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The Geisha

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Song – O Mimosa San

A goldfish swam in a big glass bowl,
As dear little goldfish do,
But she loved with the whole of her heart and soul
An officer brave from the ocean wave
And she thought that he loved her, too.
Her small inside he daily fed
With crumbs of the best digestive bread,
“This kind attention proves,” said she,
“How exceedingly fond he is of me.”

And she thought “It’s fit-fit-fitter

He should love my glit-glit-glitter,
Than his heart give away
To the butterflies gay,
Or the birds that twit-twit-twitter!”

She flashed her frock in the sunshine bright

That officer brave to charm –
And he vowed she was quite a delightful sight;
So her spirits were gay, till he came one day
With a girl on his stalwart arm.
In whispers low they talked of love,
He begged for a rose and a worn-out glove;
But when they kissed a fond goodbye,
The poor little goldfish longed to die.

And she sobb’d, “It’s bit-bit-bitter

He should love this crit-crit-critter,
When I thought he would wish
For a nice little fish
With a frock all glit-glit-glitter!”

Takes chrysanthemum from her belt and hands it to Fairfax.

That charming girl for a time upset

The officer brave and gay,
And his sad little pet he contrived to forget;
For with never a crumb did he chance to come,
So the goldfish pined away!
Until at last some careless soul
With a smash knocked over the big glass bowl,
And there on the carpet, dead and cold,
Lay the poor little fish in her frock of gold!

But her fate so bit-bit-bitter

Is a story fit-fit-fitter
For a sad little sigh
And a tear in the eye
Than a thoughtless tit-tit-titter!

Fairfax. That’s capital, O Mimosa! Upon my word, I could listen to you all day and every day for a week!

Mimosa. Yes, I’ve noticed that! Tell me, haven’t English officer gentlemen anything to do on board their ships?

Fairfax. Oh, yes! On Sunday we go to church. Monday we scrub the decks –

Lady C. (Who has come down behind them) Ah! I’m sorry to disturb you, Mr. Fairfax, but Miss Seamore will be here presently.

Fairfax. But why did you interrupt me here to tell me about Miss Seamore?

Lady C. From what I can see it’s about time I did!

During next dialogue, English Party walk round Mimosa, looking at her, taking notes, etc.

Fairfax. Well, Lady Constance, pray excuse me just now – I’m engaged.

Lady C. I know you are – to Molly Seamore. You seem to have forgotten it.

Fairfax. Not at all. (Looking at Mimosa) When I’m in Japan I must do as the Japs do.

Lady C. Flirt with the singing girls? That’s all very well, my dear boy, but mind, don’t let the lady of the tea tray sing you into a quarrel with Molly! Come, girls! (Turns to go)

Marie. Lady Constance, you are awfully hard on Mr. Fairfax. Remember he is a single man.

Lady C. And therefore needn’t restrict himself to a single woman, eh? Mr. Fairfax, I am going to tell Molly – ah, well! (Looking at Fairfax) where to find you. Come, girls!

Exit with Girls, Ethel last, referring to guide book.

Ethel. (On exit) I say, isn’t she a smart little lady? Reggie, I congratulate you!

Fairfax, about to follow, is dragged back by coat-tails by Mimosa.

Mimosa. Why was that great big lady angry with you?

Fairfax. For some imaginary reason, I suppose.

Mimosa. Is Miss Molly Seamore an imaginary person?

Fairfax. No, little Mimosa – she’s an English girl and –

Mimosa. (Sighing) And you will go away and marry her?

Fairfax. We’ll see about that.

Mimosa. Yes, you will – everybody goes away and marries somebody. But I should like to hear your English –

Fairfax. Her name? Molly.

Mimosa. Molly. (Bus. laugh) What a funny name! Well, I should like to hear her sing.

Fairfax. To hear her sing? Why?

Mimosa. Because you told me you could only lover someone who sings beautifully.

Fairfax. Ah, I wasn’t thinking of Molly when I said that!

Mimosa. You were thinking of your little Japanese Mimosa?

Fairfax. Yes.

Mimosa. But English officers don’t marry geisha – no, I know, you listen to my song, you look into my eyes, and then – you go away to your country and write a book about the pretty singing girls of Japan. (Laughs a little bitter laugh)

Fairfax. And you – you sing the same song with the same expressions to anyone who pays Wun-Hi a few dollars, an English Sailor or a native nobleman. You don’t give away a heart with every verse, do you, little Almond-eye – not even a kiss!

Mimosa. A what?

Fairfax. A kiss!

Mimosa. A kiss? We do not have them in Japan.

Fairfax. What? No kisses in this country? Now, here’s something for me to teach you.

Mimosa. What is it – a kiss?

