Part 2 out of 3
Miss Mary (springing to her feet). There is a mystery behind all
this, Mary Morris, that you--you--must discover. That man was NOT
drunk: he HAD NOT broken his promise to me. What does it all mean?
I have it. I will accept the offer of this Alexander Morton. I
will tell him the story of this helpless man, this poor, poor,
reckless Sandy. With the story of his own son before his eyes, he
cannot but interest himself in his fate. He is rich: he will aid
me in my search for Sandy's father, for Sandy's secret. At the
worst, I can only follow the advice of this wretched man,--an
advice so generous, so kind, so self-sacrificing. Ah--
SCENE 4.--The same. Enter the DUCHESS, showily and extravagantly
dressed. Her manner at first is a mixture of alternate shyness and
The Duchess. I heerd tell that you was goin' down to 'Frisco to-
morrow, for your vacation; and I couldn't let ye go till I came to
thank ye for your kindness to my boy,--little Tommy.
Miss Mary (aside. Rising abstractedly, and recalling herself with
an effort). I see,--a poor outcast, the mother of my anonymous
pupil. (Aloud.) Tommy! a good boy,--a dear, good little boy.
Duchess. Thankee, miss, thankee. If I am his mother, thar ain't a
sweeter, dearer, better boy lives than him. And, if I ain't much
as says it, thar ain't a sweeter, dearer, angeler teacher than he's
got. It ain't for you to be complimented by me, miss; it ain't for
such as me to be comin' here in broad day to do it, either; but I
come to ask a favor,--not for me, miss, but for the darling boy.
Miss Mary (aside--abstractedly). This poor, degraded creature will
kill me with her wearying gratitude. Sandy will not return, of
course, while she is here. (Aloud.) Go on. If I can help you or
yours, be assured I will.
The Duchess. Thankee, miss. You see, thar's no one the boy has
any claim on but me, and I ain't the proper person to bring him up.
I did allow to send him to 'Frisco, last year; but when I heerd
talk that a schoolma'am was comin' up, and you did, and he sorter
tuk to ye natril from the first, I guess I did well to keep him
yer. For, oh, miss, he loves ye so much; and, if you could hear
him talk in his purty way, ye wouldn't refuse him anything.
Miss Mary (with fatigued politeness, and increasing impatience). I
see, I see: pray go on.
The Duchess (with quiet persistency). It's natril he should take
to ye, miss; for his father, when I first knowed him, miss, was a
gentleman like yourself; and the boy must forget me sooner or
later--and I ain't goin' to cry about THAT.
Miss Mary (impatiently). Pray tell me how I can serve you.
The Duchess. Yes, miss; you see, I came to ask you to take my
Tommy,--God bless him for the sweetest, bestest boy that lives!--to
take him with you. I've money plenty; and it's all yours and his.
Put him in some good school, whar ye kin go and see, and sorter
help him to--forget---his mother. Do with him what you like. The
worst you can do will be kindness to what he would learn with me.
You will: I know you will; won't you? You will make him as pure
and as good as yourself; and when he has grown up, and is a
gentleman, you will tell him his father's name,--the name that
hasn't passed my lips for years,--the name of Alexander Morton.
Miss Mary (aside). Alexander Morton! The prodigal! Ah, I see,--
the ungathered husks of his idle harvest.
The Duchess. You hesitate, Miss Mary. (Seizing her.) Do not take
your hand away. You are smiling. God bless you! I know you will
take my boy. Speak to me, Miss Mary.
Miss Mary (aloud). I will take your child. More than that, I will
take him to his father.
The Duchess. No, no! for God's sake, no, Miss Mary! He has never
seen him from his birth: he does not know him. He will disown him.
He will curse him,--will curse me!
Miss Mary. Why should he? Surely his crime is worse than yours.
The Duchess. Hear me, Miss Mary. (Aside.) How can I tell her?
(Aloud.) One moment, miss. I was once--ye may not believe it,
miss--as good, as pure, as you. I had a husband, the father of
this child. He was kind, good, easy, forgiving,--too good for me,
miss, too simple and unsuspecting. He was what the world calls a
fool, miss: he loved me too well,--the kind o' crime, miss,--
beggin' your pardon, and all precepts to the contrairy,--the one
thing that women like me never forgives. He had a pardner, miss,
that governed him as HE never governed me; that held him with the
stronger will, and maybe ME too. I was young, miss,--no older than
yourself then; and I ran away with him,--left all, and ran away
with my husband's pardner. My husband--nat'rally--took to drink.
I axes your pardin', miss; but ye'll see now, allowin' your
larnin', that Alexander Morton ain't the man as will take my child.
Miss Mary. Nonsense. You are wrong. He has reformed; he has been
restored to his home,--your child's home, your home if you will but
claim it. Do not fear: I will make that right.
Enter SANDY slowly and sheepishly, R.; stops on observing the
Duchess, and stands amazed and motionless.
Miss Mary (observing SANDY--aside). He HAS returned. Poor fellow!
How shall I get rid of this woman? (Aloud.) Enough. If you are
sincere, I will take your child, and, God help me! bring him to his
home and yours. Are you satisfied?
The Duchess. Thank ye! Thank ye, miss; but--but thar's a mistake
somewhar. In course--it's natural--ye don't know the father of
that child, my boy Tommy, under the name o' Alexander Morton.
Ye're thinking, like as not, of another man. The man I mean lives
yer, in this camp: they calls him Sandy, miss,--SANDY!
Miss Mary (after a pause, coming forward passionately). Hush! I
have given you my answer, be it Alexander Morton or Sandy. Go now:
bring me the child this evening at my house. I will meet you
there. (Leads the DUCHESS to wing. The DUCHESS endeavors to fall
at her feet.)
The Duchess. God bless you, miss!
Miss Mary (hurriedly embracing her). No more, no more--but go!
[Exit DUCHESS. MISS MARY returns hurriedly to centre, confronting
Miss Mary (to SANDY, hurriedly and excitedly). You have heard what
that woman said. I do not ask you under what alias you are known
here: I only ask a single question.--Is SHE your wife? are you the
father of her child?
Sandy (sinking upon his knees before her, and covering his face
with his hands). I am!
Miss Mary. Enough! (Taking flower from her bosom.) Here, I give
you back the flower you gave me this morning. It has faded and
died here upon my breast. But I shall replace it with your
foundling,--the child of that woman, born like that flower in the
snow! And I go now, Sandy, and leave behind me, as you said this
morning, the snow and rocks in which it bloomed. Good-by!
Farewell, farewell--forever! (Goes toward schoolhouse as--
Enter COL. STARBOTTLE.
Miss Mary (to STARBOTTLE). You are here in season, sir. You must
have come for an answer to your question. You must first give me
one to mine. Who is this man (pointing to SANDY), the man you met
upon the rocks this morning?
Col. Starbottle. Ahem! I am--er--now fully prepared and
responsible, I may say, miss--er--personally responsible, to answer
that question. When you asked it this morning, the ordinary
courtesy of the--er--code of honor threw a--er--cloak around the--
er--antecedents of the--er--man whom I had--er--elected by a demand
for personal satisfaction, to the equality of myself, an--er--
gentleman! That--er--cloak is now removed. I have waited six
hours for an apology or a--er--reply to my demand. I am now free
to confess that the--er--person you allude to was first known by
me, three months ago, as an inebriated menial,--a groom in the
household of my friend Don Jose Castro,--by the--er--simple name of
Miss Mary (slowly). I am satisfied. I accept my cousin's
[Exit slowly, supported by COL. STARBOTTLE, R.
As STARBOTTLE and MISS MARY exeunt R., CONCHO and HOP SING enter
cautiously, L. SANDY slowly rises to his feet, passes his hand
across his forehead, looks around toward exit of STARBOTTLE and
Sandy (slowly, but with more calmness of demeanor). Gone, gone--
forever! No: I am not mad, nor crazed with drink. My hands no
longer tremble. There is no confusion here. (Feeling his
forehead). I heard them all. It was no dream. I heard her every
word. Alexander Morton, yes, they spoke of Alexander Morton. She
is going to him, to my father. She is going--she, Mary, my cousin--
she is going to my father. He has been seeking me--has found--ah!
(Groans.) No, no, Sandy! Be patient, be calm: you are not crazy--
no, no, good Sandy, good old boy! Be patient, be patient: it is
coming, it is coming. Yes, I see: some one has leaped into my
place; some one has leaped into the old man's arms. Some one will
creep into HER heart! No! by God! No! I am Alexander Morton.
Yes, yes! But how, how shall I prove it?--how? Who (CONCHO steps
cautiously forward towards SANDY unobserved) will believe the
vagabond, the outcast--my God!--the crazy drunkard?
Concho (advancing, and laying his hand on SANDY). I will!
Sandy (staggering back amazedly). You!
Concho. Yes,--I, I,--Concho! You know me, Diego, you know me,--
Concho, the major-domo of the Blessed Innocents. Ha! You know me
now. Yes, I have come to save you. I have come to make you
strong. So--I have come to help you strip the Judas that has
stepped into your place,--the sham prodigal that has had the fatted
calf and the ring,--ah! ah!
Sandy. You? You do not know me!
Concho. Ah! you think, you think, eh? Listen: Since you left I
have tracked HIM--THE IMPOSTOR, this Judas, this coyote--step by
step, until his tracks crossed yours; and then I sought you out. I
know all. I found a letter you had dropped; that brought me to
Poker Flat. Ah, you start! I have seen those who knew you as
Alexander Morton. You see! Ah, I am wise.
Sandy (aside). It is true. (Aloud.) But (suspiciously) why have
you done this? You, Concho?--you were not my friend.
Concho. No, but HE is my enemy. Ah, you start! Look at me,
Alexander Morton, Sandy, Diego! You knew a man, strong, active,
like yourself. Eh! Look at me now! Look at me, a cripple! Eh!
lame and crushed here (pointing to his leg), broken and crushed
here (pointing to his heart), by him,--the impostor! Listen,
Diego. The night I was sent to track you from the rancho, he--this
man--struck me from the wall, dashed me to the earth, and made MY
BODY, broken and bruised, a stepping-stone to leap the wall into
your place, Diego,--into your father's heart,--into my master's
home. They found me dead, they thought,--no, not dead, Diego! It
was sad, they said,--unfortunate. They nursed me; they talked of
money--eh, Diego!--money! They would have pensioned me to hush
scandal--eh! I was a dog, a foreigner, a Greaser! Eh! That is
why I am here. No! I love you not, Diego; you are of his race;
but I hate--Mother of God!--I HATE him!
