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Section 1

(Translated from the original Mellifiuan)

Act I

Scene I

Two men (Nikol and Troio) are sat outside, they are

playing becat and drinking nut-vittles. It is a mild evening in the town of Chado, in the hills not far from the border with Chabuti. Nikol is a Chabuti tailor, and

Troio is a Mellifluan textile merchant and acquaintance.

Nikol: "it is your move."

Troio sets down his vittles unhurriedly, takes up the

becat dice, and gripping them tightly. shakes for an

unnecessarily long time.

Nikoi: (Gruffly) "For pity, this vittles is not a Chabuti

blend. (He throws the remainder onto the ground) My

friend. it is your move"

Troio is still shaking the dice, smiling as if transfixed.

Nikol: "Are you mad Melly? it is your turn with the dice!""

Troio snaps out of it. He stops shaking the dice.

Troio: (still smiling) "Don't you Melly me! it is you who have the lady-drobe, Che-boot."

Nikol: "Don't you Cha-boot me! that gown is not for me, it

is a gift for my wife, the thought of which you have now ruined! I am fully a man, solely a man! I have none of

your Mellifluan whimsy in my veins."

Troio: ”And I, no Chabuti prejudice and cantankery in

mine! what is so strange about manly women, womanly men,

or whatever lies between?"

Nikoi: "I have nothing against the differences between

people Troio! I simply wish to clarify that I myself am no

more or less than a man.”

Section 2

Troio smiles at Nikol until he cracks

"You are a swine Troio. First you cheat at becat, and now you delay the ill-gotten victory, prolonging and extending the moment to needle me!" (he motions the act of knitting in reference to the Mellifluan pastime)

Troio: (gently laughing and pleading, with a hand upon the shoulder “Now now, good Nikol. Let us not quarrel. We are like husband and wife. I the husband, you the..."

Nikol: (standing up, and declaiming loudly) "...Are you Melly all so trying!? It is no wonder our ships clash at the border."

Troio: "Nikol-"

Nikol: "..and we will defeat you, for swindlers must always lose in the end!"

Troio: (a little anxious) "Please Nikol...remember where we are, come now, I was only teasing. Have you not got what you came for?"

Nikol: (no less angry) "Three score pots of dye, a weaving loom, a barber's spoonstick, and sixty-three beetle-blood linens does not equipoise a humiliation!"

The shadowy figures of the CHORUS creep in toward the stage from out of the audience, and all around. Troio seems to have noticed them, and is looking about uncertainly. Nikol continues his rantings, oblivious.

Troio: "Nikol perhaps now is not the occasion-"

Nikol: "You are the one who keeps remarking upon my appearance and preferences, yet it is you who claim I am judgmental. Well here is my judgment - I pronounce Chabuti and Mellifluan enemies for all eternity...that is until the day a Chabuti man in women's clothes kisses a Mellifluan woman in a man's clothes, on the highest peak of the Korchis mountains, and with you Troio, present as witness."

Section 3

Tableau vivant on stage. The shadowy CHORUS surrounds the audience, and begins to sing the "song of broken promises."

"Nikol we hear you,
but promises do not bend,
Be careful what you wish for,
and to whose ears you lend

- promises that cannot fly,
as loves and whimsies do.
Here the shadows bear witness,
to what you say and do.

Enemies you have made us,
Melly, Chabuti.
Between our legs you've slipped a sword
to slice the hosiery.

Now only you can save us,
unbuckle your bigotry,
Drop your chaps and bear it,
and help us all to see.

Section 4

Scene II

A beautiful young Mellifluan woman Alonia is practising her dancing at home. Her mother Parsimonia is at her shoulder.

Parsimonia: "It's so disappointing. how could you have forgotten the quick pirouette?

Alonia: "I can't do it with you standing over me, mother."

Parsimonia: "If you can't do it in front of your own mother, how do you expect to please a crowd? Come here."

Parsimonia manhandles her daughter, and forces her into the starting position of the routine.

“Hum de-dum, hum-de dum. Like that. Come on, it couldn't be easier. Now you try."

Alonia mis-steps the routine.

Parsimonia: “No, no. Again."

Alonia: "I hate these stiff Chabuti dances mother, do I really have to do it?"

Parsimonia: "Of course dear, this is a serious affair. we have a job to do, unless of course, you want the war to drag on, and all those delicious young men to stay on the front lines?"

Alonia: "Of course I want the war to end. but I don't see how a young woman doing this rigid dance is going to help. isn't it more of a manly dance?

Parsimonia: "You'll dance as you're told. Besides, it must be a girl. and they must be 'young'. because (mimics voice of authority) 'that is how the Chabuti have always done it

Parsimonia crosses her arms, and looks sulkily at her feet.

"Yes, it seems that talent has no bearing on the selection process."

Parsimonia breathes deeply, then proceeds to execute the entire routine exactly. When she has finished she smiles at Alonia confrontationally.

Alonia: "So you won't mind if I don't dance well?"

Parsimonia: "Dear daughter, for you. it is not about dancing well, it is about dancing tolerably. Now get back to your mark."

