Part 3 out of 3
Miss Mary. Yes. But what if your lover had failed to keep those
promises by which he was to gain your hand? what if he were a man
incapable of self-control? what if he were--a--a drunkard?
Jovita (musing). A drunkard! (Aside.) There was Diego, he was a
drunkard; but he was faithless. (Aloud.) You mean a weak,
Miss Mary. No! (Sadly.) Faithless only to himself, but devoted--
yes, devoted to YOU.
Jovita. Miss Mary, I have found that one big vice in a man is apt
to keep out a great many smaller ones.
Miss Mary. Yes; but if he were a slave to liquor?
Jovita. My dear, I should try to change his mistress. Oh, give me
a man that is capable of a devotion to anything, rather than a
cold, calculating average of all the virtues!
Miss Mary (aside). I, who aspire to be her teacher, am only her
pupil. (Aloud.) But what if, in this very drunkenness, this
recklessness, he had once loved and worshipped another woman? What
if you discovered all this after--after--he had won your heart?
Jovita. I should adore him! Ah, Miss Mary! Love differs from all
the other contagious diseases: the last time a man is exposed to
it, he takes it most readily, and has it the worst! But you, YOU
cannot sympathize with me. You have some lover, the ideal of the
virtues; some man as correct, as well regulated, as calm as--
yourself; some one who addresses you in the fixed morality and
severe penmanship of the copy-books. He will never precipitate
himself over a garden wall or through a window. Your Jacob will
wait for you through seven years, and receive you from the hands of
your cousin and guardian--as a reward of merit! No, you could not
love a vagabond.
Miss Mary (very slowly and quietly). No?
Jovita. No! (Passionately.) No, it is impossible. Forgive me,
Miss Mary: you are good; a better girl than I am. But think of me!
A year ago my lover leaped a wall at midnight to fly with me:
today, the day that gives me to him, he writes a few cold lines,
saying that he has business, BUSINESS--you understand--business,
and that he shall not see me until we meet in the presence of--of--
Miss Mary. Yes; but you will see him at least, perhaps alone.
Listen: it is no formal meeting, but one of festivity. My guardian
has told me, in his quaint scriptural way, it is the killing of the
fatted calf, over his long-lost prodigal. Have patience, little
one. Ah! Jovita, we are of a different race, but we are of one
sex; and as a woman I know how to accept another woman's abuse of
her lover. Come, come! [Exeunt MISS MARY and JOVITA.
SCENE 5.--The drawing-room of MR. MORTON'S villa. Large open arch
in centre, leading to veranda, looking on distant view of San
Francisco; richly furnished,--sofas, arm-chairs, and tete-a-tetes.
Enter COL. STARBOTTLE, C., carrying bouquet, preceded by SERVANT,
Starbottle. Take my kyard to Miss Morris. [Exit SERVANT.
Starbottle. Star! This is the momentous epoch of your life! It
is a moment for which you--are--I may say alone responsible,--
personally responsible! She will be naturally gratified by the--
er--flowers. She will at once recognize this bouquet as a delicate
souvenir of Red Gulch, and will appreciate your recollection. And
the fact, the crushing fact, that you have overlooked the--er--
ungentlemanly conduct of her OWN cousin Sandy, the real Alexander
Morton, that you have--er--assisted to restore the ex-vaquero to
his rights, will--er--er--at once open the door to--er--mutual
confidence and--er--a continuance of that--er--prepossession I have
already noticed. Ahem! here she is.
Enter MISS MARY in full dress.
Miss Mary. You are early, Col. Starbottle. This promptitude does
honor to our poor occasion.
Col. Starbottle. Ged, Miss Mary, promptness with a lady and an
adversary is the first duty of--er--gentleman. I wished that--er--
the morning dew might still be--er--fresh in these flowers. I
gathered them myself (presenting bouquet) at--er--er--flower-stand
in the--er--California market.
Miss Mary (aside). Flowers! I needed no such reminder of poor
Sandy. (Aloud.) I thank you, colonel.