Sandy (rising to his feet, aside). Good! I begin to feel my
courage return: my nerves are stronger. Courage, Sandy! (Aloud.)
Be it so, Concho: there is my hand! We will help each other,--you
to my birthright, I to your revenge! Hark ye! (SANDY'S manner
becomes more calm and serious.) This impostor is NO craven, NO
coyote. Whoever he is, he must be strong. He has most plausible
evidences. We must have rigid proofs. I will go with you to Poker
Flat. There is one man, if he be living, knows me better than any
man who lives. He has done me wrong,--a great wrong, Concho,--but
I will forgive him. I will do more,--I will ask his forgiveness.
He will be a witness no man dare gainsay--my partner--God help him
and forgive him as I do!--John Oakhurst.
Concho. Oakhurst your partner!
Sandy (angrily). Yes. Look ye, Concho, he has wronged me in a
private way: that is MY business, not YOURS; but he was MY partner,
no one shall abuse him before me.
Concho. Be it so. Then sink here! Rot here! Go back to your
husks, O prodigal! wallow in the ditches of this camp, and see your
birthright sold for a dram of aguardiente! Lie here, dog and
coyote that you are, with your mistress under the protection of
your destroyer! For I tell you--I, Concho, the cripple--that the
man who struck me down, the man who stepped into your birthright,
the man who to-morrow welcomes your sweetheart in his arms, who
holds the custody of your child, is your partner,--John Oakhurst.
Sandy (who has been sinking under CONCHO'S words, rising
convulsively to his feet). God be merciful to me a sinner!
Concho (standing over his prostrate body exultingly). I am right.
You are wise, Concho, you are wise! You have found Alexander
Hop Sing (advancing slowly to SANDY'S side, and extending open
palm). Me washee shirt flo you, flowty dozen hab. You no payee
me. Me wantee twenty dollar hep. Sabe!
END OF ACT II.
SCENE 1.--The bank parlor of Morton & Son, San Francisco. Room
richly furnished; two square library desks, left and right. At
right, safe in wall; at left, same with practicable doors. Folding
door in flat C., leading to counting-room. Door in left to private
room of ALEXANDER MORTON, sen.; door in right to private room of
MORTON, jun. ALEXANDER MORTON, sen., discovered at desk R.,
opening and reading letters.
Morton, sen. (laying down letter). Well, well, the usual story;
letters from all sorts of people, who have done or intend to do all
sorts of things for my reclaimed prodigal. (Reads.) "Dear Sir:
five years ago I loaned some money to a stranger who answers the
description of your recovered son. He will remember Jim Parker,--
Limping Jim, of Poker Flat. Being at present short of funds,
please send twenty dollars, amount loaned, by return mail. If not
convenient, five dollars will do as instalment." Pshaw! (Throws
letter aside, and takes up another.) "Dear Sir: I invite your
attention to enclosed circular for a proposed Home for Dissipated
and Anonymous Gold-Miners. Your well-known reputation for
liberality, and your late valuable experience in the reformation of
your son, will naturally enlist your broadest sympathies. We
enclose a draft for five thousand dollars, for your signature." We
shall see! Another: "Dear Sir: the Society for the Formation of
Bible Classes in the Upper Stanislaus acknowledge your recent
munificent gift of five hundred dollars to the cause. Last Sabbath
Brother Hawkins of Poker Flat related with touching effect the
story of your prodigal to an assemblage of over two hundred miners.
Owing to unusual expenses, we regret to be compelled to draw upon
you for five hundred dollars more." So! (Putting down letter.)
If we were given to pride and vainglory, we might well be puffed up
with the fame of our works and the contagion of our example: yet I
fear that, with the worldly-minded, this praise of charity to
others is only the prayerful expectation of some personal
application to the praiser. (Rings hand-bell.)
(To JACKSON.) File these letters (handing letters) with the
others. There is no answer. Has young Mr. Alexander come in yet?
Jackson. He only left here an hour ago. It was steamer day
yesterday: he was up all night, sir.
Old Morton (aside). True. And the night before he travelled all
night, riding two hours ahead of one of our defaulting agents, and
saved the bank a hundred thousand dollars. Certainly his devotion
to business is unremitting. (Aloud.) Any news from Col. Starbottle?
Jackson. He left this note, sir, early this morning.
Old Morton (takes it, and reads). "I think I may say, on my own
personal responsibility, that the mission is successful. Miss
Morris will arrive to-night with a female attendant and child."
(To JACKSON.) That is all, sir. Stop! Has any one been smoking
Jackson. Not to my knowledge, sir.
Old Morton. There was a flavor of stale tobacco smoke in the room
this morning when I entered, and ashes on the carpet. I KNOW that
young Mr. Alexander has abandoned the pernicious habit. See that
it does not occur again.
Jackson. Yes, sir. (Aside.) I must warn Mr. Alexander that his
friends must be more careful; and yet those ashes were good for a
deposit of fifty thousand.
Old Morton. Is any one waiting?
Jackson. Yes, sir,--Don Jose Castro and Mr. Capper.
Old Morton. Show in the Don: the policeman can wait.
Jackson. Yes, sir. [Exit.
Old Morton (taking up STARBOTTLE'S note). "Miss Morris will arrive
to-night." And yet he saw her only yesterday. This is not like
her mother: no. She would never have forgiven and forgotten so
quickly. Perhaps she knew not my sin and her mother's wrongs;
perhaps she has--has--CHRISTIAN forgiveness (sarcastically);
perhaps, like my prodigal, she will be immaculately perfect. Well,
well: at least her presence will make my home less lonely. "An
attendant and child." A child! Ah, if HE, my boy, my Alexander,
were still a child, I might warm this cold, cold heart in his
sunshine! Strange that I cannot reconstruct from this dutiful,
submissive, obedient, industrious Alexander,--this redeemed
outcast, this son who shares my life, my fortunes, my heart,--the
foolish, wilful, thoughtless, idle boy, that once defied me. I
remember (musing, with a smile) how the little rascal, ha, ha! once
struck me,--STRUCK ME!--when I corrected him: ha, ha! (Rubbing his
hands with amusement, and then suddenly becoming grave and
lugubrious.) No, no. These are the whisperings of the flesh. Why
should I find fault with him for being all that a righteous
conversion demands,--all that I asked and prayed for? No,
Alexander Morton: it is you, YOU, who are not yet regenerate. It
is YOU who are ungrateful to Him who blessed you, to Him whose
guiding hand led you to--
Jackson. Don Jose Castro.
Enter DON JOSE.
Don Jose. A thousand pardons, senor, for interrupting you in the
hours of business; but it is--it is of business I would speak.
Old Morton (to JACKSON). You can retire. (Exit JACKSON.) Be
seated, Mr. Castro: I am at your service.
Don Jose. It is of your--your son--
Old Morton. Our firm is Morton & Son: in business we are one, Mr.
Don Jose. Bueno! Then to you as to him I will speak. Here is a
letter I received yesterday. It has significance, importance
perhaps. But, whatever it is, it is something for you, not me, to
know. If I am wronged much, Don Alexandro, you, you, are wronged
still more. Shall I read it? Good. (Reads.) "The man to whom
you have affianced your daughter is not the son of Alexander
Morton. Have a care. If I do not prove him an impostor at the end
of six days, believe me one, and not your true friend and servant,
Concho." In six days, Don Alexandro, the year of probation is
over, and I have promised my daughter's hand to your son. (Hands
letter to MORTON.)
Old Morton (ringing bell). Is that all, Mr. Castro?
Don Jose. All, Mr. Castro? Carramba! is it not enough?
Old Morton (to JACKSON). You have kept a record of this business
during the last eighteen months. Look at this letter. (Handing
letter.) Is the handwriting familiar?
Jackson (taking letter). Can't say, sir. The form is the old one.
Old Morton. How many such letters have you received?
Jackson. Four hundred and forty-one, sir. This is the four
hundred and forty-second application for your son's position, sir.
Don Jose. Pardon. This is not an application: it is only
information or caution.
Old Morton (to JACKSON). How many letters of information or
caution have we received?
Jackson. This makes seven hundred and eighty-one, sir.
Old Morton. How, sir! (Quickly.) There were but seven hundred
and seventy-nine last night.
Jackson. Beg pardon, sir! The gentleman who carried Mr. Alexander's
valise from the boat was the seven hundred and eightieth.
Old Morton. Explain yourself, sir.
Jackson. He imparted to me, while receiving his stipend, the fact
that he did not believe young Mr. Alexander was your son. An hour
later, sir, he also imparted to me confidentially that he believed
you were his father, and requested the loan of five dollars, to be
repaid by you, to enable him to purchase a clean shirt, and appear
before you in respectable condition. He waited for you an hour,
and expressed some indignation that he had not an equal show with
others to throw himself into your arms.
Don Jose (rising, aside, and uplifting his hands). Carramba!
These Americanos are of the Devil! (Aloud.) Enough, Don Alexandro!
Then you think this letter is only worth--
Old Morton. One moment. I can perhaps tell you exactly its market
value. (To JACKSON.) Go on, sir.
Jackson. At half-past ten, sir, then being slightly under the
influence of liquor, he accepted the price of a deck passage to
Old Morton. How much was that, sir?
Jackson. Fifty cents.
Old Morton. Exactly so! There you have, sir (to DON JOSE), the
market value of the information you have received. I would advise
you, as a business matter, not to pay more. As a business matter,
you can at any time draw upon us for the amount. (To JACKSON.)
Admit Mr. Capper. [Exit JACKSON.
Don Jose (rising with dignity). This is an insult, Don Alexandro.
Old Morton. You are wrong, Mr. Castro: it is BUSINESS; sought, I
believe, by yourself. Now that it is transacted, I beg you to dine
with me to-morrow to meet my niece. No offence, sir, no offence.
Come, come! Business, you know, business.
Don Jose (relaxing). Be it so! I will come. (Aside.) These
Americanos, these Americanos, are of the Devil! (Aloud.) Adios.
(Going.) I hear, by report, that you have met with the misfortune
of a serious loss by robbery?
Old Morton (aside). So our mishap is known everywhere. (Aloud.)
No serious misfortune, Mr. Castro, even if we do not recover the
[Exit Don Jose.
