Our American Cousin

Sir E Curse your impudence, pay them off.

Coyle How, Sir Edward?

Sir E Confound it, sir, which of us is the agent? Am I to find
you brains for your own business?

Coyle No, Sir Edward, I can furnish the brains, but what I ask of you
is to furnish the money.

Sir E There must be money somewhere, I came into possession of
one of the finest properties in Hampshire only twenty-six years ago,
and now you mean to tell me I cannot raise 4,000 pounds?

Coyle The fact is distressing, Sir Edward, but so it is.

Sir E There’s the Ravensdale property unencumbered.

Coyle There. Sir Edward, you are under a mistake. The Ravensdale
property is deeply encumbered, to nearly its full value.

Sir E [Springing up.] Good heavens.

Coyle I have found among my father’s papers a mortgage of that
very property to him.

Sir E To your father! My father’s agent?

Coyle Yes, bearing date the year after the great contested election
for the county, on which the late Sir Edward patriotically spent
sixty thousand pounds for the honor of not being returned to Parliament.

Sir E A mortgage on the Ravensdale estate. But it must have been
paid off, Mr. Coyle, [anxiously,] have you looked for the release
or the receipt?

Coyle Neither exists. My father’s sudden death explains sufficiently.
I was left in ignorance of the transaction, but the seals on the deed
and the stamps are intact, here it is, sir. [Shows it.]

Sir E Sir, do you know that if this be true I am something like a beggar,
and your father something like a thief.

Coyle I see the first plainly, Sir Edward, but not the second.

Sir E Do you forget sir, that your father was a charity boy, fed,
clothed by my father?

Coyle Well, Sir Edward?

Sir E And do you mean to tell me, sir, that your father repaid
that kindness by robbing his benefactor?

Coyle Certainly not, but by advancing money to that benefactor
when he wanted it, and by taking the security of one of his benefactor’s
estates, as any prudent man would under the circumstances.

Sir E Why, then, sir, the benefactor’s property is yours.
Coyle Pardon me, the legal estate you have your equity of redemption.
You have only to pay the money and the estate is yours as before.

Sir E How dare you, sir, when you have just shown me that I cannot
raise five hundred pounds in the world. Oh! Florence,
why did I not listen to you when you warned me against this man?

Coyle [Aside.] Oh ! she warned you, did she? [Aloud.] I see one means, at least, of keeping the Ravensdale estate in the family.

Sir E What is it?

Coyle By marrying your daughter to the mortgagee.

Sir E To you?

Coyle I am prepared to settle the estate on Miss Trenchard the day
she becomes Mrs. Richard Coyle.

Sir E [Springing up.] You insolent scoundrel, how dare you insult me
in my own house, sir. Leave it, sir, or I will have you kicked out
by my servants.

Coyle I never take an angry man at his word, Sir Edward. Give a
few moments reflection to my offer, you can have me kicked out afterwards.

Sir E [ Pacing stage.] A beggar, Sir Edward Trenchard a beggar,
see my children reduced to labor for their bread, to misery perhaps;
but the alternative, Florence detests him, still the match would save her,
at least, from ruin. He might take the family name, I might retrench,
retire, to the continent for a few years. Florence’s health might
serve as a pretence. Repugnant as the alternative is, yet it deserves
consideration.

Coyle [Who has watched.] Now, Sir Edward, shall I ring for the servants
to kick me out?

Sir E Nay Mr. Coyle, you must pardon my outburst, you know I am hasty,
and—-

Flo [Without.] Papa, dear! [Enters gaily, starts on seeing Coyle.] Papa, pardon my breaking in on business, but our American cousin has come,
such an original–and we are only waiting for you to escort us to the field.

Sir E I will come directly, my love. Mr. Coyle, my dear,
you did not see him.

Flo [Disdainfully.] Oh! yes, I saw him, papa.

Sir E Nay, Florence, your hand to Mr. Coyle. [Aside.] I insist.

Flo Papa. [Frightened at his look, gives her hand. Coyle attempts
to kiss it, she snatches it away and crosses to L.]

Sir E [Crosses to L.] Come, Florence. Mr. Coyle, we will join you
in the park. Come, my love, take my arm. [Hurries her off, L. 1 E.]

Coyle Shallow, selfish fool. She warned you of me did she?
And you did not heed her; you shall both pay dearly. She,
for her suspicions, and you that you did not share them.
[Walks up and down.] How lucky the seals were not cut from that mortgage,
when the release was given. ‘Tis like the silly security of the Trenchard’s.
This mortgage makes Ravensdale mine, while the release that restores it
to its owner lies in the recess of the bureau, whose secret
my father revealed to me on his death bed. [Enter Murcott, L. 1 E.] Write to the mortgagee of the Fanhill and Ellenthrope estates,
to foreclose before the week is out, and tell Walters and Brass
to put in execution to-day. We’ll prick this wind-bag of a Baronet.
Abel, we have both a bone to pick with him and his daughter.
[Murcott starts.] Why, what’s the matter?

