tcw3
[Act I] [Act II] [Act IV] [Act V]

Act III

Scene i

Margarita, Diana

Margarita: Oh, I have nothing to wear, sister dear, and there’s no time to shop. Whatever will we do? I have heard the fashionable city lady must dress appropriately.

Diana: As if Fopling would allow you such an indulgence.

Margarita: What do you think? This one makes me look like an old woman, no?

Diana: Margarita, if that dress were any shorter you’d have to shave again.

Margarita: I’m planning to, aren’t you? I’m not going to wear panties you know.

Diana: Then you’d better count on keeping your legs crossed all night.

Margarita: Even when I’m walking?

Diana: Especially when you’re walking. The Swedish Ambassador might choke on his vodka.

Margarita: Oh him! I just hope my lover from Gordon’s will be there. I’m sure he’s crushingly handsome. Do you think these shoes go with the dress, or should I look for a matching pair?

Diana: They’re just fine. Now you’re taller than Fopling and you can lord it over him.

Margarita: I just wish I had something other than these grandma clothes.

Diana: Some grandma. You’re showing two slits in the front and one in the back Pinchwife won’t mind, but I don’t think you can go in any public places in that dress if you value your freedom.

(Enter Fopling)

Fopling: Oh, excuse me, Margarita. I didn’t know you were showering. But you’d better find something to wear if you insist on this reception. And why are you so tall all of a sudden?

Margarita: How do you like my party dress, baby?

Fopling: Which party are you referring to? Certainly even the communists would disallow…

Margarita: I’m wearing this to the reception.

Diana: Now, Fopling, control yourself.

Fopling: Oh no, you’re not.

Margarita: Budikins, you never let me have any fun.

Fopling: Margarita, I warn you, I don’t absolutely need to unload that property on old Fidget. If it means you are to make a sexual spectacle of yourself, I guess we will just have to spend our evenings at home. Good night. I am tired. I’m sure you two can enjoy a hand of gin rummy and a little something to eat. Sister, do not tempt her with your foul tales of city life.

Margarita: Oh, baby!

Diana: Fopling, you agreed.

Fopling: I agreed to nothing. You assumed everything when you ran in here to adorn yourself in that pocket handkerchief. Now that I see how you intend to appear at this reception, I, after much deliberation, have decided not to agree.

Diana: Margarita, I think you have to compromise a bit. Maybe you can’t wear your dress to the party, but it’s better to back down somewhat than not to go at all.

Fopling: Now you’re talking sense.

Margarita: OK, bud. But what can I wear? I know. How about some pants?

Fopling: The thought is encouraging.

Margarita: I know just the pants. Look at these, sister dear. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Diana: Where exactly did you get these clothes, Margarita?

Margarita: Oh, I make them. I’m very creative.

Fopling: I thought you meant trousers. So you’re going to walk all wavy like.

Margarita: Do I give you the willies?

Fopling: Those panties are shorter than your dress.

Margarita: But they protect my ninny. No one can see. See?

Fopling: You have a pimple on your buttock, Sister Angelica. No, those will never do. Good night. I may go to the reception alone. Diana, there is a deck of cards in the desk.

Margarita: All right, baby, what do you want me to wear?

Fopling: So, you will dress as I say?

Margarita: Yes, bud.

Fopling: All right then. Now in the first place we will take off that ridiculous dress. Then show me to your closet. I will choose.

Diana: Hurry, Fopling, she’ll catch cold.

Fopling: The only difference between her present state and her former is that now we know she has on underwear, whereas before there was some doubt. Diana, go get one of my shirts and a pair of trousers.

Diana: Aren’t you dressing in your room?

Fopling: Hurry. (Exit Diana) Now you will put on those pants you have been brandishing.

Margarita: Oh, boy!

Fopling: You may also wear this top. It will cover the cleavage.

Margarita: But the colors clash, baby.

Fopling. That is fine. No one will see them, baby. Now for the next layer. Put on these shorts.

Margarita: But those are what I wear to work in the garden.

Fopling. They’re clean, aren’t they? We are not in the country now.

Margarita: I look awful.

Fopling: I didn’t say we were finished yet. When I’m through you will be the soul of city elegance. Your chic will be legendary. Now where is that woman?

(Enter Diana)

Diana: Will these do?

Fopling: Well, for want of anything better….Here, Margarita, put on this shirt.

Margarita: But it’s much too big for me, daddy.

Fopling: Do as I say.

Diana: Is this how Margarita is to dress for the reception? She will be a laughingstock.

Fopling: Oh, I don’t know. A woman in a man’s shirt has always had sexual overtones.

Diana: A dress shirt and garden shorts?

Fopling: Did I say I was finished? Now put on my trousers.

Margarita: But they’re too long. I will stumble when I walk.

Fopling: Oh, that’s no problem. Where are your boots? Now just tuck the cuffs in your boots. Voila!

Margarita: I feel like a member of the Secret Police.

Diana: Fopling, she looks, like a lesbian. You’ll scare away the men, but Venus Little might start getting interested.

Fopling: Margarita, we don’t want you to look forbidding. Just throw your sweater over the shirt. There, much more gemütlich.

Diana: Fopling, your fashion sense is terrific.

Margarita: I’m not going anywhere dressed like this.

Fopling: Oh, I’m sorry. Then you’re not going anywhere at all.

Diana: Margarita, you face is so pretty you don’t have show off your body to make a sensation. Everyone will love your long hair.

Margarita: Will they?

Diana: Your puckering lips.

Margarita: Really?

Diana: Your seductive eyes.

Fopling: You have a point, Diana. If we let her show that face of hers, she might as well be naked.