Old Morton. The stiff-necked Papist! That he should dare, for the
sake of his black-browed, froward daughter, to--question the faith
on which I have pinned my future! Well, with God's blessing, I
gave him some wholesome discipline. If it were not for my covenant
with Alexander--and nobly he has fulfilled his part,--I should
forbid his alliance with the blood of this spying Jesuit.
Enter Mr. JACKSON, leading in CAPPER.
Jackson. Policeman, sir. [Exit.
Capper (turning sharply). Who's that man?
Old Morton. Jackson, clerk.
Capper. Umph! Been here long?
Old Morton. A year. He was appointed by my son.
Capper. Know anything of his previous life?
Old Morton (stiffly). I have already told you he is an appointee
of my son's.
Capper. Yes! (Aside.) "Like master, like man." (Aloud.) Well,
to business. We have worked up the robbery. We have reached two
conclusions,--one, that the work was not done by professionals; the
other, consequent upon this, that you can't recover the money.
Old Morton. Excuse me, sir, but I do not see the last conclusion.
Capper. Then listen. The professional thief has only one or two
ways of disposing of his plunder, and these ways are always well
known to us. Good! Your stolen coin has not been disposed of in
the regular way, through the usual hands which we could at any time
seize. Of this we are satisfied.
Old Morton. How do you know it?
Capper. In this way. The only clew we have to the identification
of the missing money were two boxes of Mexican doubloons.
Old Morton (aside). Mr. Castro's special deposit! He may have
reason for his interest. (Aloud.) Go on.
Capper. It is a coin rare in circulation in the interior. The
night after the robbery, the dealer of a monte-table in Sacramento
paid out five thousand dollars in doubloons. He declared it was
taken in at the table, and could not identify the players. Of
course, OF COURSE! So far, you see, you are helpless. We have
only established one fact, that the robber is--is--(significantly)
Old Morton (quietly). The regular trade of the thief seems to me
to be of little importance if you cannot identify him, or recover
my money. But go on, sir, go on: or is this all?
Capper (aside). The old fool is blind. That is natural. (Aloud.)
It is not all. The crime will doubtless be repeated. The man who
has access to your vaults, who has taken only thirty thousand
dollars when he could have secured half a million,--this man, who
has already gambled that thirty thousand away,--will not stop
there. He will in a day or two, perhaps to-day, try to retrieve
his losses out of YOUR capital. I am here to prevent it.
Old Morton (becoming interested). How?
Capper. Give me, for forty-eight hours, free access to this
building. Let me conceal myself somewhere, anywhere, within these
walls. Let it be without the knowledge of your clerks, even of
Old Morton (proudly). Mr. Alexander Morton is absent to-day.
There is no other reason why he should not be here to consent to
the acts of his partner and father.
Capper (quickly). Very good. It is only to insure absolute
Old Morton (aside). Another robbery might excite a suspicion,
worse for our credit than our actual loss. There is a significant
earnestness about this man, that awakens my fears. If Alexander
were only here. (Aloud.) I accept. (CAPPER has been trying doors
R. and L.)
Capper. What room is this? (At R.)
Old Morton. My son's: I would prefer--
Capper. And this? (At L.)
Old Morton. Mine, sir; if you choose--
Capper (locking door, and putting key in his pocket). This will
do. Oblige me by making the necessary arrangements in your
Old Morton (hesitating and aside). He is right: perhaps it is only
prudence, and I am saving Alexander additional care and annoyance.
Enter MR. SHADOW cautiously, C.
Shadow (in a lisping whisper to CAPPER). I've got the litht of the
Capper (triumphantly). Put it in your pocket, Shadow. We don't
care for the lackeys now: we are after the master.
Shadow. Eh! the mathter?
Capper. Yes: the master,--the young master, the reclaimed son, the
reformed prodigal! ha, ha!--the young man who compensates himself
for all this austere devotion to business and principle by dipping
into the old man's vaults when he wants a pasear: eh, Shadow?
That's the man we're after. Look here! I never took any stock in
that young man's reformation. Ye don't teach old sports like him
new tricks. They're a bad lot, father and son,--eh, Shadow?--and
he's a chip of the old block. I spotted him before this robbery,
before we were ever called in here professionally. I've had my eye
on Alexander Morton, alias John Oakhurst; and, when I found the old
man's doubloons raked over a monte-table at Sacramento, I knew
where to look for the thief. Eh, Shadow?
Shadow (aside). He ith enormouth, thith Mithter Capper.
Enter OLD MORTON.
Old Morton. I have arranged everything. You will not be disturbed
or suspected here in my private office. Eh! (Looking at SHADOW.)
Who has slipped in here?
Capper. Only my Shadow, Mr. Morton; but I can rid myself even of
that. (Crosses to SHADOW.) Take this card to the office, and wait
for further orders. Vanish, Shadow! [Exit SHADOW.
Jackson. Mr. Alexander has come in, sir. (OLD MORTON and CAPPER
Old Morton. Where is he?
Jackson. In his private room, sir.
Old Morton. Enough: you can go.
Capper (crossing to MORTON). Remember, you have given your pledge
of secrecy. Beware! Your honor, your property, the credit and
reputation of your bank, are at stake.
Old Morton (after a pause of hesitation, with dignity). I gave you
my word, sir, while my son was not present. I shall save myself
from breaking my word with you, or concealing anything from him, by
withdrawing myself. For the next twenty-four hours, this room
(pointing to private room R.) is yours.
Each regards the other. Exit OLD MORTON C., as CAPPER exit in
private room R. After a pause, door of room L. opens, and HARRY
YORK appears, slightly intoxicated, followed by JOHN OAKHURST.
Harry York (looking around). By Jove! Morton, but you've got
things in style here. And this yer's the gov'nor's desk; and here
old Praise god Barebones sits opposite ye. Look yer, old boy
(throwing himself in chair), I kin allow how it comes easy for ye
to run this bank, for it's about as exciting, these times, as faro
was to ye in '49, when I first knew ye as Jack Oakhurst; but how
the Devil you can sit opposite that stiff embodiment of all the Ten
Commandments, day by day, damn it! that's wot GETS me! Why, the
first day I came here on business, the old man froze me so that I
couldn't thaw a deposit out of my pocket. It chills me to think of
Oakhurst (hastily). I suppose I am accustomed to him. But come,
Harry: let me warm you. (Opens door of safe L., and discovers
cupboard, decanter, and glasses.)
York (laughing). By Jove! under the old man's very nose. Jack,
this is like you. (Takes a drink.) Well, old boy, this is like
old times. But you don't drink?
Oakhurst. No, nor smoke. The fact is, Harry, I've taken a year's
pledge. I've six days still to run; after that (gloomily), why
(with a reckless laugh), I shall be Jack Oakhurst again.
York. Lord! to think of your turning out to be anybody's son,
Jack!--least of all, HIS! (Pointing to chair.)
Oakhurst (laughing recklessly). Not more strange than that I
should find Harry York, the spendthrift of Poker Flat, the rich and
respected Mr. York, produce merchant of San Francisco.
York. Yes; but, my boy, you see I didn't strike it--in a rich
father. I gave up gambling, married, and settled down, saved my
money, invested a little here and there, and--worked for it, Jack,
damn me,--worked for it like a damned horse!
Oakhurst (aside). True, this is not work.
York. But that ain't my business with ye now, old boy: it's this.
You've had some trials and troubles in the bank lately,--a
defalcation of agents one day, a robbery next. It's luck, my boy,
luck! but ye know people will talk. You don't mind my sayin' that
there's rumors 'round. The old man's mighty unpopular because he's
a saint; and folks don't entirely fancy you because you used to be
the reverse. Well, Jack, it amounts to 'bout this: I've withdrawn
my account from Parkinson's, in Sacramento, and I've got a pretty
heavy balance on hand--nigh on two hundred thousand--in bonds and
certificates here; and if it will help you over the rough places,
old boy, as a deposit, yer it is (drawing pocket-book.)
Oakhurst (greatly affected, but endeavoring to conceal it). Thank
you, Harry, old fellow--but--
York (quickly). I know: I'll take the risk, a business risk.
You'll stand by me all you can, old boy; you'll make it pay all you
can; and if you lose it--why--all right!
Oakhurst (embarrassed). As a deposit with Morton & Son, drawing
two per cent monthly interest--
York. Damn Morton & Son! I'll back it with Jack Oakhurst, the man
Oakhurst (advancing slowly). I'll take it, Harry.
York (extending his hand). It's a square game, Jack!
Oakhurst (seizing his hand with repressed emotion). It's a square
game, Harry York, if I live.
York. Then I'll travel. Good-night, old boy. I'll send my clerk
around in the morning to put things right. Good-night (going).
Oakhurst (grasping YORK'S hand). One moment--no--nothing! Good-
night. [Exit YORK.
OAKHURST follows him to door, and then returns to desk, throwing
himself in chair, and burying his face in his hands.
Oakhurst (with deep feeling). It needed but this to fill the
measure of my degradation. I have borne the suspicions of the old
man's enemies, the half-pitying, half-contemptuous sympathy of his
friends, even his own cold, heartless, fanatical fulfilment of his
sense of duty; but THIS--this confidence from one who had most
reason to scorn me, this trust from one who knew me as I WAS,--this
is the hardest burden. And he, too, in time will know me to be an
impostor. He too--a reformed man; but he has honorably retraced
his steps, and won the position I hold by a trick, an imposture.
And what is all my labor beside his honest sincerity? I have
fought against the chances that might discover my deception,
against the enemies who would overthrow me, against the fate that
put me here; and I have been successful--yes, a successful
impostor! I have even fought against the human instinct that told
this fierce, foolish old man that I was an alien to his house, to
his blood; I have even felt him scan my face eagerly for some
reflection of his long-lost boy, for some realization of his dream;
and I have seen him turn away, cold, heartsick, and despairing.
What matters that I have been to him devoted, untiring, submissive,
ay, a better son to him than his own weak flesh and blood would
have been? He would to-morrow cast me forth to welcome the
outcast, Sandy Morton. Well, what matters? (Recklessly.)
Nothing. In six days it will be over; in six days the year of my
probation will have passed; in six days I will disclose to him the
deceit I have practised, and will face the world again as John
Oakhurst, the gambler, who staked and lost ALL on a single cast.
