Summary

Matthew, one of Macheath’s cohorts, enters a stable in Soho. He searches the space with a revolver, and Macheath follows after him. Once Matthew has confirmed that the stable is empty, Polly enters, wearing a wedding dress. Polly is disappointed that they are going to celebrate their marriage in a stable and even more upset to learn they are going to start their new life together with a crime. She appears not to know Macheath very well. Macheath promises that the furnishings will arrive soon.

The other criminals, Jacob, Robert, Walter, and Ed, enter, delivering carpets, furniture, food, and table settings. They excitedly tell Macheath about all the people that were killed or injured in the acquisition of these goods. However, Macheath is disappointed and tells them that they will never be businessmen. Polly is distraught that people have been hurt just to provide for her wedding. Macheath becomes angry not at the fact that people have been hurt but that the stolen goods do not match. He assumes that is why Polly is upset too and assures her not to worry because the priest will be there soon.

The men set up the stable with their takings and reveal their incompetence in stealing furnishings. The furnishings consist of only two chairs, fourteen forks, two knives, and the legs of a harpsichord, which were sawn off to make a bench. Matthew offers his heartfelt congratulations to Macheath and then makes a crude joke to Polly, which causes Macheath to knock him to the ground. Macheath tells him to save his dirty talk for the whore Kitty. Matthew says he would never use filthy language with Kitty, and besides, he has heard about the kind of things that Macheath says to Lucy. This remark is the first reference to Macheath being involved with another woman. Macheath shoots a severe look at Matthew, and the other men separate the two from each other.

The thieves offer their presents to the couple. Macheath is disappointed with each gift, while Polly thinks they are nice. They all sit down to eat, but before they can dig in, Macheath asks his men to sing something “delightful.” Matthew almost chokes with laughter at Macheath’s attempt at high-class language. Then Ed lets another reference to Lucy slip, and this time Polly notices and asks Macheath who she is. Jacob tells Polly not to worry about Lucy, and Matthew gestures to Jacob to not say anything. Polly tries to get more information out of Jacob, but he denies her. Macheath ignores Polly’s questions.

Reverend Kimball arrives, and Macheath calls for a song again. Three of the thieves stand and sing about a couple that marries without really knowing each other at all. Macheath is disgusted and inappropriately calls the song “penurious.” Matthew laughs at this fancy language again, but Polly defuses the situation by offering to sing her own song. She sings “Pirate Jenny,” about a girl who works at a dive bar and is always being teased by the customers about “when her ship will come in.” In the song, the girl patiently does her work and smiles at her dreary circumstances, knowing that one day her pirate husband will pull into the harbor and kill anyone she points at before whisking her away.

The song gets a warm reception all around, but then the police arrive. The men are frightened, yet Macheath greets the sheriff, Tiger Brown, as an old friend. They sing “The Song of the Heavy Cannon” about their service in the army in India together. Then Macheath raves about how close he and Brown are. Macheath explains that every time Macheath steals something, he gives Brown a slice. Every time Brown makes a raid, he tips off Macheath in advance. As he speaks, Macheath notices Brown sadly staring at the carpet. Brown notices the rug is from the Oriental Carpet Company, and Macheath, like a savvy shopper, smoothes over the situation by acting like a frequent customer of the store. Brown mentions how concerned he is about the queen’s coronation. Macheath tells Brown that he is sure Peachum has it in for him and checks with Brown that his record at Scotland Yard is clean. Brown assures him that his record is clear and then exits. Macheath’s men reveal their special present, a big bed for the new couple. The men exit, leaving Macheath and Polly alone. They speak a short stretch of verse about how the circumstances of their love do not matter.