A Tragedy as Played at Ryde**
Macbreath Mr Henley
Macpuff Mr Terry
TIME: The day before the election
SCENE: A Drummoyne tram running past a lunatic asylum.
All present are Reform Leaguers and supporters of Macbreath.
They seat themselves in the compartment.
MACBREATH: Here, I’ll sit in the midst.
Be large in mirth. Anon we’ll all be fitted
With Parliamentary seats.
(Voter approaches the door.)
There’s blood upon thy face.
VOTER: ‘Tis Thompsons’s, then.
MACBREATH: Is he thrown out? How neatly we beguiled
The guileless Thompson. Did he sign a pledge agreeing to retire?
VOTER: Aye, that he did.
MACBREATH: Not so did I!
Not on the doubtful hazard of a vote
By Ryde electors, cherry-pickers, oafs,
That drive their market carts at dread of night
And sleep all day. Not on the jaundiced choice
Of folks who daily run their half a mile
Just after breakfast, when the steamer hoots
Her warning to the laggard, not on these
Relied Macbreath, for if these rustics’ choice
Had fall’n on Thompson, I should still have claimed
A conference. But hold! Is Thompson out?
VOTER: My lord, his name is mud. That I did for him
I paid my shilling and I cast my vote.
MACBREATH: Thou art the best of all the shilling voters.
Prithee, be near me on election day
To see me smite Macpuff, and now we shan’t
(Ghost of Thompson appears.)
What’s this? A vision!
Thou canst not say I did it! Never shake
Thy gory locks at me. Run for some other seat,
Let the woods hide thee. Prithee, chase thyself!
(The ghost of Thompson disappears, and Macbreath revives himself
with a great effort.)
Mine own especial comrades of Reform,
All amateurs and no professionals,
So many worthy candidates I see,
Alas that there are only ninety seats.
Still, let us take them all, and Joe Carruthers,
Ashton, and Jimmy Hogue, and all the rest,
Will have to look for work! Oh, joyous day,
To-morrow’s poll will make me M.L.A.
TIME: Election day.
SCENE: Macbreath’s committee rooms.
MACBREATH: Bring me no more reports: let them all fly;
Till Labour’s platform to Kyabram come
I cannot taint with fear. How go the votes?
Enter first voter
FIRST VOTER: May it please my Lord,
The cherry-pickers’ vote is two to one
Towards Macpuff: and all our voters say
The ghost of Thompson sits in every booth,
And talks of pledges.
MACBREATH: What a polished liar!
And yet the dead can vote! (Strikes him.)
What if it should be!
(Ghost of Thompson appears to him suddenly.)
GHOST: The Pledge! The Pledge!
MACBREATH: I say I never signed the gory pledge.
(Ghost disappears. Enter a Messenger.)
Thou com’st to use thy tongue. Thy story quickly!
MESSENGER: Gracious, my Lord,
I should report that which I know I saw,
But know not how to do it.
MACBREATH: Well! say, on!
MESSENGER: As I did stand my watch in Parliament
I saw the Labour platform come across
And join Kyabram, Loans were overthrown,
The numbers were reduced, extravagance
Is put an end to by McGowan’s vote.
MACBREATH: The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where got’st thou this fish yarn?
MESSENGER: There’s nearly forty,
MACBREATH: Thieves, fool?
MESSENGER: No, members, will be frozen out of work!
MACBREATH: Aye, runs the story so! Well, well, ’tis sudden!
These are the uses of the politician,
A few brief sittings and another contest;
He hardly gets to know th’ billiard tables
Before he’s out . . .
(Alarums and Harbour excursions; enter Macpuff
at the head of a Picnic Party.)
MACPUFF: Now, yield thee, tyrant!
By that fourth party which I once did form,
I’ll take thee to a picnic, there to live
On windfall oranges!
MACBREATH: . . . Nay, rather death!
Death before picnic! Lay on Macpuff,
And damned be he who first cries Hold, enough!
(They fight. Macbreath is struck on the back of the head
by some blue metal from Pennant Hills Quarry. He falls. The referee
counts, ‘One, two, three, eight, nine, ten, out!’)
MACPUFF: Kind voters all, and worthy gentlemen,
Who rallied to my flag today, and made me
Member for Thompson, from my soul I thank you.
There needs no trumpet blast, for I can blow
Like any trombone. Prithee, let us go!
Thanks to you all who shared this glorious day,
Whom I invite to dance at Chowder Bay!