And Jovita! Well, well!--the game is made: it is too late to draw
out now. (Rings bell. Enter JACKSON.) Who has been here?
Jackson. Only Don Jose, and Mr. Capper, the detective.
Oakhurst. The detective? What for?
Jackson. To work up the robbery, sir.
Oakhurst. True! Capper, Capper, yes! A man of wild and ridiculous
theories, but well-meaning, brave, and honest. (Aside.) This is
the old man's idea. He does not know that I was on the trail of
the thieves an hour before the police were notified. (Aloud.)
Jackson. He told your father he thought the recovery of the money
hopeless, but he came to caution us against a second attempt.
Oakhurst (aside, starting). True! I had not thought of that.
(Excitedly.) The success of their first attempt will incite them
to another; the money they have stolen is gone by this time.
(Aloud.) Jackson, I will stay here to-night and to-morrow night,
and relieve your regular watchman. You will, of course, say
nothing of my intention.
Jackson. Yes, sir. (Lingering.)
Oakhurst (after a pause). That is all, Mr. Jackson.
Jackson. Beg your pardon, Mr. Morton; but Col. Starbottle, with
two ladies, was here half an hour ago, and said they would come
again when you were alone.
Oakhurst. Very well: admit them.
Jackson. Beg pardon, sir; but they seemed to avoid seeing your
father until they had seen you. It looked mysterious, and I
thought I would tell you first.
Oakhurst (laughing). Admit them, Mr. Jackson. (Exit JACKSON.)
This poor fellow's devotion is increasing. He, too, believes that
his old associate in dissipation, John Oakhurst, IS the son of
Alexander Morton. He, too, will have to share in the disgrace of
the impostor. Ladies! umph! (Looking down at his clothes.) I'm
afraid the reform of Alexander Morton hasn't improved the usual
neatness of John Oakhurst. I haven't slept, nor changed my
clothes, for three days. (Goes to door of MORTON, sen.'s, room.)
Locked, and the key on the inside! That's strange. Nonsense! the
old man has locked his door and gone out through the private
entrance. Well, I'll find means of making my toilet here. [Exit
into private room L.
Enter JACKSON, leading in COL. STARBOTTLE, MISS MARY, the DUCHESS,
and child of three years.
Jackson. Mr. Alexander Morton, jun., is in his private room. He
will be here in a moment. [Exit JACKSON.
Starbottle. One moment, a single moment, Miss Mary. Permit me to--
er--if I may so express myself, to--er--group the party, to--er--
place the--er--present company into position. I have--er--observed
as part of my--er--legal experience, that in cases of moral
illustration a great, I may say--er--tremendous, effect on the--er--
jury, I mean the--er--guilty party, has been produced by the
attitude of the--er--victim and martyr. You, madam, as the--er--
injured wife (placing her), shall stand here, firm yet expectant,
protecting your child, yet looking hopefully for assistance toward
its natural protector. You, Miss Mary, shall stand here (placing
her), as Moral Retribution, leaning toward and slightly appealing
to me, the image of--er--er--Inflexible Justice! (Inflates his
chest, puts his hand in his bosom, and strikes an attitude.)
Door of young Morton's room opens, and discloses MR. OAKHURST
gazing at the group. He starts slightly on observing the DUCHESS,
but instantly recovers himself, and faces the company coldly. The
DUCHESS starts on observing OAKHURST, and struggles in confusion
towards the door, dragging with her the child and MISS MARY, who
endeavors to re-assure her. COL. STARBOTTLE looks in astonishment
from one to the other, and advances to front.
Col. Starbottle (aside). The--er--tableau, although striking in
moral force, is apparently--er--deficient in moral stamina.
Miss Mary (angrily to the DUCHESS). I'm ashamed of you! (To
OAKHURST, advancing.) I don't ask pardon for my intrusion. If you
are Alexander Morton, you are my kinsman, and you will know that I
cannot introduce myself better than as the protector of an injured
woman. Come here! (To the DUCHESS, dragging her towards OAKHURST.
To OAKHURST.) Look upon this woman: she claims to be--
Starbottle (stepping between MISS MARY and the DUCHESS). A moment,
Miss Mary, a single moment! Permit me to--er--explain. The whole
thing, the--er--situation reminds me, demn me, of most amusing
incident at Sacramento in '52. Large party at Hank Suedecois: know
Hank? Confirmed old bach of sixty. Dinner for forty. Everything
in style, first families, Ged,--Judge Beeswinger, Mat Boompointer,
and Maje Blodgett of Ahlabam: know old Maje Blodgett? Well, Maje
was there. Ged, sir, delay,--everybody waiting. I went to Hank.
"Hank," I says, "what's matter? why delay?"--"Star," he says,--
always called me Star,--"Star,--it's cook!"--"Demn cook," I says:
"discharge cook,--only a black mulatto anyway!"--"Can't, Star," he
says: "impossible!"--"Can't?" says I.--"No," says he. "Listen,
Star," he says, "family secret! Honor! Can't discharge cook,
because cook--demn it--'s MY wife!" Fact, sir, fact--showed
marriage certificate--married privately seven years! Fact, sir--
The Duchess (to MISS MARY). Some other time, miss, let us go now.
There's a mistake, miss, I can't explain. Some other time, miss!
See, miss, how cold and stern he looks! another time, miss!
(Struggling.) For God's sake, miss, let me go!
Miss Mary. No! This mystery must be cleared up now, before I
enter HIS house,--before I accept the charge of this--
Starbottle (interrupting, and crossing before MISS MARY). A
moment--a single moment, miss. (To OAKHURST.) Mr. Morton, you
will pardon the exuberance, and perhaps, under the circumstances,
somewhat natural impulsiveness, of the--er--sex, for which I am
perhaps responsible; I may say--er--personally, sir,--personally
Oakhurst (coldly). Go on, sir.
Starbottle. The lady on my right is--er--the niece of your
father,--your cousin. The lady on my left, engaged in soothing
the--er--bashful timidity of infancy, is--er--that is--er--claims
to be, the mother of the child of Alexander Morton.
Oakhurst (calmly). She is right.
Miss Mary (rushing forward). Then you are--
Oakhurst (gently restraining her). You have another question to
ask: you hesitate: let me ask it. (Crossing to the DUCHESS.) You
have heard my answer. Madam, are you the legal wife of Alexander
The Duchess (sinking upon her knees, and dropping her face in her
Oakhurst. Enough: I will take the child. Pardon me, Miss Morris,
but you have heard enough to know that your mission is accomplished,
but what else passes between this woman and myself becomes no
stranger to hear. (Motions toward room L.)
Miss Mary (aside). It is HIS son. I am satisfied (going). Come,
[Exeunt into room L., STARBOTTLE and MISS MARY.
The Duchess (crossing to OAKHURST, and falling at his feet).
Forgive me, Jack, forgive me! It was no fault of mine. I did not
know that you were here. I did not know that you had taken his
Oakhurst. Hush--on your life!
The Duchess. Hear me, Jack! I was anxious only for a home for my
child. I came to HER--the schoolmistress of Red Gulch--for aid. I
told her the name of my boy's father. She--she brought me here.
Oh, forgive me, Jack! I have offended you!
Oakhurst. How can I believe you? You have deceived HIM. You have
deceived me. Listen! When I said, a moment ago, you were not the
wife of Alexander Morton, it was because I knew that your first
husband--the Australian convict Pritchard--was still living; that
you had deceived Sandy Morton as you had deceived me. That was why
I left you. Tell me, have you deceived me also about him, as you
did about the other? Is HE living, and with you; or dead, as you
The Duchess (aside). He will kill me if I tell him. (Aloud.) No,
no. He is gone--is dead these three years.
Oakhurst. You swear!
The Duchess (hesitates, gasps, and looks around for her child; then
seizing it, and drawing it toward her). I--swear.
Oakhurst. Enough. Seek not to know why I am here, and under his
name. Enough for you that it has saved your child's future, and
secured him his heritage past all revocation. Yet remember! a word
from you within the next few days destroys it all. After that, I
care not what you say.
The Duchess. Jack! One word, Jack, before I go. I never thought
to bring my shame to you!--to HIM!
Oakhurst. It was no trick, then, no contrivance, that brought her
here. No: it was fate. And at least I shall save his child.
Re-enter STARBOTTLE, MISS MARY, and DUCHESS.
Col. Starbottle (impressively). Permit me, Mr. Alexander Morton,
as the friend of my--er--principal to declare that we have
received--honorable--honorable--satisfaction. Allow me, sir, to
grasp the hand, the--er--cherished hand of a gentleman who, demn
me! has fulfilled all his duties to--er--society and gentlemen.
And allow me to add, sir, should any invidious criticism of the
present--er--settlement be uttered in my presence, I shall hold
that critic responsible, sir--er--personally responsible!
Miss Mary (sweeping truculently and aggressively up to JOHN
OAKHURST). And permit ME to add, sir, that, if you can see your
way clearly out of this wretched muddle, it's more than I can.
This arrangement may be according to the Californian code of
morality, but it doesn't accord with my Eastern ideas of right and
wrong. If this foolish, wretched creature chooses to abandon all
claim upon you, chooses to run away from you,--why, I suppose, as a
GENTLEMAN, according to your laws of honor, you are absolved.
Good-night, Mr. Alexander Morton. (Goes to door C., and exit,
pushing out STARBOTTLE, the DUCHESS, and child. MR. OAKHURST sinks
into chair at desk, burying his face in his hands. Re-enter slowly
and embarrassedly, MISS MARY: looks toward OAKHURST, and comes
slowly down stage.)
Miss Mary (aside). I was too hard on him. I was not so hard on
Sandy when I thought that he--he--was the father of her child. And
he's my own flesh and blood, too; and--he's crying. (Aloud.) Mr.
Oakhurst (slowly lifting his head). Yes; Miss Mary.
Miss Mary. I spoke hastily just then. I--I--thought--you see--I--
(angrily and passionately) I mean this. I'm a stranger. I don't
understand your Californian ways, and I don't want to. But I
believe you've done what you thought was right, according to a
MAN'S idea of right; and--there's my hand. Take it, take it; for
it's a novelty, Mr. Morton: it's the hand of an honest girl!
Oakhurst (hesitates, then rises, sinks on one knee, and raises MISS
MARY'S fingers to his lips). God bless you, miss! God bless you!
Miss Mary (retreating to centre door). Good-night, good-night
(slowly),--cousin--Alexander. [Exit. Dark stage.
