Our American Cousin

Asa Yes, I’ll be there like a thousand of brick.

Aug A thousand of brick!

Mrs M Hush, my dear! that is doubtless some elegant American expression.
Au revoir, Mr. Trenchard.

Asa Which?

Mrs M Au revoir. [Exit with Augusta, R.]

Asa No, thank you, don’t take any before dinner. No use their
talking Dutch to me. Wal, I never see an old gal stand fire like that,
she’s a real old bison bull. I feel all-fired tuckered out riding
in those keers. I’d like to have a snooze if I could find a place
to lay down in. [Sees curtain on window, L. E.] Oh, this might do!
[Pulls curtain, then starts back.] No you don’t! One shower
bath a day is enough for me. [Cautiously opens them.] No,
I guess this is all right, I shall be just as snug in here as in
a pew at meeting, or a private box at the Theatre. Hello!
somebody’s coming. [Goes into recess.]

Enter Dundreary and Buddicombe, L. 1 E.

Bud My lord–

Dun [Business.]

Bud My lord!

Dun [Business.]

Bud Your lordship!! [Louder.]

Dun There, now you’ve spoiled it.

Bud Spoiled what, my lord?

Dun Spoiled what, my lord; why, a most magnificent sneeze!

Bud I am very sorry, my lord.

Dun Now that I can speak alone with you, tell me about that hair dye.
Have you found it?

Bud Not a trace of it , my lord.

Dun If you don’t find it, I’ll discharge you.

Bud Very well, my lord. [Bows and exits, L. 1 E.]

Dun Very well, my lord! He’s gone and lost my hair dye,
and my hair turns red to-morrow, and when I ask him to find it
for me or I’ll discharge him, he says, “Very well, my lord.”
He’s positively idiotic, he is– Ah! here comes Miss Georgina,
that gorgeous creature–that lovely sufferer. [Exit, L. 1 E.]

Asa [Looking out.] What’s the price of hair dye? Hallo!
he’s coming again with that sick girl.

Re-enter Dundreary and Georgina, L. 1 E.

Dun Will you try and strengthen your limbs with a gentle walk in the garden?

Georgina No, thank you, my lord. I’m so delicate. Oh, my lord,
it is so painful to walk languidly through life, to be unable,
at times, to bear the perfumes of one’s favorite flowers.
Even those violets you sent me yesterday I was compelled to
have removed from my room, the perfume was too strong for me.
I’m _so_ delicate.

Dun Yes, Miss Georgina; but they’re very strengthening flowers, you know.

Geo Yes, my lord, you are always right.

Dun Do you know I’m getting to be very robust?

Geo Would I could share that fault with you; but I am so delicate.

Dun If you were robust I should not love you as I do.
It would deprive you of that charm which enchains me to your lovely side,

Geo Oh, my lord, my lord! I’m going to faint.

Dun And I’m going to sneeze, you faint while I sneeze.

Geo [Taking his arm.] Oh! my lord.

Dun Do you know what a sneeze is?

Geo No, my lord.

Dun She never sneezed. I’ll tell you what a sneeze is.
Imagine a very large spider.

Geo [Screams.] Where, my lord?

Dun No, no, I don’t mean a real spider, only an imaginary one,
a large spider getting up your nose, and all of a sudden,
much to his disgust, he discovers he has put his foot in it
and can’t get it out again.

Geo That must be very distressing.

Dun For the spider, yes, and not very pleasant for the nose.

Geo Oh! my lord, do take me to mamma.

Dun No, you lovely sufferer, let’s walk a little more.

Geo I can’t my lord, I’m _so_ delicate.

Dun Well, then, exercise, imitate that little hop of mine. [Hops.] It isn’t a run, it’s a–

Geo What is it?

Dun No, it isn’t a what is it. Well, let me suppose I get you an oyster.
[Georgina shakes her head.] Oh! then suppose I get you an oyster.

Geo No, my lord, I’m too delicate.

Dun How would you like the left wing of a canary bird?

Geo No, my lord, it’s too strong for me.

Dun Let me ask you a widdle–why does a duck go under water?
for divers reasons. Now I’ll give you another–why does a duck
come out of the water? for sundry reasons. No! No! see,
you live on suction, you’re like that bird with a long bill,
they call doctor, no, that’s not it, I thought it was a doctor,
because it has a long bill–I mean a snipe–yes, you’re a lovely snipe.
[Exeunt, R.]

Asa [Looking after them.] There goes a load of wooden nutmegs.
Hello, here comes somebody else.

Enter Florence, R., with paper.

