(Exterior of a tavern in a Mississippi village. Flats in 1st gr. Enter Marks, much dilapidated.)
MARKS. Three miles they say to Legree's plantation; will my boots hold out three miles more? I'm afraid not. I fear I shall be under the sad necessity of communicating my business to the sheriff, and sharing the reward for Simon's arrest. Yes, Simon must be arrested, or pay just double the amount offered by the brother of the late Mr. St. Clair, nothing less can or will satisfy justice—the law—and me. Who's this?
(Enter George Shelby.)
GEO. Good morning, sir.
MARKS. Good morning. Fine day, sir. Cotton healthy, sugar heavy, weather warm and dry, sir.
GEO. I was thinking so; will you join me in a liquor?
MARKS. I'm a lawyer, sir, and I refuse nothing from a drink to a dollar. Very good poison in the bar inside, sir. (Indicating the house.)
GEO. One question first. You are doubtless a resident?
MARKS. No, sir, I am from New Orleans.
GEO. Ah! Then you cannot tell me where a planter named Legree resides?
MARKS. Curious enough, sir, but I can—and more curious still—I'm going to see him myself.
GEO. That is fortunate. He bought a slave of ours, called Tom—since in the possession of a Mr. St. Clair, of New Orleans. You knew that gentleman, perhaps, too?
MARKS. I did, sir, but I don't know him now.
GEO. Indeed! why not?
MARKS. Because, he's dead, sir.
MARKS. Yes, sir, very dead! the grim sheriff, death, capiassed him six months ago, with a bowie knife, at the hands of the party you're looking for, Simon Legree.
GEO. That is strange.
MARKS. Strange, but true—do you see this?
GEO. Yes, what is it?
MARKS. A warrant, sir, for Simon's arrest. He was a dear friend of mine, but I regret to say he behaved shabbily, and as Mr. St. Clair's friends will pay handsomely for his capture, I owe it to myself, as chief witness in the case, to make use of my evidence, unless Simon will come down with double the sum offered, to suppress it.
GEO. Then you are of course bound for his place ——
MARKS. I was just debating the best way of getting there.
GEO. I will hire a vehicle.
MARKS. Do. I've nothing but a five hundred dollar bill about me, which I can't get changed in this outlandish country or I'd engage a constable to assist us.
GEO. My purse is at your service.
MARKS. Thank you. How refreshing it is in these degenerate days to meet a youth so fresh, so green, and so confiding. Ah, sir, I wish there were more like you.
GEO. You are complimentary. I have a fellow traveler also, who will join our party.
MARKS. Then we can attack Simon in force.
GEO. (Calling.) George! Mr. Harris! (Enter George Harris elegantly dressed.) My friend, sir.
MARKS. Bless me! where have I seen that gentleman before?
HAR. I don't remember your face, sir, I confess. (Aside.) It's the legal slave catcher.
GEO. This gentleman will guide us to Legree's plantation, Mr. Harris.
MARKS. But we must liquor up before we start.
GEO. Pardon me, I invited you —
MARKS. Not for the world. By the way, your purse. I'm at home in the South, and our Southern hospitality is proverbial. Landlord, whiskey for three. After you. (They exeunt.) Marks, my boy, you've the law's luck, and the devil's too.
(Exit after them.)