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    Act II

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    Chapter 2
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    SCENE 1.--Red Gulch. Canyon of river, and distant view of Sierras, snow-ravined. Schoolhouse of logs in right middle distance. Ledge of rocks in centre. On steps of schoolhouse two large bunches of flowers. Enter STARBOTTLE, slowly climbing rocks L., panting and exhausted. Seats himself on rock, foreground, and wipes his face with his pocket-handkerchief.

    Starbottle. This is evidently the er--locality. Here are the--er-- groves of Academus--the heights of er--Ida! I should say that the unwillingness which the--er--divine Shakespeare points out in the-- er--"whining schoolboy" is intensified in--er--climbing this height, and the--er--alacrity of his departure must be in exact ratio to his gravitation. Good idea. Ged! say it to schoolma'am. Wonder what she's like? Humph! the usual thin, weazened, hatchet- faced Yankee spinster, with an indecent familiarity with Webster's Dictionary! And this is the woman, Star, you're expected to discover, and bring back to affluence and plenty. This is the new fanaticism of Mr. Alexander Morton, sen. Ged! not satisfied with dragging his prodigal son out of merited obscurity, this miserable old lunatic commissions ME to hunt up another of his abused relatives; some forty-fifth cousin, whose mother he had frozen, beaten, or starved to death! And all this to please his prodigal! Ged! if that prodigal hadn't presented himself that morning, I'd have picked up--er--some--er--reduced gentleman--Ged, that knew how to spend the old man's money to better advantage. (Musing.) If this schoolmistress were barely good-looking, Star,--and she's sure to have fifty thousand from the old man,--Ged, you might get even with Alexander, sen., for betrothing his prodigal to Dona Jovita, in spite of the--er--evident preference that the girl showed for you. Capital idea! If she's not positively hideous I'll do it! Ged! I'll reconnoitre first! (Musing.) I could stand one eye; yes--er--single eye would not be positively objectionable in the-- er--present experiments of science toward the--er--the substitution of glass. Red hair, Star, is--er--Venetian,--the beauty of Giorgione. (Goes up to schoolhouse window, and looks in.) Too early! Seven empty benches; seven desks splashed with ink. The-- er--rostrum of the awful Minerva empty, but--er--adorned with flowers, nosegays--demn me! And here, here on the--er--very threshold (looking down), floral tributes. The--er--conceit of these New England schoolma'ams, and their--er--evident Jesuitical influence over the young, is fraught, sir, fraught with--er--darkly political significance. Eh, Ged! there's a caricature on the blackboard. (Laughing.) Ha, ha! Absurd chalk outline of ridiculous fat person. Evidently the schoolma'am's admirer. Ged! immensely funny! Ah! boys will be boys. Like you, Star, just like you,--always up to tricks like that. A sentence scrawled below the figure seems to be--er--explanation. Hem! (Takes out eyeglass.) Let's see (reading.) "This is old"--old--er--old--demme, sir!-- "Starbottle!" This is infamous. I haven't been forty-eight hours in the place, and to my certain knowledge haven't spoken to a child. Ged, sir, it's the--er--posting of a libel! The woman, the--er--female, who permits this kind of thing, should be made responsible--er--personally responsible. Eh, hush! What have we here? (Retires to ledge of rocks.)

    Enter MISS MARY L., reading letter.

    Miss Mary. Strange! Is it all a dream? No! here are the familiar rocks, the distant snow-peaks, the schoolhouse, the spring below. An hour ago I was the poor schoolmistress of Red Gulch, with no ambition nor hope beyond this mountain wall; and now--oh, it must be a dream! But here is the letter. Certainly this is no delusion: it is too plain, formal, business-like. (Reads.)

    MY DEAR COUSIN--I address the only surviving child of my cousin Mary and her husband John Morris, both deceased. It is my duty as a Christian relative to provide you with a home--to share with you that wealth and those blessings that a kind providence has vouchsafed me. I am aware that my conduct to your father and mother, while in my sinful and unregenerate state, is no warrantee for my present promise; but my legal adviser, Col. Starbottle, who is empowered to treat with you, will assure you of the sincerity of my intention, and my legal ability to perform it. He will conduct you to my house; you will share its roof with me and my prodigal son Alexander, now by the grace of God restored, and mindful of the error of his ways. I enclose a draft for one thousand dollars: if you require more, draw upon me for the same.

    Your cousin,

    ALEXANDER MORTON, SEN.

    My mother's cousin--so! Cousin Alexander! a rich man, and reunited to the son he drove into shameful exile. Well! we will see this confidential lawyer; and until then--until then--why, we are the schoolmistress of Red Gulch, and responsible for its youthful prodigals. (Going to schoolhouse door.)

    Miss Mary (stopping to examine flowers). Poor, poor Sandy! Another offering, and, as he fondly believes, unknown and anonymous! As if he were not visible in every petal and leaf! The mariposa blossom of the plain. The snowflower I longed for, from those cool snowdrifts beyond the ridge. And I really believe he was sober when he arranged them. Poor fellow! I begin to think that the dissipated portion of this community are the most interesting. Ah! some one behind the rock,--Sandy, I'll wager. No! a stranger!

    Col. Starbottle (aside, and advancing). If I could make her think I left those flowers! (Aloud.) When I state that--er--I am perhaps--er--stranger--

    Miss Mary (interrupting him coldly). You explain, sir, your appearance on a spot which the rude courtesy of even this rude miner's camp has preserved from intrusion.

