HMS Pinafore


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Dialogue following No. 10

Enter Josephine from cabin.

Josephine. It is useless — Sir Joseph's attentions nauseate me. I know that he is a truly great and good man, for he told me so himself, but to me he seems tedious, fretful, and dictatorial. Yet his must be a mind of no common order, or he would not dare to teach my dear father to dance a hornpipe on the cabin table. (Sees Ralph.) Ralph Rackstraw! (Overcome by emotion.)

Ralph. Aye, lady -- no other than poor Ralph Rackstraw!

Josephine. (aside) How my heart beats! (aloud) And why poor, Ralph?

Ralph. I am poor in the essence of happiness, lady --— rich only in never-ending unrest. In me there meet a combination of antithetical elements which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective influences — thither by subjective emotions — wafted one moment into blazing day, by mocking hope — plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. I hope I make myself clear, lady?

Josephine. Perfectly. (aside) His simple eloquence goes to my heart. Oh, if I dared — but no, the thought is madness! (aloud) Dismiss these foolish fancies, they torture you but needlessly. Come, make one effort.

Ralph. (aside) I will — one. (aloud) Josephine!

Josephine. (indignantly) Sir!

Ralph. Aye, even though Jove's armoury were launched at the head of the audacious mortal whose lips, unhallowed by relationship, dared to breathe that precious word, yet would I breathe it once, and then perchance be silent evermore. Josephine, in one brief breath I will concentrate the hopes, the doubts, the anxious fears of six weary months. Josephine, I am a British sailor, and I love you!

Josephine. Sir, this audacity! (aside) Oh, my heart, my beating heart! (aloud) This unwarrantable presumption on the part of a common sailor (aside) Common! oh, the irony of the word! (crossing, aloud) Oh, sir, you forget the disparity in our ranks.

Ralph. I forget nothing, haughty lady. I love you desperately, my life is in your hand — I lay it at your feet! Give me hope, and what I lack in education and polite accomplishments, that I will endeavour to acquire. Drive me to despair,
and in death alone I shall look for consolation. I am proud and cannot stoop to implore. I have spoken and I wait your word.

Josephine. You shall not wait long. Your proffered love I haughtily reject. Go, sir, and learn to cast your eyes on some village maiden in your own poor rank — they should be lowered before your captain's daughter.

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