|Time....Afternoon. Lights: ambers and reds. Wilson's law office in third groove. Double room opening out. Set diagonally R.U.E. Backed by exterior of Act I. Doors opening off of L.2. and E. With space between for large cabinet. Windows C. and R.2.E. The latter opening out. A cabinet full of small pigeon holes L. In these holes are strips of glass six inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. Only half a dozen are used practically. These are in the upper and second four at the up stage side. The others may be painted in. At each side of window C. are shelves with library and law books on them. Documents, deeds, etc. on the shelves. An old fashioned low desk with frame of pigeon holes sits in on top of desk R. just above window. This desk is furnished with writing materials, such as would be found in the law office of a country lawyer. An old time common clock on top of frame. Just above desk a wash stand, bowl, pitcher, towel, comb and brush and small mirror. A couch under window C. with head off. A good-sized square office table C. with four or five law books, papers and writing material on table. A small table easel with four pegs on each side to hold the strips of glass. Four ordinary chairs about table. Office arm chair at desk L. Chair near cabinet. On walls are a few cheap pictures, and large tracings of thumb marks on white paper. A pantograph instrument L. between L.2.E. door and cabinet. Lamp on the table ready to light. Large hand magnifying glass, hanging at end of cabinet.|
(MUSIC NO. 9 RISE OF CURTAIN)|
(Enter Luiji X R.C. and Angelo L.1.E. at rise)
How do you like Dawson thus far, my brother?
Oh the place is charming – and the people – well the freedom with which they speak of their neighbors –
I do not like that young Mr. Driscoll. He seems to delight in being offensive to Mr. Wilson.
(Blake, Campbell and Swan pass window back from L. talking)
(Enter Blake at door R.3.E.)
Seen Pudd'nhead, gentlemen?
I presume you mean, sir, Mr. Wilson?
Hey? Oh – yes – I reckon I ought to remember you're strangers. No offense to Pudd'nhead I assure you.
Is that not a singular term to apply to one of your most prominent citizens? How did he acquire it?
Hey? Oh – all on account of a dog, sir – a dog –
(Swan and Campbell begin listening to the conversation)
Half the dog?
(Swan and Campbell quiet up at door R.3.E.)
(Campbell and Swan come down R.L. Blake C.)
That's it. You've said it. Just like we did more than 20 years ago. Didn't we?
(Campbell and Swan smile and nod)
(Swan and Campbell laugh)
Now gentlemen –
– can you understand any reason for a perfectly sane man wanting to own half a dog? Can you?
(Swan and Campbell nod)
What reason did Mr. Wilson give for wanting to own half of it?
Because he 'lowed he'd like to kill his half.
(Luiji and Angelo laugh heartily. The others laugh with sort of triumph and appeal to one another with great satisfaction)
Gentlemen you have vindicated us.
(Swan, Campbell, Blake bow as if thanking twins for a great courtesy. Twins return bow)
(Angelo and Luiji laugh heartily)
Must 'o reckon so. Else why didn't he want to own the entire dog? Cos, don't you see, if he killed his half and the other half did die he would be responsible wouldn't he?
Course he would. Any court would allow damages.
Don't it appear like that way to you gentlemen?
It is certainly a very perplexing question.
Been a matter of debate here for most a quarter of a century sir.
And does Mr. Wilson still maintain his side of the question?
(Looks at watch and goes toward R.U.E.)
Court most over I reckon.
(Blake stops in the door R.U.E.)
– if it had been a gineral dog– and he owned half – it would be just the same, wouldn't it? – and particularly in the first case – 'cos – don't you see – if you kill one end of a gineral dog there ain't no man can tell whose end it were –
Hold on a minute – Maybe he could kill one end – and –
No he couldn't, and not be responsible if the other end died – which of course it would, wouldn't it gentlemen?
Good afternoon gentlemen.
(Exit all but Angelo and Luiji. The others keeping up the debate until well off, pass window C. Luiji and Angelo laugh)
I wonder Maw if that story about them is true.
Oh that's all moonshine. He must have been dreaming. I tell you he makes us all look ridiculous.
