The Eel Pie and the Cheese Tart

A 15th Century French Farce
Anonymous

First Rogue
Second Rogue
Husband
Wife


First Rogue: Ay, ay, ay!

Second Rogue: What's the matter?

First Rogue: I'm cold. I'm shivering, and I've got nothing but rags over my skin.

Second Rogue: It's a rough time for both of us. Ay, ay, ay!

First Rogue: What's the matter?

Second Rogue: I'm cold. I'm shivering.

First Rogue: Poor beggars are out of luck nowadays. Ay, ay, ay!

Second Rogue: What's the matter?

First Rogue: I'm cold. I'm shivering. I'm dressed in rags and shreds.

Second Rogue: What about me?

First Rogue: I'm worse off than you, because I'm starving and penniless.

Second Rogue: Couldn't you find a way of getting us something to eat?

First Rogue: Let's stretch our hands from door to door.

Second Rogue: We'd better take separate ways, don't you think?

First Rogue: If you say so. But we'll share and share alike, all right? Whether it's meat or bread or butter or eggs.

Second Rogue: Certainly. Shall we start?

Husband: Wife!

Wife: What is it, Husband?

Husband: I'm dining in town with friends. There's an eel pie on the table that I want you to send me when I call for it.

Wife: I will.

First Rogue: Hey, this sounds like a good deal. Let's start here.

Second Rogue: One of us is enough. I'll go scouting my way and you see what you can grab here. All right?

First Rogue: All right.

(Exit Second Rogue)

First Rogue: May the saints rain blessings on your house. Charity for the poor.

Wife: There's nobody in the house right now, my good man. Come back another time.

Husband: While I'm thinking about the pie, don't hand it over to anybody unless he gives you a sure sign.

Wife: Don't worry. I won't give it away if I'm suspicious of the messenger.

Husband: The man I send will take your little finger like this. Get it?

Wife: Yes.

First Rogue: Am I glad I overheard that conversation. Merciful lady, won't you take pity on me? I haven't had a crumb to eat in two and a half days.

Wife: Ask God to help you.

First Rogue: God strike you deaf and dumb!

Second Rogue: I'm as hungry as ever and I don't see my friend. I won't stand for it if he tries to cheat me out of my half. Oh, there he is. Any success?

First Rogue: No success, and I'm fighting mad, besides. How about you?

Second Rogue: I couldn't squeeze a scudi out of anybody, as God is my witness.

First Rogue: Some dinner we're going to have today!

Second Rogue: Can't you think of a trick to find us something to eat?

First Rogue: I can, if you'll go where I tell you.

Second Rogue: I'll be your friend for life! Tell me where.

First Rogue: Go to the pastrycook's house over there, and ask for an eel pie. Don't forget to act sure of yourself. Take the wife's little finger like this, and tell her, "Your husband wants you to give me the eel pie." All right?

Second Rogue: Bug supposing he's come back already? How will I talk my way out?

First Rogue: I know he hasn't come back because he only left a minute ago.

Second Rogue: Take her finger, eh? All right, here I go.

First Rogue: Go on, you blockhead.

Second Rogue: Damn it, I don't want to get walloped if he's there after all.

First Rogue: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Second Rogue: You're right. Off I go. Lady, your husband wants you to send him that eel pie. How about it?

Wife: What's the sign, my friend?

Second Rogue: He told me to take your little finger. Give me your hand.

Wife: That's the sign, sure enough. Here's the pie.

Second Rogue: I'll take it to him right away. I've got it! I've got it! What a brain, what a genius! Look at it!

First Rogue: You got the pie?

Second Rogue: Didn't I, thought? Didn't I though? What do you say?

First Rogue: You're brilliant. Three could make a feast with this pie.

Husband: Well, they've stood me up, the jokers, and I'm an ass to have waited so long. Damn them. I'll go and eat that eel pie with my wife. If there's anything I hate, it's being made a fool of. Wife, I'm home!

Wife: Did you have your dinner?

Husband: No I didn't and I'm as mad as a wasp. Devil hang them.

Wife: Then why did you send for the pie?

Husband: Who sent?

Wife: Listen to the man playing dumb!

Husband: What playing dumb? Wait a minute. Don't tell me you gave the pie to somebody?

Wife: Of course I did. A man came to the house, took me by the finger, and told me to hand over the pie.

Husband: How hand over? God damn it to hell, is my pie gone?

Wife: For goodness' sake, it's you who sent for it, with the sign and all.

Husband: You're a liar! I didn't send for it! What did you do with it?

Wife: That's a good one! I'm telling you, I gave it to the man who came for it a little while ago.

