A Drama, in 3 Acts.
By Tom Taylor
[Abraham Lincoln was watching this play when he was assassinated.
(Act III, halfway through Scene 2.)]
ORIGINAL CAST OF CHARACTERS. [Our American Cousin.]
Laura Keene’s Theatre, New York, October 15, 1858.
Lord Dundreary Mr. E. A. Sothern
Asa Trenchard ” Jos. Jefferson
Sir Edward Trenchard ” E. Varrey
Capt. De Boots ” Clinton
Harry Vernon ” M. Levick
Abel Murcott ” C.W. Couldock
Mr. Coyle ” J.G. Burnett
Mr. Buddicombe ” McDouall
Mr. Binny ” Peters
John Wickens ” Brown
Mrs. Mountchessington Miss Mary Wells
Florence Trenchard ” Laura Keene
Mary ” Sara Stevens
Augusta ” E. Germon
Georgina Mrs. Sothern
Sharpe Miss Flynn
Skillet Mrs. M. Levick
OUR AMERICAN COUSIN.
Scene 1–Drawing room in 3. Trenchard Manor, C. D., backed by interior,
discovering table with luncheon spread. Large French window, R. 3 E.,
through which a fine English park is seen. Open archway, L. 3 E.
Set balcony behind. Table, R., books and papers on it.
Work basket containing wools and embroidery frame. A fashionable
arm chair and sofa, L. 2 E., small table near C. D. Stage handsomely set,
costly furniture, carpet down, chairs, etc.
Buddicombe discovered on sofa reading newspaper. Skillet and Sharpe
busily arranging furniture as curtain rises.
Sharpe I don’t know how you may feel as a visitor, Mr. Buddicombe,
but I think this is a most uncomfortable family.
Bud Very uncomfortable. I have no curtain to my bed.
Skil And no wine at the second table.
Sharpe And meaner servants I never seed.
Bud I’m afraid Sir Edward is in a queer strait.
Skil Yes, for only this morning, Mr. Binny, Mrs. Skillet says he–
Enter Binny, L. 3 E.
Binny Mind your hown business instead hof your betters.
I’m disgusted with you lower servants. When the wine merchant
presents his bills, you men, hear me, say he’s been pressing for
the last six months, do you?
Skil Nor I, that the last year’s milliner’s bills have not been paid.
Sharpe Nor I, that Miss Florence has not had no new dresses
from London all winter.
Bud And I can solemnly swear that his lordship’s hair has been faithfully
bound in this bosom.
Binny That’ll do, that’ll do; but to remember to check hidle curiosity
is the first duty of men hin livery. Ha, ‘ere hare the letters.
Enter John Wickens, L. 3 E., with green baize bag. Binny takes bag,
takes out letters and reads addresses.
Binny Hah! bill, of course, Miss Augusta, Mrs. Mountchessington,
Lord Dundreary, Capt. De Boots, Miss Georgina Mountchessington,
Lieut. Vernon, ah! that’s from the admiralty. What’s this?
Miss Florence Trenchard, via Brattleboro’, Vermont.
Bud Where’s that, Mr. Binny.
John Why that be hin the United States of North Hamerica,
and a main good place for poor folks.
Binny John Wickens, you forget yourself.
John Beg pardon, Mr. Binny.
Binny John Wickens, leave the room.
John But I know where Vermont be tho’.
Binny John Wickens, get hout. [Exit John, L. 3 E.]
Bud Dreadful low fellow, that.
Binny Halways himpudent.
Bud [Looking at letter in Binny’s hand.] Why, that is Sir Edward’s hand,
Mr. Binny, he must have been sporting.
Binny Yes, shooting the wild helephants and buffalos what abound there.
Bud The nasty beasts. [Looking off, R. 2 E.] Hello, there comes
Miss Florence tearing across the lane like a three year old colt.
Sharp & Skil Oh, Gemini. [Run off, R. 2 E. Bud. runs off, L. 2 E.]
Enter Florence, R. 2 E.
Flo [As if after running.] Oh! I’m fairly out of breath. Good morning,
Binny, the letter bag I saw coming, Wickens coming with it.
I thought I could catch him before I reached the house. [Sits R.]
So off I started, I forgot the pond, it was in or over. I got over,
but my hat got in. I wish you’d fish it out for me, you won’t find
the pond very deep.
Binny Me fish for an at? Does she take me for an hangler?
Flo. Give me the letters. [Takes them.] Ah, blessed budget
that descends upon Trenchard Manor, like rain on a duck pond.
Tell papa and all, that the letters have come, you will find them
on the terrace.
Binny Yes, Miss. [Going, L. 3 E.]
Flo And then go fish out my hat out of the pond, it’s not very deep
Binny [Aside.] Me fish for ‘ats? I wonder if she takes me for an hangler?
[Exit disgusted, R. 3 E.]
Flo [Reading directions.] Lieut. Vernon. [This is a large letter
with a large white envelope, red seal.] In her Majesty’s service.
Admiralty, R. N. Ah, that’s an answer to Harry’s application for a ship.
