Image courtesy Britanica
Arts & Culture Theater

The Untold Story of Robinson Crusoe

by Jamie Moses

A retelling of the Robinson Crusoe story that addresses themes not included in the novels by Daniel Defoe or Michele Tournier.

This play is not an adaption of a book but it does use the characters of two related novels and includes other 18th century historical figures and happenings.

The novels are:

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, published in 1719
(This play is moved ahead several decades from Defoe’s novel)

And the French novel Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique  by Michele Tournier, published in 1967 (There are three English version titles “Limbo of the Pacific” “Friday” and “The Other Island”)

Characters:

Robinson Crusoe: An aging Englishman who has been stranded alone on a small island off the coast of Venezuela for 30 years. With wild hair, an unkempt beard, barefoot and clothed only in ragged linen drawers, he’s lost all sense of civilization.

 Friday: A young black man 16 years of age, strong and muscular.

Captain Clement Noble: The powerfully built and imposing Irish captain of the British slave ship Brookes, age about 50.

Time and Stage Setting:

The year is 1780.
The set has plenty of tropical plant life and at least one tall palm tree with a rope ladder attached to it. There is a small, muddy hot spring pit on one side of the stage with a trace of steam coming off it.

Act One

Crusoe later joined by Friday on the island

Act Two

Three years later on the island

Act Three

Scene 1. Crusoe and Captain Noble in the captain’s quarters aboard the British slave ship Brookes

Scene 2. Crusoe and Friday back on the island

ACT ONE

SCENE 1

There is the sound of ocean surf and then eerie music begins playing. The stage is dimly lit. After several minutes, Robinson Crusoe crawls out of the steaming pit in which he has been silently wallowing. Lights come up as Crusoe moves on his hands and knees to some bushes, letting out an occasional titter along the way. He picks a few berries, stuffs them in his mouth, and heads back towards the pit. On his way, he detects something crawling thing on the ground. He snatches this and eats it.

The strange music continues as he reenters the pit, slithering into it backward, face pressed to the earth. He is half in when he hears a bird caw. The music stops and the caw is heard once more. He picks up his head and caws himself. He caws again. And again. He plants his hands and raises his torso, looks skyward, and laughs.

CRUSOE 

Ahoy, bird. Bird?

Are you there, bird? No? No bird?

No, no bird. And no pigs. Where are my little piggies, today, eh?

Here piggy, piggy, piggies. Come see your old friend. Your old tired friend who doesn’t even try to eat you anymore. Come wallow in the pit with me. I’m feeling lonely.

Piiiiiiiiggeeeeze. Piiiiiiiiggeeeeze.

HEY! I’m talking to you piggies.  

(Snorts loudly a few times and sinks back into the pit.)

Goddamn their eyes. GODDAMN YOUR BLOODY EYES YOU.

Now, now. Calm yourself. It’s alright, really.

You need to be alone.

You’re right.

(He lets out a crazy laugh. Stops laughing abruptly.)

Do I need to be alone? I’m not sure.

I’m really not sure of anything. No that’s not true. I’m sure I’m alone.

(Laughs again and crawls out of the pit and lays on his back)

Am I losing my mind?

(Hissing at himself)

You’ve already lost your mind you idiot.

No, I haven’t.

Yes, you have.

But what can I do?

(Rolls and rocks back and forth in the sand hugging his shoulders.)

What can I do?

(Suddenly sits upright)

Talk.

Yes, that’s it. Talk. Just keep talking. That is what separates you from plants and animals… and… and insects. You must keep your humanity Crusoe. Talk. Talk like your life depended on it.

(Lies on his back again.)

But I think I’m forgetting… I’m forgetting words.

How would I know? I don’t think I would know. What if forget more and more and more words? I won’t be able to talk to myself if I forget too many words. I’ll just grunt and bleat like the pigs and goats.

(Abruptly sits up again.)

Jesus, I need to write down every single word I know while I can still think of them. Yes, I should do that…and I should read them every day so I remember them.

But will I forget to do it?

I don’t know. How can I know what I’ve forgotten?

MY GOD CRUSOE… you can’t know what you’ve forgotten, can you?

No. I can’t.

You… can’t… know… what… you’ve… forgotten. That’s profound, isn’t it?

Yes, it is, thank you.

(Laughs and stops abruptly again.)

Dear God, how long have I been on this island of despair? Hmph… I don’t know that either.

You used to know. You used to notch the days and months in that banyan tree but you stopped. If you hadn’t stopped you imbecile you would know how long you’ve been here.

Yes, AFTER NINE GODDAMN YEARS I STOPPED!

Nine years, so what? That’s not a reason to stop.

Yes, it is.

No, it isn’t.

What was I counting days for? I am a prisoner here, a prisoner with no release date. Counting days and months and years is pointless. It only makes me feel old and, and more lonely.

Alright, suit yourself but you were already lost to the world and now you are lost in time, too.

Yes, I agree, ok? I am lost and I am a damn fool and a damned soul. Now shut up. Just stop talking, you hear? You’re driving me crazy.

Fine, I’ll stop talking. But you just said you needed to talk.

I don’t want to talk to YOU. I want someone else to talk to.

There is no one else… Of course, you can talk to God. You haven’t prayed in years, you know.

God has forsaken me. Achh, I’ll talk to the captain.

(Crusoe stands and walks to a human skull perched on a large stone. He picks it up and holds it in front of him.)

Captain Van Deysell, I’m losing my mind. Do you hear me?

(Crusoe wiggles the skull in an up and down “yes” motion.)

Yes, yes you hear… and it’s your fault you smelly, rotting wad of Dutch arrogance. You and your great ship. The Devil must have you now for your murders.

(Throws the skull down.)

Your great ship, HAH! Broken like a hen’s egg upon the rocks. (Spits at the skull.)

We should have abandoned to the boats in that storm. You forbid it. And what happened? What happened you imperious arse?

We are all dead now.

(Crusoe retrieves the skull and holds it up to his face.)

You are in hell where you belong… and my sea brothers… my dear friends… Lynch, Flynn, funny old Bart, the cabin boy Tom, the whole damn crew… all drowned… carried with the tide for sea scavengers to pick them to the bone. That’s what you did captain. You murdered my brothers.

And here am I, ripped from the world, a half-dead thing who lacks the courage to finish the job.

(Crusoe drops the skull and kicks it.),

I should fling myself from a cliff. I should walk into the ocean and drown myself.

I want to die, too. Please, God, let me die. I am sorry for whatever I’ve done. I can’t bear this loneliness.

(Crusoe falls to his knees and begins sobbing and heaving with his head down. He stops abruptly, remains very still for a moment then suddenly picks up his head turning his ear towards the sea [stage front].)

What’s that? Music?

My God. It’s music. Yes, and I know that piece. Strings, a harp, it’s a chamber orchestra and I know that piece… damn it, it’s… it’s…

THINK, THINK.

I am thinking, stop shouting at me… it’s by… Handel, yes, yes, it’s the Concerto in Bb major by George Frideric Handel… I remember it. My sister Lucy used to practice it on her violin. See I do remember some things.

Whoa! What’s this? Are my eyes playing tricks?

No. No, by God, Crusoe there’s a ship out there!

(Crusoe scrambles to his feet, looking around wildly)

Where is my spyglass?

(Crusoe searches for his spyglass)

Oh God, listen to that music. That joyous music. 

(He stops looking for his spyglass and begins to dance with an invisible partner and then sees the spyglass)

Ah, here it is.

(Snatches up a spyglass and runs to the palm tree. He climbs up the rope ladder and looks out.)

Oh yes, oohhh-ho, yes. Isn’t she beautiful? A square-rigged galleon, flag of Portugal, and heading right for me. I hope someone on board speaks English. I must get dressed.

(Jumps down from the tree)

AT LAST, I AM SAVED. Where is my shirt?

(Picks up a soiled, torn and ragged shirt from ground and puts it on over his muddy torso. He begins snatching at his beard and hair with his fingers to comb them.)

I must look presentable.

(Climbs tree again and looks through his spyglass.)

Ah,.. I see a table with a spread of food on deck, and wine bottles and goblets. There’s some festivity in progress. There must be a prince or duke on the ship. Only royalty would bring musicians along.

WHAT? MY GOD! There are women on board… and that glorious music!

(Sucks in a deep satisfying breath as if breathing in the music and the aroma of something delicious cooking. Raises the spyglass to his eye and watches from the tree for several moments, humming a melody and sometimes laughing.)

Good lord! My sister Lucy is on that ship… and playing her violin. LUCY! LUCY!

(Begins waving wildly, jumps from the rope ladder.)

LUCY!

(He suddenly stiffens.)

What? No. No. The ship is tacking starboard, heading west. Wait!  NO. TURN BACK!

(Crusoe runs to the edge the stage, shouting, and waving his arms.)

 STOP! STOP!

(He stoops to pick up a small stick of wood which he throws. He walks half sideways and shouting along the stage perimeter, as if following the parallel progress of a boat in the water)

STOP! PLEASE!

(He stumbles, picks himself up, stumbles again. On his knees he looks out to sea screaming)

COME BACK!

(Crusoe looks around and crawls quickly on the ground and grabs his spyglass once more and rises to his feet. Scans with spyglass. He begins laughing and then sobbing, then sobers himself.)

Gone?
Of course, it’s gone! It was never there you fool.

(Crusoe lets his spyglass drop, tears off his shirt and throws angry punches at the sky.)

ARGH! ARGH! ARGH! ARGH!

(Crusoe falls to his knees and slams his forehead to the sand over and over)

ARGH! ARGH! ARGH! ARGH!

(He stops. He rises slowly. Then he staggers back to the pit and stands staring at it for a few moments. He kneels and begins talking to the pit, gently swirling his hand in it.)

So… there is no ship and I am not saved, my darling. So then, what is there to do? Take a backward step into the embrace of my evil bride. heh-heh-heh.

(The eerie music starts again at a low volume.)

Each man has his slippery rope. Mine leads to you darling, a steaming mire of womanly mud. Where time and space dissolve, and by degrees nightmares of vampire bats, vultures, giant squids and sea storms vanish in your mephitic mist and I am wrapped in your warm slime. Alone…and dreaming dreams as deep as an opium devotee.

(Crusoe falls flat on his stomach and once again enters the pit backward. His wiggles into the mire. His arms are stretched wide and he grabs hold of tufts of seagrass in the sand with both hands, squeezing and releasing his grip and rubbing his cheek back and forth in the sand as if cuddling. There is a sensuality in his movements, as he is fondling the island.)

You see, I am not alone. Not really. I do have someone.

It’s you. You, my island of Despair. Let us be more romantic today and call you Desparèt. French makes everything sound more romantic. Desparèt. Yes, you like that better, don’t you?

Forgive me if I insulted you just now at the shore. I was only joking in chasing that phantom ship. You know I would never have left you my darling. Could never.

I have only you.

You, my island bride with your seaweed hair and your sandy breasts.

(Wiggling down a little farther into the pit.)

Mother of my dreams

mother of my nightmares,

you are my virgin

you are my whore

you are my queen and my slave,

All my fluids come from you and go back to you.

my tears

my sweat

my urine

my semen, all belong to you my island beauty.

We are locked you and I.

I am you and you are me and no one comes between us.

Who else can have you? No one.

No, darling, I am the only man on earth for the beautiful Desparèt, my island bride.

Now, my lady, part your warm, willing thighs and engulf me with your love.

Ah, yes, here’s the spot… little volcano.

(The music rises loudly and Crusoe begins thrusting his hips and proceeds to have sex with the island and quickly collapses in orgasm. Music stops.)

Ah, Desparèt

(Gently petting the sand)

I am such a perverted soul and you are so good to me.

(Crusoe crawls quickly from the pit, rolls onto his back, and laughs).

We will never have children, my darling. Sad, isn’t it?

(As he lies in the sand, there is the distant sound of slow drumming and voices chanting. Crusoe suddenly jumps up.)

I know that bloody sound.

(Crusoe jumps up.)

It’s the savages come for their ritual killing. Do you hear the drums, Van Deysell? The blood canoes are back. This is no delusion. There’s nothing better than a band of cannibals to snap you back to your senses.

(Crusoe’s movements become very brisk.)

Musket… and my pistol. To arms Crusoe… and pray you are not discovered.

(Crusoe gets some weapons he has hidden, a musket, a blunderbuss and a pistol. He puts a belt around his waist and tucks the pistol in it and slings a powder horn and a pouch of bullets over his shoulder. The drumming stops and he climbs the rope ladder with his spyglass and with back to the audience looks inward toward the jungle.)

Ah-ha. They’re on the rocky strip surrounding the lagoon.

It’s that old white-haired witch again… waving her bony arms at two poor bastard prisoners.

She’s pointing and shaking a finger… at the older prisoner.

Dear God! That sword took off his arm in a single stroke.  Mother of Jesus, there goes the other arm…

(A scream of pain is faintly heard.)

Jesus Christ. They’ve sliced off his head.

(Crusoe doubles over and vomits. Wipes his mouth with his forearm.)

Lord, have mercy on that poor murdered soul.

(He raises his spyglass again to watch.)

What’s this? The young one has broken free and is running.  Jesus, he’s fast.

Oh no! He’s running right towards ME… and they’re chasing after.

