SCENE I.—A wretched out-house
or shed, supposed to be near a tavern, early morning.—Stage dark—EDWARD discovered lying on ground, without hat or coat, clothes torn,
eyes sunk and haggard, appearance horrible, &c., &c.
Where am I? I wonder if people dream after they are dead? hideous! hideous! I should
like to be dead, if I could not dream—parched! parched
'tis morning, is it, or coming night, which? I wanted daylight, but now it has come,
what shall I do in daylight! I was out of sight when it was dark—and seemed to be
half-hidden from myself—early morning, the rosy hue of the coming sunshine, veiling from
mortal sight the twinkling stars—what horrid dreams, will they return upon me, waking?
Oh, for some brandy! rum! I am not so ashamed, so stricken with despair when I am drunk.
Landlord, give me some brandy. What horrid place is this? Pain! dreadful pain! Heavens,
how I tremble. Brandy! brandy? [Sinks down in agony.
LANDLORD, with whip, R.
Where in nature can my horse be gone? Is there nobody up in this place? Hollo!
Hollo! Landlord, I say.
What's that? Oh! I say, have you seen my, horse? What—as I live, that scape-gallows,
Middleton, how came he here? [Aside.] I thought he was in Sing-Sing.
Oh! I know you, you needn't draw back—we have been acquainted before now, eh!
Zounds! he knows me—yes, yes, we were acquainted once, as you say, young man; but
that was in other days.
You are the same being still—though I am changed—miserably changed—you still
sell rum don't you?
I am called a respectable Inn-keeper, few words are best, young fellow. Have
you seen a horse saddled and bridled near here?
I've seen nothing—you are respectable, you say. You speak as if you were not
the common poisoner of the whole village; am not I too, respectable?
[Laughs rudely.] Not according to present appearances. You were respectable once, and so was
Lucifer—like him you have fallen past rising. You cut a pretty figure, don't you?
ha! ha! what has brought you in this beastly condition, young man?
[Springing up.] You! Rum! Eternal curses on you! had it not been for your infernal poison
shop in our village, I had been still a man—the foul den, where you plunder the
pockets of your fellow, where you deal
forth death in tumblers, and from whence goes forth the blast of ruin over the land,
to mildew the bright hope of youth, to fill the widow's heart with agony, to curse
the orphan, to steal the glorious mind of man, to cast them from their high estate
of honest pride, and make them—such as I. How looked I when first I entered your
loathsome den, and how do I look now? Where are the friends of my happy youth?
where is my wife? where is my child? They have cursed me; cursed me, and forsaken
Well, what brought you to my house? You had your senses then, I did not invite
you, did I?
Doth hell send forth cards of invitation for its horrid orgies. Sick and faint—make
me some amends, my brain is on fire. My limbs are trembling—give me some
brandy—brandy. [Seizes him.
How can I give you brandy? my house is far from here. Let me go, vagabond!
Nay, I beseech you—only a glass, a single glass of brandy, rum—anything—give
me liquor, or I'll—
Villain! let go your hold!
Brandy! I have a claim on you, a deadly claim! Brandy, brandy! or I'll throttle
you. [Choking him.
murder! I am choking! help!
WILLIAM DOWTON, R.
Good lord! what is this? Edward, Edward!
Landlord and falls, R.
You shall pay for this—villain! you shall pay for this. [Exit, hastily, L.
[On ground in delirium.] Here, here, friend, take it off, will you—these snakes, how they coil round
me. Oh! how strong they are—there, don't kill it, no, no, don't kill it, give it
brandy, poison it with rum, that will be a judicious punishment, that would be justice,
ha, ha! justice! ha, ha!
He does not know me.
Hush! gently—gently, while she's asleep. I'll kiss her. She would reject me, did
she know it, hush! there, heaven bless my Mary, bless her and her child—hush! if the
globe turns round once more, we shall slide from its surface into eternity. Ha, ha!
great idea. A
boiling sea of wine, fired by the torch of fiends! ha, ha!
He's quite helpless, could I but gain assistance, he cannot move to injure himself.
I must venture. [Exit, rapidly
and noiselessly, R.
So, so; again all's quiet—they think I cannot escape. I cheated them yesterday—
'tis a sin to steal liquor—
Enter MR. RENCELAW,
But no crime to purloin sleep from a druggist's store—none—none.
Now for the universal antidote—the powerful conqueror of all earthly care—death.
[About to drink, Rencelaw seizes
phial and casts it from him.] Ha! who are you, man? what would you?
Nay, friend, take not your life, but mend it.
Friend, you know me not. I am a fiend, the ruin of those who loved me, leave me.
I came not to upbraid, or to insult you. I am aware of all your danger, and come to
save you. You have been drinking.
That you may well know. I am dying now for liquor—and—will you give me brandy. Who
are you that takes interest in an unhappy vagabond—neither my father nor my brother?
I am a friend to the unfortunate. You are a man, and if a man, a brother.
