Stephano stopped and, swaying, shook his finger at Trinculo. ‘Don’t tell me,’ he said. ‘When the barrel’s empty we’ll drink water: not a drop before. So stand firm and go!’
Caliban was far behind them, weaving and staggering. They had given up hope of being led by him. Stephano sat down on a rock. ‘Servant-monster, drink to me,’ he called.
Caliban made his way forward with difficulty and threw himself down and lay on his back.
‘Servant-monster?’ Trinculo laughed. ‘The stupidity of this island! They say there are only five people on the island and we’re three of them. If the other two are as stupid as us the state totters.’
‘Drink when I tell you to, servant-monster,’ said Stephano. He got up and looked closely at Caliban’s face and laughed. ‘Your eyes are almost sunken into your head.’
‘Where else should they be?’ said Trinculo. ‘He would be a wonderful monster if they were set in his tail.’
Caliban didn’t move and Stephano shook his head. ‘My man monster has drowned his tongue in wine,’ he said. ‘For my part the sea can’t drown me. I swam thirty-five leagues on and off before I reached the shore. By this light, you could be my lieutenant, monster, or my ensign.’
‘Your lieutenant, if you like,’ said Trinculo. ‘But he’s no flag bearer. He can’t even stand!’
Stephano gave Caliban a friendly kick. ‘We won’t run away, Monsieur Monster.’ He lay down beside him.
‘You won’t walk either,’ laughed Trinculo. ‘You lie there like dogs, and yet you don’t talk either.’
Stephano raised himself on to an elbow. ‘Monster, speak for once in your life if you’re a good monster,’ he said.
Caliban’s mouth formed itself into a grotesque smile. ‘How are you, your honour?’ he said, his voice slurred, almost unintelligible. ‘Lemme lick your shoe.’
Stephano got up and, standing unsteadily on one leg, put the other foot against Caliban’s mouth. Caliban slurped noisily as he licked Stephano’s shoe. Trinculo laughed and came and put his foot against Caliban’s mouth too.
Caliban recoiled and spat. ‘I won’t serve him,’ he exclaimed. ‘He’s not valiant!’
‘You lie, you most ignorant monster!’ Trinculo appealed to Stephano. ‘I’m not afraid of jostling a constable. Why, you debauched fish, was there ever a man who is a coward who has drunk as much wine as I have today?Would you tell such a monstrous lie, being nothing but half a fish and half a monster?’
Caliban struggled to sit up, then stood up unsteadily and pointed threateningly at Trinculo. ‘Look how he’s mocking me!’ he said. ‘Will you let him my lord?’
Trinculo roared with laughter. ‘Lord, he said? ‘That a monster could be such an idiot!’
‘Look, look, he’s doing it again,’ wailed Caliban. ‘Bite him to death, I beg of you.’
Stephano drew himself up and looked sternly at Trinculo. ‘Trinculo,’ he said. ‘Keep a civil tongue in your head. If you turn out to be a mutineer I’ll hang you from the next tree! The poor monster’s my subject and I won’t allow him to suffer such indignity.’
Caliban took Stephano’s hand and kissed it noisily. ‘I thank my noble lord,’ he said. ‘Will you please listen once again to the favour I asked of you?’
‘Of course I will,’ said Stephano. ‘Kneel and repeat it. I will stand, and so will Trinculo.’
Ariel, still invisible, had arrived and was watching them.
‘As I told you before,’ said Caliban, ‘I’m subject to a tyrant – a sorcerer – who has, by his cunning, cheated me out of this island.’
Ariel went and stood beside Trinculo and, assuming his voice, exclaimed: ‘You lie!’
Caliban turned furiously to Trinculo. ‘You lie, you stupid monkey, you!’ he exclaimed. ‘I wish my valiant master would destroy you! I’m not lying!’
Stephano made a fist and shook it at Trinculo. ‘Trinculo, if you interrupt him again while he’s telling his tale, by this hand, I’ll knock some of your teeth out!’
‘But I didn’t say anything,’ said Trinculo.
‘Quiet then, and no more,’ said Stephano. ‘Carry on, monster.’
‘I’m telling you, he got this isle by sorcery. He took it from me. If Your Greatness would get revenge – I know you dare, although this thing wouldn’t dare…’
‘That’s most certain,’ said Stephano, giving Trinculo a threatening look.
‘ … you will be the lord of it and I’ll serve you,’ concluded Caliban.
‘Well how will this be achieved?’ said Stephano. ‘Can you take me to this person?’
‘Yes, yes,’ said Caliban eagerly. ‘I’ll deliver him to you while he sleeps, when you can knock a nail into his head.’
‘You lie! You can’t!’ called Ariel.