(Jumps from the ladder and squats down into bushes.)

Christ! Christ! What the devil am I to do now?

They’ll be here for sure. I’ll be swarmed by the lot of them and we’ll both be chopped into pieces and eaten.

What if I shoot him? Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll shoot him. That way I might become an ally to those heathen monsters.

(Crusoe jumps from the ladder and takes the pouch and horn off his shoulder. Moving quickly, he pours some gunpowder from his powder horn into the barrel of the musket. He mumbles to himself “I have to do this” several times as he works. He takes a bullet from the pouch and drops it in the musket barrel. Takes the ramrod from under the barrel and tamps the bullet down. Pours a bit more gunpowder into the musket pan and cocks the musket. He drops a half-dozen balls of lead shot into the barrel of the blunderbuss, ramrods it and cocks that, too.)

It’s murder. I know it’s murder, but prudence counsels my survival. Forgive me Lord for what I am about to do.

(Crusoe sets the blunderbuss down, shoulders his musket, and waits. After a few moments he takes aim.)

Closer…. closer…

(He shoots.)

Jesus in Heaven, I’ve missed the prisoner and killed one of the murderers instead. Damn it! Damn it! They’ll all be on me now.

(Friday enters running, sees Crusoe and falls to his knees, his forehead pressed to the ground; his hands grope for Crusoe’s ankles and he locks onto them jabbering something. Crusoe tosses the musket to the ground and picks up the blunderbuss and cocks it, ignoring the native at his feet continuing to peer in the direction of the hostiles.)

They’ve stopped. They’ve seen me but they’ve stopped running. They’re just standing over the dead body and staring right at me.

(Crusoe raises his blunderbuss.)

ONE STEP CLOSER AND I’LL KILL YOU ALL.

(a moment passes)

They’re fleeing! By God, they’ve grabbed the dead man and they’re fleeing.

(Crusoe looks down to the native, who is still holding onto Crusoe’s ankles. The boy is naked except for a thin leather strap around his waist and a leather pouch covering his genitals.)

Do you hear? They’re running away. Christ… I suppose you’re too stupid to know what I’m saying.

(He pulls free and takes a few paces away to consider the savage.)

Why you’re just a boy.

What the hell am I to do with you?

Shoot you? Not really any point in doing that now, I suppose.

(Crusoe reaches down, grabs his arm and pulls him to his feet.)

Come on you. We should hide for the night until we know they’ve gone.

(The lights dim and the sounds of night birds and distant monkeys rise.)

SCENE 2

(It’s still dark and Crusoe and Friday enter cautiously.)

CRUSOE 

It’s almost dawn. Perhaps they’re waiting till the sun is up to come back and attack me.

(Crusoe climbs the ladder and looks through his spyglass and quickly jumps down.)

It’s too dark to see anything. I’ll have to get closer to the lagoon.

(Crusoe motions the boy to sit on the rock where Van Deysell’s skull was.)

Stay here. I’ll be back shortly.

(In a couple of minutes, Crusoe returns, out of breath from running.)

The shore is deserted. The canoes are gone.

They’ve gone. Do you understand? They’ve left you here.

For God’s sakes, why am I talking to you, you idiot? You don’t understand a word.

(The native smiles broadly at him. Crusoe begins slowly circling him as lights gradually up to daylight.)

So!… God has sent me a companion.

(The boy continues to smile.)

But through some divine whim he has elected to choose my companion from the lowest stratum of humanity.

(Crusoe steps in close, looking directly into the boy’s face.)

What I’m saying means nothing to you. You poor savage. You’re not even capable of appreciating your own insignificance. Yes, smile, keep smiling you ugly monkey.

(Crusoe steps back and laughs.)

It’s no matter you’re an ignorant monkey, really. After all these years of desolation, I’m no longer alone. That’s all that matters.

IT’S OVER! DO YOU HEAR YOU WICKED OCEAN? DO YOU HEAR CAPTAIN VAN DEYSELL? I AM NO LONGER ALONE.

(As the native boy sits relentlessly smiling, Crusoe begins pacing excitedly and pulling at his fingers.)

All right then, I have a slave. This is good. This is good. A gentleman such as myself should have a slave.

(Stops and lifts Friday’s hand to examine it.)

Ah, callouses. I’d guess you’re a good worker, too. Good, that’s good. I have plenty of work for you.

(In the manner of an examining doctor or slave buyer Crusoe pokes and pinches the boy in various places)

That’s it you silly, ignorant black, just keep smiling.

(Resumes pacing)

So, God has given me a slave… but I must treat him judiciously, and with patience, although with proper chastisement and strict discipline, of course. I’ll need to carry the captain’s cat-o-nine whip and set rules.

 But I must also teach him, civilize him and bring him to Jesus.

He may be your slave Crusoe but he is also your companion. My companion! Sounds glorious.

(He grabs the boy by the shoulders who continues to smile as Crusoe talks.)

 Do you realize what this means? Everything will be so different now.

(Crusoe releases the boy’s shoulders and paces back and forth excitedly.)

Wait until you see. You won’t believe the things I can show you, civilized things. All that I’ve salvaged from the wreck. Actually, it’s two wrecks. A merchant ship from Spain smashed on those rocks a few years after I was stranded here. No survivors but I saved a good bit of its cargo, lots of ship’s parts, and gold and silver, too.

I’ve hardly made a dent in any of what I’ve salvaged from those ships. It’s all hidden away in the cave, safe and dry. I have clothes, and crockery, tableware, candlesticks, spectacles, pocketknives, charts, and barrels of gunpowder, two copper cauldrons. There’s wire and cable and cork, fishing line, lamps, and floats. Wooden spars and planks and sails and so much more.

We can build a proper residence for me, and pens for livestock.

Yes. We’ll plant seeds, you and I, make goat cheese, harvest wheat, bake bread. I have been living on all fours, picking berries and eating insects and worms. Now I shall rise up and become a man once again. 

AND I’ll teach you the Christian way of life. Perhaps, we could build a church …or we could even build a boat, a large boat. Yes, we could do it. There is hope.

(Crusoe gets to his knees, places his palms on the ground and addresses the island.)

Do you hear, my darling? There is hope.

(He kisses the ground.)

My island of hope. Shall I rename you Hope? Hmmm….  No, that’s not very pretty sounding, is it? Hoh-pa. Hope. Hope. It’s too short and vulgar. We’ll use the Spanish word esperanza, much more musical. You are no longer Desparét. You are now the Island of Esperanza.

(Crusoe stands)

Esperanza! Esperrrannzzzzaaa! Yes, I like it.

(The boy is watching wide-eyed, but still smiling. He occasionally nods his head vigorously, agreeing with whatever it is that seems to be making this white man so happy. Crusoe sits on the ground and motions for the boy to do the same.)

CRUSOE 

What is your name?

(He points straight at the boy who just smiles back at him. Crusoe striking himself on the chest.)

 I am Robinson Crusoe.

(The boy just stares at him. Crusoe strikes his chest again two or three times)

 Robinson Crusoe.

(Crusoe cups his ear and tilts his head towards the boy, indicating he wants the boy to repeat his words.)

BOY

Rob Sankoozo… Sankoozo.

CRUSOE 

Not bad. Not bad at all.

(Crusoe strikes his chest again.)

Krrrrrooooso

BOY

Koozo

CRUSOE 

Robinson Crusoe.

BOY

Rob Sankoozo.

CRUSOE 

Mister Robinson Kr-r-r-oooso

BOY

Mister Rob Kooozo

CRUSOE 

Good enough, good enough. We can use Mister Rob.

(Strikes his chest.)

Mister Rob

BOY

Mister Rob

CRUSOE 

Fine! That’s fine. You?

(Points at the boy)

BOY

Fi-tay et tu’i ne te taru

(The boy puts two fingers on the back of one hand moves his hand in a horizontal wavy motion and then strikes his fist to his chest. He smiles very proudly.)

CRUSOE 

Ah, you ride the waves.

(Crusoe mimics what the boy did and the boy smiles broadly and vigorously nods.)

BOY

Fi-tay Et tu’i  ne te taru

CRUSOE 

Fie-tay … new-wee

BOY

Fi-tay Et tu’i ne te taru

CRUSOE 

Bloody heathens. Where do they get such absurd names?

Fie-tay, Fie-tay, we’ll call you Friday. Yes. That’s perfect. Friday. It’s neither the name of a person nor an object; it’s an abstract idea of time. That’s it, then. We’ll name you Friday …and I’ll begin a new calendar …a proper calendar. Today is Friday, day one.

And you (pointing to the boy.) are Friday.

(Pointing to himself and back to the boy.)

Mr. Rob, Friday

(The boy repeats the pointing and the names)

FRIDAY

Mister Rob, Friday.

(He does it again. Laughing now)

Mister Rob, Friday.

CRUSOE 

Friday.

FRIDAY

Mister Rob

(They do this three or four times pointing and laughing and saying each other’s name. Crusoe rises and gets his musket and pistol. He holds up the musket.)

CRUSOE 

Musket

FRIDAY

Musket

CRUSOE 

Pistol

FRIDAY

Pistol

CRUSOE 

Well, you’re a bright lad, aren’t you? I will teach you words every day and we’ll have you talking in no time.

(Cruse picks up a conch shell a few feet away. He throws the shell down in the sand in front of Friday and holds up the pistol.)

CRUSOE 

Pistol.

FRIDAY

Pistol

(Crusoe holds the pistol close to the conch shell and fires. There is a loud bang and the shell explodes into fragments and Friday jumps and covers his ears, a look of terror on his face. Crusoe breaks into a hearty laugh)

CRUSOE 

Alright then, you’ve learned the lesson of my gun.

(Crusoe holds out the pistol inviting Friday to take it. When Friday reaches for it, Crusoe strikes him hard across the face with the gun.  Friday is shocked.)

CRUSOE 

NO. NO. NO. (pointing to the gun.) You are NEVER to touch this.

(Crusoe strikes him again with the gun.)

NO. DO NOT TOUCH.

(Crusoe holds the gun out again. Friday looks at Crusoe and does not reach for it.)

CRUSOE 

Good, you understand.

(Crusoe tucks the pistol into his waistband.)

Now, the first thing we must do is organize, take stock of all our stores, measure everything and count everything and write it all down. Then I’ll have you cut trees and burn grass for a field to plant in. After that, you’ll gather seed for the field, then round up the goats and sheep roaming the island and get some decent planks from the cave for building pens. I’ll also need a governor’s house. I still have plenty of deck planks saved. We’ll have to dig out the carpenter’s chest from the cave. That has all the tools you’ll need, saws, ax, hammer, everything. There is much to be done.

(Crusoe signals Friday to stand.)

Alright, then. Let’s get started. Follow me. And we have to get you some clothes.

(They exit.)

ACT TWO    

SCENE 1

THREE YEARS LATER

 On stage there are a couple of sea chests and a large wicker basket. There is a new wooden building. It’s small, a simple square design with a slightly peaked roof. Crusoe is standing on a stool hanging a large sign over the doorway that reads “Residence of the Governor.” Crusoe comes off the stool and steps back to admire his sign for a moment and then sits on a chest. Friday enters dragging a strong box.

FRIDAY

Here is the box from the cave you wanted.

CRUSOE 

Fine. Leave it there.

Well, Friday, it took three years to get around to finishing this but today we can finally bless my new Governor’s Residence. Do you like the sign?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob. It’s very nice.

CRUSOE 

Please read it.

FRIDAY

Residence of the Governor.

CRUSOE 

Good. Did you read and memorize Ephesians 6 verses 5 through 8 as I told you to?

FRIDAY

I did, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE 

You will recite it to me.

FRIDAY

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey your master not only to win their favor when their eye is on you but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.

CRUSOE 

Excellent. Do you feel you are following what the bible says?

FRIDAY

I do what you tell me, so I think, yes.

CRUSOE 

I made a wooden cross. It’s on top of the carpenter’s chest behind the Governor’s Residence. Bring it here.

(Friday fetches the cross and gives it to Crusoe who holds it up.)

Pity I don’t have the carving skills to make a proper crucifix with the figure Christ on the cross, but this will do. Nail this cross to the palm tree and that will serve as our new outdoor chapel for prayers. Do it now.

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob.

(When Friday is done attaching the cross to the tree Crusoe stands and takes a bible from the trunk.)

CRUSOE 

Friday did you have a girl that you liked before coming here?

FRIDAY

Yes.

CRUSOE

Do you miss her?

FRIDAY

Yes. I miss her.

CRUSOE

For today’s prayer lesson I will address a delicate subject. I am an old man Friday but you are not. You are young and the young often have evil desires. I know I did when I was your age and I had to fight those desires. Did you ever have sex with your girl?

FRIDAY

What is that?

CRUSOE

That is when you lie with her naked and you enter her body. Did you ever do that?

FRIDAY

Yes. We do that every day.

CRUSOE

Good lord. Every day?

FRIDAY

Yes. Two or three times.

CRUSOE

Two or three times a day?

FRIDAY

Yes.

CRUSOE

Friday, that is barbaric. Well, there are no girls here and I have been worried about what your desires might drive you to do. I’m concerned you might consider abusing the goats. I have chosen some bible verses that you need to hear.

This is from Exodus 22 verse 19:

Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.”

And here is something from Deuteronomy 27 verse 21.

Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast.

This is God’s law and I am telling you this because I know you people often have sex with sheep and goats and you are not to do that. Not on my island. Do you understand?

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob my people do not have sex with sheep.

CRUSOE

That is what I have been told and I have no reason not to believe it.

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob, it is not true.

CRUSOE

Shut up! I am not going to argue with an ignorant black savage. Just tell me that you will never have sex with any of the goats or sheep. Do it.

FRIDAY

I will never have sex with any of the goats or sheep.

CRUSOE

Good. It is important that you not even think of sex Friday. I am sorry that you have already sinned with your girl and you must repent for that sin for as it says in 2 Corinthians verse 12:

I shall bewail many which have sinned already and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication which they have committed.”

Fornication means sex. That is the sin you have committed. The bible tells us Friday that we must

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Now Friday, say I will not sin against my own body.

FRIDAY

I will not sin against my own body.

CRUSOE

Say it again.

FRIDAY

I will not sin against my own body.

CRUSOE

Good. I insist you always remember that. It is my responsibility to ensure you have a pure Christian soul. Do you understand?

FRIDAY

Yes.

CRUSOE

All right, Friday, come now let’s get you your week’s wages.

(Crusoe pulls a pouch from the wicker basket and gives Friday some coins from it.)

FRIDAY

Thank you, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

The goats are milked?

FRIDAY

While you were napping.

CRUSOE

And for lunch?

FRIDAY

Shrimp, rice, and I collect sea turtle eggs this morning. I will boil them soft; you like that.

CRUSOE

Yes. I like that. Friday?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob?

CRUSOE

I want you to know that you’ve done an amazing job learning English. Truly amazing. I would never have believed it possible that someone only a step above a monkey could learn as you have.

FRIDAY

Thank you.

CRUSOE

If we ever get off this island, I am sure I can take you on an exhibition tour for good money. Even princes and kings will be amazed to see a black heathen of the jungle reading the bible. Of course, I’ll need to polish you up a bit. You need to better understand how the civilized world works. Drag that strongbox to me.

(Friday tugs the box to Crusoe who lifts the lid.)

CRUSOE

This was the captain’s box. Now in the civilized world men who rule hold office, Friday. That means they have authority over people and things. They are the chiefs. We are actually building a new civilized world now on this island… and here on Esperanza I will hold all the offices.

(Crusoe reaches into the box and pulls out a collapsible top hat.)

CRUSOE

Now, this is my top hat.

            (Crusoe snaps the hat open, startling Friday. Crusoe laughs.)

CRUSOE

Surprised you, eh?  A Frenchman made these hats so men could collapse and flatten them to sit on at the opera. Hard to believe but apparently our cruel captain fancied opera. Do you like it?

(Friday nods)

CRUSOE

I do, too.

From now on when I wear this hat, I will no longer be Mr. Rob, I will be Governor Crusoe.  

But first I must officially establish the Island and claim it for the king. Friday, bring me that pole and flag I’ve prepared. It’s behind the building next to where you found the cross. Do it now.

(Friday gets it and hands Crusoe a tall, only somewhat straight tree branch with a dreadful version of the British flag made with fruit dyes stained on a rag.)

CRUSOE

Sit down.

Now when I tell you to get up you will stand and do this.

(Crusoe claps and indicates Friday copy him. Friday claps.)

CRUSOE

Good. We call that clapping and it is done to show appreciation to someone. Now then…

BY VIRTUE OF THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, ROBINSON CRUSOE, SUBJECT OF HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE II, CLAIMS THIS ISLAND FOR THE KING AND IS HEREBY APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF THE ISLAND OF ESPERANZA, SITUATED IN THE CARIBBEAN SEA. THE GOVERNOR WILL HAVE FULL AUTHORITY OVER THE TERRITORY AND ITS TERRITORIAL WATERS. LONG LIVE THE KING!

(Crusoe plants the flagpole in the sand.)

CRUSOE

Get up!

(Friday stands and claps and Crusoe ceremoniously lowers the top hat upon his head.)

CRUSOE

Now I am Governor Crusoe and this is the flag of Esperanza. Whenever I am wearing this hat, I am Governor Crusoe. Do you understand?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob. I understand.

CRUSOE

NO, you idiot. Not Mr. Rob. I just told you that when I am wearing this hat, I am Governor Crusoe. Am I wearing the hat?

FRIDAY

Yes.

CRUSOE

Then I am Governor Crusoe. Say it.

FRIDAY

Governor Crusoe.

CRUSOE

Excellent! As governor, I have full power over legislation. That means I will make all the laws and any law I make must be obeyed. If you do not obey the law, you will be whipped. Do you understand?

FRIDAY

Yes, Governor Crusoe.

CRUSOE

Whenever you see me with this hat on you MUST address me as Governor Crusoe or simply Governor. Understand?    

(Friday nods. Crusoe reaches into the strongbox again).

CRUSOE

Now, this is a British Navy admiral’s hat. Captain Van Deysell swore he won it gambling from Admiral George Anson in a game of faro at the Naval Club in London, but I’m inclined to believe he pinched it from the hat rack when leaving the club.  But that’s neither here nor there.

As Governor, I am appointing myself Commander of the Armed Forces charged with the defense of Esperanza and the safety of its inhabitants.

However, since we do not have any naval ships, I am appointing myself General of the island’s army, that would be you since I have just now conscripted you into the army reserve.

(Crusoe puts on the admiral’s hat.)

CRUSOE

 If you see this hat upon my head, you MUST address me as General Crusoe. Say it!

FRIDAY

General Crusoe.

CRUSOE

Yes! Very good! Now then, if I am wearing no hat, I am simply Mr. Rob, the largest landowner on the island and its richest citizen. The buildings are mine, all the stores, crops, and livestock are mine and the planted fields are mine, as well as several choice areas of white beach and the lovely bay on the south end of the island is mine. And of course, the slave called Friday is mine.

Is this perfectly clear?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

NO! Are you blind, man? What’s on my head? It’s the General’s headgear, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?

(Friday nods quickly)

CRUSOE

Then who am I?

FRIDAY

General Crusoe.

CRUSOE       

Good!

(Switching hats)

CRUSOE      

Who am I now?

FRIDAY        

Governor Crusoe.

CRUSOE       

Who am I now?

FRIDAY        

General Crusoe.

CRUSOE      

Who am I now?

FRIDAY        

Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE     

Who am I now?

FRIDAY        

General Crusoe.

CRUSOE      

Who am I now?

FRIDAY        

Governor Crusoe.

(Crusoe laughs happily and sets the admiral’s hat on the strongbox.)

CRUSOE       

EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT!

(Sharing in his master’s joy Friday laughs, too. He grabs the admiral’s hat from the top of the strongbox and still laughing he quickly pulls it on his head)

FRIDAY        

Who am I now?

(Crusoe abruptly stops laughing, grabs the cat-o-nine attached to his belt, and whips Friday with it.)

CRUSOE       

HOW DARE YOU. Take that off at once.

(Friday removes the hat and Crusoe gives two more whips across his shoulders.)

You are nobody, that’s who you are.

(Crusoe gives Friday another lash and Friday raises his arms to protect his face.)

You stupid savage, do you think you’re worthy of the dignity of office? You pathetic creature. I am a Christian and a pure Englishman. That puts me very close to God. You, your father is the devil and your mother is an ignorant black animal. You are my slave. I own you. That’s who you are. If I choose, I can kill you as easily as I would slaughter one of my sheep. That is the law. Touch that hat again I will whip the skin off you. You don’t want that do you?

FRIDAY        

No, sir.

CRUSOE      

You are a subject race and I am your lord and master and don’t ever forget it. Say it! I am your subject and you are my master. Say it!

FRIDAY        

I am your subject and you are my master.

CRUSOE     

Say it again.

FRIDAY        

I am your subject and you are my master.

CRUSOE      

Alright. That’s better. You must never transgress your low position again. Understand?

FRIDAY        

Yes.

CRUSOE     

Say you are sorry.

FRIDAY        

I am sorry.

CRUSOE      

Good. Let’s continue.

(Crusoe goes to one of the sea chests and scrounges and then pulls something out.)

Now then, this is a parasol, Friday. It is meant to protect me from the ravages of the sun. We, the English, are known for our delicate skin and I must take care not to damage my person. Therefore, on Sunday afternoons, today included, when I take my walk around Esperanza checking fields, fish ponds, livestock pens, and vermin traps, you shall carry the parasol to keep the sun from me. Here, let’s practice. It opens so.

(Crusoe pops open the parasol and Friday jumps a little. Crusoe closes it immediately and hands it to Friday.)

CRUSOE

Here you try it.

(Friday opens it and closes it several times, fascinated.)

CRUSOE  

That’s enough, Friday. Come here. We’re going to walk toward the tree. No, you’re on the wrong side. You must be on the sunny side. OVER HERE!

Alright, then, let’s walk.

(They take a few slow steps)     

Alright, now back…. switch sides. Good lad.

Very Good! Yes, I think you’ve got that down fine.

(Crusoe opens the chest again.)      

This was captain Van Deysell’s chest. I told you that already, didn’t I? That’s his skull over there, you know.         

The captain was a horrible man, a terrible bully. The rest of his bones are buried in the sand by maripa tree.

FRIDAY

You buried him?

CRUSOE
Yes. His was the only body that washed ashore.  His silver ring with the engraved skull and the Latin words “Memento Mori” is still on his hand. Memento Mori means “remember you must die.” I wasn’t about to take that.

FRIDAY        

Why didn’t you bury his skull?

CRUSOE     

I needed someone to talk to and his head was the best I could do. I also enjoyed watching it rot.

FRIDAY        

Mr. Rob, could I have the skull?

CRUSOE 

What for?

FRIDAY        

I want to make something with it.

CRUSOE    

Take it. I don’t need it anymore.

(Crusoe starts rummaging through the chest.)

Now let’s see… diary, liquor… aah, a tin of tobacco. Oh, my, Newman’s Virginia Tobacco, George Farr Grocer, London. This is the best you can get. Ah, yes…here’s what I’m looking for.

(Crusoe hauls out a pair of wooden clogs and holds them up)

These are for you, Friday. Put them on. They go on your feet.

(Friday puts on the clogs and Crusoe and pulls out a jacket)

This is a footman’s jacket, we used them for trading. Heathen chiefs loved these, and the more brass buttons the better the trade. They would put them on and preen about like a king… wearing the uniform of a servant. HAH!

You shall wear this in the evenings when you wait on the Governor. Here, try it on.

(Friday pulls the jacket on. It’s small for him and it’s obvious.)

Good! Good! Turn around. Yes, that works fine. All right, you can take it off now. Hand it here. You’ll put it on when you serve my dinner. No! Leave the shoes on.

(Crusoe returns the jacket and reaches in for something else.)

Oh, I’d forgotten about this.

(Pulls out a small, brightly colored blanket and crushes it to his chest.)

My wife hand-wove this wool blanket and gave it to me just before we pulled from the wharf. That bastard Van Deysell took it from me.

(Crusoe smells it then carefully folds the blanket and puts it aside. He reaches into the basket for something else.)

Ah, look at this. He kept a handheld-looking glass.

MY GOD!

(He touches his face and staggers a few steps backward.)

I….  I am…. disfigured…  What mask is this? Where is Robinson Crusoe?

(He sinks slowly to his knees while looking in the mirror.)     

Time did this to me. That silent monster that stalks us all.

(Throws the mirror in the sand and begins weeping. Friday picks it up, looks in it and begins howling with laughter, making faces and goofy sounds. Crusoe leaps up and snatches the mirror from him.)

STOP IT!

(Crusoe slaps Friday.)

There is no joy to be found in a looking glass, you fool. This will go in the Governor’s Residence.

(Crusoe tosses the mirror through the doorway.)

And speaking of the Governor’s Residence, you are not allowed inside unless I expressly invite you. I shall sleep in the Residence and you shall sleep on the ground outside the door to guard me. Is that understood?

FRIDAY        

Yes, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE     

Now. Today is Sunday and I must inspect the island. Also, I’ve changed your schedule. Tomorrow morning when the tide goes out, instead of picking fruit, you will collect clams out at the beach on the west end beneath the cliff. I saw hundreds of keyhole shows in the sand at low tide there yesterday so you should be able to collect a few dozen clams easily.

FRIDAY        

Ok, Mr. Rob, I like digging clams.

CRUSOE 

Friday, the parasol, quickly, we’re leaving.

(Friday, struggling with great difficulty to walk in the clogs, rushes to his side with parasol)

CRUSOE 

 And the she-goats, the ones I’ve labeled B, L, and Z, must be milked and then taken to be serviced by males. That must be done tomorrow, as well. Also, you must find time before nightfall to raise the water level in the three fresh-water fishponds. They’re beginning to feel the drought.

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob, when we going to build your boat?

(Crusoe stops walking.)

CRUSOE 

Boat?

FRIDAY

Yes, you said that one day we would build a boat and go somewhere you call Mainland.

CRUSOE 

Yes, well…We have to get the island organized first. Come on now. Watch where you step.

(Exit Friday and Crusoe)

SCENE 2  

Later that evening.

Crusoe is wearing his Governor’s top hat and Friday is wearing the livery jacket and is cleaning the dinner bowls.