Duet – Mimosa and Fairfax

Fairfax. You’re a charming little geisha,
Quite the nicest girl in Asia,
But I fear there’s something missing,
Oh, my pretty Japanese!
English, French and German misses
Do not ask me what a kiss is,
They are all expert at kissing –

Mimosa. (Eagerly) Will you teach me, if you please?
I believe I’m quick and clever,
And I promise I’ll endeavour
In the task to do you credit,
If you pupil I may be!
Oh my sailor bright and breezy,
Is it difficult or easy?
Is it nice or shall I dread it?

Fairfax. Only wait, and you shall see!

Mimosa. I am half afraid to try –

Fairfax. Then the task we won’t pursue.

Mimosa. Shall I like it by and by?

Fairfax. It’s objected to by few!

Both. Little maiden,
Ev’ry day learns something new!

Fairfax. Now to make my meaning clearer
You must come a little nearer
Having first discover’d whether
There is anyone about!
Then you face half shyly rasing
Till your eyes in his are gazing,
Place your pretty lips together
In a dainty little pout.

Mimosa. If a smile my cheeks should dimple,
It’s because it’s all so simple!
Why of such a tame proceeding
Should you make so great a fuss?
It’s a farce absurdly hollow
But perhaps there’s more to follow?
For instruction I am pleading –

Fairfax. And I give it to you – thus! (Kisses her)

Mimosa. It has charms I can’t explain

Fairfax. Which you never knew before! (Laughing)

Mimosa. Teach me once, just once again!

Fairfax. Pretty pupils I adore.

Both. Little maiden
Ev’ry day learns something more!

Fairfax kisses her.

Enter Katana, behind trees.

Mimosa. You must go! I’ll see you again presently.

Fairfax. Ah, Mimosa! (On exit) Mind you don’t practise what I have taught you with anyone else!

Mimosa. Of course not!

Exit Fairfax into Tea House.

Katana. (Comes forward) Mimona!

Mimosa. Ah, Katana, my brave soldier! Mimosa is so pleased to see you.

Katana. I hope you are, dear! But oh, Mimosa, why are you always with English officers?

Mimosa. I can’t help it. It is the business of a geisha to please her master’s customers.

Katana. But I hate your business. Besides, you are always with the same officer.

Mimosa. (Laughs) Don’t be jealous of him. He is going to marry a little girl from his own country.

Katana. I wish he would be quick and do so.

Mimosa. Don’t be angry with Mimosa; let me explain. You are a soldier, you have been to the wars. And you have hurt and killed a great many people.

Katana. I should think so!

Mimosa. But you didn’t hate them?

Katana. No! No!

Mimosa. Well, I am a geisha. I have to be bright and pleasant and merry with everyone who pays for my song – but I don’t love them.

Katana. Oh, I see! Only me!

Mimosa. (Laughs) Of course I think only of you. When customers like Mimosa’s songs, I am glad that I am clever, so that bye and bye I shall please my Katana. When my voice sings love songs to the officers, my heart is singing them to Katana. Every hour that brings people to this Tea House brings me an hour nearer you. Now believe in Mimosa and you shall marry me.

Katana. When?

Mimosa. When my apprenticeship is over.

Katana. Two more years!

Mimosa. It will soon pass, and now before I go I will teach you a funny custom that an English officer taught me.

Goes to Katana, places his arms by his side so that he stands stiffly to attention. Pushes back his head, then tries to kiss him, finds he is much too tall. Fetches stool, puts it in front of him, he stands on it. Mimosa pushes him off, stands on it herself and kisses him.

Katana. Oh, how nice! Try it again, or I might forget how it’s done.

Mimosa. (Kissing him and running off stage into Tea House) Do forget – until you see me again! (On exit) I am sorry I taught him to kiss. It cannot be good for soldiers to know such things before they are married! (Exits)

Katana. (Follows her and stands just outside the Tea House) Ah, it is hard to wait, but you are worth waiting for.

Enter Wun-Hi, flurried, from behind Tea House, under Katana’s arm.

Wun-Hi. What Japanese officer want here? Me not wantee you – go away!

Katana. Very well, I’ll go, but thank goodness we’ve not left many of your countrymen to give orders! (Exits over bridge)

Wun-Hi. Me makee one remark to you – lats! (Enter Officers and Geisha.) Little girlee only talkee talkee – me tellee you about this six or five times. Too much cuddle and no money! (Bus. Wun-Hi is kicked off by Officers.)

Chrysanth. (To Little Violet) Wun-Hi is quite right. You don’t come to a Tea House to talk. Tell them so, Golden Harp.

Golden H. Officer gentlemen, don’t you want to hear us sing?

Grimston. No thanks! We’ve got a parrot at home! (He is repressed by Cunningham)

Cunningham. Certainly, little girl… but let me tell you –

Violet. But, officer, we are engaged here to sing to the visitors, not to talk.

Stanley. Well, they are a tricky lot!

Grimston. Come along, then, you funny little girls! Show us what you can do!
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