Mur Nothing, the dizziness I’ve had lately.

Coyle Brandy in the evening, brandy in the morning, brandy all night.
What a fool you are, Murcott.

Mur Who knows that as well as I do?

Coyle If you would but keep the money out of your mouth,
there’s the making of a man in you yet.

Mur No, no, it’s gone too far, it’s gone too far, thanks to the man
who owns this house, you know all about it. How he found me a thriving,
sober lad, flogging the village children through their spelling book.
How he took a fancy to me as he called it, and employed me here to
teach his son and Miss Florence. [His voice falters.] Then remember how I forgot who and what I was, and was cuffed out
of the house like a dog. How I lost my school, my good name,
but still hung about the place, they all looked askance at me,
you don’t know how that kills the heart of a man, then I took to drink
and sank down, down, till I came to this.

Coyle You owe Sir Edward revenge, do you not? You shall have
a rare revenge on him, that mortgage you found last week puts
the remainder of the property in my reach, and I close my hand on it
unless he will consent to my terms.

Mur You can drive a hard bargain. I know.

Coyle And a rare price I ask for his forbearance, Abel–his daughter’s hand.

Mur Florence?

Coyle Yes, Florence marries Richard Coyle. Richard Coyle steps into
Sir Edward’s estates. There, you dog, will not that be a rare revenge.
So follow me with those papers. [Crosses to L.] And now to lay
the mine that will topple over the pride of the Trenchards. [Exit L. 1 E.]

Mur He marry Florence! Florence Trenchard! My Florence. Mine!
Florence _his wife_. No, no, better a thousand times she had been mine,
low as I am, when I dreampt that dream, but it shan’t be, it shan’t be.
[Tremblingly putting papers in bag.] If I can help her, sot though I am.
Yes, I can help her, if the shock don’t break me down. Oh!
my poor muddled brain, surely there was a release with it when I found it.
I must see Florence to warn her and expose Coyle’s villainy. Oh!
how my poor head throbs when I try to. I shall die if I don’t have
a drop of brandy, yes brandy. [Exit, L. 1 E.]

Scene 3–Chamber in 3. at Trenchard Manor. Large shower bath near R. 3 E.
Toilet table with draw, L. 2 E. Small bottle in draw with
red sealing wax on cork. Asa discovered seated, R. with foot on table,
smoking a cigar. Valise on floor in front of him. Binny discovered
standing by his side.

Asa Wal, I guess I begin to feel kinder comfortable here in this place,
if it wan’t for this tarnal fat critter. He don’t seem to have
any work to do, but swells out his big bosom like an old turkey-cock
in laying time. I do wonder what he’s here for? Do they think I
mean to absquatulate with the spoons? [Binny attempts to take valise–
Asa puts his foot on it.] Let that sweat. That’s my plunder.

Binny Will you have the kindness to give me your keys, hif you please, sir?

Asa What do you want with my keys?

Bin To put your things away in the wardrobe, sir.

Asa Wal, I calculate if my two shirts, three bosoms, four collars,
and two pair of socks were to get into that everlasting big bunk,
they’d think themselves so all-fired small I should never be able
to crawl into them again.

Bin Will you take a baath before you dress?

Asa Take a baath?

Bin A baath.

Asa I suppose you mean a bath. Wal, man, I calkalate I ain’t going to
expose myself to the shakes by getting into cold water in this cruel
cold climate of yours, so make tracks.

Bin Make what?

Asa Vamose!

Bin Make vamose!

Asa Absquatulate.

Bin Ab– what sir?

Asa Skedaddle.

Bin Skedaddle?

Asa Oh! get out.

Bin Oh! [Going.] If you are going to dress you’ll want some hassistance.

Asa Assistance! what to get out of my unmentionables and into them again?
Wal, ‘spose I do, what then?

Bin Just ring the bell, hi’ll hattend you.

Asa All right, come along. [Binny going.] Hold on, say,
I may want to yawn presently and I shall want somebody to shut my mouth.
[Binny hurries off, L. 1 E.] Wal, now I am alone, I can look
about me and indulge the enquiring spirit of an American citizen.
What an everlasting lot of things and fixins there is to be sure.
[Opens table draw.] Here’s a place will hold my plunder beautifully.
[Sees bottle.] Hallo, what’s this? [Comes down.] Something good to drink.
[Smells bottle.] It smells awful bad. [Reads label.] Golden Fluid,
one application turns the hair a beautiful brown, several applications
will turn the hair a lustrous black. Well, if they keep on it may
turn a pea green. I reckon this has been left here by some fellow
who is ashamed of the natural color of his top knot. [Knock.] Come in.