Starbattle. Ged, ma'am, I am repaid doubly. Your conduct, Miss
Mary, reminds me of little incident that occurred at Richmond, in
'58. Dinner party--came early--but obliged to go--as now--on
important business, before dessert--before dessert. Lady sat next
to me--beautiful woman--excuse me if I don't mention names--said to
me, "Star,"--always called me Star,--"Star, you remind me of the
month of May."--"Ged, madam,"--I said, "delighted, proud; but
why?"--"Because," she said, "you come in with the--er--oysters."--
No! Ged, pardon me--ridiculous mistake! I mean--er--"you come in
with the--er--flowers, and go before the--er--fruits."
Miss Mary. Ah, colonel! I appreciate her disappointment. Let us
hope, however, that some day you may find that happy woman who will
be able to keep you through the whole dinner and the whole season,
until December and the ices!
Starbottle. Ged! excellent! Capital! (seriously.) Miss Mary!
(Suddenly inflating his chest, striking attitude, and gazing on
MISS MARY with languishing eyes.) There is--er such a woman!
Miss Mary (aside). What can he mean?
Starbottle (taking seat beside her). Allow me, Miss Mary, a few
moments of confidential--er--confidential disclosure. To-day is,
as you are aware--the day on which, according to--er--agreement
between parties, my friend and client, Mr. Morton, sen.,--formally
accepts his prodigal son. It is my--er--duty to state that--er--
the gentleman who has for the past year occupied that position has
behaved with great discretion, and--er--fulfilled his part of the--
er--agreement. But it would--er--appear that there has been a--er--
slight delusion regarding the identity of that prodigal,--a
delusion shared by all the parties except, perhaps, myself. I have
to prepare you for a shock. The gentleman whom you have recently
known as Alexander Morton, jun., is not the prodigal son; is not
your--er--cousin; is, in fact, no relation to you. Prepare
yourself, Miss Mary, for a little disappointment,--for--er--
degradation. The genuine son has been--er--discovered in the
person of--er--low menial--or--vagabond,--"Sandy," the--er--outcast
of Red Gulch!
Miss Mary (rising in astonishment). Sandy! Then he was right.
(Aside.) The child is his! and that woman--
Starbottle. Compose yourself, Miss Mary. I know the--er--effect
of--er--revelation like this upon--er--proud and aristocratic
nature. Ged! My own, I assure you, beats in--er--responsive
indignation. You can never consent to remain beneath this roof,
and--er--receive a--er--vagabond and--er--menial on equal terms.
The--er--necessities of my--er--profession may--er--compel me; but
you--er--never! Holding myself--er--er--responsible for having
introduced you here, it is my--er--duty to provide you with--
another home! It is my--er--duty to protect--
Miss Mary (aside). Sandy here, and beneath this roof! Why has he
not sought me? Ah, I know too well: he dare not face me with his
Starbottle (aside). She turns away! it is maiden coyness. (Aloud.)
If, Miss Mary, the--er--devotion of a life-time; if the--er--
chivalrous and respectful adoration of a man--er--whose record
is--er--not unknown in the Court of Honor (dropping on one knee
with excessive gallantry); if the--er--measure--
Miss Mary (oblivious of COL. STARBOTTLE). I WILL--I MUST see him!
Ah! (looking L.) he is coming!
Starbottle (rising with great readiness and tact). I have found it
(presenting flower). It had fallen beneath the sofa.
Sandy (to MISS MARY, stopping short in embarrassment). I did not
know you--I--I--thought there was no one here.
Miss Mary (to STARBOTTLE). May I ask you to excuse me for a
moment? I have a few words to say to--to my COUSIN!
STARBOTTLE bows gallantly to MISS MARY, and stiffly to SANDY, and
exit R. A long pause; MISS MARY remains seated pulling flowers,
SANDY remains standing by wing, foolish and embarrassed. Business.
Miss Mary (impatiently). Well?
Sandy (slowly). I axes your pardon, miss; but you told THAT
gentleman you had a few words--to say to me.
Miss Mary (passionately, aside). Fool! (Aloud.) I had; but I am
waiting to first answer your inquiries about your--your--child. I
have fulfilled my trust, sir.
Sandy. You have, Miss Mary, and I thank you.