Diana: Oh, my big mouth. Fopling, you cannot very well cover her face. Masks went out of fashion, oh last year.

Fopling: Let me see now. First we will tuck your hair in your sweater, so.

Diana: Now she really looks gay.

Fopling: Diana, hand me her hat. We surely don’t want her to look unfeminine. Much better. You may cock it jauntily to one side, Margarita, if you want to make an effect. Now, “puckering lips” you said. That is difficult. Margarita, you may wind this scarf around your neck. Now raise it above your mouth. Very good. You may lower it to eat, but only then. It has sort of an Arabian touch, don’t you think, Diana. A Thousand and One Nights and all that.

Diana: She looks like one of the camels.

Fopling: Ah, but for the eyes. Where are your sunglasses, Margarita? Ah, here. Put them on. You can see, can’t you?  It’s not too dark in here? No, I didn’t think so. And these gloves. Now we are finished.

Diana: Fopling, she looks like she should be begging for coins. You can’t even tell she’s a female.

Fopling: Precisely! Now you and I will dress, Diana, and we will make our obligatory appearance at this party. (Exit Fopling)

Margarita: Sister, dear, I can’t move.

Diana: Don’t worry, Margarita. No one will know there’s an organism beneath that pile of clothing.

Scene ii

Horner, Ricardo

Ricardo: So, Mr. Jack, now you are surrounded by women and much too busy to see your old friends.

Horner: But I despise the sex, Ricardo. A pox on them all! If only I could avoid these nasty obligations now that I have lost my sting.

Ricardo: I never knew you to keep company with women in vain.

Horner: Since I cannot have them, my only purpose now is to be revenged upon them.

Ricardo: You looked like young Master Horner with his aunts at the theatre yesterday. The women were jostling and thrusting you from one side to another. You were so ill-used. But your face radiated absolute contentment.

Horner: Marriage teaches us, the best way to learn to hate a woman is by her constant company. Now I tolerate their prattle so I may ill use them just as you abuse rich fools like Pinchwife to get their money.

Ricardo: Those are donations, Mr. Jack. It seems a shame to spend so much time with women and not have them.

Horner: I can always long for what was, Mr. Ricardo.

Ricardo: It is so sad to hear your passion is diluted. If I were to have no more passion, I think I would die.

Horner: But you have no passion for women. If you did Fidget would probably let you nowhere in the vicinity of Heidi.

Ricardo: Passion is the same whether it be for women or for my Alfredo. You know, I am very faithful. But do not speak of Heidi and Fidget. They nearly ruined our play.

Horner: What’s wrong?

Ricardo: They could have told us Heidi would not perform tonight. We had to send for the understudy at absolutely the last minute.

Horner: Heidi didn’t perform?

Ricardo: She never came. I suppose she was preparing for this stupido reception.

Horner: Hmmm, it’s so unlike Fidget not to inform you. I hope everything is right with them.

Ricardo: You wouldn’t have spirited away Heidi, would you?

Horner: You still distrust my motivations. No Ricardo, the only pleasure I have with women now is getting utterly bepissed with them. And young Heidi does not look like much of a drinker to me.

Ricardo: The ladies drink?

Horner: I’ve already laid a couple of them flat with the bottle. It’s as good a way as any other to get them flat if only for old times’ sake. And that way I can have my revenge upon them.

Ricardo: I cannot believe you, Jack. Drinking with women is as unnatural as gossiping with them. You should leave that practice to us invertis. But I guess it is a pleasure for decayed fornicators. It’s at least one way of quenching love.

Horner: Or drowning it.

Ricardo: I’m glad you haven’t given over your male friends completely. I saw you at Gordon’s the other night.

Horner: You were at Gordon’s? Did you catch Fopling’s fiancée? The old satyr’s doing pretty well for himself.

Ricardo: Then there was a woman with Fopling? Yes I did notice her, but at first I thought he had somehow captured Heidi.

Horner: You’re right, there is quite a resemblance.

(Enter Sarah Pinchwife)

Sarah Pinchwife: Jack, I need to see you. Oh, Ricardo, how did you get in?

Ricardo: Through the front door.

Sarah Pinchwife: I must have missed you. But no matter, Ricardo, you’re the one everyone is anxious to see.

Horner: Even Barnaby?

Sarah Pinchwife: Well, we should never get over-optimistic, but Barnaby is as agitated as everyone else. Oh, please tell me, Ricardo, that Heidi was at the play and that she came with you to our reception. Tell me she is in the next room somewhere.

Ricardo: Unfortunately, Mrs. Pinchwife….

Sarah Pinchwife: I’m afraid to hear any more.

Horner: You are about to tell us that something is terribly wrong with Heidi and Jasper.

Ricardo: I was just telling Mr. Jack that Heidi never arrived for tonight’s performance. We had to send for her understudy at absolutely the last minute.

Sarah Pinchwife: Oh, God, poor Jasper. It appears Heidi has been missing most of the day. No one has an explanation. I think Jasper will expire in our arms this very night.

Horner: Has anyone tried to look for her?

Sarah Pinchwife: Rodney is calling at her old hotel as we talk. We were all hoping that she would appear at the play as usual and come with Ricardo to the reception.

Horner: Has the Swedish Ambassador arrived yet?

Sarah Pinchwife: No, thank goodness. Barnaby is fuming like some statesman on the verge of war. Wait, someone just came in. Let us hope it is she.

(Enter Fopling, Diana and Margarita)

Fopling: Hello, Sarah, there was no one in the front room. So we just let ourselves in.

