Alexis, of the Grenadier Guards–His Son
Dr. Daly, Vicar of Ploverleigh
John Wellington Wells, of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers
Lady Sangazure, a Lady of Ancient Lineage
Aline, Her Daughter–betrothed to Alexis
Mrs. Partlet, a Pew-Opener
Constance, her Daughter
Chorus of Villagers
(Twelve hours are supposed to elapse between Acts I and II)
ACT II– Grounds of Sir Marmaduke’s Mansion, Midnight
Scene–Exterior of Sir Marmaduke’s mansion by moonlight. All the
peasantry are discovered asleep on the ground, as at the end
of Act I.
Enter Mr. Wells, on tiptoe, followed by Alexis and Aline. Mr. Wells
carries a dark lantern.
TRIO–ALEXIS, ALINE, and MR. WELLS
‘Tis twelve, I think,
And at this mystic hour
The magic drink
Should manifest its power.
Oh, slumbering forms,
How little ye have guessed
That fire that warms
Each apathetic breast!
ALEXIS. But stay, my father is not here!
ALINE. And pray where is my mother dear?
MR. WELLS. I did not think it meet to see
A dame of lengthy pedigree,
A Baronet and K.C.B.
A Doctor of Divinity,
And that respectable Q.C.,
All fast asleep, al-fresco-ly,
And so I had them taken home
And put to bed respectably!
I trust my conduct meets your approbation.
ALEXIS. Sir, you have acted with discrimination,
And shown more delicate appreciation
Than we expect of persons of your station.
MR. WELLS. But stay–they waken one by one —
The spell has worked–the deed is done!
I would suggest that we retire
While Love, the Housemaid, lights her kitchen
fire!
(Exeunt Mr. Wells, Alexis and Aline, on tiptoe, as the villagers
stretch their arms, yawn, rub their eyes, and sit up.)
MEN. Why, where be oi, and what be oi a doin’,
A sleepin’ out, just when the dews du rise?
GIRLS. Why, that’s the very way your health to ruin,
And don’t seem quite respectable likewise!
MEN (staring at girls). Eh, that’s you!
Only think o’ that now!
GIRLS (coyly). What may you be at, now?
Tell me, du!
MEN (admiringly). Eh, what a nose,
And eh, what eyes, miss!
Lips like a rose,
And cheeks likewise, miss!
GIRLS (coyly). Oi tell you true,
Which I’ve never done, sir,
Oi loike you
As I never loiked none, sir!
ALL. Eh, but oi du loike you!
MEN. If you’ll marry me, I’ll dig for you and
rake for you!
GIRLS. If you’ll marry be, I’ll scrub for you
and bake for you!
MEN. If you’ll marry me, all others I’ll
forsake for you!
ALL. All this will I du, if you marry
me!
GIRLS. If you’ll marry me, I’ll cook for you
and brew for you!
MEN. If you’ll marry me, I’ve guineas not a
few for you!
GIRLS. If you’ll marry me, I’ll take you in and
du for you!
ALL. All this will I du, if you’ll marry me!
Eh, but I do loike you!
Country Dance
(At end of dance, enter Constance in tears, leading Notary, who
carries an ear-trumpet)
Aria–CONSTANCE
Dear friends, take pity on my lot,
My cup is not of nectar!
I long have loved–as who would not?–
Our kind and reverend rector.
Long years ago my love began
So sweetly–yet so sadly–
But when I saw this plain old man,
Away my old affection ran–
I found I loved him madly.
Oh!
(To Notary) You very, very plain old man,
I love, I love you madly!
CHORUS. You very, very plain old man,
She loves, she loves you madly!
NOTARY. I am a very deaf old man,
And hear you very badly!
CONST. I know not why I love him so;
It is enchantment, surely!
He’s dry and snuffy, deaf and slow
Ill-tempered, weak and poorly!
He’s ugly, and absurdly dressed,
And sixty-seven nearly,
He’s everything that I detest,
But if the truth must be confessed,
I love him very dearly!
Oh!
(To Notary) You’re everything that I detest,
But still I love you dearly!
CHORUS. You’ve everything that girls detest,
But still she loves you dearly!
NOTARY. I caught that line, but for the rest,
I did not hear it clearly!
(During this verse Aline and Alexis have entered at back
unobserved.)
ALINE AND ALEXIS
ALEXIS. Oh joy! oh joy!
The charm works well,
And all are now united.
ALINE. The blind young boy
Obeys the spell,
And troth they all have plighted!
ENSEMBLE
Aline & Alexis Constance Notary
Oh joy! oh joy! Oh, bitter joy! Oh joy! oh joy!
The charm works well, No words can tell No words can tell
And all are now united! How my poor heart My state of mind
The blind young boy is blighted! delighted.
Obeys the spell, They’ll soon employ They’ll soon employ
A marriage bell, A marriage bell,
Their troth they all To say that we’re To say that we’re
have plighted. united. united.
True happiness I do confess True happiness
Reigns everywhere, A sorrow rare Reigns everywhere
And dwells with both My humbled spirit And dwells with both
the sexes. vexes. the sexes,
And all will bless And none will bless And all will bless
The thoughtful care Example rare Example rare
Of their beloved Of their beloved Of their beloved
Alexis! Alexis! Alexis!
(All, except Alexis and Aline, exeunt lovingly.)
ALINE. How joyful they all seem in their new-found
happiness! The whole village has paired off in the happiest
manner. And yet not a match has been made that the hollow world
would not consider ill-advised!
ALEXIS. But we are wiser–far wiser–than the world.
Observe the good that will become of these ill-assorted unions.
The miserly wife will check the reckless expenditure of her too
frivolous consort, the wealthy husband will shower innumerable
bonnets on his penniless bride, and the young and lively spouse
will cheer the declining days of her aged partner with comic
songs unceasing!
ALINE. What a delightful prospect for him!
ALEXIS. But one thing remains to be done, that my happiness
may be complete. We must drink the philtre ourselves, that I may
be assured of your love for ever and ever.
ALINE. Oh, Alexis, do you doubt me? Is it necessary that
such love as ours should be secured by artificial means? Oh, no,
no, no!
ALEXIS. My dear Aline, time works terrible changes, and I
want to place our love beyond the chance of change.
ALINE. Alexis, it is already far beyond that chance. Have
faith in me, for my love can never, never change!
ALEXIS. Then you absolutely refuse?
ALINE. I do. If you cannot trust me, you have no right to
love me–no right to be loved by me.
ALEXIS. Enough, Aline, I shall know how to interpret this
refusal.
BALLAD–ALEXIS
Thou hast the power thy vaunted love
To sanctify, all doubt above,
Despite the gathering shade:
To make that love of thine so sure
That, come what may, it must endure
Till time itself shall fade.
They love is but a flower
That fades within the hour!
If such thy love, oh, shame!
Call it by other name–
It is not love!
Thine is the power and thine alone,
To place me on so proud a throne
That kings might envy me!
A priceless throne of love untold,
More rare than orient pearl and gold.
But no! Thou wouldst be free!
Such love is like the ray
That dies within the day:
If such thy love, oh, shame!
Call it by other name–
It is not love!
Enter Dr. Daly.
DR. D. (musing) It is singular–it is very singular. It
has overthrown all my calculations. It is distinctly opposed to
the doctrine of averages. I cannot understand it.
ALINE. Dear Dr. Daly, what has puzzled you?
DR. D. My dear, this village has not hitherto been addicted
to marrying and giving in marriage. Hitherto the youths of this
village have not been enterprising, and the maidens have been
distinctly coy. Judge then of my surprise when I tell you that
the whole village came to me in a body just now, and implored me
to join them in matrimony with as little delay as possible. Even
your excellent father has hinted to me that before very long it
is not unlikely that he may also change his condition.
ALINE. Oh, Alexis–do you hear that? Are you not
delighted?
ALEXIS. Yes, I confess that a union between your mother and
my father would be a happy circumstance indeed. (Crossing to Dr.
Daly) My dear sir–the news that you bring us is very
gratifying.
DR. D. Yes–still, in my eyes, it has its melancholy side.
This universal marrying recalls the happy days–now, alas, gone
forever–when I myself might have–but tush! I am puling. I am
too old to marry–and yet, within the last half-hour, I have
greatly yearned for companionship. I never remarked it before,
but the young maidens of this village are very comely. So
likewise are the middle-aged. Also the elderly. All are
comely–and (with a deep sigh) all are engaged!
ALINE. Here comes your father.
Enter Sir Marmaduke with Mrs. Partlet, arm-in-arm
ALINE and ALEXIS (aside). Mrs. Partlet!
SIR M. Dr. Daly, give me joy. Alexis, my dear boy, you
will, I am sure, be pleased to hear that my declining days are
not unlikely to be solaced by the companionship of this good,
virtuous, and amiable woman.
ALEXIS. (rather taken aback) My dear father, this is not
altogether what I expected. I am certainly taken somewhat by
surprise. Still it can hardly be necessary to assure you that
any wife of yours is a mother of mine. (Aside to Aline.) It is
not quite what I could have wished.
MRS. P. (crossing to Alexis) Oh, sir, I entreat your
forgiveness. I am aware that socially I am not everything that
could be desired, nor am I blessed with an abundance of worldly
goods, but I can at least confer on your estimable father the
great and priceless dowry of a true, tender, and lovin’ ‘art!
ALEXIS (coldly). I do not question it. After all, a
faithful love is the true source of every earthly joy.
SIR M. I knew that my boy would not blame his poor father
for acting on the impulse of a heart that has never yet misled
him. Zorah is not perhaps what the world calls beautiful–
DR. D. Still she is comely–distinctly comely. (Sighs)
ALINE. Zorah is very good, and very clean, and honest, and
quite, quite sober in her habits: and that is worth far more than
beauty, dear Sir Marmaduke.
DR. D. Yes; beauty will fade and perish, but personal
cleanliness is practically undying, for it can be renewed
whenever it discovers symptoms of decay. My dear Sir Marmaduke,
I heartily congratulate you. (Sighs)
QUINTETTE
ALEXIS, ALINE, SIR MARMADUKE, ZORAH, and DR. DALY
ALEXIS. I rejoice that it’s decided,
Happy now will be his life,
For my father is provided
With a true and tender wife.
She will tend him, nurse him, mend him,
Air his linen, dry his tears;
Bless the thoughtful fate that send him
Such a wife to soothe his years!
ALINE. No young giddy thoughtless maiden,
Full of graces, airs, and jeers–
But a sober widow, laden
With the weight of fifty years!
SIR M. No high-born exacting beauty
Blazing like a jewelled sun–
But a wife who’ll do her duty,
As that duty should be done!
MRS. P. I’m no saucy minx and giddy–
Hussies such as them abound–
But a clean and tidy widdy
Well be-known for miles around!
DR.D. All the village now have mated,
All are happy as can be–
I to live alone am fated:
No one’s left to marry me!
ENSEMBLE. She will tend him etc.
(Exeunt Sir Marmaduke, Mrs. Partlet, and Aline, with Alexis. Dr. Daly
looks after them sentimentally, then exits with a sigh.)
Enter Mr. Wells
RECITATIVE–MR. WELLS
Oh, I have wrought much evil with my spells!
An ill I can’t undo!
This is too bad of you, J. W. Wells–
What wrong have they done you?
And see–another love-lorn lady comes–
Alas, poor stricken dame!
A gentle pensiveness her life benumbs–
And mine, alone, the blame!
Lady Sangazure enters. She is very melancholy
LADY S. Alas, ah me! and well-a-day!
I sigh for love, and well I may,
For I am very old and grey.
But stay!
(Sees Mr. Wells, and becomes fascinated by him.)
RECITATIVE
LADY S. What is this fairy form I see before me?
WELLS. Oh horrible!–She’s going to adore me!
This last catastrophe is overpowering!
LADY S. Why do you glare at one with visage lowering?
For pity’s sake recoil not thus from me!
WELLS. My lady leave me–this may never be!
DUET–LADY SANGAZURE and MR. WELLS
WELLS. Hate me! I drop my H’s–have through life!
LADY S. Love me! I’ll drop them too!
WELLS. Hate me! I always eat peas with a knife!
LADY S. Love me! I’ll eat like you!
WELLS. Hate me! I spend the day at Rosherville!
LADY S. Love me! that joy I’ll share!
WELLS. Hate me! I often roll down One Tree Hill!
LADY S. Love me! I’ll join you there!
LADY S. Love me! My prejudices I will drop!
WELLS. Hate me! that’s not enough!
LADY S. Love me! I’ll come and help you in the shop!
WELLS. Hate me! the life is rough!
LADY S. Love me! my grammar I will all forswear!
WELLS. Hate me! abjure my lot!
LADY S. Love me! I’ll stick sunflowers in my hair!
WELLS. Hate me! they’ll suit you not!
RECITATIVE–MR. WELLS
At what I am going to say be not enraged–
I may not love you–for I am engaged!
LADY S. (horrified). Engaged!
WELLS. Engaged!
To a maiden fair,
With bright brown hair,
And a sweet and simple smile,
Who waits for me
By the sounding sea,
On a South Pacific isle.
WELLS (aside). A lie! No maiden waits me there!
LADY S. (mournfully). She has bright brown hair;
WELLS (aside). A lie! No maiden smiles on me!
LADY S. (mournfully). By the sounding sea!
ENSEMBLE
LADY SANGAZURE WELLS.
Oh agony, rage, despair! Oh, agony, rage, despair!
The maiden has bright brown hair, Oh, where will this end–oh, where?
And mine is as white as snow! I should like very much to know!
False man, it will be your fault, It will certainly be my fault,
If I go to my family vault, If she goes to her family vault,
And bury my life-long woe! To bury her life-long woe!
BOTH. The family vault–the family vault.
It will certainly be (your/my) fault.
If (I go/she goes) to (my/her) family vault,
To bury (my/her) life-long woe!
(Exit Lady Sangazure, in great anguish, accompanied by Mr. Wells.)
Enter Aline, Recitative
Alexis! Doubt me not, my loved one! See,
Thine uttered will is sovereign law to me!
All fear–all thought of ill I cast away!
It is my darling’s will, and I obey!
(She drinks the philtre.)
The fearful deed is done,
My love is near!
I go to meet my own
In trembling fear!
If o’er us aught of ill
Should cast a shade,
It was my darling’s will,
And I obeyed!
(As Aline is going off, she meets Dr. Daly, entering pensively. He
is playing on a flageolet. Under the influence of the spell
she at once becomes strangely fascinated by him, and
exhibits every symptom of being hopelessly in love with
him.)
SONG–DR. DALY
Oh, my voice is sad and low
And with timid step I go–
For with load of love o’er laden
I enquire of every maiden,
‘Will you wed me, little lady?
Will you share my cottage shady?’
Little lady answers ‘No!
Thank you for your kindly proffer–
Good your heart, and full your coffer;
Yet I must decline your offer–
I’m engaged to So-and-so!’
So-and-so!
So-and-so! (flageolet solo)
She’s engaged to So-and-so!
What a rogue young hearts to pillage;
What a worker on Love’s tillage!
Every maiden in the village
Is engaged to So-and-so!
So-and-so!
So-and-so! (flageolet solo)
All engaged to So-and-so!
(At the end of the song Dr. Daly sees Aline, and, under the
influence of the potion, falls in love with her.)
ENSEMBLE–ALINE and DR. DALY.
Oh, joyous boon! oh, mad delight;
Oh, sun and moon! oh, day and night!
Rejoice, rejoice with me!
Proclaim our joy, ye birds above–
Yet brooklets, murmur forth our love,
In choral ecstasy:
ALINE. Oh, joyous boon!
DR. D. Oh, mad delight!
ALINE. Oh, sun and moon!
DR. D. Oh, day and night!
BOTH. Ye birds, and brooks, and fruitful trees,
With choral joy, delight the breeze–
Rejoice, rejoice with me!
Enter Alexis
ALEXIS (with rapture). Aline my only love, my happiness!
The philtre–you have tasted it?
ALINE (with confusion). Yes! Yes!
ALEXIS. Oh, joy, mine, mine for ever, and for aye!
(Embraces her.)
ALINE. Alexis, don’t do that–you must not!
(Dr. Daly interposes between them)
ALEXIS (amazed). Why?
DUET–ALINE and DR. DALY
ALINE. Alas! that lovers thus should meet:
Oh, pity, pity me!
Oh, charge me not with cold deceit;
Oh, pity, pity me!
You bade me drink–with trembling awe
I drank, and, by the potion’s law,
I loved the very first I saw!
Oh, pity, pity, me!
DR. D. My dear young friend, consoled be–
We pity, pity you.
In this I’m not an agent free–
We pity, pity you.
Some most extraordinary spell
O’er us has cast its magic fell–
The consequence I need not tell.
We pity, pity you.
ENSEMBLE
Some most extraordinary spell
O’er (us/them) has cast its magic fell–
The consequence (we/they) need not tell.
(We/They) pity, pity (thee!/me).
ALEXIS (furiously). False one, begone–I spurn thee,
To thy new lover turn thee!
Thy perfidy all men shall know,
ALINE (wildly). I could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off). Come one, come all!
DR. D. We could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off). Obey my call!
ALINE (wildly). I could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off). Come hither, run!
DR. D. We could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off). Come, every one!
Enter all the characters except Lady Sangazure and Mr. Wells
CHORUS
Oh, what is the matter, and what is the clatter?
He’s glowering at her, and threatens a blow!
Oh, why does he batter the girl he did flatter?
And why does the latter recoil from him so?
RECITATIVE–ALEXIS
Prepare for sad surprises–
My love Aline despises!
No thought of sorrow shames her–
Another lover claims her!
Be his, false girl, for better or for worse–
But, ere you leave me, may a lover’s curse–
DR. D. (coming forward). Hold! Be just. This poor child
drank the philtre at your instance. She hurried off to meet
you–but, most unhappily, she met me instead. As you had
administered the potion to both of us, the result was inevitable.
But fear nothing from me–I will be no man’s rival. I shall quit
the country at once–and bury my sorrow in the congenial gloom of
a Colonial Bishopric.
ALEXIS. My excellent old friend! (Taking his hand–then
turning to Mr. Wells, who has entered with Lady Sangazure.) Oh, Mr.
Wells, what, what is to be done?
WELLS. I do not know–and yet–there is one means by which
this spell may be removed.
ALEXIS. Name it–oh, name it!
WELLS. Or you or I must yield up his life to Ahrimanes. I
would rather it were you. I should have no hesitation in
sacrificing my own life to spare yours, but we take stock next
week, and it would not be fair on the Co.
ALEXIS. True. Well, I am ready!
ALINE. No, no–Alexis–it must not be! Mr. Wells, if he
must die that all may be restored to their old loves, what is to
become of me? I should be left out in the cold, with no love to
be restored to!
WELLS. True–I did not think of that. (To the others) My
friends, I appeal to you, and I will leave the decision in your
hands.
FINALE
WELLS. Or I or he
Must die!
Which shall it be?
Reply!
SIR M. Die thou!
Thou art the cause of all offending!
DR. D. Die thou!
Yield to this decree unbending!
ALL. Die thou!
WELLS. So be it! I submit! My fate is sealed.
To public execration thus I yield!
(Falls on trap)
Be happy all–leave me to my despair–
I go–it matters not with whom–or where!
(Gong)
(All quit their present partners, and rejoin their old lovers.
Sir Marmaduke leaves Mrs. Partlet, and goes to Lady Sangazure.
Aline leaves Dr. Daly, and goes to Alexis. Dr. Daly leaves
Aline, and goes to Constance. Notary leaves Constance, and goes
to Mrs. Partlet. All the Chorus makes a corresponding change.)
ALL
GENTLEMEN. Oh, my adored one!
LADIES. Unmingled joy!
GENTLEMEN. Ecstatic rapture!
LADIES. Beloved boy!
(They embrace)
SIR M. Come to my mansion, all of you! At least
We’ll crown our rapture with another feast!
ENSEMBLE
SIR MARMADUKE, LADY SANGAZURE, ALEXIS, and ALINE
Now to the banquet we press–
Now for the eggs and the ham–
Now for the mustard and cress–
Now for the strawberry jam!
CHORUS. Now to the banquet, etc.
DR. DALY, CONSTANCE, NOTARY, and MRS. PARTLET
Now for the tea of our host–
Now for the rollicking bun–
Now for the muffin and toast–
Now for the gay Sally Lunn!
CHORUS. Now for the tea, etc.
(General Dance)
(During the symphony Mr. Wells sinks through the trap, amid red
fire.)
CURTAIN

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Jupiter, Aged Diety
Apollo, Aged Diety
Mars, Aged Diety
Diana, Aged Diety
Mercury
THESPIANS
Thespis
Sillimon
Timidon
Tipseion
Preposteros
Stupidas
Sparkeio n
Nicemis
Pretteia
Daphne
Cymon
ACT II – The same Scene, with the Ruins Restored
SCENE-the same scene as in Act I with the exception that in place
of the ruins that filled the foreground of the stage, the
interior of a magnificent temple is seen showing the background
of the scene of Act I, through the columns of the portico at the
back. High throne. L.U.E. Low seats below it. All the substitute
gods and goddesses [that is to say, Thespians] are discovered
grouped in picturesque attitudes about the stage, eating and
drinking, and smoking and singing the following verses.
CHO. Of all symposia
The best by half
Upon Olympus, here await us.
We eat ambrosia.
And nectar quaff,
It cheers but don’t inebriate us.
We know the fallacies,
Of human food
So please to pass Olympian rosy,
We built up palaces,
Where ruins stood,
And find them much more snug and cosy.
SILL. To work and think, my dear,
Up here would be,
The height of conscientious folly.
So eat and drink, my dear,
I like to see,
Young people gay–young people jolly.
Olympian food my love,
I’ll lay long odds,
Will please your lips–those rosy portals,
What is the good, my love
Of being gods,
If we must work like common mortals?
CHO. Of all symposia…etc.
[Exeunt all but Nicemis, who is dressed as Diana and Pretteia,
who is dressed as Venus. They take Sillimon’s arm and bring him
down]
SILL. Bless their little hearts, I can refuse them nothing. As
the Olympian stage-manager I ought to be strict with them and
make them do their duty, but i can’t. Bless their little hearts,
when I see the pretty little craft come sailing up to me with a
wheedling smile on their pretty little figure-heads, I can’t turn
my back on ’em. I’m all bow, though I’m sure I try to be stern.
PRET. You certainly are a dear old thing.
SILL. She says I’m a dear old thing. Deputy Venus says I’m a
dear old thing.
NICE. It’s her affectionate habit to describe everybody in those
terms. I am more particular, but still even I am bound to admit
that you are certainly a very dear old thing.
SILL. Deputy Venus says I’m a dear old thing, and Deputy Diana
who is much more particular, endorses it. Who could be severe
with such deputy divinities.
PRET. Do you know, I’m going to ask you a favour.
SILL. Venus is going to ask me a favour.
PRET. You see, I am Venus.
SILL. No one who saw your face would doubt it.
NICE. [aside] No one who knew her character would.
PRET. Well Venus, you know, is married to Mars.
SILL. To Vulcan, my dear, to Vulcan. The exact connubial relation
of the different gods and goddesses is a point on which we must
be extremely particular.
PRET. I beg your pardon–Venus is married to Mars.
NICE. If she isn’t married to Mars, she ought to be.
SILL. Then that decides it–call it married to Mars.
PRET. Married to Vulcan or married to Mars, what does it signify?
SILL. My dear, it’s a matter on which I have no personal feeling
whatever.
PRET. So that she is married to someone.
SILL. Exactly. So that she is married to someone. Call it married
to Mars.
PRET. Now here’s my difficulty. Presumptios takes the place of
Mars, and Presumptios is my father.
SILL. Then why object to Vulcan?
PRET. Because Vulcan is my grandfather.
SILL. But, my dear, what an objection. You are playing a part
till the real gods return. That’s all. Whether you are supposed
to be married to your father–or your grandfather, what does it
matter? This passion for realism is the curse of the stage.
PRET. That’s all very well, but I can’t throw myself into a part
that has already lasted a twelvemonth, when I have to make love
to my father. It interferes with my conception of the
characters. It spoils the part.
SILL. Well, well. I’ll see what can be done. [Exit Pretteia,
L.U.E.) That’s always the way with beginners, they’ve no
imaginative power. A true artist ought to be superior to such
considerations. [Nicemis comes down R.] Well, Nicemis, I should
say, Diana, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you like your part?
NICE. Oh, immensely. It’s great fun.
SILL. Don’t you find it lonely out by yourself all night?
NICE. Oh, but I’m not alone all night.
SILL. But, I don’t want to ask any injudicious questions, but who
accompanies you?
NICE. Who? Why Sparkeion, of course.
SILL. Sparkeion? Well, but Sparkeion is Phoebus Apollo [enter
Sparkeion] He’s the sun, you know.
NICE. Of course he is. I should catch my death of cold, in the
night air, if he didn’t accompany me.
SPAR. My dear Sillimon, it would never do for a young lady to be
out alone all night. It wouldn’t be respectable.
SILL. There’s a good deal of truth in that. But still–the sun–
at night–I don’t like the idea. The original Diana always went
out alone.
NICE. I hope the original Diana is no rule for me. After all,
what does it matter?
SILL. To be sure–what does it matter?
SPAR. The sun at night, or in the daytime.
SILL. So that he shines. That’s all that’s necessary. [Exit
Nicemis, R.U.E.] But poor Daphne, what will she say to this.
SPAR. Oh, Daphne can console herself; young ladies soon get over
this sort of thing. Did you never hear of the young lady who was
engaged to Cousin Robin?
SILL. Never.
SPAR. Then I’ll sing it to you.
Little maid of Arcadee
Sat on Cousin Robin’s knee,
Thought in form and face and limb,
Nobody could rival him.
He was brave and she was fair,
Truth they made a pretty paid.
Happy little maiden she–
Happy maid of Arcadee.
Moments fled as moments will
Happily enough, until
After, say, a month or two,
Robin did as Robins do.
Weary of his lover’s play,
Jilted her and went away,
Wretched little maiden, she–
Wretched maid of Arcadee.
To her little home she crept,
There she sat her down and wept,
Maiden wept as maidens will–
Grew so thin and pale–until
Cousin Richard came to woo.
Then again the roses grew.
Happy little maiden she–
Happy maid of Arcadee. [Exit Sparkeion]
SILL. Well Mercury, my boy, you’ve had a year’s experience of us
here. How do we do it? I think we’re rather an improvement on the
original gods–don’t you?
MER. Well, you see, there’s a good deal to be said on both sides
of the question; you are certainly younger than the original
gods, and, therefore, more active. On the other hand, they are
certainly older than you, and have, therefore, more experience.
On the whole I prefer you, because your mistakes amuse me.
Olympus is now in a terrible muddle,
The deputy deities all are at fault
They splutter and splash like a pig in a puddle
And dickens a one of ’em’s earning his salt.
For Thespis as Jove is a terrible blunder,
Too nervous and timid–too easy and weak–
Whenever he’s called on to lighten or thunder,
The thought of it keeps him awake for a week.
Then mighty Mars hasn’t the pluck of a parrot.
When left in the dark he will quiver and quail;
And Vulcan has arms that would snap like a carrot,
Before he could drive in a tenpenny nail.
Then Venus’s freckles are very repelling,
And Venus should not have a quint in her eyes;
The learned Minerva is weak in her spelling,
And scatters her h’s all over the skies.
Then Pluto in kindhearted tenderness erring,
Can’t make up his mind to let anyone die–
The Times has a paragraph ever recurring,
‘Remarkable incidence of longevity.’
On some it has some as a serious onus,
to others it’s quite an advantage–in short,
While ev’re life office declares a big bonus,
The poor undertakers are all in the court.
Then Cupid, the rascal, forgetting his trade is
To make men and women impartially smart,
Will only shoot at pretty young ladies,
And never takes aim at a bachelor’s heart.
The results of this freak–or whatever you term it–
Should cover the wicked young scamp with disgrace,
While ev’ry young man is as shy as a hermit,
Young ladies are popping all over the place.
This wouldn’t much matter–for bashful and shymen,
When skillfully handled are certain to fall,
But, alas, that determined young bachelor Hymen
Refuses to wed anybody at all.
He swears that Love’s flame is the vilest of arsons,
And looks upon marriage as quite a mistake;
Now what in the world’s to become of the parsons,
And what of the artist who sugars the cake?
In short, you will see from the facts that I’m showing,
The state of the case is exceedingly sad;
If Thespis’s people go on as they’re going,
Olympus will certainly go to the bad.
From Jupiter downward there isn’t a dab in it,
All of ’em quibble and shuffle and shirk,
A premier in Downing Street forming a cabinet,
Couldn’t find people less fit for their work.
[enter Thespis L.U.E.]
THES. Sillimon, you can retire.
SILL. Sir, I–
THES. Don’t pretend you can’t when I say you can. I’ve seen you
do it–go. [exit Sillimon bowing extravagantly. Thespis imitates
him]Well, Mercury, I’ve been in power one year today.
MER. One year today. How do you like ruling the world?
THES. Like it. Why it’s as straightforward as possible. Why
there hasn’t been a hitch of any kind since we came up here. Lor’
the airs you gods and goddesses give yourselves are perfectly
sickening. Why it’s mere child’s play.
MER. Very simple isn’t it?
THES. Simple? Why I could do it on my head.
MER. Ah–I darsay you will do it on your head very soon.
THES. What do you mean by that, Mercury?
MER. I mean that when you’ve turned the world quite topsy-turvy
you won’t know whether you’re standing on your head or your
heels.
THES. Well, but Mercury, it’s all right at present.
MER. Oh yes–as far as we know.
THES. Well, but, you know, we know as much as anybody knows; you
know I believe the world’s still going on.
MER. Yes–as far as we can judge–much as usual.
THES. Well, the, give the Father of the Drama his due Mercury.
Don’t be envious of the Father of the Drama.
MER. But you see you leave so much to accident.
THES. Well, Mercury, if I do, it’s my principle. I am an easy
man, and I like to make things as pleasant as possible. What did
I do the day we took office? Why I called the company together
and I said to them: ‘Here we are, you know, gods and goddesses,
no mistake about it, the real thing. Well, we have certain duties
to discharge, let’s discharge them intelligently. Don’t let us be
hampered by routine and red tape and precedent, let’s set the
original gods an example, and put a liberal interpretation on our
duties. If it occurs to any one to try an experiment in his own
department, let him try it, if he fails there’s no harm done, if
he succeeds it is a distinct gain to society. Don’t hurry your
work, do it slowly and well.’ And here we are after a twelvemonth
and not a single complaint or a single petition has reached me.
MER. No, not yet.
THES. What do you mean by ‘no,not yet?’
MER. Well, you see, you don’t understand things. All the
petitions that are addressed by men to Jupiter pass through my
hands, and its my duty to collect them and present them once a
year.
THES. Oh, only once a year?
MER. Only once a year–
THES. And the year is up?
MER. Today.
THES. Oh, then I suppose there are some complaints?
MER. Yes, there are some.
THES. [Disturbed] Oh, perhaps there are a good many?
MER. There are a good many.
THES. Oh, perhaps there are a thundering lot?
MER. There are a thundering lot.
THES. [very much disturbed] Oh.
MER. You see you’ve been taking it so very easy–and so have most
of your company.
THES. Oh, who has been taking it easy?
MER. Well, all except those who have been trying experiments.
THES. Well but I suppose the experiment are ingenious?
MER. Yes; they are ingenious, but on the whole ill-judged. But
it’s time go and summon your court.
THES. What for.
MER. To hear the complaints. In five minutes they will be here.
[Exit]
THES. [very uneasy] I don’t know how it is, but there is
something in that young man’s manner that suggests that the
father of the gods has been taking it too easy. Perhaps it would
have been better if I hadn’t given my company so much scope. I
wonder what they’ve been doing. I think I will curtail their
discretion, though none of them appear to have much of the
article. It seems a pity to deprive ’em of what little they
have.
[Enter Daphne, weeping]
THES. Now then, Daphne, what’s the matter with you?