(Exit Patsy L.U.)
(Enter Chambers R.U.E. – pass C. window – carrying a covered basket on his arm)
Lor, Chambers, how blue you look. Come in.
Reckon you look blue if your maw accused you of a crime like that. I never 'afore wish I was free.
Chambers, I don't reckon you would know what to do with yourself if you were free.
'Deed I would. I hyar your uncle say if he had some one to go some place for him he know for sure he find that thief.
And if you were free would you go?
'Deed I would.
(Enter Judge Driscoll R.U.E. – Come C. of stage –
Chambers X L.)
Good morning, Rowy.
(Runs up to R. of him and whispers to him)
What! Haven't you told him yet?
No, and don't you please, but just say to him he is to obey me in everything, till further notice.
(Xing down C.)
Chambers, you have my permission to obey Miss Rowy until further notice.
(Aside to Rowy)
What you up to, Rowy?
(Xes to Chambers)
You hear that, you Chambers?
Yes, I hyar – reckon she's just foolin' you, Judge. Never can tell when she's in earnest. Some times I think she's so, she jus laugh 'an say I fool you again Chambers.
Almost cost me my life once – and – Well maybe I had better let Tom tell it, but he wouldn't. It's against Tom.
(Sits at desk R.)
I reckon I had better take these birds around to the kitchen.
(Start up C.)
No you don't, you are going to stay right here. Well it was when I was thirteen.
No three. I'm sixteen now. The year Tom went to Yale at the East. Yale, wasn't it?
Tom Driscoll did that?
That's just what Tom Driscoll did.
'Twarn't nothing o' the kind – Massa Judge – she were just laffin' so she shook herself in.
If you had felt Tom's boot, as I did, you wouldn't think so. I could swim a little, but Chambers coat got so heavy – I caught hold of one of the logs and held on – I felt my strength going and that it was the last of me – but I remembered a splash and then an arm around me and I was gone. I never knew what happened after that until I found myself on the floor back of the shed and Chambers weeping over me like a baby, and he told me to tell the Judge that Tom had saved me.
both his hands, looks at him tenderly, almost as if he would
embrace him. Then suddenly drops his hands, take a step
back and regards him. Then drawing himself up with
pride, half aside)
It's not so strange after all.
(Goes up R.)
(Enter Wilson L.U.E.)
What's your hurry, Judge?
(Goes to desk – puts hat R.)
Takes his hand)
Dave Wilson, I'll give a thousand dollars to establish the innocence of that boy's mother, for his sake, sir.
(They shake hands heartily – Rowy and Chambers go up to C. window Xing around R.)
Well maybe we can. I've been talking to some of the interested parties of a plan that has been suggested. They want your judgment on it. They'll be here in a few minutes.
(Going to window R.)
Won't take long, will it? You know Howard Pembroke and I are going fishing.
You can attend to this I reckon and go fishing too.
(Noise of talking)
Here they are –
(X L. Pointing from window R.2.E. then goes over to cabinet L.2.)
(Calling out window R.2.E. boyishly)
Wait a minute boys.
(X up R.C. To Wilson)
I can get my tackle ready and listen to them at the same time.
Rowy, do you know what day of the month this is?
Let me see. Oh! sure enough.
It's April fool's day –
I reckon that's what's been the matter with you all along.
This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other 364.
Oh! Uncle Dave, I want to ask you something.
Go ahead – I reckon you can't make me look a bigger fool than I feel.
(R. takes basket from table)
Yes, but you come back here for I want you.
Rowy, I am afraid you monoploize that boy too much. I don't think the Judge likes it.
Deed he does. Quite approves of it.
Is that an April fool question?
No. I was thinking you might go on this tramp for me.
'Cause I've got the brains, is that what you are coming at?
Stop your nonsense, I'm not fooling.
I only said it might. Rowy, come here.
(She Xes to him)
What's your opinion of Roxy's guilt?*
(Runs up to Wilson on his R.)
You might get yourself into trouble.