Sarah Pinchwife: Sorry, Fopling, we are a little disorganized just now. But I see you brought along a piñata. How considerate. Is this a reference to some Swedish custom of which I am ignorant?

Fopling: I beg your pardon?

Diana: She is referring to your fiancée, Fopling.

Fopling: Oh, yes, I don’t know if you’ve met Margarita, Sarah. Here she is.

Sarah Pinchwife: I’m not sure if I’m meeting her now.

Ricardo: She looks more like a mummy.

Horner: Do you think she has on enough clothes? We don’t want her to catch a chill

Fopling: Keep your distance, Horner. In fact Margarita has a touch of laryngitis, so Diana will have to do the talking for her.

Sarah Pinchwife: Fopling, is this your doing? Diana, tell me there is a rational explanation for this vision.

Diana: Reason fled our household as soon as Fopling announced his engagement.

Fopling: Well, where is this party supposed to be? Margarita and I have another engagement and we cannot wait all night.

Sarah Pinchwife: At the moment we are still in attendance upon the guest of honor.

Fopling; Aha! Well, you know how these government types are. They make commitments and immediately forget all about them, unless, of course, it’s a fundraiser. So, he’s not here yet. Bad luck and all that. Margarita and I will be leaving now.

Horner: Sarah was not referring to the Swedish Ambassador, Fopling.

Fopling: Well, who else...?

Sarah Pinchwife: Heidi is somewhat delayed, Fopling. So we can all relax until she makes her appearance. As far as the Ambassador is concerned, he is not due yet, but his office confirmed with Barnaby this afternoon.

(Enter Rodney)

Rodney: Hello, everyone! There’s no one in the reception room.

Sarah Pinchwife: Barnaby’s off  keeping your uncle company. I’d better see he assumes battle stations before the Ambassador arrives. (Exit Sarah Pinchwife)

Rodney: What the devil?

Diana: Rodney Fidget, what are you doing?

Rodney: I’ve never seen a coat stand move before.

Horner: That’s Fopling’s personal coat stand, Rodney.

Rodney: You mean there’s a human being underneath all those clothes? There’s no chance that’s Heidi?

(Enter Sarah Pinchwife)

Sarah Pinchwife: You mean you didn’t find her at the hotel?

Horner: It appears we have an escapee on our hands. But the question is “Why”

Rodney: I thought it was a coat stand. Really.

Horner: Look at the sunglasses, Rodney.

Diana: Rodney, I believe you’ve met my brother’s fiancée, Margarita.

Rodney: Oh, good, Heidi’s evil twin. At least we are making some progress.

Ricardo: Rodney, I demand to know what has happened to Heidi. Your friend seems about to ruin our play by her disappearance.

(Enter Barnaby Pinchwife, Jasper Fidget)

Barnaby Pinchwife: I heard Ricardo arrived. What did you do to that girl, Ricardo?

Ricardo: I assure you, Mr. Barnaby….

Sarah Pinchwife: Oh, for heaven’s sake, Mr. Pinchwife, why don’t you go back to the front room and do what you do best: look pompous.

Barnaby Pinchwife: But that poor little girl has been abducted.

Horner: She’s only little if you disregard her chest.

Sarah Pinchwife: We are all concerned about that little girl. You would help us best by waiting for the Ambassador.

Barnaby Pinchwife: And leave you alone with this actor?

Sarah Pinchwife: Don’t worry, Mr. Pinchwife, your stand-in is here.

Barnaby Pinchwife: Stay beside her, Horner. Ricardo, if you are the cause of this…

Sarah Pinchwife: Go! (Exit Barnaby Pinchwife). Ricardo, hold your temper. We are all unhappy that your vedette is missing and obviously Pinchwife is not helping matters.

Jasper: So I gather Heidi was not at the hotel, Rodney.

Rodney: She has not returned since she checked out this morning, uncle.

Ricardo: Since Heidi is not present, I must protest her unprofessional behavior to you, Rodney. You introduced her to our company.

Rodney: Would you rather she had never played the role?

Ricardo: I would rather she did not disappear tonight. We had to fetch the understudy at absolutely the last minute.

Diana: The play is finished for tonight at least. The question now is what are we supposed to do about the Swedish Ambassador if we have no guest of honor?

Sarah Pinchwife: It is too bad there are no understudies for party guests.

Rodney: Of course, that’s it, understudies for party guests!

Fopling: It is clear to me there is to be no party tonight. Since that is the case, Margarita and I will just be in the way. We will take our leave. Come, my darling.

Horner: For heavens’ sake, Fopling, don’t desert us now. Jasper is desperate. He needs some good fellowship.

Fopling: You can offer him enough good fellowship for both of us.

Jasper: Fopling, I understood we were to conclude on your Lakeland property tonight.

Fopling: Yes, but I shall understand if you are not in the mood. It appears you will not be leaving with your wife, so call around tomorrow at your convenience.

Rodney: Wait, Fopling. Sarah said it all. She solved our problem with understudies for party guests.

Sarah Pinchwife: I’m always good for solving problems, but, Rodney dear, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Rodney: Don’t you see, understudies for party guests?  Heidi had an understudy for Ricardo’s play. She can have an understudy for the party.

Sarah Pinchwife: That would get us through the evening, but whom do you propose?

Rodney: Fopling, you and I know that Margarita is a dead ringer for Heidi.

Diana: Of course!

Fopling: Oh, no!

Jasper: You mean the ambulatory coat rack?

Fopling: This is a typical Rodney Fidget scheme and it will never work.

Sarah: There is a difference, Rodney. Heidi’s usual attire is next to nothing, at least every time I have seen her. Margarita may be a dear, but under the present circumstances she looks more like a ceremonial elephant.