A brother! yes, but you trouble yourself without hope. I am lost, of what use can I
be to you?
Perhaps I can be of use to you. Are you indeed a fallen man? [Edward looks at him, sighs and hangs his head.] There you have the greater claim upon my compassion, my attention, my utmost
endeavors to raise you once more, to the station of society from which you have fallen,
"for he that lifts a fallen fellow creature from the dust, is greater than the hero who
conquers a world."
heaven! My mother's dying words! Who and what are you?
I am one of those whose life and labors are passed in rescuing their fellow men from the
abyss into which you have fallen. I administer the pledge of sobriety to those who would
once more become an orna-
ment to society, and a blessing to themselves and to those around them.
That picture is too bright, it cannot be.
You see before you one who for twenty years was a prey to this dreadul folly.
Indeed! no, no; it is too late.
You mistake; it is not too late. Come with me, we will restore you to society.
Reject not my prayers; strength will be given you, the Father of purity smiles upon
honest endeavors. Come, my brother, enrol your name among the free, the disenthralled,
and be a man again. [Takes his
Merciful heaven! grant the prayer of a poor wretch be heard. [Exeunt, R.
Square.—Lights up.—Citizens passing during the scene.—Children playing ball,
LAWYER CRIBBS, R.
Now this is a lucky escape. It's fortunate that old Sykes, the miller, was in
court, who knew me, or I might have found it difficult to get out of the infernal
scrape. What a dreadful night I have passed, to be sure,—what with the horrid noise
of the rats, that I expected every moment would commence making a breakfast of my toes,
the cold, and horrible language of my miserable and blackguard companions. I might as
well have passed the crawling hours in purgatory, ugh! I'm glad it's over—catch me
in such company again, that's all. Now for my design on Rencelaw and Co. I think
there can be no detection, the signature is perfect. I'll get some well dressed boy
to deliver the check, receive the money, and I'm off to the far West or England, soon
as possible. Would I were certain of the ruin of this drunken scoundrel, and the
infamy of his tiger-like wife, I should be content.
BOY, L. U. E., crossing
Where are you going so quickly, my lad?
an errand, sir.
WILLIAM DOWTON, L. U. E.
Do you want to earn half a dollar?
With pleasure, sir, honestly
Oh, of course, honestly.
I doubt, that, if he rows in your boat.
I am obliged to meet a gentleman on business, precisely at this hour, by
the Pearl St. House, call at the Mechanics' Bank for me, deliver this check,
the Teller will give you the money, come back quickly, and I'll reward you
with a silver dollar.
I'll be as quick as possible, sir, and thank you too.
I knew the old skunk had money, but I was not aware that he banked in New
York. Hallo! here's Miss Spindle a twigging the fashions; here'll be fun with
the old rats. I told her half and hour ago, Cribbs was at a large party among
the 'stocracy, last night.
[After putting up
his wallet, sees Miss Spindle.] Confound it! here's that foolish
old maid, at such a time, too. Ah! there's no avoiding.
MISS SPINDLE, L.
Good gracious! Mr. Cribbs, how do you do? I declare,
how well you do look—a little dissipation improves you.
beginning already. Hurrah! Go it, old gal.
I swow, now, I'm right glad to see you.
You have all the pleasure to yourself.
She'll find that out by and bye.
Now, don't be so snappish, Lawyer Cribbs; neighbors should be neighborly, you
know. Who was it that had the pleasure to introduce you?
rather guess I went that stick of candy. [Cribbs stares at Miss Spindle.
Now don't look so cross about it. I think you ought to feel right slick, as I
do. Now do tell what kind of music had you!
Plenty o' hollaring and clubs, with considerable running accompaniment.
Now don't look so angry, and scared. Who did play the fiddle? was it Herr
Noll, Young Burke, or Ole Bull. Don't keep my curiosity on the stretch.
Belzebub stretch you curiosity! What are you yelling about Herr Noll, Young
Burke, and Ole Bulls for?
I calculate Captain—[Name
of captain of watch.]—played first fiddle to the overture of
"Lock and Key."
Well I swow, I never seed sich ill-temper. Why I know New York tip-tops always
have somebody first chop among the fiddlers; for cousin Jemima told me when she
was at the Tabernacle, her very hair stood on eend when Herwig led the musicians
with Heat-oven's sympathy.
old fool's perfectly crazy!
if the old chap hadn't any music, it wasn't for want of bars and staves. I reckon he
got out of his notes when they let him off.
Now, don't be angry, Lawyer Cribbs; you know I only ask for information. Do the
'stocracy go the hull temperance priniciple, and give their visitors nothing but ice
was a big bucket and dippers, I reckon.
Miss Spindle, will you only hear me?
Wall, ain't I listening all the time, and you won't tell me nothin'. Were there
any real live lions there? Did Col. Johnson scalp a live Indian, to amuse the
ladies? Did Dr. Dodds put every body into a phospheric state, when they were all
dancing, and the lights went out? Did Senator D—— dance a hornpipe to please
the children, and make a bowl of punch at twelve o'clock? Did— [Out of breath.
