Modern Prose

1/1 1/2 2/1 2/2 3/1 3/2 3/3 4/1 5/1

Caliban continued to ignore Prospero’s orders. He was in thrall of his new masters, and very drunk.

“Okay,” Stephano slurred, “when we finish this barrel we’ll drink water, but not a drop until the booze is done! Cheers and get it down you! Servant-monster, drink to me!”

“Servant-monster! Nature’s folly!” Trinculo yelled. “They say this island has only five people. We are three of them. If the other two aren’t any smarter than us then this island’s in a bad way!”

“Drink, servant-monster, when I tell you to,” Stephano said. “Your eyes stare out of your head.”

“Is there anywhere else they should be?” Trinculo asked. “He’d be even more amazing if they were staring out of his tail!”

Caliban lay conscious but slumped in alcoholic bliss.

“My man-monster has drowned his tongue in booze,” Stephano said. “The sea couldn’t even drown me. I took me thirty-five leagues of hard swimming before I reached the shore. Man-monster, you can be my lieutenant or standard-bearer.”

“Have to be your lieutenant, he’s too drunk to be a standing bearer!” Trinculo said laughing at his own joke.

“We’ll show him, Mr Man-monster!”

Stephano tried to pick Caliban up. But Caliban’s weight and size overwhelmed him.

“The pair of you can’t walk! You’ll lie about like dogs, saying nothing,” Trinculo laughed.

“Man-monster, if you are an obedient monster, speak for goodness sake,” Stephano pleaded.

“How is my master? Can I lick your boots?” Caliban said. “And I won’t serve him – he’s not brave,” Caliban added about Trinculo.

“You lying, ignorant monster! I’ve jostled with policemen! Why, you stupid fish you, was there ever a coward who drunk as much as I have today? How can you tell a monstrous lie when you’re only half monster, other half fish?” Trinculo yelled.

“Listen to how he mocks me! Will you let him away with this, my lord?” Caliban pleaded to Stephano.

“Lord, says he! That monster is half-witted!” Trinculo retorted.

“Here he goes again! Bite him to death, I beg you, lord!” Caliban said.

“Trinculo, you keep a polite tongue in your head. If you prove to be a mutineer then there’s plenty of hanging trees waiting for you. The poor monster is one of my subjects and he will not be subjected to indignities.”

“I thank my noble lord. Would it please you to listen again to my humble petition?” Caliban pleaded.

“Permission granted. Kneel and tell me again. I will stand, and so will Trinculo.”

Stephano clicked his fingers and gestured at Trinculo to stand to attention. Ariel, on assignment from Prospero, glided invisibly around them.

“As I told you before,” Caliban began, “I am subject to a tyrant, a sorcerer, who has cunningly cheated me of my island.”

“Liar!” Ariel yelled.

“You’re lying, you cheeky monkey, you!” Caliban screamed at Trinculo. “I wish my valiant master would destroy you. I don’t lie!”

“Trinculo, if you trouble him telling his tale just once more and I will knock your teeth out,” Stephano said sternly.

“Why? I didn’t open my mouth!”

“Button it, then. No more! Caliban, proceed.”

“As I was saying, it was by sorcery he got this island. He stole it from me. If Your Greatness will take revenge on him- for I know you have the daring unlike some-”

“That’s for sure!” Stephano added as he smirked at Trinculo.

“You can be lord of this island, and I will serve you.”

“How can we pull it off? Can you take me to the culprit?”

“Yes, yes, my lord. I’ll do so when he is sleeping and you can bash his brains out.”

“You’re lying. You can’t,” Ariel said.

Caliban looked sternly at Trinculo: “What a tosh-talker you are! You cheeky fool!”

While Ariel grinned with delight at his own mischief, Caliban turned to his new master for help: “I beg Your Greatness, give him the hiding he deserves. And remove his supply of alcohol. When that’s gone, he’ll only have seawater to drink! I won’t show him where the fresh springs are to be found.”

Caliban glared smugly at Trinculo.