    Starbottle (slightly abashed, but recovering himself). Yes--Ged!-- that is, I--er--saw you admiring--er--tribute--er--humble tribute of flowers. I am myself passionately devoted to flowers. Ged! I've spent hours--in--er--bending over the--er--graceful sunflower, in--er--plucking the timid violet from the overhanging but reluctant bough, in collecting the--er--er--fauna--I mean the--er-- flora--of this--er--district.

    Miss Mary (who has been regarding him intently). Permit me to leave you in uninterrupted admiration of them. (Handing him flowers.) You will have ample time in your journey down the gulch to indulge your curiosity!

    Hands STARBOTTLE flowers, enters schoolhouse, and quietly closes door on STARBOTTLE as SANDY MORTON enters cautiously and sheepishly from left. SANDY stops in astonishment on observing STARBOTTLE, and remains by wing left.

    Starbottle (smelling flowers, and not noticing MISS MARY'S absence). Beautiful--er--exquisite. (Looking up at closed door.) Ged! Most extraordinary disappearance! (Looks around, and discovers SANDY; examines him for a moment through his eyeglass, and then, after a pause, inflates his chest, turns his back on SANDY, and advances to schoolhouse door. SANDY comes quickly, and, as STARBOTTLE raises his cane to rap on door, seizes his arm. Both men, regarding each other fixedly, holding each other, retreat slowly and cautiously to centre. Then STARBOTTLE disengages his arm.)

    Sandy (embarrassedly but determinedly). Look yer, stranger. By the rules of this camp, this place is sacred to the schoolma'am and her children.

    Starbottle (with lofty severity). It is! Then--er--permit me to ask, sir, what YOU are doing here.

    Sandy (embarrassed, and dropping his head in confusion). I was-- passing. There is no school to-day.

    Starbottle. Then, sir, Ged! permit me to--er--DEMAND--DEMAND, sir-- an apology. You have laid, sir, your hand upon my person--demn me! Not the first time, sir, either; for, if I am not mistaken, you are the--er--inebriated menial, sir, who two months ago jostled me, sir,--demn me,--as I entered the rancho of my friend Don Jose Castro.

    Sandy (starting, aside). Don Jose! (Aloud.) Hush, hush! She will hear you. No--that is--(stops, confused and embarrassed. Aside.) She will hear of my disgrace. He will tell her the whole story.

    Starbottle. I shall await your apology one hour. At the end of that time, if it is not forthcoming, I shall--er--er--waive your menial antecedents, and expect the--er--satisfaction of a gentleman. Good-morning, sir. (Turns to schoolhouse.)

    Sandy. No, no: you shall not go!

    Starbottle. Who will prevent me?

    Sandy (grappling him). I will. (Appealingly.) Look yer, stranger, don't provoke me, I, a desperate man, desperate and crazed with drink,--don't ye, don't ye do it! For God's sake, take your hands off me! Ye don't know what ye do. Ah! (Wildly, holding STARBOTTLE firmly, and forcing him backward to precipice beyond ledge of rocks.) Hear me. Three years ago, in a moment like this, I dragged a man--my friend--to this precipice. I--I-- no! no!--don't anger me now! (Sandy's grip on STARBOTTLE relaxes slightly, and his head droops.)

    Starbottle (coolly). Permit me to remark, sir, that any reminiscence of your--er--friend--or any other man is--er--at this moment, irrelevant and impertinent. Permit me to point out the--er--fact, sir, that your hand is pressing heavily, demned heavily, on my shoulder.

    Sandy (fiercely). You shall not go!

    Starbottle (fiercely). Shall not?

    Struggle. STARBOTTLE draws derringer from his breast-pocket, and SANDY seizes his arm. In this position both parties struggle to ledge of rocks, and COL. STARBOTTLE is forced partly over.

    Miss Mary (opening schoolhouse door). I thought I heard voices. (Looking toward ledge of rocks, where COL. STARBOTTLE and SANDY are partly hidden by trees. Both men relax grasp of each other at MISS MARY'S voice.)

    Col. Starbottle (aloud and with voice slightly raised, to SANDY). By--er--leaning over this way a moment, a single moment, you will-- er--perceive the trail I speak of. It follows the canyon to the right. It will bring you to--er--the settlement in an hour. (To MISS MARY, as if observing her for the first time.) I believe I am--er--right; but, being--er--more familiar with the locality, you can direct the gentleman better.

    SANDY slowly sinks on his knees beside rock, with his face averted from schoolhouse, as COL. STARBOTTLE disengages himself, and advances jauntily and gallantly to schoolhouse.

    Col. Starbottle. In--er--er--showing the stranger the--er--way, I perhaps interrupted our interview. The--er--observances of--er-- civility and humanity must not be foregone, even for--er--the ladies. I--er--believe I address Miss Mary Morris. When I--er-- state that my name is Col. Starbottle, charged on mission of--er-- delicate nature, I believe I--er--explain MY intrusion.

    MISS MARY bows, and motions to schoolhouse door; COL. STARBOTTLE, bowing deeply, enters; but MISS MARY remains standing by door, looking toward trees that hide SANDY.

    Miss Mary (aside). I am sure it was Sandy's voice! But why does he conceal himself?

    Sandy (aside, rising slowly to his feet, with his back to schoolhouse door). Even this conceited bully overcomes me, and shames me with his readiness and tact. He was quick to spare her-- a stranger--the spectacle of two angry men. I--I--must needs wrangle before her very door! Well, well! better out of her sight forever, than an object of pity or terror. [Exit slowly, and with downcast eyes, right.