She'll ask him directly if the elephants played at billiards.
Madam! madam! will you listen? [Shouts out.] In the name of confusion, what
are you talking about?
Why, of the grand sorrie—the party, to be sure.
I know nothing of any party; you're insane.
Oh, no, I ain't, neither. I was told of it by one—
Told by one? who?
C.] Me, I calculate. I watched you, I guess.
Guess I did—so shut up.
I say, Squire, where did you buy your new coat?
Go to the devil, both of you.
Where's the tail of your old one? Ha! ha!
R.—William follows, laughing.
Well, I swow, this is like Jedides' addle eggs. I can neither make ducks nor
chickens on 'em. Well, I've got a good budget of news and scandal, any how. So I'll be
off back to the village, this very day; this vile city is no safe place for romantic
sensibilities and virgin purity. [Exit, L.
with a view of Barnum's Museum.
ARDEN RENCELAW, L.; crosses to R.—Bank messenger enters after
Mr. Rencelaw, Mr. Rencelaw! I beg pardon for hurridly addressing you, but our
cashier desires to know if this is your signature. [Produces check.
My signature—good heavens, no!—five thousand dollars. Is it cashed?
A young boy, sir, whom I saw just now, recognized, and sent to the bank immediately;
but the cashier, Mr. Armond, arriving directly afterwards, doubted it, and I was
despatched to find you.
Run to the bank directly; call for a police officer as you pass. I am rather infirm,
but will soon follow; do not be flurried; our measures must be prompt, and I fear not
for the result. [Exit Messenger,
WILLIAM DOWTON, R.
Ah, honest William; I have been searching for you. Edward desired to see
Thank and bless you, sir. How is he?—where?
Comparatively well and happy, at my house. His wife and child will be here immediately;
I have sent
a carriage for them. Their home—their happy home—is prepared for them in the village,
and have obtained almost certain information of his grandfather's will.
Thank heaven! But, sir, you appear alarmed, excited.
A forgery has just been committed, in the name of our firm, upon the Mechanics'
Bless me! the Mechanics' Bank? Who gave the check, sir?
A boy, William.
A boy; how long ago?
Not half an hour! Why this eagerness.
I—I'll tell you sir. Mr. Middleton told me that Lawyer Cribbs, when the poor
fellow was in poverty and drunkenness, urged him to commit a forgery. Not half
and hour since, I saw Cribbs give a boy a check, and tell him to take it to the
Mechanics' Bank, receive some money, and bring it to him somewhere near the Pearl
Street House, where he would find him with a gentleman.
So, so! I see it all. Come with me to the Tombs, and secure an officer. If you
should meet Middleton, do not at present mention this—come. [Exit, R
I'll follow you, sir, heart and hand. If I once get my grip on the old fox, he
won't get easily loose, I guess. [Exit hastily, R.
SCENE IV.—Room in
Rencelaw's house; very handsome table, chairs, handsome books, &c.
C., discovered reading—dressed, and looking well,
[Side of table.] What gratitude do I not owe this generous, noble-hearted man, who, from
the depths of wretchedness and horror, has restored me to the world, to myself, and
to religion. Oh! what joy can equal the bright sensations of a thinking being, when
redeemed from that degrading vice; his prisoned heart beats with rapture; his
swelling veins bound with vigor; and with tremulous gratitude, he calls on the Supreme
Being for blessings on his benefactor.
R.] Where is my dear—my loved—redeemed one.
enters with JULIA, R.
Edward! my dear, dear husband. [They embrace.
Mary, my blessed one! My child, my darling! Bounteous heaven! accept my thanks.
Father, dear father—you look as you did the bright sunshiny morning, I first went
to school. Your voice sounds as it used when I sang the evening hymn, and you kissed
and blessed me. You cry, father. Do not cry; but your tears are not such tears as mother
shed, when she had no bread to give me.
No, my blessed child, they are not; they are tears of repentence, Julia, but of joy.
Oh! my beloved, my redeemed one, all my poor sufferings are as nothing weighed in
a balance with my present joy.
Respected sir, what words can express our gratification?
Pay it where 'tis justly due, to heaven! I am but the humble instrument, and
in your sweet content, I am rewarded.
[Going to Rencelaw,
R.] I shall not forget what mother last night taught
What was that, sweet girl.
In my prayers, when I have asked for a blessing for my father and mother, I pray
to Him to bless Arden Rencelaw too.
Dear child. [Kisses her.
I will not wrong your generous nature, by fulsome outward gratitude, for your most
noble conduct, but humbly hope, that He will give me strength to continue in the
glorious path, adorned by your bright example, in the words of New England's
"There came a change, the cloud rolled off
A light fell on my brain,
And like the passing of a dream,
That cometh not again.
The darkness of my spirit fled,
I saw the gulf before;
And shuddered at the waste behind,
And am a man once more."
END OF ACT IV.