Flo. [Reads.] “One who still remembers what he ought long since
to have forgotten, wishes to speak with Miss Trenchard.”
Florence scratched out, “on matters of life and death, near the orel,
in the west gallery,” Written upon a dirty sheet of paper,
in a hardly legible hand. What does this mean; it opens like one of
Mrs. Radcliffe’s romances. Well, here I am, and now for my correspondent.

Enter Murcott, L.

Mur Oh! for one minute’s clear head, Miss Florence.

Flo I presume you are the writer of this?

Mur Yes, I am.

Flo You address me as an old acquaintance, but I do not recognize you.

Mur So much the better. So much the better.

Flo I hate mystery, sir; but you see I have come to rendezvous.
I must know to whom I am speaking.

Mur As frank as ever. I am Abel Murcott.

Flo Starting back! You?

Mur Do not be ashamed, I have not the strength to injure you,
if I had the evil. In this shabby, broken down drunkard you
need not fear the madman, who years ago forgot in his frantic passion
the gulf that lay between your station and his own. I am harmless
except to my self.

Flo Speak on, sir; I hear you.

Mur I need not tell you by what steps I came to this, you don’t know,
maybe you never knew, what a maddening thing a passion is when it
turns against itself. After being expelled from my tutorship in this house,
I lost my employment, self respect, hope. I sought to drown recollection
and draw courage from drink. It only embittered remembrances,
and destroyed the little courage I had left. That I have bread to eat,
I owe to Mr. Coyle; he employed me as his clerk. You know he has been
with your father this morning. I have come to tell you my errand;
are you as brave as you used to be when I knew–

Flo I fear nothing.

Mur I come to tell you of your father’s ruin, his utter ruin.

Flo My father’s ruin? What? What?

Mur His estates are mortgaged, his creditors clamorous. The Bailiffs
will be in Trenchard Manor to-day, disguised as your own servants.
This much Mr. Coyle has conceded to your father’s respect for appearances.

Flo Then beggary stares him in the face. Poor father,
what a sad blow for him. Is that all, sir?

Mur No; the worst remains.

Flo Go on, sir.

Mur Coyle knows your father’s weakness and as a means of
escape from ruin to the verge of which he has brought him,
he has this day proposed for your hand.

Flo Mine!

Mur On consideration of settling on you the Ravensdale Estate.

Flo And my father, how did he listen to such insolence?

Mur You know as well as I do how he would hear such a proposal,
at first a torrent of rage, then the strong ebb of selfishness set in,
and he consented to listen to the terms, to view them as something
to be considered, to consider them.

Flo Good Heavens, can this be true? No, I will not believe it of my father,
and from such lips.

Mur You have full right to think this and to say it, but mark your
father and Coyle to-day. You will then see if I speak truth or not.

Flo Forgive my distrust, Mr. Murcott.

Mur I am past taking offence or feeling scorn, I have carried more
than can be heaped upon me, but I did not come only to give you
warning of your danger.

Flo Can you avert it?

Asa (Coming down between them). Wal, stranger that’s just the question
I was going to ask.

Flo You here, sir, and listening.

Asa Wal, it wasn’t purpose, I went in there to take a snooze,
I heard you talking and I thought it wouldn’t be polite of me
not to listen to what you had to say. I’m a rough sort of a customer, and
don’t know much about the ways of great folks. But I’ve got a cool head,
a stout arm, and a willing heart, and I think I can help you,
just as one cousin ought to help another.

Flo Well, I do think you are honest.

Mur Shall I go on?

Flo Yes, we will trust him, go on.

Mur I found the Ravensdale mortgage while rumaging in an old deed box
of Coyle’s father’s, there was a folded paper inside the deed.
I took both to Coyle unopened, like a besotted fool that I was.
My belief is strong that the paper was the release of the mortgage
that the money had been paid off, and the release executed
without the seals having been cut from the original mortgage.
I have known such things happen.

Asa Have ye, now? Well, if a Yankee lawyer had done such a thing
he would have Judge Lynch after him in no time.

Mur You can but find that release, we may unmask this diabolical fiend
and save you.

Flo But, surely, a villain of Coyle’s stability would have destroyed
the paper, the very key-stone of his fraud.

Mur I fear so.

Asa Do you, now, wal, you’re wrong, you’re both wrong.
I guess you ain’t either on you done much cyphering human nature.
The key stone of their fraud is just the point your
mighty cute rascals always leave unsecured. Come along with me,
stranger, and we’ll just work up this sum a little, two heads are
better than one. Yours is a little muddled, but mine’s pretty clear,
and if I don’t circumvent that old sarpint, Coyle–

Flo Well?

