps of it.

MRS. HUBBARD. Father Christmas?

MR. HUBBARD. Undoubtedly, my love. Brought round to the front door
just now by some of his messengers. By the way, dear - (indicating the
sock and stocking) - hadn't we better put these on before we start?

MRS. HUBBARD. Of course. How silly of me!

(They sit down and put them on.)

MR. HUBBARD. Really this is a very handsome watch-chain.

MRS. HUBBARD. It becomes you admirably, Henry.

MR. HUBBARD. Thank you, dear. There's just one little point. Father
Christmas is sometimes rather shy about acknowledging the presents he
gives. He hates being thanked. If, therefore, he makes any comment on
your magnificent necklace or my handsome watch-chain, we must say that
they have been in the family for some years.

MRS. HUBBARD. Of course, dear. (They get up.)

MR. HUBBARD. Well, now we're ready.

MRS. HUBBARD. Darling one, don't you think we might bring the

MR. HUBBARD. Of course, dear! How forgetful of me! . . . Children - 'shun!
(Listen! Their heels click as they come to attention) Number! (Their
voices - alternate boy and girl, one to nine - are heard) Right _turn_!

MRS. HUBBARD. Darling one, I almost seem to hear them!

MR. HUBBARD. Are you ready, my love?

MRS. HUBBARD. Yes, Henry.

MR. HUBBARD. Quick march!

(The children are heard tramping off. Very proudly MR. and MRS.
HUBBARD bring up the rear.)

SCENE IV. - The Court of FATHER CHRISTMAS. Shall we describe it? No.
But there is everything there which any reasonable person could want,
from ices to catapults. And the decorations, done in candy so that you
can break off a piece whenever you are hungry, are superb.

1ST USHER (from the back). Father Christmas!

SEVERAL USHERS (from the front). Father Christmas! (He comes in.)

FATHER CHRISTMAS (genially). Good evening, everybody.

(I ought to have said that there are already some hundreds of people
there, though how some of them got invitations - but, after all, that
is not our business. Wishing to put them quite at their ease, FATHER
CHRISTMAS, who has a very creditable baritone, gives them a song.
After the applause which follows it, he retires to the throne at the
back, and awaits his more important guests. The USHERS take up their
places, one at the entrance, one close to the throne.)

1ST USHER. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hubbard! (They come in.)

MR. HUBBARD (pressing twopence into his palm). Thank you, my man,
thank you.

2ND USHER. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hubbard.

MR. HUBBARD (handing out another twopence). Not at all, my man, not at


FATHER CHRISTMAS. I am delighted to welcome you to my Court. How are
you both?

MR. HUBBARD. Very well, thank you, sir. My wife has a slight cold in
one foot, owing to -

MRS. HUBBARD (hastily). A touch of gout, sir, inherited from my
ancestors, the Montmorency-Smythes.

FATHER CHRISTMAS. Dear me, it won't prevent you dancing, I hope?

MRS. HUBBARD. Oh no, sir.

FATHER CHRISTMAS. That's right. We shall have a few more friends
coming in soon. You have been giving each other presents already, I
see. I congratulate you, madam, on your husband's taste.

MRS. HUBBARD (touching her necklace). Oh no, this is a very old
heirloom of the Montmorency-Smythe family.

MR. HUBBARD. An ancestress of Mrs. Hubbard's - a lady-in-waiting at the

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