'And so ad infinitum' (The Life of the Insects)/Act 2

ACT II

CREEPERS AND CRAWLERS

Scene: A sandy hillock—Various holes, &c.

Beetles are quarrelling over a Chrysalis, which is seized first by one then the other.

Chrysalis. The whole world is bursting into blossom. I am being born.

Tramp. (Raising his head—he is lying half asleep) How much?

Chrysalis. The Great Adventure begins.

Tramp. Right oh (Settles down again.)

[Pause.

Mr. Beetle. (Behind the scenes). What yer getting at?

Mrs. Beetle. (Behind the scenes) Me?

Mr. Beetle. Yes, you—you lump of rubbish.

Mrs. Beetle. Silly swine.

Mr. Beetle. Fathead.

Mrs. Beetle. Fathead yourself—mind where you’re going.

They enter, rolling a huge ball of dirt.

Mr. Beetle. It ’s all right, isn’t it?

Mrs. Beetle. I’m all of a tremble.

Mr. Beetle. Our capital—that ’s what it is—our lovely capital—careful—careful.

Mrs. Beetle. Can’t be too careful with our capital—our little pile.

Mr. Beetle. How we’ve saved and scraped and toiled and moiled to come by it.

Mrs. Beetle. Night and morning, toiled and moiled and saved and scraped.

Mr. Beetle. And we’ve seen it grow and grow, haven’t we, bit by bit—our little ball of blessedness.

Mrs. Beetle. Our very own it is.

Mr. Beetle. Our very own.

Mrs. Beetle. Our life’s work.

Mr. Beetle. Smell it, old woman—pinch it—feel the weight of it. Ours—ours.

Mrs. Beetle. A godsend.

Mr. Beetle. A blessing—straight from Heaven—capital—capital.

Chrysalis. Eternal night is breaking:
The universe is waking:
One minute, just one minute
And I—I—shall be in it.

Mrs. Beetle. Husband.

Mr. Beetle. What is it, old woman?

Mrs. Beetle. Ha, ha, ha!

Mr. Beetle. Ha, ha, ha! Wife!

Mrs. Beetle. What is it, old man?

Mr. Beetle. Ha, ha! It ’s fine to own something—property—the dream of your life, the fruit of your labours.

Mrs. Beetle. Ha, ha, ha!

Mr. Beetle. I’m off my head with joy—I’m going balmy.

Mrs. Beetle. Why?

Mr. Beetle. With worry. Now we’ve got our little pile that we’ve so looked forward to, we’ve got to work and work and work to make another one.

Mrs. Beetle. Why another one?

Mr. Beetle. Silly—so that we can have two, of course.

Mrs. Beetle. Two? Quite right—quite right—two.

Mr. Beetle. Just fancy—two—at least two, say three. Every one who ’s made his pile has to make another.

Mrs. Beetle. So that he can have two?

Mr. Beetle. Yes, or three.

Mrs. Beetle. Husband.

Mr. Beetle. Well, what is it?

Mrs. Beetle. I’m scared—S’posin’ some one was to steal it from us.

Mr. Beetle. What?

Mrs. Beetle. Our capital—our little pile—our all in all.

Mr. Beetle. Our pi-ile—My gawd—don’t frighten me.

Mrs. Beetle. We oughtn’t to roll it about with us till we’ve made another one, dearie, did we?

Mr. Beetle. I’ll tell you what—we’ll invest it—In—vest it—store it up—bury it. That ’s what we’ll do—nice and deep—nice and deep.

Mrs. Beetle. I hope nobody finds it.

Mr. Beetle. Eh, what ’s that? Finds it—No, of course they won’t. Our little bit of capital.

Mrs. Beetle. Our nest-egg—Oh, bless me—I hope no one does—our little all.

Mr. Beetle. Wait—stay here and watch it—Watch it careful—don’t let your eyes off it, not for a minute—Capital—Capital.

Mrs. Beetle. Where yer off to?

Mr. Beetle. To look for a hole—a little hole—a deep hole—deep and narrer to bury it in—out of harm’s way—Careful—Careful.[Exit.

