Act One, Scene Six
Cuthbert’s bedroom. CUTHBERT is pacing back and forth, HILDA is seated, sewing.
Cuthbert: Did you see her? Wasn’t she beautiful?
Hilda: Poor hips.
Hilda: Too narrow, much too cramped, she’ll have a hell of a rough time when they come to get the bugger out.
Cuthbert: Nurse, what are you on about?
Hilda: Childbirth, dear, childbirth. Her physique is all wrong.
Cuthbert: Urgh, really, nurse, must you always be so revolting?
Hilda: I’m just thinking about what’s best for you. Do you really want to suffer the anxiety of watching this girl go under the surgeon’s knife, only to watch her spirit fade before your eyes, losing the baby as well, forcing you to attend a double funeral whilst still in the prime of your life?
Cuthbert: (clamping his hands to his ears). Shut up.
Hilda: I’m simply ensuring a balanced view of the eventualities is presented, for your best interests. Think of me as your BBC.
Cuthbert: Shut up, nurse, shut up. I love her and that’s all that matters. I won’t shirk from tomorrow; I love her today.
Hilda: If you say so, just remember…
Cuthbert: Oh, thank goodness. Captain, how goes the day? Any news?
Chad: (going down on one knee). My lord, I have had my men scouring the country for your headless girl – a rather unorthodox request, if I may be so bold, but I am not one in a position to question. Unfortunately, my lord, whilst we found many girls in such a predicament, none were in possession of the necessary vocal requirements to be brought before you in audience. Therefore, I must beg your lordship’s forgiveness and proclaim the search to be futile.
Cuthbert: Thank you, captain, for your endeavours. You may return to my mother.
Chad: (shocked). You know, my lord?
Cuthbert: Know about what?
Chad: Oh, nothing, my lord, nothing at all.
CHAD bows and hastily exits.
Cuthbert: How can this be?
Hilda: Maybe it just isn’t meant to be?
Cuthbert: No, the fates are conspiring to keep her from me for a reason. They appear to be cruel, but in actual fact, they are kind: by keeping us apart, they are simply working to ensure that our final reunion shall be all the sweeter. Oh, turbulent winds, do not hinder the approach of my love – work instead to bring her hither with all haste. I beseech thee: only in this manner can my yearning be satisfied and the sweet pain of my bosom be assuaged.
Hilda: Oh no, dear, that sounds like heart burn. You don’t need to call on the winds for that, some aspirin should see you right as rain in no time. I think I have one around here.
Cuthbert: (falling to his knees before HILDA). Oh, sweet simple nurse.
Hilda: ‘Ere, watch who you’re calling “simple”.
Cuthbert: Oh, gentle Hilda, surely there is something you can do to soothe this pain in my breast?
Hilda: I told you: aspirin. Works wonders on all sorts of aches and pains: headache, toothache, goodness, maybe even heartache.
Cuthbert: No, I do not wish to dull the pain. Only through my union with this woman can the pain she has caused be relieved.
Hilda: Oh, that black eye she gave you? Right little shiner that. I’ll get some more ice for you to put on it.
Cuthbert: No, nurse. Please, I beg of you, if it is within your power, find this woman and bring her to me.
Hilda: (sighing). I’ll do what I can.
Cuthbert: Thank you, Hilda, thank you. I can only hope it is not too late.
Hilda: Melodramatic little sod, isn’t he?