Husband: Fire and brimstone! I need my stick. You ate it!

Wife: Stop babbling. I gave it to the man you sent.

Husband: You'll pay for this. I won't take it lying down. You ate it!

Wife: Now I'm beginning to see red.

Husband: Where's that stick? Wait till I tickle your back with it. The truth! What did you do with the eel pie?

Wife: Murder! He's murdering me! You louse, you tramp!

Husband: Where's that pie? I'll knock the stuffings out of you. Did you eat it without me? Where's that pie?

Wife: Murder! He's murdering me! I gave it to the man you sent with the sign!

Husband: I'm bursting with anger, I'm starved, and there's nothing left to eat!

First Rogue: What do you say?

Second Rogue: That pie was delicious. Now if you wanted to do your bit, we could get our hands on a beautiful cheese tart I saw in the house.

First Rogue: Why don't you go yourself. Take the woman's finger again and tell her that her husband sent for the tart?

Second Rogue: Don't talk nonsense. I've done my share of the work. Now it's your turn.

First Rogue: All right, I'll go, but keep my half of what's left of the pie.

Second Rogue: What do you take me for? What's yours is yours, and I swear nobody's going to touch this till you return.

First Rogue: You're a good friend. We'll, I'm off. Wait for me here.

Wife: You've beaten me black and blue. Damn that eel pie.

Husband: I gave your bones a lesson they needed. Enough. I'm off to the yard to cut some wood.

Wife: The quicker the better.

First Rogue: Lady! Your husband sent me for the cheese tart. He's fit to be tied because you didn't send it along with that eel pie.

Wife: Oh, I'm glad you came along. Please come inside.

Husband: So, you're the rascal! Oh, I'm going to cuddle you. What did you do with the pie you picked up here?

First Rogue: Ay, ay, ay! It wasn't me!

Husband: What did you do with my pie? I'll beat you into the ground!

First Rogue: Murder!

Husband: What did you do with my pie?

First Rogue: I'll tell you the whole story if you'll stop hitting me!

Husband: Talk, you rascal, or I'll knock you to kingdom come.

First Rogue: I'm talking, I'm talking. A while ago I came here to beg, but nobody gave me a scudi. Then I overheard you telling your wife about the pie and giving her the sign. My dear kind sir, I was ravenous, so I went back to my friend who is as sharp as a blade. We're loyal to each other, share and share alike, half his, half mine, whatever we earn. I told him about the sign of the little finger, he came here for the pie, and believe me, I'm sorry he ever did. After we'd eaten it the devil reminded him there was a cheese tart here, too. Then like a fool I walked in to ask for it.

Husband: Now, by God, I'll beat your brains out if you don't swear to make your friend come to me for his share of the tart. Since you split everything between you, he's got a right to the same treat you had.

First Rogue: I swear I'll send him to you. And be sure to make him feel the end of your stick.

Husband: On your way, and play it natural.

First Rogue: As God is my witness he'll get what I got.

Second Rogue: How's that? You came back empty-handed?

First Rogue: Listen, she cut me short and told me she'd give the tart to nobody bu the man who came for the pie.

Second Rogue: I'll go right away. God, I can taste it already! Watch me do my ploy. Hello inside!

Wife: Who is it?

Second Rogue: Lady, let me have the cheese tart for your husband.

Wife: Dear me, come in!

Husband: Thief! Traitor! I'll fix you up for the hangman. There, there, there, a hundred knocks for the eel pie.

Second Rogue: Mercy, mercy!

Wife: Thump him a hundred times! How does it feel! Because of you I was thrashed until my bones ached.

Husband: One hundred knocks. There, there, there's for the eel pie.

Second Rogue: Have mercy on me! I'll never do it again! I'm crippled for life! I'm dead!

Wife: Harder, husband, harder, let him remember the pie.

Husband: Go to hell now, and I hope somebody wraps your guts around your neck!

Second Rogue: You double-crossing bastard, you sent me off to be murdered!

First Rogue: Aren't we supposed to share and share alike, the good as well as the bad? What do you say, you dumb ape? He hit me ten times worse than you.

Second Rogue: If only you'd warned me, I would never have gone. Oh, Jesus, I'm one big sore.

First Rogue: You know what they say - one rogue shouldn't trust another.

Second Rogue: Never mind. Let's finish the eel pie and forget about the tart. We can still stuff ourselves.
What are we, me and you?
Robbers beaten black and blue.

First Rogue: Though you're right, you needn't shout;
It's not a thing I'd boast about.
Let's take our aching spines away,
And hope the audience liked our play.

~ finis ~