I know that but I'm not going to sit quietly down and see Roxy suffer for a crime I know she didn't commit, even if she is a nigger.
Yes, I'm sure.
And you know she would just die for you.
But I don't want her to. I know there are some folks find a heap of pleasure in showing their affection in that way, keeping the coffin always before their eyes. On special occasions they call an undertaker, hearse and all. Well enough in its way, so is a flea, and I'm not sure but that he is expressing his deepest attachment for you when he is getting in his best touches.
(Goes to desk R.)
Chambers might do it. I'll think about that. Rowy, do you know Tom's address in St Louis?
(Walking about up to C. window)
Yes, keeps his rooms the year round.
(Noises, talking L.)
Hush, they are coming.
Who, the twins?
No, the wise men of Dawson.
Say Rowy –
(All from L. X behind window and enter R.U.E. Enter
Driscoll, Howard, Swan, Campbell and Tom R.U.E. They
stand in the door all talking in an animated way. They
do not enter until Rowy exits.)
Make up a basket of provisions and let Chambers take them to his mother.
to window R. Swan and Campbell up R.C. Coming
Uncle the first thing I would do if I were you I'd sell that nigger Chambers down the river. He ain't worth his salt.
Tom Driscoll you say that only to wound me. You know I am fond of that boy.
Yes, hear you were fond of his mother too. She's a thief though, all the same.
Well that's what we are here to find out.
(Turns looks at him and sits on table L.)
Yes, and I think that's a mighty right good plan of yours, Dave Wilson.
(X R. at desk R.)
So do I.
Thunder, Pudd'nhead. Didn't think you had sense enough to scheme a thing like that.
If you ain't careful, Dave Wilson, you'll lose your reputation.
I wouldn't like to do that. Besides, I don't want credit I don't deserve. The plan isn't mine.
Whose is it?
The man who runs the ferry.
A down right fool.
The deafest and dumbest old mutton head in Dawson.
Sling your compliments, gentlemen. I'm not envious, he's deserving I admit, but he's not* a Pudd'nhead. That title belongs exclusively to me.
Nobody's going to rob you of it, Dave.
I'm not so sure about that either. There are some people in the world so mighty low down they would rather steal a bad name than get a good one honestly.
(Enter twins stand up R.)
(All start to go R.U.)
(Wilson X R. to desk)
(Exit all but Tom and Wilson R.3.E.)
What story Mr. Driscoll?
(Looks at Angelo C.)
Then it all must be true. Say, what's that yarn about the Indian knife.
I didn't know it was stolen, was it? Might find it if you offered a reward. Why don't you get Pudd'nhead to work on it. You may not know it gentlemen, but Mr. Wilson is a great lawyer. No one found it out yet, ha, ha, ha. Never mind, Pudd'nhead I'll throw all my business your way some day.
(Going over L. to Tom at table)
Well, if you would it might amount to something yet, Tom.
Get Pudd'nhead to tell your fortune, ha, ha, ha!
Do you tell fortunes, Mr. Wilson?
You used to, didn't you, by those those thumb marks?
(Twins show great interest)
Oh. But – the wonder of thumb marks that is turned to great use in Oriental countries.
And as for palmestry, that is now a recognized science.
What, do you call that jugglery a science? Ha, ha, ha!
Tell you anything true?
Not only told it, but told it long before the event took place.
And you did?
The rascal deserved killing.
A valuable knife had been presented to my brother by an Italian Prince. A native servant whom we employed becoming aware of its value one night slipped into our room. A dim light was burning. Angelo was asleep, but fortunately I was awake. I saw the vague figure creeping towards our bed. I slipped by hand under the pillow and drew the knife from its sheath. I was not a minute too soon for the figure of the man arose at my brother's side, bent over him with an uplifted dagger, aimed at his throat. Quicker than it takes to tell I was upon him and my knife was in his heart. That is the whole story and just as it was foretold by the palmist.
(Tom is now painfully quiet)
(Wilson has been watching Tom)
(Tom shows great surprise, aside R. hand on table)
Tom I've got your thumb mark often, but I never had a shot at your palm.