Mrs. Beetle. Husband—husband, come back—wait a bit—I’ve found one—such a nice hole—Husband! He ’s gone! If I could only look into it—No, I mustn’t leave yer. But only a peep—Here, stay here good and quiet, darling. Hubby’ll be back soon—in half a jiff, half a jiff—So long, keep good—half a ji—

Enters the lair of the Ichneumon Fly.

Chrysalis. Oh, to be born—to be born—into the great new world.

Enter a Strange Beetle.

Strange Beetle. They’ve gone—now ’s my chance. (Rolls pile away.)

Tramp. Ere, mind where yer going to.

Strange Beetle. Mind yer feet.

Tramp. What ’s that yer rolling?

Strange Beetle. Ha, ha! That ’s my capital—my little pile, my all.

Tramp. Bit niffy, ain’t it?

Strange Beetle. Eh?

Tramp. It smells.

Strange Beetle. Capital don’t smell—Off you go, my precious—This way, my little all, my nest-egg, my capital.[Exit.

Mrs. Beetle. Oh dear, oh dear. That ’s somebody’s house, that is—We can’t put you there, my jewel. Oh, where ’s it gone to? Where ’s it gone to? My little pile—where ’s it gone to?

Tramp. Why, not ’arf a minute—

Mrs. Beetle. (Rushing at him) Thief—thief—What ’ave you done with my pile?

Tramp. I’m telling yer.

Mrs. Beetle. Here, give it back—yer wretch.

Tramp. Just this minute a gentleman rolled it away over there.

Mrs. Beetle. What gentleman? Who?

Tramp. A pot-bellied fellow, a fat, round chap.

Mrs. Beetle. My husband?

Tramp. A feller with an ugly mug and crooked feet.

Mrs. Beetle. That ’s my husband.

Tramp. His capital he said it was.

Mrs. Beetle. That ’s him—he must have found a hole—Husband—My precious—Darling! Where is the blasted fool?

Tramp. That ’s where he rolled it to.

Mrs. Beetle. Coo-eh Couldn’t he have called me? Husband, my precious ! I’ll learn yer—Our capital—our all—our little pile.[Exit.

Tramp. Them butterflies was gay
And foolish, yer might say:
But these ’ere beetles—lumme,
They do work, anyway!
So, ’ere ’s to wish ’em luck—
Though gatherin’ balls of muck
Is jest about as rummy
As anythink I’ve struck.

Chrysalis. O universe, prepare! O space, expand!
The mightiest of all happenings is at hand.

Tramp. What ’s that?

Chrysalis. I’m being born.

Tramp. That ’s good—And what are you going to be?

Chrysalis. I don’t know—I don’t know—Something great.

Tramp. Ah ha!

Chrysalis. I’ll do something extraordinary—I’m being born.

Tramp. What you want ’s life, my son.

Chrysalis. When half a minute ’s gone,
Something immense, unbounded,
Will happen here.

Tramp.Go on!

Chrysalis.I shall do something great!

Tramp. What?

Chrysalis.When I change my state,
The world will be astounded!

Tramp. Well—’urry up. I’ll wait.

[Enter Ichneumon Fly, dragging the corpse of a Cricket to its lair.

Ichneumon Fly. Look, larva, daddy ’s bringing you something nice.

Enters his lair.

Chrysalis. (Shouting)
The torment of my birth Is tearing the whole earth.
She groans to set me free——

Tramp. Then get a move on. See?

Ichneumon Fly. (Returning) No, no, daughter, you must eat. You mustn’t come out—it wouldn’t do at all. Daddy’ll soon be back and he’ll bring you something nice. What would you like, piggywiggy?

Enter Larva.

Larva. Daddy, I’m bored here.

Ichneumon Fly. Ha, ha! That ’s a nice thing to say. Give daddy a kiss—Daddy’ll bring yousomething tasty. Would you like a follow of cricket? Ha, ha—not a bad idea.

Larva. I’d like—I don’t know what I’d like.