DAPH. Well, you know how disgracefully Sparkeion–
THES. [correcting her] Apollo–
DAPH. Apollo, then–has treated me. He promised to marry me years
ago and now he’s married to Nicemis.
THES. Now look here. I can’t go into that. You’re in Olympus now
and must behave accordingly. Drop your Daphne–assume your
Calliope.
DAPH. Quite so. That’s it. [mysteriously]
THES. Oh–that is it? [puzzled]
DAPH. That is it. Thespis. I am Calliope, the muse of fame.
Very good. This morning I was in the Olympian library and I took
down the only book there. Here it is.
THES. [taking it] Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary. The Olympian
Peerage.
DAPH. Open it at Apollo.
THES. [opens it] It is done.
DAPH. Read.
THES. ‘Apollo was several times married, among others to Issa,
Bolina, Coronis, Chymene, Cyrene, Chione, Acacallis, and
Calliope.’
DAPH. And Calliope.
THES. [musing] Ha. I didn’t know he was married to them.
DAPH. [severely] Sir. This is the family edition.
THES. Quite so.
DAPH. You couldn’t expect a lady to read any other?
THES. On no consideration. But in the original version–
DAPH. I go by the family edition.
THES. Then by the family edition, Apollo is your husband.
[Enter Nicemis and Sparkeion]
NICE. Apollo your husband? He is my husband.
DAPH. I beg your pardon. He is my husband.
NICE. Apollo is Sparkeion, and he’s married to me.
DAPH. Sparkeion is Apollo, and he’s married to me.
NICE. He is my husband.
DAPH. He’s your brother.
THES. Look here, Apollo, whose husband are you? Don’t let’s have
any row about it; whose husband are you?
SPAR. Upon my honor I don’t know. I’m in a very delicate
position, but I’ll fall in with any arrangement Thespis may
propose.
DAPH. I’ve just found out that he’s my husband and yet he goes
out every evening with that ‘thing.’
THES. Perhaps he’s trying an experiment.
DAPH. I don’t like my husband to make such experiments. The
question is, who are we all and what is our relation to each
other.
SPAR. You’re Diana. I’m Apollo
And Calliope is she.
DAPH. He’s your brother.
NICE. You’re another. He has fairly married me.
DAPH. By the rules of this fair spot
I’m his wife and you are not.
SPAR & DAPH. By the rules of this fair spot
I’m/she’s his wife and you are not.
NICE. By this golden wedding ring,
I’m his wife, and you’re a ‘thing.’
DAPH, NICE, SPAR. By this golden wedding ring,
I’m/She’s his wife and you’re a ‘thing.’
ALL. Please will someone kindly tell us.
Who are our respective kin?
All of us/them are very jealous
Neither of us/them will give in.
NICE. He’s my husband, I declare,
I espoused him properlee.
SPAR. That is true, for I was there,
And I saw her marry me.
DAPH. He’s your brother–I’m his wife.
If we go by Lempriere.
SPAR. So she is, upon my life.
Really, that seems very fair.
NICE. You’re my husband and no other.
SPAR. That is true enough I swear.
DAPH. I’m his wife, and you’re his brother.
SPAR. If we go by Lempriere.
NICE. It will surely be unfair,
To decide by Lempriere. [crying]
DAPH. It will surely be quite fair,
To decide by Lempriere.
SPAR & THES How you settle it I don’t care,
Leave it all to Lempriere.
[Spoken] The Verdict
As Sparkeion is Apollo,
Up in this Olympian clime,
Why, Nicemis, it will follow,
He’s her husband, for the time. [indicating Daphne]
When Sparkeion turns to mortal
Join once more the sons of men.
He may take you to his portal [indicating Nicemis]
He will be your husband then.
That oh that is my decision,
‘Cording to my mental vision,
Put an end to all collision,
My decision, my decision.
ALL. That oh that is his decision. etc.
[Exeunt Thes, Nice., Spar and Daphne, Spar. with Daphne, Nicemis
weeping with Thespis. mysterious music. Enter Jupiter, Apollo
and Mars from below, at the back of stage. All wear cloaks, as
disguise and all are masked]
JUP., AP., MARS. Oh rage and fury, Oh shame and sorrow.
We’ll be resuming our ranks tomorrow.
Since from Olympus we have departed,
We’ve been distracted and brokenhearted,
Oh wicked Thespis. Oh villain scurvy.
Through him Olympus is topsy turvy.
Compelled to silence to grin and bear it.
He’s caused our sorrow, and he shall share it.
Where is the monster. Avenge his blunders.
He has awakened Olympian thunders.
[Enter Mercury]
JUP. Oh monster.
AP. Oh monster.
MARS. Oh monster.
MER. [in great terror] Please sir, what have I done, sir?
JUP. What did we leave you behind for?
MER. Please sir, that’s the question I asked for when you went
away.
JUP. Was it not that Thespis might consult you whenever he was in
a difficulty?
MER. Well, here I’ve been ready to be consulted, chockful of
reliable information–running over with celestial maxims–advice
gratis ten to four–after twelve ring the night bell in cases of
emergency.
JUP. And hasn’t he consulted you?
MER. Not he–he disagrees with me about everything.
JUP. He must have misunderstood me. I told him to consult you
whenever he was in a fix.
MER. He must have though you said in-sult. Why whenever I opened
my mouth he jumps down my throat. It isn’t pleasant to have a
fellow constantly jumping down your throat–especially when he
always disagrees with you. It’s just the sort of thing I can’t
digest.
JUP. [in a rage] Send him here. I’ll talk to him.
[enter Thespis. He is much terrified]
JUP. Oh monster.
AP. Oh monster.
MARS. Oh monster.
[Thespis sings in great terror, which he endeavours to conceal]
JUP. Well sir, the year is up today.
AP. And a nice mess you’ve made of it.
MARS. You’ve deranged the whole scheme of society.
THES. [aside] There’s going to be a row. [aloud and very
familiarly]My dear boy, I do assure you–
JUP. Be respectful.
AP. Be respectful.
MARS. Be respectful.
THES. I don’t know what you allude to. With the exception of
getting our scene painter to ‘run up’ this temple, because we
found the ruins draughty, we haven’t touched a thing.
JUP. Oh story teller.
AP. Oh story teller.
MARS. Oh story teller.
[Enter thespians]
THES. My dear fellows, you’re distressing yourselves
unnecessarily. The court of Olympus is about to assemble to
listen to the complaints of the year, if any. But there are
none, or next to none. Let the Olympians assemble. [Thespis
takes chair. JUP., AP., and MARS sit below him.
Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that it is usual for the gods to
assemble once a year to listen to mortal petitions. It doesn’t
seem to me to be a good plan, as work is liable to accumulate;
but as I am particularly anxious not to interfere with Olympian
precedent, but to allow everything to go on as it has always been
accustomed to go–why, we’ll say no more about it. [aside] But
how shall I account for your presence?
JUP. Say we are the gentlemen of the press.
THES. That all our proceedings may be perfectly open and above-
board I have communicated with the most influential members of
the Athenian press, and I beg to introduce to your notice three
of its most distinguished members. They bear marks emblematic of
the anonymous character of modern journalism. [Business of
introduction. Thespis is very uneasy] Now then, if you’re all
ready we will begin.
MER. [brings tremendous bundle of petitions] Here is the agenda.
THES. What’s that? The petitions?
MER. Some of them. [opens one and reads] Ah, I thought there’d be
a row about it.
THES. Why, what’s wrong now?
MER. Why, it’s been a foggy Friday in November for the last six
months and the Athenians are tired of it.
THES. There’s no pleasing some people. This craving for perpetual
change is the curse of the country. Friday’s a very nice day.
MER. So it is, but a Friday six months long.–it gets monotonous.
JUP, AP, MARS. [rising] It’s perfectly ridiculous.
THES. [calling them] Cymon.
CYM. [as time with the usual attributes] Sir.
THES. [Introducing him to the three gods] Allow me–Father Time–
rather young at present but even time must have a beginning. In
course of time, time will grow older. Now then, Father Time,
what’s this about a wet Friday in November for the last six
months.
CYM. Well, the fact is, I’ve been trying an experiment. Seven
days in the week is an awkward number. It can’t be halved. Two;’s
into seven won’t go.
THES. [tries it on his fingers] Quite so–quite so.
CYM. So I abolished Saturday.
JUP, AP, MARS. Oh but. [Rising]
THES. Do be quiet. He’s a very intelligent young man and knows
what he is about. So you abolished Saturday. And how did you find
it answer?
CYM. Admirably.
THES. You hear? He found it answer admirably.
CYM. Yes, only Sunday refused to take its place.
THES. Sunday refused to take its place?
CYM. Sunday comes after Saturday–Sunday won’t go on duty after
Friday. Sunday’s principles are very strict. That’s where my
experiment sticks.
THES. Well, but why November? Come, why November?
CYM. December can’t begin until November has finished. November
can’t finish because he’s abolished Saturday. There again my
experiment sticks.
THES. Well, but why wet? Come now, why wet?
CYM. Ah, that is your fault. You turned on the rain six months
ago and you forgot to turn it off again.
JUP., AP., MARS. [rising] On this is monstrous.
ALL. Order. Order.
THES. Gentlemen, pray be seated. [to the others] The liberty of
the press, one can’t help it. [to the three gods] It is easily
settled. Athens has had a wet Friday in November for the last six
months. Let them have a blazing Tuesday in July for the next
twelve.
JUP., AP., MARS. But–
ALL. Order. Order.
THES. Now then, the next article.
MER. Here’s a petition from the Peace Society. They complain
because there are no more battles.
MARS. [springing up] What.
THES. Quiet there. Good dog–soho; Timidon.
TIM. [as Mars] Here.
THES. What’s this about there being no battles?
TIM. I’ve abolished battles; it’s an experiment.
MARS. [spring up] Oh come, I say–
THES. Quiet then. [to Tim] Abolished battles?
TIM. Yes, you told us on taking office to remember two things. To
try experiments and to take it easy. I found I couldn’t take it
easy while there are any battles to attend to, so I tried the
experiment and abolished battles. And then I took it easy. The
Peace Society ought to be very much obliged to me.
THES. Obliged to you. Why, confound it. Since battles have been
abolished, war is universal.
TIM. War is universal?
THES. To b sure it is. Now that nations can’t fight, no two of
’em are on speaking terms. The dread of fighting was the only
thing that kept them civil to each other. Let battles be
restored and peace reign supreme.
MER. Here’s a petition from the associated wine merchants of
Mytilene? Are there no grapes this year?
THES. Well, what’s wrong with the associated wine merchants of
Mytilene? Are there no grapes this year?
THES. Plenty of grapes. More than usual.
THES. [to the gods] You observe, there is no deception. There are
more than usual.
MER. There are plenty of grapes, only they are full of ginger
beer.
THREE GODS. Oh, come I say [rising they are put down by Thespis.]
THES. Eh? what [much alarmed] Bacchus.
TIPS. [as Bacchus] Here.
THES. There seems to be something unusual with the grapes of
Mytilene. They only grow ginger beer.
TIPS. And a very good thing too.
THES. It’s very nice in its way but it is not what one looks for
from grapes.
TIPS. Beloved master, a week before we came up here, you insisted
on my taking the pledge. By so doing you rescued me from my
otherwise inevitable misery. I cannot express my thanks. Embrace
me. [attempts to embrace him.]
THES. Get out, don’t be a fool. Look here, you know you’re the
god of wine.
TIPS. I am.
THES. [very angry] Well, do you consider it consistent with your
duty as the god of wine to make the grapes yield nothing but
ginger beer?
TIPS. Do you consider it consistent with my duty as a total
abstainer to grow anything stronger than ginger beer?
THES. But your duty as the god of wine–
TIPS. In every respect in which my duty as the god of wine can be
discharged consistently with my duty as a total abstainer, I will
discharge it. But when the functions clash, everything must give
way to the pledge. My preserver. [Attempts to embrace him]
THES. Don’t be a confounded fool. This can be arranged. We can’t
give over the wine this year, but at least we can improve the
ginger beer. Let all the ginger beer be extracted from it
immediately.
THREE GODS. We can’t stand this,
We can’t stand this.
It’s much too strong.
We can’t stand this.
It would be wrong.
Extremely wrong.
If we stood this.
If we stand this
If we stand this
We can’t stand this.
DAPH, SPAR, NICE. Great Jove, this interference.
Is more than we can stand;
Of them make a clearance,
With your majestic hand.
JOVE. This cool audacity, it beats us hollow.
I’m Jupiter.
MARS. I’m Mars.
AP. I’m Apollo.
[Enter Diana and all the other gods and goddesses.
ALL. [kneeling with their foreheads on the ground]
Jupiter, Mars, and Apollo
Have quitted the dwellings of men;
The other gods quickly will follow.
And what will become of us then.
Oh pardon us, Jove and Apollo,
Pardon us, Jupiter, Mars:
Oh see us in misery wallow.
Cursing our terrible stars.
[enter other gods.]
ALL THESPIANS: Let us remain, we beg of you pleadingly.
THREE GODS: Let them remain, they beg of us pleadingly.
THES. Life on Olympus suits us exceedingly.
GODS. Life on Olympus suits them exceedingly.
THES. Let us remain, we pray in humility.
GODS. Let ’em remain, they pray in humility.
THES. If we have shown some little ability.
GODS. If they have shown some little ability.
Let us remain, etc…
JUP. Enough, your reign is ended.
Upon this sacred hill.
Let him be apprehended
And learn out awful will.
Away to earth, contemptible comedians,
And hear our curse, before we set you free’
You shall be all be eminent tragedians,
Whom no one ever goes to see.
ALL. We go to earth, contemptible tragedians,
We hear his curse, before he sets us free,
We shall all be eminent tragedians,
Whom no one ever, ever goes to see.
SILL, SPAR, THES. Whom no one
Ever goes to see.
[The thespians are driven away by the gods, who group themselves
in attitudes of triumph.]
THES. Now, here you see the arrant folly
Of doing your best to make things jolly.
I’ve ruled the world like a chap in his senses,
Observe the terrible consequences.
Great Jupiter, whom nothing pleases,
Splutters and swears, and kicks up breezes,
And sends us home in a mood avengin’
In double quick time, like a railroad engine.
And this he does without compunction,
Because I have discharged with unction
A highly complicated function
Complying with his own injunction,
Fol, lol, lay
CHO. All this he does….etc.
[The gods drive the thespians away. The thespians prepare to
descend the mountain as the curtain falls.]
CURTAIN

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MCDONALD _a Defeated Aspirant_
MRS. HAYES _an Ex-President_
PITTS-STEVENS _a Water Nymph_
_Scene_-A Small Lake in the Alleghany Mountains.
ST. JOHN:
Hours I’ve immersed my muzzle in this tarn
And, quaffing copious potations, tried
To suck it dry; but ever as I pumped
Its waters into my distended skin
The labor of my zeal extruded them
In perspiration from my pores; and so,
Rilling the marginal declivity,
They fell again into their source. Ah, me!
Could I but find within these ancient hills
Some long extinct volcano, by the rains
Of countless ages in its crater brimmed
Like a full goblet, I would lay me down
Prone on the outer slope, and o’er its edge
Arching my neck, I’d siphon out its store
And flood the valleys with my sweat for aye.
So should I be accounted as a god,
Even as Father Nilus is. What’s that?
Methought I heard some sawyer draw his file
With jarring, stridulous cacophany
Across his notchy blade, to set its teeth
And mine on edge. Ha! there it goes again!
_Song, within_.
Cold water’s the milk of the mountains,
And Nature’s our wet-nurse. O then,
Glue thou thy blue lips to her fountains
Forever and ever, amen!
ST. JOHN:
Why surely there’s congenial company
Aloof-the spirit, I suppose, that guards
This sacred spot; perchance some water-nymph
Who laving in the crystal flood her limbs
Has taken cold, and so, with raucous voice
Afflicts the sensitive membrane of mine ear
The while she sings my sentiments.
_(Enter Pitts-Stevens.)_
Hello!
What fiend is this?
PITTS-STEVENS:
‘Tis I, be not afraid.
ST. JOHN:
And who, thou antiquated crone, art thou?
I ne’er forget a face, but names I can’t
So well remember. I have seen thee oft.
When in the middle season of the night,
Curved with a cucumber, or knotted hard
With an eclectic pie, I’ve striven to keep
My head and heels asunder, thou has come,
With sociable familiarity,
Into my dream, but not, alas, to bless.
PITTS-STEVENS:
My name’s Pitts-Stevens, age just seventeen years;
Talking teetotaler, professional
Beauty.
ST. JOHN:
What dost them here?
PITTS-STEVENS:
I’m come, fair sir,
With paint and brush to blazon on these rocks
The merits of my master’s nostrum-so:
_(Paints rapidly.)_
‘McDonald’s Vinegar Bitters!’
ST. JOHN:
What are they?
PITTS-STEVENS:
A woman suffering from widowhood
Took a full bottle and was cured. A man
There was-a murderer; the doctors all
Had given him up-he’d but an hour to live.
He swallowed half a glassful. He is dead,
But not of Vinegar Bitters. A wee babe
Lay sick and cried for it. The mother gave
That innocent a spoonful and it smoothed
Its pathway to the tomb. ‘Tis warranted
To cause a boy to strike his father, make
A pig squeal, start the hair upon a stone,
Or play the fiddle for a country dance.
_(Enter McDonald, reading a Sunday-school book.)_
Good morrow, sir; I trust you’re well.
MCDONALD:
H’lo, Pitts!
Observe, good friends, I have a volume here
Myself am author of-a noble book
To train the infant mind (delightful task!)
It tells how one Samantha Brown, age, six,
A gutter-bunking slave to rum, was saved
By Vinegar Bitters, went to church and now
Has an account at the Pacific Bank.
I’ll read the whole work to you.
ST JOHN:
Heaven forbid!
I’ve elsewhere an engagement.
PITTS-STEVENS:
I am deaf.
MCDONALD _(reading regardless):_
‘Once on a time there lived’–
_(Enter Mrs. Hayes.)_
Behold our queen!
ALL:
Her eyes upon the ground
Before her feet she low’rs,
Walking, in thought profound,
As ’twere, upon all fours.
Her visage is austere,
Her gait a high parade;
At every step you hear
The sloshing lemonade!
MRS. HAYES _(to herself):_
Once, sitting in the White House, hard at work
Signing State papers (Rutherford was there,
Knitting some hose) a sudden glory fell
Upon my paper. I looked up and saw
An angel, holding in his hand a rod
Wherewith he struck me. Smarting with the blow
I rose and (cuffing Rutherford) inquired:
‘Wherefore this chastisement?’ The angel said:
‘Four years you have been President, and still
There’s rum!’-then flew to Heaven. Contrite, I swore
Such oath as lady Methodist might take,
My second term should medicine my first.
The people would not have it that way; so
I seek some candidate who’ll take my soul-
My spirit of reform, fresh from my breast,
And give me his instead; and thus equipped
With my imperious and fiery essence,
Drive the Drink-Demon from the land and fill
The people up with water till their teeth
Are all afloat.
(_St. John discovers himself_.)
What, _you_?
ST. JOHN:
Aye, Madam, I’ll
Swap souls with you and lead the cold sea-green
Amphibians of Prohibition on,
Pallid of nose and webbed of foot, swim-bladdered,
Gifted with gills, invincible!
MRS. HAYES:
Enough,
Stand forth and consummate the interchange.
(_While McDonald and Pitts-Stevens modestly turn their
backs, the latter blushing a delicate shrimp-pink, St. John and
Mrs. Hayes effect an exchange of immortal parts. When the
transfer is complete McDonald turns and advances, uncorking
a bottle of Vinegar Bitters_.)
MCDONALD (_chanting_):
Nectar compounded of simples
Cocted in Stygian shades-
Acids of wrinkles and pimples
From faces of ancient maids-
Acrid precipitates sunken
From tempers of scolding wives
Whose husbands, uncommonly drunken,
Are commonly found in dives,-
With this I baptize and appoint thee
(_to St. John_.)
To marshal the vinophobe ranks.
In the name of Dambosh I anoint thee
(_pours the liquid down St. John’s back_.)
As King of aquatical cranks!
(_The liquid blisters the royal back, and His Majesty starts
on a dead run, energetically exclaiming. Exit St. John_.)
MRS. HAYES:
My soul! My soul! I’ll never get it back
Unless I follow nimbly on his track.
(_Exit Mrs. Hayes_.)
PITTS-STEVENS:
O my! he’s such a beautiful young man!
I’ll follow, too, and catch him if I can.
(_Exit Pitts-Stevens_.)
MCDONALD:
He scarce is visible, his dust so great!
Methinks for so obscure a candidate
He runs quite well. But as for Prohibition-
I mean myself to hold the first position.
(_Produces a pocket flask, topes a cruel quantity of double-distilled
thunder-and-lightning out of it, smiles so grimly as to
darken all the stage and sings_):
Though fortunes vary let all be merry,
And then if e’er a disaster befall,
At Styx’s ferry is Charon’s wherry
In easy call.
Upon a ripple of golden tipple
That tipsy ship’ll convey you best.
To king and cripple, the bottle’s the nipple
Of Nature’s breast!

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NOZZLE _a Miner_
RINGDIVVY _a Statesman_
FEEGOBBLE _a Lawyer_
JUNKET _a Committee_
_Scene_-Yuba Dam.
_Feegobble, Ringdivvy, Nozzle_.
NOZZLE:
My friends, since ’51 I have pursued
The evil tenor of my watery way,
Removing hills as by an act of faith
RINGDIVVY:
Just so; the steadfast faith of those who hold,
In foreign lands beyond the Eastern sea,
The shares in your concern-a simple, blind,
Unreasoning belief in dividends,
Still stimulated by assessments which,
When the skies fall, ensnaring all the larks,
Will bring, no doubt, a very great return.
ALL (_singing_):
O the beautiful assessment,
The exquisite assessment,
The regular assessment,
That makes the water flow.
RINGDIVVY:
The rascally-assessment!
FEEGOBBLE:
The murderous assessment!
NOZZLE:
The glorious assessment
That makes my mare to go!
FEEGOBBLE:
But, Nozzle, you, I think, were on the point
Of making a remark about some rights-
Some certain vested rights you have acquired
By long immunity; for still the law
Holds that if one do evil undisturbed
His right to do so ripens with the years;
And one may be a villain long enough
To make himself an honest gentleman.
ALL (_singing_):
Hail, holy law,
The soul with awe
Bows to thy dispensation.
NOZZLE:
It breaks my jaw!
RINGDIVVY:
It qualms my maw!
FEEGOBBLE:
It feeds my jaw,
It crams my maw,
It is my soul’s salvation!
NOZZLE:
Why, yes, I’ve floated mountains to the sea
For lo! these many years; though some, they say,
Do strand themselves along the bottom lands
And cover up a village here and there,
And here and there a ranch. ‘Tis said, indeed,
The granger with his female and his young
Do not infrequently go to the dickens
By premature burial in slickens.
ALL (_singing_):
Could slickens forever
Choke up the river,
And slime’s endeavor
Be tried on grain,
How small the measure
Of granger’s treasure,
How keen his pain!
RINGDIVVY:
‘A consummation devoutly to be wished!’
These rascal grangers would long since have been
Submerged in slimes, to the last man of them,
But for the fact that all their wicked tribes
Affect our legislation with their bribes.
ALL (_singing_):
O bribery’s great-
‘Tis a pillar of State,
And the people they are free.
FEEGOBBLE:
It smashes my slate!
NOZZLE:
It is thievery straight!
RINGDIVVY:
But it’s been the making of me!
NOZZLE:
I judge by certain shrewd sensations here
In these callosities I call my thumbs
thrilling sense as of ten thousand pins,
Red-hot and penetrant, transpiercing all
The cuticle and tickling through the nerves
That some malign and awful thing draws near.
(_Enter Hayseed._)
Good Lord! here are the ghosts and spooks of all
The grangers I have decently interred,
Rolled into one!
FEEGOBBLE:
Plead, phantom.
RINGDIVVY:
You’ve the floor.
HAYSEED:
From the margin of the river
(Bitter Creek, they sometimes call it)
Where I cherished once the pumpkin,
And the summer squash promoted,
Harvested the sweet potato,
Dallied with the fatal melon
And subdued the fierce cucumber,
I’ve been driven by the slickens,
Driven by the slimes and tailings!
All my family-my Polly
Ann and all my sons and daughters,
Dog and baby both included
All were swamped in seas of slickens,
Buried fifty fathoms under,
Where they lie, prepared to play their
Gentle prank on geologic
Gents that shall exhume them later,
In the dim and distant future,
Taking them for melancholy
Relics antedating Adam.
I alone got up and dusted.
NOZZLE:
Avaunt! you horrid and infernal cuss!
What dire distress have you prepared for us?
RINGDIVVY:
Were I a buzzard stooping from the sky
My craw with filth to fill,
Into your honorable body I
Would introduce a bill.
FEEGOBBLE:
Defendant, hence, or, by the gods, I’ll brain thee!-
Unless you saved some turneps to retain me.
HAYSEED:
As I was saying, I got up and dusted,
My ranch a graveyard and my business busted!
But hearing that a fellow from the City,
Who calls himself a Citizens’ Committee,
Was coming up to play the very dickens,
With those who cover up our farms with slickens,
And make himself-unless I am in error
To all such miscreants a holy terror,
I thought if I would join the dialogue
I maybe might get payment for my dog.
ALL (_Singing_):
O the dog is the head of Creation,
Prime work of the Master’s hand;
He hasn’t a known occupation,
Yet lives on the fat of the land.
Adipose, indolent, sleek and orbicular,
Sun-soaken, door matted, cross and particular,
Men, women, children, all coddle and wait on him,
Then, accidentally shutting the gate on him,
Miss from their calves, ever after, the rifted out
Mouthful of tendons that doggy has lifted out!
(_Enter Junket_.)
JUNKET:
Well met, my hearties! I must trouble you
Jointly and severally to provide
A comfortable carriage, with relays
Of hardy horses. This Committee means
To move in state about the country here.
I shall expect at every place I stop
Good beds, of course, and everything that’s nice,
With bountiful repast of meat and wine.
For this Committee comes to sea and mark
And inwardly digest.
HAYSEED:
Digest my dog!
NOZZLE:
First square my claim for damages: the gold
Escaping with the slickens keeps me poor!
RINGDIVVY:
I merely would remark that if you’d grease
My itching palm it would more glibly glide
Into the public pocket.
FEEGOBBLE:
Sir, the wheels
Of justice move but slowly till they’re oiled.
I have some certain writs and warrants here,
Prepared against your advent. You recall
The tale of Zaccheus, who did climb a tree,
And Jesus said: ‘Come down’?
JUNKET:
Why, bless your souls!
I’ve got no money; I but came to see
What all this noisy babble is about,
Make a report and file the same away.
NOZZLE, RINGDIVVY, FEEGOBBLE, HAYSEED:
How’ll that help _us_? Reports are not our style
Of provender!
JUNKET:
Well, you can gnaw the file.

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Jupiter, Aged Diety
Apollo, Aged Diety
Mars, Aged Diety
Diana, Aged Diety
Mercury
THESPIANS
Thespis
Sillimon
Timidon
Tipseion
Preposteros
Stupidas
Sparkeio n
Nicemis
Pretteia
Daphne
Cymon
ACT I – Ruined Temple on the Summit of Mount Olympus
[Scene–The ruins of the The Temple of the Gods, on summit of
Mount Olympus. Picturesque shattered columns, overgrown with
ivy, etc. R. and L. with entrances to temple (ruined) R. Fallen
columns on the stage. Three broken pillars 2 R.E. At the back of
stage is the approach from the summit of the mountain. This
should be ‘practicable’ to enable large numbers of people to
ascend and descend. In the distance are the summits of adjacent
mountains. At first all this is concealed by a thick fog, which
clears presently. Enter (through fog) Chorus of Stars coming off
duty as fatigued with their night’s work]
CHO. Through the night, the constellations,
Have given light from various stations.
When midnight gloom falls on all nations,
We will resume our occupations.
SOLO. Our light, it’s true, is not worth mention;
What can we do to gain attention.
When night and noon with vulgar glaring
A great big moon is always flaring.
[During chorus, enter Diana, an elderly goddess. She is carefully
wrapped up in cloaks, shawls, etc. A hood is over her head, a
respirator in her mouth, and galoshes on her feet. During the
chorus, she takes these things off and discovers herself dressed
in the usual costume of the Lunar Diana, the goddess of the moon.
DIA. [shuddering] Ugh. How cold the nights are. I don’t know how
it is, but I seem to feel the night air a good deal more than I
used to. But it is time for the sun to be rising. [Calls] Apollo.
AP. [within] Hollo.
DIA. I’ve come off duty–it’s time for you to be getting up.
[Enter Apollo. He is an elderly ‘buck’ with an air of assumed
juvenility and is dressed in dressing gown and smoking cap.
AP. [yawning] I shan’t go out today. I was out yesterday and the
day before and I want a little rest. I don’t know how it is,but I
seem to feel my work a great deal more than I used to.
DIA. I am sure these short days can’t hurt you. Why you don’t
rise til six and you’re in bed again by five; you should have a
turn at my work and see how you like that–out all night.
AP. My dear sister, I don’t envy you–though I remember when I
did–but that was when I was a younger sun. I don’t think I’m
quite well. Perhaps a little change of air will do me good. I’ve
a mind to show myself in London this winter. They’ll be very glad
to see me. No. I shan’t go out today. I shall send them this
fine, thick wholesome fog and they won’t miss me. It’s the best
substitute for a blazing sun–and like most substitutes, nothing
at all like the real thing.
[Fog clears away and discovers the scene described. Hurried
music. Mercury shoots up from behind precipice at the back of
stage. He carries several parcels afterwards described. He sits
down, very much fatigued.]
MER. Home at last. A nice time I’ve had of it.
DIA. You young scamp you’ve been out all night again. This is the
third time you’ve been out this week.
MER. Well you’re a nice one to blow me up for that.
DIA. I can’t help being out all night.
MER. And I can’t help being down all night. The nature of Mercury
requires that he should go down when the sun sets, and rise again
when the sun rises.
DIA. And what have you been doing?
MER. Stealing on commission. There’s a set of false teeth and a
box of Life Pills for Jupiter–an invisible peruke and a bottle
of hair dye–that’s for Apollo–a respirator and a pair of
galoshes–that’s for Cupid–a full bottomed chignon, some
auricomous fluid, a box of pearl-powder, a pot of rouge, and a
hare’s foot–that’s for Venus.
DIA. Stealing. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
MER. Oh, as the god of thieves I must do something to justify my
position.
DIA.and AP. [contemptuously] Your position.
MER. Oh, I know it’s nothing to boast of even on earth. Up here,
it’s simply contemptible. Now that you gods are too old for your
work, you’ve made me the miserable drudge of Olympus–groom,
valet, postman, butler, commissionaire, maid of all work, parish
beadle, and original dustman.
AP. Your Christmas boxes ought to be something considerable.
MER. They ought to be but they’re not. I’m treated abominably.
I make everybody and I’m nobody. I go everywhere and I’m
nowhere. I do everything and I’m nothing. I’ve made thunder for
Jupiter, odes for Apollo, battles for Mars, and love for Venus.
I’ve married couples for Humen and six weeks afterwards, I’ve
divorced them for Cupid, and in return I get all the kicks while
they pocket the halfpence. And in compensation for robbing me of
the halfpence in question, what have they done for me.
AP. Why they’ve–ha.ha.ha. they’ve made you the god of thieves.
MER. Very self denying of them. There isn’t one of them who
hasn’t a better claim to the distinction than I have.
Oh, I’m the celestial drudge,
For morning to night I must stop at it.
On errands all day I must trudge,
And stick to my work til I drop at it.
In summer I get up at one.
(As a good-natured donkey I’m ranked for it.)
then I go and I light up the sun.
And Phoebus Apollo gets thanked for it.
Well, well, it’s the way of the world.
And will be through all its futurity.
Though noodles are baroned and earled,
There’s nothing for clever obscurity.