‘What a fool this is!’ exclaimed Caliban. ‘You scurvy clown! I beg Your Greatness, beat him, and take his bottle from him. When that’s gone he’ll drink nothing but salt water because I won’t show him where the fresh springs are.’
‘Trinculo, don’t tempt me!’ said Stephano. ‘Interrupt the monster one more time and I’ll abandon my mercy and make a stock-fish of you!’
‘Why, what did I do?’ said Trinculo. ‘I did nothing. I’ll go further away.’
‘Didn’t you say he lied?’
‘You lie!’ yelled Ariel.
‘Do I?’ Stephano slapped Trinculo hard on the cheek. ‘Take that! If you want more just tell me again that I lie!’
Trinculo cowered away, rubbing his cheek. ‘I didn’t say you lied. Have you lost your wits and your hearing too?’ He threw the bottle on the ground. ‘Damn your bottle! This is what wine and drinking does. May a plague fall on your monster, and the devil take your fingers!’
Caliban laughed loudly and jumped about, pointing at Trinculo.
‘Get on with your story,’ said Stephano. He raised his hand threateningly to Trinculo. ‘Stand further away,’ he said.
‘Beat him again,’ said Caliban, ‘and then I’ll beat him too.’
‘Stand further back,’ said Stephano, and then to Caliban: ‘Come on, get on with it.’
‘As I told you, it’s his custom to sleep in the afternoons,’ said Caliban. ‘You can brain him there, after first taking his books. Or you could batter his skull with a log, or run a stake through his guts, or cut his throat with your knife. Don’t forget to get his books first, because without them he’s as powerless as I am and won’t have a single spirit to command. They all hate him as deeply as I do. Just burn his books. He has fine furnishings, as he calls them, which he will use to decorate his house when he has one. But the thing that’s most important to think about is the beauty of his daughter. He himself says that she’s unparalleled. I’ve never seen any woman apart from her and my mother Sycorax and she so far surpasses Sycorax in beauty as the greatest surpasses the least.’
‘Is she such a beautiful lass?’ said Stephano.
‘Yes, lord, and she’ll become your bed, I guarantee, and give you a fine brood.’
Stephano nodded. ‘Monster, I will kill this man. His daughter and I will be king and queen.’ He bowed deeply and laughed. ‘God save our graces! And Trinculo and you will be viceroys. Do you like this plot, Trinculo?’
Trinculo came forward cautiously. ‘Excellent!’ he exclaimed.
‘Give me your hand,’ said Stephano. ‘I’m sorry I hit you, but from now on keep a civil tongue in your head.’
‘He’ll be asleep within half an hour,’ said Caliban. ‘Will you destroy him then?’
‘Yes, on my honour,’ said Stephano.
Ariel, still watching, resolved to tell his master of the plot.
‘You make me happy,’ said Caliban. ‘I’m so excited. Let’s be merry. Will you sing the song you taught me a while ago?’
‘At your request, monster, I will do anything – anything. Come on, Trinculo, let’s sing.’
Flout ‘em and scout ‘em
And scout ‘em and flout ‘em:
Thought is free.
‘That’s not the one,’ said Caliban.
Ariel struck the tune up on a drum and flute.
‘What’s that?’ said Stephano.
‘This is the tune of your song, played by Nobody!’ said Trinculo.
Stephano took an on-guard posture. He looked up at the vacant air. ‘If you’re a man, show yourself in your own form,’ he said. ‘If a devil then take whatever form you like!’
Trinculo dropped to his knees and began praying. ‘Oh forgive me my sins,’ he wailed.
Stephano kicked him and he fell over. ‘He who dies is absolved of his debts,’ he said. ‘I defy you! Mercy on us!’
‘Are you afraid?’ said Caliban.
‘No, monster, not I.’
‘Don’t be,’ said Caliban. ‘The isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet songs, that delight and don’t hurt. Sometimes a thousand twanging instruments will hum in my ears, and sometimes voices that, if I’ve been asleep, will put me to sleep again, and then I dream that the clouds open and show riches ready to drop into my lap, so that when I wake up I long to dream again.’
‘This will turn out to be a splendid kingdom for me, where I’ll have my music for nothing,’ said Stephano.
‘Once Prospero is destroyed,’ said Caliban.
‘That will be very soon,’ said Stephano. ‘I haven’t forgotten your story.’
‘The music is going away,’ said Caliban. ‘Let’s follow it and then do our work.’
‘Lead on, monster,’ said Stephano. ‘We’ll follow. I wish I could see this drummer: he really lays it on.’ Caliban and Stephano began walking. Trinculo was on his knees again, silently mouthing his prayers.
‘Are you coming?’ called Stephano.
Trinculo scrambled to his feet. ‘I’ll follow, Stephano,’ he said.