Crusoe washes his hands in a water-filled coconut bowl, then takes a drink from it, swishes the dirty water around in his mouth and spits it out.

CRUSOE

That mashed cassava with garlic and nutmeg was delicious Friday. How did you learn to prepare food so well?

FRIDAY

Everybody cook good on my island, Governor. We get fish, or cut up goat or sheep, gather roots, pick fruit and vegetables, then everybody cook together. Then we eat. That’s what we do. The world is good to us.

CRUSOE

How many people have you eaten?

FRIDAY

What? What do you mean?

CRUSOE

It’s a simple question. Everybody on your island eats people. How many people have you eaten?

FRIDAY

Eat people? Nobody eats people.

CRUSOE

Aren’t your people cannibals?

FRIDAY

What is that?

CRUSOE

Cannibals, they eat people. Like the old witch that tried to kill you.

FRIDAY

Nobody eats people. I don’t know why you say that.

CRUSOE

That’s what all the sailors say. That you natives in the new world eat people and are all cannibals.

FRIDAY

No. That is not true.

CRUSOE

Hmm. I believe you this time, Friday. You’re much too meek to be a cannibal. And here I’ve spent years worrying I was going to be killed by natives and eaten.

FRIDAY

Maybe someone kill you but no one is going to eat you.

CRUSOE

What about the people they kill at the lagoon? They don’t eat them?

FRIDAY

No. They are killed for punishment. The sun priestess takes their soul and then they are killed and burned. The killing is done on this island so our children don’t see.

CRUSOE

Well, I’ll still keep hiding from those savages. I can’t believe they ran away from me. They could have swarmed me. All I had was one shot loaded in the blunderbuss and one shot in my pistol.

FRIDAY

They run away because of the story.

CRUSOE

What story?

FRIDAY

The story that a long time ago a big boat came to our island with white people like you who had guns. They came ashore and my people welcomed them and fed them. Then they murdered half of our village, men, women, children, old people. They stole many things, they took food, goats, sheep and they kidnap four young girls and left and never came back. This story is told to everyone so they will beware of white men. When the men chasing me saw you they believe more white people with guns must be with you.

CRUSOE

They never came back? How big is your island?

FRIDAY

Only a little bigger than this one.

CRUSOE

Ah, too small to bother with then. Well, it’s too bad about the bloody killing of your people. That’s very sad and I’m sorry that happened. Let’s talk of it no more.

(Crusoe steps through the doorway of the Governor’s house and returns minus the Governor’s hat. He goes to Van Deysell’s chest and removes a jar of tobacco and a long-stemmed Alsatian pipe)

There’s nothing like a good smoke after dinner.

Ahhh! I love the smell of tobacco. This Virginia tobacco is the best in the world. Oh, that Van Deysell, he certainly knew how to treat himself. What a blackguard. Told us he was trading in textiles. Textiles my arse. I hauled enough black powder from the hold of the wreck to blow up half the British fleet. There are over 300 barrels of topnotch powder in our storage cave, Friday. We could wage quite a war if we had to.

(Crusoe fills and lights his pipe. Friday is washing their copper cauldron.)

Friday?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob?

CRUSOE

You’ve collected quite a bit of money these past three years, haven’t you?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob. I keep all the money you give me because the first time you pay me you said when we go to Mainland I can use the money to go places and to buy food and other things. Do you want to see my money?

CRUSOE

Sure. Show me.

(Friday fetches a very large coconut shell hidden by the banana plant. He has cut the top to serve as a lid.)

CRUSOE

Hah, that coconut is as big as Queen Anne’s ass.

(Friday dumps a plethora of coins out.)

My, you have quite a lot of money Friday, shillings, six-pence, pieces-of eight, I see some crowns, doubloons, pounds. I didn’t realize how much you’ve earned.

FRIDAY

Yes, but I don’t know what each one means or why they are different.

(Crusoe selects a handful of coins from Friday’s pile.)

CRUSOE

This is a six-pence, this is a shilling, this is a pound, also called a sovereign, this is a piece-of-eight and this gold one is a doubloon. The doubloon and the piece-of-eight are from Spain and I got them from the Spanish ship that crashed on the rocks. The rest of the coins are British.

FRIDAY

And those are different places?

CRUSOE

Yes, they are different countries. Now there are 12 pence to the silver shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. That means these six-pence coins are the same as half a shilling, though there’s a half-shilling coin, too. The silver crowns are 5 shillings so 4 crowns would be a pound. The pieces-of-eight are sterling silver and 4 pieces-of-eight are worth about one English pound, while one gold doubloon is worth just under an English pound. You also have guinea coins of silver, half-guinea, one-guinea, and two-guineas. The five-guinea coins you have are gold, as is a half-laurel, a laurel, and a groat. Your three-pence, two-pence, and the pennies are silver, but a half-penny, and the farthings are copper.

There are different words for these, too. You are very likely to hear other names for your coins like a two-pence, a deuce, four-pence, a Joey or a flag. A six-pence could be a fiddler, tester, downer, Lord of the Manor, sprat, pig or half-a-borde, and a farthing might be called a grig or a fadge, while a sovereign or a shilling could be a goldfinch, a quid, cooter, fronts, a yellow-boy, a breaky leg, a bender, bob, rogue, a villain, stag, hog or a deaner if you’re in the countryside. A crown is a bull, a cartwheel or coach wheel, while a half-crown is a half-bull or an halftucheroon.

It’s really very simple. Does that clear things up for you?

FRIDAY

I think you will need to explain it again when we are in Mainland.

CRUSOE

I will certainly do that.

FRIDAY

Why are there faces on them?

CRUSOE

The faces are the kings and queens. This is King William IV. This is a Queen Anne shilling. This is the face of King George II. They are the chiefs of the country that made the coins.

FRIDAY

I see.

CRUSOE

Okay. I put your money away now.

CRUSOE

Friday, I would like you to dig me a shallow hole in the sand over there, about a two-foot deep will do.

FRIDAY

Okay, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

You know Friday, I think you ought to let me invest your money for you.

FRIDAY

What is that?

CRUSOE

You give your money to me and I’ll buy some goats or pigs with it, or maybe a crop of wheat.

FRIDAY

I could buy goat?

CRUSOE

Yes, but you couldn’t actually have the goat.

FRIDAY

Then what?

CRUSOE

I would determine how valuable goats are when you give me your money, then I would invest your money in goats set at that value. Next year I would evaluate the goats again and if I decide that goats have become more valuable then you get more money than you gave me. For example, if there were fewer goats on the island next year then goats would be worth more.

FRIDAY

What if next year there are more goats?

CRUSOE

If there are more goats than we need then they would lose value and you would lose some money. And if we stopped eating and milking goats completely then goats would be worthless and you would lose all your money. But that’s why you would give your money to me. I’m a smart broker and I’ll determine where to invest your money so that you don’t lose it.

FRIDAY

No, Mr. Rob. I don’t want no goats. I just want the money.

CRUSOE

What do you intend to do with your money?

FRIDAY

I save it for Mainland like you tell me to do. If I could I would give the gold coins to who you call witch-woman. She likes gold. I will like her to give me back my soul for gold. Then I would be happy. But she does not forgive. I am marked for death and can never go home again.

CRUSOE

You would give gold to the bloodthirsty witch that tried to kill you? That wanted you hacked in pieces and your flesh burned in the fire?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob. But she is not a witch. She is the sun priestess, very powerful. She is also my grandmother. That man they killed was my father. My grandmother wanted him dead.

CARUSOE

Why?

FRIDAY

He took her youngest daughter for his wife and her daughter gave birth to me. But he tired of my mother, and beat her many times and finally, he threw her out and took a younger girl in. My mother went to Yarico, my grandmother, and told everything. This made grandmother very angry and her men captured him and took me with him. She took his soul before killing him. Then she took my soul because I am his seed. But I escaped death through your power, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

Yes, that’s right, Friday. I saved your life. Always remember that.

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob, this hole is done, sir.

CRUSOE

Fine. Dig another hole beside it and put the sand from the new hole into the first hole until it is filled.

FRIDAY

Okay, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

And when you’ve finished that, Friday, I would like you to dig a third hole and put the sand from the third hole into the second hole, then take the sand from the first hole that you have piled up there and put it into the third hole, then remove the sand from the first hole and begin again. Is that clear?

FRIDAY (smiling happily)

Yes, Mr. Rob. Clear.

(Crusoe fills his pipe again.)

CRUSOE

Did you ever smoke tobacco, Friday? It’s glorious.

FRIDAY

No, Mr. Rob.

(Crusoe lights the pipe and blows smoke Friday’s way)

CRUSOE

Well, don’t ever smoke this tobacco. In fact, a new article of the Penal Code of the Island of Speranza is that you do NOT smoke tobacco. Failure to obey this law will be visited with a three-day starving and a whipping with the cat. Understand?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob. I don’t smoke your tobacco.

(Crusoe jumps up suddenly and looks off in the distance.)

CRUSOE

HEY! DAMN YOU OUT OF THERE!

(He grabs a stick and hurls it)

Bastard vermin. They’re devils!

(Shudders)

I hate those creatures. Something must be done about those rats. If I bury our leftovers, they just dig them up. I throw things out to sea and the tide washes it back. Then there are rats scurrying about the beach. It’s disgusting. You must bury the garbage deeper, Friday.

FRIDAY

Okay, bury deeper… if you say.

CRUSOE

What do you mean, if I say? Is that insolence I am hearing? Do you have a better idea?

(Friday looks down)

Well? Speak up, man. Do–you–have–a–better–idea?

FRIDAY

Put garbage on big red anthill that is through those woods. Ants will leave not the tiniest thing for rats. Meat, skin, seeds, pulp, flesh, anything. Ants leave only the bone.

CRUSOE

Jesus, Friday… that’s a damn good idea. Who would believe an ignorant slave could be so clever? Why didn’t you tell me this idea about the anthill before?

FRIDAY

You tell me to bury garbage or throw garbage into the sea. I do what you tell me.

CRUSOE

Well in the future you can tell me whenever you think there’s a better way to do something. Then I will consider it.

FRIDAY

Ok, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

What about the rats? Do you have any idea of what to do about those devils? They’re not just on the beach, they’re eating the grain in the cave, too. I’ve tried poisoning some of the grain. The buggers just eat the poison with no effect. I’ve suspended the grain in sacks and they climb along the ropes and reach it. I’ve put grain in wooden caskets and they manage to burrow little holes large enough to get their gross snouts in and eat. This is becoming a serious problem. The little cages I made have trapped a few of them, but I would need thousands of those. I only make a few traps for the occasional pleasure of seeing those small, evil eyes glaring at me in hatred as I sink the cage in the ocean. But in truth, I am powerless against the rats. Do you have any of your crazy tricks to get rid of the rats?

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob, there is something, maybe.

CRUSOE

What? Tell me. Tell me now.

FRIDAY

When we come from pulling fishing net three nights ago, we see on our path two rats fight to the death.  

CRUSOE

Yes, I remember that. I enjoyed watching them rip each other to shreds.

FRIDAY

One rat was long and dry-looking with brown fur. That is the island rat. He is the one digging up your garbage and eating from the beach.

The other was round and oily black. That is the rat you bring with you on your boat, Mr. Rob. Your black rats are in your cave eating your grain. You brought them when you moved things there from the ship.

CRUSOE

Friday, I believe you’re right. Those rats did look different.

FRIDAY

That black rat was killed because he wandered from the cave onto the island, the brown rat territory. For a game, I released a black rat from one of your cage traps. But first I carried it into the tall grass far from the cave. The quivering of the grass showed him moving and then more quivering grass show brown rats hunting him down. Soon I hear them fight and the grass shaking wild. When I reach that spot, nothing left of black rat but his head, his tail and bones.

I think we make a trail of food to lure the black rats from the cave and into the island country and they will war and many will die.

CRUSOE

By God! Let’s try it, man. Quickly! Forget digging the sand holes. Take whatever you need from the stores. Take two sacks of grain. Go! Go! Do it now!

(Friday rushes off and Crusoe goes into the hut. He comes back out wearing his general’s hat and carrying his spyglass. He climbs the rope ladder and raises his spyglass in the direction Friday has run and waits to spot him.)

Ah, there he is. For God’s, sake look at him carrying two sacks at once. They must weigh five stones each. That’s more than I weigh.

(Laughs)

He doesn’t even notice the burden. I have to admit for an ignorant black slave he’s quite remarkable.

(Lowers spyglass)

To say that he gave no sign of resentment at that idiotic digging of holes is not enough. He performs any task with overpowering goodwill, indeed, with enthusiasm. He would do anything I ask. Yet, I weary of him obeying my orders without showing any interest in the reason for them. You would think he’d question the stupidity of digging a hole and then filling it up? He does whatever I tell him to do.

I wish I could believe he actually wants to do things for me because he loves me for all the things I’ve taught him. But there is no affection for me in his service. He simply obeys. Is it too much to ask that he like me as well as obey me? I am so hungry for affection…  and he owes it to me. After all, I did save his life, even if unintentionally. However, I know to the marrow of my soul that I could never command Friday to love me. It would be the first time he would not, could not obey. He neither needs to love me nor knows how to love me. He is happy just being alive from moment to moment, with or without me. 