Ichneumon Fly. She doesn’t know what she’d like, bless her little heart. I’ll find something you’ll like—Ta-ta! Daddy must go to work now—Daddy must go a hunting and fetch something for his popsy-wopsy. Ta-ta! Go back now, poppet, and wait for your din-din. Ta-ta! [Exit Larva.

Ichneumon Fly. (To Tramp) Who are you?

Tramp. I?

Ichneumon Fly. Are you edible?

Tramp. Yes, I don’t think.

Ichneumon Fly. (Sniffing) No—not fresh enough—Who are you?

Tramp. Oh, any sort of skunk, I am.

Ichneumon Fly. (Bowing) Pleased to meet you. Any family?

Tramp. Not as I am aware of.

Ichneumon Fly. Did you see her ?

Tramp. ’Er? Who?

Ichneumon Fly. My Larva. Charming, eh? Smart child—And how she grows, and what a twist she ’s got. Children are a great joy, aren’t they?

Tramp. I’ve ’eard ;em well spoken of.

Ichneumon Fly. Well, of course they are, you take it from me—One who knows. When you have them, at least you know what you’re working for. That ’s life, that is. Children want to grow, to eat, to laugh, to dance, to play, don’t they? Am I right?

Tramp. Children want a lot.

Ichneumon Fly. Would you believe it, I take her two or three crickets every day. Do you think she eats them all up? No—Only the titbits—A splendid child, eh?

Tramp. I should say so.

Ichneumon Fly. I’m proud of her—real proud. Takes after me—just like her daddy, eh? Ha, ha! And here I stand gossiping, when I ought to be at work. Oh, the fuss and the running about—Up early, home late, but as long as you’re doing it for some one worth doing it for, what does it matter? Am I right?

Tramp. I suppose you are.

Ichneumon Fly. A pity you aren’t edible, isn’t it? It is, really. I must take her something, you know, mustn’t I? You see that yourself, don’t you? (Fingering Chrysalis.)

Chrysalis. I proclaim the re-birth of the world.

Ichneumon Fly. Ah! You aren’t ripe yet—Pity.

Chrysalis. I shall inspire—I shall create.

Ichneumon Fly. It ’s a great responsibility to bring up children—A great worry, isn’t it? Feeding the poor little mites, paying for their education and putting them out into the world. That ’s no trifle, I can tell you. Well, I must be off now—Au revoir—Pleased to have met you—Ta-ta, my chicken—Be good![Exit.

Tramp. This ’as me fairly beat. That fly destroys
The cricket jest to feed ’is girls and boys;
But that pore ’armless cricket found life sweet,
Same as ’e does.—No | Nature ’as me beat!

Larva. (Crawling out of hole) Daddy! Daddy!

Tramp. So you’re the Larva. Let ’s have a look at you.

Larva. How ugly you are!

Tramp. Am I? Why?

Larva. I don’t know—Oh, how bored I am! I want—I want——

Tramp. What yer want?

Larva. I don’t know. Yes I do—To tear up something—Something alive—that wriggles.

Tramp. ’Ere, what ’s come over yer?

Larva. Ugly—ugly—ugly! (Crawls away.)

Tramp. Where ’s Mr. Manners?—Blowed if I’d feed a daughter
Like ’er. Perliteness—that ’s what I’d ’ave taught ’er.

Enter Mr. Beetle.

Mr. Beetle. (Calling) Come along, old girl. I’ve found a hole. Where are you? Where ’s my pile? Where ’s my wife?

Tramp. Your wife? Do you mean that old harridan? That greasy fat bundle of rags?

Mr. Beetle. That ’s her—Where ’s my pile?

Tramp. That old tub in petticoats?

Mr. Beetle. That ’s her—that ’s her—She had my pile—What ’s she done with my pile?

Tramp. Why, your beauty went to look for you.

Mr. Beetle. Did she? Where ’s my pile?

Tramp. That great ball of muck?

Mr. Beetle. Yes, yes. My nest-egg—my savings—my capital. Where ’s my beautiful pile? I left my wife with it.