Papa promised to use his influence for him. I hope he has succeeded,
but then he will have to leave us, and who knows if he ever comes back.
What a foolish girl I am, when I know that his rise in the service
will depend upon it. I do hope he’ll get it, and, if he must leave us,
I’ll bid him good bye as a lass who loves a sailor should.
Enter Sir Edward, Mrs. M., Augusta, Capt. De Boots, Vernon, L. 3 E.
Flo Papa, dear, here are letters for you, one for you,
Mrs. Mountchessington, one for you, Capt. De Boots, and one for you, Harry.
[Hiding letter behind her.]
Ver Ah, one for me, Florence?
Flo Now what will you give me for one?
Ver Ah, then you have one?
Flo Yes, there, Harry. [Gives it.]
Ver Ah, for a ship. [Opens and reads.]
Flo Ah! Mon ami, you are to leave us. Good news, or bad?
Ver No ship yet, this promises another year of land lubbery. [Goes up.]
Flo. I’m so sorry. [Aside.] I’m so glad he’s not going away.
But where’s Dundreary. Has anybody seen Dundreary?
Dun Good morning, Miss Florence.
Flo [Comes down, L.] Good morning, my Lord Dundreary.
Who do you think has been here? What does the postman bring?
Dun Well, sometimes he brings a bag with a lock on it,
sometimes newspapers, and sometimes letters, I suppothe.
Flo There. [Gives letter. Dundreary opens letter and Florence goes up R.
Dun. knocks knees against chair, turns round knocks shins,
and at last is seated extreme, R.]
Dun Thank you. [Reads letter.]
De B [Reading paper.] By Jove, old Soloman has made a crop of it.
Dun A–what of it?
De B I beg pardon, an event I am deeply interested in, that’s all.
I beg pardon.
Aug Ah! Florence, dear, there’s a letter of yours got among mine.
Flo Why papa, it’s from dear brother Ned.
Sir E From my boy! Where is he? How is he? Read it.
Flo He writes from Brattleboro’ Vt. [Reading written letter.]
“Quite well, just come in from a shooting excursion,
with a party of Crows, splendid fellows, six feet high.”
Dun Birds six feet high, what tremendous animals they must be.
Flo Oh, I see what my brother means; a tribe of indians called Crows,
Dun Oh, I thought you meant those creatures with wigs on them.
Dun I mean those things that move, breathe and walk, they look like
animals with those things. [Moving his arms like wings.]
Dun Birds with wings, that’s the idea.
Flo [Reading written letter.] “Bye-the-bye, I have lately come
quite hap-hazard upon the other branch of our family, which emigrated
to America at the Restoration. They are now thriving in this State,
and discovering our relationship, they received me most hospitably.
I have cleared up the mysterious death of old Mark Trenchard.”
Sir E Of my uncle!
Flo [Reading written letter.] “It appears that when he quarreled
with his daughter on her marriage with poor Meredith, he came here
in search of this stray shoot of the family tree, found them and died
in their house, leaving Asa, one of the sons, heir to his personal property
in England, which ought to belong to poor Mary Meredith. Asa is about
to sail for the old country, to take possession. I gave him directions
to find you out, and he should arrive almost as soon as this letter.
Receive him kindly for the sake of the kindness he has shown to me,
and let him see some of our shooting.”
Your affectionate brother, NED.
Sir E An American branch of the family.
Mrs M Oh, how interesting!
Aug [Enthusiastically.] How delightfully romantic! I can
imagine the wild young hunter. An Apollo of the prairie.
Flo An Apollo of the prairie; yes, with a strong nasal twang,
and a decided taste for tobacco and cobblers.
Sir E Florence, you forget that he is a Trenchard, and no true Trenchard
would have a liking for cobblers or low people of that kind.
Flo I hate him, whatever he is, coming here to rob poor cousin Mary
of her grandmother’s guineas.
Sir E Florence, how often must I request you not to speak of
Mary Meredith as your cousin?
Flo Why, she is my cousin, is she not? Besides she presides over
her milk pail like a duchess playing dairymaid. [Sir E. goes up.]
Ah! Papa won’t hear me speak of my poor cousin, and then I’m so
fond of syllabubs. Dundreary, do you know what syllabubs are?
Dun Oh, yeth, I know what syllabubs is–yeth–yeth.
Flo Why, I don’t believe you do know what they are.
Dun Not know what syllabubs are? That’s a good idea. Why they are–
syllabubs are–they are only babies, idiotic children; that’s a good idea,
that’s good. [Bumps head against Florence.]
Flo No, it’s not a bit like the idea. What you mean are called cherubims.
Dun What, those things that look like oranges, with wings on them?
Flo Not a bit like it. Well, after luncheon you must go with me
and I’ll introduce you to my cousin Mary and syllabubs.
Dun I never saw Mr. Syllabubs, I am sure.
Flo Well, now, don’t forget.
Dun I never can forget–when I can recollect.
Flo Then recollect that you have an appointment with me after luncheon.
Dun Yeth, yeth.
Flo Well, what have you after luncheon?