Miss Mary. I might perhaps have expected that this revelation of
our kinship would have come from other lips than a stranger's; but--
no matter! I wish you joy, sir, of your heritage. (Going.) You
have found a home, sir, at last, for yourself and--and--your child.
Sandy. Miss Mary!
Miss Mary. I must make ready to receive your father's guests. It
is his orders: I am only his poor relation. Good-by, sir. [Exit L.
Sandy (watching her). She is gone!--gone! No! She has dropped on
the sofa in the ante-room, and is crying. Crying! I promised Jack
I wouldn't speak until the time came. I'll go back. (Hesitating,
and looking toward L.) Poor girl! How she must hate me! I might
just say a word, one word to thank her for her kindness to Johnny,--
only one word, and then go away. I--I--can keep from liquor. I
swore I would to Jack, that night I saw the old man--drunk,--and I
have. But--I can't keep--from--her! No--damn it! (Going toward
L.) No!--I'll go! [Exit L.
Enter hurriedly and excitedly JOVITA, R., followed by MANUELA.
Jovita. Where is she? Where is HE?--the traitor!
Manuela (entreatingly). Compose yourself, Dona Jovita, for the
love of God! This is madness: believe me, there is some mistake.
It is some trick of an enemy,--of that ingrate, that coyote,
Concho, who hates the Don Alexandro.
Jovita. A trick! Call you this a trick? Look at this paper, put
into my hands by my father a moment ago. Read it. Ah! listen.
(Reads.) "In view of the EVIDENT PREFERENCES of my son, Alexander
Morton, 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!" Call you this a trick, eh? No, it is
their perfidy! This is why SHE was brought here on the eve of my
betrothal. This accounts for his silence, his absence. Oh, I
shall go mad!
Manuela. Compose yourself, miss. If I am not deceived, there is
one here who will aid us,--who will expose this deceit. Listen: an
hour ago, as I passed through the hall, I saw Diego, our old
Diego,--your friend and confidant, Diego.
Jovita. The drunkard--the faithless Diego!
Manuela. Never, Miss Jovita; not drunken! For, as he passed
before me, he was as straight, as upright, as fine as your lover.
Come, miss, we will seek him.
Jovita. Never! He, too, is a traitor.
Manuela. Believe me, no! Come, Miss Jovita. (Looking toward L.)
See, he is there. Some one is with him.
Jovita (looking). You are right; and it is she--SHE, Miss Mary!
What? he is kissing her hand! and she--SHE, the double traitress--
drops her head upon his shoulder! Oh, this is infamy!
Manuela. Hush! Some one is coming. The guests are arriving.
They must not see you thus. This way, Miss Jovita,--this way.
After a little, a little, the mystery will be explained. (Taking
JOVITA'S hand, and leading her R.)
Jovita (going). And this was the correct schoolmistress, the
preceptress and example of all the virtues! ha! (laughing
[Exeunt JOVITA and MANUELA.
SCENE 6.--The same. Enter SERVANT; opens folding doors C.,
revealing veranda and view of distant city beyond. Stage, fog
effect from without. Enter STARBOTTLE and OAKHURST, R., in full
Starbottle (walking towards veranda). A foggy evening for our
Oakhurst. Yes. (Aside.) It was such a night as this I first
stepped into Sandy's place, I first met the old man. Well, it will
be soon over. (Aloud.) You have the papers and transfers all
Starbottle. In my--er--pocket. Mr. Morton, sen., should be here
to receive his guests.
Oakhurst. He will be here presently: until then the duty devolves
on me. He has secluded himself even from me! (Aside.) Perhaps it
is in very shame for his recent weakness.
Servant. Don Jose Castro, Miss Castro, and Miss Morris.
Enter DON JOSE with JOVITA and MISS MARY on either arm. All
formally salute MR. OAKHURST, except MISS JOVITA, who turns coldly
away, taking seat remotely on sofa. COL. STARBOTTLE gallantly
approaches MISS MARY, and takes seat beside her.
Oakhurst (aside). They are here to see my punishment. There is no
sympathy even in her eyes.
Servant. Mr. Concepcion Garcia and Mr. Capper.
Concho (approaching OAKHURST, rubbing his hands). I wish you joy,
Mr. Alexander Morton!
