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- TWO MEN OF SANDY BAR - 5/23 -
was sent away for helping our young lady to a cavalier. He was discharged because he would not be a traitor to her. He was sent away because he was too good, too honorable,--too-- (Bursts out crying.)
Starbottle (aside). Oh, the Devil! THIS is no Sandy Morton. (Coming forward gravely.) I have never yet analyzed the--er--er-- character of the young gentleman I have the honor to assist in restoring to his family and society; but judging--er--calmly--er-- dispassionately, my knowledge of his own father--from what the old gentleman must have been in his unregenerate state, and knowing what he is now in his present reformed Christian condition, I should say calmly and deliberately that the son must be the most infernal and accomplished villain unhung. Ged, I have a thought, an inspiration. (To MANUELA, tapping her under the chin.) I see, my dear; a lover, ha, ha! Ah, you rogue! Well, well, we will talk of this again. I will--er--er--interest myself in this Diego. [Exit MANUELA.
Starbottle (solus). How would it do to get up a prodigal? Umph. Something must be done soon: the old man grows languid in his search. My position as a sinecure is--er--in peril. A prodigal ready made! But could I get a scoundrel bad enough to satisfy the old man? Ged, that's serious. Let me see: he admits that he is unable to recognize his own son in face, features, manner, or speech. Good! If I could pick up some rascal whose--er-- irregularities didn't quite fill the bill, and could say--Ged!-- that he was reforming. Reforming! Ged, Star! That very defect would show the hereditary taint, demn me! I must think of this seriously. Ged, Star! the idea is--an inspiration of humanity and virtue. Who knows? it might be the saving of the vagabond,--a crown of glory to the old man's age. Inspiration, did I say? Ged, Star, it's a DUTY,--a sacred, solemn duty, for which you are responsible,--personally responsible.
Lights down half. Enter from corridor L., MORTON, DON JOSE, the DONA JOVITA, and MANUELA.
Dona Jovita (stepping forward with exaggerated Spanish courtesy). A thousand graces await your Excellency, Commander Don--Don--
Starbottle (bowing to the ground with equal delight and exaggerated courtesy). Er--Coolpepero!
Dona Jovita. Don Culpepero! If we throw ourselves unasked at your Excellency's feet (courtesy), if we appear unsought before the light of your Excellency's eyes (courtesy), if we err in maidenly decorum in thus seeking unbidden your Excellency's presence (courtesy), believe us, it is the fear of some greater, some graver indecorum in our conduct that has withdrawn your Excellency's person from us since you have graced our roof with your company. We know, Senor Commander, how superior are the charms of the American ladies. It is in no spirit of rivalry with them, but to show--Mother of God!--that we are not absolutely ugly, that we intrude upon your Excellency's solitude. (Aside.) I shall need the old fool, and shall use him.
Col. Starbottle (who has been bowing and saluting with equal extravagance, during this speech--aside). Ged! she IS beautiful! (Aloud.) Permit me er--er--Dona Jovita, to correct--Ged, I must say it, correct erroneous statements. The man who should--er-- utter in my presence remarks disparaging those--er--charms it is my privilege to behold, I should hold responsible,--Ged! personally responsible. You--er--remind me of er--incident, trifling perhaps, but pleasing, Charleston in '52,--a reception at John C. Calhoun's. A lady, one of the demnedest beautiful women you ever saw, said to me, "Star!"--she always called me Star,--"you've avoided me, you have, Star! I fear you are no longer my friend."--"Your friend, madam," I said. "No, I've avoided you because I am your lover." Ged, Miss Jovita, a fact--demn me. Sensation. Husband heard garbled report. He was old friend, but jealous, rash, indiscreet. Fell at first fire--umph--January 5th. Lady--beautiful woman-- never forgave: went into convent. Sad affair. And all a mistake-- demn me,--all a mistake, through perhaps extravagant gallantry and compliment. I lingered here, oblivious perhaps of--er--beauty, in the enjoyment of Nature.
Dona Jovita. Is there enough for your Excellency to share with me, since it must be my rival? See, the fog is clearing away: we shall have moonlight. (DON JOSE and MORTON seat themselves at table.) Shall we not let these venerable caballeros enjoy their confidences and experiences together? (Aside.) Don Jose watches me like a fox, does not intend to lose sight of me. How shall I show the light three times from the courtyard roof? I have it! (Takes STARBOTTLE'S arm.) It is too pleasant to withdraw. There is a view from the courtyard wall your Excellency should see. Will you accompany me? The ascent is easy.
