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H.M.S. Pinafore (or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor)

Summary

His Majesty's Ship, "Pinafore," is anchored in the harbor at Portsmouth. The sailors are busy scrubbing the decks for the expected arrival of Sir Joseph Porter. K. C. B. Little Buttercup, a bumboat woman who is by no means as small as her name would imply, comes aboard with a stock of "snuff and tobaccy and excellent jacky," not to mention "excellent peppermint drops."

It transpires that a handsome young sailor, Ralph, is in love with the Captain's daughter, Josephine. She, however, is to be betrothed to Sir Joseph Porter, who duly arrives attended by "his sisters and his cousins and his aunts." In the meantime, Ralph plans to elope with Josephine, the crew assisting. The plot is overheard by Dick Deadeye, the lugubrious boatswain.

As Act Two begins, Captain Corcoran is alone on deck and sings to the moon. Little Buttercup comes to him and reveals her affection. He tells her that because of his rank he can only be her friend; but she hints darkly that a change is in store for him, saying that "things are seldom what they seem."

Sir Joseph returns, complaining that Josephine does not favor his suit. The Captain comforts him by averring that she is awed by his lofty station and suggests that he plead his cause on the ground that love levels all rank. Still Josephine does not respond, for her heart is set upon Ralph.

Dick Deadeye reveals the elopement plan, and he and the Captain lie in wait for the crew, "carefully on tip-toe stealing." The elopers are captured, and the Captain is so exasperated that he actually swears, using a "big, big D" which is overheard by Sir Joseph Porter. For this serious breach of morals, a horrible example of depravity before the whole crew, the Captain is ordered to his cabin.

Affairs are interrupted by Little Buttercup, who discloses a secret, telling how the Captain and Ralph had been accidental]y exchanged while they were both babies. Whereupon, Sir Joseph, with true Gilbertian logic, sends for Ralph and makes him Captain, and at the same time reduces Corcoran to Ralph's former humble grade of "able seaman." Now, since it is out of the question for one of Sir Joseph's exalted station to marry the daughter of a mere seaman, his Lordship nobly consents to the marriage of Ralph and Josephine. The erstwhile Captain consoles himself with Little Buttercup.

 



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