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- TWO MEN OF SANDY BAR - 6/23 -


SCENE 3.--The same. Stage darkened. Fog passing beyond wall outside, and occasionally obscuring moonlit landscape beyond. Enter JOVITA softly, from corridor L. Her face is partly hidden by Spanish mantilla.

Jovita. All quiet at last; and, thanks to much aguardiente, my warlike admirer snores peacefully above. Yet I could swear I heard the old Puritan's door creak as I descended! Pshaw! What matters! (Goes to gateway, and tries gate.) Locked! Carramba! I see it now. Under the pretext of reviving the old ceremony, Don Jose has locked the gates, and placed me in the custody of his guest. Stay! There is a door leading to the corral from the passage by Concho's room. Bueno! Don Jose shall see! [Exit R.

Enter cautiously R. OLD MORTON.

Old Morton. I was not mistaken! It was the skirt of that Jezebel daughter that whisked past my door a moment ago, and her figure that flitted down that corridor. So! The lover driven out of the house at four P. M., and at twelve o'clock at night the young lady trying the gate secretly. This may be Spanish resignation and filial submission, but it looks very like Yankee disobedience and forwardness. Perhaps it's well that the keys are in my pocket. This fond confiding Papist may find the heretic American father of some service. (Conceals himself behind pillar of corridor.)

After a pause the head of JOHN OAKHURST appears over the wall of corridor: he climbs up to roof of corridor, and descends very quietly and deliberately to stage.

Oakhurst (dusting his clothing with his handkerchief). I never knew before why these Spaniards covered their adobe walls with whitewash. (Leans against pillar in shadow.)

Re-enter JOVITA, hastily.

Jovita. All is lost; the corral door is locked; the key is outside, and Concho is gone,--gone where? Madre di Dios! to discover, perhaps to kill him.

Oakhurst (approaching her). No.

Jovita. Juan! (Embracing him.) But how did you get here? This is madness!

Oakhurst. As you did not come to the mission, I came to the rancho. I found the gate locked--by the way, is not that a novelty here?--I climbed the wall. But you, Miss Castro, you are trembling! Your little hands are cold!

Jovita (glancing around). Nothing, nothing! But you are running a terrible risk. At any moment we may be discovered.

Oakhurst. I understand you: it would be bad for the discoverer. Never fear, I will be patient.

Jovita. But I feared that you might meet Concho.

Oakhurst. Concho--Concho--(meditatively). Let me see,--tall, dark, long in the arm, weighs about one hundred and eighty, and active.

Jovita. Yes; tell me! You have met him?

Oakhurst. Possibly, possibly. Was he a friend of yours?

Jovita. No!

Oakhurst. That's better. Are his pursuits here sedentary, or active?

Jovita. He is my father's major-domo.

Oakhurst. I see: a sinecure. (Aside.) Well, if he has to lay up for a week or two, the rancho won't suffer.

Jovita. Well?

Oakhurst. Well!

Jovita (passionately). There, having scaled the wall, at the risk of being discovered--this is all you have to say! (Turning away.)

Oakhurst (quietly). Perhaps, Jovita (taking her hand with grave earnestness), to a clandestine intimacy like ours there is but one end. It is not merely elopement, not merely marriage, it is exposure! Sooner or later you and I must face the eyes we now shun. What matters if tonight or later?

Jovita (quickly). I am ready. It was you who--

Oakhurst. It was I who first demanded secrecy, but it was I who told you when we last met that I would tell you why to-night.

Jovita. I am ready; but hear me, Juan, nothing can change my faith in you!

Oakhurst (sadly). You know not what you say. Listen, my child. I am a gambler. Not the man who lavishes his fortune at the gaming- table for excitement's sake; not the fanatic who stakes his own earnings--perhaps the confided earnings of others--on a single coup. No, he is the man who loses,--whom the world deplores, pities, and forgives. I am the man who wins--whom the world hates and despises.

Jovita. I do not understand you, Juan.