I’m the slave of the Gods, neck and heels,
And I’m bound to obey, though I rate at ’em.
And I not only order their meals,
But I cook ’em and serve’em and wait at ’em.
Then I make all their nectar, I do.
(What a terrible liquor to rack us is.)
And whenever I mix them a brew,
Why all the thanksgivings are Bacchus’s.
Well, well, it’s the way of the world, etc…..
The reading and writing I teach.
And spelling-books many I’ve edited.
And for bringing those arts within reach,
That donkey Minerva gets credited.
Then I scrape at the stars with a knife,
And plate-powder the moon (on the days for it).
And I hear all the world and his wife
Awarding Diana the praise for it.
Well, well, it’s the way of the world, etc….
[After song–very loud and majestic music is heard]
DIA and MER [looking off] Why, who’s this? Jupiter, by Jove.
[Enter Jupiter, an extremely old man, very decrepit, with very
thin straggling white beard, he wears a long braided dressing
gown, handsomely trimmed, and a silk night-cap on his head.
Mercury falls back respectfully as he enters.]
JUP. Good day, Diana. Ah, Apollo. Well, well, well, what’s the
matter? What’s the matter?
DIA. Why that young scamp Mercury says that we do nothing, and
leave all the duties of Olympus to him. Will you believe it, he
actually says that our influence on earth is dropping down to
nil.
JUP. Well, well. Don’t be hard on the lad. To tell you the
truth, I’m not sure that he’s far wrong. Don’t let it go any
further, but, between ourselves, the sacrifices and votive
offerings have fallen off terribly of late. Why, I can remember
the time when people offered us human sacrifices, no mistake
about it, human sacrifices. Think of that.
DIA. Ah. Those good old days.
JUP. Then it fell off to oxen, pigs, and sheep.
AP. Well, there are worse things than oxen, pigs and sheep.
JUP. So I’ve found to my cost. My dear sir, between ourselves,
it’s dropped off from one thing to another until it has
positively dwindled down to preserved Australian beef. What do
you think of that?
AP. I don’t like it at all.
JUP. You won’t mention it. It might go further.
DIA. It couldn’t fare worse.
JUP. In short, matters have come to such a crisis that there’s no
mistake about it–something must be done to restore our
influence, the only question is, what?
MER. [Coming forward in great alarm. Enter Mars]
Oh incident unprecedented.
I hardly can believe it’s true.
MARS. Why, bless the boy, he’s quite demented.
Why, what’s the matter, sir, with you?
AP. Speak quickly, or you’ll get a warming.
MER. Why, mortals up the mount are swarming
Our temple on Olympus storming,
In hundreds–aye in thousands, too.
ALL. Goodness gracious
How audacious
Earth is spacious
Why come here?
Our impeding
Their proceeding
Were good breeding
That is clear.
DIA. Jupiter, hear my plea.
Upon the mount if they light.
There’ll be an end of me.
I won’t be seen by daylight.
AP. Tartarus is the place
These scoundrels you should send to–
Should they behold my face.
My influence there’s an end to.
JUP. [looking over precipice]
What fools to give themselves
so much exertion
DIA. A government survey I’ll make assertion.
AP. Perhaps the Alpine clubs their diversion.
MER. They seem to be more like a ‘Cook’s’ excursion.
ALL. Goodness gracious, etc.
AP. If, mighty Jove, you value your existence,
Send them a thunderbolt with your regards.
JUP. My thunderbolts, though valid at a distance,
Are not effective at a hundred yards.
MER. Let the moon’s rays, Diana, strike ’em flighty,
Make ’em all lunatics in various styles.
DIA. My lunar rays unhappily are mighty
Only at many hundred thousand miles.
ALL. Goodness gracious, etc…
[Exeunt Jupiter, Apollo, Diana, and Mercury into ruined temple]
[Enter Sparkeion and Nicemis climbing mountain at back.]
SPAR. Here we are at last on the very summit, and we’ve left the
others ever so far behind. Why, what’s this?
NICE. A ruined palace. A palace on the top of a mountain. I
wonder who lives here? Some mighty kind, I dare say, with wealth
beyond all counting who came to live up here–
SPAR. To avoid his creditors. It’s a lovely situation for a
country house though it’s very much out of repair.
NICE. Very inconvenient situation.
SPAR. Inconvenient.
NICE. Yes, how are you to get butter, milk, and eggs up here? No
pigs, no poultry, no postman. Why, I should go mad.
SPAR. What a dear little practical mind it is. What a wife you
will make.
NICE. Don’t be too sure–we are only partly married–the marriage
ceremony lasts all day.
SPAR. I have no doubt at all about it. We shall be as happy as a
king and queen, though we are only a strolling actor and actress.
NICE. It’s very nice of Thespis to celebrate our marriage day by
giving the company a picnic on this lovely mountain.
SPAR. And still more kind to allow us to get so much ahead of all
the others. Discreet Thespis. [kissing her]
NICE,. There now, get away, do. Remember the marriage ceremony
is not yet completed.
SPAR. But it would be ungrateful to Thespis’s discretion not to
take advantage of it by improving the opportunity.
NICE. Certainly not; get away.
SPAR. On second thought the opportunity’s so good it don’t admit
of improvement. There. [kisses her]
NICE. How dare you kiss me before we are quite married?
SPAR. Attribute it to the intoxicating influence of the mountain
air.
NICE. Then we had better do down again. It is not right to
expose ourselves to influences over which we have no control.
SPAR. Here far away from all the world,
Dissension and derision,
With Nature’s wonders all unfurled
To our delighted vision,
With no one here
(At least in sight)
To interfere
With our delight,
And two fond lovers sever,
Oh do not free,
Thine hand from mine,
I swear to thee
My love is ever thine
For ever and for ever.
NICE. On mountain top the air is keen,
And most exhilarating,
And we say things we do not mean
In moments less elating.
So please to wait
For thoughts that crop,
En tete-a-tete,
On mountain top,
May not exactly tally
With those that you
May entertain,
Returning to
The sober plain
Of yon relaxing valley
SPAR. Very well–if you won’t have anything to say to me, I know
who will.
NICE. Who will?
SPAR. Daphne will.
NICE. Daphne would flirt with anybody.
SPAR. Anybody would flirt with Daphne. She is quite as pretty as
you and has twice as much back-hair.
NICE. She has twice as much money, which may account for it.
SPAR. At all events, she has appreciation. She likes good looks.
NICE. We all like what we haven;t got.
SPAR. She keeps her eyes open.
NICE. Yes–one of them.
SPAR. Which one.
NICE. The one she doesn’t wink with.
SPAR. Well, I was engaged to her for six months and if she still
makes eyes at me, you must attribute it to force of habit.
Besides–remember–we are only half-married at present.
NICE. I suppose you mean that you are going to treat me as
shamefully as you treated her. Very well, break it off if you
like. I shall not offer any objection. Thespis used to be very
attentive to me. I’d just as soon be a manager’s wife as a fifth-
rate actor’s.
[Chorus heard, at first below, then enter Daphne, Pretteia,
Preposteros, Stupidas, Tipseion, Cymon, and other members of
Thespis’s company climbing over rocks at back. All carry small
baskets.]
CHO. [with dance] Climbing over rocky mountain
Skipping rivulet and fountain,
Passing where the willows quiver
By the ever rolling river,
Swollen with the summer rain.
Threading long and leafy mazes,
Dotted with unnumbered daisies,
Scaling rough and rugged passes,
Climb the hearty lads and lasses,
Til the mountain-top they gain.
FIRST VOICE. Fill the cup and tread the measure
Make the most of fleeting leisure.
Hail it as a true ally
Though it perish bye and bye.
SECOND VOICE. Every moment brings a treasure
Of its own especial pleasure,
Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly.
THIRD VOICE. Far away from grief and care,
High up in the mountain air,
Let us live and reign alone,
In a world that’s all our own.
FOURTH VOICE. Here enthroned in the sky,
Far away from mortal eye,
We’ll be gods and make decrees,
Those may honor them who please.
CHO. Fill the cup and tread the measure…etc.
[After Chorus and Couples enter, Thespis climbing over rocks]
THES. Bless you, my people, bless you. Let the revels commence.
After all, for thorough, unconstrained unconventional enjoyment
give me a picnic.
PREP. [very gloomily] Give him a picnic, somebody.
THES. Be quiet, Preposteros. Don’t interrupt.
PREP. Ha. Ha. Shut up again. But no matter.
[Stupidas endeavors, in pantomime, to reconcile him. Throughout
the scene Prep shows symptoms of breaking out into a furious
passion, and Stupidas does all he can to pacify and restrain
him.]
THES. The best of a picnic is that everybody contributes what he
pleases, and nobody knows what anybody else has brought til the
last moment. Now, unpack everybody and let’s see what there is
for everybody.
NICE. I have brought you–a bottle of soda water–for the claret-
cup.
DAPH. I have brought you–lettuce for the lobster salad.
SPAR. A piece of ice–for the claret-cup.
PRETT. A bottle of vinegar–for the lobster salad.
CYMON. A bunch of burrage for the claret-cup.
TIPS. A hard boiled egg–for the lobster salad.
STUP. One lump of sugar for the claret-cup.
PREP. He has brought one lump of sugar for the claret-cup? Ha.
Ha. Ha. [laughing melodramatically]
STUP. Well, Preposteros, what have you brought?
PREP. I have brought two lumps of the very best salt for the
lobster salad.
THES. Oh–is that all?
PREP. All. Ha. Ha. He asks if it is all. {Stup. consoles him]
THES. But, I say–this is capital so far as it goes. Nothing
could be better, but it doesn’t go far enough. The claret, for
instance. I don’t insist on claret–or a lobster–I don’t insist
on lobster, but a lobster salad without a lobster, why it isn’t
lobster salad. Here, Tipseion.
TIP. [a very drunken, bloated fellow, dressed, however, with
scrupulous accuracy and wearing a large medal around his neck] My
master. [Falls on his knees to Thes. and kisses his robe.]
THES. Get up–don’t be a fool. Where’s the claret? We arranged
last week that you were to see to that.
TIPS. True, dear master. But then I was a drunkard.
THES. You were.
TIPS. You engaged me to play convivial parts on the strength of
my personal appearance.
THES. I did.
TIPS. Then you found that my habits interfered with my duties as
low comedian.
THES. True.
TIPS. You said yesterday that unless I took the pledge you would
dismiss me from your company.
THES. Quite so.
TIPS. Good. I have taken it. It is all I have taken since
yesterday. My preserver. [embraces him]
THES. Yes, but where’s the wine?
TIPS. I left it behind that I might not be tempted to violate my
pledge.
PREP. Minion. [Attempts to get at him, is restrained by Stupidas]
THES. Now, Preposteros, what is the matter with you?
PREP. It is enough that I am down-trodden in my profession. I
will not submit to imposition out of it. It is enough that as
your heavy villain I get the worst of it every night in a combat
of six. I will not submit to insult in the day time. I have come
out. Ha. Ha. to enjoy myself.
THES. But look here, you know–virtue only triumphs at night from
seven to ten–vice gets the best of it during the other twenty
one hours. Won’t that satisfy you? [Stupidas endeavours to
pacify him.]
PREP. [Irritated to Stupidas] Ye are odious to my sight. Get out
of it.
STUP. [In great terror] What have I done?
THES. Now what is it. Preposteros, what is it?
PREP. I a — hate him and would have his life.
THES. [to Stup.] That’s it–he hates you and would have your
life. Now go and be merry.
STUP. Yes, but why does he hate me?
THES. Oh–exactly. [to Prep.] Why do you hate him?
PREP. Because he is a minion.
THES. He hates you because you are a minion. It explains itself.
Now go and enjoy yourselves. Ha. Ha. It is well for those who can
laugh–let them do so–there is no extra charge. The light-
hearted cup and the convivial jest for them–but for me–what is
there for me?
SILLI. There is some claret-cup and lobster salad [handing some]
THES. [taking it] Thank you. [Resuming] What is there for me but
anxiety–ceaseless gnawing anxiety that tears at my very vitals
and rends my peace of mind asunder? There is nothing whatever
for me but anxiety of the nature I have just described. The
charge of these thoughtless revellers is my unhappy lot. It is
not a small charge, and it is rightly termed a lot because there
are many. Oh why did the gods make me a manager?
SILL. [as guessing a riddle] Why did the gods make him a manager?
SPAR. Why did the gods make him a manager.
DAPH. Why did the gods make him a manager?
PRETT. Why did the gods make him a manager?
THES. No–no–what are you talking about? What do you mean?
DAPH. I’ve got it–no don’t tell us.
ALL. No–no–because–because
THES. [annoyed] It isn’t a conundrum. It’s misanthropical
question.
DAPH. [Who is sitting with Spar. to the annoyance of Nice. who is
crying alone] I’m sure I don’t know. We do not want you. Don’t
distress yourself on our account–we are getting on very
comfortably–aren’t we Sparkeion.
SPAR. We are so happy that we don’t miss the lobster or the
claret. What are lobster and claret compared with the society of
those we love? [embracing Daphne.]
DAPH. Why, Nicemis, love, you are eating nothing. Aren’t you
happy dear?
NICE. [spitefully] You are quite welcome to my share of
everything. I intend to console myself with the society of my
manager. [takes Thespis’ arm affectionately].
THES. Here I say–this won’t do, you know–I can’t allow it–at
least before my company–besides, you are half-married to
Sparkeion. Sparkeion, here’s your half-wife impairing my
influence before my company. Don’t you know the story of the
gentleman who undermined his influence by associating with his
inferiors?
ALL. Yes, yes–we know it.
PREP. [formally] I do not know it. It’s ever thus. Doomed to
disappointment from my earliest years. [Stup. endeavours to
console him]
THES. There–that’s enough. Preposteros–you shall hear it.
I once knew a chap who discharged a function
On the North South East West Diddlesex Junction.
He was conspicuous exceeding,
For his affable ways, and his easy breeding.
Although a chairman of directions,
He was hand in glove with the ticket inspectors.
He tipped the guards with brand new fivers,
And sang little songs to the engine drivers.
‘Twas told to me with great compunction,
By one who had discharged with unction
A chairman of directors function
On the North South East West Diddlesex Junction.
Fol diddle, lol diddle, lol lol lay.
Each Christmas day he gave each stoker
A silver shovel and a golden poker.
He’d button holw flowers for the ticket sorters
And rich Bath-buns for the outside porters.
He’d moun the clerks on his first-class hunters,
And he build little villas for the road-side shunters,
And if any were fond of pigeon shooting,
He’d ask them down to his place at Tooting.
Twas told to me….etc.
In course of time there spread a rumour
That he did all this from a sense of humour.
So instead of signalling and stoking,
They gave themselves up to a course of joking.
Whenever they knew that he was riding,
They shunted his train on a lonely siding,
Or stopped all night in the middle of a tunnel,
On the plea that the boiler was a-coming through the funnel.
Twas told to me…etc.
It he wished to go to Perth or Stirling,
His train through several counties whirling,
Would set him down in a fit of larking,
At four a.m. in the wilds of Barking.
This pleased his whim and seemed to strike it,
But the general public did not like it.
The receipts fell, after a few repeatings,
And he got it hot at the annual meetings.
Twas told to me…etc.
He followed out his whim with vigour,
The shares went down to a nominal figure.
These are the sad results proceeding
From his affable ways and his easy breeding.
The line, with its rais and guards and peelers,
Was sold for a song to marine store dealers
The shareholders are all in the work’us,
And he sells pipe-lights in the Regent Circus.
Twas told to me…etc.
It’s very hard. As a man I am naturally of an easy disposition.
As a manager, I am compelled to hold myself aloof, that my
influence may not be deteriorated. As a man I am inclined to
fraternize with the pauper–as a manager I am compelled to walk
around like this: Don’t know yah. Don’t know yah. Don’t know yah.
[Strides haughtily about the stage. Jupiter, Mars, and Apollo, in
full Olympian costume appear on the three broken columns.
Thespians scream.]
JUP, MARS, AP. Presumptuous mortal.
THES. Don’t know ya. Don’t know yah.
JUP, MARS, AP. [seated on broken pillars] Presumptuous mortal.
THES. I do not know you. I do not know you.
JUP, MARS, AP. Presumptuous mortal.
THES. Remove this person.
[Stup and Prep seize Ap and Mars]
JUP. Stop, you evidently don’t know me. Allow me to offer you my
card. [Throws flash paper]
THES. Ah yes, it’s very pretty, but we don’t want any at present.
When we do our Christmas piece, I’ll let you know. [Changing his
manner] Look here, you know this is a private party and we
haven’t the pleasure of your acquaintance. There are a good many
other mountains about, if you must have a mountain all to
yourself. Don’t make me let myself down before my company.
[Resuming] Don’t know yah, Don’t know yah.
JUP. I am Jupiter, the king of the gods. This is Apollo. This is
Mars. [All kneel to them except Thespis]
THES. Oh. Then as I’m a respectable man, and rather particular
about the company I keep, I think I’ll go.
JUP. No–no–stop a bit. We want to consult you on a matter of
great importance. There. Now we are alone. Who are you?
THES. I am Thespis of the Thessalian Theatres.
JUP. The very man we want. Now as a judge of what the public
likes are you impressed with my appearance as father of the gods?
THES. Well to be candid with you, I am not. In fact I’m
disappointed.
JUP. Disappointed?
THES. Yes, you see you’re so much out of repair. No, you don’t
come up to my idea of the part. Bless you, I’ve played you often.
JUP. You have.
THES. To be sure I have.
JUP. And how have you dressed the part.
THES. Fine commanding party in the prime of life. Thunderbolt–
full beard–dignified manner–a good eal of this sort of thin
‘Don’t know ya. Don’t know yah. Don’t know yah.
JUP. [much affected] I–I’m very much obliged to you. It’s very
good of you. I–I–I used to be like that. I can’t tell you how
much I feel it. And do you find I’m an impressive character to
play?
THES. Well no, I can’t say you are. In fact we don’t you you
much out of burlesque.
JUP. Burlesque!
THES. Yes, it’s a painful subject, drop it, drop it. The fact
is, you are not the gods you were–you’re behind your age.
JUP. Well, but what are we to do? We feel that we ought to do
something, but we don’t know what.
THES. Why don’t you all go down to earth, incog, mingle with the
world, hear and see what people think of you, and judge for
yourselves as to the best means to take to restore your
influence?
JUP. Ah, but what’s to become of Olympus in the meantime?
THES. Lor’ bless you, don’t distress yourself about that. I’ve a
very good company, used to take long parts on the shortest
notice. Invest us with your powers and we’ll fill your places
till you return.
JUP. [aside] The offer is tempting. But suppose you fail?
THES. Fail. Oh, we never fail in our profession. We’ve nothing
but great successes.
JUP. Then it’s a bargain.
THES. It’s a bargain. [they shake hands on it]
JUP. And that you may not be entirely without assistance, we will
leave you Mercury and whenever you find yourself in a difficulty
you can consult him. [enter Mercury]
JUP. So that’s arranged–you take my place, my boy,
While we make trial of a new existence.
At length I will be able to enjoy
The pleasures I have envied from a distance.
MER. Compelled upon Olympus here to stop,
While the other gods go down to play the hero.
Don’t be surprised if on this mountain top
You find your Mercury is down at zero.
AP. To earth away to join in mortal acts.
And gather fresh materials to write on.
Investigate more closely, several facts,
That I for centuries have thrown some light on.
DIA. I, as the modest moon with crescent bow.
Have always shown a light to nightly scandal,
I must say I’d like to go below,
And find out if the game is worth the candle.
[enter all thespians, summoned by Mercury]
MER. Here come your people.
THES. People better now.
THES. While mighty Jove goes down below
With all the other deities.
I fill his place and wear his ‘clo,’
The very part for me it is.
To mother earth to make a track,
They are all spurred and booted, too.
And you will fill, till they come back,
The parts you best are suited to.
CHO. Here’s a pretty tale for future Iliads and Odysseys
Mortals are about to personate the gods and goddesses.
Now to set the world in order, we will work in unity.
Jupiter’s perplexity is Thespis’s opportunity.
SPAR. Phoebus am I, with golden ray,
The god of day, the god of day.
When shadowy night has held her sway,
I make the goddesses fly.
Tis mine the task to wake the world,
In slumber curled, in slumber curled.
By me her charms are all unfurled
The god of day am I.
CHO. The god of day, the god of day,
The park shall our Sparkeion play,
Ha Ha, etc.
The rarest fun and rarest fare
That ever fell to mortal share
Ha ha etc.
NICE. I am the moon, the lamp of night.
I show a light — I show a light.
With radiant sheen I put to flight
The shadows of the sky.
By my fair rays, as you’re aware,
Gay lovers swear–gay lovers swear,
While greybeards sleep away their care,
The lamp of night am I.
CHO. The lamp of night-the lamp of night.
Nicemis plays, to her delight.
Ha Ha Ha Ha.
The rarest fun and rarest fare,
That ever fell to mortal share,
Ha Ha Ha Ha
TIM. Mighty old Mars, the god of war,
I’m destined for–I’m destined for.
A terribly famous conqueror,
With sword upon his thigh.
When armies meet with eager shout
And warlike rout, and warlike rout,
You’ll find me there without a doubt.
The God of War am I.
CHO. The god of war, the god of war
Great Timidon is destined for.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The rest fun and rarest fare
That ever fell to mortal share
Ha Ha Ha Ha
DAPH. When, as the fruit of warlike deeds,
The soldier bleed, the soldier bleeds,
Calliope crowns heroic deeds,
With immortality.
From mere oblivion I reclaim
The soldier’s name, the soldier’s name
And write it on the roll of fame,
The muse of fame am I.
CHO. The muse of fame, the muse of fame.
Callipe is Daphne’s name.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The rarest fun and rarest fare,
That ever fell to mortal share.
Ha Ha Ha Ha.
TUTTI. Here’s a pretty tale.
[Enter procession of old Gods, they come down very much
astonished at all they see, then passing by, ascent the platform
that leads to the descent at the back.]
GODS. We will go,
Down below,
Revels rare,
We will share.
Ha Ha Ha
With a gay
Holiday
All unknown,
And alone
Ha Ha Ha.
TUTTI. Here’s a pretty tale.
[The gods, including those who have lately entered in procession
group themselves on rising ground at back. The Thespians kneeling
bid them farewell.]

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NEEDLESON _a Sidniduc_
SMILER _a Scheister_
KI-YI _a Trader_
GRIMGHAST _a Spader_
SARALTHIA _a Love-lorn Nymph_
NELLIBRAC _a Sweetun_
A BODY; A GHOST; AN UNMENTIONABLE THING; SKULLS;
HOODOOS; ETC.
_Scene_-a Cemetery in San Francisco.
_Saralthia, Nellibrac, Grimghast._
SARALTHIA:
The red half-moon is dipping to the west,
And the cold fog invades the sleeping land.
Lo! how the grinning skulls in the level light
Litter the place! Methinks that every skull
Is a most lifelike portrait of my Sen,
Drawn by the hand of Death; each fleshless pate,
Cursed with a ghastly grin to eyes unrubbed
With love’s magnetic ointment, seems to mine
To smile an amiable smile like his
Whose amiable smile I-I alone
Am able to distinguish from his leer!
See how the gathering coyotes flit
Through the lit spaces, or with burning eyes
Star the black shadows with a steadfast gaze!
About my feet the poddy toads at play,
Bulbously comfortable, try to hop,
And tumble clumsily with all their warts;
While pranking lizards, sliding up and down
My limbs, as they were public roads, impart
A singularly interesting chill.
The circumstance and passion of the time,
The cast and manner of the place-the spirit
Of this confederate environment,
Command the rights we come to celebrate
Obedient to the Inspired Hag-
The seventh daughter of the seventh daughter,
Who rules all destinies from Minna street,
A dollar a destiny. Here at this grave,
Which for my purposes thou, Jack of Spades-
_(To Grimghast_)
Corrupter than the thing that reeks below-
Hast opened secretly, we’ll work the charm.
Now what’s the hour?
_(Distant clock strikes thirteen_.)
Enough-hale forth the stiff!
_(Grimghast by means of a boat-hook stands the coffin on end
in the excavation; the lid crumbles, exposing the remains of a
man.)_
Ha! Master Mouldybones, how fare you, sir?
THE BODY:
Poorly, I thank your ladyship; I miss
Some certain fingers and an ear or two.
There’s something, too, gone wrong with my inside,
And my periphery’s not what it was.
How can we serve each other, you and I?
NELLIBRAC:
O what a personable man!
_(Blushes bashfully, drops her eyes and twists the corner of
her apron_.)
SARALTHIA:
Yes, dear,
A very proper and alluring male,
And quite superior to Lubin Rroyd,
Who has, however, this distinct advantage-
He is alive.
GRIMGHAST:
Missus, these yer remains
Was the boss singer back in ’72,
And used to allers git invites to go
Down to Swellmont and sing at every feed.
In t’other Villiam’s time, that was, afore
The gent that you’ve hooked onto bought the place.
THE BODY _(singing):_
Down among the sainted dead
Many years I lay;
Beetles occupied my head,
Moles explored my clay.
There we feasted day and night-
I and bug and beast;
They provided appetite
And I supplied the feast.
The raven is a dicky-bird,
SARALTHIA _(singing):_
The jackal is a daisy,
NELLIBRAC _(singing):_
The wall-mouse is a worthy third,
A SPOOK _(singing):_
But mortals all are crazy.
CHORUS OF SKULLS:
O mortals all are crazy,
Their intellects are hazy;
In the growing moon they shake their shoon
And trip it in the mazy.
But when the moon is waning,
Their senses they’re regaining:
They fall to prayer and from their hair
Remove the straws remaining.
SARALTHIA:
That’s right, Rogues Gallery, pray keep it up:
Your song recalls my Villiam’s ‘Auld Lang Syne,’
What time he came and (like an amorous bird
That struts before the female of its kind,
Warbling to cave her down the bank) piped high
His cracked falsetto out of reach. Enough-
Now let’s to business. Nellibrac, sweet child,
St. Cloacina’s future devotee,
The time is ripe and rotten-gut the grip!
_(Nellibrac brings forward a valise and takes from it five
articles of clothing, which, one by one, she lays upon the points
of a magic pentagram that has thoughtfully inscribed itself in
lines of light on the wet grass. The Body holds its late lamented
nose.)_
NELLIBRAC _(singing):_
Fragrant socks, by Villiam’s toes
Consecrated to the nose;
Shirt that shows the well worn track
Of the knuckles of his back,
Handkerchief with mottled stains,
Into which he blew his brains;
Collar crying out for soap-
Prophet of the future rope;
An unmentionable thing
It would sicken me to sing.
UNMENTIONABLE THING _(aside):_
What! _I_ unmentionable? Just you wait!
In all the family journals of the State
You’ll sometime see that I’m described at length,
With supereditorial grace and strength.
SARALTHIA _(singing):_
Throw them in the open tomb
They will cause his love to bloom
With an amatory boom!
CHORUS OF INVISIBLE HOODOOS:
Hoodoo, hoodoo, voudou-vet
Villiam struggles in the net!
By the power and intent
Of the charm his strength is spent!
By the virtue in each rag
Blessed by the Inspired Hag
He will be a willing victim
Limp as if a donkey kicked him!
By this awful incantation
We decree his animation-
By the magic of our art
Warm the cockles of his heart,
Villiam, if alive or dead,
Thou Saralthia shalt wed!
_(They cast the garments into the grave and push over the
coffin. Grimghast fills up the hole. Hoodoos gradually become
apparent in a phosphorescent light about the grave, holding one
another’s back-hair and dancing in a circle.)_
HOODOO SONG AND DANCE:
O we’re the larrikin hoodoos!
The chirruping, lirruping hoodoos!
We mix things up that the Fates ordain,
Bring back the past and the present detain,
Postpone the future and sometimes tether
The three and drive them abreast together-
We rollicking, frolicking hoodoos!
To us all things are the same as none
And nothing is that is under the sun.
Seven’s a dozen and never is then,
Whether is what and what is when,
A man is a tree and a cuckoo a cow
For gold galore and silver enow
To magical, mystical hoodoos!
SARALTHIA:
What monstrous shadow darkens all the place,
_(Enter Smyler.)_
Flung like a doom athwart-ha!-thou?
Portentous presence, art thou not the same
That stalks with aspect horrible among
Small youths and maidens, baring snaggy teeth,
Champing their tender limbs till crimson spume,
Flung from, thy lips in cursing God and man,
Incarnadines the land?
SMYLER:
Thou dammid slut!
_(Exit Smyler.)_
NELLIBRAC:
O what a pretty man!
SARALTHIA
Now who is next?
Of tramps and casuals this graveyard seems
Prolific to a fault!
_(Enter Needleson, exhaling, prophetically, an odor of decayed
eggs and, actually, one of unlaundried linen. He darts an
intense regard at an adjacent marble angel and places his open
hand behind his ear.)_
NEEDLESON:
Hay?
_(Exit Needleson.)_
NELLIBRAC:
Sweet, sweet male!
I yearn to play at Copenhagen with him!
_(Blushes diligently and energetically.)_
CHORUS OF SKULLS:
Hoodoos, hoodoos, disappear-
Some dread deity draws near!
_(Exeunt Hoodos.)_
Smitten with a sense of doom,
The dead are cowering in the tomb,
Seas are calling, stars are falling
And appalling is the gloom!
Fragmentary flames are flung
Through the air the trees among!
Lo! each hill inclines its head-
Earth is bending ‘neath his thread!
_(On the contrary, enter Villiam on a chip, navigating an
odor of mignonette. Saralthia springs forward to put him in
her pocket, but he is instantly retracted by an invisible string.
She falls headlong, breaking her heart. Reenter Villiam,
Needleson, Smyler. All gather about Saralthia, who loudly
laments her accident. The Spirit of Tar-and Feathers, rising
like a black smoke in their midst, executes a monstrous wink of
graphic and vivid significance, then contemplates them with an
obviously baptismal intention. The cross on Lone Mountain
takes fire, splendoring the Peninsula. Tableau. Curtain.)

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ERIC, a friend of Hugo’s.
THURSTON, |
EUSTACE, |
RALPH, | Followers of Hugo.
HENRY, a Page.
LUKE, |
HUBERT, | Monks living in a Norman Chapel.
BASIL, Abbot of a Convent on the Rhine.
CYRIL, a Monk of the same Convent.
OSRIC, a Norwegian Adventurer, and formerly a Corsair.
RUDOLPH, an Outlawed Count, and the Captain of a Band of Robbers.
DAGOBERT, the Captain of some predatory Soldiers called ‘Free Lances’.
HAROLD, a Danish Knight.
ORION.
THORA, |
AGATHA, |
ELSPETH, a Nurse of Thora’s, |
URSULA, Abbess of the Convent on the Rhine, |
NUNS, etc. | Women.
Men-at-arms, Soldiers, and Robbers; Monks, Friars, and Churchmen, Spirits,
etc.
SCENE — A Castle in Normandy.
A Study in a Tower; HUGO seated at a table covered with maps and charts
of the heavens, astronomical instruments, books, manuscripts,
Enter HENRY, a Page.
Hugo:
Well, boy, what is it?
Henry: The feast is spread.
Hugo:
Why tarry the guests for me?
Let Eric sit at the table’s head;
Alone I desire to be. [Henry goes out.]
What share have I at their festive board?
Their mirth I can only mar;
To me no pleasure their cups afford,
Their songs on my silence jar.
With an aching eye and a throbbing brain,
And yet with a hopeful heart,
I must toil and strain with the planets again
When the rays of the sun depart;
He who must needs with the topers tope,
And the feasters feast in the hall,
How can he hope with a matter to cope
That is immaterial?
Orion:
He who his appetite stints and curbs,
Shut up in the northern wing,
With his rye-bread flavoured with bitter herbs,
And his draught from the tasteless spring,
Good sooth, he is but a sorry clown.
There are some good things upon earth —
Pleasure and power and fair renown,
And wisdom of worldly worth!