Enter Binny, L. 1 E.

Bin Mr. Buddicombe, sir, my lord’s hown man.

Asa Roll him in. [Binny beckons, enter Buddicombe.] Turkey cock number two, what is it?

Bud My Lord Dundreary’s compliments and _have_ you seen
a small _bottle_ in the toilet table drawer?

Asa Suppose I had, what then?

Bud My lord wants it particly.

Asa Was it a small bottle?

Bud A small bottle.

Bin Bottle small.

Asa Blue label?

Bin Label blue.

Asa Red sealing wax on the top?

Bud Red sealing wax.

Bin Wax red.

Asa Nice little bottle?

Bin Little bottle nice.

Asa Wal, I ain’t seen it. [Aside.] If my lord sets a valley on it,
guess it must be worth something.

Bud Sorry to trouble you, sir.

Bin [ Aside to Bud.] What his hit?

Bud My lord’s hair dye, the last bottle, and he turns red tomorrow.
[Exit in haste.]

Bin Orrable, what an hawful situation, to be sure.

Asa [Aside.] So I’ve got my ring on that lord’s nose,
and if I don’t make him dance to my tune it’s a pity.

Bin Miss Florence begged me to say she had borrowed a costume for you,
for the harchery meeting, sir.

Asa Hain’t you dropped something?

Bin Where?

Asa What do you mean by the harchery meeting?

Bin Where they shoot with bows and harrows.

Asa There goes another of them, oh! you need’nt look for them,
you can’t find ’em when you want ’em. Now you just take my compliments
to Miss Trenchard when I goes out shooting with injurious weapons
I always wears my own genuine shooting costume. That’s the natural buff
tipped off with a little red paint.

Bin Good gracious, he’d look like Hadam and Heve, in the garden of Eden.
[Exit Binny.]

Asa Wal, there’s a queer lot of fixings. [Sees shower bath.] What on airth is that? Looks like a ‘skeeter net, only it ‘ain’t
long enough for a feller to lay down in unless he was to coil
himself up like a woodchuck in a knot hole. I’d just like to know
what the all-fired thing is meant for. [Calls.] Say Puffy, Puffy,
Oh! he told me if I wanted him to ring the bell. [Looks round room.] Where on airth is the bell? [Slips partly inside shower bath, pulls rope,
water comes down.] Murder! help! fire! Water! I’m drown.

Enter Skillet, Sharpe, R. 1 E. Binny, Buddicombe, L. 1 E.,
seeing Asa, all laugh, and keep it up till curtain falls.

CURTAIN.

ACT II

Scene 1.–Oriel Chamber in one.

Enter Mrs. Mountchessington and Augusta, L. 1 E., dressed for
Archery Meeting.

Mrs M No, my dear Augusta, you must be very careful.
I don’t by any means want you to give up De Boots, his expectations
are excellent, but, pray be attentive to this American savage,
as I rather think he will prove the better match of the two,
if what I hear of Mark Trenchard’s property be correct.

Aug [Disdainfully.] Yes, ma.

Mrs M And look more cheerful, my love.

Aug I am so tired, ma, of admiring things I hate.

Mrs. M Yes, my poor love, yet we must all make sacrifices to society.
Look at your poor sister, with the appetite.

Aug What am I to be enthusiastic about with that American, Ma?

Mrs M Oh! I hardly know yet, my dear. We must study him.
I think if you read up Sam Slick a little, it might be useful,
and just dip into Bancroft’s History of the United States,
or some of Russell’s Letters; you should know something of
George Washington, of whom the Americans are justly proud.

Aug Here he comes, ma. What a ridiculous figure he looks
in that dress, ha! ha!

Mrs M Hush, my dear!

Enter Asa, in Archery Dress.

Aug Oh, Mr. Trenchard, why did you not bring me one of those
lovely Indian’s dresses of your boundless prairie?

Mrs M Yes, one of those dresses in which you hunt the buffalo.

Aug [Extravagantly.] Yes, in which you hunt the buffalo.

Asa [Imitating.] In which I hunt the buffalo. [Aside.] Buffaloes down in Vermont. [Aloud.] Wal, you see, them dresses
are principally the nateral skin, tipped off with paint,
and the indians object to parting with them.

Both Ahem! ahem!

Asa The first buffalo I see about here I shall hunt up for you.

Mrs M Oh, you Americans are so clever, and so acute.

Aug Yes, so ‘cute.

Asa Yes, we’re ‘cute, we are; know soft solder when we see it.

Aug [Aside.] Ma, I do believe he’s laughing at us.

Mrs M Oh, no, my dear, you are mistaken. Oh! I perceive they are
appearing for the archery practice. I suppose we shall see you on
the ground, Mr. Trenchard.

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