Oakhurst (rising swiftly). No, no: it is false! Ah! She's gone.
Another moment, and I would have told her all. Pshaw! courage,
man! It is only six days more, and you are free, and this year's
shame and agony forever ended.
Jackson. As you ordered, sir, the night watchman has been relieved,
and has just gone.
Oakhurst. Very good, sir; and you?
Jackson. I relieved the porter, sir; and I shall bunk on two
chairs in the counting-room. You'll find me handy if you want me,
sir. Good-night, sir. [Exit C.
Oakhurst. I fear these rascals will not dare to make their second
attempt to-night. A quiet scrimmage with them, enough to keep me
awake or from thinking, would be a good fortune. No, no! no such
luck for you to-night, John Oakhurst! You are playing a losing
game. . . . Yet the robbery was a bold one. At eleven o'clock,
while the bank was yet lighted, and Mr. Jackson and another clerk
were at work here, three well-dressed men pick the lock of the
counting-house door, enter, and turn the key on the clerks in this
parlor, and carry away a box of doubloons not yet placed in the
vaults by the porter; and all this done so cautiously that the
clerks within knew nothing of it until notified of the open street
door by the private watchman, and so boldly that the watchman,
seeing them here, believed them clerks of the bank, and let them go
unmolested. No: this was the coincidence of good luck, not of bold
premeditation. There will be no second attempt. (Yawns.) If they
don't come soon I shall fall asleep. Four nights without rest will
tell on a man, unless he has some excitement to back him. (Nods.)
Hallo! What was that? Oh! Jackson in the counting-room getting to
bed. I'll look at that front door myself. (Takes revolver from
desk and goes to door C., tries lock, comes down stage with
revolver, examines it, and lays it down.)
Oakhurst (slowly and quietly.) The door is locked on the outside:
that may have been an accident. The caps are taken from my pistol:
THAT was not! Well, here is the vault, and here is John Oakhurst:
to reach the one, they must pass the other.
(Takes off his coat, seizes poker from grate, and approaches safe.)
Ha! some one is moving in the old man's room. (Approaches door of
room R. as--
Enter noiselessly and cautiously from room L., PRITCHARD, SILKY,
and SOAPY. PRITCHARD and his confederates approach OAKHURST from
behind, carrying lariat, or slip-noose.
Oakhurst (listening at door R.) Good. At least I know from what
quarter to expect the attack. Ah!
PRITCHARD throws slip-noose over OAKHURST from behind; OAKHURST
puts his hand in his breast as the slip-noose is drawn across his
bosom, pinioning one arm over his breast, and the other at his
side. SILKY and SOAPY, directed by PRITCHARD, drag OAKHURST to
chair facing front, and pinion his legs. PRITCHARD, C., regarding
Oakhurst (very coolly). You have left me my voice, I suppose,
because it is useless.
Pritchard. That's so, pard. 'Twon't be no help to ye.
Oakhurst. Then you have killed Jackson.
Pritchard. Lord love ye, no! That ain't like us, pard! Jackson's
tendin' door for us, and kinder lookin' out gin'rally for the boys.
Thar's nothin' mean about Jackson.
Soapy. No! Jackson's a squar man. Eh, Silky?
Silky. Ez white a man ez they is, pard!
Oakhurst (aside). The traitor! (Aloud.) Well!
Pritchard. Well, you want ter know our business. Call upon a
business man in business hours. Our little game is this, Mr. Jack
Morton Alexander Oakhurst. When we was here the other night, we
was wantin' a key to that theer lock (pointing to vault), and we
sorter dropped in passin' to get it.
Oakhurst. And suppose I refuse to give it up?
Pritchard. We were kalkilatin' on yer bein' even that impolite:
wasn't we, boys?
Silky and Soapy. We was that.
Pritchard. And so we got Mr. Jackson to take an impression of it
in wax. Oh, he's a squar man--is Mr. Jackson!
Silky. Jackson is a white man, Soapy!
Soapy. They don't make no better men nor Jackson, Silky.
Pritchard. And we've got a duplicate key here. But we don't want
any differences, pard: we only want a squar game. It seemed to us--
some of your old pards as knew ye, Jack--that ye had a rather soft
thing here, reformin'; and we thought ye was kinder throwin' off on
the boys, not givin' 'em any hand in the game. But thar ain't
anythin' mean about us. Eh, boys?
Soapy. We is allers ready to chip in ekal in the game. Eh, Silky?
Silky. That's me, Soapy.
Pritchard. Ye see, the boys is free and open-handed, Jack. And so
the proposition we wanter make to ye, Jack, is this. It's reg'lar
on the squar. We reckon, takin' Mr. Jackson's word,--and thar
ain't no man's word ez is better nor Jackson's,--that there's nigh
on to two millions in that vault, not to speak of a little speshil
deposit o' York's, ez we learn from that accommodatin' friend, Mr.
Jackson. We propose to share it with ye, on ekil terms--us five--
countin' Jackson, a square man. In course, we takes the risk o'
packin' it away to-night comfortable. Ez your friends, Jack, we
allow this yer little arrangement to be a deuced sight easier for
you than playin' Sandy Morton on a riglar salary, with the chance
o' the real Sandy poppin' in upon ye any night.
Oakkurst. It's a lie. Sandy is dead.
Pritchard. In course, in course; that is your little game! But we
kalkilated, Jack, even on that, on yer bein' rambunktious and
contrary; and so we went ter Red Gulch, and found Sandy. Ye know I
take a kind o' interest in Sandy: he's the second husband of my
wife, the woman you run away with, pard. But thar's nothin' mean
about me! eh, boys?
Silky. No! he's the forgivingest kind of a man, is Pritchard.
Soapy. That's so, Silky.
Pritchard. And, thinkin' ye might be dubious, we filled Sandy
about full o' rye whiskey, and brought him along; and one of our
pards is preambulatin' the streets with him, ready to bring him on
Oakhurst. It's a lie, Pritchard,--a cowardly lie!
Pritchard. Is it? Hush!
Sandy (without, singing),--
Oh, yer's yer Sandy Morton,
Drink him down!
Oh, yer's yer Sandy Morton,
Drink him down!
Oh, yer's yer Sandy Morton,
All alive and just a-snortin'!
Oh, yer's yer Sandy Morton,
Drink him down!
Pritchard. We don't propose to run him in yer, cept we're took, or
yer unaccommodatin' to the boys.
Oakhurst. And if I refuse?
Pritchard. Why, we'll take what we can get; and we'll leave Sandy
Morton with you yer, to sorter alleviate the old man's feelin's
over the loss of his money. There's nothin' mean about us; no! eh,
boys? (Going toward safe.)
Oakhurst. Hear me a moment, Henry Pritchard. (PRITCHARD stops
abreast of OAKHURST.) Four years ago you were assaulted in the
Arcade Saloon in Sacramento. You would have been killed, but your
assailant suddenly fell dead by a pistol-shot fired from some
unknown hand. I stood twenty feet from you with folded arms; but
that shot was fired by me,--me, Henry Pritchard,--through my
clothes, from a derringer hidden in my waistcoat! Understand me, I
do not ask your gratitude now. But that pistol is in my right
hand, and now covers you. Make a single motion,--of a muscle,--and
it is your last.
Pritchard (motionless, but excitedly). You dare not fire! No,
dare not! A shot here will bring my pal and Sandy Morton to
confront you. You will have killed me to save exposure, have added
murder to imposture! You have no witness to this attempt!
Capper (opening door of room L., at the same moment that two
policemen appear at door C., and two at room R). You are wrong: he
has five (crossing to SILKY and SOAPY, and laying his hands on
their shoulders); and, if I mistake not, he has two more in these
gentlemen, whom I know, and who will be quite as willing to furnish
the necessary State's evidence of the robbery, as of the fact that
they never knew any other Alexander Morton than the gentleman who
sits in that chair.
Soapy. That's so, Silky.
Silky. That's so, Soapy.
Capper (to policemen). Take them away.
[Exit policemen with PRITCHARD, SOAPY, and SILKY. CAPPER unbinds
Oakhurst. Then I have to thank you, Mr. C.
Capper. Yes! "A man of ridiculous theories, but well-meaning,
brave, and honest." No, sir; don't apologize: you were right, Mr.
Oakhurst. It is I who owe you an apology. I came here, believing
YOU were the robber, having no faith in you or your reformation,
expecting,--yes, sir,--hoping, to detect you in the act. Hear me!
From the hour you first entered the bank, I have shadowed your
every movement, I have been the silent witness of all that has
passed in this room. You have played a desperate game, Mr.
Oakhurst; but I'll see you through it. If you are true to your
resolve, for the next six days, I will hold these wretches silent.
I will protect your imposture with the strong arm of the law. I
don't like YOUR theories, sir; but I believe you to be well-
meaning, and I know you to be brave and honest.
Oakhurst (grasping his hand). I shall not forget this. But Sandy--
Capper. I will put my men on his track, and have him brought
quietly here. I can give you no aid beyond that. As an honorable
man, I need not tell you your duty. Settle it with him as best you
Oakhurst. You are right; I WILL see him. (Aside.) Unless he has
changed, he will listen to me, he will obey me.
Capper. Hush! (Blows out candle.) Stand here!
CAPPER and OAKHURST retreat to wing L., as enter MORTON, sen., from
Morton. The private door open, the room dark, and Capper gone. I
don't like this. The more I think of the mystery of that man's
manner this morning, the more it seems to hide some terrible secret
I must fathom! There are matches here. (Strikes a light, as
CAPPER draws OAKHURST, struggling, back into shadow.) What's this?
(Picking up key.) The key of the vault. A chair overturned.
(Touches bell.) No answer! Jackson gone! My God! A terrible
suspicion haunts me! No. Hush! (Retreats to private room R., as
door of L. opens and--
Sandy (drunkenly). Shoo! Shoo! boys, whar are ye, boys, eh?
Pritchard, Silky, Soapy! Whar are ye, boys?
Morton (aside). A crime has been committed, and here is one of the
gang. God has delivered him in my hands. (Draws revolver, and
fires, as OAKHURST breaks from CAPPER, and strikes up MORTON'S
pistol. CAPPER at same moment seizes SANDY, and drags him in room
L. MORTON and OAKHURST struggle to centre.)
Morton (relaxing hold of OAKHURST). Alexander! Good God! Why are
you here? Why have you stepped between me and retribution? You
hesitate. God in heaven! Speak, Alexander, my son, speak for
God's sake! Tell me--tell me that this detective's suspicions are
not true. Tell me that you are not--not--no, I cannot say it.