Oakhurst (excitedly, aside). Shall I throw him from the window!
The dog!--even he!
Capper (approaching MR. OAKHURST). You have done well. Be bold.
I will see you through. As for THAT man (pointing to CONCHO),
leave him to ME! (Lays his hand on Concho's shoulder, and leads
him to sofa R. OAKHURST takes seat in chair L. as SANDY enters
quietly from door L., and stands leaning upon his chair.)
Starbottle (rising). Ladies and gentlemen, we are waiting only for
the presence of Mr. Alexander Morton, sen. I regret to say that
for the last twenty-four hours--he has been--er--exceedingly
preoccupied with the momentous cares of the--er--occasion. You who
know the austere habits of my friend and--er--client will probably
understand that he may be at this very moment engaged in prayerful
and Christian meditation, invoking the Throne of Grace, previous to
the solemn duties of--er--er--tonight.
Servant. Mr. Alexander Morton, sen.
Enter OLD MORTON, drunk, in evening costume, cravat awry, coat
half-buttoned up, and half-surly, half-idiotic manner. All rise in
astonishment. SANDY starts forward. OAKHURST pulls him back.
Morton (thickly). Don't rish! Don't rish! We'll all sit down!
How do you do, sir? I wish ye well, miss. (Goes around and
laboriously shakes hands with everybody.) Now lesh all take a
drink! lesh you take a drink, and you take a drink, and you take a
Starbottle. Permit me, ladies and gentlemen, to--er--explain: our
friend is--er--evidently laboring under--er--er--accident of
hospitality! In a moment he will be himself.
Old Morton. Hush up! Dry up--yourself--old turkey-cock! Eh!
Sandy (despairingly). He will not understand us! (To STARBOTTLE.)
He will not know me! What is to be done?
Old Morton. Give me some whishkey. Lesh all take a drink! (Enter
SERVANT with decanter and glasses.)
Old Morton (starting forward). Lesh all take a drink!
Old Morton (recovering himself slightly). Who says stop? Who
dares countermand my orderish?
Concho (coming forward). Who? I will tell you: eh! eh! Diego--
dismissed from the rancho of Don Jose for drunkenness! Sandy--the
vagabond of Red Gulch!
Sandy (passionately seizing OLD MORTON'S arm). Yes, Diego--Sandy--
the outcast--but, God help me! no longer the drunkard. I forbid
you to touch that glass!--I, your son, Alexander Morton! Yes, look
at me, father: I, with drunkenness in my blood, planted by you,
fostered by you--I whom you sought to save--I--I stand here to save
you! Go! (To SERVANT.) Go! While he is thus, I--I, am master
Old Morton (cowed and frightened). That voice! (Passing his hand
over his forehead.) Am I dreaming Aleck, where are you? Alexander,
speak, I command you: is this the truth?
Oakhurst (slowly). It is!
Starbottle. One moment--a single moment: permit me to--er--er--
explain. The gentleman who has just--er--dismissed the refreshment
is, to the best of my legal knowledge, your son. The gentleman who
for the past year has so admirably filled the functions of that
office is--er--prepared to admit this. The proofs are--er--
conclusive. It is with the--er--intention of offering them, and--
er--returning your lawful heir, that we--er--are here to-night.
Old Morton (rising to his feet). And renounce you both! Out of my
house, out of my sight, out of my heart, forever! Go! liars,
swindlers, confederates! Drunk--
Oakhurst (retiring slowly with SANDY). We are going, sir!
Old Morton. Go! open the doors there WIDE, wide enough for such a
breadth of infamy! Do you hear me? I am master here!
Stands erect, as OAKHURST and SANDY, hand in hand, slowly retreat
backward to centre,--then suddenly utters a cry, and falls heavily
on sofa. Both pause: OAKHURST remains quiet and motionless; SANDY,
after a moment's hesitation, rushes forward, and falls at his feet.
Sandy. Father, forgive me!
Old Morton (putting his hand round SANDY'S neck, and motioning him
to door). Go! both of you, both of you! (Resisting SANDY'S
attempt to rise.) Did you hear me? Go!
Starbottle. Permit me to--explain. Your conduct, Mr. Morton,
reminds me of sing'lar incident in '47--
Old Morton. Silence!
