Methinks I'll place them on the waiting rack And while I promises sweet-coated make, Will gently turn the screw until their bones Do crack. And then to happy period make, The ax shall deftly lop some waiting head, With touch most skilful, mellowed by a smile.
_Quezox:_ And, n.o.ble sire, I pray thee hasten not But let it pleasure thee to so proceed That dire suspense may make the waiting wretch More keenly feel the act of justice stern.
Sweet to my soul 'twill be to walk the street And meet prospective victims ere they fall.
The secret, while a tonic to my soul, Prepays me mightily for past neglect.
_Francos:_ But Ha! The port is nigh and we must hie _(The City in the distance)_ Us to our cabins to enrobe with coats Of Tam'ny cut, and silken stovepipe hats-- _(Anxiously)_ But, Quezox, tell me, shall we be beset By bugs and fleas and snakes and creeping things?
And microbes? Are they floating in the air So that in speech I'll dare not ope my mouth?
_Seldonskip (aside) O, shucks! I should worry!_ _Quezox:_ Most puissant Sir, dread not the microbes!
A charm, ecclesiastical, well blessed, Will ward them off; but what befears me most Is vermin which infest the offices.
_(Seldonskip wearing a plug hat, walks slowly along leering at Quezox)._ _(Speaks)_ Oh Rats! Rats!! and then again more Rats!!!
_Caesar:_ . . . . . . _Ruler of the State._ _Francos:_ . . . . . . _Governor General of a Province._ _Quezox:_ . . . . . . _Resident Delegate from the Province._ _Seldonskip:_ . . . . _Secretary to the Governor General._
_Scene I. Throne Room at the Capitol._
'Tis done! The die indeed is safely cast.
And Wisdom smiles, while seated on her throne.
'Twere well to kill two birds with one shrewd fling Of fortune's stone, and thus from grievous ills Which close enwrapped by robes of custom, are Work freedom from the threats of cruel fate.
Francos, whose mental woof is frail indeed, Stood for promotion to important post.
Which might embarra.s.s all the wheels of state, And so 'twere well within his itching hand To place commission for those distant Isles Where mild efficiency can work no harm.
'Tis strange that Francos in the halls of state So long hath squatted, in a chair too big, But still much gold can smooth a th.o.r.n.y path And work discovery of hidden worth.
With modest mental gifts, but gentle mien He ill is fitted for promotion here.
But it were matter of but little weight With Quezox as a mentor at his side, What he shall fas.h.i.+on in his pigmy state, For squirt from wisdom's fount can quench each flame.
But Quezox? Can I trust this sable knight?
He speaketh soft, but lurking in each smile Methinks I spy a double meaning there.
'Twere well to bring Dame Caution to the front And hold this fellow, as he runs, in leash; For he, while fat with wisdom, may of guile Be deeply feeding, and from stomach weak May spew deep discord when we least expect.
I have it! well 'tis known that Wisdom's bird, While winging daily flight, hath hovered o'er Our foes politic, and hath often shunned To make her nest in Democratic boughs.
'Twere well to seek from out the tricky foe One who shall balance, like the flying wheel, The various acts of Francos and his crew And so most shrewdly curb the critic tongues That wag within the jaws of foes most keen, Thus hiding well, from all the thoughtless world.
The deep intent which labors in our breast.
And which in time shall like the bird encased By brittle sh.e.l.l, break forth and fly aloft, Singing to startled worlds sweet freedom's song.
But woe is me! My mem'ry playeth false, For he of ponderous girth, in Island home Seeketh to grow more fat on public swill.
And he presumeth, justly too, on what His silver tongue did work to boost me on.
But still, lean men are best for action keen, For too much fatness burdeneth the mind And speaks in trumpet tones of strong desire For pleasures, and mayhap for cards and wine.
And so 'twere best to know this Falstaff not For pow'r politic ne'er can from his hand Against me work dire mischief, for his tongue Is locked securely by our party key.
But I must call the lightning to mine aid, And order him who now bemoans his fate, To scan the bailiwick for pots and pans, That Francos no discomfort may incur.
For he so long in Fate's kind lap hath lain, That he must ill be fitted to his task Unless luxurious eas.e.m.e.nts smooth his way And jars discomforting wring not his soul.
_Scene 2. s.h.i.+p on the Ocean._
_Quezox and Francos walking the deck._
_Quezox:_ Most worthy Francos, so my mind hath cast A heavy load aside, and eager now, with hope, I long to meet the foe in combat fierce And pierce the varied joints his armor boasts.
_Francos:_ Sweet Quezox, hold! Methinks I read thy mind, Revenge is sweeter than the honeycomb.
But let it not take mastery so strong That Reason totters on her wabbly throne.
I fear me there are lions in the way, And we must not in open battle wage; But let our minds deep strategy conceive And thus achieve what otherwise might fail.