Speak, Alexander Morton, I command you! Who is this man you have
saved? Is it--is it--your accomplice?
Oakhurst (sinking at his feet). Don't ask me! You know not what
you ask! I implore you--
Capper (appearing quietly from room L., and locking the door behind
him). Your son has acted under MY orders. The man he has saved,
as he has saved you, was a decoy,--one of my policemen.
CAPPER, MORTON, OAKHURST.
END OF ACT III.
SCENE 1.--MR. MORTON'S villa, Russian Hill, Night. OAKHURST'S
bedroom. Sofa in alcove C., door in flat left of C. SANDY MORTON
discovered, unconscious, lying on sofa; OAKHURST standing at his
head, two policemen at his feet. Candles on table L.
Oakhurst. That will do. You are sure he was unconscious as you
brought him in?
First Policeman. Sure, sir? He hasn't known anything since we
picked him up on the sidewalk outside the bank.
Oakhurst. Good! You have fulfilled your orders well, and your
chief shall know it. Go now. Be as cautious in going out as you
were on entering. Here is the private staircase. (Opens door L.)
Oakhurst (listening). Gone! and without disturbing any one. So
far, luck has befriended me. He will sleep to-night beneath his
father's roof. His father! umph! would the old man recognize him
here? Would he take to his heart this drunken outcast, picked from
the gutters of the street, and brought here by the strong arm of
the law? Hush! (A knock without.) Ah, it is the colonel: he is
prompt to the hour. (Opens door cautiously, and admits COL.
Starbottle (looking around, and overlooking SANDY). I presume the
other--er--principal is not yet on the ground?
Oakhurst (motioning to sofa). He IS!
Starbottle (starting as he looks towards sofa). Ged, you don't
mean to say it's all OVER, without witnesses, without my--er--
Oakhurst. Pardon me, Col. Starbottle; but, if you look again, you
will perceive that the gentleman is only drunk.
Starbottle. Eh? Ged! not uncommon, sir, not uncommon! I remember
singular incident at--er--Louisville in '47. Old Judge Tollim--
know old Judge Tolly?--Ged! he came to ground drunk, sir; couldn't
stand! Demn me, sir, had to put him into position with kitchen
poker down his back, and two sections of lightning-rod in his--er--
trousers, demn me! Firm, sir, firm, you understand, here (striking
his breast), but--here (striking his legs)--er--er--wobbly! No,
sir! Intoxication of principal not a bar, sir, to personal
satisfaction! (Goes towards sofa with eyeglass.) Good Ged! why,
it's Diego! (Returning stifly to OAKHURST.) Excuse me, sir, but
this is a case in which I cannot act. Cannot, sir,--impossible!
absurd! pre--post--or--ous! I recogmze in the--er--inebriated
menial on yonder sofa a person, sir, who, having already declined
my personal challenge, is--er--excluded from the consideration of
gentlemen. The person who lies there, sir, is Diego,--a menial of
Don Jose Castro,---alias "Sandy," the vagabond of Red Gulch.
Oakhurst. You have omitted one title, his true one. He is
Alexander Morton, the son of the master of this house.
Starbottle (starting in bewilderment). Alexander Morton! (Aside.)
Ged! my first suspicions were correct. Star, you have lost the
opportunity of making your fortune as a scoundrel; but you have at
a pecuniary sacrifice, preserved your honor.
Oakhurst. Yes. Hear me, Col. Starbottle. I have summoned you
here to-night, as I have already intimated, on an affair of honor.
I have sought you as my father's legal counsel, as a disinterested
witness, as a gentleman of honor. The man who lies before you was
once my friend and partner. I have wronged him doubly. As his
partner, I ran away with the woman he believed, and still believes,
to be his wife; as his friend, I have for a twelvemonth kept him
from the enjoyment of his home, his patrimony, by a shameful
deception. I have summoned you to-night to witness my confession;
as a lawyer, to arrange those details necessary to restore to him
his property; as a man of honor, to receive from me whatever
retribution he demands. You will be a witness to our interview.
Whatever befalls me here, you will explain to Mr. Morton--to
Jovita--that I accepted it as a man, and did not avoid, here or
elsewhere, the penalty of my crime. (Folding his arms.)
Slarbottle. Umph! The case is, as you say, a delicate one, but
not--not--peculiar. No, sir! Ged, sir, I remember Tom Marshall--
know Tom Marshall of Kentucky?--said to me, "Star!"--always calls
me Star,--"how in blank, sir, can you remember the REAL names of
your clients?"--"Why," says I, "Tom," always called him Tom,--
"yesterday I was called to make will--most distinguished family of
Virginia--as lawyer and gentleman, you understand: can't mention
name. Waited for signature--most distinguished name: Ged, sir, man
signed Bloggins,--Peter Bloggins. Fact, demme! 'Mistake,' I
said,--'excitement; exaltation of fever. Non compos. Compose
yourself, Bob.'--'Star,' he said,--always called me Star,--'for
forty-seven years I have been an impostor!'--his very words, sir.
'I am not'--you understand: 'I AM Peter Bloggins!'"
Oakhurst. But, my dear colonel, I--
Starbottle (loftily). Say no more, sir! I accept the--er
position. Let us see! The gentleman will, on recognition,
probably make a personal attack. You are armed. Ah, no? Umph!
On reflection I would not permit him to strike a single blow: I
would anticipate it. It will provoke the challenge from him,
leaving YOU, sir, the--er--choice of weapons.
Oakhurst. Hush! he is moving! Take your stand here, in this
alcove. Remember, as a gentleman, and a man of honor, Col.
Starbottle, I trust you not to interfere between the injured man
and--justice! (Pushes COL. STARBOTTLE into alcove behind couch,
and approaches SANDY.)
Sandy (waking slowly--and incoherently). Hush, Silky! hush! Eh?
Oh, hush yourself! (Sings.)
Oh, yer's yer Sandy Morton,
Drink him down!
Eh! Oh! (Half sits up on couch.) Eh! (Looking around him.)
Where the devil am I?
Oakhurst (advancing and leaning over SANDY'S couch). In the house
of your father, Alexander Morton.
Sandy (recoiling in astonishment). His voice, John Oakhurst!
What--ah! (Rises, and rushes towards OAKHURST with uplifted hand.)
Starbottle (gesticulating in whisper). A blow! a single blow would
Sandy (looking at OAKHURST, who regards him calmly). I--eh! I--
eh! Ha, ha! I'm glad to see--old pard! I'm glad to see ye!
(COL. STARBOTTLE lifts his hand in amazement.)
Oakhurst (declining his hand). Do you understand me, Sandy Morton?
Listen. I am John Oakhurst,--the man who has deceived your father,
who has deceived you.
Sandy (without heeding his words, but regarding him affectionately).
To think of it--Jack Oakhurst! It's like him, like Jack. He was
allers onsartain, the darned little cuss! Jack! Look at him, will
ye, boys? look at him! Growed too, and dressed to kill, and sittin'
in this yer house as natril as a jaybird! (Looking around.) Nasty,
ain't it, Jack? and this yer's your house--the old man's house--eh?
Why, this is--this is where she came. Jack, Jack! (Eagerly.) Tell
me, pard, where is she?
Starbottle (aside, rubbing his hands). We shall have it now!
Oakhurst. She has gone,--gone! But hear me. She had deceived you
as she has me. She has gone,--gone with her first husband, Henry
Sandy (stupefied). Gone! Her first husband! Pritchard!
Oakhurst. Ay, your wife!
Sandy. Oh, damn my wife! I'm talking of Mary,--Miss Mary,--the
little schoolma'am, Jack; the little rose of Poker Flat. Oh! I
see--ye didn't know her, Jack,--the pertiest, sweetest little--
Oakhurst (turning away coldly). Ay, ay! She is here!
Sandy (looking after him affectionately). Look at him, boys!
Allers the same,--high-toned, cold, even to his pardner! That's
him,--Jack Oakhurst! But Jack, Jack, you're goin' to shake hands,
ain't ye? (Extends his hand, after a pause. OAKHURST takes it
Col. Starbottle (who has been regarding interview with visible
scorn and disgust, advancing to OAKHURST). You will--er--pardon me
if, under the--er--circumstances, I withdraw from this--er--
disgraceful proceeding. The condonation, by that man, of two of
the most tremendous offences to society and to the code, without
apology or satisfaction, Ged, sir, is--er--er--of itself an insult
to the spectator. I go, sir--
Oakhurst. But, Col. Starbottle--
Starbottle. Permit me to say, sir, that I hold myself for this,
sir, responsible, sir,--personally responsible.
[Exit STARBOTTLE, glancing furiously at SANDY, who sinks on sofa
Oakhurst (aside). He will change his mind in half an hour. But,
in the mean time, time is precious. (Aloud.) Sandy, come!
Sandy (rising with alacrity). Yes, Jack, I'm ready.
Oakhurst. We are going (slowly and solemnly)--we are going to see
Sandy (dropping back with bashful embarrassment, and struggling to
release his arm from OAKHURST). No, Jack! Not just yet, Jack; in
a little while, ole boy! in about six months, or mebbe--a year,
Jack! not now, not now! I ain't feelin' exactly well, Jack,--I
Oakhurst. Nonsense, Sandy! Consider your duty and my honor.
Sandy (regaining his seat). That's all very well, Jack; but ye
see, pard, you've known the old man for nigh on a year, and it's
twenty-five since I met him. No, Jack; you don't play any ole man
on to me to-night, Jack. No, you and me'll just drop out for a
pasear. Jack, eh? (Taking OAKHURST'S arm.) Come!
Oakhurst. Impossible! Hush! (Listening.) It is HE passing
through the corridor. (Goes to wing R., and listens.)
Sandy (crowding hastily behind OAKHURST in alarm). But, I say,
Jack! he won't come in here? He's goin' to bed, you know. Eh? It
ain't right for a man o' his years--and he must be goin' on ninety,
Jack--to be up like this. It ain't healthy.
Oakhurst. You know him not. He seems to need no rest (sadly).
Night after night, long after the servants are abed, and the house
is still, I hear that step slowly pacing the corridor. It is the
last sound as I close my eyes, the first challenge of the morning.