    Miss Mary (watching the trail). It WAS Sandy! and this concealment means something more than bashfulness. Perhaps the stranger can explain.

    [Enters schoolhouse, and closes door.

    SCENE 2.--The same. Enter CONCHO, lame, cautiously, from R. Pauses at R., and then beckons to HOP SING, who follows R.

    Concho (impatiently). Well! you saw him?

    Hop Sing. Me see him.

    Concho. And you recognized him?

    Hop Sing. No shabe likoquize.

    Concho (furiously). You knew him, eh? Carramba! You KNEW him.

    Hop Sing (slowly and sententiously). Me shabe man you callee Diego. Me shabbee Led Gulchee call Sandy. Me shabbee man Poker Flat callee Alexandlee Molton. Allee same, John! Allee same!

    Concho (rubbing his hands). Bueno! Good John! good John! And you knew he was called Alexander Morton? And go on--good John--go on!

    Hop Sing. Me plentee washee shirtee--Melican man Poker Flat. Me plentee washee shirt Alexandlee Molton. Always litee, litee on shirt allee time. (Pointing to tail of his blouse, and imitating writing with finger.) Alexandlee Molton. Melican man tellee me-- shirt say Alexandlee Molton--shabbee?

    Concho. Bueno! Excellent John. Good John. His linen marked Alexander Morton. The proofs are gathering! (crosses to C.)--the letter I found in his pack, addressed to Alexander Morton, Poker Flat, which first put me on his track; the story of his wife's infidelity, and her flight with his partner to red Gulch, the quarrel and fight that separated them, his flight to San Jose, his wanderings to the mission of San Carmel, to the rancho of the Holy Fisherman. The record is complete!

    Hop Sing. Alexandlee Molton--

    Concho (hurriedly returning to HOP SING). Yes! good John; yes, good John--go on. Alexander Morton--

    Hop Sing. Alexandlee Molton. Me washee shirt, Alexandlee Molton; he no pay washee. Me washee flowty dozen hep--four bittie dozen-- twenty dollar hep. Alexandlee Molton no payee. He say, "Go to hellee!" You pay me (extending his hand).

    Concho. Car--! (checking himself). Poco tiempo, John! In good time, John. Forty dollar--yes. Fifty dollar! Tomorrow, John.

    Hop Sing. Me no likee "to-mollow!" Me no likee "nex time, John!" Allee time Melican man say, "Chalkee up, John," "No smallee change, John,"--umph. Plenty foolee me!

    Concho. You shall have your money, John; but go now--you comprehend. Carramba! go! (Pushes HOP SING to wing.)

    Hop Sing (expostulating). Flowty dozen, hep, John! twenty dollar, John. Sabe. Flowty--twenty--(gesticulating with fingers).

    [Exit HOP SING, pushed off by CONCHO.

    Concho. The pagan dolt! But he is important. Ah, if he were wiser, I should not rid myself of him so quickly! And now for the schoolmistress,--the sweetheart of Sandy. If these men have not lied, he is in love with her; and, if he is, he has told her his secret before now; and she will be swift to urge him to his rights. If he has not told her--umph! (laughing) it will not be a DAY--an HOUR--before she will find out if her lover is Alexander Morton, the rich man's son, or "Sandy," the unknown vagabond. Eh, friend Sandy! It was a woman that locked up your secret: it shall be a woman, Madre di Dios! who shall unlock it. Ha! (Goes to door of schoolhouse as door opens, and appears COL. STARBOTTLE.)

    Concho (aside). A thousand devils! the lawyer of the old man Morton. (Aloud.) Pardon, pardon! I am a stranger. I have lost my way on the mountain. I am seeking a trail. Senor, pardon!

    Starbottle (aside). Another man seeking the road! Ged, I believe he's lying too. (Aloud.) It is before you, sir, DOWN,--down the mountain.

    Concho. A thousand thanks, senor. (Aside.) Perdition catch him! (Aloud.) Thanks, senor. [Exit R.

    Starbottle. Ged, I've seen that face before. Ged, it's Castro's major-domo. Demn me, but I believe all his domestics have fallen in love with the pretty schoolma'am.

    Enter MISS MARY from schoolhouse.

    Miss Mary (slowly refolding letter). You are aware, then, of the contents of this note; and you are the friend of Alexander Morton, sen.?

    Col. Starbottle. Permit me a moment, a single moment, to--er--er-- explain. I am Mr. Morton's legal adviser. There is--er--sense of-- er--responsibility,--er--personal responsibility, about the term "friend," that at the--er--er--present moment I am not--er-- prepared to assume. The substance of the letter is before you. I am here to--er--express its spirit. I am here (with great gallantry) to express the--er--yearnings of cousinly affection. I am aware--er--that OUR conduct,--if I may use the--er--the plural of advocacy,--I am aware that--er--OUR conduct has not in the past years been of--er--er--exemplary character. I am aware that the-- er--death of our lamented cousin, your sainted mother, was--er-- hastened--I may--er--say--pre--cip--itated--by our--er--indiscretion But we are hereto--er--confess judgment--with--er--er--costs.