Oakhurst. So much the better, perhaps. But you must hear me. I make a profession--an occupation more exacting, more wearying, more laborious, than that of your meanest herdsman--of that which others make a dissipation of the senses. And yet, Jovita, there is not the meanest vaquero in this ranch, who, playing against me, winning or losing, is not held to be my superior. I have no friends--only confederates. Even the woman who dares to pity me must do it in secret.

Jovita. But you will abandon this dreadful trade. As the son of the rich Don Jose, no one dare scorn you. My father will relent. I am his heiress.

Oakhurst. No more, Jovita, no more. If I were the man who could purchase the world's respect through a woman's weakness for him, I should not be here to-night. I am not here to sue your father's daughter with hopes of forgiveness, promises of reformation. Reformation, in a man like me, means cowardice or self-interest. (OLD MORTON, becoming excited, leans slowly out from the shadow of the pillar) listening intently.) I am here to take, by force if necessary, a gambler's wife,--the woman who will share my fortunes, my disgrace, my losses; who is willing to leave her old life of indulgence, of luxury, of respectability, for mine. You are frightened, little dove: compose yourself (soothing her tenderly and sadly); you are frightened at the cruel hawk who has chosen you for a mate.

Old Morton (aside). God in heaven! This is like HIM! like me!-- like me, before the blessed Lord lifted me into regeneration. If it should be! (Leans forward anxiously from pillar.)

Oakhurst (aside). Still silent! Poor dove, I can hear her foolish heart flutter against mine. Another moment decides our fate. Another moment: John Oakhurst and freedom, or Red Gulch and--she is moving. (To JOVITA.) I am harsh, little one, and cold. Perhaps I have had much to make me so. But when (with feeling) I first met you; when, lifting my eyes to the church-porch, I saw your beautiful face; when, in sheer recklessness and bravado, I raised my hat to you; when you--you, Jovita--lifted your brave eyes to mine, and there, there in the sanctuary, returned my salute,--the salutation of the gambler, the outcast, the reprobate,--then, then I swore that you should be mine, if I tore you from the sanctuary. Speak now, Jovita: if it was coquetry, speak now; I forgive you: if it was sheer wantonness, speak now; I shall spare you: but if--

Jovita (throwing herself in his arms). Love, Juan! I am yours, now and forever. (Pause.) But you have not told me all. I will go with you to-night--now. I leave behind me all,--my home, my father, my--(pause) my name. You have forgotten, Juan, you have not told me what I change THAT for: you have not told me YOURS.

OLD MORTON, in eager excitement, leans beyond shadow of pillar.

Oakhurst (embracing her tenderly, with a smile). If I have not told you who I am, it was because, darling, it was more important that you should know what I am. Now that you know that--why-- (embarrassedly) I have nothing more to tell. I did not wish you to repeat the name of Oakhurst--because--(aside) how the Devil shall I tell her that Oakhurst was my real name, after all, and that I only feared she might divulge it?--(aloud) because--because-- (determinedly) I doubted your ability to keep a secret. My real name is--(looks up, and sees MORTON leaning beyond pillar) is a secret. (Pause, in which OAKHURST slowly recovers his coolness.) It will be given to the good priest who to-night joins our fate forever, Jovita,--forever, in spite of calumny, opposition, or SPIES! the padre whom we shall reach, if enough life remains in your pulse and mine to clasp these hands together. (After a pause.) Are you content?

Jovita. I am.

Oakhurst. Then there is not a moment to lose. Retire, and prepare yourself for a journey. I will wait here.

Jovita. I am ready now.

Oakhurst (looking toward pillar). Pardon, my darling: there was a bracelet--a mere trifle--I once gave you. It is not on your wrist. I am a trifle superstitious, perhaps: it was my first gift. Bring it with you. I will wait. Go!

[Exit JOVITA.

OAKHURST watches her exit, lounges indifferently toward gate; when opposite pillar, suddenly seizes MORTON by the throat, and drags him noiselessly to centre.

Oakhurst (hurriedly). One outcry,--a single word,--and it is your last. I care not who YOU may be!--who I am,--you have heard enough to know, at least, that you are in the grip of a desperate man. (Keys fall from MORTON'S hand. OAKHURST seizes them.) Silence! on your life.


TWO MEN OF SANDY BAR - 6/23

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