It’s a terrible sin in me but I hate him for his happiness. The larger his happiness looms the larger grows my misery. I have only the bitter joy of knuckling him under. It is rare for him to do anything of his own accord that does not displease me. However, tonight my black slave is doing something of his own that does not inspire me to whip him.

These rats chill me to my bone. It is some primordial fear that brings me nightmares of them gnawing at my face, tearing flesh my from legs, burrowing into my stomach.

If Friday should rid me of these godforsaken vermin, I may see him much more favorably.  

Still, I should hate to be obliged to recognize that Friday possesses a mind of his own. That would be profoundly subversive to the discipline of this island. What is worse is that if he is a free-thinking man and not some subhuman black beast… then I have not been a good Christian.

Achh. Put away these thoughts Crusoe.

Here he comes.

(Friday enters hurriedly with the two empty sacks.)

FRIDAY

It is done, General Rob.

(Crusoe looks with his spyglass.)

CRUSOE

I don’t see anything.

FRIDAY

It will come.

CRUSOE       

Wait a moment…. yes, there’s a little cloud of dust…. another… one there… there… … Good God!

Friday, FRIDAY, IT’S WORKING. It’s as though a storm has broken out over several acres of the meadow. There must be thousands of them.

(A multitude of squealing sounds rises, gradually getting louder.)

Listen, to that sound, Friday. Here, have a look. Have a look.

(Crusoe hands Friday the spyglass.)

What do you see?

FRIDAY

Battle clouds bursting in the moonlight, General.

(Crusoe grabs the glass back and looks through it)

CRUSOE

Oh, what a happy day this is. It’s slowing down.

(The sound of squealing dies down).

I think it’s over. Friday, run and tell me what you see. I don’t think I could stomach the sight.

(Friday runs off and quickly returns)

FRIDAY        

Dead rats everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds. Many more dead black rats than brown. I think maybe all the black rats could be dead tonight.

(Crusoe drops his spyglass, flings his general’s hat in the air, and throws his arms around Friday. He lifts Friday off his feet, drops him back down and hop-dances in a little circle shouting.)

CRUSOE

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Good job, Friday. Good job.

Ah, this is wonderful. In the morning you shall have to gather the dead rats. Perhaps you can throw some on your anthill. You can cart some to that end of the island where the vultures nest. They’ll be happy to dispose of the mess.

FRIDAY

Yes, General Rob.

CRUSOE

Oh, Friday, you’ve certainly earned your gold tonight. Now we should get some sleep.

FRIDAY

Yes, General Rob.

CRUSOE

I’ll leave my boots outside the door when I retire, Friday. You can polish them in the morning before you leave for the battlefield, eh? And don’t forget, a little spittle when you buff… brings out the shine.

FRIDAY

Yes, General.

(Crusoe enters the building. Friday curls up on the ground outside the door and falls asleep. After a few minutes that eerie music begins. Crusoe appears in the doorway stripped of his clothing except for his knee-length linen drawers. Tip-toeing lightly he stands over Friday and snaps his fingers two or three times. Satisfied that Friday is sleeping, Crusoe moves to the pit and slides in backward. Once immersed in the pit Crusoe pulls off his drawers and tosses the muddy garment on the ground. The lights get very dim, the music rises and he begins fornicating with Esperanza.

At one point, Crusoe groans loudly and Friday picks his head up and peers into the darkness. On his stomach, Friday creeps quietly towards the pit. He watches for several moments and observes Crusoe in the throes of orgasm. Friday quietly crawls back to his place and pretends to be asleep.

Naked, Crusoe comes back to Governor’s Residence, peers down at Friday for a moment and renters his residence. When the door closes Friday gets up and goes to the pit and squats down to study the steaming morass. He picks up the muddy drawers and tosses them back down, then walks back and lays down again.)

SCENE 3

 The next morning.

Crusoe emerges from the building. His shirt is buttoned right to the neck. He sits and begins pulling on his boots which are beside the door. Friday is nowhere in sight.

CRUSOE

That’s odd. I don’t believe he’s touched these boots. They’ve yesterday’s dust all over them. Of course, he’s a slothful creature–in his heart. If you don’t crack the whip these heathens would do nothing all day. I suppose there are all sorts of duties from which he’s slacking that I don’t know about. I see he hasn’t started the breakfast fire either, so no tea.

Probably still carting rodents.

(Crusoe reenters the building. While he’s inside Friday enters, walks to the pit and squats before it in contemplation. Crusoe emerges carrying a bible.)

Ah, there you are. Come here and rub down these boots for me before prayers.

(Friday looks towards Crusoe and lets out a laugh)

We won’t waste time with the polish this morning–we’re well behind schedule as it is but I do have to deliver the sermon and I can’t very well do that in dusty boots, can I? Come on, now. Look sharp, Friday.

(Friday comes to Crusoe.)

We’ll also skip breakfast this morning.

(Friday laughs)

What’s funny?

FRIDAY

Nothing.

CRUSOE

Well, buff these boots right now. Spittle, Friday. Don’t forget the spittle. It adds luster.

(Friday spits on the boots but doesn’t buff them. He just laughs.)

What in God’s name are you laughing about?

FRIDAY

Nothing.

CRUSOE

Forget the damn boots, Friday. It’s morning prayer time and God is waiting. You can give me your excuses later as to why there’s no breakfast fire.

(Crusoe, in crisp stride, crosses to the chapel tree. He takes a wide stance and cracks the bible open. Friday has not moved.)

I feel so clean and well-rested today. Nothing like a good night’s sleep to refresh one’s soul. Friday… come on, hop to it boy.

(Friday rises and moves lethargically and stands before Crusoe to his left.)

What ARE you doing? You know you’re to be on the right side of the chapel. The left side is reserved for women. The sparseness of our population shall not prevent us from achieving a model society. I will not allow that. Now please move accordingly.

(Friday slides right)

Better. This morning I shall read from Thessalonians Chapter 4. You should give special care to this sermon.

(Friday lets out a small laugh.)

It may help you understand your depravity, and why you are having such difficulty coming to Jesus.

Alright, then…

Thessalonians Chapter 4:

We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, how ye ought to walk and to please God. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

(Friday giggles.)

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; Not in the lust of concupiscence as the pagans which know not God:

(Friday laughs.)

Friday! You bleeding idiot. Stop it! What’s got into you?

(Friday lets out a high-pitched titter and makes a pumping motion with his pelvis, fornicating with the air)

Stop that vulgarity at once. Have you lost your mind, boy? Now listen and pay attention.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

(Friday lets out his high-pitch titter again and lays face down in the sand. He reaches out and gropes the earth, giggling continuously and starts pumping his pelvis.)

(Crusoe slams the book shut)

Mother of Christ, I’ll not put up with this.

(Crusoe steps forward and kicks Friday who rolls away from him and sits upright laughing. He tries to kick him again but misses. Friday continues to laugh at Crusoe. Crusoe kicks again and connects, but Friday just laughs harder. Crusoe kicks and connects once more; the result is the same, Friday holding his sides and doubling up with laughter. Crusoe stalks rapidly towards the building.)

A few stripes on your back will straighten your thinking.

(Crusoe enters the building and Friday rises and runs from the stage laughing. Crusoe emerges with the cat-o-nine.)

FRIDAY! FRIDAY! You can’t hide from me. This is my island. I am the master here.

(Crusoe runs off after Friday.)

SCENE 4

(It’s nighttime and Crusoe trots back onstage looking exhausted and breathing heavily.)

CRUSOE

I can’t believe he’s disappeared from me. I’ll not give up on finding this outlaw no matter how he tries me. He will rue his act of mockery. Little beast.

(Staggers about, lost in which direction he wants to go.)

I need water.

(Crusoe grabs an urn, noisily slurps up water and pours some water on his head.)

Alright, then.

(Crusoe exits, trotting sloppily. The stage remains in night lighting. A few minutes later Crusoe runs back on stage breathing heavily. He looks about and runs lurching off again. Morning lights come up and Crusoe staggers back. He falls to his knees.)

Ohh! I will crush him to powder. How dare he run away from me. But I must sleep a bit. So tired.

(Crusoe staggers into the building. In a moment he screams and bursts through the doorway.)

AHHH! AHHH! A dead rat on my bed and Van Deysell’s hand.

(He flings a bony hand with a ring on its finger down onto the sand).

CANNIBAL! He’s dug up the grave. I should have killed that black bastard. I should have killed the beggar when he was on his knees kissing my feet. Yes, that was the time to do it. A bullet right in his trusting, ignorant little head.

(The sound of a drum is heard.)

What? What’s he up to? Trying to scare me with heathen drumming?

You son of the devil.  We’re well beyond switch or whip, dear Friday. Forget sleep. My pistol will energize me. 

(Crusoe gets his pistol and sticks it into his waistband.)

We’ll soon end this game.

(Crusoe trudges off. An occasional shout and pistol shots are heard accompanied by Friday’s tittering and laughing. Night falls once again. A completely spent Crusoe returns.)

Where can the devil be hiding? I’ve combed every inch of Esperanza. Every shore, every cave, cliff, meadow, dune… he’s nowhere. I can hardly see in that dark jungle. Yet there’s no doubt I am as plain to him as a boat in a bath. Ohh God, I must…. close my eyes.

(Crusoe goes to his residence and when he gets to the door Friday leaps shrieking from the doorway, knocking him to the ground. Friday’s face is painted in a macabre mask. Patterns of painted dots, circles, straight and wavy lines cover Friday’s entire body. He wears a helmet of leaves and colorful bird feathers.

Friday, laughing dementedly, dances around a stunned Crusoe then runs into the Governor’s Residence and jumps out with the jar of tobacco and the pipe. He raises the jar over his head, howls demonically and runs off. Crusoe struggles to his hands and knees, pulls out his pistol but can barely raise his arm. He does not fire.)

Howl. Howl savage. I cannot give chase now…. but I will get you yet.

(Crusoe drags himself to the chest and pulls out a bottle of liquor, from which he takes a deep drink. He crosses over and squats before the pit, takes another deep swig and dips his fingers in the pit.)

You’re the only one I can trust.

(Sips the bottle again and sits.)

What have I unleashed? The world is coming apart and I am powerless. My island is dangerous as this new hell unfolds. Will I be stabbed in my sleep? An arrow in the night? Is my drink poisoned?

(He keeps taking deep swigs of liquor.)

I had such a wonderful future planned.

(A distant explosion is heard. Crusoe drops the bottle and struggles to his feet. Another explosion follows, and another, a series of very quick explosions and finally a tremendous boom.)

My God! He’s destroyed the cave. Everything is gone. Everything… our entire civilized world.

(Crusoe exits, staggering and very wobbly. A moment later Friday enters carrying a spear. In contrast to the exhausted Crusoe, Friday is very animated and moves with strong precision. He kicks over the flag of Speranza then goes to the building and with his spear and knocks down the Governor’s Residence sign. He then walks to the pit and squatting down he reaches a hand into the muck to feel it. He sets his spear down and puts both hands in and lifts some pit mud, rubs it between his hands, and laughs.

Crusoe stumbles back onto the stage. When he sees Friday he snaps and pulls his pistol from his waist.)

I’LL KILL YOOOUUU! You filthy black savage. Get away from her!

(Crusoe fires the pistol at Friday but misses.)

How dare you touch her! I’LL KILL YOU.

(Crusoe throws the pistol down and leaps on Friday. Friday slips away easily. Crusoe grabs Friday about the throat attempting to strangle him.)

I ‘LL KILL YOU. 

I’LL KILL YOU.

(Friday grabs both of Crusoe’s wrists and forcefully pulls Crusoe’s hands from his throat and holds them apart, locked in a viselike grip and looks directly into Crusoe’s eyes.)

FRIDAY

YOU WILL NOT KILL ME.

(Crusoe glares at Friday then lets out a guttural scream and tries to bite Friday’s face. Friday leaps around behind Crusoe and grabs him in a headlock and forces him down. Crusoe is on his knees and struggling to pull Friday’s arm free. Friday increases the pressure.)

CRUSOE

Let go of me.

FRIDAY

Stop! Stupid man, with your stupid shoes and your stupid hats. Stop struggling or you will be dead.

(Crusoe continues struggling.)

 Stop. I warn you.

(Crusoe struggles furiously to wrench free and failing that, reaches around and tries to pull Friday’s legs from under him. Friday digs in and grunting he squeezes Crusoe with all his might. Crusoe gagging loudly claws desperately at Friday’s arms until finally, his own arms drop slowly, inexorably, to his sides and he appears to collapse in Friday’s grip. Friday throws the limp Crusoe to the sand and puts his foot on Crusoe’s neck. He holds that pose for a moment. Then he walks a few feet away. Crusoe coughs weakly.)

FRIDAY

You saved my life, and for that, I have been your servant. That is over forever. But there is no joy in killing you. I am sorry for you, Mr. Rob.

(Friday picks up his spear and leaves. Crusoe remains prostrate and we hear the sound of rain. Crusoe reaches for the bottle he dropped earlier and drinks the entire contents, shuddering heavily at the end. He crawls to the chest and opens another bottle, lays on his back and takes a deep drink and sobs. The rain increases to a heavy downpour. Crusoe attempts to rise but only makes it to his hands and knees, his head hanging down. His sobbing increases. He looks up and is suddenly startled.)

