Act I, scene ii
A fire-gutted bus depôt. Enter Marco Polo and Servant.
Unhorse this mule, my trusty slave, and go
To fetch another of the selfsame ilk,
And we, immune from time and fortune's dust,
Shall sup a glass of sturdy ale, and go
Where naught but soap shall lave the putrid core.
Verily I shall.
                           Look to it, shun it not!
I shun it not.
                           And look thou leave no trace
Of aught that may betray thee. Shun such things
As drunkenness may lead you to disclose
Aught of my ill intent.
                           I'll do it straight,
Although I understand no word of this.
Yours, as reading of the poets should
Inform you of all meaning, whereupon
Dissemblance, as a master to his sons,
Will cry in anger at what evil deeds
Men do, is not to reason what, or why,
Or how – but when, that is the question ...
I can but answer you with sickly groans,
For I am sick at heart.
                           Infirmarize thee!
In sickness lies the body prone to health
To madness now the mind once saner far
Than silks and spice from distant Calicut
Where now Putresco drives, his horse afire,
His bus abandoned by the tidal Po,
Which as a lunatic doth without cease
The spurkish bell twice hourly toll to warn
Us ...
                Mark! He comes! The rancid one is nigh,
And we who haunt the towers now must fly!
Enter stage left Schiller and Carybdis, and Putresco.
If anything you say I can believe,
Putresco, this by order shall I run
Ten thousand leagues by pogo-stick
To gain the favours of the fair Rangoon.
Go! Climb her towers, suck her monied hand,
Lurk your sordid days within those walls
That hold within their shades all terrors known,
And some as yet unthought of.
Aye! But if ...
                No 'ifs' or 'buts', Putresco, think again
She cannot do thee anything but harm,
'Tis Marco Polo you must fear, for when
By Lethe's bowers he creepeth like slow time
He's verily no easy man to see.
And he is hers as is thy horse thine own.
My friend, Carybdis, pray you be not mean
You have not spoke these eighty weeks to Schiller
Nor uttered yet betimes a soothing saw
The knowledge of man to greatliwise increase
Beyond the bounds of sense. I charge you now,
Look to it!
                Stay! A word I needs must speak
Concerning her that towers haunts, with groans
Of pain, and yet whose beauty men doth craze
With rapturous cries of greeting; masterpiece
Of Aphrodite's art. Her silken eyes
Remind me of the Chinese art of YUB
Which dogs and goats depict in scalene form,
As knew the sage geometers of old.
Perpend! I hear an inner voice remark
That time draws on, and now the rising moon
Doth glow his lovely light o'er all this globe,
Whose beauty we shall presently destroy
To win hers, greater far than any else.
Though greater far, I grant, it is not whole,
Nor yet, I will admit, of lesser size
Than that we have discussed before: but how
To compass it in adamantine bands
Wherein are sealed the vanities of love,
With our preposterous effigies of steel,
I know not.
                Woe! What ignorance is this
Such lack of sense, and woeful bane.
Disgusting failure to admit our cause!
I think these words of yours, my honoured sirs,
Belie the shattered fabric of your dreams,
And of your father Polo's – Mark my words.
Your words, Putresco, hardly worthier
Than all the wisdom of the Greeks to live
On any man's long tongue, I shun most roundly!
Fie on you, then, get hence, or you must face
The squad of firing, or the selfsame gallows
The which I have this very day constructed
With my very hand.
                           Your handiwork,
My lord? I thought your limbs too weak to screw
The frailest maid ...
                           O, shun such bawdiness!
I cannot answer till the sun has fled
Beyond the cares of mortal men, beyond
The pale and cloud-ringed orbit of the hills
Where wilder folk do dwell. I answer not
In any terms which you might understand,
For comprehension's shunning is the goal
Of all that know the secrets of mankind.
Enough of this. I'll to my bus. I go.
Exit Putresco.
We'll follow, lest some mischief he shall work
T'allay the anger of the dark-eyed Turk.
There follows a dumbshow in which random characters enact incomprehensible mimes before the gutted depôt

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