THE FIRST ACT SCENE I
One of the city gates of Pekin. Over the gate, planted on iron poles, a row of severed heads with shaven crowns and Turkish tufts.
TIME: Shortly after sunrise. When the curtain rises the gate is closed. From within the roll of drums and military commands.
BRIGELLA.(Behind the scenes.) Halt! Present arms!TRUFFALDINO.(Behind the scenes.) Halt! Slope swords!Open the gate! At ease! Quick march!(The gate is thrown open. TRUFFALDINO,leading the eunuchs; then, between PANTALONEand TARTAGLIA, the PRINCE OFSAMARKAND; behind them, at the headof his pages, BRIGELLA. The wholeprocession halts in front of the gate,they all draw up in one line, and gazeupwards at the bloody heads.)PANTALONE.(Stepping in front of the footlights.)My name is Pantalone, and I am a native of Venice. Atthe moment I am the Prime Minister of theChinese Empire. Eh, what d'ye say? WhatI'm doing here in Pekin? H'm. (Puts his handin front of his mouth.) Venice got too hot forme. An ind-indelicate affair. My wife ofcourse, you guess my meaning. (To the PRINCE.)This, your Royal Highness, is the place youhave heard so much of. Have a good look atit, please. Make yourself quite at home. Yes,quite right, up there, please! (To TARTAGLIA.)I say, my dear Lord Chancellor. Be so good asto show his Royal Highness the elevated positionhe will occupy in the near future. You have theinformation, I presume.(TARTAGLIA turns towards the PRINCE,PANTALONE pulls his sleeve.)Don't forget, my dear Lord Chancellor.TARTAGLIA.(Stepping in front of the footlights.) My nameis Tat-Tra-Tartaglia (stammers). From Naples.My mother always maintained that she was thedaughter of a Spanish grandee, but I fear shewas a fisherman's daughter from Po-Po-Pozzuoli.My father, on the other hand (stops short andlooks round)——(PANTALONE makes signs to him.)PANTALONE.Better not.TARTAGLIA.Better not! That old scarecrow there makesout that nobody ever knew who my father was.He is a... li-li-liar. Excuse me, one moment,ladies and gentlemen. (To the Prince.) Thathead up there on the right, which I beg yourRoyal Highness graciously to observe, is the headof the valiant Prince of Hyrcania. A valiantprince, a sweet prince. But silly, silly. There'squite a nice open space next to him for you, afine, sunny situation with a pleasant prospect.How would that do, eh? Company to your liking?All of 'em in the Almanach de Gotha.PANTALONE.(To BRIGELLA.) Send the executioner up withthe pole. We'll let this charming young Princeselect his own point of vantage.BRIGELLA.(To the headsman.) What are you hangingabout here for, you hangman, you? Up on thewall with you, by Hikey Mo! Up on the wall orI'll wallop you.PANTALONE.Halt! 'Sh! Don't forget!BRIGELLA.(Stepping in front of the footlights.) I'mBrigella, begging your pardon. One of the oldhonest family of the Brigellas. As you can hearby the way I talk, I was born in Ferrara. Thereare lying rogues, drat 'em, as say as how you cantell any one that comes from Ferrara by hisknavish face....