CRUSOE

My God, Archbishop Hutton. I’m… I’m sorry, I’m not well your excellency… and perhaps a bit drunk. But I am so happy to see you. You remember me, don’t you? I was the altar boy who served you at York Minster and often brought mother’s fresh-baked meat pies to you at Bishopthorpe. Do you remember? You might not remember my name though because you always called me ‘my sweet boy.’

Yes, yes, it’s Rob. You do remember.  I know your Grace, you’re right. I’m no longer that boy you knew. It’s sad what’s become of me, so sad. I’m sad. But I’ve had a hard life Archbishop. I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry I’ve disappointed you.

(Crusoe begins sobbing again.)

I’m a sinner. I’ve not followed the word of Christ. Please forgive me.

Yes, confession, yes, of course.

Forgive me most merciful God,
I confess that I have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what I have done,
and by what I have left undone.
I have not loved you with my whole heart;
I have not loved my neighbors.
I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me and forgive me;
that I may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name.

Amen.

Wait Archbishop, don’t go. Please… please stay with me your Grace. Please forgive me, please say you forgive me… forgive me (sobbing) forgive me.

(Crusoe collapses. The heavy rain becomes a storm with lightning and thunder.  This continues for some time with Crusoe occasionally mumbling and trying unsuccessfully to rise. He finally passes out completely. As the morning light comes up the rain abates to a llight drizzle. Robinson Crusoe is still lying in the same place. He is ill and coughing, vomiting and shivering. Friday appears and crosses to Crusoe who is noticeably shuddering. Friday’s helmet and spear are gone, but his paint is still on.)

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob? He squats down and touches Crusoe’s shoulder. Crusoe lets out a great shudder and begins shivering more violently. 

(The rain stops. Friday holding Crusoe’s head, forces an eyelid open and examines him. He feels his forehead and places a hand on his neck under the ear. Reaching under his arms, Friday drags Crusoe over to the building. He gets a cloth, wets it and wipes Crusoe clean while talking to him.)

FRIDAY

Foolish man. You have a wicked thing in you.

(He checks his eyes once more. From the building, Friday fetches the blanket Crusoe’s wife made and carefully covers him. He departs momentarily and returns with some herbs and an armful of palm leaves. He gets a pestle and mortar and he proceeds to chew the herbs, spit them out into the mortar and crush them further with the pestle. He adds a small amount of water to his mix, pours it into a cup and forces it down Crusoe’s throat. He then removes Crusoe’s blanket, covers him with the leaves he brought and replaces the blanket. Friday then squats next to Crusoe and remains immobile. After a bit, Crusoe’s shuddering seems to worsen. Friday reaches out and puts both hands on Crusoe’s chest.)

Do not die, Mr. Rob.

(It gets dark and he forces more juice into Crusoe. Crusoe’s shivering abates. It gets light, and on his own Crusoe drinks the medicine Friday hands to him. The two men have not spoken. Crusoe sits up and holds an elbow out to Friday who helps him stand. Crusoe takes a few shaky steps on his own and without looking at him he speaks to Friday.)

CRUSOE

Friday, I’m sorry.

FRIDAY

Never mind.

CRUSOE

No, Friday, I am very sorry.

FRIDAY

O.K., Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

I’m no Governor… or General. And those horrible shoes, and the whip. Friday, I’ve been cruel to you.

FRIDAY

Don’t think of these things.

CRUSOE

Friday, I realize what happened. I’m such a hypocrite. I’m going to drain the pit. It was sinful of me what I did. And it wasn’t the first time.

FRIDAY

I think that would be good.

(Fade to black.)

ACT THREE

Scene 1

Two years later. It is a bright day. Crusoe is barefoot and wearing a loincloth and a homemade vest. The parasol has been fitted to give shade to a roughly made table. Van Deysell’s skull is on the table. It has a three-foot piece of bamboo sticking up from the center of the skull and four strings coming from its mouth attached to something like a guitar bridge at the top of the bamboo stick. Crusoe is slicing some pineapple at the table. Friday is carrying a large vase and two coconut shell cups, which he sets down at the table with great theatrical gestures.

FRIDAY

Maneska is ready!

(Friday pours liquid from the clay urn into to the cups)

CRUSOE

That’s it? Is it alcohol?

FRIDAY

Yes.

(Crusoe grabs the vase and sniffs it)

CRUSOE

You’ve made this before?

FRIDAY

First time. But it will be fine. I watch my father make it many times.

CRUSOE

Well then, let’s have a toast. Let’s drink to the Caribbean and to all the wonderful and strange things that it holds.

(Crusoe knocks cups with Friday and they both take a good swallow.)

FRIDAY

You like it?

CRUSOE

Yes! Yes, by God, I like it. It’s just like rum only with coconut flavor. It’s excellent.

(Takes another drink Friday laughs happily.)

Is that a new kite?

FRIDAY

Yes, and I have painted it like the angels you talk about. This kite is for you.

(Friday gets the kite and hands it to Crusoe. There are angel wings painted on it and a face at the top center.)

Try it later when sunset breeze comes. I fly my longtail sting-fish kite and we see who goes higher.

(Crusoe takes a drink from his cup and then takes the kite and holds it up admiringly.)

CRUSOE

This angel is terrific, nicely done. Thank you, Friday.

FRIDAY

I like the Angel. People with wings. We don’t have those.

CRUSOE

You don’t have Jesus, either. I tried to explain him to you. You never seemed interested.

FRIDAY

No, I don’t think much of this Jesus person. We have people like him.

CRUSOE

Like Jesus?

FRIDAY

Oh, yes. A man who does miracles. We have Gatos. I don’t like him much, either, though.

CRUSOE

Who is Gatos?

FRIDAY

Gatos is a giant. When he wants to eat fish he reaches into the sea and pulls out a whale in one hand and swallows it. A very fearsome warrior. Was your man Jesus on your boat?

CRUSOE

No. Jesus died a long time ago. Fearful people killed him.

FRIDAY

Psttsssssaa! Gatos cannot die. He constantly roams the world with his soldiers, but they are normal size men. If he comes to a big river or canyon he bridges it with his penis and his soldiers cross over on it.

CRUSOE

HE DOES WHAT?

FRIDAY

He makes a bridge with his penis for his soldiers.

CRUSOE

That’s ridiculous, Friday.

FRIDAY

Yes, all miracle men are ridiculous. Like your man Jesus feeding 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. The stories of these men, they are not real… not like the sun is real, the wind, the sea and the trees. I can see those things and they give to me. That is real. I talk to you, Mr. Rob. That is real, too. This is more important than stories of Gatos or Jesus.

CRUSOE

I can’t talk about religion. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Why don’t you play your skull instrument? I like that. When you take your bow to it, it almost sounds like a violin. It reminds me of my sister Lucy. Where did you get those strings?


FRIDAY

I make with goat intestine. I don’t feel like playing that now. We should sing a song. When a man drinks he should sing.

CRUSOE

No. I’m a terrible singer. You wouldn’t want to hear it.

FRIDAY

Every man can sing. I want to hear your terrible singing.

CRUSOE

I only know bawdy sailor songs.

FRIDAY

Ok. Sing one

CRUSOE       

Alright.

(This is sung to the melody of Comin’ Thro’ the Rye https://bit.ly/3mk9QeA)

Do your balls hang low my laddy? 
Dangle to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?

Do they itch when it’s hot?
Do you rest them in a pot?

Can you do the double shuffle
When your balls hang low?


Do they swing in stormy weather?
Do they tickle with a feather?
Do they rattle when you walk?
And jingle when you talk?


Can you sling them on your shoulder
Like a lousy fucking soldier?


Can you bounce them off the wall?

Do your balls hang low?

That’s all I know.

(Friday is laughing)

FRIDAY

That is a funny song. We don’t have that. We sing a chant and dance. It is good for the heart.

CRUSOE

You chant?

FRIDAY

Yes. Do you want me to teach you?

CRUSOE

Sure. But let’s drink up first.

(They both drain their cups and Friday directs Crusoe to sit facing him.)

FRIDAY

Alright, listen carefully and then do the same.

(Slowly in a deep voice Friday begins with a hum)

HOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

HOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Hoyay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

(Friday invites Crusoe to try)

CRUSOE

HOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

HOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Hoyay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

(Crusoe laughs)

FRIDAY

Good

Hoyay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

CRUSOE

Hoyay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

FRIDAY

Good, good. Now say first hoy louder, like this.

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

(Friday signals Crusoe to join him)

TOGETHER

(Crusoe and Friday attain perfect unison at different pitches with tones common to chanting, deep chest cavity and nasal tones resonating)

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

(Friday begins rocking forward/backward

Crusoe mimics him)

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

(Friday begins rocking side to side

Crusoe mimics this, as well)

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

HOYay-kingay-hoyay-longoh

Hoyay-kingay-hoya-low

(After chanting in unison for several moments, Crusoe starts to become truly exalted with the chant. He begins waving his hands about like a conductor and bouncing up and down from his sitting position. His vocal accents on the lead syllable Hoy become increasingly louder and his flailing more exaggerated, until finally he rises to his feet and begins doing a jig to the chant.)

CRUSOE

Friday let me teach you a favorite sailor’s dance. The Irish jig.

(Friday rises and joins Crusoe, mimicking his dance steps while they continue to sing the chant. Soon Crusoe reaches out and locks arm in arm and the two men dance the jig around and around.

Friday breaks loose from Crusoe and picks up his small drum and begins banging while chanting. His accent on the drum beats are also on the syllable Hoy. Crusoe begins shouting the chant very loudly and spinning in a circle like a man possessed until he loses his balance and staggers. Putting his arms out he falls upon Friday and they both go down. They clumsily move to a sitting position.)

CRUSOE

Let’s have some more of that maneska.

(Friday gets the maneska and fills their cups. He sits down next to Crusoe and they drink. Crusoe puts a hand upon Friday’s shoulder and stares into his face. Friday has his usual smile.)

CRUSOE

Friday… you are… a very beautiful man.

(Friday continues smiling. Crusoe lifts his hand and holds it suspended a few inches from Friday’s chest, hesitating to touch him.)

Friday?

Friday?

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob?

(Friday leans in a little, still smiling.)

CRUSOE

You know I wish you would not call me Mr. Rob, There’s no need for that. You can just call me Rob.

(Friday sits upright.)

FRIDAY

No. I cannot do that. I am comfortable with Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

Alright. I understand.

FRIDAY

You wanted to say something?

CRUSOE

No. Nothing. Just that you are a beautiful man and you have taught me much. The drink is making me emotional, love, hate, anger, fear. Emotions are man’s burden.

FRIDAY

Do not be burdened. Be happy.

CRUSOE

Before you came I was always angry. I focused on nothing but my loneliness, which drove me to insanity.

And then you came and I was bitter because even as a slave you were happy and I was not. That made me even crueler as I played at being a slave master.

I thank God you broke that. You broke me.

I was living in paradise and I was blind to it. Here I was with an abundance of fresh bananas, coconuts, pineapples, fresh fish, goats, sheep, pigs, perfect weather, and beautiful beaches and all I did was feel sorry for myself.

You changed that Friday.

FRIDAY

Yes, the world is good.

CRUSOE

Do you know the first thing I did when I came to this island?

FRIDAY

No, Mr. Rob. What you done?

CRUSOE

I was frightened and in shock after the shipwreck. I was tearing through the dense forest trying to find someone, anyone, my crew, a native, a pirate, anyone. The jungle was thick, tangles of creepers and hanging branches enclosed me like a net, and the noise of my plunging about exploded into the heavy silence of the forest. But I found no trace of human or animal.

Then I pushed through some thick brush and found myself in what looked like a leafy cathedral and there stood a wild goat. Head raised with an ear cocked, it stood completely still, watching me. No doubt, she had never seen a human before.

Out of the mass of its hair her green eyes stared at me. I was overcome with terror at the thought that I must walk past this weird creature. Thick odors of flowers and plants and the heat and silence made me feel I was trapped in a bizarre dream with some creature from the netherworld. I felt drugged and imagined I heard a low buzzing sound. I was afraid.

Then a strange sound came from the hairy thing, from deep in its belly. I picked up a black, knotted cudgel of wood from the ground and was suddenly overtaken by a violent fit of anger. I stepped in close and I brought it down will all my strength between the goat’s eyes. There was a crunching sound and blood sprang from its skull. The animal looked at me. She seemed truly surprised. She gave me a look as though she knew she was going to die but hoped for some quick explanation first. I brought the cudgel down once more upon her head and her legs wobbled and she sank to her knees and with all my might I gave her a final blow and she rolled over on her side, dead.

It was the first living creature I had encountered on the island, and I killed it… pulled by fear and anger. I’m sorry for that.

FRIDAY

Well, it is good you are sorry for some things you done. Some people, like my father, don’t ever feel sorrow for what they do.

CRUSOE

Ah, so true. Let’s have another cup of maneska. We won’t talk about sorrow or killing OR love, eh?

(Friday pours two more cups. Crusoe takes a long drink and being very showy lets out a deep satisfying sigh.)

Sit. Sit. You know, Friday I never said this to you but I regret the loss of my Virginia tobacco. A good smoke would be so wonderful with this drink. I’ll bet you smoked all that in one sitting, didn’t you? That jar would have lasted me a couple of years… properly rationed, of course.