Asa Say I am a skunk, that’s all, and that’s the meanest kind of an animal.
[Exit L. 1st E.]

Flo I owe you much, Mr. Murcott, more than I can ever repay.

Mur No, no, no, if you did but know the hope of seeing you
has roused all the manhood that drink and misery has left me.
God bless you, Miss Florence.

Flo No, you don’t call me Florence as you did when I was
the truant pupil and you the indulgent tutor. [Offers her hand.]

Mur No, no; for heaven’s sake do not call back that time
or I shall go mad! mad! mad. [Rushes off, L. 1 E., followed by Florence.]

Scene 2–Park in 4. Rural cottage, L. 1 E., adjoining which,
and projecting on stage an inside view of a dairy with sloping roof,
painting backing to look like milk pans. The whole scene should
have a picturesque appearance. Garden fence run across back,
ornamental gate or archway, R. 3 E. Pigeon house on pole near dairy,
L. C. Spinning wheel inside cottage door, one or two rustic benches,
R. and L.

Enter John, R. 3 E., with two milk pails on a yoke, puts them down
near dairy, then looks off, R. 3 E.

John There they go, that’s a bull’s eye, I warrant. Dang me though,
if I wouldn’t rather see Miss Mary than this cock robin sports yonder,
here she comes. Good morning, Miss Mary. [Enter Mary from cottage L.]

Mary Oh, Wickens, you are there. How kind of you to help me
with the milk pails to-day, when all the lads and lasses have
given themselves a holiday to see the shooting.

John Ah, Miss Mary, you ought to be among then, with a green hat
and feather, if all had their rights.

Mary [Laughing.] Nay, ladies without a farthing in the world,
ought to put aside their ladyships and make themselves:
besides I’m proud of my dairy here, just help me with this troublesome
fellow, steady, don’t shake it, the cream is foaming so beautifully.
There. [John carries pan into cottage and returns down, R.]

John Now, Miss Mary, what can I do for you?

Mary Let me see; well, really, I do believe, Wickens,
I’ve nothing to do but amuse myself.

John Dang it, Miss, that’s a pity, cos I can’t help you at that, you see.

Mary Oh! Yes, bring me out dear old Welsh nurse’s spinning wheel
[Exit John into cottage, L. 2 E.] by the side of which I have stood
so often, a round eyed baby wondering at its whirring wheel.
[Reenter John with wheel, places it near cottage, L. 2 E.] There,
that will do famously. I can catch the full scent of the jessamines.

John [R. C.] Anything more, Miss Mary?

Mary No, thank you, Wickens!

John [Going.] Good morning, Miss Mary.

Mary Good morning, Wickens.

John [Returning.] Is there anything I can get for you, Miss Mary?

Mary [Spinning.] Nothing, thank you.

John Dang me if I wouldn’t like to stop all day, and watch
her pretty figure and run errands for her. [Exit R. 3 E.,
crosses behind fence.]

Mary Poor Wickens is not the only one who thinks I am a very ill-used
young body. Now I don’t think so. Grandfather was rich, but he
must have had a bad heart, or he never could have cast off poor mamma;
had he adopted me, I should never have been so happy as I am now,
uncle is kind to me in his pompous, patronizing way, and dear Florence
loves me like a sister, and so I am happy. I am my own mistress here,
and not anybody’s humble servant, I sometimes find myself singing as the
birds do, because I can’t help it [Song, “Maid with the milking pail,”
can be introduced here.]

Enter Florence and Asa through gate, R. 3 E.

Flo Come along, cousin, come along. I want to introduce you
to my little cousin. [Kisses Mary.] I’ve brought you a visitor,
Miss Mary Meredith, Mr. Asa Trenchard, our American cousin.
[They shake hands.] That will do for the present. This young gentleman
has carried off the prize by three successive shots in the bull’s eye.

Mary I congratulate you, sir, and am happy to see you.

Asa [Shakes hands again.] Thank you, Miss.

Flo That will do for a beginning.

Asa [ Aside.] And so that is Mark Trenchard’s grandchild.

Mary Why have you left the archery, Florence?

Flo Because, after Mr. Asa’s display, I felt in no humor for shooting,
and I have some very grave business with my cousin here.

Mary You? Grave business? Why I thought you never had any graver business
than being very pretty, very amiable, and very ready to be amused.

Asa Wal, Miss, I guess the first comes natural round these diggins. [Bows.]

Mary You are very polite. This is my domain, sir, and I shall be
happy to show you, that is, if you understand anything about a dairy.

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