    Miss Mary (interrupting). In other words, your client, my cousin, having ruined my father, having turned his own widowed relation out of doors, and sent me, her daughter, among strangers to earn her bread; having seen my mother sink and die in her struggle to keep her family from want,--this man now seeks to condone his offences-- pardon me, sir, if I use your own legal phraseology--by offering me a home; by giving me part of his ill-gotten wealth, the association of his own hypocritical self, and the company of his shameless, profligate son--

    Starbottle (interrupting). A moment, Miss Morris,--a single moment! The epithets you have used, the--er--vigorous characterization of our--er--conduct, is--er--within the--er-- strict rules of legal advocacy, correct. We are--er--rascals! we are--er--scoundrels! we are--er--well, I am not--er--prepared to say that we are not--er--demn me--hypocrites! But the young man you speak of--our son, whose past life (speaking as Col. Starbottle) no one more sincerely deprecates than myself,--that young man has reformed; has been for the past few months a miracle of sobriety, decorum, and industry; has taken, thanks to the example of--er-- friends, a position of integrity in his father's business, of filial obedience in his father's household; is, in short, a paragon; and, demn me, I doubt if he's his father's son.

    Miss Mary. Enough, sir! You are waiting for my answer. There is no reason why it should not be as precise, as brief, and as formal as your message. Go to my cousin; say that you saw the person he claims as his relation; say that you found her, a poor schoolmistress, in a rude mining camp, dependent for her bread on the scant earnings of already impoverished men, dependent for her honor on the rude chivalry of outcasts and vagabonds; and say that then and there she repudiated your kinship, and respectfully declined your invitation.

    Starbottle (aside). Ged! Star! this is the--er--female of your species! This is the woman--the--er--one woman--for whom you are responsible, sir!--personally responsible!

    Miss Mary (coldly). You have my answer, sir.

    Col. Starbottle. Permit me--er--single moment,--a single moment! Between the er--present moment, and that of my departure--there is an--er--interval of twelve hours. May I, at the close of that interval--again present myself--without prejudice, for your final answer?

    Miss Mary (indifferently). As you will, sir. I shall be here.

    Col. Starbottle. Permit me. (Takes her hand gallantly.) Your conduct and manner, Miss Morris, remind me--er--singularly--of--er beautiful creature--one of the--er--first families. (Observing MISS MARY regarding him amusedly, becomes embarrassed.) That is--er--I mean--er--er--good morning, Miss Morris! (Passes by schoolhouse door, retreating and bowing, and picks up flowers from door-step.) Good morning!

    Miss Mary. Excuse me, Col. Starbottle (with winning politeness), but I fear I must rob you of those flowers. I recognize them now as the offering of one of my pupils. I fear I must revoke my gift (taking flowers from astonished colonel's hand), all except a single one for your buttonhole. Have you any choice, or shall I (archly) choose for you? Then it shall be this. (Begins to place flowers in buttonhole, COL. STARBOTTLE exhibiting extravagant gratitude in dumb show. Business prolonged through MISS MARY's speech.) If I am not wrong, colonel, the gentleman to whom you so kindly pointed out the road this morning was not a stranger to you. Ah! I am right. There, one moment,--a sprig of green, a single leaf, would set off the pink nicely. Here he is known only as "Sandy": you know the absurd habits of this camp. Of course he has another name. There! (releasing the colonel) it is much prettier now.

    Col. Starbottle. Ged, madam! The rarest exotic--the Victoria Regina--is not as--er--graceful--er--tribute!

    Miss Mary. And yet you refuse to satisfy my curiosity?

    Col. Starbottle (with great embarrassment, which at last resolves itself into increased dignity of manner). What you ask is--er--er-- impossible! You are right: the--er--gentleman you allude to is known to me under--er--er--another name. But honor--Miss Morris, honor!--seals the lips of Col. Starbottle. (Aside.) If she should know he was a menial! No. The position of the man you have challenged, Star, must be equal to your own. (Aloud.) Anything, Miss Morris, but--er--that!

    Miss Mary (smiling). Be it so. Adios, Col. Starbottle.

    Col. Starbottle (gallantly). Au revoir, Miss Morris. [Exit, impressively, L.

    Miss Mary. So! Sandy conceals another name, which he withholds from Red Gulch. Well! Pshaw! What is that to me? The camp is made up of refugees,--men who perhaps have good reason to hide a name that may be infamous, the name that would publish a crime. Nonsense! Crime and Sandy! No, shame and guilt do not hide themselves in those honest but occasionally somewhat bloodshot eyes. Besides, goodness knows! the poor fellow's weakness is palpable enough. No, that is not the reason. It is no guilt that keeps his name hidden,--at least, not his. (Seating herself, and arranging flowers in her lap.) Poor Sandy! he must have climbed the eastern summit to get this. See, the rosy sunrise still lingers in its very petals; the dew is fresh upon it. Dear little mountain baby! I really believe that fellow got up before daylight, to climb that giddy height and secure its virgin freshness. And to think, in a moment of spite, I'd have given it to that bombastic warrior! (Pause.) That was a fine offer you refused just now, Miss Mary. Think of it: a home of luxury, a position of assured respect and homage; the life I once led, with all its difficulties smoothed away, its uncertainty dispelled,-- think of it! My poor mother's dream fulfilled,--I, her daughter, the mistress of affluence, the queen of social power! What a temptation! Ah, Miss Mary, WAS it a temptation? Was there nothing in your free life here that stiffened your courage, that steeled the adamant of your refusal? or was it only the memory of your mother's wrongs? Luxury and wealth! Could you command a dwelling more charming than this? Position and respect! Is not the awful admiration of these lawless men more fascinating than the perilous flattery of gentlemen like Col. Starbottle? is not the devotion of these outcasts more complimentary than the lip-service of perfumed gallantry? (Pause.) It's very odd he doesn't come. I wonder if that conceited old fool said anything to him. (Rises, and then seats herself, smiling.) He HAS COME. He is dodging in and out of the manganita bushes below the spring. I suppose he imagines my visitor still here. The bashful fool! If anybody should see him, it would be enough to make a petty scandal! I'll give him a talking-to. (Pause.) I wonder if the ridiculous fool has gone to sleep in those bushes. (Rises.) Well, let him: it will help him to recover his senses from last night's dissipation; and you, Miss Mary, it is high time you were preparing the lessons for to-morrow. (Goes to schoolhouse, enters door, and slams it behind her; after a moment reappears with empty bucket.) Of course there's no water, and I am dying of thirst. (Goes slowly to left, and pauses embarrassedly and bashfully, presently laughs,--then suddenly frowns, and assumes an appearance of indignation.) Miss Mary Morris, have you become such an egregious fool that you dare not satisfy the ordinary cravings of human nature, just because an idle, dissipated, bashful blockhead--nonsense! [Exit, brandishing pail.