(He takes Tom's hand. Tom fearfully withdraws it,
Angelo Xes R.C.)
Oh. What's the matter? You can't have any question of a little privacy you are afraid of having exposed, have you?
(Twins laugh. Tom turns savagely at them. Luiji Xes to R of table C.)
Ha, ha. Why look. The young man is positively blushing.
Well if I am, it's not because I am a murderer like you.
(Rushes at him. Struggles with him to L.C. force him on
one knee. Lift his hand to strike him)
No – not with my hand. With my foot. I kick a cur.
(Throws him down C. Kicks him)
Here, don't, don't!
Don't, don't check a good impulse.
CHANGE OF SCENE.
(MUSIC No. 11 UNTIL NEXT SCENE ON)
|SCENE:||Exterior of Wilson's ruined mill.|
A brace drop or flat to lower in one. It represents the exterior of Wilson's mill. A tumble down affair as picturesque as possible. At first it appears opaque, but as the scene breaks the drop become transparent. This shows some of the exterior of the mill in ruins and the high bits of the river. Door F.R. broken and off hinges. Brush head R.L.E.
Lights: ambers, blues and reds.
|DISCOVERED:||Roxy is seen at the room in the mill. Half dark.|
(Enter Chambers with basket and Rowy L.1.E. Rowy pretends to be very timid. They X C.)(MUSIC STOPS)
Say, ain't you afraid to go in there alone?
You can't April fool me no more dis day. Now you wait here. Don't you move till I come back.
(Exit arch R.C.)
I'd just give anything if I could frighten him. Never could though. I know what I'll do. I'll hide. And when he don't find me that will frighten him.
(Goes to R.)
Oh. What's that?
Some one's coming. It's Tom. I'll April fool him.
(Enter Tom L.1.)
I must get that knife out of the mill before they find that.
(Looks at palm)
Worth a fortune too and I like a fool would have sold it for a song.
(Looks at palm)
I wonder if Dave Wilson could have read anything in my hand. Wear gloves now until I get away.
(About to enter mill. X R.C. up)
Tom Driscoll, your time has come.
Ooo – Ooo – I'm the ghost of –
What's that? Who's there? Ad lib.
(Rowy after groans only hides her head, her body is plainly seen)
Who are you, some nigger hiding there?
(Lifting a cane and going towards her)
(Retreating R. and laughing)
What are you doing here?
Wasn't hiding from you Tom, and I'm no nigger more that you are.
No, Tom, what?
I think they're a pair of swindlers passing themselves off as foreign counts.
Ain't any real nigger would do it for you, unless you're mighty changed – I don't reckon you would do it for yourself.
Look here, you are getting altogether too saucy for me.
(Lights up in transparent mill – R. side)
(Enter Chambers R.D.F. stands in door)
No, you'd better not or –
(Walking up to him)
Now just reckon you would like to thrash me if I said what I thought.
(Going towards her)
Now Marse Tom, you wouldn't do that. She's only just April fooing. Been doing dat all day. I know she's mighty provokin' but she's only a child.
What are you doing here?
What's that to you, he came with me.
(Xes to C.)
When you're his master? Well I'll tell you what I'll do. You know I come into my fortune right soon now. I'll buy him, when you're his master. Now you promise me that you'll sell Chambers to me the first thing you do when you're his master, won't you Tom?
Don't Miss Rowy, what you want to do dat for?
Now you look here, you Chambers.
For de lor sake Miss Rowy don't say no more. My maw in dere and she just frightened to death about him.
Nothin' clar to goodness nothin' Marse Tom. She just say how she say des tings just cos she like you so much.
Yes, that's it Tom. And you know he's the only one I could tell that to, because he knows how much I like you, and there's no April fool about that.
For heavens sake, Miss Rowy.
Well I'm damned if I don't think you're in love with that nigger.
(Rowy rushes at Tom and seizes him by the throat)
Oh! Miss Rowy, don't.
(Taking hold of her)
You take your hands off me you, Chambers.
