Our American Cousin

Flo Papa, I have implicit faith in my own judgement of faces.
Depend upon it, that man is not to be trusted.

Sir E Florence, you are ridiculous. I could not get on a week without him.
[Aside.] Curse him, I wish I could! Coyle is a most intelligent agent,
and a most faithful servant of the family.

Enter Binny, L. 3 E.

Binny Mr. Coyle and hagent with papers.

Sir E Show him into the library. I will be with him presently.
[Exit Binny.]

Flo Remember the archery meeting, papa. It is at three.

Sir E Yes, yes, I’ll remember. [Aside.] Pretty time
for such levity when ruin stares me in the face. Florence,
I leave you as my representative. [Aside.] Now to prepare myself
to meet my Shylock. [Exit, R. 1 E.]

Flo Why will papa not trust me? [Vernon comes down, R.] Oh, Harry!
I wish he would find out what a lot of pluck and common sense
there is in this feather head of mine.

Dun Miss Florence, will you be kind enough to tell Miss Georgina
all about that American relative of yours.

Flo Oh, about my American cousin; certainly. [Aside to Harry.] Let’s have some fun. Well, he’s about 17 feet high!

Dun Good gracious! 17 feet high!

Flo They are all 17 feet high in America, ain’t they, Mr. Vernon?

Ver Yes, that’s about the average height.

Flo And they have long black hair that reaches down to their heels;
they have dark copper-colored skin, and they fight with–
What do they fight with, Mr. Vernon?

Ver Tomahawks and scalping knives.

Flo Yes; and you’d better take care, Miss Georgina, or he’ll
take his tomahawk and scalping knife and scalp you immediately.
[Georgina screams and faints.]

Dun Here, somebody get something and throw over her; a pail of water;
no, not that, she’s pale enough already. [Fans her with handkerchief.] Georgina, don’t be afraid. Dundreary’s by your side, he will protect you.

Flo Don’t be frightened, Georgina. He will never harm you while
Dundreary is about. Why, he could get three scalps here.
[Pulls Dundreary’s whiskers. Georgina screams.]

Dun Don’t scream, I won’t lose my whiskers. I know what I’ll do for my
own safety. I will take this handkerchief and tie the roof of my head on.
[Ties it on.]

Flo [Pretending to cry.] Good bye, Dundreary. I’ll never see
you again in all your glory.

Dun Don’t cry, Miss Florence, I’m ready for Mr. Tommy Hawk.

Enter Binny.

Binny If you please, Miss, ‘ere’s a gent what says he’s hexpected.

Flo What’s his name? Where’s his card?

Binny He didn’t tell me his name, Miss, and when I haxed him
for his card ‘e said ‘e had a whole pack in his valise,
and if I ‘ad a mine ‘e’d play me a game of seven hup.
He says he has come to stay, and he certainly looks as if
he didn’t mean to go.

Flo That’s him. Show him in, Mr. Binny. [Exit Binny, L. 3 E.] That’s my American cousin, I know.

Aug [Romantically.] Your American cousin. Oh, how delightfully
romantic, isn’t it, Capt. De Boots? [Comes down.] I can imagine
the wild young hunter, with the free step and majestic mien of
the hunter of the forest.

Asa [Outside, L. 3 E.] Consarn your picture, didn’t I tell you
I was expected? You are as obstinate as Deacon Stumps’ forelock,
that wouldn’t lie down and couldn’t stand up. Would’t pint forward
and couldn’t go backward.

Enter Asa, L. 3 E., carrying a valise.

Asa Where’s the Squire?

Flo Do you mean Sir Edward Trenchard, sir?

Asa Yes.

Flo He is not present, but I am his daughter.

Asa Well, I guess that’ll fit about as well if you tell this
darned old shoat to take me to my room.

Flo What does he mean by shoat?

Binny [Taking valise.] He means me, mum; but what he wants–

Asa Hurry up, old hoss!

Binny He calls me a ‘oss, Miss, I suppose I shall be a hox next,
or perhaps an ‘ogg.

Asa Wal, darn me if you ain’t the consarnedest old shoat I ever did see
since I was baptized Asa Trenchard.

Flo Ah! then it is our American cousin. Glad to see you–
my brother told us to expect you.

Asa Wal, yes, I guess you do b’long to my family. I’m Asa Trenchard,
born in Vermont, suckled on the banks of Muddy Creek, about the
tallest gunner, the slickest dancer, and generally the loudest critter
in the state. You’re my cousin, be you? Wal, I ain’t got no objections
to kiss you, as one cousin ought to kiss another.

Ver Sir, how dare you?

Asa Are you one of the family? Cause if you ain’t, you’ve got
no right to interfere, and if you be, you needn’t be alarmed,
I ain’t going to kiss you. Here’s your young man’s letter.
[Gives letter and attempts to kiss her.]

Flo In the old country, Mr. Trenchard, cousins content themselves
with hands, but our hearts are with them. You are welcome,
there is mine. [Gives her hand, which he shakes heartily.]