Margarita: I am not an elephant!

Fopling: I warned you, you are not to talk. Put back that scarf.

Margarita: But I’m not an elephant.

Sarah Pinchwife: I did not mean to imply….

Horner: Fopling, why is Margarita dressed like this?

Diana: Tell them, Fopling.

Sarah Pinchwife: The point is Margarita may look like, Heidi in the flesh, although in you enthusiasm for a quick solution, Rodney, I am inclined to believe you exaggerate the resemblance in your own mind, nevertheless Margarita is far from being in the flesh now. In fact, if I estimate correctly, there is in fact not a bit of flesh exposed. Dressed like this, any of us could impersonate Heidi, even you, Rodney.

Fopling: Precisely, so you don’t need us.

(Enter Venus Little)

Venus Little: Your attention, everybody. The Swedish Ambassador has just walked through the door.

Sarah Pinchwife: However, dressed like this, Heidi, and by extension all the rest of us, would be a laughingstock.

Horner: Instead of just Fopling.

Sarah Pinchwife: Do not make matters worse, Jack. If we were fortunate, the Swedish Ambassador may merely consent to regard us as harmless fools. Still, he may choose to take offense. I am not sure of the consequences of that, but why run the risk?

Venus Little: Didn’t anybody hear me? You are all needed out front. Barnaby’s head is beginning to look like a purple onion.

Diana: Come to the conclusion, Sarah. Margarita needs to change. And since this is your home, you are the only woman here who can lend her a dress.

Sarah: Exactly. Don’t I sound like a lawyer, Jack, or some hard-bitten captain of industry?

Horner: Your analysis of the situation is acute.

Sarah: I will be happy to lend her a dress, but why don’t we see her face? Diana and Rodney are convinced of the resemblance. Now show the rest of us.

Fopling: No, no. You have forgotten one important element. You have not secured my consent.

Sarah Pinchwife: A woman does not need your consent to show her face, Fopling.

Rodney: Fopling, it’s your patriotic duty.

Fopling: But Margarita is ill. She cannot show her face.

Diana: Nonsense. Margarita, dear, take off that hat. It makes you look like some vermin ridden chanteuse.

Sarah Pinchwife: Well, the hair is the same color.

Rodney: See, I told you.

Diana: Now unravel that scarf. I don’t see how you could breathe.

Sarah Pinchwife: Wonderful, Margarita, you are indeed attractive.

Horner: If we stopped here we could say Heidi prefers to travel incognito.

Diana: We don’t have to. Margarita, take off those sunglasses. Stay away, Fopling.

Ricardo: Remarkable, they really do look alike.

Jasper: I feel she is lacking Heidi’s divine spark.

Diana: Divinity has abandoned us, so we the desperate must shift for ourselves.

Sarah Pinchwife: Good, I will get a dress. Jack, are you coming?

Rodney: We’re saved! War with Sweden has been averted.

(Enter Barnaby Pinchwife)

Barnaby Pinchwife: Venus, can’t I trust you with the simplest mission? The Ambassador is standing there like a dyspeptic supernumerary and only half the chorus is singing. Come everyone, that’s why we’re here. Let us all meet the Swedish Ambassador.

Sarah Pinchwife: Look, Mr. Pinchwife, it is not much of a reception without Heidi and we have uncovered a Heidi look-alike.

Barnaby Pinchwife: Hmm, there is a similarity if I squint. Who is this person?

Rodney: Fopling’s fiancée.

Barnaby Pinchwife: She must do something about her taste in clothing.

Sarah Pinchwife: I’m going to get her a dress now.

Barnaby Pinchwife: No, Sarah, you are coming with me. I have a distinct presentiment of ambassadors abandoning ship. We shall let this charade fend for itself. Besides, unless she is also Swedish, Fopling’s fiancée will betray herself as soon as she opens her mouth. Now come along everybody.

Diana: You all go. Do go ahead, Sarah. Jack here is so creative and I see a pair of shears on the desk. Jack, why don’t you try to do something with what she’s wearing?

Jack: I?

Diana: Yes, pretend you are Todd Oldham. A snip here and a snip there and she’ll be a fashionable waif.

Horner: An urban Rastafarian.

Sarah Pinchwife: Jack stay? Diana, I thought I knew the depths to which my hatred of another woman could descend. But it appears I have found a new level. If Jack stays, so do I.

Barnaby Pinchwife: Sarah, you are tempting fate.

Diana: I have no idea what you are babbling about Sarah.

Sarah Pinchwife: All right, I will accompany you into the next room, my dear husband, but Diana must come also.

Barnaby Pinchwife: Everyone, come.

Diana: Fine. Jack, you stay here and transform Margarita.

Fopling: I am not moving. Ambassadors be damned!

Diana: You too, Fopling. You stay.

(Exeunt Sarah Pinchwife, Barnaby Pinchwife, Diana, Rodney, Ricardo,Venus Little, Jasper. Manent Horner, Margarita, Fopling.)

Horner: Tell me, Fopling. Who devised Margarita’s outfit?

Fopling: My fiancée. She feels conservative dress is most appropriate for a woman.

Horner: Are you enjoying life in our little city, Miss Margarita? You are so attractive I must kiss your hand. May I, Fopling?

Fopling: Horner…

Horner: But why is your hair so short? Is that a country fashion?

Margarita: My hair isn’t short. It’s tucked inside my baby’s shirt. See, I’ll take it out.

Horner: Let me help. (Aside) Now is the perfect opportunity to make Fopling thoroughly miserable. (To Margarita) I was afraid you would never speak, Margarita. Your voice is beautifully unique.

Margarita: Some consider it a bit high.