There is wisdom in follies that charm the sense,
In follies that light the eyes,
But the folly to wisdom that makes pretence
Is alone by the fool termed wise.
Hugo:
Thy speech, Orion, is somewhat rude;
Perchance, having jeer’d and scoff’d
To thy fill, thou wilt curb thy jeering mood;
I wot thou hast served me oft.
This plan of the skies seems fairly traced;
What errors canst thou detect?
Orion:
Nay, the constellations are misplaced,
And the satellites incorrect;
Leave the plan to me; you have time to seek
An hour of needful rest,
The night is young and the planets are weak;
See, the sun still reddens the west.
Hugo:
I fear I shall sleep too long.
Orion: If you do
It matters not much; the sky
Is cloudy, the stars will be faint and few;
Now, list to my lullaby.
[Hugo reclines on a couch.]
(Sings.)
Still the darkling skies are red,
Though the day-god’s course is run;
Heavenly night-lamps overhead
Flash and twinkle one by one.
Idle dreamer — earth-born elf!
Vainly grasping heavenly things,
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
From the tree of knowledge first,
Since his parents pluck’d the fruit,
Man, with partial knowledge curs’d,
Of the tree still seeks the root;
Musty volumes crowd thy shelf —
Which of these true knowledge brings?
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
Will the stars from heaven descend?
Can the earth-worm soar and rise?
Can the mortal comprehend
Heaven’s own hallow’d mysteries?
Greed and glory, power and pelf —
These are won by clowns and kings;
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
Sow and reap, and toil and spin;
Eat and drink, and dream and die;
Man may strive, yet never win,
And I laugh the while and cry —
Idle dreamer, earth-born elf!
Vainly grasping heavenly things,
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
He sleeps, and his sleep appears serene,
Whatever dreams it has brought him —
[Looks at the plans.]
If he knows what those hieroglyphics mean,
He’s wiser than one who taught him.
Why does he number the Pole-star thus?
Or the Pleiades why combine?
And what is he doing with Sirius,
In the devil’s name or in mine?
Man thinks, discarding the beaten track,
That the sins of his youth are slain,
When he seeks fresh sins, but he soon comes back
To his old pet sins again.
SCENE — The Same.
HUGO waking, ORION seated near him. Daybreak.
Hugo:
Oh, weary spirit! oh, cloudy eyes!
Oh, heavy and misty brain!
Yon riddle that lies ‘twixt earth and skies,
Ye seek to explore in vain!
See, the east is grey; put those scrolls away,
And hide them far from my sight;
I will toil and study no more by day,
I will watch no longer by night;
I have labour’d and long’d, and now I seem
No nearer the mystic goal;
Orion, I fain would devise some scheme
To quiet this restless soul;
To distant climes I would fain depart —
I would travel by sea or land.
Orion:
Nay, I warn’d you of this, ‘Short life, long art’,
The proverb, though stale, will stand;
Full many a sage from youth to age
Has toil’d to obtain what you
Would master at once. In a pilgrimage,
Forsooth, there is nothing new;
Though virtue, I ween, in change of scene,
And vigour in change of air,
Will always be, and has always been,
And travel is a tonic rare.
Still, the restless, discontented mood
For the time alone is eased;
It will soon return with hunger renew’d,
And appetite unappeased.
Nathless I could teach a shorter plan
To win that wisdom you crave,
That lore that is seldom attain’d by man
From the cradle down to the grave.
Hugo:
Such lore I had rather do without,
It hath nothing mystic nor awful
In my eye. Nay, I despise and doubt
The arts that are term’d unlawful;
‘Twixt science and magic the line lies plain,
I shall never wittingly pass it;
There is now no compact between us twain.
Orion: But an understanding tacit.
You have prospered much since the day we met;
You were then a landless knight;
You now have honour and wealth, and yet
I never can serve you right.
Hugo:
Enough; we will start this very day,
Thurston, Eric, and I,
And the baffled visions will pass away,
And the restless fires will die.
Orion:
Till the fuel expires that feeds those fires
They smoulder and live unspent;
Give a mortal all that his heart desires,
He is less than ever content.
SCENE — A Cliff on the Breton Coast, Overhanging the Sea.
HUGO.
Hugo:
Down drops the red sun; through the gloaming
They burst — raging waves of the sea,
Foaming out their own shame — ever foaming
Their leprosy up with fierce glee;
Flung back from the stone, snowy fountains
Of feathery flakes, scarcely flag
Where, shock after shock, the green mountains
Explode on the iron-grey crag.
The salt spray with ceaseless commotion
Leaps round me. I sit on the verge
Of the cliff — ‘twixt the earth and the ocean —
With feet overhanging the surge.
In thy grandeur, oh, sea! we acknowledge,
In thy fairness, oh, earth! we confess,
Hidden truths that are taught in no college,
Hidden songs that no parchments express.
Were they wise in their own generations,
Those sages and sagas of old?
They have pass’d; o’er their names and their nations
Time’s billows have silently roll’d;
They have pass’d, leaving little to their children,
Save histories of a truth far from strict;
Or theories more vague and bewildering,
Since three out of four contradict.
Lost labour! vain bookworms have sat in
The halls of dull pedants who teach
Strange tongues, the dead lore of the Latin,
The scroll that is god-like and Greek:
Have wasted life’s springtide in learning
Things long ago learnt all in vain;
They are slow, very slow, in discerning
That book lore and wisdom are twain.
Pale shades of a creed that was mythic,
By time or by truth overcome,
Your Delphian temples and Pythic
Are ruins deserted and dumb;
Your Muses are hush’d, and your Graces
Are bruised and defaced; and your gods,
Enshrin’d and enthron’d in high places
No longer, are powerless as clods;
By forest and streamlet, where glisten’d
Fair feet of the Naiads that skimm’d
The shallows; where the Oreads listen’d,
Rose-lipp’d, amber-hair’d, marble-limb’d,
No lithe forms disport in the river,
No sweet faces peer through the boughs,
Elms and beeches wave silent for ever,
Ever silent the bright water flows.
(Were they duller or wiser than we are,
Those heathens of old? Who shall say?
Worse or better? Thy wisdom, O ‘Thea
Glaucopis’, was wise in thy day;
And the false gods alluring to evil,
That sway’d reckless votaries then,
Were slain to no purpose; they revel
Re-crowned in the hearts of us men.)
Dead priests of Osiris and Isis,
And Apis! that mystical lore,
Like a nightmare, conceived in a crisis
Of fever, is studied no more;
Dead Magian! yon star-troop that spangles
The arch of yon firmament vast
Looks calm, like a host of white angels,
On dry dust of votaries past.
On seas unexplored can the ship shun
Sunk rocks? Can man fathom life’s links,
Past or future, unsolved by Egyptian
Or Theban, unspoken by Sphinx?
The riddle remains still unravell’d
By students consuming night oil.
Oh, earth! we have toil’d, we have travail’d,
How long shall we travail and toil?
How long? The short life that fools reckon
So sweet, by how much is it higher
Than brute life? — the false gods still beckon,
And man, through the dust and the mire,
Toils onward, as toils the dull bullock,
Unreasoning, brutish, and blind,
With Ashtaroth, Mammon, and Moloch
In front, and Alecto behind.
The wise one of earth, the Chaldean,
Serves folly in wisdom’s disguise;
And the sensual Epicurean,
Though grosser, is hardly less wise;
‘Twixt the former, half pedant, half pagan,
And the latter, half sow and half sloth,
We halt, choose Astarte or Dagon,
Or sacrifice freely to both.
With our reason that seeks to disparage,
Brute instinct it fails to subdue;
With our false illegitimate courage,
Our sophistry, vain and untrue;
Our hopes that ascend so and fall so,
Our passions, fierce hates and hot loves,
We are wise (aye, the snake is wise also) —
Wise as serpents, NOT harmless as doves.
Some flashes, like faint sparks from heaven,
Come rarely with rushing of wings;
We are conscious at times we have striven,
Though seldom, to grasp better things;
These pass, leaving hearts that have falter’d,
Good angels with faces estranged,
And the skin of the Ethiop unalter’d,
And the spots of the leopard unchanged.
Oh, earth! pleasant earth! have we hanker’d
To gather thy flowers and thy fruits?
The roses are wither’d, and canker’d
The lilies, and barren the roots
Of the fig-tree, the vine, the wild olive,
Sharp thorns and sad thistles that yield
Fierce harvest — so WE live, and SO live
The perishing beasts of the field.
And withal we are conscious of evil
And good — of the spirit and the clod,
Of the power in our hearts of a devil,
Of the power in our souls of a God,
Whose commandments are graven in no cypher,
But clear as His sun — from our youth
One at least we have cherished — ‘An eye for
An eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
Oh, man! of thy Maker the image;
To passion, to pride, or to wealth,
Sworn bondsman, from dull youth to dim age,
Thy portion the fire or the filth,
Dross seeking, dead pleasure’s death rattle
Thy memories’ happiest song,
And thy highest hope — scarce a drawn battle
With dark desperation. How long?
Roar louder! leap higher! ye surf-beds,
And sprinkle your foam on the furze;
Bring the dreams that brought sleep to our turf-beds,
To camps of our long ago years,
With the flashing and sparkling of broadswords,
With the tossing of banners and spears,
With the trampling of hard hoofs on hard swards,
With the mingling of trumpets and cheers.
The gale has gone down; yet outlasting
The gale, raging waves of the sea,
Casting up their own foam, ever casting
Their leprosy up with wild glee,
Still storm; so in rashness and rudeness
Man storms through the days of his grace;
Yet man cannot fathom God’s goodness,
Exceeding God’s infinite space.
And coldly and calmly and purely
Grey rock and green hillock lie white
In star-shine dream-laden — so surely
Night cometh — so cometh the night
When we, too, at peace with our neighbour,
May sleep where God’s hillocks are piled,
Thanking HIM for a rest from day’s labour,
And a sleep like the sleep of a child!
SCENE — The Castle in Normandy.
THORA working at embroidery, ELSPETH spinning.
Thora (sings):
We severed in autumn early,
Ere the earth was torn by the plough;
The wheat and the oats and the barley
Are ripe for the harvest now.
We sunder’d one misty morning,
Ere the hills were dimm’d by the rain,
Through the flowers those hills adorning —
Thou comest not back again.
My heart is heavy and weary
With the weight of a weary soul;
The mid-day glare grows dreary,
And dreary the midnight scroll.
The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle,
‘Neath the load of the golden grain;
I sigh for a mate more fickle —
Thou comest not back again.
The warm sun riseth and setteth,
The night bringeth moistening dew,
But the soul that longeth forgetteth
The warmth and the moisture too;
In the hot sun rising and setting
There is naught save feverish pain;
There are tears in the night-dews wetting —
Thou comest not back again.
Thy voice in mine ear still mingles
With the voices of whisp’ring trees;
Thy kiss on my cheek still tingles
At each kiss of the summer breeze;
While dreams of the past are thronging
For substance of shades in vain,
I am waiting, watching, and longing —
Thou comest not back again.
Waiting and watching ever,
Longing and lingering yet,
Leaves rustle and corn-stalks quiver,
Winds murmur and waters fret;
No answer they bring, no greeting,
No speech save that sad refrain,
Nor voice, save an echo repeating —
He cometh not back again.
Elspeth:
Thine eldest sister is wedded to Max;
With Biorn, Hilda hath cast her lot.
If the husbands vanish’d, and left no tracks,
Would the wives have cause for sorrow, I wot?
Thora:
How well I remember that dreary ride;
How I sigh’d for the lands of ice and snow,
In the trackless wastes of the desert wide,
With the sun o’erhead and the sand below;
‘Neath the scanty shades of the feathery palms,
How I sigh’d for the forest of sheltering firs,
Whose shadows environ’d the Danish farms,
Where I sang and sported in childish years.
On the fourteenth day of our pilgrimage
We stayed at the foot of a sandhill high;
Our fever’d thirst we could scarce assuage
At the brackish well that was nearly dry,
And the hot sun rose, and the hot sun set,
And we rode all the day through a desert land,
And we camp’d where the lake and the river met,
On sedge and shingle and shining sand:
Enfolded in Hugo’s cloak I slept,
Or watch’d the stars while I lay awake;
And close to our feet the staghound crept,
And the horses were grazing beside the lake;
Now we own castles and serving men,
Lands and revenues. What of that?
Hugo the Norman was kinder then,
And happier was Thora of Armorat.
Elspeth:
Nay, I warn’d thee, with Norman sails unfurl’d
Above our heads, when we wished thee joy,
That men are the same all over the world,
They will worship only the newest toy;
Yet Hugo is kind and constant too,
Though somewhat given to studies of late;
Biorn is sottish, and Max untrue,
And worse than thine is thy sisters’ fate.
But a shadow darkens the chamber door.
Enter THURSTON.
Thurston:
‘Tis I, Lady Thora; our lord is near.
My horse being fresher, I rode before;
Both he and Eric will soon be here.
Thora:
Good Thurston, give me your hand. You are
Most welcome. What has delayed you thus?
Thurston:
Both by sea and land we have travell’d far,
Yet little of note has happened to us —
We were wreck’d on the shores of Brittany,
Near the coast of Morbihan iron-bound;
The rocks were steep and the surf ran high,
Thy kinsman, Eric, was well-nigh drown’d.
By a swarm of knaves we were next beset,
Who took us for corsairs; then released
By a Breton count, whose name I forget.
Now I go, by your leave, to tend my beast.
[He goes out.]
Elspeth:
That man is rude and froward of speech:
My ears are good, though my sight grows dim.
Thora:
Thurston is faithful. Thou canst not teach
Courtly nor servile manners to him.
SCENE — The Castle Hall.
THURSTON, RALPH, EUSTACE, and other followers of HUGO,
seated at a long table. HAROLD seated apart.
Thurston:
Who is that stranger, dark and tall,
On the wooden settle next to the wall —
Mountebank, pilgrim, or wandering bard?
Eustace:
To define his calling is somewhat hard;
Lady Thora has taken him by the hand
Because he has come from the Holy Land.
Pilgrims and palmers are all the rage
With her, since she shared in that pilgrimage
With Hugo. The stranger came yesterday,
And would have gone on, but she bade him stay.
Besides, he sings in the Danish tongue
The songs she has heard in her childhood sung.
That’s all I know of him, good or bad;
In my own opinion he’s somewhat mad.
You must raise your voice if you speak with him,
And he answers as though his senses were dim.
Thurston (to Harold):
Good-morrow, sir stranger.
Harold: Good-morrow, friend.
Thurston:
Where do you come from? and whither wend?
Harold:
I have travelled of late with the setting sun
At my back; and as soon as my task is done
I purpose to turn my face to the north —
Yet we know not what a day may bring forth.
Thurston:
Indeed we don’t.
(To Eustace, aside): Nay, I know him now
By that ugly scar that crosses his brow;
And the less we say to him the better.
Your judgment is right to the very letter —
The man is mad.
Eustace: But harmless, I think;
He eats but little, eschews strong drink,
And only speaks when spoken to first.
Thurston:
Harmless or not, he was once the worst
And bitterest foe Lord Hugo had;
And yet his story is somewhat sad.
Eustace:
May I hear it?
Thurston: Nay, I never reveal
What concerns me not. Our lord may conceal
Or divulge at pleasure his own affairs, —
Not even his comrade Eric shares
His secrets; though Eric thinks him wise,
Which is more than I do, for I despise
That foolish science he learnt in Rome.
He dreams and mopes when he sits at home,
And now he’s not much better abroad;
‘Tis hard to follow so tame a lord.
‘Twixt us two, he won’t be worth a rush
If he will persist in his studies ——
Eustace: Hush!
Ralph has persuaded our guest to sing.
Thurston:
I have known the day when his voice would ring
Till the rafters echoed.
Eustace: ‘Tis pleasant still,
Though far too feeble this hall to fill.
Harold (sings):
On the current, where the wide
Windings of the river
Eddy to the North Sea tide,
Shall I in my shallop glide,
As I have done at her side?
Never! never! never!
In the forest, where the firs,
Pines, and larches quiver
To the northern breeze that stirs,
Shall my lips be press’d to hers,
As they were in by-gone years?
Never! never! never!
In the battle on the plain,
Where the lance-shafts shiver,
And the sword-strokes fall like rain,
Shall I bear her scarf again
As I have done — not in vain?
Never! never! never!
In a fairer, brighter land,
Where the saints rest ever,
Shall I once more see her stand,
White, amidst a white-robed band,
Harp and palm-branch in her hand?
Never! never! never!
SCENE — The Same.
EUSTACE, THURSTON, and followers of HUGO. HAROLD.
Enter, by the hall door, HUGO, ERIC, and THORA.
Eustace (and others standing up):
Welcome, Lord Hugo!
Hugo: Welcome or not,
Thanks for your greeting all.
Ha, Eustace! what complaints hast thou got?
What grievances to recall?
Eustace:
Count William came with a numerous band,
Ere the snows began to fall,
And slew a buck on your lordship’s land,
Within a league of the wall.
Hugo:
Count William has done to us no more
Than we to him. In his vineyard
Last summer, or later, maybe, a boar
Was slaughter’d by Thurston’s whinyard.
Thurston:
Aye, Hugo! But William kept the buck,
I will wager marks a score,
Though the tale is new to me; and, worse luck,
You made me give back the boar.
Harold (advancing):
Lord Hugo!
Hugo: What! Art thou living yet?
I scarcely knew thee, Sir Dane!
And ’tis not so very long since we met.
Harold:
‘Twill be long ere we meet again. (gives a letter)
This letter was traced by one now dead
In the Holy Land; and I
Must wait till his dying request is read,
And in his name ask the reply.
Thora (aside):
Who is that stranger, Hugo?
Hugo: By birth
He is a countryman of thine,
Thora. What writing is this on earth?
I can scarce decipher a line.
Harold:
The pen in the clutch of death works ill.
Hugo:
Nay, I read now; the letters run
More clearly.
Harold: Wilt grant the request?
Hugo: I will.
Harold:
Enough! Then my task is done. (He holds out his hand.)
Hugo, I go to a far-off land,
Wilt thou say, ‘God speed thee!’ now?
Hugo:
Sir Harold, I cannot take thy hand,
Because of my ancient vow.
Harold:
Farewell, then.
Thora: Friend, till the morning wait.
On so wild a night as this
Thou shalt not go from my husband’s gate;
The path thou wilt surely miss.
Harold:
I go. Kind lady, some future day
Thy care will requited be.
Thora:
Speak, Hugo, speak.
Hugo: He may go or stay,
It matters little to me.
[Harold goes out.]
Thora:
Husband, that man is ill and weak;
On foot he goes and alone
Through a barren moor in a night-storm bleak.
Eric:
Now I wonder where he has gone!
Hugo:
Indeed, I have not the least idea;
The man is certainly mad.
He wedded my sister, Dorothea,
And used her cruelly bad.
He was once my firmest and surest friend,
And once my deadliest foe;
But hate and friendship both find their end —
Now I heed not where he may go.
SCENE — A Chamber in the Castle.
HUGO, THORA, and ERIC.
Hugo:
That letter that came from Palestine,
By the hands of yon wandering Dane,
Will cost me a pilgrimage to the Rhine.
Thora:
Wilt thou travel so soon again?
Hugo:
I can scarce refuse the dying request
Of my comrade, Baldwin, now;
His bones are dust. May his soul find rest
He once made a foolish vow,
That at Englemehr, ‘neath the watchful care
Of the Abbess, his child should stay,
For a season at least. To escort her there
I must start at the break of day.
Thora:
Is it Agatha that goes, or Clare?
Hugo:
Nay, Clare is dwelling in Spain
With her spouse.
Thora: ‘Tis Agatha. She is fair,
I am told; but giddy and vain.
Eric:
Some musty tales on my memory grow
Concerning Count Baldwin’s vow;
Thou knew’st his daughter?
Hugo: Aye, years ago.
I should scarcely know her now.
It seems, when her father’s vow was made,
She was taken sorely ill;
Then he travell’d, and on his return was stay’d;
He could never his oath fulfil.
Eric:
If rightly I’ve heard, ’twas Agatha
That fled with some Danish knight —
I forget the name.
Hugo: Nay, she fled not far;
She returned again that night.
Thora:
For a nun, I fear, she is too self-willed.
Hugo:
That is no affair of mine.
My task is over, my word fulfilled,
Should I bring her safe to the Rhine.
Come, Thora, sing.
Thora: Nay, I cannot sing,
Nor would I now if I could.
Sing thou.
Hugo: I will, though my voice should bring
No sound save a discord rude.
(Sings.)
Where the storm in its wrath hath lighted,
The pine lies low in the dust;
And the corn is withered and blighted,
Where the fields are red with the rust;
Falls the black frost, nipping and killing,
Where its petals the violet rears,
And the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
The strong in their strength are shaken,
The wise in their wisdom fall;
And the bloom of beauty is taken —
Strength, wisdom, beauty, and all,
They vanish, their lot fulfilling,
Their doom approaches and nears,
But the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
‘Tis the will of a Great Creator,
He is wise, His will must be done,
And it cometh sooner or later;
And one shall be taken, and one
Shall be left here, toiling and tilling,
In this vale of sorrows and tears,
Where the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
Tell me, mine own one, tell me,
The shadows of life and the fears
Shall neither daunt me nor quell me,
While I can avert thy tears:
Dost thou shrink, as I shrink, unwilling
To realise lonely years?
Since the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
Enter HENRY.
Henry:
My lord, Father Luke craves audience straight,
He has come on foot from the chapel;
Some stranger perished beside his gate
When the dawn began to dapple.
SCENE — A Chapel Not Very Far from Hugo’s Castle.
HUGO, ERIC, and two Monks (LUKE and HUBERT). The dead body of HAROLD.
Luke:
When the dawn was breaking,
Came a faint sound, waking
Hubert and myself; we hurried to the door,
Found the stranger lying
At the threshold, dying.
Somewhere have I seen a face like his before.
Hugo:
Harold he is hight.
Only yester-night
From our gates he wander’d, in the driving hail;
Well his face I know,
Both as friend and foe;
Of my followers only Thurston knows his tale.
Luke:
Few the words he said,
Faint the signs he made,
Twice or thrice he groaned; quoth Hubert, ‘Thou hast sinn’d.
This is retribution,
Seek for absolution;
Answer me — then cast thy sorrows to the wind.
Do their voices reach thee,
Friends who failed to teach thee,
In thine earlier days, to sunder right from wrong?
Charges ‘gainst thee cited,
Cares all unrequited,
Counsels spurned and slighted — do they press and throng?’
But he shook his head.
”Tis not so,’ he said;
‘They will scarce reproach me who reproached of yore.
If their counsels good,
Rashly I withstood;
Having suffered longer, I have suffered more.’
‘Do their curses stun thee?
Foes who failed to shun thee,
Stricken by rash vengeance, in some wild career,
As the barbed arrow
Cleaveth bone and marrow,
From those chambers narrow — do they pierce thine ear?’
And he made reply,
Laughing bitterly,
‘Did I fear them living — shall I fear them dead?
Blood that I have spilt
Leaveth little guilt;
On the hand it resteth, scarcely on the head.’
‘Is there one whom thou
May’st have wronged ere now,
Since remorse so sorely weigheth down thine heart?
By some saint in heaven,
Sanctified and shriven,
Would’st thou be forgiven ere thy soul depart?’
Not a word he said,
But he bowed his head
Till his temples rested on the chilly sods
And we heard him groan —
‘Ah! mine own, mine own!
If I had thy pardon I might ask for God’s.’
Hubert raised him slowly,
Sunrise, faint and holy,
Lit the dead face, placid as a child’s might be.
May the troubled spirit,
Through Christ’s saving merit,
Peace and rest inherit. Thus we sent for thee.
Hugo:
God o’erruleth fate.
I had cause for hate;
In this very chapel, years back, proud and strong,
Joined by priestly vows,
He became the spouse
Of my youngest sister, to her bitter wrong.
And he wrought her woe,
Making me his foe;
Not alone unfaithful — brutal, too, was he.
She had scarce been dead
Three months, ere he fled
With Count Baldwin’s daughter, then betrothed to me.
Fortune straight forsook him,
Vengeance overtook him;
Heavy crimes will bring down heavy punishment.
All his strength was shatter’d,
Even his wits were scatter’d,
Half-deranged, half-crippled, wandering he went.
We are unforgiving
While our foes are living;
Yet his retribution weigh’d so heavily
That I feel remorse,
Gazing on his corpse,
For my rudeness when he left our gates to die.
And his grave shall be
‘Neath the chestnut tree,
Where he met my sister many years ago;
Leave that tress of hair
On his bosom there —
Wrap the cerecloth round him! Eric, let us go.
SCENE — A Room in the Castle.
HUGO and ERIC. Early morning.
Hugo:
The morn is fair, the weary miles
Will shorten ‘neath the summer’s wiles;
Pomona in the orchard smiles,
And in the meadow, Flora!
And I have roused a chosen band
For escort through the troubled land;
And shaken Elspeth by the hand,
And said farewell to Thora.
Comrade and kinsman — for thou art
Comrade and kin to me — we part
Ere nightfall, if at once we start,
We gain the dead Count’s castle.
The roads are fair, the days are fine,
Ere long I hope to reach the Rhine.
Forsooth, no friend to me or mine
Is that same Abbot Basil;
I thought he wronged us by his greed.
My father sign’d a foolish deed
For lack of gold in time of need,
And thus our lands went by us;
Yet wrong on our side may have been:
As far as my will goes, I ween,
‘Tis past, the grudge that lay between
Us twain. Men call him pious —
And I have prosper’d much since then,
And gain’d for one lost acre ten;
And even the ancient house and glen
Rebought with purchase-money.
He, too, is wealthy; he has got
By churchly rights a fertile spot,
A land of corn and wine, I wot,
A land of milk and honey.
Now, Eric, change thy plans and ride
With us; thou hast no ties, no bride.
Eric:
Nay, ties I have, and time and tide,
Thou knowest, wait for no man;
And I go north; God’s blessing shuns
The dwellings of forgetful sons,
That proverb he may read who runs,
In Christian lore or Roman.
My good old mother she hath heard,
For twelve long months, from me no word;
At thought of her my heart is stirr’d,
And even mine eyes grow moister.
Greet Ursula from me; her fame
Is known to all. A nobler dame,
Since days of Clovis, ne’er became
The inmate of a cloister.
Our paths diverge, yet we may go
Together for a league or so;
I, too, will join thy band below
When thou thy bugle windest.
[Eric goes out.]
Hugo:
From weaknesses we stand afar,
On us unpleasantly they jar;
And yet the stoutest-hearted are
The gentlest and the kindest.
My mother loved me tenderly;
Alas! her only son was I.
I shudder’d, but my lids were dry,
By death made orphan newly.
A braver man than me, I swear,
Who never comprehended fear,
Scarce names his mother, and the tear,
Unbidden, springs unruly.
SCENE — A Road on the Norman Frontiers.
HUGO, AGATHA, ORION, THURSTON, and armed attendants, riding slowly.
Agatha:
Sir Knight, what makes you so grave and glum?
At times I fear you are deaf or dumb,
Or both.
Hugo: And yet, should I speak the truth,
There is little in common ‘twixt us, forsooth;
You would think me duller, and still more vain,
If I uttered the thoughts that fill my brain;
Since the matters with which my mind is laden
Would scarcely serve to amuse a maiden.
Agatha:
I am so foolish and you are so wise,
‘Tis the meaning your words so ill disguise.
Alas! my prospects are sad enough:
I had rather listen to speeches rough
Than muse and meditate silently
On the coming loss of my liberty.
Sad hope to me can my future bring,
Yet, while I may, I would prattle and sing,
Though it only were to try and assuage
The dreariness of my pilgrimage.
Hugo:
Prattle and sing to your heart’s content,
And none will offer impediment.
Agatha (sings):
We were playmates in childhood, my sister and I,
Whose playtime with childhood is done;
Through thickets where briar and bramble grew high,
Barefooted I’ve oft seen her run.
I’ve known her, when mists on the moorland hung white,
Bareheaded past nightfall remain;
She has followed a landless and penniless knight
Through battles and sieges in Spain.
But I pulled the flower, and shrank from the thorn,
Sought the sunshine, and fled from the mist;
My sister was born to face hardship with scorn —
I was born to be fondled and kiss’d.
Hugo (aside):
She has a sweet voice.
Orion: And a sweet face, too —
Be candid for once, and give her her due.
Agatha:
Your face grows longer, and still more long,
Sir Scholar! how did you like my song?
Hugo:
I thought it rather a silly one.
Agatha:
You are far from a pleasant companion.
SCENE — An Apartment in a Wayside Inn.
HUGO and AGATHA. Evening.
Hugo:
I will leave you now — we have talked enough,
And for one so tenderly reared and nursed
This journey is wearisome, perhaps, and rough.
Agatha: Will you not finish your story first?
Hugo:
I repent me that I began it now,
‘Tis a dismal tale for a maiden’s ears;
Your cheek is pale already, your brow
Is sad, and your eyes are moist with tears.
Agatha:
It may be thus, I am lightly vexed,
But the tears will lightly come and go;
I can cry one moment and laugh the next,
Yet I have seen terrors, as well you know.
I remember that flight through moss and fern,
The moonlit shadows, the hoofs that rolled
In fierce pursuit, and the ending stern,
And the hawk that left his prey on the wold.
Hugo:
I have sorrowed since that I left you there:
Your friends were close behind on the heath,
Though not so close as I thought they were.
(Aside.) Now I will not tell her of Harold’s death.
Agatha:
‘Tis true, I was justly punished, and men,
As a rule, of pity have little share;
Had I died you had cared but little then.
Hugo: But little then, yet now I should care
More than you think for. Now, good-night.
Tears still? Ere I leave you, child, alone,
Must I dry your cheeks?
Agatha: Nay, I am not quite
Such a child but what I can dry my own.
[Hugo goes out. Agatha retires.]
Orion (singing outside the window of Agatha’s chamber):
‘Neath the stems with blossoms laden,
‘Neath the tendrils curling,
I, thy servant, sing, oh, maiden!
I, thy slave, oh, darling!
Lo! the shaft that slew the red deer,
At the elk may fly too.
Spare them not! The dead are dead, dear,
Let the living die too.
Where the wiles of serpent mingle,
And the looks of dove lie,
Where small hands in strong hands tingle,
Loving eyes meet lovely:
Where the harder natures soften,
And the softer harden —
Certes! such things have been often
Since we left Eve’s garden.
Sweeter follies herald sadder
Sins — look not too closely;
Tongue of asp and tooth of adder
Under leaf of rose lie.
Warned, advised in vain, abandon
Warning and advice too,
Let the child lay wilful hand on
Den of cockatrice too.
I, thy servant, or thy master,
One or both — no matter;
If the former — firmer, faster,
Surer still the latter —
Lull thee, soothe thee with my singing,
Bid thee sleep, and ponder
On my lullabies still ringing
Through thy dreamland yonder.
SCENE — A Wooded Rising Ground, Near the Rhine.
HUGO and AGATHA resting under the trees. THURSTON, EUSTACE,
and followers a little apart. ORION. (Noonday.)
The Towers of the Convent in the distance.
Agatha:
I sit on the greensward, and hear the bird sing,
‘Mid the thickets where scarlet and white blossoms cling;
And beyond the sweet uplands all golden with flower,
It looms in the distance, the grey convent tower.
And the emerald earth and the sapphire-hued sky
Keep telling me ever my spring has gone by;
Ah! spring premature, they are tolling thy knell,
In the wind’s soft adieu, in the bird’s sweet farewell.
Oh! why is the greensward with garlands so gay,
That I quail at the sight of my prison-house grey?
Oh! why is the bird’s note so joyous and clear?
The caged bird must pine in a cage doubly drear.
Hugo:
May the lances of Dagobert harry their house,
If they coax or intimidate thee to take vows;
May the freebooters pillage their shrines, should they dare
Touch with their scissors thy glittering hair.
Our short and sweet journey now draws to an end,
And homeward my sorrowful way I must wend;
Oh, fair one! oh, loved one! I would I were free,
To squander my life in the greenwood with thee.