Asa That’ll do about as well. I won’t kiss you if you don’t want me to;
but if you did, I wouldn’t stop on account of that sailor man.
[Business of Vernon threatening Asa.] Oh! now you needn’t get your back up.
What an all-fired chap you are. Now if you’ll have me shown to my room,
I should like to fix up a bit and put on a clean buzzom. [All start.] Why, what on earth is the matter with you all? I only spoke because
you’re so all-fired go-to-meeting like.

Flo Show Mr. Trenchard to the red room, Mr. Binny, that is if you
are done with it, Mr. Dundreary.

Dun Yeth, Miss Florence. The room and I have got through with
each other, yeth.

[Asa and Dundreary see each other for the first time. Business of
recognition, ad. lib.]

Asa Concentrated essence of baboons, what on earth is that?

Dun He’s mad. Yes, Miss Florence, I’ve done with that room.
The rooks crowed so that they racked my brain.

Asa You don’t mean to say that you’ve got any brains.

Dun No, sir, such a thing never entered my head. The wed indians
want to scalp me. [Holding hands to his head.]

Flo The red room, then, Mr. Binny.

Asa [To Binny.] Hold on! [Examines him.] Wal, darn me,
but you keep your help in all-fired good order here. [Feels of him.] This old shoat is fat enough to kill. [Hits Binny in stomach.
Binny runs off, L. 2 E.] Mind how you go up stairs, old hoss,
or you’ll bust your biler. [Exit, L. 3 E.]

Dun Now he thinks Binny’s an engine and has got a boiler.

Flo Oh, what fun!

Mrs M Old Mark Trenchard died very rich, did he not, Florence?

Flo Very rich, I believe.

Aug He’s not at all romantic, is he, mamma?

Mrs M [Aside to her] My dear, I have no doubt he has solid good
qualities, and I don’t want you to laugh at him like Florence Trenchard.

Aug No, mamma, I won’t.

Flo But what are we to do with him?

Dun Ha! Ha! ha!

All What is the matter?

Dun I’ve got an idea.

Flo Oh! let’s hear Dundreary’s idea.

Dun It’s so seldom I get an idea that when I do get one it startles me.
Let us get a pickle bottle.

Flo Pickle bottle! [All come down.]

Dun Yeth; one of those things with glass sides.

Enter Asa, L. 2 E.

Flo Oh! you mean a glass case.

Dun Yeth, a glass case, that’s the idea, and let us put this
Mr. Thomas Hawk in it, and have him on exhibition. That’s the idea.

Asa [Down L. of Florence, overhearing.] Oh! that’s your idea, is it?
Wal, stranger, I don’t know what they’re going to do with me,
but wherever they do put me, I hope it will be out of the reach of a jackass.
I’m a real hoss, I am, and I get kinder riley with those critters.

Dun Now he thinks he’s a horse. I’ve heard of a great jackass,
and I dreampt of a jackass, but I don’t believe there is any such insect.

Flo Well, cousin, I hope you made yourself comfortable.

Asa Well, no, I can’t say as I did. You see there was so many
all-fired fixins in my room I couldn’t find anything I wanted.

Flo What was it you couldn’t find in your room?

Asa There as no soft soap.

De B Soft soap!

Aug Soft soap!

Ver Soft soap!

Mrs M Soft soap!

Flo Soft soap!

Geo [On sofa.] Soft soap!

Dun Thoft thoap?

Asa Yes, soft soap. I reckon you know what that is. However,
I struck a pump in the kitchen, slicked my hair down a little,
gave my boots a lick of grease, and now I feel quite handsome;
but I’m everlastingly dry.

Flo You’ll find ale, wine and luncheon on the side-table.

Asa Wal, I don’t know as I’ve got any appetite. You see comin’
along on the cars I worried down half a dozen ham sandwiches,
eight or ten boiled eggs, two or three pumpkin pies and a string of
cold sausages–and–Wal, I guess I can hold on till dinner-time.

Dun Did that illustrious exile eat all that? I wonder where he put it?

Asa I’m as dry as a sap-tree in August.

Binny [Throwing open, E. D.] Luncheon!

Asa [Goes hastily up to table.] Wal, I don’t want to speak out
too plain, but this is an awful mean set out for a big house like this.

Flo Why, what’s wrong, sir?

Asa Why, there’s no mush!

Asa Nary slapjack.

Dun Why, does he want Mary to slap Jack?

Asa No pork and beans!

Dun Pork’s been here, but he’s left.

Asa And where on airth’s the clam chowder?

Dun Where _is_ clam chowder? He’s never here when he’s wanted.

Asa [Drinks and spits.] Here’s your health, old hoss.
Do you call that a drink? See here, cousin, you seem to be the
liveliest critter here, so just hurry up the fixins, and I’ll
show this benighted aristocratic society what real liquor is.
So hurry up the fixins.

All Fixins?

Flo What do you mean by fixins?

Asa Why, brandy, rum, gin and whiskey. We’ll make them all useful.