Horner: Nonsense. What beautiful hair. I must kiss you on both cheeks, like the French. Excuse me, Fopling.

Fopling: Stay away, Horner. You may re-arrange her clothing. Your cronies have forced that concession upon me. However, you may not touch my fiancée in that intimate fashion.

Horner: This is not intimate at all, Fopling. It is merely a friendly Continental greeting. See, I can greet you in the same way.

Fopling: Get off me!

Margarita: You see, bunny, the man likes you.

Horner: I believe, Margarita, that wearing such a heavy coat indoors will raise questions, especially in the mind of the Swedish Ambassador. You may take it off and the gloves.

Margarita: Thank goodness! I felt like a walking rummage sale.

Horner: The sweater also. If you are going to dissolve, the heat should not be the cause.   Next we must attack the trousers. Go ahead, remove your boots so we can see what we have to work with.

Margarita: I don’t want to go barefoot.

Fopling: No!

Horner: I agree. Barefoot would be nearly as peculiar as wearing those boots. I’m sure Sarah has something you can borrow. The trousers, however, are perplexing. Where did you get these, Margarita.

Margarita: They belong to Fopling.

Horner: I should have guessed. Margarita you could fit in one pant leg. I think I could fit in one pant leg.

Margarita: Don’t worry. I can take them off. I’m wearing something underneath.

Fopling: (Aside) He’s trying to get her naked. How can I escape this punishment?

Horner: Those aren’t much better, but at least they fit. Is this the way you dress generally for going out? People in the country do have peculiar ways.

Margarita: Don’t be silly, silly. These are my gardening shorts. Fopling insisted I wear them to the party.

Horner: You have many talents, Fopling, but please take my advice and do not go into fashion design.

Margarita: I can take them off. I have my real party pants on underneath.

Fopling: You are to leave those shorts on, woman. I forbid you to move.

(Enter Rodney)

Rodney: What is taking so long? Nobody has much to say to an elderly diplomat. Pinchwife has already told his Viking in the toilet joke for the third time and the Ambassador wants to know where Heidi is.

Horner: What did you tell him?

Rodney: That she’s preparing herself.

Fopling: She’s preparing herself all right.

Horner: This will take a few minutes more. You can see Fopling did a thorough job.

Rodney: Yes, she looks terrible. Fopling might as well have cut off all her hair.

Fopling: (Aside) There’s an idea.

Rodney: I didn’t mean to insult you, Mrs. Fopling. You are absolutely beautiful. In fact, in some ways you are more attractive than Heidi. But your outfit leaves something to be desired.

Horner: It was not her choice and I am working as fast as a can.

Rodney: Oh well, how long can I tell them? (Makes to leave)

Horner: No stay. (Aside to Rodney) Fopling is a soul in torment. We can have some fun with him. (Aloud) Fopling, for friendship’s sake, let us see her party outfit. Go ahead, take off the shorts, Margarita. Your fiancé approves.

Margarita: I can’t forget my shorts and leave them here. I need them for gardening.

Rodney: Oh, my god!

Fopling: (Aside) Oh, sadistic fate!

Horner: Oh, wonder of nature! I have seen my vision and I may die now.

Margarita: I should have made these pants shorter. I look so dowdy!

Horner: I can do something about that. But first, Rodney, I think Fopling has been amiss in his social duties. You’ve never been properly introduced to the future Mrs. Fopling. Count yourselves introduced. You may now call her “Margarita.”

Rodney: We have met. How do you do, Margarita?

Horner: Rodney, we have established the French custom here of kissing her on both cheeks.

Rodney: Welcome to the city, Margarita.

Fopling: Horner, you go too far. Stand back, Fidget. Enough of this. Let’s whisk her past this damned Ambassador and get things over with.

Horner: Not so fast, Fopling. She still looks like a bag lady. Margarita, you are right. Your pants while exciting are still a bit too long. A charity matron might wear them, but a girl at the beginning of her social career? No!

Margarita: I feel so unfashionable.

Horner: Rodney, lift them from behind. There, that’s the length in style today. Not a word, Fopling. Step back. That length exposes the gentle rise of your hip and adds dimension to your already long legs.

Rodney: I can see the tan line.

Margarita: I stay outside as much as I can.

Horner: Exactly, that’s what we need to show: the tan line. It’s the mark of the modern city woman, Margarita.

Margarita: You see, bud, they are trying to help me.

Rodney: You should sit down, Fopling. You look feverish.

Horner: But how do we shorten the pants. If I cut through the stitching, everything will unravel. I know. We will create some vents, chevron style. Yes, the vents will cross the tan line and show off both her white and her brown skin.

Fopling: (Aside) Why don’t you just mount her now and get it over with?

Rodney: Sheer, genius, Jack.

Horner: This is a very precise operation. I must be careful not to lacerate your skin, Margarita. That should do it for the final chevron on the left side. Now let us turn our attention to the right buttock.

Rodney: Don’t harm the tan at all costs.

Fopling: They should cut it all off. No half measures here.

Horner: There, that finishes the back. It gives you a savage look, like you’ve been clawed by a giant cat. Now the front must match the back. Keep holding up the shirt, Margarita, so I can see. Once again it would be unwise to accidentally cut you.

Margarita: Stop, Mr. Man, you can see my pussy hairs!

Horner: Oh, how clumsy of me. But there is no need to panic, Margarita. As a stopgap, I can snip away the stray hairs with my scissors. Still, before the evening is over, you must shave a tighter line. I can show you how to do that also.

Rodney: Are you all right, Fopling?

