Disreputable PATRONS swarm into a tavern yard from all directions.
The characters of LONG JOHN SILVER and BLIND PUGH are not present although the actors who play them are amongst the ensemble.
Many PATRONS are smashing the hell out of metal dustbins as drums in time to their chanting of:
Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Let’s drink to the devil
And to hell with the rest.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
It’s a huge exhilarating sound full of violence and energy.
It comes to a thundering climax.
JIM: Excuse me! Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!
The PATRONS shut up.
If I could take a moment of your time.
The wolfish patrons stare in amazement and some amusement at this apparent innocent who’s wandered into their clutches.
GENTLEMAN JACK: Well lookee here!
ISRAEL HANDS: What do we have here?
JIM: (Fearlessly businesslike.) My name is Jim Hawkins and I seek a company of fit and hard working sailors to crew the Good Ship Hispañola, setting sail for foreign territories at the first opportunity. Any able-bodied seaman of good character and references is invited to sign up below. Excellent rates offered, high standard of duty expected. Are any of you looking for a job aboard ship? (He spots someone in the crowd.) Just a moment. I’ve seen that man’s face on a wanted poster at the customs house. He’s a pirate! Get him!
The PATRONS swarm around JIM allowing the man to escape, restraining JIM.
Don’t let him escape.
MEG the landlady takes charge.
MEG: What him! Him that’s never hurt a fly? You must be mistaken lad; he’s as soft a nature as any lamb. See you’ve scared him clean out of the window and away.
The PATRONS are amused by these events.
PICCADILLY POLL: He’ll be down as far as tobacco dock by now.
NIGHTINGALE NELL: He never was one to stick around when there’s trouble.
PATRONS roar with laughter.
JIM: Then, you… You all know him? Then you must be… (Backing away in terror.) You all must be…
MEG: Must be what lad? Spit it out. What’s troubling you?
JIM: Are you pirates too?
Gasps of mock ad-libbed horror and protestation from all.
MEG puts on a show of innocence for JIM.
MEG: Pirates. In my pub. No it can’t be. This is a premises for respectable ladies and gentlemen, ain’t that right?
SHOREDITCH SAL: Oh yes, respectable.
MEG: Thank heavens you chased him off. My goodness me a pirate here in the Shipwright’s Arms! I’ve come over all giddy with the thought. Now one of you mob, go to the door and make sure no more of that type comes in here again. (To a member of the audience.) Sit up straight look respectable if you’re capable. (To JIM, trying to get rid of him.) You poor lad. Such nice manners. You must have had quite a shock. You’ll be wanting to get back to your ma and pa I’m sure.
: My father’s dead and, with Mother’s blessing, I left home yesterday for adventure at sea.
MEG: Did you indeed. I’ll give you a tip lad: these parts are no place for a youngster with no one to look out for him.
JIM: But I must find a crew for my friend’s ship if we’re to sail tomorrow.
NATHANIEL CRISP: We don’t get many recruiting round these parts.
MEG: (To her customers.) Must be the sight of your ugly mugs puts people off.
JIM: So many ships have hired crew recently that we’ve had little luck recruiting in the usual parts of town.
GEORGE MERRY: Well, you’ve come to the right place.
GENTLEMAN JACK: There’s plenty here’ll sign up for a voyage for the right reward.
JIM: Oh you’d be well rewarded I promise you. My friend is very insistent on paying an honest wage for honest toil.
NIGHTINGALE NELL: Something smells fishy to me.
HARRY FLASH: It must be Meg!
JIM: The only thing we stipulate is no pirates!
GENTLEMAN JACK: Quite right too.
JIM: Pirates are the most despicable knaves alive. My poor father said they take through laziness and cowardice what other men earn through hard work and honourable living.
ISRAEL HANDS: Ain’t that the truth!
HARRY FLASH: There’s no one here would disagree with that.
PICCADILLY POLL: Nasty vicious vermin!
: Who’d want ’em aboard?
GENTLEMAN JACK: Now, about that rich reward you was speaking of.
GEORGE MERRY: How much is your friend paying, boy?
JIM: Her ladyship is offering the sum of –
The inn yard goes still and quiet.
OLD JOE: Just a minute! What’s that you say, lad?
HARRY FLASH: ‘Her ladyship’? A female type person.
JIM: That’s right. Lady Trelawney herself is proposing to take personal charge of the expedition, I mean voyage.
SHOREDITCH SAL: A woman in charge.
GENTLEMAN JACK: You’re joking ain’t you, lad.
HARRY FLASH: A woman in charge of a ship?
OLD JOE: Don’t you know that’s unlucky.
GEORGE MERRY: There’s not a soul here that’d sign up for ship with a woman in charge.
GENTLEMAN JACK: If you’ve any sense you won’t serve as cabin boy neither.
HARRY FLASH: Why, women aboard ship, it’s as unlucky as, unlucky as –
OLD JOE: A stone in your pasty!
NATHANIEL CRISP: It’s unheard of....