Flo Oh, I’ll hurry up the fixins. What fun! [Exit, R.]

Dun Oh! I thought he meant the gas fixins.

Asa Say, you, you Mr. Puffy, you run out and get me a bunch of mint
and a bundle of straws; hurry up, old hoss. [Exit Binny, L. 3 E.,
indignantly.] Say, Mr. Sailor man, just help me down with this table.
Oh! don’t you get riley, you and I ran against each other when I came in,
but we’ll be friends yet. [Vernon helps him with table to C.]

Enter Florence, followed by servants in livery; they carry a
case of decanters and water, on which are seven or eight glasses,
two or three tin mixers and a bowl of sugar. Binny enters with a
bunch of mint and a few straws.

Flo Here, cousin, are the fixins.

Asa That’s yer sort. Now then, I’ll give you all a drink that’ll
make you squeal. [To Binny] Here, Puffy, just shake that up, faster.
I’ll give that sick gal a drink that’ll make her squirm like an
eel on a mud bank.

Dun [Screams.] What a horrible idea. [Runs about stage.]

Flo Oh, don’t mind him! That’s only an American joke.

Dun A joke! Do you call that a joke? To make a sick girl squirm like a
mud bank on an eel’s skin?

Asa Yes, I’ll give you a drink that’ll make your whiskers return under
your chin, which is their natural location. Now, ladies and gentlemen,
what’ll you have, Whiskey Skin, Brandy Smash, Sherry Cobbler, Mint Julep
or Jersey Lightning?

Aug Oh, I want a Mint Julep.

De B Give me a Gin Cocktail.

Flo I’ll take a Sherry Cobbler.

Ver Brandy Smash for me.

Mrs M Give me a Whiskey Skin.

Geo I’ll take a Lemonade.

Dun Give me a Jersey Lightning.

Asa Give him a Jersey Lightning. [As Dundreary drinks] Warranted
to kill at forty rods. [Dundreary falls back on Mrs. M. and Georgina.]

Closed In.

Scene 2–Library in Trenchard Manor. Oriel Window, L. C., with curtains.
Two chairs and table brought on at change.

Enter Binny and Coyle, L. 1 E.

Binny Sir Hedward will see you directly, Mr. Coyle.

Coyle Very well. House full of company, I see, Mr. Binny.

Binny Cram full, Mr. Coyle. As one of the first families
in the country we must keep up our position.

Coyle [Rubbing his hands.] Certainly, certainly, that is
as long as we can, Mr. Binny. Tell Murcott, my clerk,
to bring my papers in here. You’ll find him in the servant’s hall,
and see that you keep your strong ale out of his way.
People who serve me must have their senses about them.

Binny [Aside.] I should say so, or ‘e’d ‘ave hevery tooth hout
in their ‘eds, the wiper. [Exit, L. 1 E.]

Coyle And now to show this pompous baronet the precipice on which he stands.

Enter Murcott, with green bag and papers.

Coyle Are you sober, sirrah?

Murcott Yes, Mr. Coyle.

Coyle Then see you keep so.

Mur I’ll do my best, sir. But, oh! do tell them to keep liquor
out of my way. I can’t keep from it now, try as I will,
and I try hard enough, God help me!

Coyle Pshaw! Get out those mortgages and the letters from my London agent.
[Murcott takes papers from bag and places then on table.
Coyle looks off, R. 1 E.] So; here comes Sir Edward.
Go, but be within call. I may want you to witness a signature.

Mur I will sir. [Aside.] I must have brandy, or my hand
will not be steady enough to write. [Exit, L. 1 E.]

Enter Sir Edward, R. 1 E. Coyle bows.

Sir E Good morning, Coyle, good morning. [With affected ease.] There is a chair, Coyle. [They sit.] So you see those
infernal tradespeople are pretty troublesome.

Coyle My agent’s letter this morning announces that Walter and Brass
have got judgement and execution on their amount for repairing
your town house last season. [Refers to papers.] Boquet and Barker
announce their intention of taking this same course with the wine account.
Handmarth is preparing for a settlement of his heavy demand for the stables.
Then there is Temper for pictures and other things and Miss Florence
Trenchard’s account with Madame Pompon, and–

Sir E Confound it, why harass me with details, these infernal particulars?
Have you made out the total?

Coyle Four thousand, eight hundred and thirty pounds, nine shillings
and sixpence.

Sir E Well, of course we must find means of settling this extortion.

Coyle Yes, Sir Edward, if possible.

Sir E If possible?

Coyle I, as your agent, must stoop to detail, you must allow me to repeat,
if possible.

Sir E Why, you don’t say there will be any difficulty in raising the money?

Coyle What means would you suggest, Sir Edward.

Sir E That, sir, is your business.

Coyle A foretaste in the interest on the Fanhille & Ellenthrope mortgages,
you are aware both are in the arrears, the mortgagees in fact,
write here to announce their intentions to foreclose. [Shows papers.]

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 | View All | Next -»