    SCENE 3.--The Same.

    (A pause. SANDY'S voice, without.) This way, miss: the trail is easier.

    (MISS MARY'S voice, without.) Never mind me; look after the bucket.

    Enter SANDY, carrying bucket with water, followed by MISS MARY. SANDY sets bucket down.

    Miss Mary. There, you've spilt half of it. If it had been whiskey, you'd have been more careful.

    Sandy (submissively). Yes, miss.

    Miss Mary (aside). "Yes, miss! "The man will drive me crazy with his saccharine imbecility. (Aloud.) I believe you would assent to anything, even if I said you were--an impostor!

    Sandy (amazedly). An impostor, Miss Mary?

    Miss Mary. Well, I don't know what other term you use in Red Gulch to express a man who conceals his real name under another.

    Sandy (embarrassed, but facing MISS MARY). Has anybody been tellin' ye I was an impostor, miss? Has thet derned old fool that I saw ye with--

    Miss Mary. "That old fool," as you call him, was too honorable a gentleman to disclose your secret, and too loyal a friend to traduce you by an epithet. Fear nothing, Mr. "Sandy": if you have limited your confidence to ONE friend, it has not been misplaced. But, dear me, don't think I wish to penetrate your secret. No. The little I learned was accidental. Besides, his business was with me: perhaps, as his friend, you already know it.

    Sandy (meekly). Perhaps, miss, he was too honorable a gentleman to disclose YOUR secret. His business was with me.

    Miss Mary (aside). He has taken a leaf out of my book! He is not so stupid, after all. (Aloud.) I have no secret. Col. Starbottle came here to make me an offer.

    Sandy (recoiling). An offer!

    Miss Mary. Of a home and independence. (Aside.) Poor fellow! how pale he looks! (Aloud.) Well, you see, I am more trustful than you. I will tell you MY secret; and you shall aid me with your counsel. (They sit on ledge of rocks.) Listen! My mother had a cousin once,--a cousin cruel, cowardly, selfish, and dissolute. She loved him, as women are apt to love such men,--loved him so that she beguiled her own husband to trust his fortunes in the hands of this wretched profligate. The husband was ruined, disgraced. The wife sought her cousin for help for her necessities. He met her with insult, and proposed that she should fly with him.

    Sandy. One moment, miss: it wasn't his pardner--his pardner's wife--eh?

    Miss Mary (impatiently). It was the helpless wife of his own blood, I tell you. The husband died broken-hearted. The wife, my mother, struggled in poverty, under the shadow of a proud name, to give me an education, and died while I was still a girl. To-day this cousin,--this more than murderer of my parents,--old, rich, self-satisfied, REFORMED, invites me, by virtue of that kinship he violated and despised, to his home, his wealth, his--his family roof-tree! The man you saw was his agent.

    Sandy. And you--

    Miss Mary. Refused.

    Sandy (passing his hand over his forehead). You did wrong, Miss Mary.

    Miss Mary. Wrong, sir? (Rising.)

    Sandy (humbly but firmly). Sit ye down, Miss Mary. It ain't for ye to throw your bright young life away yer in this place. It ain't for such as ye to soil your fair young hands by raking in the ashes to stir up the dead embers of a family wrong. It ain't for ye--ye'll pardon me, Miss Mary, for sayin' it--it ain't for ye to allow when it's TOO LATE fur a man to reform, or to go back of his reformation. Don't ye do it, miss, fur God's sake,--don't ye do it! Harkin, Miss Mary. If ye'll take my advice--a fool's advice, maybe--ye'll go. And when I tell ye that that advice, if ye take it, will take the sunshine out of these hills, the color off them trees, the freshness outer them flowers, the heart's-blood outer me,--ye'll know that I ain't thinkin' o' myself, but of ye. And I wouldn't say this much to ye, Miss Mary; but you're goin' away. There's a flower, miss, you're wearin' in your bosom,--a flower I picked at daybreak this morning, five miles away in the snow. The wind was blowing chill around it, so that my hands that dug for it were stiff and cold; but the roots were warm, Miss Mary, as they are now in your bosom. Ye'll keep that flower, Miss Mary, in remembrance of my love for ye, that kept warm and blossomed through the snow. And, don't start, Miss Mary,--for ye'll leave behind ye, as I did, the snow and rocks through which it bloomed. I axes your parding, miss: I'm hurtin' yer feelin's, sure.