Orion (aside):
Ho! seeker of knowledge, so grave and so wise,
Touch her soft curl again — look again in her eyes;
Forget for the nonce musty parchments, and learn
How the slow pulse may quicken — the cold blood may burn.
Ho! fair, fickle maiden, so blooming and shy!
The old love is dead, let the old promise die!
Thou dost well, thou dost wise, take the word of Orion,
‘A living dog always before a dead lion!’
Thurston:
Ye varlets, I would I knew which of ye burst
Our wine-skin — what, ho! must I perish with thirst!
Go, Henry, thou hast a glib tongue, go and ask
Thy lord to send Ralph to yon inn for a flask.
Henry:
Nay, Thurston, not so; I decline to disturb
Our lord for the present; go thou, or else curb
Thy thirst, or drink water, as I do.
Thurston: Thou knave
Of a page, dost thou wish me the colic to have?
Orion (aside):
That clown is a thoroughbred Saxon. He thinks
With pleasure on naught save hard blows and strong drinks;
In hell he will scarce go athirst if once given
An inkling of any good liquors in heaven.
Hugo:
Our Pontiff to manhood at Englemehr grew,
The priests there are many, the nuns are but few.
I love not the Abbot — ’tis needless to tell
My reason; but all of the Abbess speak well.
Agatha:
Through vineyards and cornfields beneath us, the Rhine
Spreads and winds, silver-white, in the merry sunshine;
And the air, overcharged with a subtle perfume,
Grows faint from the essence of manifold bloom.
Hugo:
And the tinkling of bells, and the bleating of sheep,
And the chaunt from the fields, where the labourers reap
The earlier harvest, comes faint on the breeze,
That whispers so faintly in hedgerows and trees.
Orion:
And a waggon wends slow to those turrets and spires,
To feed the fat monks and the corpulent friars;
It carries the corn, and the oil, and the wine,
The honey and milk from the shores of the Rhine.
The oxen are weary and spent with their load,
They pause, but the driver doth recklessly goad;
Up yon steep, flinty rise they have staggered and reeled,
Even devils may pity dumb beasts of the field.
Agatha (sings):
Oh! days and years departed,
Vain hopes, vain fears that smarted,
I turn to you sad-hearted —
I turn to you in tears!
Your daily sun shone brightly,
Your happy dreams came nightly,
Flowers bloomed and birds sang lightly,
Through all your hopes and fears!
You halted not, nor tarried,
Your hopes have all miscarried,
And even your fears are buried,
Since fear with hope must die.
You halted not, but hasted,
And flew past, childhood wasted,
And girlhood scarcely tasted,
Now womanhood is nigh.
Yet I forgive your wronging,
Dead seasons round me thronging,
With yearning and with longing,
I call your bitters sweet.
Vain longing, and vain yearning,
There now is no returning;
Oh! beating heart and burning,
Forget to burn and beat!
Oh! childish suns and showers,
Oh! girlish thorns and flowers,
Oh! fruitless days and hours,
Oh! groundless hopes and fears:
The birds still chirp and twitter,
And still the sunbeams glitter:
Oh! barren years and bitter,
Oh! bitter, barren years!
SCENE — The Summit of a Burning Mountain.
Night. A terrific storm. ORION (undisguised).
Orion (sings):
From fathomless depths of abysses,
Where fires unquenchable burst,
From the blackness of darkness, where hisses
The brood of the serpent accurs’d;
From shrines where the hymns are the weeping
And wailing and gnashing of teeth,
Where the palm is the pang never sleeping,
Where the worm never dying is the wreath;
Where all fruits save wickedness wither,
Whence naught save despair can be gleaned —
Come hither! come hither! come hither!
Fall’n angel, fell sprite, and foul fiend.
Come hither! the bands are all broken,
And loosed in hell’s innermost womb,
When the spell unpronounceable spoken
Divides the unspeakable gloom.
Evil Spirits approach. The storm increases.
Evil Spirits (singing):
We hear thee, we seek thee, on pinions
That darken the shades of the shade;
Oh! Prince of the Air, with dominions
Encompass’d, with powers array’d,
With majesty cloth’d as a garment,
Begirt with a shadowy shine,
Whose feet scorch the hill-tops that are meant
As footstools for thee and for thine.
Orion (sings):
How it swells through each pause of the thunder,
And mounts through each lull of the gust,
Through the crashing of crags torn asunder,
And the hurtling of trees in the dust;
With a chorus of loud lamentations,
With its dreary and hopeless refrain!
‘Tis the cry of all tongues and all nations,
That suffer and shudder in vain.
Evil Spirits (singing):
‘Tis the cry of all tongues and all nations;
Our song shall chime in with their strain;
Lost spirits blend their wild exultations
With the sighing of mortals in pain.
Orion (sings):
With just light enough to see sorrows
In this world, and terrors beyond,
‘Twixt the day’s bitter pangs and the morrow’s
Dread doubts, to despair and despond,
Man lingers through toils unavailing
For blessings that baffle his grasp;
To his cradle he comes with a wailing,
He goes to his grave with a gasp.
Evil Spirits (singing):
His birth is a weeping and wailing,
His death is a groan and a gasp;
O’er the seed of the woman prevailing,
Thus triumphs the seed of the asp.
SCENE — Chamber of a Wayside Inn.
HUGO sitting alone. Evening.
Hugo:
And now the parting is over,
The parting should end the pain;
And the restless heart may recover,
And so may the troubled brain.
I am sitting within the chamber
Whose windows look on the porch,
Where the roses cluster and clamber;
We halted here on our march
With her to the convent going,
And now I go back alone:
Ye roses, budding and blowing,
Ye heed not though she is flown.
I remember the girlish gesture,
The sportive and childlike grace,
With which she crumpled and pressed your
Rose leaves to her rose-hued face.
Shall I think on her ways hereafter —
On those flashes of mirth and grief,
On that April of tears and laughter,
On our parting, bitterly brief?
I remember the bell at sunrise,
That sounded so solemnly,
Bidding monk, and prelate, and nun rise;
I rose ere the sun was high.
Down the long, dark, dismal passage,
To the door of her resting-place
I went, on a farewell message,
I trod with a stealthy pace.
There was no one there to see us
When she opened her chamber door.
‘Miserere, mei Deus’,
Rang faint from the convent choir.
I remember the dark and narrow
And scantily-furnished room;
And the gleam, like a golden arrow —
The gleam that lighted the gloom.
One couch, one seat, and one table,
One window, and only one —
It stands in the eastern gable,
It faces the rising sun;
One ray shot through it, and one light
On doorway and threshold played.
She stood within in the sunlight,
I stood without in the shade.
I remember that bright form under
The sheen of that slanting ray.
I spoke — ‘For life we must sunder,
Let us sunder without delay.
Let us sever without preamble,
As brother and sister part,
For the sake of one pleasant ramble,
That will live in at least one heart.’
Still the choir in my ears rang faintly,
In the distance dying away,
Sweetly and sadly and saintly,
Through arch and corridor grey!
And thus we parted for ever,
Between the shade and the shine;
Not as brother and sister sever —
I fondled her hands in mine.
Still the choir in my ears rang deaden’d
And dull’d, though audible yet;
And she redden’d, and paled, and redden’d —
Her lashes and lids grew wet.
Not as brother severs from sister,
My lips clung fast to her lips;
She shivered and shrank when I kissed her.
On the sunbeam drooped the eclipse.
I remember little of the parting
With the Abbot, down by the gate,
My men were eager for starting;
I think he pressed me to wait.
From the lands where convent and glebe lie,
From manors, and Church’s right,
Where I fought temptation so feebly,
I, too, felt eager for flight.
Alas! the parting is over —
The parting, but not the pain —
Oh! sweet was the purple clover,
And sweet was the yellow grain;
And sweet were the woody hollows
On the summery Rhineward track;
But a winter untimely swallows
All sweets as I travel back.
Yet I feel assured, in some fashion,
Ere the hedges are crisp with rime,
I shall conquer this senseless passion,
‘Twill yield to toil and to time.
I will fetter these fancies roaming;
Already the sun has dipped;
I will trim the lamps in the gloaming,
I will finish my manuscript.
Through the nightwatch unflagging study
Shall banish regrets perforce;
As soon as the east is ruddy
Our bugle shall sound ‘To Horse!’
SCENE — Another Wayside House, Near the Norman Frontier.
HUGO and ORION in a chamber. Evening.
Orion:
Your eyes are hollow, your step is slow,
And your cheek is pallid as though from toil,
Watching or fasting, by which I know
That you have been burning the midnight oil.
Hugo:
Aye, three nights running.
Orion: ‘Twill never do
To travel all day, and study all night;
Will you join in a gallop through mist and dew,
In a flight that may vie with the eagle’s flight?
Hugo:
With all my heart. Shall we saddle ‘Rollo’?
Orion:
Nay, leave him undisturb’d in his stall;
I have steeds he would hardly care to follow.
Hugo:
Follow, forsooth! he can lead them all.
Orion:
Touching his merits we will not quarrel;
But let me mount you for once; enough
Of work may await your favourite sorrel,
And the paths we must traverse to-night are rough.
But first let me mix you a beverage,
To invigorate your enfeebled frame.
[He mixes a draught and hands it to Hugo.]
All human ills this draught can assuage.
Hugo:
It hisses and glows like liquid flame;
Say, what quack nostrum is this thou’st brewed?
Speak out; I am learned in the chemist’s lore.
Orion:
There is nothing but what will do you good;
And the drugs are simples; ’tis hellebore,
Nepenthe, upas, and dragon’s blood,
Absinthe, and mandrake, and mandragore.
Hugo:
I will drink it, although, by mass and rood,
I am just as wise as I was before.
SCENE — A Rough, Hilly Country.
HUGO and ORION riding at speed on black horses.
Mountains in the distance. Night.
Hugo:
See! the sparks that fly from our hoof-strokes make
A fiery track that gleams in our wake;
Like a dream the dim landscape past us shoots,
Our horses fly.
Orion: They are useful brutes,
Though somewhat skittish; the foam is whit’ning
The crest and rein of my courser ‘Lightning’;
He pulls to-night, being short of work,
And takes his head with a sudden jerk;
Still heel and steady hand on the bit,
For that is ‘Tempest’ on which you sit.
Hugo:
‘Tis the bravest steed that ever I back’d;
Did’st mark how he crossed yon cataract?
From hoof to hoof I should like to measure
The space he clear’d.
Orion: He can clear at leisure
A greater distance. Observe the chasm
We are nearing. Ha! did you feel a spasm
As we flew over it?
Hugo: Not at all.
Orion:
Nathless ’twas an ugly place for a fall.
Hugo:
Let us try a race to yon mountain high,
That rears its dusky peak ‘gainst the sky.
Orion:
I won’t disparage your horsemanship,
But your steed will stand neither spur nor whip,
And is hasty and hard to steer at times.
We must travel far ere the midnight chimes;
We must travel back ere the east is grey.
Ho! ‘Lightning’! ‘Tempest’! Away! Away!
[They ride on faster.]
SCENE — A Peak in a Mountainous Country Overhanging a Rocky Pass.
HUGO and ORION on black horses. Midnight.
Hugo:
These steeds are sprung from no common race,
Their vigour seems to annihilate space;
What hast thou brought me here to see?
Orion:
No boisterous scene of unhallow’d glee,
No sabbat of witches coarse and rude,
But a mystic and musical interlude;
You have long’d to explore the scrolls of Fate,
Dismount, as I do, and listen and wait.
[They dismount.]
Orion (chanting):
Spirits of earth, and air, and sea,
Spirits unclean, and spirits untrue,
By the symbols three that shall nameless be,
One of your masters calls on you.
Spirits (chanting in the distance):
From the bowels of earth, where gleams the gold;
From the air where the powers of darkness hold
Their court; from the white sea-foam,
Whence the white rose-tinted goddess sprung,
Whom poets of every age have sung,
Ever we come! we come!
Hugo:
How close to our ears the thunder peals!
How the earth beneath us shudders and reels!
A Voice (chanting):
Woe to the earth! Where men give death!
And women give birth!
To the sons of Adam, by Cain or Seth!
Plenty and dearth!
To the daughters of Eve, who toil and spin,
Barren of worth!
Let them sigh, and sicken, and suffer sin!
Woe to the earth!
Hugo:
What is yon phantom large and dim
That over the mountain seems to swim?
Orion:
‘Tis the scarlet woman of Babylon!
Hugo:
Whence does she come? Where has she gone?
And who is she?
Orion: You would know too much;
These are subjects on which I dare not touch;
And if I were to try and enlighten you,
I should probably fail, and possibly frighten you.
You had better ask some learned divine,
Whose opinion is p’rhaps worth as much as mine,
In his own conceit; and who, besides,
Could tell you the brand of the beast she rides.
What can you see in the valley yonder?
Speak out; I can hear you, for all the thunder.
Hugo:
I see four shadowy altars rise,
They seem to swell and dilate in size;
Larger and clearer now they loom,
Now fires are lighting them through the gloom.
A Voice (chanting):
The first a golden-hued fire shows,
A blood-red flame on the second glows,
The blaze on the third is tinged like the rose,
From the fourth a column of black smoke goes.
Orion:
Can you see all this?
Hugo: I see and hear;
The lights and hues are vivid and clear.
Spirits (sing at the first altar):
Hail, Mammon! while man buys and barters,
Thy kingdom in this world is sure;
Thy prophets thou hast and thy martyrs,
Great things in thy name they endure;
Thy fetters of gold crush the miser,
The usurer bends at thy shrine,
And the wealthier nations and the wiser
Bow with us at this altar of thine.
Spirits (sing at the second altar):
Hail, Moloch! whose banner floats blood-red,
From pole to equator unfurl’d,
Whose laws redly written have stood red,
And shall stand while standeth this world;
Clad in purple, with thy diadem gory,
Thy sceptre the blood-dripping steel,
Thy subjects with us give thee glory,
With us at thine altar they kneel.
Spirits (sing at the third altar):
Hail, Sovereign! whose fires are kindled
By sparks from the bottomless pit,
Has thy worship diminish’d or dwindled?
Do the yokes of thy slaves lightly sit?
Nay, the men of all climes and all races
Are stirr’d by the flames that now stir us;
Then (as we do) they fall on their faces,
Crying, ‘Hear us! Oh! Ashtaroth, hear us!’
Spirits (all in chorus):
The vulture her carrion swallows,
Returns to his vomit the dog.
In the slough of uncleanliness wallows
The he-goat, and revels the hog.
Men are wise with their schools and their teachers,
Men are just with their creeds and their priests;
Yet, in spite of their pedants and preachers,
They backslide in footprints of beasts!
Hugo:
From the smoky altar there seems to come
A stifled murmur, a droning hum.
Orion:
With that we have nothing at all to do,
Or, at least, not now, neither I nor you;
Though some day or other, possibly
We may see it closer, both you and I;
Let us visit the nearest altar first,
Whence the yellow fires flicker and burst,
Like the flames from molten ore that spring;
We may stand in the pale of the outer ring,
But forbear to trespass within the inner,
Lest the sins of the past should find out the sinner.
[They approach the first altar, and stand within the
outer circle which surrounds it, and near the inner.]
Spirits (sing):
Beneath us it flashes,
The glittering gold,
Though it turneth to ashes
And dross in the hold;
Yet man will endeavour,
By fraud or by strife,
To grasp it and never
To yield it with life.
Orion:
What can you see?
Hugo: Some decrepit shapes,
That are neither dwarfs, nor demons, nor apes;
In the hollow earth they appear to store
And rake together great heaps of ore.
Orion:
These are the gnomes, coarse sprites and rough;
Come on, of these we have seen enough.
[They approach second altar and stand as before.]
Spirits (singing):
Above us it flashes,
The glittering steel,
Though the red blood splashes
Where its victims reel;
Yet man will endeavour
To grapple the hilt,
And to wield the blade ever
Till his life be spilt.
Orion:
What see you now?
Hugo: A rocky glen,
A horrid jumble of fighting men,
And a face that somewhere I’ve seen before.
Orion:
Come on; there is naught worth seeing more,
Except the altar of Ashtaroth.
Hugo:
To visit that altar I am loth.
Orion:
Why so?
Hugo: Nay, I cannot fathom why,
But I feel no curiosity.
Orion:
Come on. Stand close to the inner ring,
And hear how sweetly these spirits sing.
[They approach third altar.]
Spirits (sing):
Around us it flashes,
The cestus of one
Born of white foam, that dashes
Beneath the white sun;
Let the mortal take heart, he
Has nothing to dare;
She is fair, Queen Astarte,
Her subjects are fair!
Orion:
What see you now, friend?
Hugo: Wood and wold,
And forms that look like the nymphs of old.
There is nothing here worth looking at twice.
I have seen enough.
Orion: You are far too nice;
Nevertheless, you must look again.
Those forms will fade.
Hugo: They are growing less plain.
They vanish. I see a door that seems
To open; a ray of sunlight gleams
From a window behind; a vision as fair
As the flush of dawn is standing there.
[He gazes earnestly.]
Orion (sings):
Higher and hotter the white flames glow,
And the adamant may be thaw’d like snow,
And the life for a single chance may go,
And the soul for a certainty.
Oh! vain and shallow philosopher,
Dost feel them quicken, dost feel them stir,
The thoughts that have stray’d again to HER
From whom thou hast sought to fly?
Lo! the furnace is heated till sevenfold;
Is thy brain still calm? Is thy blood still cold
To the curls that wander in ripples of gold,
On the shoulders of ivory?
Do the large, dark eyes, and the small, red mouth,
Consume thine heart with a fiery drouth,
Like the fierce sirocco that sweeps from the south,
When the deserts are parch’d and dry?
Aye, start and shiver and catch thy breath,
The sting is certain, the venom is death,
And the scales are flashing the fruit beneath,
And the fang striketh suddenly.
At the core the ashes are bitter and dead,
But the rind is fair and the rind is red,
It has ever been pluck’d since the serpent said,
Thou shalt NOT SURELY die.
[Hugo tries to enter the inner ring;
Orion holds him back; they struggle.]
Hugo:
Unhand me, slave! or quail to the rod!
Agatha! Speak! in the name of God!
[The vision disappears; the altars vanish.
Hugo falls insensible.]
SCENE — The Wayside House.
HUGO waking in his chamber. ORION unseen at first. Morning.
Hugo:
Vanish, fair and fatal vision!
Fleeting shade of fever’d sleep,
Chiding one whose indecision
Waking substance failed to keep;
Picture into life half starting,
As in life once seen before,
Parting somewhat sadly, parting
Slowly at the chamber door.
Were my waking senses duller?
Have I seen with mental eye
Light and shade, and warmth and colour,
Plainer than reality?
Sunlight that on tangled tresses
Every ripple gilds and tips;
Balm and bloom, and breath of kisses,
Warm on dewy, scarlet lips.
Dark eyes veiling half their splendour
‘Neath their lashes’ darker fringe,
Dusky, dreamy, deep and tender,
Passing smile and passing tinge;
Dimpling fast and flushing faster,
Ivory chin and coral cheek,
Pearly strings, by alabaster
Neck and arms made faint and weak;
Drooping, downcast lids enduring
Gaze of man unwillingly;
Sudden, sidelong gleams alluring,
Partly arch and partly shy.
Do I bless or curse that beauty?
Am I longing, am I loth?
Is it passion, is it duty
That I strive with, one or both?
Round about one fiery centre
Wayward thoughts like moths revolve.
[He sees Orion.]
Ha! Orion, thou didst enter
Unperceived. I pray thee solve
These two questions: Firstly, tell me,
Must I strive for wrong or right?
Secondly, what things befell me —
Facts, or phantasies — last night?
Orion:
First, your strife is all a sham, you
Know as well as I which wins;
Second, waking sins will damn you,
Never mind your sleeping sins;
Both your questions thus I answer;
Listen, ere you seek or shun:
I at least am no romancer,
What you long for may be won.
Turn again and travel Rhineward,
Tread once more the flowery path.
Hugo:
Aye, the flowery path that, sinward
Pointing, ends in sin and wrath.
Orion:
Songs by love-birds lightly caroll’d,
Even the just man may allure.
Hugo:
To his shame; in this wise Harold
Sinn’d, his punishment was sure.
Orion:
Nay, the Dane was worse than you are,
Base and pitiless to boot;
Doubtless all are bad, yet few are
Cruel, false, and dissolute.
Hugo:
Some sins foreign to our nature
Seem; we take no credit when
We escape them.
Orion: Yet the creature,
Sin-created, lives to sin.
Hugo:
Be it so; come good, come evil,
Ride we to the Rhine again!
Orion (aside):
‘Gainst the logic of the devil
Human logic strives in vain.
SCENE — A Camp Near the Black Forest.
RUDOLPH, OSRIC, DAGOBERT, and followers. ORION disguised as
one of the Free-lances. Mid-day.
Osric:
Now, by axe of Odin, and hammer of Thor,
And by all the gods of the Viking’s war,
I swear we have quitted our homes in vain:
We have nothing to look to, glory nor gain.
Will our galley return to Norway’s shore
With heavier gold, or with costlier store?
Will our exploits furnish the scald with a song?
We have travell’d too far, we have tarried too long.
Say, captains all, is there ever a village
For miles around that is worth the pillage?
Will it pay the costs of my men or yours
To harry the homesteads of German boors?
Have we cause for pride in our feats of arms
When we plunder the peasants or sack the farms?
I tell thee, Rudolph of Rothenstein,
That were thy soldiers willing as mine,
And I sole leader of this array,
I would give Prince Otto battle this day.
Dost thou call thy followers men of war?
Oh, Dagobert! thou whose ancestor
On the neck of the Caesar’s offspring trod,
Who was justly surnamed ‘The Scourge of God’.
Yet in flight lies safety. Skirmish and run
To forest and fastness, Teuton and Hun,
From the banks of the Rhine to the Danube’s shore,
And back to the banks of the Rhine once more;
Retreat from the face of an armed foe,
Robbing garden and hen-roost where’er you go.
Let the short alliance betwixt us cease,
I and my Norsemen will go in peace!
I wot it never will suit with us,
Such existence, tame and inglorious;
I could live no worse, living single-handed,
And better with half my men disbanded.
Rudolph:
Jarl Osric, what would’st thou have me do?
‘Gainst Otto’s army our men count few;
With one chance of victory, fight, say I!
But not when defeat is a certainty.
If Rudiger joins us with his free-lances,
Our chance will be equal to many chances;
For Rudiger is both prompt and wary;
And his men are gallant though mercenary;
But the knave refuses to send a lance
Till half the money is paid in advance.
Dagobert:
May his avarice wither him like a curse!
I guess he has heard of our late reverse;
But, Rudolph, whether he goes or stays,
There is reason in what Jarl Osric says;
Of provisions we need a fresh supply,
And our butts and flasks are shallow or dry;
My men are beginning to grumble sadly,
‘Tis no wonder, since they must fare so badly.
Rudolph:
We have plenty of foragers out, and still
We have plenty of hungry mouths to fill;
And, moreover, by some means, foul or fair,
We must raise money; ’tis little I care,
So long as we raise it, whence it comes.
Osric:
Shall we sit till nightfall biting our thumbs?
The shortest plan is ever the best;
Has anyone here got aught to suggest?
Orion:
The cornfields are golden that skirt the Rhine,
Fat are the oxen, strong is the wine,
In those pleasant pastures, those cellars deep,
That o’erflow with the tears that those vineyards weep;
Is it silver you stand in need of, or gold?
Ingot or coin? There is wealth untold
In the ancient convent of Englemehr;
That is not so very far from here.
The Abbot, esteem’d a holy man,
Will hold what he has and grasp what he can;
The cream of the soil he loves to skim,
Why not levy a contribution on him?
Dagobert:
The stranger speaks well; not far away
That convent lies; and one summer’s day
Will suffice for a horseman to reach the gate;
The garrison soon would capitulate,
Since the armed retainers are next to none,
And the walls, I wot, may be quickly won.
Rudolph:
I kept those walls for two months or more,
When they feared the riders of Melchior!
That was little over three years ago.
Their Abbot is thrifty, as well I know;
He haggled sorely about the price
Of our service.
Dagobert: Rudolph, he paid thee twice.
Rudolph:
Well, what of that? Since then I’ve tried
To borrow from him; now I know he lied
When he told me he could not spare the sum
I asked. If we to his gates should come,
He could spare it though it were doubled; and still,
This war with the Church I like it ill.
Osric:
The creed of our fathers is well-nigh dead,
And the creed of the Christian reigns in its stead
But the creed of the Christian, too, may die,
For your creeds or your churches what care I!
If there be plunder at Englemehr,
Let us strike our tents and thitherward steer.
SCENE — A Farm-house on the Rhine (About a mile from the Convent).
HUGO in chamber alone. Enter ERIC.
Eric:
What, Hugo, still at the Rhine! I thought
You were home. You have travell’d by stages short.
Hugo (with hesitation):
Our homeward march was labour in vain,
We had to retrace our steps again;
It was here or hereabouts that I lost
Some papers of value; at any cost
I must find them; and which way lies your course?
Eric:
I go to recruit Prince Otto’s force.
I cannot study as you do; I
Am wearied with inactivity;
So I carry a blade engrim’d with rust
(That a hand sloth-slacken’d has, I trust,
Not quite forgotten the way to wield),
To strike once more on the tented field.
Hugo:
Fighting is all a mistake, friend Eric,
And has been so since the age Homeric,
When Greece was shaken and Troy undone,
Ten thousand lives for a worthless one.
Yet I blame you not; you might well do worse;
Better fight and perish than live to curse
The day you were born; and such has been
The lot of many, and shall, I ween,
Be the lot of more. If Thurston chooses
He may go with you. The blockhead abuses
Me and the life I lead.
Enter ORION.
Orion: Great news!
The Englemehr monks will shake in their shoes;
In the soles of their callous feet will shake
The barefooted friars. The nuns will quake.
Hugo: Wherefore?
Orion: The outlaw of Rothenstein
Has come with his soldiers to the Rhine,
Back’d by those hardy adventurers
From the northern forests of pines and firs,
And Dagobert’s horse. They march as straight
As the eagle swoops to the convent gate.
Hugo:
We must do something to save the place.
Orion:
They are sure to take it in any case,
Unless the sum that they ask is paid.
Eric:
Some effort on our part must be made.
Hugo:
‘Tis not so much for the monks I care.
Eric:
Nor I; but the Abbess and nuns are there.
Orion:
‘Tis not our business; what can we do?
They are too many, and we are too few;
And yet, I suppose, you will save, if you can,
That lady, your ward, or your kinswoman.
Hugo:
She is no kinswoman of mine;
How far is Otto’s camp from the Rhine?
Orion:
Too far for help in such time of need
To be brought, though you used your utmost speed.
Eric:
Nay, that I doubt.
Hugo: And how many men
Have they?
Orion: To your one they could muster ten.
Eric:
I know Count Rudolph, and terms may be made
With him, I fancy; for though his trade
Is a rough one now, gainsay it who can,
He was once a knight and a gentleman.
And Dagobert, the chief of the Huns,
Bad as he is, will spare the nuns;
Though neither he nor the Count could check
Those lawless men, should they storm and sack
The convent. Jarl Osric, too, I know;
He is rather a formidable foe,
And will likely enough be troublesome;
But the others, I trust, to terms will come.
Hugo:
Eric, how many men have you?
I can count a score.
Eric: I have only two.
Hugo:
At every hazard we must try to save
The nuns.
Eric: Count Rudolph shall think we have
A force that almost equals his own,
If I can confer with him alone.
Orion:
He is close at hand; by this time he waits
The Abbot’s reply at the convent gates.
Hugo:
We had better send him a herald.
Eric: Nay,
I will go myself. [Eric goes out.]
Hugo: Orion, stay!
So this is the reed on which I’ve leaned,
These are the hopes thou hast fostered, these
The flames thou hast fanned. Oh, lying fiend!
Is it thus thou dost keep thy promises?
Orion:
Strong language, Hugo, and most unjust;
You will cry out before you are hurt —
You will live to recall your words, I trust.
Fear nothing from Osric or Dagobert,
These are your friends, if you only knew it,
And would take the advice of a friend sincere;
Neglect his counsels and you must rue it,
For I know by a sign the crisis is near.
Accept the terms of these outlaws all,
And be thankful that things have fallen out
Exactly as you would have had them fall —
You may save the one that you care about;
Otherwise, how did you hope to gain
Access to her — on what pretence?
What were the schemes that worried your brain
To tempt her there or to lure her thence?
You must have bungled, and raised a scandal
About your ears, that might well have shamed
The rudest Hun, the veriest Vandal,
Long or ever the bird was tamed.
Hugo:
The convent is scarce surrounded yet,
We might reach and hold it against their force
Till another sun has risen and set;
And should I despatch my fleetest horse
To Otto ——
Orion: For Abbot, or Monk, or Friar,
Between ourselves, ’tis little you care
If their halls are harried by steel and fire:
Their avarice left your heritage bare.
Forsake them! Mitres, and cowls, and hoods
Will cover vices while earth endures;
Through the green and gold of the summer woods
Ride out with that pretty bird of yours.
If again you fail to improve your chance,
Why, then, my friend, I can only say
You are duller far than the dullest lance
That rides in Dagobert’s troop this day.
‘Faemina semper’, frown not thus,
The girl was always giddy and wild,
Vain, and foolish, and frivolous,
Since she fled from her father’s halls, a child.
I sought to initiate you once
In the mystic lore of the old Chaldean;
But I found you far too stubborn a dunce,
And your tastes are coarser and more plebeian.
Yet mark my words, for I read the stars,
And trace the future in yonder sky;
To the right are wars and rumours of wars,
To the left are peace and prosperity.
Fear naught. The world shall never detect
The cloven hoof, so carefully hid
By the scholar so staid and circumspect,
So wise for once to do as he’s bid.
Remember what pangs come year by year
For opportunity that has fled;
And Thora in ignorance.
Hugo: Name not her!
I am sorely tempted to strike thee dead!
Orion:
Nay, I hardly think you will take my life,
The angel Michael was once my foe;
He had a little the best of our strife,
Yet he never could deal so stark a blow.
SCENE — A Chamber in the Nuns’ Apartments of the Convent.
AGATHA and URSULA.
Agatha:
My sire in my childhood pledged my hand
To Hugo — I know not why —
They were comrades then, ‘neath the Duke’s command,
In the wars of Lombardy.
I thought, ere my summers had turned sixteen,
That mine was a grievous case;
Save once, for an hour, I had never seen
My intended bridegroom’s face;
And maidens vows of their own will plight.
Unknown to my kinsfolk all
My love was vowed to a Danish knight,
A guest in my father’s hall.
His foot fell lightest in merry dance,
His shaft never missed the deer;
He could fly a hawk, he could wield a lance,
Our wildest colt he could steer.
His deep voice ringing through hall or glen
Had never its match in song;
And little was known of his past life then,
Or of Dorothea’s wrong.
I loved him — Lady Abbess, I know
That my love was foolish now;
I was but a child five years ago,
And thoughtless as bird on bough.
One evening Hugo the Norman came,
And, to shorten a weary tale,
I fled that night (let me bear the blame)
With Harold by down and dale.
He had mounted me on a dappled steed,
And another of coal-black hue
He rode himself; and away at speed
We fled through mist and dew.
Of miles we had ridden some half a score,
We had halted beside a spring,
When the breeze to our ears through the still night bore
A distant trample and ring;
We listen’d one breathing space, and caught
The clatter of mounted men,
With vigour renewed by their respite short
Our horses dash’d through the glen.
Another league, and we listen’d in vain;
The breeze to our ears came mute;
But we heard them again on the spacious plain,
Faint tidings of hot pursuit.
In the misty light of a moon half hid
By the dark or fleecy rack,
Our shadows over the moorland slid,
Still listening and looking back.
So we fled (with a cheering word to say
At times as we hurried on),
From sounds that at intervals died away,
And at intervals came anon.