_Quezox:_ Most trenchant Francos, how thy words do p.r.i.c.k; I fear unjust suspicion rears its head, For it is not the nature of our race To open deal, when stealth can compa.s.s well The object which our surging souls shall seek; For practice which necessity hath caused Hath built a cunning it were hard to meet; But when, impatient of long smould'ring wrongs, We open take the bolo in our hands, With bellies yearning for the blood of those Who long have winked a proud disdainful eye Beware! I say, beware! for mercy then is dead.
_Francos:_ But Quezox, hold! Water thy burning thoughts.
'Twere well to bridle firm such wordy steed, For mayhap there be one with list'ning ear, Who wide would publish what were worthy thoughts; But which should covered be by mantle wise, Until time furnisheth the proper hour, To tongue them into words with cautious garb So they shall mellow sound a fiery thought.
_Quezox:_ Thy mind, sweet Francos, pregnant is, with thought, And well I ween, thou Caesar's words hast weighed.
But patience is a burden hard to bear And oft it galls the back on which 'tis placed.
_Francos:_ But Quezox, listen. Speed thy mind beyond The present pa.s.sing hour, and wise reflect That like a blanket on the jacka.s.s spread, Patience can guard against the chafing wound.
_Quezox:_ Ah, Francos, well I know that wisdom bears With weight of mountains on my retching soul.
But I will set my shoulders like the G.o.ds, And bear the load as Atlas doth the skies.
_Francos:_ But, Quezox, I am filled with anxious thoughts Anent sweet Seldonskip, whose wandering eye Doth lecherous look upon each pa.s.sing dame.
The fire of youth that wanders through his veins May scandal breed, and it were well to look With watchful eye upon his every act Affairs of state with mighty import soar Above the intrigues of a callow youth, Hence we must owlish vigil constant keep And in good sooth, it might indeed be well To speak him fair, and warning subtle give Lest his distemper lead to grievous ill.
_Quezox:_ Alas I know the temptress doth beguile; Hence sympathy doth plead for helping hand.
If 'tis thy wish, I in most guarded speech Will whisper caution in his youthful ear.
_Francos:_ 'Tis well. But still I fear me over much That he, like highly tempered steel, will bend Only to swift rebound, and further by Reaction go from paths of rect.i.tude.
_(Seldonskip indolently approaches.)_ _Seldonskip:_ Most n.o.ble gentlemen, I greet thee sweet: It tireth mightily, this placid sea.
Methinks a storm, a mighty, raging storm, To break monotony would lend to life A phlegm, and hence a tedious day become More gladsome. Alack-a-day when I did leave Those gilded halls where beauty did indwell.
On this good s.h.i.+p naught but uncertain age Measures those forms divine to which we kneel.
_(Seldonskip walks slowly on.)_ _Quezox speaking to Francos._ Most n.o.ble sire, in wonderment I pause.
If I may query put, what mental rheum Did cause selection of such vacuous mind To fill a post requiring mental grasp?
_Francos:_ Good Quezox, surely I was misinformed.
Full well; his sire, I dreamed, was made of clay Much finer than is wont within the mold, And so I eager seized his proffered aid.
But keen regret doth fill my troubled soul And fears prophetic, to the future point.
But, n.o.ble friend, we'll let the matter drop If it hath weight to fall, which much I doubt.
_Quezox:_ Ha! Ha! I see! he hath so little force, That gravitation with him worketh not!
_Francos:_ Now, n.o.ble Quezox, we must quick devise Some method to surmount the vicious laws Of civil service, which with shrewd design Purpose to keep those vultures in their nests, While others long denied official posts, Shall wander in the wilderness, and ne'er Set wary foot within the promised land.
_Quezox:_ Most worthy sire, when guile hath strong intrenched, Guile of a firmer mould, should countermatch, And beat the bulwarks down; 'twere easy done.
In sooth so easy that no glory crowns The working of a scheme so patent to An eagle eye, which hath discernment keen.
To unmake offices, were quickly done.
To lower stipends till the hungry mouth Shall to the belly say: "We must go hence Or else we perish," were a shrewd device.
'Twere he who holds the money bags, must rule And we the golden sword hold in our grasp.
_Francos:_ Ah n.o.ble Quezox, thou hast clearly solved The riddle which hath cost me sleepless nights It shall be done. But who approacheth me?
_Quezox:_ Sire, heed him not! Let's to our state rooms hie.
In truth methinks this man doth seek to spy, And it were wise indeed to guard each port.
To pa.s.s an idle moment, it were well In converse to enjoin; but this man speaks Through eyes that warning give that he hath brains.
Hence it were best to pa.s.s him idly by, And only mouth vain words with those who, dull, Can work no harm by mouthing what were said.
_(Quezox takes Francos by the arm and moves off muttering to himself)_ 'Tis thus I guard this weakling from the throng.
And hold his foolish ear unto myself.