(Turns to Tom)
Tom Driscoll, you're the meanest lowest down coward in the country. There isn't a nigger that isn't your superior, and for the insult – you have just offered to me –
(She falls sobbing R. on stone)
What did he say Miss Rowy? He didn't say nothing wrong did he? You know we all chillen together. Des little troubles don't amount to nothing nohow. Why he die for you same as I would – if occasion required. Wouldn't you, Marse Tom? Dere now – please don't cry no more, Miss Rowy.
Marse Tom, you go speak to her, please do, Marse Tom.
(Places hand on Tom's arm)
How dare you place your hand on me?
(Lifts his cane)
What you gwine to do wid dat? You wouldn't strike me – not wid dat sir – I never got a blow in my life 'cepting in scuffle –
wid de boys – most allers on your account to – don't mind dat, but don't you whip me, not wid dat sir –
Who flog me, sah?
That's just what I mean as sure as my name is Tom Driscoll.
Then I advise you change your name sah.
You dare to talk to a white man like that?
(Rowy turns and watches them R.C.)
And you dare to talk to a white woman like that?
(Tom raises cane again)
I understand your insult to her. Get on your knees and ask her pardon, or by God I whip you.
Chambers, you're risking your life to strike a white man.
'Tain't no man, Miss Rowy – it's a dog – dog against dog – Now –
(Throws away cane down front of him, taking him by throat
with both hands and forces him to his knees)
You ask her pardon, or by God I'll choke the breath out of your body in one minute.
Would you murder me? don't – don't –
Say it quick – you won't have breath enough in a minute –
Now Marse Tom, you act like a gentleman.
(Takes up cane hands it to Tom.)
(Tom takes cane and goes R.)
(Rowy goes L. behind. Tom nurses his neck as if hurt)
He won't say dat no more, Miss Rowy. Tom, I fought your battles all my life. Do so yet if the occasion requires, but don't you insult her again 'cause if you do I don't give you a chance to apologize. Next time by God I kill you.
(Enter Roxy D.R.C.)
What for you make all dis row for, Chambers?
Just funnin', Maw. Tom jus funnin' – all de same just like when he was a boy.
Who's gal's dis?
I'm Dave Wilson's niece.
And he's a friend of yours. And he believes you innocent.
And so do I, and this property belongs to my uncle, and you can stay here just as long as you want to, and don't you let anyone frighten you away, if that's what they came for.
Ain't gwine to. Ise innocent and I'se gwine to stay right here until I prove it.
And you'll have a mighty hard time to do that.
No, I won't. You go long home Chambers. I got to talk to Marse Tom.
Come along Miss Rowy. Good bye Maw, and Marse Tom, don't you fool so rough next time.
(Exit Rowy and Chambers L.1.E.)
Das powerful strange, deys a heap on human nature after all. She loves that boy.
What do you mean by that? A white girl fall in love with a nigger?
Dat's what I say.
(Turning to Tom)
Dat's what you say yourself just now.
(Coming from door)
You fool if you don't.
Now don't you provoke me – one nigger has insulted me today.
Why didn't yer kill him?
(Turns quickly from him and looks off L.)
What? Your own son?
Been on de Mississippi mor'n fifteen years now. Seen niggers killed for heap less than dat.
Look here, do you mean to tell of this?
Oh, nothing, just fun. Just like Chambers jus now, when he squeeze your neck. Youse gwine to clar me, ain't you?
Dat's what youse gwine to do again. Youse gwine on your knees to me – and ask me my pardon.
(MUSIC NO. 13 UNTIL CURTAIN)
Now, don't you provoke me.
And don't you provoke me – or go straight to Judge Driscoll and tell him something what I know.
What do you know?
(Creeping towards him R.)
What's the matter with my neck?
What do you mean?
It's a lie! It's a lie!
No it ain't.
You have no proofs.
(Now changing her manner to an apologizing mien* with hands above her head and swaying her body to and fro)
I could have forgive all dat and took all de blame on myself. But jus now when I see your low down nature – when I see you disgrace your parents you spoil every feeling I have for you. You lose my respect.
(Staggers back a little C.)
Woman, you are crazy.