Another league, and my lips grew dumb,
And I felt my spirit quailing,
For closer those sounds began to come,
And the speed of my horse was failing.
‘The grey is weary and lame to boot,’
Quoth Harold; ‘the black is strong,
And their steeds are blown with their fierce pursuit,
What wonder! our start was long.
Now, lady, behind me mount the black,
The double load he can bear;
We are safe when we reach the forest track,
Fresh horses and friends wait there.’
Then I sat behind him and held his waist,
And faster we seemed to go
By moss and moor; but for all our haste
Came the tramp of the nearing foe.
A dyke through the mist before us hover’d,
And, quicken’d by voice and heel,
The black overleap’d it, stagger’d, recover’d;
Still nearer that muffled peal.
And louder on sward the hoof-strokes grew,
And duller, though not less nigh,
On deader sand; and a dark speck drew
On my vision suddenly,
And a single horseman in fleet career,
Like a shadow appear’d to glide
To within six lances’ lengths of our rear,
And there for a space to bide.
Quoth Harold, ‘Speak, has the moon reveal’d
His face?’ I replied, ‘Not so!
Yet ’tis none of my kinsfolk.’ Then he wheel’d
In the saddle and scanned the foe,
And mutter’d, still gazing in our wake,
”Tis he; now I will not fight
The brother again, for the sister’s sake,
While I can escape by flight.’
‘Who, Harold?’ I asked; but he never spoke.
By the cry of the bittern harsh,
And the bull-frog’s dull, discordant croak,
I guess’d that we near’d the marsh;
And the moonbeam flash’d on watery sedge
As it broke from a strip of cloud,
Ragged and jagged about the edge,
And shaped like a dead man’s shroud.
And flagg’d and falter’d our gallant steed,
‘Neath the weight of his double burden,
As we splash’d through water and crash’d through reed;
Then the soil began to harden,
And again we gain’d, or we seem’d to gain,
With our foe in the deep morass;
But those fleet hoofs thunder’d, and gain’d again,
When they trampled the firmer grass,
And I cried, and Harold again look’d back,
And bade me fasten mine eyes on
The forest, that loom’d like a patch of black
Standing out from the faint horizon.
‘Courage, sweetheart! we are saved,’ he said;
‘With the moorland our danger ends,
And close to the borders of yonder glade
They tarry, our trusty friends.’
Where the mossy uplands rise and dip
On the edge of the leafy dell,
With a lurch, like the lurch of a sinking ship,
The black horse toppled and fell.
Unharm’d we lit on the velvet sward,
And even as I lit I lay,
But Harold uprose, unsheath’d his sword,
And toss’d the scabbard away.
And spake through his teeth, ‘Good brother-in-law,
Forbearance, at last, is spent;
The strife that thy soul hath lusted for
Thou shalt have to thy soul’s content!’
While he spoke, our pursuer past us swept,
Ere he rein’d his war-horse proud,
To his haunches flung, then to the earth he leapt,
And my lover’s voice rang loud:
‘Thrice welcome! Hugo of Normandy,
Thou hast come at our time of need,
This lady will thank thee, and so will I,
For the loan of thy sorrel steed!’
And never a word Lord Hugo said,
They clos’d ‘twixt the wood and the wold,
And the white steel flickered over my head
In the moonlight calm and cold;
‘Mid the feathery grasses crouching low,
With face bow’d down to the dust,
I heard the clash of each warded blow,
The click of each parried thrust,
And the shuffling feet that bruis’d the lawn,
As they traversed here and there,
And the breath through the clench’d teeth heavily drawn
When breath there was none to spare;
Sharp ringing sword play, dull, trampling heel,
Short pause, spent force to regain,
Quick muffled footfall, harsh grating steel,
Sharp ringing rally again;
They seem’d long hours, those moments fleet,
As I counted them one by one,
Till a dead weight toppled across my feet,
And I knew that the strife was done.
When I looked up, after a little space,
As though from a fearful dream,
The moon was flinging on Harold’s face
A white and a weird-like gleam;
And I felt mine ankles moist and warm
With the blood that trickled slow
From a spot on the doublet beneath his arm,
From a ghastly gash on his brow;
I heard the tread of the sorrel’s hoof
As he bore his lord away;
They passed me slowly, keeping aloof,
Like spectres, misty and grey.
I thought Lord Hugo had left me there
To die, but it was not so;
Yet then for death I had little care,
My soul seem’d numb’d by the blow;
A faintness follow’d, a sickly swoon,
A long and a dreamless sleep,
And I woke to the light of a sultry noon
In my father’s castled keep.
And thus, Lady Abbess, it came to pass
That my father vow’d his vow;
Must his daughter espouse the Church? Alas!
Is she better or wiser now?
For some are feeble and others strong,
And feeble am I and frail.
Mother! ’tis not that I love the wrong,
‘Tis not that I loathe the veil,
But with heart still ready to go astray,
If assail’d by a fresh temptation,
I could sin again as I sinned that day,
For a girl’s infatuation.
See! Harold, the Dane, thou say’st is dead,
Yet I weep NOT BITTERLY;
As I fled with the Dane, so I might have fled
With Hugo of Normandy.
Ursula:
My child, I advise no hasty vows,
Yet I pray that in life’s brief span
Thou may’st learn that our Church is a fairer spouse
Than fickle and erring man;
Though fenced for a time by the Church’s pale,
When that time expires thou’rt free;
And we cannot force thee to take the veil,
Nay, we scarce can counsel thee.
Enter the ABBOT hastily.
Basil (the Abbot):
I am sorely stricken with shame and grief,
It has come by the self-same sign,
A summons brief from the outlaw’d chief,
Count Rudolph of Rothenstein.
Lady Abbess, ere worse things come to pass,
I would speak with thee alone;
Alack and alas! for by the rood and mass
I fear we are all undone.
SCENE — A Farm-house Near the Convent.
A Chamber furnished with writing materials. HUGO, ERIC, and THURSTON
on one side; on the other OSRIC, RUDOLPH, and DAGOBERT.
Osric:
We have granted too much, ye ask for more;
I am not skill’d in your clerkly lore,
I scorn your logic; I had rather die
Than live like Hugo of Normandy:
I am a Norseman, frank and plain;
Ye must read the parchment over again.
Eric:
Jarl Osric, twice we have read this scroll.
Osric:
Thou hast read a part.
Eric: I have read the whole.
Osric:
Aye, since I attached my signature!
Eric:
Before and since!
Rudolph: Nay, of this be sure,
Thou hast signed; in fairness now let it rest.
Osric:
I had rather have sign’d upon Hugo’s crest;
He has argued the question mouth to mouth
With the wordy lore of the subtle south;
Let him or any one of his band
Come and argue the question hand to hand.
With the aid of my battle-axe I will show
That a score of words are not worth one blow.
Thurston:
To the devil with thee and thy battle-axe;
I would send the pair of ye back in your tracks,
With an answer that even to thy boorish brain
Would scarce need repetition again.
Osric:
Thou Saxon slave to a milksop knight,
I will give thy body to raven and kite.
Thurston:
Thou liest; I am a freeborn man,
And thy huge carcase — in cubit and span
Like the giant’s of Gath — ‘neath Saxon steel,
Shall furnish the kites with a fatter meal.
Osric:
Now, by Odin!
Rudolph: Jarl Osric, curb thy wrath;
Our names are sign’d, our words have gone forth.
Hugo:
I blame thee, Thurston.
Thurston: And I, too, blame
Myself, since I follow a knight so tame!
[Thurston goes out.]
Osric:
The Saxon hound, he said I lied!
Rudolph:
I pray thee, good Viking, be pacified.
Osric:
Why do we grant the terms they ask?
To crush them all were an easy task.
Dagobert:
That know’st thou not; if it come to war,
They are stronger, perhaps, than we bargain for.
Eric:
Jarl Osric, thou may’st recall thy words —
Should we meet again.
Osric: Should we meet with swords,
Thou, too, may’st recall them to thy sorrow.
Hugo:
Eric! we dally. Sir Count, good-morrow.
SCENE — The Guest Chamber of the Convent.
HUGO, ERIC, and ORION.
Eric:
Hugo, their siege we might have tried;
This place would be easier fortified
Than I thought at first; it is now too late,
They have cut off our access to the gate.
Hugo:
I have weigh’d the chances and counted the cost,
And I know by the stars that all is lost
If we take up this quarrel.
Eric: So let it be!
I yield to one who is wiser than me. (Aside.)
Nevertheless, I have seen the day
When the stars would scarcely have bade us stay.
Enter the ABBOT, CYRIL, and other Monks.
Hugo:
Lord Abbot, we greet thee. Good fathers all,
We bring you greeting.
Orion (aside): And comfort small.
Abbot:
God’s benediction on you, my sons.
Hugo:
May He save you, too, from Norsemen and Huns!
Since the gates are beleaguer’d and walls begirt
By the forces of Osric and Dagobert;
‘Tis a heavy price that the knaves demand.
Abbot:
Were we to mortgage the Church’s land
We never could raise what they would extort.
Orion (aside):
The price is too long and the notice too short.
Eric:
And you know the stern alternative.
Abbot:
If we die we die, if we live we live;
God’s will be done; and our trust is sure
In Him, though His chast’nings we endure.
Two messengers rode from here last night,
To Otto they carry news of our plight;
On my swiftest horses I saw them go.
Orion (aside):
Then his swiftest horses are wondrous slow.
Eric:
One of these is captive and badly hurt;
By the reckless riders of Dagobert
He was overtaken and well-nigh slain,
Not a league from here on the open plain.
Abbot:
But the other escap’d.
Eric: It may be so;
We had no word of him, but we know
That unless you can keep these walls for a day
At least, the Prince is too far away
To afford relief.
Abbot: Then a hopeless case
Is ours, and with death we are face to face.
Eric:
You have arm’d retainers.
Cyril (a Monk): Aye, some half score;
And some few of the brethren, less or more,
Have in youth the brunt of the battle bided,
Yet our armoury is but ill provided.
Hugo:
We have terms of truce from the robbers in chief,
Though the terms are partial, the truce but brief;
To Abbess, to nuns, and novices all,
And to every woman within your wall,
We can offer escort, and they shall ride
From hence in safety whate’er betide.
Abbot:
What escort, Hugo, canst thou afford?
Hugo:
Some score of riders who call me lord
Bide at the farm not a mile from here,
Till we rejoin them they will not stir;
My page and armourer wait below,
And all our movements are watch’d by the foe.
Strict stipulation was made, of course,
That, except ourselves, neither man nor horse
Should enter your gates — they were keen to shun
The chance of increasing your garrison.
Eric:
I hold safe conduct here in my hand,
Signed by the chiefs of that lawless band;
See Rudolph’s name, no disgrace to a clerk,
And Dagobert’s scrawl, and Osric’s mark;
Jarl signed sorely against his will,
With a scratch like the print of a raven’s bill;
But the foe have muster’d in sight of the gate.
For another hour they will scarcely wait;
Bid Abbess and dame prepare with haste.
Hugo:
Lord Abbot, I tell thee candidly
There is no great love between thou and I,
As well thou know’st; but, nevertheless,
I would we were more, or thy foes were less.
Abbot:
I will summon the Lady Abbess straight.
[The Abbot and Monks go out.]
Eric:
‘Tis hard to leave these men to their fate,
Norsemen and Hun will never relent;
Their day of grace upon earth is spent.
[Hugo goes out, followed by Orion.]
SCENE — The Corridor Outside the Guest Chamber.
HUGO pacing up and down. ORION leaning against the wall.
Hugo:
My day of grace with theirs is past.
I might have saved them; ’tis too late —
Too late for both. The die is cast,
And I resign me to my fate.
God’s vengeance I await.
Orion:
The boundary ‘twixt right and wrong
Is not so easy to discern;
And man is weak, and fate is strong,
And destiny man’s hopes will spurn,
Man’s schemes will overturn.
Hugo:
Thou liest, thou fiend! Not unawares
The sinner swallows Satan’s bait,
Nor pits conceal’d nor hidden snares
Seeks blindly; wherefore dost thou prate
Of destiny and fate?
Orion:
Who first named fate? But never mind,
Let that pass by — to Adam’s fall
And Adam’s curse look back, and find
Iniquity the lot of all,
And sin original.
Hugo:
But I have sinn’d, repented, sinn’d,
Till seven times that sin may be
By seventy multiplied; the wind
Is constant when compared with me,
And stable is the sea!
My hopes are sacrificed, for what?
For days of folly, less or more,
For years to see those dead hopes rot,
Like dead weeds scatter’d on the shore,
Beyond the surfs that roar!
Orion:
The wiles of Eve are swift to smite;
Aye, swift to smite and not to spare —
Red lips and round limbs sweet and white,
Dark eyes and sunny, silken hair,
Thy betters may ensnare.
Hugo:
Not so; the strife ‘twixt hell and heaven
I felt last night, and well I knew
The crisis; but my aid was given
To hell. Thou’st known the crisis too,
For once thou’st spoken true.
Having foretold it, there remains
For grace no time, for hope no room;
Even now I seem to feel the pains
Of hell, that wait beyond the gloom
Of my dishonour’d tomb.
Thou who hast lived and died to save,
Us sinners, Christ of Galilee!
Thy great love pardon’d and forgave
The dying thief upon the tree,
Thou canst not pardon me!
Dear Lord! hear Thou my latest prayer,
For prayer must die since hope is dead;
Thy Father’s vengeance let me bear,
Nor let my guilt be visited
Upon a guiltless head!
Ah! God is just! Full sure I am
He never did predestinate
Our souls to hell. Ourselves we damn —
[To Orion, with sudden passion]
Serpent! I know thee now, too late;
Curse thee! Work out thy hate!
Orion:
I hate thee not; thy grievous plight
Would move my pity, but I bear
A curse to which thy curse seems light!
Thy wrong is better than my right,
My day is darker than thy night;
Beside the whitest hope I share
How white is thy despair!
SCENE — The Chapel of the Convent.
URSULA, AGATHA, Nuns and Novices.
(Hymn of the Nuns):
Jehovah! we bless Thee,
All works of Thine hand
Extol Thee, confess Thee;
By sea and by land,
By mountain and river,
By forest and glen,
They praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
The heathen are raging
Against Thee, O Lord!
The ungodly are waging
Rash war against God!
Arise, and deliver
Us, sheep of Thy pen,
Who praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Thou Shepherd of Zion!
Thy firstlings didst tear
From jaws of the lion,
From teeth of the bear;
Thy strength to deliver
Is strong now as then.
We praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Thine arm hath delivered
Thy servants of old,
Hath scatter’d and shiver’d
The spears of the bold,
Hath emptied the quiver
Of bloodthirsty men.
We praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Nathless shall Thy right hand
Those counsels fulfil
Most wise in Thy sight, and
We bow to Thy will;
Thy children quail never
For dungeon or den,
They praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Though fierce tribulation
Endure for a space,
Yet God! our salvation!
We gain by Thy grace,
At end of life’s fever,
Bliss passing man’s ken;
There to praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
SCENE — The Guest Room of the Convent.
HUGO, ERIC, and ORION. Enter URSULA, AGATHA, and Nuns.
Ursula:
Hugo, we reject thine offers,
Not that we can buy
Safety from the Church’s coffers,
Neither can we fly.
Far too great the price they seek is,
Let their lawless throng
Come, we wait their coming; weak is
Man, but God is strong.
Eric:
Think again on our proposals:
It will be too late
When the robbers hold carousals
On this side the gate.
Ursula:
For myself I speak and others
Weak and frail as I;
We will not desert our brothers
In adversity.
Hugo (to the Nuns):
Does the Abbess thus advance her
Will before ye all?
A Nun:
We will stay.
Hugo: Is this thine answer,
Agatha? The wall
Is a poor protection truly,
And the gates are weak,
And the Norsemen most unruly.
Come, then.
A Nun (to Agatha): Sister, speak!
Orion (aside to Hugo):
Press her! She her fears dissembling,
Stands irresolute;
She will yield — her limbs are trembling,
Though her lips are mute.
[A trumpet is heard without.]
Eric:
Hark! their savage war-horn blowing
Chafes at our delay.
Hugo:
Agatha, we must be going.
Come, girl!
Agatha (clinging to Ursula): Must I stay?
Ursula:
Nay, my child, thou shalt not make me
Judge; I cannot give
Orders to a novice.
Agatha: Take me,
Hugo! Let me live!
Eric (to Nuns):
Foolish women! will ye tarry,
Spite of all we say?
Hugo:
Must we use our strength and carry
You by force away?
Ursula:
Bad enough thou art, Sir Norman,
Yet thou wilt not do
This thing. Shame! — on men make war, man,
Not on women few.
Eric:
Heed her not — her life she barters,
Of her free accord,
For her faith; and, doubtless, martyrs
Have their own reward.
Ursula:
In the Church’s cause thy father
Never grudged his blade —
Hugo, did he rue it?
Orion: Rather!
He was poorly paid.
Hugo:
Abbess, this is not my doing;
I have said my say;
How can I avert the ruin,
Even for a day,
Since they count two hundred fairly,
While we count a score;
And thine own retainers barely
Count a dozen more?
Agatha (kneeling to Ursula):
Ah! forgive me, Lady Abbess,
Bless me ere I go;
She who under sod and slab is
Lying, cold and low,
Scarce would turn away in anger
From a child so frail;
Not dear life, but deadly danger,
Makes her daughter quail.
Hugo:
Eric, will those faces tearful
To God’s judgment seat
Haunt us?
Eric: Death is not so fearful.
Hugo: No, but life is sweet —
Sweet for once, to me, though sinful.
Orion (to Hugo): Earth is scant of bliss;
Wisest he who takes his skinful
When the chance is his.
(To Ursula):
Lady Abbess! stay and welcome
Osric’s savage crew;
Yet when pains of death and hell come,
Thou thy choice may’st rue.
Ursula (to Orion):
What dost thou ‘neath roof-trees sacred?
Man or fiend, depart!
Orion:
Dame, thy tongue is sharp and acrid,
Yet I bear the smart.
Ursula (advancing and raising up a crucifix):
I conjure thee by this symbol
Leave us!
[Orion goes out hastily.]
Hugo: Ha! the knave,
He has made an exit nimble;
Abbess! thou art brave.
Yet once gone, we’re past recalling,
Let no blame be mine.
See, thy sisters’ tears are falling
Fast, and so are thine.
Ursula:
Fare you well! The teardrop splashes
Vainly on the ice.
Ye will sorrow o’er our ashes
And your cowardice.
Eric:
Sorry am I, yet my sorrow
Cannot alter fate;
Should Prince Otto come to-morrow,
He will come too late.
Hugo:
Nay, old comrade, she hath spoken
Words we must not hear;
Shall we pause for sign or token —
Taunted twice with fear?
Yonder, hilt to hilt adjusted,
Stand the swords in which we trusted
Years ago. Their blades have rusted,
So, perchance, have we.
Ursula! thy words may shame us,
Yet we once were counted famous,
Morituri, salutamus,
Aut victuri, te! [They go out.]
SCENE — The Outskirts of Rudolph’s Camp.
RUDOLPH, OSRIC, and DAGOBERT. HUGO.
Rudolph:
Lord Hugo! thy speech is madness;
Thou hast tax’d our patience too far;
We offer’d thee peace — with gladness,
We gladly accept thy war.
Dagobert:
And the clemency we extended
To thee and thine we recall;
And the treaty ‘twixt us is ended —
We are ready to storm the wall.
Osric:
Now tear yon parchment to tatters;
Thou shalt make no further use
Of our safeguard; the wind that scatters
The scroll shall scatter the truce.
Hugo:
Jarl Osric, to save the spilling
Of blood, and the waste of life,
I am willing, if thou art willing,
With thee to decide this strife;
Let thy comrades draw their force back;
I defy thee to single fight,
I will meet thee on foot or horseback,
And God shall defend the right.
Rudolph:
No single combat shall settle
This strife; thou art overbold —
Thou hast put us all on our mettle,
Now the game in our hands we hold.
Dagobert:
Our lances round thee have hover’d,
Have seen where thy fellows bide;
Thy weakness we have discover’d,
Thy nakedness we have spied.
Osric:
And hearken, knight, to my story —
When sack’d are the convent shrines,
When the convent thresholds are gory,
And quaff’d are the convent wines:
When our beasts with pillage are laden,
And the clouds of our black smoke rise
From yon tower, one fair-haired maiden
Is singled as Osric’s prize.
I will fit her with chain and collar
Of red gold, studded with pearls;
With bracelet of gold, Sir Scholar,
The queen of my captive girls.
Hugo (savagely):
May the Most High God of battles
The Lord and Ruler of fights,
Who breaketh the shield that rattles,
Who snappeth the sword that smites,
In whose hands are footmen and horsemen,
At whose breath they conquer or flee,
Never show me His mercy, Norseman!
If I show mercy to thee.
Osric:
What, ho! art thou drunk, Sir Norman?
Has the wine made thy pale cheek red?
Now, I swear by Odin and Thor, man,
Already I count thee dead.
Rudolph:
I crave thy pardon for baulking
The flood of thine eloquence,
But thou canst not scare us with talking,
I therefore pray thee go hence.
Osric:
Though I may not take up thy gauntlet,
Should we meet where the steel strikes fire,
‘Twixt thy casque and thy charger’s frontlet
The choice will perplex thy squire.
Hugo:
When the Norman rowels are goading,
When glitters the Norman glaive,
Thou shalt call upon Thor and Odin:
They shall not hear thee nor save.
‘Should we meet!’ Aye, the chance may fall so,
In the furious battle drive,
So may God deal with me — more, also!
If we separate, both alive!
SCENE — The Court-yard of the Old Farm.
EUSTACE and other followers of HUGO and ERIC lounging about.
Enter THURSTON hastily, with swords under his arm.
Thurston:
Now saddle your horses and girth them tight,
And see that your weapons are sharp and bright.
Come, lads, get ready as fast as you can.
Eustace:
Why, what’s this bustle about, old man?
Thurston:
Well, it seems Lord Hugo has changed his mind,
As the weathercock veers with the shifting wind;
He has gone in person to Osric’s camp,
To tell him to pack up his tents and tramp!
But I guess he won’t.
Eustace: Then I hope he will,
They are plenty to eat us, as well as to kill.
Ralph:
And I hope he won’t — I begin to feel
A longing to moisten my thirsty steel.
[They begin to saddle and make preparations
for a skirmish.]
Thurston:
I’ve a couple of blades to look to here.
In their scabbards I scarcely could make them stir
At first, but I’ll sharpen them both ere long.
A Man-at-arms:
Hurrah for a skirmish! Who’ll give us a song?
Thurston (sings, cleaning and sharpening):
Hurrah! for the sword! I hold one here,
And I scour at the rust and say,
‘Tis the umpire this, and the arbiter,
That settles in the fairest way;
For it stays false tongues and it cools hot blood,
And it lowers the proud one’s crest;
And the law of the land is sometimes good,
But the law of the sword is best.
In all disputes ’tis the shortest plan,
The surest and best appeal; —
What else can decide between man and man?
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
Thurston (sings):
Hurrah! for the sword of Hugo, our lord!
‘Tis a trusty friend and a true;
It has held its own on a grassy sward,
When its blade shone bright and blue,
Though it never has stricken in anger hard,
And has scarcely been cleansed from rust,
Since the day when it broke through Harold’s guard
With our favourite cut and thrust;
Yet Osric’s crown will look somewhat red,
And his brain will be apt to reel,
Should the trenchant blade come down on his head —
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
Thurston (sings):
Hurrah! for the sword of our ally bold,
It has done good service to him;
It has held its own on an open wold,
When its edge was in keener trim.
It may baffle the plots of the wisest skull,
It may slacken the strongest limb,
Make the brains full of forethought void and null,
And the eyes full of far-sight dim;
And the hasty hands are content to wait,
And the knees are compelled to kneel,
Where it falls with the weight of a downstroke straight —
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
Thurston (sings):
Hurrah! for the sword — I’ve one of my own;
And I think I may safely say,
Give my enemy his, let us stand alone,
And our quarrel shall end one way;
One way or the other — it matters not much,
So the question be fairly tried.
Oh! peacemaker good, bringing peace with a touch,
Thy clients will be satisfied.
As a judge, thou dost judge — as a witness, attest,
And thou settest thy hand and seal,
And the winner is blest, and the loser at rest —
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
[Hugo and Eric enter during the last verse
of the song.]
Hugo:
Boot and saddle, old friend,
Their defiance they send;
Time is short — make an end
Of thy song.
Let the sword in this fight
Strike as hard for the right
As it once struck for might
Leagued with wrong.
Ha! Rollo, thou champest
Thy bridle and stampest,
For the rush of the tempest
Dost long?
Ho! the kites will grow fatter
On the corpses we scatter,
In the paths where we shatter
Their throng.
Where Osric, the craven,
Hath reared the black raven
‘Gainst monks that are shaven
And cowl’d:
Where the Teuton and Hun sit,
In the track of our onset,
Will the wolves, ere the sunset,
Have howl’d.
Retribution is good,
They have revell’d in blood,
Like the wolves of the wood
They have prowl’d.
Birds of prey they have been,
And of carrion unclean,
And their own nests (I ween)
They have foul’d.
Eric:
Two messengers since
Yestermorn have gone hence,
And ere long will the Prince
Bring relief.
Shall we pause? — they are ten
To our one, but their men
Are ill-arm’d, and scarce ken
Their own chief;
And for this we give thanks:
Their disorderly ranks,
If assail’d in the flanks,
Will as lief
Run as fight — loons and lords.
Hugo:
Mount your steeds! draw your swords!
Take your places! My words
Shall be brief:
Ride round by the valley,
Through pass and gorge sally —
The linden trees rally
Beneath.
Then, Eric and Thurston,
Their ranks while we burst on,
Try which will be first on
The heath.
(Aside)
Look again, mother mine,
Through the happy starshine,
For my sins dost thou pine?
With my breath,
See! thy pangs are all done,
For the life of thy son:
Thou shalt never feel one
For his death.
[They all go out but Hugo, who lingers to tighten
his girths. Orion appears suddenly in the gateway.]
Orion:
Stay, friend! I keep guard on
Thy soul’s gates; hold hard on
Thy horse. Hope of pardon
Hath fled!
Bethink once, I crave thee,
Can recklessness save thee?
Hell sooner will have thee
Instead.
Hugo:
Back! My soul, tempest-toss’d,
Hath her Rubicon cross’d,
She shall fly — saved or lost!
Void of dread!
Sharper pang than the steel,
Thou, oh, serpent! shalt feel,
Should I set the bruised heel
On thy head.
[He rides out.]
SCENE — A Room in the Convent Tower Overlooking the Gate.
URSULA at the window. AGATHA and Nuns crouching or kneeling in a corner.
Ursula:
See, Ellinor! Agatha! Anna!
While yet for the ladders they wait,
Jarl Osric hath rear’d the black banner
Within a few yards of the gate;
It faces our window, the raven,
The badge of the cruel sea-kings,
That has carried to harbour and haven
Destruction and death on its wings.
Beneath us they throng, the fierce Norsemen,
The pikemen of Rudolph behind
Are mustered, and Dagobert’s horsemen
With faces to rearward inclined;
Come last, on their coursers broad-chested,
Rough-coated, short-pastern’d and strong,
Their casques with white plumes thickly crested,
Their lances barb-headed and long:
They come through the shades of the linden,
Fleet riders and war-horses hot:
The Normans, our friends — we have sinn’d in
Our selfishness, sisters, I wot —
They come to add slaughter to slaughter,
Their handful can ne’er stem the tide
Of our foes, and our fate were but shorter
Without them. How fiercely they ride!
And ‘Hugo of Normandy!’ ‘Hugo!’
‘A rescue! a rescue!’ rings loud,
And right on the many the few go!
A sway and a swerve of the crowd!
A springing and sparkling of sword-blades!
A crashing and ‘countering of steeds!
And the white feathers fly ‘neath their broad blades
Like foam-flakes! the spear-shafts like reeds!
A Nun (to Agatha):
Pray, sister!
Agatha: Alas! I have striven
To pray, but the lips move in vain
When the heart with such terror is riven.
Look again, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
As leaves fall by wintry gusts scatter’d,
As fall by the sickle ripe ears,
As the pines by the whirlwind fall shatter’d,
As shatter’d by bolt fall the firs —
To the right hand they fall, to the left hand
They yield! They go down! they give back!
And their ranks are divided and cleft, and
Dispers’d and destroy’d in the track!
Where, stirrup to stirrup, and bridle
To bridle, down-trampling the slain!
Our friends, wielding swords never idle,
Hew bloody and desperate lane
Through pikemen, so crowded together
They scarce for their pikes can find room,
Led by Hugo’s gilt crest, the tall feather
Of Thurston, and Eric’s black plume!
A Nun (to Agatha):
Pray, sister!
Agatha: First pray thou that heaven
Will lift this dull weight from my brain,
That crushes like crime unforgiven.
Look again, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
Close under the gates men are fighting
On foot where the raven is rear’d!
‘Neath that sword-stroke, through helm and skull smiting,
Jarl Osric falls, cloven to the beard!
And Hugo, the hilt firmly grasping,
His heel on the throat of his foe,
Wrenches back. I can hear the dull rasping,
The steel through the bone grating low!
And the raven rocks! Thurston has landed
Two strokes, well directed and hard,
On the standard pole, wielding, two-handed,
A blade crimson’d up to the guard.
Like the mast cut in two by the lightning,
The black banner topples and falls!
Bewildering! back-scattering! affright’ning!
It clears a wide space next the walls.
A Nun (to Agatha):
Pray, sister!
Agatha: Does the sinner unshriven,
With naught beyond this life to gain,
Pray for mercy on earth or in heaven?
Look again, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
The gates are flung open, and straightway,
By Ambrose and Cyril led on,
Our own men rush out through the gateway;
One charge, and the entrance is won!
No! our foes block the gate and endeavour
To force their way in! Oath and yell,
Shout and war-cry wax wilder than ever!
Those children of Odin fight well;
And my ears are confused by the crashing,
The jarring, the discord, the din;
And mine eyes are perplex’d by the flashing
Of fierce lights that ceaselessly spin;
So when thunder to thunder is calling,
Quick flash follows flash in the shade,
So leaping and flashing and falling,
Blade flashes and follows on blade!
While the sward, newly plough’d, freshly painted,
Grows purple with blood of the slain,
And slippery! Has Agatha fainted?
Agatha:
Not so, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
No more from the window; in the old years
I have look’d upon strife. Now I go
To the court-yard to rally our soldiers
As I may — face to face with the foe.
[She goes out.]
SCENE — A Room in the Convent.
THURSTON seated near a small fire.
Enter EUSTACE.
Eustace:
We have come through this skirmish with hardly a scratch.
Thurston:
And without us, I fancy, they have a full batch
Of sick men to look to. Those robbers accurs’d
Will soon put our soundest on terms with our worst.
Nathless I’d have bartered, with never a frown,
Ten years for those seconds when Osric went down.
Where’s Ethelwolf?
Eustace: Dying.
Thurston: And Reginald?
Eustace: Dead.
And Ralph is disabled, and Rudolph is sped.
He may last till midnight — not longer. Nor Tyrrel,
Nor Brian will ever see sunrise.
Thurston: That Cyril,
The monk, is a very respectable fighter.
Eustace:
Not bad for a monk. Yet our loss had been lighter
Had he and his fellows thrown open the gate
A little more quickly. And now, spite of fate,
With thirty picked soldiers their siege we might weather,
But the Abbess is worth all the rest put together.
[Enter Ursula.]
Thurston:
Here she comes.
Ursula: Can I speak with your lord?
Eustace: ‘Tis too late,
He was dead when we carried him in at the gate.
Thurston:
Nay, he spoke after that, for I heard him myself;
But he won’t speak again, he must lie on his shelf.
Ursula:
Alas! is he dead, then?
Thurston: As dead as St. Paul.
And what then? to-morrow we, too, one and all,
Die, to fatten these ravenous carrion birds.
I knelt down by Hugo and heard his last words:
‘How heavy the night hangs — how wild the waves dash;
Say a mass for my soul — and give Rollo a mash.’