Horner: Now the other side. Symmetry is our aesthetic creed. Let me snip away the hairs on this side also. Where is your compact? Let me apply just a bit of make-up to smooth the skin. Stand still, Margarita, don’t sway.

Rodney: Her breathing is getting a bit fast. She’s doing a passing imitation of real excitement.

Horner: Imitation? A few more rubs and we will both dissolve. Let me get the other side.

Fopling: I will kill you all, then kill myself!

Rodney: Fopling, I think you should take a vacation. You’re looking so stressed.

Horner: Perhaps a few days in the country. These are the legs I remember. Do you recall, Fopling, how I told you I fell in love with the girl you had at Gordon’s? These are her legs. I cannot forget them.

Fopling: I tell you, we were never at Gordon’s.

Margarita: Is this the man you said fell in love with me at Gordon’s, baby?  He is exactly what I dreamed he would be. He is so handsome. I think I love him too, bud.

Fopling: (Aside) Damn the heavens and the earth! It’s all out! I might as well enroll her in one of the better cathouses now.

Rodney: But Fopling never went to Gordon’s. You must have been with someone else, Margarita.

Margarita: I don’t understand. We ate there the other night. Tell them, bud. I had insects!

Horner: Basta! Now for the shirt. We cannot let it hang down that way. It covers the pants.

Fopling: (Aside) She needs something to cover her.

Horner: Stand aside, Fopling. I think what we need to do is create two tails in the front so they can be tied cunningly exposing the midriff. That means I will have to cut two great slits on either side, thus. Tie your shirt at the bottom, Margarita.  No, not quite. Let me help you. The knot is part of the look and should finish just above the navel. Good. But I have miscalculated. Now we have a great flap hanging off your back.

Margarita: It’s like a little cape.

Rodney: It would be good for horseback riding.

Horner: Hold still, Margarita. There is nothing to do but cut it off.  I must be careful to provide a graceful arc at the top. It can look a little ragged to match the chevrons on your pants. There. You have a lovely back, soft but toned. Of course, we have to lose the sleeves. We don’t want you looking like a chorus girl. I shall snip right here to avoid the stitching and just cut all the way around. Now for the other side. These shears are so blunt. Do they match? Symmetry is important. Let me cut off that collar also. It makes you look too masculine. This way the strip of shirt around your neck acts as a sort of harness. I’ll cut these buttons right off to give you some cleavage. Good! Completely savage!

Rodney: Hang on, Jack. Don’t go over the edge. There’s not much more you can cut away.

Margarita: My bra is showing everywhere!

Horner: Stay your fears, mesdames et messieurs. No more cutting. But you are right, Margarita. We can’t have the bra showing like that.

Fopling: This has gone too far. Cover yourself with my coat, orange wench.

Rodney: You can’t wear a coat indoors, Fopling. It’s bad luck.

Horner: There is only one solution, Margarita. You must remove your bra.

Margarita: Do you think so?

Horner: Oh, yes. The shirt knotted at the bottom will provide sufficient support for your bosom.

Margarita: This is so exciting. There, I’ve unsnapped the back. But I can’t get my arms through the straps. Will you help me, bud?

Horner: No need, Fopling. Have a seat. Your fiancé may be superlative in affairs of business. Margarita, but when it comes to fashion, you need experts.

Rodney: Besides, he’s looking catatonic just about now.

Horner: I shall help you. Slip your elbow through the strap. Your arm is so beautiful and brown. I must kiss it. Do you mind? Oh, Fopling, don’t be so old fashioned. Now take off the other strap the same way. Hallelujah, the bra is free. We will just pull it up the front of your shirt. Tie the shirt tails tight, Margarita. We can’t have any accidents in front of the Swedish Ambassador. Oh, how I forget. Since I kissed one arm, I would be remiss to ignore its twin. Speaking of twins, Margarita, you have no tan lines on your bosom.

Margarita: Oh, I never wear my top in the country.

Fopling: What did you say?

Margarita: Only when I go outside, baby.

Horner: Now I think it’s my turn to swoon. Margarita, you will have to nurse both Fopling and me back to health.

Rodney: Let me take a look at you, Margarita. Jack, there’s only one problem.

Margarita: You don’t have to tell me. I know I look awful. I’m sorry, Mr. Man. Our rubbing together was fun and everything….

Rodney: Jack, you got a little too closely involved with your project. We’d better get her a dress.

Margarita: I also need shoes and I have to fix my hair and make-up.

Horner: You are both right. I can swallow my artistic pride. Rodney, let us find Sarah and see if we can take our country maiden up to her room. (Exeunt Horner and Rodney)

Fopling: Now is our chance, Margarita. We must get away from this den of catins  immediately. Wait here and I will fetch the car. Remember speak to no one. And for heavens sake put on that coat. (Exit Fopling)

Margarita: (sola) It’s happening again. Little me is all by herself again. I just don’t understand this city life. My new friends run around in circles forever and then suddenly they leave me all alone. I’m afraid to move. Before I could hardly walk because I had on too many of Fopling’s clothes. Now I feel that if I raised my arm too quickly all my clothes would fall off and I would be naked as a baby. On second thought, that might be fun! So that is my lover from Gordon’s. He’s exactly what I had hoped for. I want to start loving him as soon as possible. I don’t think Fopling will mind, will he? But my new lover needs to understand I cannot stay with him alone. I cannot stay with him alone. I also have to cuddle with my budikins. And then there are so many other beautiful men. A healthy girl like me needs sex again and again.

(Enter Horner, Rodney, Sarah Pinchwife)

Sarah Pinchwife: For heaven’s sake, Jack, what is taking you so long? I’m sure the Swedish Ambassador is not going to take this much longer. Barnaby and Ricardo have started to bicker in front of him and Jasper has been staring at him like a death’s head for the last half hour.