Sandy. The ol' scound--(checking himself)--I mean, Jack, the ol'
man has suthin' on his mind. But, Jack (in great alarm), he don't
waltz in upon ye, Jack? He don't p'int them feet in yer, Jack? Ye
ain't got to put up with that, Jack, along o' yer other trials?
Oakhurst. He often seeks me here. Ah--yes--he is coming this way
Sandy (in ludicrous terror). Jack, pard, quick I hide me
Oakhurst (opening door R.). In there, quick! Not a sound, as you
value your future! [Exit SANDY hurriedly R.
SCENE 2.--The same. Enter door R., OLD MORTON, in dressing-gown,
Old Morton. Not abed yet, Alexander? Well, well, I don't blame
you, my son it has been for you a trying, trying night. Yes, I
see: like me, you are a little nervous and wakeful. (Slowly takes
chair, and comfortably composes himself.)
Oakhurst (aside). He is in for a midnight gossip. How shall I
dispose of Sandy?
Old Morton. Yes (meditatively),--yes, you have overworked lately.
Never mind. In a day or two more you shall have a vacation, sir,--
Oakhurst (aside). He knows not how truly he speaks. (Aloud.)
Yes, sir, I was still up. I have only just now dismissed the
Old Morton. Ay. I heard voices, and saw a light in your window.
I came to tell you, Alexander, Capper has explained all about--
about the decoy! More; he has told me of your courage and your
invaluable assistance. For a moment, sir,--I don't mind telling
you now in confidence,--I doubted YOU--
Oakhurst (in feigned deprecation). Oh, sir!
Old Morton. Only for a moment. You will find, Alexander, that
even that doubt shall have full apology when the year of your
probation has expired. Besides, sir. I know all.
Oakhurst (starting). All!
Old Morton. Yes, the story about the Duchess and your child. You
are surprised. Col. Starbottle told me all. I forgive you,
Alexander, for the sake of your boy.
Oakhurst. My boy, sir!
Old Morton. Yes, your boy. And let me tell you, sir, he's a fine
young fellow. Looks like you,--looks as you did when YOU were a
boy. He's a Morton too, every inch of him, there's no denying
that. No, sir. You may have changed; but he--he--is the living
image of my little Alexander. He took to me, too,--lifted his
little arms--and--and-- (Becomes affected, and leans his head in
Oakhurst (rising). You are not well, sir. Let me lead you to your
Old Morton. No! it is nothing: a glass of water, Alexander!
Oakhurst (aside). He is very pale. The agitation of the night has
overcome him. (Goes to table R.) A little spirits will revive
him. (Pours from decanter in glass, and returns to MORTON.)
Old Morton (after drinking). There was spirits in that water,
Alexander. Five years ago, I vowed at your mother's grave to
abandon the use of intoxicating liquors.
Oakhurst. Believe me, sir, my mother will forgive you.
Old Morton. Doubtless. It has revived me. I am getting to be an
old man, Aleck. (Holds out his glass half-unconsciously, and
OAKHURST replenishes it from decanter.) Yes, an old man, Aleck;
but the boy,--ah, I live again in him. The little rascal! He
asked me, Aleck, for a "chaw tobacker!" and wanted to know if I was
the "ol' duffer." Ha, ha! He did. Ha, ha! Come, come, don't be
despondent. I was like you once, damn it,--ahem--it's all for the
best, my boy, all for the best. I'll take the young rascal
(aside)--damn it, he's already taken me--(aloud) on equal terms.
There, Aleck, what do you say?
Oakhurst. Really, sir, this forbearance,--this kindness--(aside) I
see a ray of light.
Old Morton. Nonsense! I'll take the boy, I tell you, and do well
for him,--the little rascal!--as if he were the legal heir. But, I
say, Aleck (laughing), ha, ha!--what about--ha, ha!--what about
Dona Jovita, eh? and what about Don Jose Castro, eh? How will the
lady like a ready-made family, eh? (Poking OAKHURST in the ribs.)
What will the Don say to the family succession? Ha, ha!
Oakhurst (proudly). Really, sir, I care but little.
Old Morton (aside). Oh, ho! I'll sound him. (Aloud.) Look ye,
Alexander, I have given my word to you and Don Jose Castro, and
I'll keep it. But if you can do any better, eh--if--eh?--the
schoolma'am's a mighty pretty girl and a bright one, eh, Aleck?
And it's all in the family--eh? And she thinks well of you; and I
will say, for a girl brought up as she's been, and knowin' your
relations with the Duchess and the boy, to say a kind word for ye,
Aleck, is a good sign,--you follow me, Aleck,--if you think--why,
old Don Jose might whistle for a son-in-law, eh?
Oakhurst (interrupting indignantly). Sir! (Aside.) Stop!
(Aloud.) Do you mean to say, sir, that if I should consent to
this--suggestion--that, if the lady were willing, YOU would offer
Old Morton. Impediment, my dear boy! you should have my blessing.
Oakhurst. Pardon me a moment. You have in the last year, sir,
taught me the importance of business formality in all the relations
of life. Following that idea, the conditions of my engagement with
Jovita Castro were drawn up with your hand. Are you willing to
make this recantation as formal, this new contract as businesslike
Old Morton (eagerly). I am.
Oakhurst. Then sit here, and write at my dictation. (Pointing to
table L. OLD MORTON takes seat at table.) "In view of the evident
preferences of my son Alexander Morton, and of certain family
interests, I hereby revoke my consent to his marriage with the Dona
Jovita Castro, and accord him full permission to woo and win his
cousin, Miss Mary Morris, promising him the same aid and assistance
previously offered in his suit with Miss Castro."
Old Morton (signing). Alexander Morton, sen. There, Aleck! You
have forgotten one legal formality. We have no witness. Ha, ha!
Oakhurst (significantly). I will be a sufficient witness.
Old Morton. Ha, ha! (Fills glass from decanter, after which
OAKHURST quietly removes decanter beyond his reach.) Very good!
Aleck, I've been thinking of a plan,--I've been thinking of
retiring from the bank. I'm getting old, and my ways are not the
popular ways of business here. I've been thinking of you, you
dog,--of leaving the bank to you,--to you, sir, eh--the day--the
day you marry the schoolma'am--eh. I'll stay home and take care of
the boy--eh--hic! The little rascal!--lifted his arms to me--did,
Aleck! by God! (Incoherently.) Eh!
Oakhurst. Hush! (Aside.) Sandy will overhear him, and appear.
Old Morton (greatly affected by liquor.) Hush! eh!--of course--
shoo! shoo! (The actor will here endeavor to reproduce in OLD
MORTON'S drunken behavior, without exactly imitating him, the
general characteristics of his son's intoxication.) Eh!--I say,
Aleck, old boy! what will the Don say? eh? Ha, ha, ha! And
Jovita, that firebrand, how will she--hic--like it, eh? (Laughs
Oakhurst. Hush! We will be overheard! The servants, sir!
Old Morton. Damn the servants! Don't I--hic--pay them wages--eh?
Oakhurst. Let me lead you to your own room. You are nervously
excited. A little rest, sir, will do you good. (Taking his arm.)
Old Morton. No shir, no shir, 'm nerrer goin' to bed any more.
Bed's bad habit!--hic--drunken habit. Lesh stay up all ni, Aleck!
You and me! Lesh nev'r--go--bed any more! Whar's whiskey--eh?
(Staggers to the table for decanter as OAKHURST seizes him,
struggle up stage, and then OLD MORTON, in struggle, falls
helplessly on sofa, in same attitude as SANDY was discovered.)
Enter SANDY cautiously from door L.
Sandy (to OAKHURST). Jack! Eh, Jack--
Oakhurst. Hush! Go! I will follow you in a moment. (Pushes him
back to door L.)
Sandy (catching sight of OLD MORTON). Hallo! What's up?
Oakhurst. Nothing. He was overtaken with a sudden faintness. He
will revive presently: go!
Sandy (hesitating). I say, Jack, he wasn't taken sick along o' me,
Oakhurst. No! No! But go (pushing him toward door).
Sandy. Hold on: I'm going. But, Jack, I've got a kind of
faintness yer, too. (Goes to side-table, and takes up decanter.)
And thar's nothing reaches that faintness like whiskey. (Fills
glass.) Old Morton (drunkenly and half-consciously from couch).
Whiskey--who shed--whiskey--eh? Eh--O--gimme some, Aleck--Aleck,
my son,--my son!--my old prodigal--Old Proddy, my boy--gimme--
Oh, yer's yer good old whiskey,
Drink it down!
Eh? I com--mand you,--pass the whiskey!
SANDY, at first panic-stricken, and then remorsefully conscious,
throws glass down, with gesture of fear and loathing. OAKHURST
advances to his side hurriedly.
Oakhurst (in hurried whisper). Give him the whiskey, quick! It
will keep him quiet. (Is about to take decanter when SANDY seizes
it: struggle with OAKHURST.)
Sandy (with feeling). No, no, Jack, no! (Suddenly with great
strength and determination, breaks from him, and throws decanter
from window.) No, NEVER!
Old Morton (struggling drunkenly to his feet). Eh--who sh'd never?
(OAKHURST shoves SANDY in room L., and follows him, closing door.)
Eh, Aleck? (Groping.) Eh, where'sh light? All gone. (Lapses on
sofa again, after an ineffectual struggle to get up, and then
resumes his old attitude.)
(Change scene quickly.)
SCENE 3.--Ante-room in MR. MORTON'S villa. Front scene. Enter DON
JOSE CASTRO and CONCHO, preceded by SERVANT, L.
Servant. This way, gentlemen.
Don Jose. Carry this card to Alexander Morton, sen.
Servant. Beg pardon, sir, but there's only one name here, sir
(looking at CONCHO).
Don Jose (proudly). That is my servant, sir. [Exit SERVANT.
Don Jose (aside). I don't half like this business. But my money
locked up in his bank, and my daughter's hand bound to his son,
demand it. (Aloud.) This is no child's play, Concho, you
Concho. Ah! I am wise. Believe me, if I have not proofs which
shall blanch the cheek of this old man, I am a fool, Don Jose!
Servant. Mr. Morton, sen., passed a bad night, and has left word
not to be disturbed this morning. But Mr. Morton, jun., will
attend you, sir.