Oakhurst. One word, Mr. Morton! Shamed and disgraced as I am, I
leave this roof more gladly than I entered it. How I came here,
you best know. How I yielded madly to the temptation, the promise
of a better life; how I fell, through the hope of reformation,--no
one should know better than you, sir, the reformer. I do not ask
your pardon. You know that I did my duty to you as your presumed
son. Your real son will bear witness, that, from the hour I knew
of his existence, I did my duty equally to him. Col. Starbottle
has all the legal transfers and papers necessary to make the
restoration of your son--the integrity of your business name--
complete. I take nothing out of this life that I did not bring in
it,--except my self-respect! I go--as I came--alone!
Jovita (rushing towards him). No! no! You shall take ME! I have
wronged you, Jack, cruelly; I have doubted you; but you shall not
go alone. I care not for this contract! You are more to me, by
your own right, Jack, than by any kinship with such as these!
Oakhurst (raising her gently). I thank you, darling. But it is
too late now. To be more worthy of you, to win YOU, I waived the
title I had to you in my own manhood, to borrow another's more
legal claim. I who would not win you as a gambler, cannot make you
now the wife of a convicted impostor. No! Hear me, darling! do
not make my disgrace greater than it is. In the years to come,
Jovita, think of me as one who loved you well enough to go through
shame to win you, but too well to ask you to share with him that
shame. Farewell, darling, farewell! (Releases himself from
JOVITA'S arms, who falls beside him.)
Concho (rubbing his hands, and standing before him). Oho! Mr.
John Oakhurst--eh--was it for this, eh--you leaped the garden wall,
eh? was it for this you struck me down, eh? You are not wise, eh?
You should have run away with the Dona when you could--ah, ah,
Sandy (leaping to his feet). Jack, you shall not go! I will go
Oakhurst. No! Your place is there. (Pointing to old MORTON,
whose head has sunk drunkenly on his breast.) Heed not this man;
his tongue carries only the borrowed lash of his master.
Concho. Eh! you are bold now--bold; but I said I would have
Sandy (rushing toward him). Coward!
Don Jose. Hold your hand, sir! Hold! I allow no one to correct
my menials but myself. Concho, order my carriage!
Concho. It is ready, sir.
Don Jose. Then lead the way to it, for my daughter and her
husband, John Oakhurst.--Good-night, Mr. Morton, I can sympathize
with you; for we have both found a son. I am willing to exchange
my dismissed servant for your dismissed PARTNER.
Starbottle (advancing). Ged, sir, I respect you! Ged, sir, permit
me, sir, to grasp that honorable hand!
Old Morton (excitedly). He is right, my partner. What have I
done! The house of Morton & Son dissolved. The man known as my
partner--a fugitive! No, Alexander!
Starbottle. One moment--a single moment! As a lawyer, permit me
to say, sir, that the whole complication may be settled, sir, by
the--er--addition of--er--single letter! The house of Morton & Son
shall hereafter read Morton & Sons. The papers for the legal
adoption of Mr. Oakhurst are--er--in my pocket.
Old Morton (more soberly). Have it your own way, sir! Morton &
Sons be it. Hark ye, Don Jose! We are equal at last. But--hark
ye, Aleck! How about the boy, eh?--my grandson, eh? Is this one
of the sons by adoption?
Sandy (embarrassedly). It is my own, sir.
Capper (advancing). He can with safety claim it; for the mother is
on her way to Australia with her husband.
Old Morton. And the schoolma'am, eh?
Miss Mary. She will claim the usual year of probation for your
prodigal, and then--
Sandy. God bless ye, Miss Mary!
Old Morton. I am in a dream! But the world--my friends--my
patrons--how can I explain?
Starbottle. I will--er--explain. (Advancing slowly to front--to
audience.) One moment--er--a single moment! If anything that has--
er--transpired this evening--might seem to you, ladies and
gentlemen--er--morally or--er--legally--or honorably to require--
er--apology--or--er--explanation--permit me to say--that I--Col.
Culpepper Starbottle, hold myself responsible--er--personally
Old Morton. Sandy. Miss Mary. Don Jose. Jovita. Oakhurst.