Section 5

Scene III

Elagabas - a stick-thin and dashing young Mellifluan, dressed in beautiful beetle-red silks, sweeps onto the stage. He talks to an urchin-like personage, known to others as Stoop, who carries a hundred garments of myriad colours under his arm.

Stoop: "Did you like the yellow one? I liked it, but it's no beetle-red. It tapers nicely at the collar, and there's lots of room for your neck, I know how much you hate it being close on the neck."

Elagabas: "Thank you Stoop, I'm sure it'll be fine."

Stoop: "I'm not sure about the plum boothose. They weren't as shapely as the cobbler led me to you think-'

Elagabas: (mildly irritated) "-Hush Stoop, we approach the house of my love. There's no time for talk of bobby socks."

Stoop: "Taking care of your dress pleases young ladies."

Elagabas: "Hush!"

Stoop is crestfallen. They are at the house of Parsimonia and Alonia. Parsimonia is hanging out the washing, looking approvingly at Elagabas. Alonia however, disappears inside the moment he arrives.

Alonia? Alonia!?"

Parsimonia: "Well hello young man, how nice of you to visit me.“

Stoop: "Actually, the master's here to see your daughter,“

Elagabas: (sycophantically, whilst trying to catch a glimpse of Alonia) "Well, in the main, though she is not as forthcoming as her mother."

Parsimonia: "She lacks experience. She is young and silly, and has no interest beyond staring gormlessly up at the stars-"

Elagabas: "-and drinking milk. (Raising his voice so there is no doubt that Alonia can hear) You see I bought some goat's milk, because I know how she likes it...

Section 6

There is no Sign of Alonia. Parsimonia curls and uncurls her hair with her finger.

Parsimonia: "I like a good bit of milk myself. May I?"

He pours into her mug. She has a swig.

Mmm. This'd make good cheese. With my wine and your cheese we could make a fabulous snecket.”

Elagabas: (alarmed) ”Er, yes.”

He notices Alonia appearing high up on the terrace to bask in the sunshine.

“Are...are you coming down?"

Alonia: ”I'm fine up here thank you.”

Parsimonia grins, and nudges Elagabas in an overly familiar way.

Stoog: "Oh l've just remembered. we've to get quickly to the becat game. There'll be no seats if we re late!"

Parsimonia: "A game of becat? over my good company? Pah!"

But Stoop stands between her and Elagabas

Very well, go and have Your boys games. Leave us women to do the cooking, the washing, the cleaning!"

Elagabas: "Actually Stoop is an excellent cook, he's been practicing Molin's style.”

Parsimonia: "Sounds like you two were made for each other."

Stoop coughs.

Stoop: "Come, time is short Master.”

Out of sight, Stoop and Elagabas catch their breath.

Elagabas: "Oh it's no use, Alonia hates me. The only way I can reach her is in my dreams."

Stoop: "Everyone is allowed their little dreams."

Elagabas: ”But how can I get her attention, there must be something I can do?”

They set off for the becat tournament.

Stoop: "Well there is that grey cloak with the hood, or perhaps the yellow... (exit, fade out)"

Section 7

Scene IV

The town-square. All are gathered at the cafe, drinking nut-vittles. In the centre, serious-looking faces crow the becat table, where Troio is about to roll the dice. Nikol is also there. The Burgher appears from offstage.

Burgher: "Stop! Stop! There is to be no gaming, by order of the principality of Melliflua. That involves Chabuti contestants."

There is booing from both the Chabuti and Mellifluans. Troio puts down his dice, and stands on the table.

Troio: "The people of the Korchis mountains have played becat here for generations. Chabuti or Mellifluan, man, woman, any gender. It is our right to play."

There is affirmative grunting from all present. Enter Stoop and Elagabas.

Burgher: "Haven't you noticed there's a war on?"

Troio: "Then we await the call, and until then reserve the right to play our games!"

There is grunting of approval from all present.

Buroher: "well that's Just it. I'm here to tell you that the draft has begun. whomsoever here that is Mellifluan will be assigned a ship, and sent to the border, where you shall meet the Cha-boots in the skies and decide the fate of the continent of Shabo in our favour."

There is murmuring. After a pause, the Chabuti players and spectators vacate their chairs, and head off towards the border.

"That's it, go home and cry to your mothers!"

Section 8

Elegabas: ”Now that's a bit much!"

Burgher: ”who is this scrawny upstart - want to be the first to join up do you?”

Stoop: "This man is Elagabas. a Mellifluan with noble blood. I, Stoop, am employed as his servant.”

Burgher: ”Well, well. I expect to see you both at the front of the Queue, or be shot for treason."

The Burgher exits.

Elagabas: ”Oh no, I must tell Alonia. Perhaps hearing that I'll go to war will melt her heart.”

He rushes from the stage, and Stoop follows as quick as he can behind. Meanwhile Troio rounds upon Nikol. who despite being a Chabuti, remains.

Troio: You've cursed us with your incendiarism, this is your doing!

Nikol: I see now I was wrong, forgive me Troio. Is there anything we can do to reverse this sickness?

Troio: I see no answer but one. You must dress up as a woman, and find a Mellifluan woman who will dress as a man. Then, you must find two pairs of boots fit to trek up to the highest peak of the Korchis. and find love enough in your hearts to kiss.

Exeunt. Act 2.