    Miss Mary (rising with agitation). Nothing,--nothing; but climbing these stupid rocks has made me giddy: that's all. Your arm. (To SANDY impatiently). Can't you give me your arm? (SANDY supports MISS MARY awkwardly toward schoolhouse. At door MISS MARY pauses.) But if reformation is so easy, so acceptable, why have you not profited by it? Why have you not reformed? Why have I found you here, a disgraced, dissipated, anonymous outcast, whom an honest girl dare not know? Why do you presume to preach to me? Have you a father?

    Sandy. Hush, Miss Mary, hush! I had a father. Harkin. All that you have suffered from a kinship even so far removed, I have known from the hands of one who should have protected me. MY father was-- but no matter. You, Miss Mary, came out of your trials like gold from the washing. I was only the dirt and gravel to be thrown away. It is too late, Miss Mary, too late. My father has never sought me, would turn me from his doors had I sought him. Perhaps he is only right.

    Miss Mary. But why should he be so different from others? Listen. This very cousin whose offer I refused had a son,--wild, wayward, by all report the most degraded of men. It was part of my cousin's reformation to save this son, and, if it were possible, snatch him from that terrible fate which seemed to be his only inheritance.

    Sandy (eagerly). Yes, miss.

    Miss Mary. To restore him to a regenerated home. With this idea he followed his prodigal to California. I, you understand, was only an after-thought consequent upon his success. He came to California upon this pilgrimage two years ago. He had no recollection, so they tell me, by which he could recognize this erring son; and at first his search was wild, profitless, and almost hopeless. But by degrees, and with a persistency that seemed to increase with his hopelessness, he was rewarded by finding some clew to him at--at--at--

    Sandy (excitedly). At Poker Flat?

    Miss Mary. Ah, perhaps you know the story,--at Poker Flat. He traced him to the Mission of San Carmel.

    Sandy. Yes, miss: go on.

    Miss Mary. He was more successful than he deserved, perhaps. He found him. I see you know the story.

    Sandy. Found him! Found him! Miss, did you say found him?

    Miss Mary. Yes, found him. And today Alexander Morton, the reclaimed prodigal, is part of the household I am invited to join. So you see, Mr. Sandy, there is still hope. What has happened to him is only a promise to you. Eh! Mr. Sandy--what is the matter? Are you ill? Your exertion this morning, perhaps. Speak to me! Gracious heavens, he is going mad! No! No! Yes--it cannot be--it is--he HAS broken his promise: he is drunk again.

    Sandy (rising, excited and confused). Excuse me, miss, I am a little onsartain HERE (pointing to his head). I can't--I disremember--what you said jus' now: ye mentioned the name o' that prodigal that was found.

    Miss Mary. Certainly: compose yourself,--my cousin's son, Alexander Morton. Listen, Sandy, you promised ME, you know, you said for MY sake you would not touch a drop. (Enter cautiously toward schoolhouse the DUCHESS, stops on observing SANDY, and hides behind rock.)

    Sandy (still bewildered and incoherent). I reckon. Harkin, miss, is that thar thing (pointing towards rock where DUCHESS is concealed)--is that a tree, or--or--a woman? Is it sorter movin' this way?

    Miss Mary (laying her hand on SANDY'S). Recover your senses, for Heaven's sake, Sandy,--for MY sake! It is only a tree.

    Sandy (rising). Then, miss, I've broke my word with ye: I'm drunk. P'r'aps I'd better be a-goin' (looking round confusedly) till I'm sober. (Going toward L.)

    Miss Mary (seizing his hand). But you'll see me again, Sandy: you'll come here--before--before--I go?

    Sandy. Yes, miss,--before ye go. (Staggers stupidly toward L. Aside.) Found him! found Alexander Morton! It's a third time, Sandy, the third time: it means--it means--you're mad! (Laughs wildly, and exit L.)

    Miss Mary (springing to her feet). There is a mystery behind all this, Mary Morris, that you--you--must discover. That man was NOT drunk: he HAD NOT broken his promise to me. What does it all mean? I have it. I will accept the offer of this Alexander Morton. I will tell him the story of this helpless man, this poor, poor, reckless Sandy. With the story of his own son before his eyes, he cannot but interest himself in his fate. He is rich: he will aid me in my search for Sandy's father, for Sandy's secret. At the worst, I can only follow the advice of this wretched man,--an advice so generous, so kind, so self-sacrificing. Ah--

    SCENE 4.--The same. Enter the DUCHESS, showily and extravagantly dressed. Her manner at first is a mixture of alternate shyness and bravado.

    The Duchess. I heerd tell that you was goin' down to 'Frisco to- morrow, for your vacation; and I couldn't let ye go till I came to thank ye for your kindness to my boy,--little Tommy.

    Miss Mary (aside. Rising abstractedly, and recalling herself with an effort). I see,--a poor outcast, the mother of my anonymous pupil. (Aloud.) Tommy! a good boy,--a dear, good little boy.

    Duchess. Thankee, miss, thankee. If I am his mother, thar ain't a sweeter, dearer, better boy lives than him. And, if I ain't much as says it, thar ain't a sweeter, dearer, angeler teacher than he's got. It ain't for you to be complimented by me, miss; it ain't for such as me to be comin' here in broad day to do it, either; but I come to ask a favor,--not for me, miss, but for the darling boy.