Dun Well, sometimes I have a glass of brandy with an egg in it,
sometimes a run ’round the duck-pond, sometimes a game of checkers–
that’s for exercise, and perhaps a game of billiards.
Flo No, no; you have with me after luncheon, an ap–an ap–
Dun An ap– an ap–
Flo An ap–an appoint–appointment.
Dun An ointment, that’s the idea. [Knocks against De Boots
as they go up stage.]
Mrs M [Aside.] That artful girl has designs upon Lord Dundreary.
Augusta, dear, go and see how your poor, dear sister is this morning.
Aug Yes, mamma. [Exit, L. 1 E.]
Mrs M She is a great sufferer, my dear.
Dun Yeth, but a lonely one.
Flo What sort of a night had she?
Mrs M Oh, a very refreshing one, thanks to the draught you were
kind enough to prescribe for her, Lord Dundreary.
Flo What! Has Lord Dundreary been prescribing for Georgina?
Dun Yeth. You see I gave her a draught that cured the effect of the
draught, and that draught was a draft that didn’t pay the doctor’s bill.
Didn’t that draught–
Flo Good gracious! what a number of draughts. You have almost
a game of draughts.
Dun Ha! ha! ha!
Flo What’s the matter?
Dun That wath a joke, that wath.
Flo Where’s the joke? [Dundreary screams and turns to Mrs. M.]
Mrs M No.
Dun She don’t see it. Don’t you see–a game of drafts–
pieces of wound wood on square pieces of leather. That’s the idea.
Now, I want to put your brains to the test. I want to ask you a whime.
Flo A whime, what’s that?
Dun A whime is a widdle, you know.
Flo A widdle!
Dun Yeth; one of those things, like–why is so and so or somebody
like somebody else.
Flo Oh, I see, you mean a conundrum.
Dun Yeth, a drum, that’s the idea. What is it gives a cold in the head,
cures a cold, pays the doctor’s bill and makes the home-guard look for
substitutes? [Florence repeats it.] Yeth, do you give it up?
Dun Well, I’ll tell you–a draught. Now I’ve got a better one that that:
When is a dog’s tail not a dog’s tail? [Florence repeats.
During this Florence, Mrs. M. and Dundreary are down stage.]
Flo Yes, and willingly.
Dun When it’s a cart. [They look at him enquiringly.]
Flo Why, what in earth has a dog’s tail to do with a cart?
Dun When it moves about, you know. A horse makes a cart move,
so does a dog make his tail move.
Flo Oh, I see what you mean–when it’s a wagon. [Wags the letter
in her hand.]
Dun Well, a wagon and a cart are the same thing, ain’t they!
That’s the idea–it’s the same thing.
Flo They are not the same. In the case of your conundrum there’s
a very great difference.
Dun Now I’ve got another. Why does a dog waggle his tail?
Flo Upon my word, I never inquired.
Dun Because the tail can’t waggle the dog. Ha! Ha!
Flo Ha! ha! Is that your own, Dundreary?
Dun Now I’ve got one, and this one is original.
Flo No, no, don’t spoil the last one.
Dun Yeth; but this is extremely interesting.
Mrs M Do you think so, Lord Dundreary?
Dun Yeth. Miss Georgina likes me to tell her my jokes. Bye-the-bye,
talking of that lonely sufferer, isn’t she an interesting invalid?
They do say that’s what’s the matter with me. I’m an interesting invalid.
Flo Oh, that accounts for what I have heard so many young ladies say–
Florence, dear, don’t you think Lord Dundreary’s extremely interesting?
I never knew what they meant before.
Dun Yeth, the doctor recommends me to drink donkey’s milk.
Flo [Hiding laugh.] Oh, what a clever man he must be.
He knows we generally thrive best on our native food. [Goes up.]
Dun [Looking first at Florence and then at Mrs M.] I’m so weak,
and that is so strong. Yes, I’m naturally very weak, and I want
strengthening. Yes, I guess I’ll try it.
Enter Augusta. Bus. with Dundreary, who finally exits and
brings on Georgina, L. 1 E.
Dun Look at this lonely sufferer. [Bringing on Georgina,
seats her on sofa, L.] There, repothe yourself.
Geo [Fanning herself] Thank you, my lord. Everybody is kind to me,
and I am so delicate.
Aug [At table.] Capt. De Boots, do help to unravel these wools for me,
you have such an eye for color.
Flo An eye for color! Yes, especially green.
Dun [Screams.] Ha! ha! ha!
All What’s the matter?
Dun Why, that wath a joke, that wath.
Flo Where was the joke?
Dun Especially, ha! ha!
Sir E Florence, dear, I must leave you to represent me to my guests.
These letters will give me a great deal of business to-day.
Flo Well, papa, remember I am your little clerk and person of all work.
Sir E No, no; this is private business–money matters, my love,
which women know nothing about. [Aside.] Luckily for them,
I expect Mr. Coyle to-day.
Flo Dear papa, how I wish you would get another agent.
Sir E Nonsense, Florence, impossible. He knows my affairs.
His father was agent for the late Baronet. He’s one of the family, almost.
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