Concho (aside). So the impostor will face it out. Well, let him
Don Jose (to SERVANT) I wait his pleasure. [Exit SERVANT.
Don Jose. You hear, Concho? You shall face this man. I shall
repeat to him all you have told me. If you fail to make good your
charge, on your head rests the consequences.
Concho. He will of course deny. He is a desperate man: he will
perhaps attack me. Eh! Ah! (Drawing revolver.)
Don Jose. Put up your foolish weapon. The sight of the father he
has deceived will be more terrible to him than the pistol of the
Enter COL. STARBOTTLE, C.
Starbottle. Mr. Alexander Morton, Jun., will be with you in a
moment. (Takes attitude by door, puts his hand in his breast, and
Concho (to DON JOSE, aside). It is the bullying lawyer. They will
try to outface us, my patron; but we shall triumph. (Aloud.) He
comes, eh!--Mr. Alexander Morton, gentlemen! I will show you a
cheat, an impostor!
Enter, in correct, precise morning dress, SANDY MORTON. There is
in his make-up and manner a suggestion of the father.
Concho (recoiling, aside). Diego! The real son. (Aloud,
furiously.) It is a trick to defeat justice,--eh!--a miserable
trick! But it shall fail, it shall fail!
Col. Starbottle. Permit me, a moment,--a single moment. (To
Concho.) You have--er--er--characterized my introduction of this--
er--gentleman as a "cheat" and an "imposture." Are you prepared to
deny that this is Alexander Morton?
Don Jose (astonished, aside). These Americanos are of the Devil!
(Aloud and sternly.) Answer him, Concho, I command you.
Concho (in half-insane rage). It is Alexander Morton; but it is a
trick,--a cowardly trick! Where is the other impostor, this Mr.
Sandy (advancing with dignity and something of his father's cold
manner). He will answer for himself, when called for. (To DON
JOSE.) You have asked for me, sir: may I inquire your business?
Concho. Eh! It is a trick,--a trick!
Don Jose (to CONCHO). Silence, sir! (To SANDY, with dignity.) I
know not the meaning of this masquerade. I only know that you are
NOT the gentleman hitherto known to me as the son of Alexander
Morton. I am here, sir, to demand my rights as a man of property
and a father. I have received this morning a check from the house
of Morton & Son, for the amount of my deposit with them. So far--
in view of this complication--it is well. Who knows? Bueno! But
the signature of Morton & Son to the check is not in the handwriting
I have known. Look at it, sir. (To SANDY, handing check.)
Sandy (examining check). It is my handwriting, sir, and was signed
this morning. Has it been refused?
Don Jose. Pardon me, sir. It has not been presented. With this
doubt in my mind, I preferred to submit it first to you.
Starbottle. A moment, a single moment, sir. While as a--er--
gentleman and a man of honor, I--er--appreciate your motives,
permit me to say, sir, as a lawyer, that your visit is premature.
On the testimony of your own witness, the identification of Mr.
Alexander Morton, jun., is--er--complete; he has admitted the
signature as his own; you have not yet presented the check to the
Don Jose. Pardon me, Col. Starbottle. It is not all. (To SANDY.)
By a written agreement with Alexander Morton, sen., the hand of my
daughter is promised to his son, who now stands before me, as my
former servant, dismissed from my service for drunkenness.
Sandy. That agreement is revoked.
Don Jose. Revoked!
Sandy (handing paper). Cast your eyes over that paper. At least
you will recognize THAT signature.
Don Jose (reads). "In view of the evident preferences of my son,
Alexander Morton, and of certain family interests, I hereby revoke
my consent to his marriage with the Dona Jovita Castro, and accord
him full permission to woo and win his cousin, Miss Mary Morris;
promising him the same aid and assistance previously offered in his
suit with Miss Castro.--ALEXANDER MORTON, SEN."
Concho. Ah! Carramba! Do you not see the trick,--eh, the
conspiracy? It was this man, as Diego, your daughter's groom,
helped his friend Mr. Oakhurst to the heiress. Ah, you comprehend!
It was an old trick! You shall see, you shall see! Ah! I am wise,
I am wise!
Don Jose (aside). Could I have been deceived? But no! This paper
that releases HIM gives the impostor no claim.
Sandy (resuming his old easy manner, dropping his formality, and
placing his hand on DON JOSE'S shoulder). Look yar, ole man: I
didn't allow to ever see ye agin, and this yer ain't none o' MY
seekin'. But, since yer here, I don't mind tellin' ye that but for
me that gal of yours would have run away a year ago, and married an
unknown lover. And I don't mind adding, that, hed I known that
unknown lover was my friend John Oakhurst, I'd have helped her do
it. (Going.) Good-morning, Don Jose.
Don Jose. Insolent! I shall expect an account for this from your--
Sandy. Adios, Don Jose. [Exit C.
Concho. It is a trick--I told you. Ah, I am wise. (Going to DON
Don Jose (throwing him off). Fool! [Exit DON JOSE.
Concho (infuriated). Eh! Fool yourself--dotard! No matter: I
will expose all--ah! I will see Jovita;--I will revenge myself on
this impostor! (Is about to follow, when COL. STARBOTTLE leaves
his position by the door, and touches CONCHO on the shoulder.)
Starbottle. Excuse me.
Starbottle. You have forgotten something.
Starbottle. An apology, sir. You were good enough to express--er--
incredulity--when I presented Mr. Morton: you were kind enough to
characterize the conduct of my er--principal by--an epithet. You
have alluded to me, sir,--ME--
Concho (wrathfully). Bully! (Aside.) I have heard that this
pomposo, this braggart, is a Yankee trick too; that he has the
front of a lion, the liver of the chicken. (Aloud.) Yes, I have
said, you hear I have said, I, Concho (striking his breast), have
said you are a--bully!
Starbottle (coolly). Then you are prepared to give me satisfaction,
Concho (raging). Yes, sir, now--you understand, now (taking out
pistol), anywhere, here! Yes, here. Ah! you start,--yes, here and
now! Face to face, you understand, without seconds,--face to face.
So. (Presenting pistol.)
Starbottle (quietly). Permit me to--er--apologize.
Concho. Ah! It is too late!
Starbottle (interrupting). Excuse me, but I feared you would not
honor me so completely and satisfactorily. Ged, sir, I begin to
respect you! I accede to all your propositions of time and
position. The pistol you hold in your hand is a derringer, I
presume, loaded. Ah--er--I am right. The one I now produce
(showing pistol) is--er--as you will perceive the same size and
pattern, and--er--unloaded. We will place them both, so, under the
cloth of this table. You shall draw one pistol, I will take the
other. I will put that clock at ten minutes to nine, when we will
take our positions across this table; as you--er--happily express
it, "face to face." As the clock strikes the hour, we will fire on
the second stroke.
Concho (aside). It is a trick, a Yankee trick! (Aloud.) I am
ready. Now--at once!
Starbottle (gravely). Permit me, sir, to thank you. Your conduct,
sir, reminds me of singular incident--
Concho (angrily interrupting). Come, come! It is no child's play.
We have much of this talk, eh! It is action, eh, you comprehend,--
STARBOTTLE places pistols under the cloth, and sets clock. CONCHO
draws pistol from cloth; STARBOTTLE takes remaining pistol. Both
men assume position, presenting their weapons; STARBOTTLE pompously
but seriously, CONCHO angrily and nervously.)
Starbottle (after a pause). One moment, a single moment--
Concho. Ah, a trick! Coward! you cannot destroy my aim.
Starbottle. I overlook the--er--epithet. I wished only to ask, if
you should be--er--unfortunate, if there was anything I could say
Concho. You cannot make the fool of me, coward. No!
Starbottle. My object was only precautionary. Owing to the
position in which you--er--persist in holding your weapon, in a
line with my right eye, I perceive that a ray of light enters the
nipple, and--er--illuminates the barrel. I judge from this that
you have been unfortunate enough to draw the--er--er--unloaded
Concho (tremulously lowering weapon). Eh! Ah! This is murder!
(Drops pistol.) Murder!--eh--help (retreating), help!
[Exit hurriedly door C., as clock strikes. COL. STARBOTTLE lowers
his pistol, and moves with great pomposity to the other side of the
table, taking up pistol.
Starbottle (examining pistol). Ah! (Lifts it, and discharges it.)
It seems that I am mistaken. (Going.) The pistol WAS--er--loaded!
SCENE 4.--Front scene. Room in villa. Enter MISS MARY and JOVITA.
Miss Mary. I tell you, you are wrong, you are not only
misunderstanding your lover, which is a woman's privilege, but you
are abusing my cousin, which, as his relative, I won't put up with.
Jovita (passionately). But hear me, Miss Mary. It is a year since
we were betrothed; and such a betrothal! Why, I was signed,
sealed, and delivered to him, on conditions, as if I were a part of
the rancho; and the very night, too, I had engaged to run away with
him! And during that year I have seen the gentleman twice,--yes,
Miss Mary. But he has written?
Jovita. Mother of God! Yes,--letters delivered by my father, sent
to HIS CARE, read by him first, of course; letters hoping that I
was well, and obeying my father's commands; letters assuring me of
his unaltered devotion; letters that, compared with the ones he
used to hide in the confessional of the ruined mission church, were
as ice to fire, were as that snow-flower you value so much, Mary,
to this mariposa blossom I wear in my hair. And then to think that
this man--this John Oakhurst, as I knew him; this man who used to
ride twenty miles for a smile from me on the church porch; this Don
Juan who leaped that garden wall (fifteen feet, Mary, if it is an
inch), and made old Concho his stepping-stone; this man, who daily
perilled death for my sake--is changed into this formal, methodical
man of business--is--is--I tell you there's a WOMAN at the bottom
of it! I know it sure!
Miss Mary (aside). How can I tell her about the Duchess? I won't!
(Aloud.) But listen, my dear Jovita. You know he is under
probation for you, Jovita. All this is for you. His father is
cold, methodical, unsympathetic. HE looks only to his bond with
this son,--this son that he treats, even in matters of the heart,
as a BUSINESS partner. Remember, on his complete reformation, and
subjection to his father's will, depends your hand. Remember the
Jovita. The agreement; yes! It is the agreement, always the
agreement! May the Devil fly away with the agreement! Look you,
Miss Mary, I, Dona Jovita, didn't fall in love with an agreement:
it was with a man! Why, I might have married a dozen agreements--
yes, of a shorter limitation than this! (Crossing.)