Ursula:
Nay, Thurston, thou jestest.
Thurston: Ask Eric. I swear
We listened and caught every syllable clear.
Eustace:
Why, his horse was slain, too.
Thurston: ‘Neath the linden trees grey,
Ere the onset, young Henry rode Rollo away;
He will hasten the Prince, and they may reach your gate
To-morrow — though to-morrow for us is too late.
Hugo rode the boy’s mare, and she’s dead — if you like —
Disembowel’d by the thrust of a freebooter’s pike.
Eustace:
Neither Henry nor Rollo we ever shall see.
Ursula:
But we may hold the walls till to-morrow.
Thurston: Not we.
In an hour or less, having rallied their force,
They’ll storm your old building — and take it, of course,
Since of us, who alone in war’s science are skill’d,
One-third are disabled, and two-thirds are kill’d.
Ursula:
Art thou hurt?
Thurston: At present I feel well enough,
But your water is brackish, unwholesome and rough;
Bring a flask of your wine, dame, for Eustace and I,
Let us gaily give battle and merrily die.
[Enter Eric, with arm in sling.]
Eric:
Thou art safe, Lady Abbess! The convent is safe!
To be robbed of their prey how the ravens will chafe!
The vanguard of Otto is looming in sight!
At the sheen of their spears, see! thy foemen take flight,
Their foremost are scarce half a mile from the wall.
Thurston:
Bring the wine, lest those Germans should swallow it all.
SCENE — The Chapel of the Convent.
Dirge of the Monks:
Earth to earth, and dust to dust,
Ashes unto ashes go.
Judge not. He who judgeth just,
Judgeth merciful also.
Earthly penitence hath fled,
Earthly sin hath ceased to be;
Pile the sods on heart and head,
Miserere Domine!
Hominum et angelorum,
Domine! precamur te
Ut immemor sis malorum —
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
Will the fruits of life brought forth,
Pride and greed, and wrath and lust,
Profit in the day of wrath,
When the dust returns to dust?
Evil flower and thorny fruit
Load the wild and worthless tree.
Lo! the axe is at the root,
Miserere Domine!
Spes, fidesque, caritasque,
Frustra fatigant per se,
Frustra virtus, forsque, fasque,
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
Fair without and foul within,
When the honey’d husks are reft
From the bitter sweets of sin,
Bitterness alone is left;
Yet the wayward soul hath striven
Mostly hell’s ally to be,
In the strife ‘twixt hell and heaven,
Miserere Domine!
Heu! heu! herba latet anguis —
Caro herba — carni vae —
Solum purgat, Christi sanguis,
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
Pray that in the doubtful fight
Man may win through sore distress,
By His goodness infinite,
And His mercy fathomless.
Pray for one more of the weary,
Head bow’d down and bended knee,
Swell the requiem, Miserere!
Miserere Domine!
Bonum, malum, qui fecisti
Mali imploramus te,
Salve fratrem, causa Christi,
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
[End of Ashtaroth.]

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COWBOY CHARLEY _Same Line of Business_
HAPPY HUNTY _Ditto in All Respects_
SOOTYMUG _a Devil_
_Scene_-the Dutch Flat Stage Road, at 12 P.M., on a Night
of 1864.
COWBOY CHARLEY:
My boss, I fear she is delayed to-night.
Already it is past the hour, and yet
My ears have reached no sound of wheels; no note
Melodious, of long, luxurious oaths
Betokens the traditional dispute
(Unsettled from the dawn of time) between
The driver and off wheeler; no clear chant
Nor carol of Wells Fargo’s messenger
Unbosoming his soul upon the air
his prowess to the tender-foot,
And how at divers times in sundry ways
He strewed the roadside with our carcasses.
Clearly, the stage will not come by to-night.
LELAND, THE KID:
I now remember that but yesterday
I saw three ugly looking fellows start
From Colfax with a gun apiece, and they
Did seem on business of importance bent.
Furtively casting all their eyes about
And covering their tracks with all the care
That business men do use. I think perhaps
They were Directors of that rival line,
The great Pacific Mail. If so, they have
Indubitably taken in that coach,
And we are overreached. Three times before
This thing has happened, and if once again
These outside operators dare to cut
Our rates of profit I shall quit the road
And take my money out of this concern.
When robbery no longer pays expense
It loses then its chiefest charm for me,
And I prefer to cheat-you hear me shout!
HAPPY HUNTY:
My chief, you do but echo back my thoughts:
This competition is the death of trade.
‘Tis plain (unless we wish to go to work)
Some other business we must early find.
What shall it be? The field of usefulness
Is yearly narrowing with the advance
Of wealth and population on this coast.
There’s little left that any man can do
Without some other fellow stepping in
And doing it as well. If one essay
To pick a pocket he is sure to feel
(With what disgust I need not say to you)
Another hand inserted in the same.
You crack a crib at dead of night, and lo!
As you explore the dining-room for plate
You find, in session there, a graceless band
Stuffing their coats with spoons, their skins with wine.
And so it goes. Why even undertake
To salt a mine and you will find it rich
With noble specimens placed there before!
LELAND, THE KID:
And yet this line of immigration has
Advantages superior to aught
That elsewhere offers: all these passengers,
If punched with care-
COWBOY CHARLEY:
Significant remark!
It opens up a prospect wide and fair,
Suggesting to the thoughtful mind-_my_ mind-
A scheme that is the boss lay-out. Instead
Of stopping passengers, let’s carry them.
Instead of crying out: ‘Throw up your hands!’
Let’s say: ‘Walk up and buy a ticket!’ Why
Should we unwieldy goods and bullion take,
Watches and all such trifles, when we might
Far better charge their value three times o’er
For carrying them to market?
LELAND, THE KID:
Put it there,
Old son!
HAPPY HUNTY:
You take the cake, my dear. We’ll build
A mighty railroad through this pass, and then
The stage folk will come up to us and squeal,
And say: ‘It is bad medicine for both:
What will you give or take?’ And then we’ll sell.
COWBOY CHARLEY:
Enlarge your notions, little one; this is
No petty, slouching, opposition scheme,
To be bought off like honest men and fools;
Mine eye prophetic pierces through the mists
That cloud the future, and I seem to see
A well-devised and executed scheme
Of wholesale robbery within the law
(Made by ourselves)-great, permanent, sublime,
And strong to grapple with the public throat-
Shaking the stuffing from the public purse,
The tears from bankrupt merchants’ eyes, the blood
From widows’ famished carcasses, the bread
From orphans’ mouths!
HAPPY HUNTY:
Hooray!
LELAND, THE; KID:
Hooray!
ALL:
Hooray!
_(They tear the masks from their faces, and discharging their
shotguns, throw them into the chapparal. Then they join hands,
dance and sing the following song:)_
Ah! blessed to measure
The glittering treasure!
Ah! blessed to heap up the gold
Untold
That flows in a wide
And deepening tide-
Rolled, rolled, rolled
From multifold sources,
Converging its courses
Upon our-
LELAND, THE KID:
Just wait a bit, my pards, I thought I heard
A sneaking grizzly cracking the dry twigs.
Such an intrusion might deprive the State
Of all the good that we intend it. Ha!
_(Enter Sootymug. He saunters carelessly in and gracefully
leans his back against a redwood.)_
SOOTYMUG:
My boys, I thought I heard
Some careless revelry,
As if your minds were stirred
By some new devilry.
I too am in that line. Indeed, the mission
On which I come-
HAPPY HUNTY:
Here’s more damned competition!
_(Curtain.)_

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THE PLAINTIFF
THE DEFENDANT
COUNSEL FOR THE PLAINTIFF
USHER
FOREMAN OF THE JURY
ASSOCIATE
FIRST BRIDESMAID
SCENE – A Court of Justice, Barristers, Attorney, and Jurymen
discovered.
CHORUS
Hark, the hour of ten is sounding:
Hearts with anxious fears are bounding,
Hall of Justice, crowds surrounding,
Breathing hope and fear–
For to-day in this arena,
Summoned by a stern subpoena,
Edwin, sued by Angelina,
Shortly will appear.
Enter Usher
SOLO – USHER
Now, Jurymen, hear my advice–
All kinds of vulgar prejudice
I pray you set aside:
With stern, judicial frame of mind
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried.
CHORUS
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried.
[During Chorus, Usher sings fortissimo, ‘Silence in Court!’]
USHER Oh, listen to the plaintiff’s case:
Observe the features of her face–
The broken-hearted bride.
Condole with her distress of mind:
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried!
CHORUS From bias free, etc.
USHER And when, amid the plaintiff’s shrieks,
The ruffianly defendant speaks–
Upon the other side;
What he may say you needn’t mind—
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried!
CHORUS From bias free, etc.
Enter Defendant
RECIT — DEFENDANT
Is this the court of the Exchequer?
ALL. It is!
DEFENDANT (aside) Be firm, be firm, my pecker,
Your evil star’s in the ascendant!
ALL. Who are you?
DEFENDANT. I’m the Defendant.
CHORUS OF JURYMEN (shaking their fists)
Monster, dread our damages.
We’re the jury!
Dread our fury!
DEFENDANT Hear me, hear me, if you please,
These are very strange proceedings–
For permit me to remark
On the merits of my pleadings,
You’re at present in the dark.
[Defendant beckons to Jurymen–they leave the box and gather around
him as they sing the following:
That’s a very true remark–
On the merits of his pleadings
We’re at present in the dark!
Ha! ha!–ha! ha!
SONG — DEFENDANT
When first my old, old love I knew,
My bosom welled with joy;
My riches at her feet I threw–
I was a love-sick boy!
No terms seemed too extravagant
Upon her to employ–
I used to mope, and sigh, and pant,
Just like a love-sick boy!
Tink-a-tank! Tink-a-tank!
But joy incessant palls the sense;
And love, unchanged, will cloy,
And she became a bore intense
Unto her love-sick boy!
With fitful glimmer burnt my flame,
And I grew cold and coy,
At last, one morning, I became
Another’s love-sick boy.
Tink-a-tank! Tink-a-tank!
CHORUS OF JURYMEN (advancing stealthily)
Oh, I was like that when a lad!
A shocking young scamp of a rover,
I behaved like a regular cad;
But that sort of thing is all over.
I’m now a respectable chap
And shine with a virtue resplendent
And, therefore, I haven’t a scrap
Of sympathy with the defendant!
He shall treat us with awe,
If there isn’t a flaw,
Singing so merrily–Trial-la-law!
Trial-la-law! Trial-la-law!
Singing so merrily–Trial-la-law!
[They enter the Jury-box.]
RECIT–USHER (on Bench)
Silence in Court, and all attention lend.
Behold your Judge! In due submission bend!
Enter Judge on Bench
CHORUS
All hail, great Judge!
To your bright rays
We never grudge
Ecstatic praise.
All hail!
May each decree
As statute rank
And never be
Reversed in banc.
All hail!
RECIT–JUDGE
For these kind words, accept my thanks, I pray.
A Breach of Promise we’ve to try to-day.
But firstly, if the time you’ll not begrudge,
I’ll tell you how I came to be a Judge.
ALL. He’ll tell us how he came to be a Judge!
JUDGE. I’ll tell you how…
ALL. He’ll tell us how…
JUDGE. I’ll tell you how…
ALL. He’ll tell us how…
JUDGE Let me speak…!
ALL. Let him speak!
JUDGE. Let me speak!
ALL. (in a whisper). Let him speak!
He’ll tell us how he came to be a Judge!
USHER. Silence in Court! Silence in Court!
SONG–JUDGE
When I, good friends, was called to the bar,
I’d an appetite fresh and hearty.
But I was, as many young barristers are,
An impecunious party.
I’d a swallow-tail coat of a beautiful blue–
And a brief which I bought of a booby–
A couple of shirts, and a collar or two,
And a ring that looked like a ruby!
CHORUS. A couple of shirts, etc.
JUDGE. At Westminster Hall I danced a dance,
Like a semi-despondent fury;
For I thought I never should hit on a chance
Of addressing a British Jury–
But I soon got tired of third-class journeys,
And dinners of bread and water;
So I fell in love with a rich attorney’s
Elderly, ugly daughter.
CHORUS. So he fell in love, etc.
JUDGE. The rich attorney, he jumped with joy,
And replied to my fond professions:
‘You shall reap the reward of your pluck, my boy,
At the Bailey and Middlesex sessions.
You’ll soon get used to her looks,’ said he,
‘And a very nice girl you will find her!
She may very well pass for forty-three
In the dusk, with a light behind her!’
CHORUS. She may very well, etc.
JUDGE. The rich attorney was good as his word;
The briefs came trooping gaily,
And every day my voice was heard
At the Sessions or Ancient Bailey.
All thieves who could my fees afford
Relied on my orations.
And many a burglar I’ve restored
To his friends and his relations.
CHORUS. And many a burglar, etc.
JUDGE. At length I became as rich as the Gurneys–
An incubus then I thought her,
So I threw over that rich attorney’s
Elderly, ugly daughter.
The rich attorney my character high
Tried vainly to disparage—
And now, if you please, I’m ready to try
This Breach of Promise of Marriage!
CHORUS. And now if you please, etc.
JUDGE. For now I’m a Judge!
ALL. And a good Judge, too!
JUDGE. For now I’m a Judge!
ALL. And a good Judge, too!
JUDGE. Though all my law be fudge,
Yet I’ll never, never budge,
But I’ll live and die a Judge!
ALL. And a good Judge, too!
JUDGE (pianissimo). It was managed by a job–
ALL. And a good job, too!
JUDGE. It was managed by a job!
ALL. And a good job too!
JUDGE. It is patent to the mob,
That my being made a nob
Was effected by a job.
ALL. And a good job too!
[Enter Counsel for Plaintiff. He takes his place in front row of
Counsel’s seats
RECIT — COUNSEL
Swear thou the jury!
USHER. Kneel, Jurymen, oh, kneel!
[All the Jury kneel in the Jury-box, and so are hidden from
audience.
USHER. Oh, will you swear by yonder skies,
Whatever question may arise,
‘Twixt rich and poor, ‘twixt low and high,
That you will well and truly try?
JURY (raising their hands, which alone are visible)
To all of this we make reply
By the dull slate of yonder sky:
That we will well and truly try.
We’ll try.
(All rise with the last note)
RECIT — COUNSEL
Where is the Plaintiff?
Let her now be brought.
RECIT — USHER
Oh, Angelina! Come thou into Court!
Angelina! Angelina!
Enter the Bridesmaids
CHORUS OF BRIDESMAIDS
Comes the broken flower–
Comes the cheated maid–
Though the tempest lower,
Rain and cloud will fade
Take, oh maid, these posies:
Though thy beauty rare
Shame the blushing roses,
They are passing fair!
Wear the flowers ’til they fade;
Happy be thy life, oh maid!
[The Judge, having taken a great fancy to First Bridesmaid, sends
her a note by Usher, which she reads, kisses rapturously,
and places in her bosom.
Enter Plaintiff
SOLO — PLAINTIFF
O’er the season vernal,
Time may cast a shade;
Sunshine, if eternal,
Makes the roses fade!
Time may do his duty;
Let the thief alone–
Winter hath a beauty.
That is all his own.
Fairest days are sun and shade:
I am no unhappy maid!
[The Judge having by this time transferred his admiration to
Plaintiff, directs the Usher to take the note from First
Bridesmaid and hand it to Plaintiff, who reads it,
kisses it rapturously, and places it in her bosom.
CHORUS OF BRIDESMAIDS
Comes the broken flower, etc.
JUDGE. Oh, never, never, never,
Since I joined the human race,
Saw I so excellently fair a face.
THE JURY (shaking their forefingers at him). Ah, sly dog!
Ah, sly dog!
JUDGE (to Jury). How say you?
Is she not designed for capture?
FOREMAN (after consulting with the Jury). We’ve but one word,
m’lud, and that is–Rapture!
PLAINTIFF (curtseying). Your kindness, gentlemen, quite
overpowers!
JURY. We love you fondly, and would make you ours!
BRIDESMAIDS (shaking their forefingers at Jury).
Ah, sly dogs! Ah, sly dogs!
RECIT — COUNSEL for PLAINTIFF
May it please you, m’lud!
Gentlemen of the jury!
ARIA — COUNSEL
With a sense of deep emotion,
I approach this painful case;
For I never had a notion
That a man could be so base,
Or deceive a girl confiding,
Vows, etcetera deriding.
ALL. He deceived a girl confiding,
Vows, etcetera, deriding.
[Plaintiff falls sobbing on Counsel’s breast and remains there.
COUNSEL. See my interesting client,
Victim of a heartless wile!
See the traitor all defiant
Wear a supercilious smile!
Sweetly smiled my client on him,
Coyly woo’d and gently won him.
ALL. Sweetly smiled, etc.
COUNSEL. Swiftly fled each honeyed hour
Spent with this unmanly male!
Camberwell became a bow’r,
Peckham an Arcadian Vale,
Breathing concentrated otto!–
An existence … la Watteau.
ALL. Bless, us, concentrated otto! etc.
COUNSEL. Picture, then, my client naming,
And insisting on the day:
Picture him excuses framing–
Going from her far away;
Doubly criminal to do so,
For the maid had bought her trousseau!
ALL. Doubly criminal, etc.
COUNSEL (to Plaintiff, who weeps)
Cheer up, my pretty–oh, cheer up!
JURY. Cheer up, cheer up, we love you!
[Counsel leads Plaintiff fondly into Witness-box; he takes a tender
leave of her, and resumes his place in Court.
(Plaintiff reels as if about to faint)
JUDGE. That she is reeling
Is plain to see!
FOREMAN. If faint you’re feeling
Recline on me!
[She falls sobbing on to the Foreman’s breast.
PLAINTIFF (feebly). I shall recover
If left alone.
ALL. (shaking their fists at Defendant)
Oh, perjured lover,
Atone! atone!
FOREMAN. Just like a father [Kissing her
I wish to be.
JUDGE. (approaching her)
Or, if you’d rather,
Recline on me!
[She jumps on to Bench, sits down by the Judge, and falls sobbing
on his breast.
COUNSEL. Oh! fetch some water
From far Cologne!
ALL. For this sad slaughter
Atone! atone!
JURY. (shaking fists at Defendant)
Monster, monster, dread our fury–
There’s the Judge, and we’re the Jury!
Come! Substantial damages,
Dam—
USHER. Silence in Court!
SONG — DEFENDANT
Oh, gentlemen, listen, I pray,
Though I own that my heart has been ranging,
Of nature the laws I obey,
For nature is constantly changing.
The moon in her phases is found,
The time, and the wind, and the weather.
The months in succession come round,
And you don’t find two Mondays together.
Consider the moral, I pray,
Nor bring a young fellow to sorrow,
Who loves this young lady to-day,
And loves that young lady to-morrow.
BRIDESMAIDS (rushing forward, and kneeling to Jury).
Consider the moral, etc.
One cannot eat breakfast all day,
Nor is it the act of a sinner,
When breakfast is taken away,
To turn his attention to dinner.
And it’s not in the range of belief,
To look upon him as a glutton,
Who, when he is tired of beef,
Determines to tackle the mutton.
But this I am willing to say,
If it will appease her sorrow,
I’ll marry this lady to-day,
And I’ll marry the other to-morrow.
BRIDESMAIDS (rushing forward as before)
But this he is willing say, etc.
RECIT — JUDGE
That seems a reasonable proposition,
To which, I think, your client may agree.
COUNSEL
But I submit, m’lud, with all submission,
To marry two at once is Burglaree!
[Referring to law book.
In the reign of James the Second,
It was generally reckoned
As a rather serious crime
To marry two wives at a time.
[Hands book up to Judge, who reads it.
ALL. Oh, man of learning!
QUARTETTE
JUDGE. A nice dilemma we have here,
That calls for all our wit:
COUNSEL. And at this stage, it don’t appear
That we can settle it.
DEFENDANT (in Witness-box).
If I to wed the girl am loth
A breach ’twill surely be–
PLAINTIFF. And if he goes and marries both,
It counts as Burglaree!
ALL. A nice dilemma we have here,
That calls for all our wit.
DUET — PLAINTIFF and DEFENDANT
PLAINTIFF (embracing him rapturously)
I love him–I love him–with fervour unceasing
I worship and madly adore;
My blind adoration is ever increasing,
My loss I shall ever deplore.
Oh, see what a blessing, what love and caressing
I’ve lost, and remember it, pray,
When you I’m addressing, are busy assessing
The damages Edwin must pay—
Yes, he must pay!
DEFENDANT (repelling her furiously)
I smoke like a furnace–I’m always in liquor,
A ruffian–a bully–a sot;
I’m sure I should thrash her, perhaps I should kick her,
I am such a very bad lot!
I’m not prepossessing, as you may be guessing,
She couldn’t endure me a day!
Recall my professing, when you are assessing
The damages Edwin must pay!
PLAINTIFF. Yes, he must pay!
[She clings to him passionately; after a struggle, he throws her
off into arms of Counsel.
JURY. We would be fairly acting,
But this is most distracting!
If, when in liquor he would kick her,
That is an abatement.
RECIT — JUDGE
The question, gentlemen–is one of liquor.
You ask for guidance–this is my reply:
He says, when tipsy, he would thrash and kick her.
Let’s make him tipsy, gentlemen, and try!
COUNSEL. With all respect,
I do object!
PLAINTIFF. I do object!
DEFENDANT. I don’t object!
ALL. With all respect
We do object!
JUDGE (tossing his books and paper about)
All the legal furies seize you!
No proposal seems to please you,
I can’t sit up here all day,
I must shortly get away.
Barristers, and you, attorneys,
Set out on your homeward journeys;
Gentle, simple-minded Usher,
Get you, if you like, to Russher;
Put your briefs upon the shelf,
I will marry her myself!
[He comes down from Bench to floor of Court. He embraces
Angelina.
FINALE
PLAINTIFF. Oh, joy unbounded,
With wealth surrounded,
The knell is sounded
Of grief and woe.
COUNSEL. With love devoted
On you he’s doated,
To castle moated
Away they go.
DEFENDANT. I wonder whether
They’ll live together,
In marriage tether
In manner true?
USHER. It seems to me, sir,
Of such as she, sir,
A Judge is he, sir,
And a good Judge, too!
JUDGE. Yes, I am a Judge!
ALL. And a good Judge, too!
JUDGE. Yes, I am a Judge!
ALL. And a good Judge, too!
JUDGE. Though homeward as you trudge,
You declare my law is fudge.
Yet of beauty I’m a judge.
ALL. And a good Judge too!
JUDGE. Though defendant is a snob,
ALL. And a great snob, too!
JUDGE. Though defendant is a snob,
ALL. And a great snob, too!
JUDGE. Though defendant is a snob,
I’ll reward him from his fob.
So we’ve settled with the job,
ALL. And a good job, too!
CURTAIN

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HARDHAND _a Workingman_
TOK BAK _a Chinaman_
SATAN _a Friend to Mountwave_
CHORUS OF FOREIGN VOTERS.
MOUNTWAVE:
My friend, I beg that you will lend your ears
(I know ’tis asking a good deal of you)
While I for your instruction nominate
Some certain wrongs you suffer. Men like you
Imperfectly are sensible of all
The miseries they actually feel.
Hence, Providence has prudently raised up
Clear-sighted men like me to diagnose
Their cases and inform them where they’re hurt.
The wounds of honest workingmen I’ve made
A specialty, and probing them’s my trade.
HARDHAND:
Well, Mister, s’pose you let yer bossest eye
Camp on my mortal part awhile; then you
Jes’ toot my sufferin’s an’ tell me what’s
The fashionable caper now in writhes-
The very swellest wiggle.
MOUNTWAVE:
Well, my lad,
‘Tis plain as is the long, conspicuous nose
Borne, ponderous and pendulous, between
The elephant’s remarkable eye-teeth
(_Enter Tok Bak._)
That Chinese competition’s what ails _you_.
BOTH (_Singing_):
O pig-tail Celestial,
O barbarous bestial,
Abominable Chinee!
Simian fellow man,
Primitive yellow man,
Joshian devotee!
Shoe-and-cigar machine,
Oleomargarine
You are, and butter are we-
Fat of the land are we,
Salt of the earth;
In God’s image planned to be-
Noble in birth!
You, on the contrary,
Modeled upon very
Different lines indeed,
Show in conspicuous,
Base and ridiculous
Ways your inferior breed.
Wretched apology,
Shame of ethnology,
Monster unspeakably low!
Fit to be buckshotted-
Be you ‘steboycotted.
Vanish-vamoose-mosy-Go!
TOK BAK:
You listen me! You beatee the big dlum
An’ tell me go to Flowly Kingdom Come.
You all too muchee fool. You chinnee heap.
Such talkee like my washee-belly cheap!
(_Enter Satan._)
You dlive me outee clunty towns all way;
Why you no tackle me Safflisco, hay?
SATAN:
Methought I heard a murmuring of tongues
Sound through the ceiling of the hollow earth,
As if the anti-coolie ques–ha! friends,
Well met. You see I keep my ancient word:
Where two or three are gathered in my name,
There am I in their midst.
MOUNTWAVE:
O monstrous thief!
To quote the words of Shakespeare as your own.
I know his work.
HARDHAND:
Who’s Shakespeare?-what’s his trade?
I’ve heard about the work o’ that galoot
Till I’m jest sick!
TOK BAK:
Go Sunny school-you’ll know
Mo’ Bible. Bime by pleach-hell-talkee. Tell
‘Bout Abel-mebby so he live too cheap.
He mebby all time dig on lanch-no dlink,
No splee-no go plocession fo’ make vote-
No sendee money out of clunty fo’
To helpee Ilishmen. Cain killum. Josh
He catchee at it, an’ he belly mad-
Say: ‘Allee Melicans boycottee Cain.’
Not muchee-you no pleachee that:
You all same lie.
MOUNTWAVE:
This cuss must be expelled.
(_Draws pistol_.)
MOUNTWAVE, HARDHAND, SATAN (_singing_):
For Chinese expulsion, hurrah!
To mobbing and murder, all hail!
Away with your justice and law-
We’ll make every pagan turn tail.
CHORUS OF FOREIGN VOTERS:
Bedad! oof dot tief o’ze vorld-
Zat Ivan Tchanay vos got hurled
In Hella, da debil he say:
‘Wor be yer return pairmit, hey?’
Und gry as ‘e shaka da boot:
‘Zis haythen haf nevaire been oot!’
HARDHAND:
Too many cooks are working at this broth-
I think, by thunder, t’will be mostly froth!
I’m cussed ef I can sarvy, up to date,
What good this dern fandango does the State.
MOUNTWAVE:
The State’s advantage, sir, you may not see,
But think how good it is for me.
SATAN:
And me.
(_Curtain_.)

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DE YOUNG _a Brother to Mushrooms_
_DEAD_:
SWIFT _an Heirloom_
ESTEE _a Relic_
_IMMORTALS_:
THE SPIRIT OF BROKEN HOPES. THE AUTHOR.
_MISCELLANEOUS_:
A TROUPE OF COFFINS. THE MOON. VARIOUS COLORED FIRES.
_Scene_-The Political Graveyard at Bone Mountain.
DE YOUNG:
This is the spot agreed upon. Here rest
The sainted statesman who upon the field
Of honor have at various times laid down
Their own, and ended, ignominious,
Their lives political. About me, lo!
Their silent headstones, gilded by the moon,
Half-full and near her setting-midnight. Hark!
Through the white mists of this portentous night
(Which throng in moving shapes about my way,
As they were ghosts of candidates I’ve slain,
To fray their murderer) my open ear,
Spacious to maw the noises of the world,
Engulfs a footstep.
(_Enter Estee from his tomb._)
Ah, ’tis he, my foe,
True to appointment; and so here we fight
Though truly ’twas my firm belief that he
Would send regrets, or I had not been here.
ESTEE:
O moon that hast so oft surprised the deeds
Whereby I rose to greatness!-tricksy orb,
The type and symbol of my politics,
Now draw my ebbing fortunes to their flood,
As, by the magic of a poultice, boils
That burn ambitions with defeated fires
Are lifted into eminence.
(_Sees De Young._)
What? you!
Faith, if I had suspected you would come
From the fair world of politics wherein
So lately you were whelped, and which, alas,
I vainly to revisit strive, though still
Rapped on the rotting head and bidden sleep
Till Resurrection’s morn,-if I had thought
You would accept the challenge that I flung
I would have seen you damned ere I came forth
In the night air, shroud-clad and shivering,
To fight so mean a thing! But since you’re here,
Draw and defend yourself. By gad, we’ll _see_
Who’ll be Postmaster-General!
DE YOUNG:
We will-
I’ll fight (for I am lame) with any blue
And redolent remain that dares aspire
To wreck the Grand Old Grandson’s cabinet.
Here’s at you, nosegay!
(_They draw tongues and are about to fight, when from an
adjacent whited sepulcher, enter Swift._)
SWIFT:
Hold! put up your tongues!
Within the confines of this sacred spot
Broods such a holy calm as none may break
By clash of weapons, without sacrilege.
(_Beats down their tongues with a bone._)
Madmen! what profits it? For though you fought
With such heroic skill that both survived,
Yet neither should achieve the prize, for I
Would wrest it from him. Let us not contend,
But friendliwise by stipulation fix
A slate for mutual advantage. Why,
Having the pick and choice of seats, should we
Forego them all but one? Nay, we’ll take three,
And part them so among us that to each
Shall fall the fittest to his powers. In brief,
Let us establish a Portfolio Trust.
ESTEE:
Agreed.
DE YOUNG:
Aye, truly, ’tis a greed-and one
The offices imperfectly will sate,
But I’ll stand in.
SWIFT:
Well, so ’tis understood,
As you’re the junior member of the Trust,
Politically younger and undead,
Speak, Michael: what portfolio do you choose?
DE YOUNG:
I’ve thought the Postal service best would serve
My interest; but since I have my pick,
I’ll take the War Department. It is known
Throughout the world, from Market street to Pine,
(For a Chicago journal told the tale)
How in this hand I lately took my life
And marched against great Buckley, thundering
My mandate that he count the ballots fair!
Earth heard and shrank to half her size! Yon moon,
Which rivaled then a liver’s whiteness, paused
That night at Butchertown and daubed her face
With sheep’s blood! Then my serried rank I drew
Back to my stronghold without loss. To mark
My care in saving human life and limb,
The Peace Society bestowed on me
Its leather medal and the title, too,
Of Colonel. Yes, my genius is for war. Good land!
I naturally dote on a brass band!
(_Sings._)
O, give me a life on the tented field,
Where the cannon roar and ring,
Where the flag floats free and the foemen yield
And bleed as the bullets sing.
But be it not mine to wage the fray
Where matters are ordered the other way,
For that is a different thing.
O, give me a life in the fierce campaign-
Let it be the life of my foe:
I’d rather fall upon him than the plain;
That service I’d fain forego.
O, a warrior’s life is fine and free,
But a warrior’s death-ah me! ah me!
That’s a different thing, you know.
ESTEE:
Some claim I might myself advance to that
Portfolio. When Rebellion raised its head,
And you, my friends, stayed meekly in your shirts,
I marched with banners to the party stump,
Spat on my hands, made faces fierce as death,
Shook my two fists at once and introduced
Brave resolutions terrible to read!
Nay, only recently, as you do know,
I conquered Treason by the word of mouth,
And slew, with Samson’s weapon, the whole South!
SWIFT:
You once fought Stanford, too.
ESTEE:
Enough of that-
Give me the Interior and I’ll devote
My mind to agriculture and improve
The breed of cabbages, especially
The _Brassica Celeritatis_, named
For _you_ because in days of long ago
You sold it at your market stall,-and, faith,
‘Tis said you were an honest huckster then.
I’ll be Attorney-General if you
Prefer; for know I am a lawyer too!
SWIFT:
I never have heard that!-did you, De Young?
DE YOUNG:
Never, so help me! And I swear I’ve heard
A score of Judges say that he is not.