Tramp. Some gentleman rolled it away over there. Your wife wasn’t here at the time.

Mr. Beetle. Where was she? Where is she?

Tramp. She went after him. She thought it was you. She kept shoutin’ for yer.

Mr. Beetle. I'm not asking about her. Where ’s my pile, I say?

Tramp. Gentleman rolled it away.

Mr. Beetle. Rolled it away? My pile? Gawd in ’eaven! Catch him. Catch him. Thief! Murder! All my little lot. All I’ve saved. They’ve killed me, they’ve done me in. Who cares about my wife? It ’s my pile they’ve taken. Help—stop thief! Murder!

Tramp. Ha, ha, ha!
Crikee! ’E don’t want pleasure
But jest to pile up treasure;
And when the old sly copper—
Death—come and nabs ’im proper,
’E’ll still be like a nigger
Sweatin’ to make it bigger,
Still ’eavin’ and still puffin’ . . .
And what ’s he gained? Why, nuffin’!

Mr. Cricket. (Off stage) Look out, darling—take care you don't stumble. Here we are—here we are. Oopsidaisy . This is where we live—this is our new little home. Careful—You haven’t hurt yourself, have you?

Enter Mr. and Mrs. Cricket.

Mrs. Cricket. No, Cricket, don’t be absurd.

Mr. Cricket. But darling, you must be careful—When you’re expecting—And now open the peephole—look—How do you like it?

Mrs. Cricket. Oh, darling, how tired I am!

Mr. Cricket. Sit down, darling, sit down. My popsy must take great care of herself.

Mrs. Cricket. What a long way—And all the move! Oh, men never know half the trouble moving is.

Mr. Cricket. Oh darling, come, come—Look, darling, look.

Mrs. Cricket. Now don’t get cross, you horrid man.

Mr. Cricket. I won’t say another word, really I won’t. Fancy, Mrs. Cricket won’t take care of herself, and in her state too—What do you think of her?

Mrs. Cricket. You naughty man—how can you joke about it?

Mr. Cricket. But darling, I’m so happy. Just fancy, all the little crickets, the noise, the chirping—(Imitates the noise and laughs.)

Mrs. Cricket. You—you silly boy—wants to be a great big Daddy, eh?

Mr. Cricket. And don’t you want to be a Mummy too?—my Popsy?

Mrs. Cricket. Yes’m does! Is this our new home?

Mr. Cricket. Our little nest. Commodious little villa residence.

Mrs. Cricket. Will it be dry? Who built it?

Mr. Cricket. Why, goodness me, another Cricket lived here years ago.

Mrs. Cricket. Fancy, and has he moved?

Mr. Cricket. Ha, ha—Yes, he ’s moved. Don’t you know where to? Guess.

Mrs. Cricket. I don’t know—What a long time you take saying anything—Do tell me, Cricket, quickly.

Mr. Cricket. Well, yesterday a bird got him—Snap, snip, snap. So we’re moving into his house. By Jove, what a slice of luck!

Mrs. Cricket. Gobbled him up alive? How horrible!

Mr. Cricket. Eh? A godsend for us. I did laugh. Tralala, &c. We’ll put up a plate. (Puts up plate withMr. Cricket, musician’). Where shall we put it? More to the right? Higher?

Mrs. Cricket. And you saw him eaten?

Mr. Cricket. I’m telling you—like that—snap, snip!

Mrs. Cricket. Horrible! Cricket, I have such a queer feeling.

Mr. Cricket. Good heavens—Perhaps it ’s—no, it couldn’t be, not yet!

Mrs. Cricket. Oh dear, I’m so frightened.

Mr. Cricket. Nothing to be frightened of, dear—Every lady—

Mrs. Cricket. It’s all very well for you to talk—Cricket, will you always love me?

Mr. Cricket. Of course, darling—Dear me, don’t cry—come, love.

Mrs. Cricket. Show me how he swallowed him—Snip, snap.

Mr. Cricket. Snip, snap.