    Miss Mary (aside--abstractedly). This poor, degraded creature will kill me with her wearying gratitude. Sandy will not return, of course, while she is here. (Aloud.) Go on. If I can help you or yours, be assured I will.

    The Duchess. Thankee, miss. You see, thar's no one the boy has any claim on but me, and I ain't the proper person to bring him up. I did allow to send him to 'Frisco, last year; but when I heerd talk that a schoolma'am was comin' up, and you did, and he sorter tuk to ye natril from the first, I guess I did well to keep him yer. For, oh, miss, he loves ye so much; and, if you could hear him talk in his purty way, ye wouldn't refuse him anything.

    Miss Mary (with fatigued politeness, and increasing impatience). I see, I see: pray go on.

    The Duchess (with quiet persistency). It's natril he should take to ye, miss; for his father, when I first knowed him, miss, was a gentleman like yourself; and the boy must forget me sooner or later--and I ain't goin' to cry about THAT.

    Miss Mary (impatiently). Pray tell me how I can serve you.

    The Duchess. Yes, miss; you see, I came to ask you to take my Tommy,--God bless him for the sweetest, bestest boy that lives!--to take him with you. I've money plenty; and it's all yours and his. Put him in some good school, whar ye kin go and see, and sorter help him to--forget---his mother. Do with him what you like. The worst you can do will be kindness to what he would learn with me. You will: I know you will; won't you? You will make him as pure and as good as yourself; and when he has grown up, and is a gentleman, you will tell him his father's name,--the name that hasn't passed my lips for years,--the name of Alexander Morton.

    Miss Mary (aside). Alexander Morton! The prodigal! Ah, I see,-- the ungathered husks of his idle harvest.

    The Duchess. You hesitate, Miss Mary. (Seizing her.) Do not take your hand away. You are smiling. God bless you! I know you will take my boy. Speak to me, Miss Mary.

    Miss Mary (aloud). I will take your child. More than that, I will take him to his father.

    The Duchess. No, no! for God's sake, no, Miss Mary! He has never seen him from his birth: he does not know him. He will disown him. He will curse him,--will curse me!

    Miss Mary. Why should he? Surely his crime is worse than yours.

    The Duchess. Hear me, Miss Mary. (Aside.) How can I tell her? (Aloud.) One moment, miss. I was once--ye may not believe it, miss--as good, as pure, as you. I had a husband, the father of this child. He was kind, good, easy, forgiving,--too good for me, miss, too simple and unsuspecting. He was what the world calls a fool, miss: he loved me too well,--the kind o' crime, miss,-- beggin' your pardon, and all precepts to the contrairy,--the one thing that women like me never forgives. He had a pardner, miss, that governed him as HE never governed me; that held him with the stronger will, and maybe ME too. I was young, miss,--no older than yourself then; and I ran away with him,--left all, and ran away with my husband's pardner. My husband--nat'rally--took to drink. I axes your pardin', miss; but ye'll see now, allowin' your larnin', that Alexander Morton ain't the man as will take my child.

    Miss Mary. Nonsense. You are wrong. He has reformed; he has been restored to his home,--your child's home, your home if you will but claim it. Do not fear: I will make that right.

    Enter SANDY slowly and sheepishly, R.; stops on observing the Duchess, and stands amazed and motionless.

    Miss Mary (observing SANDY--aside). He HAS returned. Poor fellow! How shall I get rid of this woman? (Aloud.) Enough. If you are sincere, I will take your child, and, God help me! bring him to his home and yours. Are you satisfied?

    The Duchess. Thank ye! Thank ye, miss; but--but thar's a mistake somewhar. In course--it's natural--ye don't know the father of that child, my boy Tommy, under the name o' Alexander Morton. Ye're thinking, like as not, of another man. The man I mean lives yer, in this camp: they calls him Sandy, miss,--SANDY!

    Miss Mary (after a pause, coming forward passionately). Hush! I have given you my answer, be it Alexander Morton or Sandy. Go now: bring me the child this evening at my house. I will meet you there. (Leads the DUCHESS to wing. The DUCHESS endeavors to fall at her feet.)

    The Duchess. God bless you, miss!

    Miss Mary (hurriedly embracing her). No more, no more--but go!

    [Exit DUCHESS. MISS MARY returns hurriedly to centre, confronting SANDY.

    Miss Mary (to SANDY, hurriedly and excitedly). You have heard what that woman said. I do not ask you under what alias you are known here: I only ask a single question.--Is SHE your wife? are you the father of her child?

    Sandy (sinking upon his knees before her, and covering his face with his hands). I am!

    Miss Mary. Enough! (Taking flower from her bosom.) Here, I give you back the flower you gave me this morning. It has faded and died here upon my breast. But I shall replace it with your foundling,--the child of that woman, born like that flower in the snow! And I go now, Sandy, and leave behind me, as you said this morning, the snow and rocks in which it bloomed. Good-by! Farewell, farewell--forever! (Goes toward schoolhouse as--

    Enter COL. STARBOTTLE.

    Miss Mary (to STARBOTTLE). You are here in season, sir. You must have come for an answer to your question. You must first give me one to mine. Who is this man (pointing to SANDY), the man you met upon the rocks this morning?