FRIDAY

I didn’t smoke it, Mr. Rob. I didn’t like it. I took the jar to the cave and filled the pipe like I see you do. I put fire to it and I took a few breaths from pipe, it taste bad, so I throw the pipe down onto some barrel in cave and walk away. A few minutes later, boom.

(Crusoe laughs a little then a little more and then finally bursts into hearty laughter. Friday laughs, too.)

CRUSOE

Friday, we’re friends, aren’t we?

FRIDAY

Yes, we are friends.

CRUSOE

I never really had a friend, you know, other than my sister Lucy. She was two years older and she was everything to me, my protector from bullies at school, my tutor, the keeper of my secrets, the person I cried to, the one I shared my happiness with, my partner in playing practical jokes. I loved her tremendously. Somedays, I would just sit and listen to her play her violin for hours.

FRIDAY

Maybe someday we get off this island Mr. Rob and you will see her again.

CRUSOE

No, that’s not possible. My poor sister died of smallpox a few weeks before I set sail.

FRIDAY

Smallpox?

CRUSOE

It’s a terrible disease. Lucy was a beautiful girl with bright blue eyes, smooth ivory skin, and thick chestnut hair. There wasn’t a boy her age in all of York that wasn’t in love with her. Then smallpox got her. First came the fever and soon her whole body and her lovely face were covered with smallpox blisters. At the end, all you could see were her blue eyes surrounded by a dense mass of these hideous pus-filled blisters. She endured tormenting pain right up to the moment she died. Watching her die was the most horrible thing of my life.

FRIDAY

That is very sad, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

Yes, it is. It’s one of those things that makes you question God.

(Friday, looking out to sea, suddenly stands up)

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob. Look.

(Friday is very excited and points to the sea. Crusoe stands and looks.)

CRUSOE

My God! It’s a ship! I’ll get my spyglass.

(Friday moves to the edge of the stage looking out to sea. Crusoe goes into the building and comes back with his spyglass.)

It’s big, a full-rigged three-master with a spanker sail and three jibs, looks to have about 60 cannon, too. It’s more than twice the size of our ship. And will you look at all the windows on the stern. That’d be the captain’s quarters.

(Friday is pacing excitedly.)

FRIDAY

Mr. Rob. Let me have a look.

This is a big boat. So many people running around on it.

CRUSOE

They’re anchoring here. I didn’t check her flag.

(Crusoe takes the spyglass back and looks)

It’s a British ship.

FRIDAY

Do you think they see us?

CRUSOE

I’m sure they have (still looking through the spyglass). I can see the barrelman in the crow’s nest and he’s looking right at us with a telescope, which is far more powerful than my spyglass. So yes, they’ve seen us. No ship comes ashore without scouring for danger first.

I must get dressed to meet them. I don’t want them to see I’ve gone native. When they come ashore Friday follow my lead and say as little as possible until we find out what they’re about and what kind of men they are. Just because it’s a British ship doesn’t mean they’ll treat us civilly.

FRIDAY

Ok, Mr. Rob.

CRUSOE

And another thing. I hate to say this but it’s best if you act subservient to me. It’s what they’re used to and what they’ll expect. It’s for our safety. So if I give you an order just do it. You have to trust me on this.

FRIDAY

I trust you, Mr. Rob.

(Crusoe gives the spyglass back to Friday who immediately starts watching the ship and Crusoe goes to change clothes. When he returns, he’s wearing knee-length breeches, stockings, buckled shoes and a white shirt with billowy sleeves buttoned to the neck. He also has a pistol tucked in his waist. Friday looks him up and down.)

CRUSOE

These were Van Deysell’s clothes for going ashore to meet trading agents. Fortunately, they fit. Let me have the spyglass.

(Crusoe looks out to sea.)

They’ve got two boats coming, a gig and jollyboat. Let’s go meet them.

            (Lights dim and when they come back up the captain of the ship enters.)

CRUSOE

Welcome to Esperanza. I’m governor Robinson Crusoe.

NOBLE

Captain Clement Noble of the merchant ship Brookes.

CRUSOE

Hello captain.

NOBLE

Esperanza? It’s not on any of me Caribbean charts.

CRUSOE

You’re Irish.

NOBLE

I am. How many people on this island?

CRUSOE

Just the two of us. This is Friday.

FRIDAY

Captain Noble, we are happy to see your ship.

NOBLE

Ah, speak English, do ya?

FRIDAY

Yes.

CRUSOE

He can read and write, too.

NOBLE

Don’t believe it. Is it true?

FRIDAY

Yes. Governor Crusoe has taught me.

CRUSOE

A few hours every day with the King James bible. He soaked it in like a sponge.

NOBLE

Y’know dere’s places would lock you up guhvnahr for teachin’ a black to read and write.

CRUSOE

Not here.

NOBLE

Yah.

Well, lad, you’re a special a wonder, you are. Never heard such a ting as a black readin’ and writin’.

(Friday shrugs.)

Let’s have a lookatcha.

(Noble walks semi-circles around Friday.)

Smart ‘n strong, too, eh? So, it’s just you ’n him den? And you’re the guhvernahr?

CRUSOE

Right. I got shipwrecked here and claimed the island for the king.

NOBLE

And made yourself guhvnahr?

CRUSOE

Yes.

(Noble laughs heartily.)

NOBLE

That’s bold boyo, declarin’ yerself guhvnahr. But why not, eh? When my men are done gatherin’ fresh food supplies we’ll bring you aboard for dinner… and we’ll talk.

CRUSOE

I’d like that. Thank you.

NOBLE

Be sure to bring your man Friday aboard, too.

ACT THREE

Scene 1

The captain’s quarters aboard the Brookes. Crusoe is sitting at a table laid with a sumptuous dinner and captain Noble is standing. Light comes from a battery of windows behind them but as the scene progresses light from the windows dim and Noble lights oil lamps.

The room has some shelves with books, liquor and wine bottles, a couple of glasses and mugs, the captain’s bed, a work desk with an hourglass, a quill, ink, and paper. Above the work-desk rolled up sea charts stacked four or five high rest on 45° angle wall pegs. There is a gun rack with muskets and pistols, a cabinet with a globe on top, a sea chest on the floor, and a barrel of ale on a small table.

NOBLE

D’ya want rum, whiskey, brandy, ale or wine? Ye’ll find I’m well stocked.

CRUSOE

Water will be fine.

NOBLE

No, ye’ll not be drinkin’ water in this cabin.

CRUSOE

Alright, ale then.

(Noble takes two mugs from the shelf, walks to the ale barrel and puts his hand on the tap. He does not take any ale.)

NOBLE

No, not the ship’s ale tonight. Got somethin’ special for ya.

(Noble opens the sea chest and takes out two bottles of dark beer with flip wire cork or porcelain stoppers like those on Grolsch beer bottles.)

We’ll have proper Irish beer, the black stuff. He-ar, try this.

(Noble drains half his bottle in one swig.)

CRUSOE

My God, it’s delicious, thick, rich. This puts all the London porter beer brewers to shame and I’ve drunk most of them, Whitbred, Truman, Parsons, Thrale.

NOBLE

You can’t match the Irish when it comes to makin’ wheskey or be-ar. Dis is Guinness, brewed in Dublin. Dey finally started shippin’ barrels to England ne-ar ten years ago. It’ll go well with your meal Guhvnahr.

CRUSOE

This is quite a feast, captain. I wasn’t expecting anything like this.

NOBLE

J’ya know what yer lookin’ at?

CRUSOE

Some. I know that’s cheese and that’s soup.

NOBLE

You’ve got fish soup. That’s a rooehnd o’ Cheshire cheese. Dis he-ar is what they call sauerkraut, cabbage fermented in brine. And the prize is dis blackbelly lamb pie. Dis, of course, is bread pudding.

CRUSOE

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but what’s going on here, captain? I’ve sailed the ocean before and no ship eats like this.

NOBLE

You’re right. The ship doesn’t eat like this, but I do. The rest of the crew is eatin’ salt pork, sea biscuits, and peas. But yer man Friday’s in the galley eatin’ the exact same as us.

CRUSOE

Yes, and why did you separate him? Why isn’t he with me?

NOBLE

Because I wanted a private conversation, dat’s all.

CRUSOE

I don’t understand why you’d want a private conversation with me. And I don’t understand how you can have a feast like this.

(Noble empties his bottle and gets another.)

NOBLE

It’s just the fruits o’ luck you’re seein’. Ya must know guhvnahr how hard it is ta get a crew ta sail ta Africa. What with the small wages for months at sea and fear of malaria, typhus, dysentery, scurvy, yellow fever, parasites and so on. I don’t tink dere’s a disease on earth doesn’t come visit a sea-goin’ ship.

And what’s that get me, eh?  Half me crew is rogues, drunks and jailbirds that was in prison for debt. I pay the debt as an advance and conscript ‘em ta de boat. Scour the damn prisons ta fill out the crew before each sail, I do.

CRUSOE

And what has that to do with this supper?

NOBLE

Everything. You see while combing the prisons before this sail I stumbled on one of King George’s personal cooks in Birmingham’s Winsome Green Prison. The man was sentenced ta 20 years when they discuvered he’d been stealin’ beef, mutton, and venison from the king every day ‘n sellin’ it at de market.

Took a handsome bribe ta the warden for de poor fella ta die in prison of a stroke. The king has his death certificate and I have his cook in the Brookes galley. I must take me pleasures on earth while I can cuz it’s unlikely I’ll be passin’ St. Peter at the gate.

CRUSOE

King George can’t still be alive. He’d be over 100 years old.

NOBLE

Yer tinkin’ George II. I’m talkin’ about his grandson, George the turd.

CRUSOE

His grandson? Why isn’t Prince Frederick king?

NOBLE

We’re not talkin’ till you start eatin’.

(Crusoe begins eating his meal.)

Good. Prince Frederick? Jaysus, he died a pneumonia nine years before his father George II passed. How long you been on that island mate?

(Noble keeps swilling the beer as they talk.)

CRUSOE

I don’t know. I left York in the spring of 1750 and shipwrecked three months later. What year is it now?

NOBLE

Well, Fredrick died in ’51. It’s now 1785, brudder. You been on that island for tirty-five years.

CRUSOE

I lost track of time long ago.

NOBLE

The world’s changed a lot in tirty-five years. Take this ship, the Brookes. Look any different ta you from the ships you remember.

CRUSOE

It’s much bigger.

NOBLE

It’s a great deal different udder than being big. Tell me five tings sailors crossin’ the ocean fear most.

CRUSOE

Storms, pirates, food rotting, running out of water.

NOBLE

Eat yer supper. That’s four. I asked for five.

CRUSOE

I don’t know.

NOBLE

What besides pirates can sink a ship?

CRUSOE

Shipworms?

NOBLE

SHIPWORMS! YES. Termites of the sea and every ship captain’s nightmare. Dey sink more ships than pirates. Dey sank two ships of the famous Christopher Columbus on his last voyage. Did j’ya know that?

CRUSOE

No.

NOBLE

Did j’ya know a fertile shipworm releases 100 million eggs in a spawning?

CRUSE

I did not.

NOBLE

What ta do? What ta do about the shipworms, eh?

I had a catalog had some 500 ta 600 metads of preventin’ shipworm invasion, a layer of calf skins, cow hair, pounded glass, ashes, glue, chalk, moss, charcoal, creosote and udder chemical concoctions.

Nuthin’ worked. The little feckers is sinkin’ ships, leavin’ warves, piers and ferry slips crumblin’.

Buttya know what? I don’t worry about shipworms. Can you tell me why I don’t worry?

CRUSOE

Captain Noble, please. I am not your student here for an exam. If you have something to tell me then just say it.

(Noble laughs)

NOBLE

I don’t worry about shipworms because dis ship was built in Liverpool where dey now sheath the hulls with copper. Dose damn sea creatures can’t settle on copper. Also, no more seaweed collectin’ on the bottom and draggin’ her speed.

CRUSOE

That’s very clever.

NOBLE

It is. Liverpool shipbuilders are the best in the world. This ship was built in ’81 and is Liverpool customized for carryin’ slaves.

CRUSOE

This is a slave ship?

NOBLE

It is.

CRUSOE

Customized? Are you saying shipbuilders are designing ships specifically to carry slaves?

NOBLE

They are. Every inch of space below is designed for packin’ slave cargo. I picked up 740 slaves at Cape Coast Castle, men, women, and children, ta be sold ta two sugar plantations in Tobago. Couldn’t do that on a regular ship.

CRUSOE

How could you fit 740 on this ship? That’s not possible.

NOBLE

Oh, it’s possible. You’ve seen maize haven’t ya? The slaves lie naked side ta side, packed in below as tight as kernels on a cob of maize. The entire lower deck is packed stem ta stern, port ta starboard. Dere’s two decks above the lower deck. They’re platforms runnin’ the whole perimeter for slaves ta lay on.

We shackle their ankles and wrists ta keep dem still. The rowdy ones get iron neck collars, too.

Dat’s the genius of Liverpool’s customized shipbuildin’, clearin’ all the space for nothing but the slave shelves. I just wish dere was some ventilation. The sweat, piss, and shit from dem naked negroes make the air foul as the sulfur of Hell.

CRUSOE

And you have women and children packed down there?