Mrs. Cricket. Oh, how funny (Has hysterics.)

Mr. Cricket. Well, well. There ’s nothing to cry about. (Sits beside her) We’ll furnish this place beautifully. And as soon as we can run to it, we’ll put up some—

Mrs. Cricket. Curtains?

Mr. Cricket. Curtains, of course! How clever of you to think of it. Give me a kiss.

Mrs. Cricket. Never mind that now—Don’t be silly.

Mr. Cricket. Of course I’m silly. Guess what I’ve brought?

Mrs. Cricket. Curtains!

Mr. Cricket. No, something smaller—Where did I——?

Mrs. Cricket. Quick, quick, let me see.

[Mr. Cricket takes out a rattle.

Oh, how sweet, Cricket ! Give it to me.

Mr. Cricket. (Sings)

When Dr. Stork had brought their child,
Their teeny-weeny laddy,
All day about the cradle smiled
His mumsy and his daddy:
And ‘Cricket, cricket, cricket,
You pretty little thing’—
Is now the song that all day long
They sing, sing, sing.

Mrs. Cricket. Lend it me, darling—Oh, daddy—I’m so pleased. Rattle it.

Mr. Cricket. Darling.

Mrs. Cricket. (Singing) Cricket, cricket, cricket!

Mr. Cricket. Now I must run round a little,—let people know I am here.

Mrs. Cricket. (Singing)

And ‘Cricket, cricket, cricket,
You pretty little thing . . .

Mr. Cricket. I must get some introductions, fix up orders, have a look round. Give me the rattle, I’ll use it on my way.

Mrs. Cricket. And what about me? I want it.

Mr. Cricket. Very well, darling.

Mrs. Cricket. You won’t leave me long——

Mr. Cricket. Rattle for me if you want me. And I expect a neighbour will be coming along. Have a chat with him, about the children, and all that, you know.

Mrs. Cricket. You bad boy.

Mr. Cricket. Now darling, be careful. Won’t be long, my pet.[Runs off.

Mrs. Cricket. (Rattles) Hush-a-bye—cricket—on the tree top! Cricket! I feel frightened.

Tramp. Don’t you be frightened, mum. You’ll ’ave an easier time than most ladies, by the look or yer.

Mrs. Cricket. Who ’s there, a beetle?—You don’t bite?

Tramp. No.

Mrs. Cricket. And how are the children?

Tramp. Ah, now you’re askin’! Rum, ’ow
Yer question ’urts me, some’ow;
For, beg your pardon, Madam—
Fact is, I’ve never ’ad ’em.

Mrs. Cricket. Oh, dear, haven’t you any children? That ’s a pity. (Shakes rattle) Cricket! Cricket! And why did you never marry, beetle?

Tramp. Well, some ’s too selfish, maybe,
To want a wife and baby . . .
Oh, ’strewth, what do I care now?—
She wouldn’t ’ave me! There now.

Mrs. Cricket. Yes! Yes! You men are troublesome. (Rattles) Cricket! Cricket! Cricket!

Chrysalis. In me, in me, in me,
The future strives to be!

Tramp. Oh, buck up!

Chrysalis. I will accomplish such deeds.

Enter Mrs. Beetle.

Mrs. Beetle. Isn’t my husband here? Oh, the stupid man. Where is our pile?

Mrs. Cricket. Your pile? Can we play with it? Do let me see it.

Mrs. Beetle. It ’s nothing to play with, it ’s our future, our nest-egg, our capital. My husband, the clumsy creature, has gone off with it.

Mrs. Cricket. Oh dear, I hope he hasn’t run away from you.

Mrs. Beetle. And where is yours?

Mrs. Cricket. He ’s away on business. Cricket! Cricket!

Mrs. Beetle. Fancy him leaving you all alone like that, poor thing, and you—(Whispers)—aren’t you?

Mrs. Cricket. Oh dear!

Mrs. Beetle. So young, too. And aren’t you making a pile?

Mrs. Cricket. What for?