Horner: Has the Ambassador said anything?

Sarah Pinchwife: You mean aside from small talk? No. But I caught him glancing at the time. I give him ten minutes and it’s off to the airport Heidi or no. Oh my god! This is what you’ve been doing while we were trying to hold on to the Ambassador?

Horner: I admit I got a bit carried away.

Sarah Pinchwife: She looks like she’s been clawed by a mountain lion. I take it you were so excited you just ripped off her clothes in front of everyone?

Rodney: They put on a passably exciting sex show. I thought I was in Amsterdam.

Sarah Pinchwife: Oh Jack, I just can’t trust you, can I?

Horner: Don’t start.

Margarita: Are you the nice lady who can lend me a dress and shoes?

Sarah Pinchwife: I don’t know if I still have a dress short enough for you, Margarita, since Mr. Pinchwife jettisoned most of my going wild clothes. I did manage to save some hoochie heels that should be perfect if they fit. You need to do something about your hair and make-up also.

Margarita: I know. The men have been tousing and mousing me all night.

Sarah Pinchwife: Hmmm as Mr. Pinchwife would say.

Rodney: Speaking of Barnaby, he had a point earlier. Our understudy does not speak Swedish.

Horner: If the real Heidi were here the two would be babbling away at this very moment.

Rodney: Yes, of course, her Swedish is perfect.

Sarah Pinchwife: Not much of a feat if you are Swedish.

Rodney: I’ve been thinking. This is what we need to do.

Sarah Pinchwife: I can feel another Rodney scheme approaching.

Rodney: Margarita, listen to me. The first time the Ambassador addresses you in Swedish simply say that you prefer to speak English.

Margarita: But of course I prefer to speak English, silly. It’s the only language I speak.

Rodney: No, Margarita, I know that but you must pretend to speak Swedish. You speak Swedish but you prefer not to since you are not in Sweden. Do you see?

Margarita: I think so.

Rodney: Let’s practice. Repeat after me. Let me think. Now say this. “I am honored to meet a countryman, Your Excellency…”

Horner: “Your Excellency”

Sarah Pinchwife: Yes, he’s some sort of count or something.

Rodney: Don’t confuse her. Again, “I am honored to meet a countryman, Your Excellency. However, I feel that since we are guests in this country it would be impolite of us to speak in anything except the native language.” And remember to say it with a Swedish accent.

Horner: Don’t confuse her.

Rodney: Let’s practice. I’m the Ambassador. I’ve just said a few words in Swedish. Now talk.

Margarita: Talk what?

Rodney: What I just said.

Margarita: “Now talk”

Rodney: Let’s go over it phrase by phrase. Repeat after me: “I am honored to meet a countryman, Your Excellency.”

Sarah Pinchwife: Go ahead, Margarita.

Margarita: I am honored to meet a countryman, Your Excellency.

Rodney: “However, I feel that since we are guests in this country…”

Margarita: However, I feel that since we are guests in this country…

Rodney: “…it would be impolite of us to speak in anything except the native language.”

Margarita: …it would be impolite of us to speak in anything except the native language.

Rodney: Excellent. All right, let’s try again. I’m the Swedish Ambassador. Now, ångvist absolut Stockholm.

Margarita: What was that?

Rodney: It’s Swedish.

Margarita: If you speak Swedish, why don’t you talk to him?

Rodney: No, Margarita, you don’t understand. You need to say what I just taught you. That way he will speak in English.

Horner: And remember, your name is Heidi.

Rodney: Let’s try again. All you have to do is repeat what I told you. And remember your Swedish accent. Are you ready?

Margarita: Yes.

Rodney: Are you sure? All right: Ingmar Bergman, Lapland, August Strindberg.

Margarita: Now?

Sarah Pinchwife: Yes.

Margarita: I’m sorry Mr. Excellency Man, but we’re not in Sweden and I don’t speak Swedish anyway, so could you please talk native?

Horner: Rodney, your protégé is incapable of deception.

Sarah Pinchwife: I’ve had enough of this. We have to get her dressed before the Ambassador leaves. Rodney you can continue your instruction in my room.

Horner: May I come also? I can prance and whinny by your side.

Sarah Pinchwife: I suppose it will keep you away from the other women. Come along everyone, this way.

Rodney: Remember, Margarita, you speak Swedish, but you prefer English. It’s more polite. Don’t forget. (Exeunt Horner, Rodney, Sarah Pinchwife, Margarita)

(Enter Fopling)

Fopling: Margarita? Oh my god, Horner’s already taken her away. He’s probably hiding her in a basement somewhere with that Heidi. I should never have left her alone even for a moment.

Oh, I cannot tolerate the condition of jealousy to which I have been reduced. The burning transport that inflames my heart merely redoubles my love. I have been embittered, angered and desperate. I hate her and for all that she has never appeared lovelier. I never really noticed how wonderfully her eyes glistened. My desire for her has never been so pressing. I was the one who oversaw her education. I brought her into my home as an infant and glowed with joy at each small advance. My heart leapt as her beauty developed. I did not tend her lovingly for thirteen long years just to have some disease ridden poacher kidnap her just when she ripened. Oh no, my young friend, you won’t escape that easily.  Either you lose or I’ve wasted all this time. In any case, you won’t be laughing for long.

(Enter Barnaby Pinchwife, Jasper Fidget, Ricardo, Peter Little, Venus Little, Diana, assorted guests)

Barnaby Pinchwife: I knew we should never have let you in our house, Ricardo. Your shenanigans with that poor girl have ruined her husband and made a mockery of our gathering. Now you must reveal her whereabouts before she is hurt or this will be a matter for the authorities.