NOBLE

Yah, they’re on the two upper decks.

CRUSOE

How could you have so many decks?

NOBLE

I told j’ya, man, we’re customized. The decks are under five feet tall. Ya can’t even stand ‘less yer a child. The children can stand.

CRUSOE

And you keep them like that for three months, the entire voyage?

NOBLE

We do. Course we pull them out in small bunches every day ta feed and hose the shit off. It’s a good laugh watchin’ them tryin’ ta crawl over each udder ta get out while their wrists and ankles is chained. After they eat we take the chains off and force them at gunpoint ta dance for us a bit so’s they get some exercise.

Have some Irish wheskey?

CRUSOE

I think not.

NOBLE

Suit yerself.

(Noble fetches a bottle of whiskey, pours and raises his glass)

May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.

(Crusoe smiles grimly. Noble drains the glass and fills it again.)

CRUSOE

How is it an Irishman is in charge of an English ship?

(Noble explosively leaps to his feet with crazed look and pulls a pistol from his waistband.)

NOBLE

ARE YOU INSULTIN’ ME ON ME OWN SHIP?

CRUSOE

What? No.

(Noble knocks Crusoe’s chair over with a kick. Crusoe is sitting on the floor looking up.)

NOBLE

I’ll not have another bloody Englishman lookin’ down on me. You tink I’m not fit ta captain this ship?

I’LL PUT A BULLET IN YER FECKIN’ CRANIUM YOU FECKIN’ ENGLISH BASTARD.

            (Noble puts the pistol at Crusoe’s temple. Crusoe remains cool.)

CRUSOE

If I offended you, I didn’t mean to. I just found it curious because I’ve never known an Irishman to captain an English owned ship. Perhaps times have changed.

(Noble laughs heartily.)

NOBLE

I’m only jokin’ with ya. Just testin’ yer mettle’s all.

(Noble puts the pistol back in his waistband, drains his glass of whiskey and refills it.)

Alright mate, let’s get down to business.

CRUSOE

Business?

NOBLE

Didn’t tink I brung you aboard just ta chit-chat did j’ya?

CRUSOE

What business could I possibly have with you?

NOBLE

How long’s yer man Friday been wichya?

CRUSOE

I don’t know, five, six years I’d guess.

NOBLE

Would it be too much to ask what yiz were up ta all dat time?

CRUSOE

Captain, what is the business you’re talking about?

NOBLE

Let me make somethin’ clear. This ship is not a rescue vessel and it’s no passenger ship. So, if you were tinkin’ I’d be takin’ you home, I’m not. Not unless we make a business deal.

CRUSOE

What deal?

NOBLE

I’ll be buyin’ yer man Friday. I’ll give you 100 pounds and free passage ta Liverpool. You can make yer way back ta York from dere.

CRUSOE

Impossible.

NOBLE

Yer sayin’ no?

CRUSOE

I’m saying no.

NOBLE

Well, maybe you should be tinkin’ a bit harder on that. Did j’ya notice all the sharks surroundin’ the ship?’

CRUSOE

How could you miss them?

NOBLE

Ha! You can’t.

Scared the bejaysus out of yer man Friday climbin’ the Jacob’s Ladder and seein’ all dem shark fins swimmin’ under him. Practically turned from black man ta white man.

CRUSOE

What man doesn’t tremble at the sight of those killers? I could see even you were uneasy climbing up, as was I.

NOBLE

Yah. They’re our nightmare companions. We pick ‘em up soon as we leave the Africa coast and dey follow us all the way ta these islands, scavengin’ our garbage and dead bodies.

CRUSOE

Dead bodies?

NOBLE

Told ya I left West Africa’s Cape Coast Castle with 740, didn’t I?

CRUSOE

Yes.

NOBLE

Well, we’re a two-day sail yet from Tobago and Trinidad and I’ve only 635 alive. The other 95 blacks was tossed overboard. Most died of disease. A few made a break durin’ the dancin’ after the feedin’ and jumped overboard. Dat’s dem’d rather be eaten by sharks than be a slave. Some went on hunger strikes. We force-feed ‘em when we can and when we can’t they die and get tossed.

CRUSOE

What horrible deaths.

NOBLE

All dyin’s dreadful, ain’t it? But as the Scottish poet Robby Burns said “death is the poor man’s best friend.” I’d say the same goes for a captured slave. At least the shark’s death is quick.

(Noble fills his glass with more whiskey and drinks.)

Ya know you could accidentally fall overboard ta them sharks and no one’d miss ya. Then I just take yer man Friday. Whatchya say ta dat?

CRUSOE

I say I shall take care not to fall overboard.

Furthermore, captain, let me implore you to find the spiritual guidance to stop what you’re doing.

NOBLE

Have you lost yer mind? Stop what I’m doin’?

CRUSOE

Yes. Think of your wickedness in seizing nearly a thousand fellow beings, who never did you harm, and packing them like a barrel of salted fish beneath the decks and then sailing them under a burning tropical sun to lie in their own waste and to die of disease or suffocation. And if they survive then you deliver them to a fate of cruel slavery in a foreign land.

NOBLE

You can stop yer preachin’. I feel no guilt for what I do.

CRUSOE

Captain, do not delude yourself that because you consider black people inferior that your sin is less. Rather you should fear your sin is increased. In a man with a generous heart, the humble and the weak inspire compassion. That pleases our God who is God of the black man as well as the white man and hears the cry of his black children. You must open your heart to kindness, captain. Remember the bible’s warning, “the wicked shall not go unpunished.”

NOBLE

We’re not he-ar ta discuss my soul, guhvnhar. You will sell me your man Friday or I will put a feckin’ bullet in your head and no one will know or care. I get an easy 500 pounds for that black freak and your life’s not worth a farthing ta me or anyone else.

(Noble takes his pistol from his waistband again and points it at Crusoe, only this time he cocks it.)

And this time I’m not jokin’.

CRUSOE

Captain, I am not leaving this ship without Friday. If you plan to take him by force then you will indeed have to put a bullet in my head. I would rather die than return to that island to live alone again.

NOBLE

(Noble grabs Crusoe by the front of his shirt, jerks him to his feet and slams him against the wall of his quarters. He holds the gun in his face for several moments and Crusoe just stares back at him without emotion.)

CRUSOE

Go ahead, captain. Shoot me.

NOBEL

Jaysus, you’re as cool as the balls on a brass monkey in winter. There’s no fun in killin’ ya if ya ain’t shakin’ with fear.

(Noble releases him, goes to the table and takes a long drink straight from the whiskey bottle. He shoves his pistol back into his waist and slams the bottle down hard.)

You stay here. I have ta go below. I’ll be back in a few minutes.

(Crusoe stands looking out the stern’s windows. After a few minutes, Noble returns. He grabs the whiskey bottle and takes a swig.)

NOBLE

Ever feel life is like puttin’ a puzzle together in the dark? Don’t answer. I don’t care what you tink.

I’m tired, guhvnahr. Time for us ta be done.

(Noble goes to a basin and splashes water on his face. Drags both hands down his face to wipe the water off.)

I’ve changed me mind. If yer man means so much you that you’d die for him then you can keep him. Someone’s gone ta the galley ta bring yer man Friday up ta the deck. I want you off this ship. Our dinner’s done and I need ta get back ta work.  They’re preparing a boat for returnin’ you ta yer island.

CRUSOE

Thank you, captain.

NOBLE

You’ve misjudged me guhvnhar. I’m a good man in a bad business is all.

My men will take you ashore. Since you’ve no ale or cattle on yer island they’re puttin’ a hogshead of ale and 25 pounds of salted beef in the boat for ya.

CRUSOE

That’s very kind of you captain.  I wasn’t expecting such generosity.

NOBLE

As I said, you misjudged me. I’m a kind, good man at heart.

Oh, and say nuthin’ ‘bout me wantin’ ta buy yer man Friday, please. Someday I may stop by again just to say hello and there’s no need for him ta tink poorly of me.  

CRUSOE

You have my word that I won’t mention it. And thank you for the supplies.

NOBLE

Good, good. Now let’s get you off the ship.

CRUSOE

Captain, could you not chart this island or put it in your log? We really don’t want visitors.

NOBLE

Makes me no difference. It’s just a handful of mud. I get no money for updating nautical charts. Come now, let’s go.

(Crusoe and Noble exit. A few moments later Noble is heard shouting.)

HOG.

(Voice from offstage)

HOG

Captain?

NOBLE

The ship’s boy told me this morning that number #49 was instigatin’ the men to revolt. Is it true?

HOG

It is.

NOBLE

Drag that black bitch up and tie her ta the mast. I’m going ta whip the skin off her from her neck ta her ankles before we toss her ta de sharks.

HOG

Aye, captain.

NOBLE

And bring five or six of the men she was talkin’ ta up ta watch. They need ta learn what happens ta plotters.

HOG

Aye, Captain.

NOBLE

Hog.

HOG

Yes.

NOBLE

Arm a half-dozen of the crew. We’re going ta make her own men trow her ta the sharks.

HOG

I’ll do that, captain.

SCENE 2

(It’s evening and Crusoe and Friday have just returned from the ship.)

CRUSOE

What did you think of the ship?

FRIDAY

I love it. I never saw anything like that, so big. They said it can sail and sail for years before going home if they want.

CRUSOE

Well, it was good to eat European food and drink good beer. And, good of the captain to give us the beef and ale.

FRIDAY

Yes, the captain is a nice man.

CRUSOE

I suppose. He was shocked that we didn’t want to leave Esperanza. I asked that they not bother charting our little island. We don’t need more visitors like them.

FRIDAY

But don’t you want to go home, Mr. Rob?

CRUSOE

Friday, I can never go home. My home is thirty-five years in the past. My sister is dead. My wife is an old woman I wouldn’t know anymore… if she’s even alive.

But there’s more. Friday, the truth is I am afraid to go back. I’m a freak. I’d be a castaway in a sea of snickering faces, alone in a big crowd, and loneliness in a crowd of people is even more devastating than being alone on this island.

I can’t sit in a drawing-room drinking tea after years of wallowing in the pit with pigs? What shall I discuss with people? What insects are good to eat? I don’t know anything about the world they live in.

Here, at least, I have you. No, Friday, Speranza is my home now and forever. It is our happy home.

FRIDAY

Yes, Mr. Rob, you are right. This is your home, now and forever. I think I go to sleep now.

(Friday stretches out on his palm-leaf mat. Crusoe lays on his mat, too)

CRUSOE

In the morning we should hike to the waterfall and pick some of those mushrooms that grow over there. That would be lovely.

FRIDAY

Yes, that be lovely, Mr. Rob.

(They go to sleep. After a while, Friday rises, gathers a few things from around the stage and steals quietly off in the darkness. When morning comes, Crusoe sits up and looks around.)

CRUSOE

Friday? FRIDAY?

That’s odd. Wherever he’s gone too he’s taken his drum with him.

His kite’s gone, too.

(Moving fast, Crusoe looks to see if Friday’s coconut is there.)

My God! His money is gone. Oh, God. No, please God, no, please.

(Panicking Crusoe fetches his spyglass.)

The slave ship is gone. Sailed off in the night.

(Shifting his spyglass.)

Where’s our canoe?  Oh, Lord Jesus… Friday, my dear, dear Friday.

You’ve gone, haven’t you? That’s why Noble went below … to entice you…to lie to you… then lie to me…and now you have fallen into his cruel hand.

(Crusoe walks to the old governor’s residence and comes out with the blanket his wife made. He wraps it about his shoulders and moves forward stage center. Staring out to sea, he slowly sinks to a cross-legged sitting position. The sound of the surf comes up at a low volume, followed by music.)

Do you hear that Crusoe? Yes, it’s Handel’s Concerto in Bb major.

(Crusoe picks up a handful of sand and lets the grains slip slowly through his fingers.)

Loneliness …weighs on me already.

The corrosiveness of loneliness… it will act on me slowly, but ceaselessly. Loneliness destroys and makes everything meaningless.

Alone it matters little whether I am awake or dreaming, whether I am ugly or beautiful, whether even I am a male or a female. What difference does it make? I am alone.

For years the hot mud pit of Speranza was my sinful lover… but solitude was the abusive mate I married. Solitude beat me down to my knees…  kept me unsure of my senses, insecure, doubting.

I spent so many years bereft of love or hate until Friday came. Through Friday I found my humanity… and I found love. That love is now the terrible pain of knowing that my beautiful Friday is likely already robbed of his coins, stripped naked, shackled, and tossed beneath the deck of Noble’s evil slave ship. Oh, God, why?

(Crusoe sobs.)

And why am I alone again on this island to again endure the unbearable agony of yearning for some other human? It is a barren landscape for my heart and soul that will soon be emptying my mind, to again not know what is real, what is not real.

(Crusoe just weeps softly.)

I am afraid to be dehumanized again, to be humiliated, to crawl on my belly eating insects, and to wallow again with the pigs.

(He wraps his blanket tighter around his shoulders, staring sadly outward)

I cannot return to sea.

I cannot return to England.

But most of all, I cannot return to loneliness. I will not.

I am done. I will sit and listen to the ocean and dream until I reach that deep sleep where loneliness can no longer reach me.

(He closes his eyes and lowers his head.)

Fade to black

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jamiemoses288

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