    Col. Starbottle. Ahem! I am--er--now fully prepared and responsible, I may say, miss--er--personally responsible, to answer that question. When you asked it this morning, the ordinary courtesy of the--er--code of honor threw a--er--cloak around the-- er--antecedents of the--er--man whom I had--er--elected by a demand for personal satisfaction, to the equality of myself, an--er-- gentleman! That--er--cloak is now removed. I have waited six hours for an apology or a--er--reply to my demand. I am now free to confess that the--er--person you allude to was first known by me, three months ago, as an inebriated menial,--a groom in the household of my friend Don Jose Castro,--by the--er--simple name of "Diego."

    Miss Mary (slowly). I am satisfied. I accept my cousin's invitation.

    [Exit slowly, supported by COL. STARBOTTLE, R.

    As STARBOTTLE and MISS MARY exeunt R., CONCHO and HOP SING enter cautiously, L. SANDY slowly rises to his feet, passes his hand across his forehead, looks around toward exit of STARBOTTLE and MISS MARY.

    Sandy (slowly, but with more calmness of demeanor). Gone, gone-- forever! No: I am not mad, nor crazed with drink. My hands no longer tremble. There is no confusion here. (Feeling his forehead). I heard them all. It was no dream. I heard her every word. Alexander Morton, yes, they spoke of Alexander Morton. She is going to him, to my father. She is going--she, Mary, my cousin-- she is going to my father. He has been seeking me--has found--ah! (Groans.) No, no, Sandy! Be patient, be calm: you are not crazy-- no, no, good Sandy, good old boy! Be patient, be patient: it is coming, it is coming. Yes, I see: some one has leaped into my place; some one has leaped into the old man's arms. Some one will creep into HER heart! No! by God! No! I am Alexander Morton. Yes, yes! But how, how shall I prove it?--how? Who (CONCHO steps cautiously forward towards SANDY unobserved) will believe the vagabond, the outcast--my God!--the crazy drunkard?

    Concho (advancing, and laying his hand on SANDY). I will!

    Sandy (staggering back amazedly). You!

    Concho. Yes,--I, I,--Concho! You know me, Diego, you know me,-- Concho, the major-domo of the Blessed Innocents. Ha! You know me now. Yes, I have come to save you. I have come to make you strong. So--I have come to help you strip the Judas that has stepped into your place,--the sham prodigal that has had the fatted calf and the ring,--ah! ah!

    Sandy. You? You do not know me!

    Concho. Ah! you think, you think, eh? Listen: Since you left I have tracked HIM--THE IMPOSTOR, this Judas, this coyote--step by step, until his tracks crossed yours; and then I sought you out. I know all. I found a letter you had dropped; that brought me to Poker Flat. Ah, you start! I have seen those who knew you as Alexander Morton. You see! Ah, I am wise.

    Sandy (aside). It is true. (Aloud.) But (suspiciously) why have you done this? You, Concho?--you were not my friend.

    Concho. No, but HE is my enemy. Ah, you start! Look at me, Alexander Morton, Sandy, Diego! You knew a man, strong, active, like yourself. Eh! Look at me now! Look at me, a cripple! Eh! lame and crushed here (pointing to his leg), broken and crushed here (pointing to his heart), by him,--the impostor! Listen, Diego. The night I was sent to track you from the rancho, he--this man--struck me from the wall, dashed me to the earth, and made MY BODY, broken and bruised, a stepping-stone to leap the wall into your place, Diego,--into your father's heart,--into my master's home. They found me dead, they thought,--no, not dead, Diego! It was sad, they said,--unfortunate. They nursed me; they talked of money--eh, Diego!--money! They would have pensioned me to hush scandal--eh! I was a dog, a foreigner, a Greaser! Eh! That is why I am here. No! I love you not, Diego; you are of his race; but I hate--Mother of God!--I HATE him!

    Sandy (rising to his feet, aside). Good! I begin to feel my courage return: my nerves are stronger. Courage, Sandy! (Aloud.) Be it so, Concho: there is my hand! We will help each other,--you to my birthright, I to your revenge! Hark ye! (SANDY'S manner becomes more calm and serious.) This impostor is NO craven, NO coyote. Whoever he is, he must be strong. He has most plausible evidences. We must have rigid proofs. I will go with you to Poker Flat. There is one man, if he be living, knows me better than any man who lives. He has done me wrong,--a great wrong, Concho,--but I will forgive him. I will do more,--I will ask his forgiveness. He will be a witness no man dare gainsay--my partner--God help him and forgive him as I do!--John Oakhurst.

    Concho. Oakhurst your partner!

    Sandy (angrily). Yes. Look ye, Concho, he has wronged me in a private way: that is MY business, not YOURS; but he was MY partner, no one shall abuse him before me.

    Concho. Be it so. Then sink here! Rot here! Go back to your husks, O prodigal! wallow in the ditches of this camp, and see your birthright sold for a dram of aguardiente! Lie here, dog and coyote that you are, with your mistress under the protection of your destroyer! For I tell you--I, Concho, the cripple--that the man who struck me down, the man who stepped into your birthright, the man who to-morrow welcomes your sweetheart in his arms, who holds the custody of your child, is your partner,--John Oakhurst.

    Sandy (who has been sinking under CONCHO'S words, rising convulsively to his feet). God be merciful to me a sinner! (Faints.)

    Concho (standing over his prostrate body exultingly). I am right. You are wise, Concho, you are wise! You have found Alexander Morton!

    Hop Sing (advancing slowly to SANDY'S side, and extending open palm). Me washee shirt flo you, flowty dozen hab. You no payee me. Me wantee twenty dollar hep. Sabe!

    Curtain.

    END OF ACT II.
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