SWIFT (_to Estee_):
You take the Interior. I might aspire
To military station too, for once
I led my party into Pixley’s camp,
And he paroled me. I defended, too,
The State of Oregon against the sharp
And bloody tooth of the Australian sheep.
But I’ve an aptitude exceeding neat
For bloodless battles of diplomacy.
My cobweb treaty of Exclusion once,
Through which a hundred thousand coolies sailed,
Was much admired, but most by Colonel Bee.
Though born a tinker I’m a diplomat
From old Missouri, and I-ha! what’s that?
(_Exit Moon. Enter Blue Lights on all the tombs, and a circle of Red Fire on the grass; in the center the Spirit of Broken Hopes, and round about, a Troupe of Coffins, dancing and singing._)
CHORUS OF COFFINS:
Two bodies dead and one alive-
Yo, ho, merrily all!
Now for boodle strain and strive-
Buzzards all a-warble, O!
Prophets three, agape for bread;
Raven with a stone instead-
Providential raven!
Judges two and Colonel one-
Run, run, rustics, run!
But it’s O, the pig is shaven,
And oily, oily all!
(_Exeunt Coffins, dancing. The Spirit of Broken Hopes advances, solemnly pointing at each of the Three Worthies in turn._)
SPIRIT OF BROKEN HOPES:
Governor, Governor, editor man,
Rusty, musty, spick-and-span,
Harlequin, harridan, dicky-dout,
Demagogue, charlatan-o, u, t, OUT!
(_De Young falls and sleeps._)
Antimonopoler, diplomat,
Railroad lackey, political rat,
One, two, three-SCAT!
(_Swift falls and sleeps._)
Boycotting chin-worker, working to woo
Fortune, the fickle, to smile upon _you_,
Jo-coated acrobat, shuttle-cock-SHOO!
(_Estee falls and sleeps._)
Now they lie in slumber sweet,
Now the charm is all complete,
Hasten I with flying feet
Where beyond the further sea
A babe upon its mother’s knee
Is gazing into skies afar
And crying for a golden star.
I’ll drag a cloud across the blue
And break that infant’s heart in two!
(_Exeunt the Spirit of Broken Hopes and the Red and Blue Fires. Re-enter Moon._)
ESTEE (_waking_):
Why, this is strange! I dreamed I know not what,
It seemed that certain apparitions were,
Which sang uncanny words, significant
And yet ambiguous-half-understood
Portending evil; and an awful spook,
Even as I stood with my accomplices,
Counted me out, as children do in play.
Is that you, Mike?
DE YOUNG _(waking):_
It was.
SWIFT _(waking):_
Am I all that?
Then I’ll reform my ways.
_(Reforms his ways.)_
Ah! had I known
How sweet it is to be an honest man
I never would have stooped to turn my coat
For public favor, as chameleons take
The hue (as near as they can judge) of that
Supporting them. Henceforth I’ll buy
With money all the offices I need,
And know the pleasure of an honest life,
Or stay forever in this dismal place.
Now that I’m good, it will no longer do
To make a third with such, a wicked two.
_(Returns to his tomb.)_
DE YOUNG:
Prophetic dream! by some good angel sent
To make me with a quiet life content.
The question shall no more my bosom irk,
To go to Washington or go to work.
From Fame’s debasing struggle I’ll withdraw,
And taking up the pen lay down the law.
I’ll leave this rogue, lest my example make
An honest man of him-his heart would break.
_(Exit De Young.)_
ESTEE:
Out of my company these converts flee,
But that advantage is denied to me:
My curst identity’s confining skin
Nor lets me out nor tolerates me in.
Well, since my hopes eternally have fled,
And, dead before, I’m more than ever dead,
To find a grander tomb be now my task,
And pack my pork into a stolen cask.
_(Exit, searching. Loud calls for the Author, who appears, bowing and smiling_.)
AUTHOR _(singing):_
Jack Satan’s the greatest of gods,
And Hell is the best of abodes.
‘Tis reached, through the Valley of Clods,
By seventy different roads.
Hurrah for the Seventy Roads!
Hurrah for the clods that resound
With a hollow, thundering sound!
Hurrah for the Best of Abodes!
We’ll serve him as long as we’ve breath
Jack Satan the greatest of gods.
To all of his enemies, death!
A home in the Valley of Clods.
Hurrah for the thunder of clods
That smother the soul of his foe!
Hurrah for the spirits that go
To dwell with the Greatest of Gods;
_(Curtain falls to faint odor of mortality. Exit the Gas_.)

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Alexis, of the Grenadier Guards–His Son
Dr. Daly, Vicar of Ploverleigh
John Wellington Wells, of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers
Lady Sangazure, a Lady of Ancient Lineage
Aline, Her Daughter–betrothed to Alexis
Mrs. Partlet, a Pew-Opener
Constance, her Daughter
Chorus of Villagers
ACT I — Grounds of Sir Marmaduke’s Mansion, Mid-day
SCENE — Exterior of Sir Marmaduke’s Elizabethan Mansion, mid-day.
CHORUS OF VILLAGERS
Ring forth, ye bells,
With clarion sound–
Forget your knells,
For joys abound.
Forget your notes
Of mournful lay,
And from your throats
Pour joy to-day.
For to-day young Alexis–young Alexis Pointdextre
Is betrothed to Aline–to Aline Sangazure,
And that pride of his sex is–of his sex is to be next her
At the feast on the green–on the green, oh, be sure!
Ring forth, ye bells etc.
(Exeunt the men into house.)
(Enter Mrs. Partlet with Constance, her daughter)
RECITATIVE
MRS. P. Constance, my daughter, why this strange depression?
The village rings with seasonable joy,
Because the young and amiable Alexis,
Heir to the great Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre,
Is plighted to Aline, the only daughter
Of Annabella, Lady Sangazure.
You, you alone are sad and out of spirits;
What is the reason? Speak, my daughter, speak!
CONST. Oh, mother, do not ask! If my complexion
From red to white should change in quick succession,
And then from white to red, oh, take no notice!
If my poor limbs should tremble with emotion,
Pay no attention, mother–it is nothing!
If long and deep-drawn sighs I chance to utter,
Oh, heed them not, their cause must ne’er be known!
Mrs. Partlet motions to Chorus to leave her with Constance. Exeunt
ladies of Chorus.
ARIA–CONSTANCE
When he is here,
I sigh with pleasure–
When he is gone,
I sigh with grief.
My hopeless fear
No soul can measure–
His love alone
Can give my aching heart relief!
When he is cold,
I weep for sorrow–
When he is kind,
I weep for joy.
My grief untold
Knows no to-morrow–
My woe can find
No hope, no solace, no alloy!
MRS. P. Come, tell me all about it! Do not fear–
I, too, have loved; but that was long ago!
Who is the object of your young affections?
CONST. Hush, mother! He is here! (Looking off)
Enter Dr. Daly. He is pensive and does not see them
MRS. P. (amazed) Our reverend vicar!
CONST. Oh, pity me, my heart is almost broken!
MRS. P. My child, be comforted. To such an union
I shall not offer any opposition.
Take him–he’s yours! May you and he be happy!
CONST. But, mother dear, he is not yours to give!
MRS. P. That’s true, indeed!
CONST. He might object!
MRS. P. He might.
But come–take heart–I’ll probe him on the subject.
Be comforted–leave this affair to me.
(They withdraw.)
RECITATIVE–DR. DALY
The air is charged with amatory numbers–
Soft madrigals, and dreamy lovers’ lays.
Peace, peace, old heart! Why waken from its slumbers
The aching memory of the old, old days?
BALLAD
Time was when Love and I were well acquainted.
Time was when we walked ever hand in hand.
A saintly youth, with worldly thought untainted,
None better-loved than I in all the land!
Time was, when maidens of the noblest station,
Forsaking even military men,
Would gaze upon me, rapt in adoration–
Ah me, I was a fair young curate then!
Had I a headache? sighed the maids assembled;
Had I a cold? welled forth the silent tear;
Did I look pale? then half a parish trembled;
And when I coughed all thought the end was near!
I had no care–no jealous doubts hung o’er me–
For I was loved beyond all other men.
Fled gilded dukes and belted earls before me–
Ah me, I was a pale young curate them!
(At the conclusion of the ballad, Mrs. Partlet comes forward with
Constance.)
MRS. P. Good day, reverend sir.
DR. D. Ah, good Mrs. Partlet, I am glad to see you. And
your little daughter, Constance! Why, she is quite a little
woman, I declare!
CONST. (aside) Oh, mother, I cannot speak to him!
MRS. P. Yes, reverend sir, she is nearly eighteen, and as
good a girl as ever stepped. (Aside to Dr. Daly) Ah, sir, I’m
afraid I shall soon lose her!
DR. D. (aside to Mrs. Partlet) Dear me, you pain me very
much. Is she delicate?
MRS. P. Oh no, sir–I don’t mean that–but young girls look
to get married.
DR. D. Oh, I take you. To be sure. But there’s plenty of
time for that. Four or five years hence, Mrs. Partlet, four or
five years hence. But when the time does come, I shall have much
pleasure in marrying her myself–
CONST. (aside) Oh, mother!
DR. D. To some strapping young fellow in her own rank of
life.
CONST. (in tears) He does not love me!
MRS. P. I have often wondered, reverend sir (if you’ll
excuse the liberty), that you have never married.
DR. D. (aside) Be still, my fluttering heart!
MRS. P. A clergyman’s wife does so much good in a village.
Besides that, you are not as young as you were, and before very
long you will want somebody to nurse you, and look after your
little comforts.
DR. D. Mrs. Partlet, there is much truth in what you say.
I am indeed getting on in years, and a helpmate would cheer my
declining days. Time was when it might have been; but I have
left it too long–I am an old fogy, now, am I not, my dear? (to
Constance)–a very old fogy, indeed. Ha! ha! No, Mrs. Partlet,
my mind is quite made up. I shall live and die a solitary old
bachelor.
CONST. Oh, mother, mother! (Sobs on Mrs. Partlet’s bosom)
MRS. P. Come, come, dear one, don’t fret. At a more
fitting time we will try again–we will try again.
(Exeunt Mrs. Partlet and Constance.)
DR. D. (looking after them) Poor little girl! I’m afraid
she has something on her mind. She is rather comely. Time was
when this old heart would have throbbed in double-time at the
sight of such a fairy form! But tush! I am puling! Here comes
the young Alexis with his proud and happy father. Let me dry
this tell-tale tear!
Enter Sir Marmaduke and Alexis
RECITATIVE
DR. D. Sir Marmaduke–my dear young friend, Alexis–
On this most happy, most auspicious plighting–
Permit me as a true old friend to tender
My best, my very best congratulations!
SIR M. Sir, you are most obleeging!
ALEXIS. Dr. Daly
My dear old tutor, and my valued pastor,
I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
(Spoken through music)
DR. D. May fortune bless you! may the middle distance
Of your young life be pleasant as the foreground–
The joyous foreground! and, when you have reached it,
May that which now is the far-off horizon
(But which will then become the middle distance),
In fruitful promise be exceeded only
By that which will have opened, in the meantime,
Into a new and glorious horizon!
SIR M. Dear Sir, that is an excellent example
Of an old school of stately compliment
To which I have, through life, been much addicted.
Will you obleege me with a copy of it,
In clerkly manuscript, that I myself
May use it on appropriate occasions?
DR. D. Sir, you shall have a fairly-written copy
Ere Sol has sunk into his western slumbers!
(Exit Dr. Daly)
SIR M. (to Alexis, who is in a reverie) Come, come, my
son–your fiancee will be here in five minutes. Rouse yourself
to receive her.
ALEXIS. Oh rapture!
SIR M. Yes, you are a fortunate young fellow, and I will
not disguise from you that this union with the House of Sangazure
realizes my fondest wishes. Aline is rich, and she comes of a
sufficiently old family, for she is the seven thousand and
thirty-seventh in direct descent from Helen of Troy. True, there
was a blot on the escutcheon of that lady–that affair with
Paris–but where is the family, other than my own, in which there
is no flaw? You are a lucky fellow, sir–a very lucky fellow!
ALEXIS. Father, I am welling over with limpid joy! No
sicklying taint of sorrow overlies the lucid lake of liquid love,
upon which, hand in hand, Aline and I are to float into eternity!
SIR M. Alexis, I desire that of your love for this young
lady you do not speak so openly. You are always singing ballads
in praise of her beauty, and you expect the very menials who wait
behind your chair to chorus your ecstasies. It is not delicate.
ALEXIS. Father, a man who loves as I love–
SIR M. Pooh pooh, sir! fifty years ago I madly loved your
future mother-in-law, the Lady Sangazure, and I have reason to
believe that she returned my love. But were we guilty of the
indelicacy of publicly rushing into each other’s arms,
exclaiming–
‘Oh, my adored one!’ ‘Beloved boy!’
‘Ecstatic rapture!’ ‘Unmingled joy!’
which seems to be the modern fashion of love-making? No! it was
‘Madam, I trust you are in the enjoyment of good health’–‘Sir,
you are vastly polite, I protest I am mighty well’–and so forth.
Much more delicate–much more respectful. But see–Aline
approaches–let us retire, that she may compose herself for the
interesting ceremony in which she is to play so important a part.
(Exeunt Sir Marmaduke and Alexis.)
(Enter Aline on terrace, preceded by Chorus of Girls.)
CHORUS OF GIRLS
With heart and with voice
Let us welcome this mating:
To the youth of her choice,
With a heart palpitating,
Comes the lovely Aline!
May their love never cloy!
May their bliss be unbounded!
With a halo of joy
May their lives be surrounded!
Heaven bless our Aline!
RECITATIVE–ALINE.
My kindly friends, I thank you for this greeting
And as you wish me every earthly joy,
I trust your wishes may have quick fulfillment!
ARIA–ALINE.
Oh, happy young heart!
Comes thy young lord a-wooing
With joy in his eyes,
And pride in his breast–
Make much of thy prize,
For he is the best
That ever came a-suing.
Yet–yet we must part,
Young heart!
Yet–yet we must part!
Oh, merry young heart,
Bright are the days of thy wooing!
But happier far
The days untried–
No sorrow can mar,
When love has tied
The knot there’s no undoing.
Then, never to part,
Young heart!
Then, never to part!
Enter Lady Sangazure
RECITATIVE–LADY S.
My child, I join in these congratulations:
Heed not the tear that dims this aged eye!
Old memories crowd upon me. Though I sorrow,
‘Tis for myself, Aline, and not for thee!
Enter Alexis, preceded by Chorus of Men
CHORUS OF MEN AND WOMEN
With heart and with voice
Let us welcome this mating;
To the maid of his choice,
With a heart palpitating,
Comes Alexis, the brave!.
(Sir Marmaduke enters. Lady Sangazure and he exhibit signs of strong
emotion at the sight of each other which they endeavor to
repress. Alexis and Aline rush into each other’s arms.)
RECITATIVE
ALEXIS. Oh, my adored one!
ALINE. Beloved boy!
ALEXIS. Ecstatic rapture!
ALINE. Unmingled joy!
(They retire up.)
DUET–SIR MARMADUKE and LADY SANGAZURE
SIR M. (with stately courtesy)
Welcome joy, adieu to sadness!
As Aurora gilds the day,
So those eyes, twin orbs of gladness,
Chase the clouds of care away.
Irresistible incentive
Bids me humbly kiss your hand;
I’m your servant most attentive–
Most attentive to command!
(Aside with frantic vehemence)
Wild with adoration!
Mad with fascination!
To indulge my lamentation
No occasion do I miss!
Goaded to distraction
By maddening inaction,
I find some satisfaction
In apostophe like this:
‘Sangazure immortal,
‘Sangazure divine,
‘Welcome to my portal,
‘Angel, oh be mine!’
(Aloud with much ceremony)
Irresistible incentive
Bids me humbly kiss your hand;
I’m your servant most attentive–
Most attentive to command!
LADY S. Sir, I thank you most politely
For your grateful courtesee;
Compliment more true and knightly
Never yet was paid to me!
Chivalry is an ingredient
Sadly lacking in our land–
Sir, I am your most obedient,
Most obedient to command!
(Aside and with great vehemence)
Wild with adoration!
Mad with fascination!
To indulge my lamentation
No occasion do I miss!
Goaded to distraction
By maddening inaction,
I find some satisfaction
In apostophe like this:
‘Marmaduke immortal,
‘Marmaduke divine,
‘Take me to thy portal,
‘Loved one, oh be mine!’
(Aloud with much ceremony)
Chivalry is an ingredient
Sadly lacking in our land;
Sir, I am your most obedient,
Most obedient to command!
(During this the Notary has entered, with marriage contract.)
RECITATIVE–NOTARY
All is prepared for sealing and for signing,
The contract has been drafted as agreed;
Approach the table, oh, ye lovers pining,
With hand and seal come execute the deed!
(Alexis and Aline advance and sign, Alexis supported by Sir Marmaduke,
Aline by her Mother.)
CHORUS
See they sign, without a quiver, it–
Then to seal proceed.
They deliver it–they deliver it
As their Act and Deed!
ALEXIS. I deliver it–I deliver it
As my Act and Deed!.
ALINE. I deliver it–I deliver it.
As my Act and Deed!
CHORUS. With heart and with voice
Let us welcome this mating;
Leave them here to rejoice,
With true love palpitating,
Alexis the brave,
And the lovely Aline!
(Exeunt all but Alexis and Aline.)
ALEXIS. At last we are alone! My darling, you are now
irrevocably betrothed to me. Are you not very, very happy?
ALINE. Oh, Alexis, can you doubt it? Do I not love you
beyond all on earth, and am I not beloved in return? Is not true
love, faithfully given and faithfully returned, the source of
every earthly joy?
ALEXIS. Of that there can be no doubt. Oh, that the world
could be persuaded of the truth of that maxim! Oh, that the
world would break down the artificial barriers of rank, wealth,
education, age, beauty, habits, taste, and temper, and recognize
the glorious principle, that in marriage alone is to be found the
panacea for every ill!
ALINE. Continue to preach that sweet doctrine, and you will
succeed, oh, evangel of true happiness!
ALEXIS. I hope so, but as yet the cause progresses but
slowly. Still I have made some converts to the principle, that
men and women should be coupled in matrimony without distinction
of rank. I have lectured on the subject at Mechanics’
Institutes, and the mechanics were unanimous in favour of my
views. I have preached in workhouses, beershops, and Lunatic
Asylums, and I have been received with enthusiasm. I have
addressed navvies on the advantages that would accrue to them if
they married wealthy ladies of rank, and not a navvy dissented!
ALINE. Noble fellows! And yet there are those who hold
that the uneducated classes are not open to argument! And what
do the countesses say?
ALEXIS. Why, at present, it can’t be denied, the
aristocracy hold aloof.
ALINE. Ah, the working man is the true Intelligence after
all!
ALEXIS. He is a noble creature when he is quite sober.
Yes, Aline, true happiness comes of true love, and true love
should be independent of external influences. It should live
upon itself and by itself–in itself love should live for love
alone!
BALLAD–ALEXIS
Love feeds on many kinds of food, I know,
Some love for rank, some for duty:
Some give their hearts away for empty show,
And others for youth and beauty.
To love for money all the world is prone:
Some love themselves, and live all lonely:
Give me the love that loves for love alone–
I love that love–I love it only!
What man for any other joy can thirst,
Whose loving wife adores him duly?
Want, misery, and care may do their worst,
If loving woman loves you truly.
A lover’s thoughts are ever with his own–
None truly loved is ever lonely:
Give me the love that loves for love alone–
I love that love–I love it only!
ALINE. Oh, Alexis, those are noble principles!
ALEXIS. Yes, Aline, and I am going to take a desperate step
in support of them. Have you ever heard of the firm of J. W.
Wells & Co., the old-established Family Sorcerers in St. Mary
Axe?
ALINE. I have seen their advertisement.
ALEXIS. They have invented a philtre, which, if report may
be believed, is simply infallible. I intend to distribute it
through the village, and within half-an-hour of my doing so there
will not be an adult in the place who will not have learnt the
secret of pure and lasting happiness. What do you say to that?
ALINE. Well, dear, of course a filter is a very useful
thing in a house; but still I don’t quite see that it is the sort
of thing that places its possessor on the very pinnacle of
earthly joy.
ALEXIS. Aline, you misunderstand me. I didn’t say a
filter–I said a philtre.
ALINE (alarmed). You don’t mean a love-potion?
ALEXIS. On the contrary–I do mean a love potion.
ALINE. Oh, Alexis! I don’t think it would be right. I
don’t indeed. And then–a real magician! Oh, it would be
downright wicked.
ALEXIS. Aline, is it, or is it not, a laudable object to
steep the whole village up to its lips in love, and to couple
them in matrimony without distinction of age, rank, or fortune?
ALINE. Unquestionably, but–
ALEXIS. Then unpleasant as it must be to have recourse to
supernatural aid, I must nevertheless pocket my aversion, in
deference to the great and good end I have in view. (Calling)
Hercules.
(Enter a Page from tent)
PAGE. Yes, sir.
ALEXIS. Is Mr. Wells there?
PAGE. He’s in the tent, sir–refreshing.
ALEXIS. Ask him to be so good as to step this way.
PAGE. Yes, sir. (Exit Page)
ALINE. Oh, but, Alexis! A real Sorcerer! Oh, I shall be
frightened to death!
ALEXIS. I trust my Aline will not yield to fear while the
strong right arm of her Alexis is here to protect her.
ALINE. It’s nonsense, dear, to talk of your protecting me
with your strong right arm, in face of the fact that this Family
Sorcerer could change me into a guinea-pig before you could turn
round.
ALEXIS. He could change you into a guinea-pig, no doubt,
but it is most unlikely that he would take such a liberty. It’s
a most respectable firm, and I am sure he would never be guilty
of so untradesmanlike an act.
(Enter Mr. Wells from tent)
WELLS. Good day, sir. (Aline much terrified.)
ALEXIS. Good day–I believe you are a Sorcerer.
WELLS. Yes, sir, we practice Necromancy in all its
branches. We’ve a choice assortment of wishing-caps,
divining-rods, amulets, charms, and counter-charms. We can cast
you a nativity at a low figure, and we have a horoscope at
three-and-six that we can guarantee. Our Abudah chests, each
containing a patent Hag who comes out and prophesies disasters,
with spring complete, are strongly recommended. Our Aladdin
lamps are very chaste, and our Prophetic Tablets, foretelling
everything–from a change of Ministry down to a rise in
Unified–are much enquired for. Our penny Curse–one of the
cheapest things in the trade–is considered infallible. We have
some very superior Blessings, too, but they’re very little asked
for. We’ve only sold one since Christmas–to a gentleman who
bought it to send to his mother-in-law–but it turned out that he
was afflicted in the head, and it’s been returned on our hands.
But our sale of penny Curses, especially on Saturday nights, is
tremendous. We can’t turn ’em out fast enough.
SONG–MR. WELLS
Oh! my name is John Wellington Wells,
I’m a dealer in magic and spells,
In blessings and curses
And ever-filled purses,
In prophecies, witches, and knells.
If you want a proud foe to ‘make tracks’–
If you’d melt a rich uncle in wax–
You’ve but to look in
On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!
We’ve a first-class assortment of magic;
And for raising a posthumous shade
With effects that are comic or tragic,
There’s no cheaper house in the trade.
Love-philtre–we’ve quantities of it;
And for knowledge if any one burns,
We keep an extremely small prophet, a prophet
Who brings us unbounded returns:
For he can prophesy
With a wink of his eye,
Peep with security
Into futurity,
Sum up your history,
Clear up a mystery,
Humour proclivity
For a nativity–for a nativity;
With mirrors so magical,
Tetrapods tragical,
Bogies spectacular,
Answers oracular,
Facts astronomical,
Solemn or comical,
And, if you want it, he
Makes a reduction on taking a quantity!
Oh!
If any one anything lacks,
He’ll find it all ready in stacks,
If he’ll only look in
On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!
He can raise you hosts
Of ghosts,
And that without reflectors;
And creepy things
With wings,
And gaunt and grisly spectres.
He can fill you crowds
Of shrouds,
And horrify you vastly;
He can rack your brains
With chains,
And gibberings grim and ghastly.
And then, if you plan it, he
Changes organity,
With an urbanity,
Full of Satanity,
Vexes humanity
With an inanity
Fatal to vanity–
Driving your foes to the verge of insanity!
Barring tautology,
In demonology,
‘Lectro-biology,
Mystic nosology,
Spirit philology,
High-class astrology,
Such is his knowledge, he
Isn’t the man to require an apology!
Oh!
My name is John Wellington Wells,
I’m a dealer in magic and spells,
In blessings and curses
And ever-filled purses,
In prophecies, witches, and knells.
If any one anything lacks,
He’ll find it all ready in stacks,
If he’ll only look in
On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!
ALEXIS. I have sent for you to consult you on a very
important matter. I believe you advertise a Patent Oxy-Hydrogen
Love-at-first-sight Philtre?
WELLS. Sir, it is our leading article. (Producing a
phial.)
ALEXIS. Now I want to know if you can confidently guarantee
it as possessing all the qualities you claim for it in your
advertisement?
WELLS. Sir, we are not in the habit of puffing our goods.
Ours is an old-established house with a large family connection,
and every assurance held out in the advertisement is fully
realized. (Hurt)
ALINE. (aside) Oh, Alexis, don’t offend him! He’ll change
us into something dreadful–I know he will!
ALEXIS. I am anxious from purely philanthropical motives to
distribute this philtre, secretly, among the inhabitants of this
village. I shall of course require a quantity. How do you sell
it?
WELLS. In buying a quantity, sir, we should strongly advise
your taking it in the wood, and drawing it off as you happen to
want it. We have it in four-and-a-half and nine gallon
casks–also in pipes and hogsheads for laying down, and we deduct
10 per cent from prompt cash.
ALEXIS. I should mention that I am a Member of the Army and
Navy Stores.
WELLS. In that case we deduct 25 percent.
ALEXIS. Aline, the villagers will assemble to carouse in a
few minutes. Go and fetch the tea-pot.
ALINE. But, Alexis–
ALEXIS. My dear, you must obey me, if you please. Go and
fetch the teapot.
ALINE (going). I’m sure Dr. Daly would disapprove of it!
(Exit Aline.)
ALEXIS. And how soon does it take effect?
WELLS. In twelve hours. Whoever drinks of it loses
consciousness for that period, and on waking falls in love, as a
matter of course, with the first lady he meets who has also
tasted it, and his affection is at once returned. One trial will
prove the fact.
Enter Aline with large tea-pot
ALEXIS. Good: then, Mr. Wells, I shall feel obliged if you
will at once pour as much philtre into this teapot as will
suffice to affect the whole village.
ALINE. But bless me, Alexis, many of the villagers are
married people!
WELLS. Madam, this philtre is compounded on the strictest
principles. On married people it has no effect whatever. But
are you quite sure that you have nerve enough to carry you
through the fearful ordeal?
ALEXIS. In the good cause I fear nothing.
WELLS. Very good, then, we will proceed at once to the
Incantation.
The stage grows dark.
INCANTATION
WELLS. Sprites of earth and air–
Fiends of flame and fire–
Demon souls,
Come here in shoals,
This dreaded deed inspire!
Appear, appear, appear.
MALE VOICES. Good master, we are here!
WELLS. Noisome hags of night–
Imps of deadly shade–
Pallid ghosts,
Arise in hosts,
And lend me all your aid.
Appear, appear, appear!
FEMALE VOICES. Good master, we are here!
ALEXIS (aside). Hark, they assemble,
These fiends of the night!
ALINE (aside). Oh Alexis, I tremble,
Seek safety in flight!
ARIA – ALINE
Let us fly to a far-off land,
Where peace and plenty dwell–
Where the sigh of the silver strand
Is echoed in every shell
To the joy that land will give,
On the wings of Love we’ll fly;
In innocence, there to live–
In innocence there to die!
CHORUS OF SPIRITS.
Too late–too late
It may not be!
That happy fate
Is not for (me/thee)!
ALEXIS, ALINE, and MR. W.
Too late–too late,
That may not be!
That happy fate,
Is not for thee!
MR. WELLS
Now shrivelled hags, with poison bags,
Discharge your loathsome loads!
Spit flame and fire, unholy choir!
Belch forth your venom, toads!
Ye demons fell, with yelp and yell,
Shed curses far afield–
Ye fiends of night, your filthy blight
In noisome plenty yield!
WELLS (pouring phial into tea-pot–flash)
Number One!
CHORUS It is done!
WELLS (same business) Number Two! (flash)
CHORUS One too few!
WELLS Number Three! (flash)
CHORUS Set us free!
Set us free-our work is done
Ha! ha! ha!
Set us free–our course is run!
Ha! ha! ha!
ALINE AND ALEXIS (aside)
Let us fly to a far-off land,
Where peace and plenty dwell–
Where the sigh of the silver strand
Is echoed in every shell.
CHORUS OF FIENDS.
Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
(Stage grows light. Mr. Wells beckons villagers. Enter villagers
and all the dramatis personae, dancing joyously. Mrs.
Partlet and Mr. Wells then distribute tea-cups.)
CHORUS.
Now to the banquet we press;
Now for the eggs, the ham;
Now for the mustard and cress,
Now for the strawberry jam!
Now for the tea of our host,
Now for the rollicking bun,
Now for the muffin and toast,
Now for the gay Sally Lunn!
WOMEN. The eggs and the ham, and the strawberry jam!
MEN. The rollicking bun, and the gay Sally Lunn!
The rollicking, rollicking bun!
RECITATIVE–SIR MARMADUKE
Be happy all–the feast is spread before ye;
Fear nothing, but enjoy yourselves, I pray!
Eat, aye, and drink–be merry, I implore ye,
For once let thoughtless Folly rule the day.
TEA-CUP BRINDISI
Eat, drink, and be gay,
Banish all worry and sorrow,
Laugh gaily to-day,
Weep, if you’re sorry, to-morrow!
Come, pass the cup around–
I will go bail for the liquor;
It’s strong, I’ll be bound,
For it was brewed by the vicar!
CHORUS.
None so knowing as he
At brewing a jorum of tea,
Ha! ha!
A pretty stiff jorum of tea.
TRIO–WELLS, ALINE, and ALEXIS. (aside)
See–see–they drink–
All thoughts unheeding,
The tea-cups clink,
They are exceeding!
Their hearts will melt
In half-an-hour–
Then will be felt
The potions power!
(During this verse Constance has brought a small tea-pot, kettle,
caddy, and cosy to Dr. Daly. He makes tea scientifically.)
BRINDISI, 2nd Verse–DR. DALY (with the tea-pot)
Pain, trouble, and care,
Misery, heart-ache, and worry,
Quick, out of your lair!
Get you gone in a hurry!
Toil, sorrow, and plot,
Fly away quicker and quicker–
Three spoons in the pot–
That is the brew of your vicar!
CHORUS
None so cunning as he
At brewing a jorum of tea,
Ha! ha!
A pretty stiff jorum of tea!
ENSEMBLE–ALEXIS and ALINE (aside)
Oh love, true love–unworldly, abiding!
Source of all pleasure–true fountain of joy,–
Oh love, true love–divinely confiding,
Exquisite treasure that knows no alloy,–
Oh love, true love, rich harvest of gladness,
Peace-bearing tillage–great garner of bliss,–
Oh love, true love, look down on our sadness —
Dwell in this village–oh, hear us in this!
(It becomes evident by the strange conduct of the characters that
the charm is working. All rub their eyes, and stagger about
the stage as if under the influence of a narcotic.)
TUTTI (aside) ALEXIS, MR. WELLS and ALINE
Oh, marvellous illusion! A marvellous illusion!
Oh, terrible surprise! A terrible surprise
What is this strange confusion Excites a strange confusion
That veils my aching eyes? Within their aching eyes–
I must regain my senses, They must regain their senses,
Restoring Reason’s law, Restoring Reason’s law,
Or fearful inferences Or fearful inferences
Society will draw! Society will draw!
(Those who have partaken of the philtre struggle in vain against
its effects, and, at the end of the chorus, fall insensible
on the stage.)

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