“Trinculo, watch your step,” Stephano said grandly. “Interrupt the monster just once more and, I warn you, I’ll show no mercy. You, too, will look like the monster!”

“Why? What did I do?” Trinculo asked, genuinely bewildered. “I did nothing. I’ll stand far away.”

“Didn’t you say the man-monster lied?” Stephano asked Trinculo.

“You lie!” Ariel whispered slyly.

“Do I, indeed? Take that!” Stephano said as he whacked Trinculo with a plank of driftwood. “There’s plenty more of that if you want to call me a liar again!”

“I didn’t call you a lair! Your mind and your hearing were lost in the shipwreck. Keep your booze if this is what it does to you! Keep your monster, and may the devil take your fists!”

“Ha, ha, ha!” Caliban jeered.

“Now, man-monster, continue with your story. As for you, Trinculo, stand over there.”

“Beat him well,” Caliban said. “And then I’ll have a go, too.”

“You’re still too close, Trinculo,” Stephano said as he waived his partner away. “Man-monster, proceed.”

“As I said, it’s his habit to sleep in the afternoon. That’s when you could smash his brains after seizing his books. Or you could smash his skull with a log or stab his with a stake, or even cut his throat with a knife. Remember you must get his books first. Without them he is just as mortal as you or I, without a single spirit at his command. They all hate him just as much as I do. His books must be burnt. He has fine utensils, as he calls them, which are for the house he thinks he will one day have. But most interesting is the beauty of his daughter. He himself says she is unsurpassed. I have never seen another woman except my mother Sycorax and his daughter surpasses my mother in beauty as the greatest outshines the least.”

“Is she really so bonny?” Stephano asked.

“Yes, my lord, and the marital bed will suit her. You will have many children together.”

“Monster, I will kill this man. His daughter and I will be King and Queen- God save us! – and Trinculo and you shall be viceroys. Do you like the plot, Trinculo?”

“Excellent!”

“Give me your hand,” Stephano said to Trinculo. “I am sorry I beat you, but while you are alive please keep a civil tongue in your head.”

“Within half an hour he will be asleep. Will you destroy him then?” Caliban asked Stephano.

“Yes, on my word.”

“I must alert my master,” Ariel thought.

“Ah, you make me merry. I’m full of pleasure,” Caliban shouted. “Let’s be lively! Will you sing the shanty you taught me earlier?”

“At your request I will do anything within reason. Come on, Trinculo, let’s sing.
Ignore ‘em and deplore ’em,
And deplore ’em and ignore ’em:
Thought is free.”

“That’s not the tune!” Caliban said with disappointment.

The merry-making was short-lived. Suddenly Ariel invisibly played the tune on a drum and Trinculo and Stephano came to a halt.

“Where is the music coming from?” Stephano asked.

“It’s the tune of our shanty played by nobody!” Trinculo whimpered.

“If you are man show yourself as a man. If you are a devil then take the shape you please!” Stephano yelled defiantly.

“Oh, forgive me my sins!” Trinculo begged, unconvinced by Stephano’s bravado.

“He that dies pays all debts: I defy you. Mercy upon us!” Stephano bawled, maintaining his boldness.

“Are you afraid?” Caliban asked his new master.

“No, m-m-m-monster, n-n-n-not I.”

“Don’t be afraid. The island is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs that are delightful, not at all threatening. Sometimes a thousand twanging instruments will hum in my ears, and sometimes choirs will make me sleep even after a long sleep. During my dreams the skies open and show me such riches that when I wake up I want to get back to my dreams.”

“This will prove to be a wonderful kingdom where I will have court music for nothing!” Stephano glowed.

“Yes but only when Prospero is destroyed,” Caliban reminded Stephano.

“That shall be sooner rather than later. I remember your story.”

“The music is going away,” said Caliban, “let’s follow it and do our work later.”

“Lead the way, man-monster, we will follow. I wish I could see this drummer, he knows how to play. Trinculo, are you coming?”

“I’ll follow, Stephano!”