Starbottle (bowing). I will ascend, although, permit me to say, Dona Jovita, it would be--er--impossible for me to be nearer--er-- heaven, than--er--at present.
Dona Jovita. FLATTERER! Come, you shall tell me about this sad lady who died. Ah, Don Culpepero, let me hope all your experiences will not be so fatal to us!
[Exeunt DONA JOVITA and STARBOTTLE.
Morton (aside). A froward daughter of Baal, and, if I mistake not, even now concocting mischief for this foolish, indulgent, stiff- necked father. (Aloud.) Your only daughter, I presume.
Don Jose. My darling, Don Alexandro. Motherless from her infancy. A little wild, and inclined to gayety, but I hope not seeking for more than these walls afford. I have checked her but seldom, Don Alexandro, and then I did not let her see my hand on the rein that held her back. I do not ask her confidence always: I only want her to know that when the time comes it can be given to me without fear.
Don Jose (leaning forward confidentially). To show that you have not intrusted your confidence regarding your wayward son--whom may the saints return to you!--to unsympathetic or inexperienced ears, I will impart a secret. A few weeks ago I detected an innocent intimacy between this foolish girl and a vagabond vaquero in my employ. You understand, it was on her part romantic, visionary; on his, calculating, shrewd, self-interested, for he expected to become my heir. I did not lock her up. I did not tax her with it. I humored it. Today I satisfied the lover that his investment was not profitable, that a marriage without my consent entailed the loss of the property, and then left them together. They parted in tears, think you, Don Alexandro? No, but mutually hating each other. The romance was over. An American would have opposed the girl, have driven her to secrecy, to an elopement perhaps. Eh?
Morton (scornfully). And you believe that they have abandoned their plans?
Don Jose. I am sure--hush! she is here!
Enter, on roof of corridor, STARBOTTLE and JOVITA.
Col. Starbottle. Really, a superb landscape! An admirable view of the--er--fog--rolling over the Mission Hills, the plains below, and the--er--er--single figure of--er--motionless horseman--
Dona Jovita (quickly). Some belated vaquero. Do you smoke, Senor Commander?
Starbottle. At times.
Dona Jovita. With me. I will light a cigarette for you: it is the custom.
COL. STARBOTTLE draws match from his pocket, and is about to light, but is stopped by DONA JOVITA.
Dona Jovita. Pardon, your Excellency, but we cannot endure your American matches. There is a taper in the passage.
COL. STARBOTTLE brings taper: DONA JOVITA turns to light cigarette, but manages to blow out candle.
Dona Jovita. I must try your gallantry again. That is once I have failed. (Significantly.)
COL. STARBOTTLE relights candle, business, same results.
Dona Jovita. I am stupid and nervous to-night. I have failed twice. (With emphasis.)
COL. STARBOTTLE repeats business with candle. DONA JOVITA lights cigarette, hands it to the colonel.
Dona Jovita. Thrice, and I have succeeded. (Blows out candle.)
Col. Starbottle. A thousand thanks! There is a--er--er--light on the plain.
Dona Jovita (hastily). It is the vaqueros returning. My father gives a festa to peons in honor of your arrival. There will be a dance. You have been patient, Senor Commander: you shall have my hand for a waltz.
Enter vaqueros, their wives and daughters. A dance, during which the "sembi canca" is danced by COL. STARBOTTLE and DONA JOVITA. Business, during which the bell of Mission Church, faintly illuminated beyond the wall, strikes twelve. Dancers withdraw hurriedly, leaving alone MANUELA, DONA JOVITA, COL. STARBOTTLE, DON JOSE, and CONCHO. CONCHO formally hands keys to Don Jose.
Don Jose (delivering keys to MORTON with stately impressiveness). Take them, Don Alexandro Morton, and with them all that they unlock for bliss or bale. Take them, noble guest, and with them the homage of this family,--to-night, Don Alexandro, your humble servants. Good-night, gentlemen. May a thousand angels attend you, O Don Alexandro and Don Culpepero!
Dona Jovita. Good-night, Don Alexandro. May your dreams to-night see all your wishes fulfilled! Good-night, O Senor Commander. May she you dream of be as happy as you!
Manuela and Concho (together). Good-night, O senores and illustrious gentlemen! may the Blessed Fisherman watch over you! (Both parties retreat into opposite corridors, bowing.)
MANUELA, CONCHO, MORTON, DON JOSE. JOVITA. STARBOTTLE.
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