Ricardo: I have had enough of your abuse. Your friends have placed irresponsible people with my company, threatening a wonderful production. And through all of this I must listen to you bluster. Were it not for your money, I would never have set foot in this loco house.

Barnaby Pinchwife: So all you wanted was our money.

Ricardo: Do you think anyone else would be here if it weren’t for your money?

Venus Little: Stop it, both of you. Ricardo, come sit with me. Peter, keep Barnaby company. I’m sure he’s dying to tell you the Viking in the toilet joke again.

Fopling: Where’s the Ambassador?

1st Guest: Gone.

2nd Guest: He said something about catching a plane. Then he started talking in Swedish to his Secretary.

1st Guest: They both laughed.

2nd Guest: Then they were gone.

Fopling: More importantly, is my fiancée anywhere in this crowd? She seems to have disappeared.

Barnaby Pinchwife: You mean the bag lady?

Venus Little: You need to hang on to your fiancée tighter than that, Fopling, if you’re going to be a successful husband.

Fopling: Is she anywhere here? I cannot see her. Excuse me. I will search the front room. (Exit Fopling)

Diana: Where for that matter are Sarah and Jack?

Venus Little: How did the understudy do in Heidi’s role tonight, Ricardo?

Peter Little: Well, Fopling doesn’t have anything to worry about if his fiancée is with those two.

Barnaby Pinchwife: Yes, it’s like being with two women. I think I will help Fopling (Exit Barnaby Pinchwife)

Ricardo: At least she was professional enough to know her lines.

Venus Little: She’s not as pretty as Heidi.

Diana: Sarah, Jack and Margarita all missing. How amusing.

(Enter Horner, Rodney, Sarah Pinchwife, Margarita)

Sarah Pinchwife: Not interesting at all, Mistress Chastity. We were finding a dress for Margarita. And we had to brush out her hair.

Ricardo: I pray to Saint Teresa of Avila.

Diana: How magnificent!

Venus Little: And perhaps Heidi is not quite so pretty as Mrs. Fopling. What do you say, Ricardo?

Peter Little: I miss Heidi’s grandeur.

Horner: It takes a true connoisseur to distinguish between a C and a D cup.

Sarah Pinchwife: What is everyone doing here? Don’t tell me….

Peter Little: Yes, too little too late.

1st Guest: Back to Sweden for a meeting this very night.

2nd Guest: Yes, Oslo, reindeer, Stockholm and chez Pinchwife Ingiting.

Margarita: I’m sorry, Your Highness, we are in a native country and though I speak Swedish you only speak English. Pleased to meet you and stay polite.

2nd Guest: Excuse me?

Sarah Pinchwife: No, Margarita, you don’t have to worry any more.

Margarita: You mean he’s not the Ambassador?

Diana: I’m afraid the Ambassador has fled, Margarita.

Margarita: I so wanted to meet him, sister.

Diana: And is that your dress, Sarah?

Sarah Pinchwife: Yes, don’t tell Mr. Pinchwife.

Diana: I’ll bet you’re a dancing fool when you have that on.

Venus Little: Sarah can expose her crotch with the best of them when her husband’s not around.

(Enter Barnaby Pinchwife)

Barnaby Pinchwife: Who said I’m not around.

Venus Little: Ooops, the Viking’s back. Let’s go look for Fopling, Ricardo, now that we’ve found his fiancée. (Exeunt Ricardo, Venus Little)

Sarah Pinchwife: Jack, let’s take this opportunity to slip out and have a drink.

Diana: A wonderful idea, Sarah. May I join you?

Jasper: Rodney, I think I’m going to need some help. I’m not feeling my usual self.

(Enter Fopling)

Fopling: So there you are, whorelet. May we finally depart, Jasper? It’s been wonderful as usual, Sarah. Why are you just standing there? Let us go. And put on that coat.

Margarita: I can’t forget my gardening shorts. (Exeunt Fopling and Margarita)

Peter Little: We feel so sorry for you, Jasper.

Sarah Pinchwife: We all do. She will turn up. It has all been some misunderstanding. Tomorrow you will be laughing about it.

Rodney: I’m sure of that, uncle.

Barnaby Pinchwife: I don’t suppose anyone has thought of calling the police.

Rodney: (Aside) To report a Heidi Spitzenbuben missing? Oh my god!

Sarah Pinchwife: I’ll do that right now. (Exit Sarah Pinchwife)

1st Guest: Well, it’s been interesting, Pinchwife. I suppose we should be making our way also.

3rd Guest: Just remind me. What did the Viking say when he was caught in the toilet? Ha, ha!

(Enter Margarita)

Margarita: Aren’t you coming, sister dear? I won’t let my bunny leave without you.

Diana: You go ahead, Margarita. I shall be fine. (Exit Margarita) Jack, I have something important to discuss with you. Why don’t we make our escape now while Sarah is out of the room? (Exeunt Diana and Horner. Enter Venus Little and Ricardo)

Venus Little: I hear Fopling left.

Barnaby Pinchwife: If you plan on staying all night, Ricardo, we can prepare a room for you.

(Enter Sarah Pinchwife)

Sarah Pinchwife: They’re sending someone around. Where’s Jack?

Rodney: Can you walk, uncle?

Jasper: I’ll be fine. I just need to lean on you a bit.

Sarah Pinchwife: And Diana? Where did she go? Oh my god! That harridan has outsmarted me again! (Exit Sarah Pinchwife) [Next]

[Act I] [Act II] [Act IV ] [Act V]