Mrs. Beetle. A pile—for you and him and your family. That’s for your future—for your whole life.

Mrs. Cricket. Oh no, all I want is to have my own little home, my nest, a little house of my very own. And curtains, and children, and my Cricket. That ’s all.

Mrs. Beetle. How can you live without a pile?

Mrs. Cricket. What should I do with it?

Mrs. Beetle. Roll it about with you everywhere. There ’s nothing like a pile for holding a man.

Mrs. Cricket. Oh no, a little house.

Mrs. Beetle. A pile, I tell you.

Mrs. Cricket. A little house.

Mrs. Beetle. Pretty little innocence! I’d like to stay with you, but I must be going.

Mrs. Cricket. And I wanted to hear all about your children.

Mrs. Beetle. I don’t want to bother over no children. My pile, that ’s all I want, my pile!

[Exit.

Mrs. Cricket. Oh, what an old frump! I don’t wonder her husband’s run away from her. (Sings a snatch of the song) I’ve such a queer feeling. Snip! Snap! That ’s what he did to him—Snip!

Ichneumon fly enters.

Ichneumon Fly. Ha, ha! (He murders Mrs. Cricket and drags her to his lair.)

Tramp. Oh, murder!

Ichneumon Fly. Daughter, daughter! Chicken! (Singing) ‘Open your mouth and shut your eyes and see what some one’ll send you.’

Tramp. ’E ’s killed ’er, and I stood like a bloomin’ log! Didn’t utter a sound she didn’t and nobody ran to ’elp her!

Enter Parasite.

Parasite. Bravo! Comrade, just what I was thinking.

Tramp. To die—like that—so young, so ’elpless.

Parasite. Just what I was thinking. I was looking on all the time. I wouldn’t do a thing like that, you know. I wouldn’t really. Every one wants to live, don’t they?

Tramp. Who are you?

Parasite. I, oh nothing much, I’m a poor man, an orphan. They call me a parasite.

Tramp. How can any one dare to kill like that!

Parasite. That ’s just what I say. Do you think he needs it? Do you think he ’s hungry like me? Not a bit of it. He kills to add to his larder, what ’s three quarters full already. He collects things he does, hangs ’em up to dry, smokes ’em, pickles ’em. It ’s a scandal, that ’s what it is, a scandal. One ’s got a store while another ’s starving. Why should he have a dagger, and me only my bare fists to fight with, and all over chilblains too—aren’t I right?

Tramp. I should say so.

Parasite. There ’s no equality, that ’s what I say. One law for the rich—another for the poor! And if I was to kill anything, I couldn’t eat it—not satisfactorily, I can’t chew properly, my jaw ’s too weak. Is that right?

Tramp. I don’t ’old with killin’, no’ow.

Parasite. My very words, Comrade, or at least, hoarding shouldn’t be allowed. Eat your fill and ’ave done with it. Down with larders! Storing things is robbin’ those who haven’t nowhere to store. Eat your fill and have done with it and then there’d be enough for all, wouldn’t there?

Tramp. I dunno——

Parasite. Well, I’m tellin’ yer, aren’t I? Down with——

Ichneumon Fly. (Re-entering) Eat it up, baby, eat it up. Choose what you like. Have you got a nice daddy? Eh?

Parasite. Good afternoon, my lord.

Ichneumon Fly. How d’ye do? Edible? (Sniffing.)

Parasite. Oh no, you’re joking, guv’nor, why me?

Ichneumon Fly. Get out, you filthy creature. What d’ye want here, clear off.

Parasite. I’m movin’, your worship; no offence, captain. (Cowers.)

Ichneumon Fly. (To Tramp). Well, did you see that neat piece of work, eh? It ’s not every one who could do that. Ah, my boy, that ’s what you want—brains, expert knowledge, enterprise, imagination, initiative—and love of work, let me tell you.

Parasite. That ’s what I say.

Ichneumon Fly. My good man, if you want to keep alive, you’ve got to fight your way. There ’s your future, there ’s your family. And then you know there must be a certain amount of ambition. A strong personality is bound to assert itself.

Parasite. That ’s what I say, sir.

Ichneumon Fly. Of course, of course. Make your way in the world. Use the talent that ’s in you, that ’s what I call a useful life.

Parasite. Absolutely, your grace ’its it every time.

Ichneumon Fly. Hold your tongue, you filthy creature. I’m not talking to you.

Parasite. No, of course you weren’t, my lord, beg your pardon, I’m sure.

Ichneumon Fly. And how it cheers you up when you do your duty like that. ‘Do the job that ’s nearest, though it ’s dull at whiles.’ When you feel that, you feel that you are not living in vain. ‘Life is real, life is earnest, life is not an empty dream.’ Well, good afternoon, sir, I must be off again ‘The daily round, the common task!’ So long![Exit.

Parasite. The old murderer. Believe me, it was all I could do, not to fly at his throat! Yes, sir, I’ll work too if need be, but why should I work when somebody else has more than he can consume? I’ve got initiative—but I keep it here (Pats stomach) I’m ’ungry, that ’s what I am, ’ungry, that ’s a pretty stage of things, isn’t it?

Tramp. Anything for a piece of meat.

Parasite. That ’s what I say. Anything for a piece of meat, and the poor man’s got nothing. It ’s against nature. Every one should have enough to eat, eh? Down with work!

Tramp. (Shaking rattle) Poor creature, poor creature!

Parasite. That’s it. Every one’s got a right to live.[Rattle and chirping in reply.

Mr. Cricket. (Enters, rattling) Here I am, my pet, here I am, my darling. Where are you, my precious? Guess what hubby ’s brought you.

Ichneumon Fly. (Behind him) Aha!

Tramp. Look out—look out!

Parasite. Don’t interfere, mate—don’t get mixed up in it. What must be, must be.

Mr. Cricket. Mummy!

Ichneumon Fly. (Kills him) Larva, look what your kind daddy’s bringing you now.

Tramp. Oh, Gawd in Heaven—’ow can you stand by and see it?

Parasite. Just what I say. That ’s the third cricket he ’s had already, and me nothing. And that ’s what we poor working men are asked to put up with.

Ichneumon Fly. (Re-entering) No, no, kiddy, I’ve no time. Daddy must go back to work. Eat, eat, eat. Quiet now, I’ll be back in an hour.

[Exit.

Parasite. It ’s more than I can stand—dirty old profiteer! What injustice! I’ll show ’im, that I will. Just you wait! (Trembling) ’E ’s not coming back, is ’e? Keep cave! I must just ’ave a look.

Tramp. Thank ’eaven! These ’eathen insec’s may be vile,
But man—man’s diff’rent. Folks like me an’ you
Work ’ard, real ’ard, and makes our little pile . . .
Blast! I’m all mixed. Thats what them beetles do.

It ’s what I say—man 'as ideals and dreams
And fam’ly love. ’Is purpose—put it plain—
Is keepin’ up the race . . ., ’Ullo, though,—seems
I’ve got them crickets fairly on the brain.

Bold—that ’s what man is: resolute, yer might s’y.
If ’e wants more, ’e does ’is neighbour in . . .
O ’Ell! That makes 'im like this murd’rous fly . . .
But, there you are, ’oo can think straight on gin?

Chrysalis. I feel something great—Something great.

Tramp. What jer call great?

Chrysalis. To be born, to live!

Tramp. All right, little chrysalis—I won’t desert yer.

Parasite. (Rolling out of the Fly’s lair, and hiccoughing) Ha, ha, ha! Hup—that—ha, ha, hup—the old miser—hup—kept a larder—hup—for that white-faced daughter of his. Hup—ha, ha. I feel quite—hup—I think I’m going to bust—damn the hiccoughs! It ’s not every one who’d eat as much as that—hup. I’m not a common man, eh, mate?

Tramp. And ’ow about the Larva?

Parasite. Oh, I’ve gobbled her up too, hup. For what we ’ave received may the—hup.

Tramp. Gah! Bleedin’ Bolshie!