Our American Cousin. Note of interest: This was the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated. libreka classics – These are classics of literary history, reissued and made available to a wide audience. Immerse yourself in well-known and popular titles!
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Titel: Our American Cousin
von Augustus J. Thebaud, Charles Kingsley, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, Joseph Butler, John D. Barry, William Allan Neilson, Henry Rider Haggard, Rudolf Erich Raspe, Paul Heyse, Carl Russell Fish, Tom Taylor
Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
This etext was produced by the Levin family, Englewood, CO. Like many plays, there is no authoritative version and it evolved over the course of time, indeed in multiple directions. The 1869 printing upon which this etext is primarily based was poorly printed and we have corrected outright punctuation and grammatical errors while maintaining its original, whimisical use of capitalization and punctuation. This version contains very few "Dundrearyisms" such as "birds of a feather gather no moss" for which the play gained much of its popular appeal.
Abraham Lincoln was watching this play when he was assassinated. (Act III, halfway through Scene 2.)
ORIGINAL CAST OF CHARACTERS.
OUR AMERICAN COUSIN.
Scene 1—Drawing room in 3. Trenchard Manor, C. D., backed by interior, discovering table with luncheon spread. Large French window, R. 3 E., through which a fine English park is seen. Open archway, L. 3 E. Set balcony behind. Table, R., books and papers on it. Work basket containing wools and embroidery frame. A fashionable arm chair and sofa, L. 2 E., small table near C. D. Stage handsomely set, costly furniture, carpet down, chairs, etc.
Buddicombe discovered on sofa reading newspaper. Skillet and Sharpe busily arranging furniture as curtain rises.
Sharpe I don't know how you may feel as a visitor, Mr. Buddicombe, but I think this is a most uncomfortable family.
Bud Very uncomfortable. I have no curtain to my bed.
Skil And no wine at the second table.
Sharpe And meaner servants I never seed.
Bud I'm afraid Sir Edward is in a queer strait.
Skil Yes, for only this morning, Mr. Binny, Mrs. Skillet says he—
Enter Binny, L. 3 E.
Binny Mind your hown business instead hof your betters. I'm disgusted with you lower servants. When the wine merchant presents his bills, you men, hear me, say he's been pressing for the last six months, do you?
Skil Nor I, that the last year's milliner's bills have not been paid.
Sharpe Nor I, that Miss Florence has not had no new dresses from London all winter.
Bud And I can solemnly swear that his lordship's hair has been faithfully bound in this bosom.
Binny That'll do, that'll do; but to remember to check hidle curiosity is the first duty of men hin livery. Ha, 'ere hare the letters.
Enter John Wickens, L. 3 E., with green baize bag. Binny takes bag, takes out letters and reads addresses.
Binny Hah! bill, of course, Miss Augusta, Mrs. Mountchessington, Lord Dundreary, Capt. De Boots, Miss Georgina Mountchessington, Lieut. Vernon, ah! that's from the admiralty. What's this? Miss Florence Trenchard, via Brattleboro', Vermont.
Bud Where's that, Mr. Binny.
John Why that be hin the United States of North Hamerica, and a main good place for poor folks.
Binny John Wickens, you forget yourself.
John Beg pardon, Mr. Binny.
Binny John Wickens, leave the room.
John But I know where Vermont be tho'.
Binny John Wickens, get hout. [Exit John, L. 3 E.]
Bud Dreadful low fellow, that.
Binny Halways himpudent.
Bud [Looking at letter in Binny's hand.] Why, that is Sir Edward's hand, Mr. Binny, he must have been sporting.
Binny Yes, shooting the wild helephants and buffalos what abound there.
Bud The nasty beasts. [Looking off, R. 2 E.] Hello, there comes Miss Florence tearing across the lane like a three year old colt.
Sharp & Skil Oh, Gemini. [Run off, R. 2 E. Bud. runs off, L. 2 E.]
Enter Florence, R. 2 E.
Flo [As if after running.] Oh! I'm fairly out of breath. Good morning, Binny, the letter bag I saw coming, Wickens coming with it. I thought I could catch him before I reached the house. [Sits R.] So off I started, I forgot the pond, it was in or over. I got over, but my hat got in. I wish you'd fish it out for me, you won't find the pond very deep.
Binny Me fish for an at? Does she take me for an hangler?
Flo. Give me the letters. [Takes them.] Ah, blessed budget that descends upon Trenchard Manor, like rain on a duck pond. Tell papa and all, that the letters have come, you will find them on the terrace.
Binny Yes, Miss. [Going, L. 3 E.]
Flo And then go fish out my hat out of the pond, it's not very deep Binny [Aside.] Me fish for 'ats? I wonder if she takes me for an hangler? [Exit disgusted, R. 3 E.]
Flo [Reading directions.] Lieut. Vernon. [This is a large letter with a large white envelope, red seal.] In her Majesty's service. Admiralty, R. N. Ah, that's an answer to Harry's application for a ship. Papa promised to use his influence for him. I hope he has succeeded, but then he will have to leave us, and who knows if he ever comes back. What a foolish girl I am, when I know that his rise in the service will depend upon it. I do hope he'll get it, and, if he must leave us, I'll bid him good bye as a lass who loves a sailor should.
Enter Sir Edward, Mrs. M., Augusta, Capt. De Boots, Vernon, L. 3 E.
Flo Papa, dear, here are letters for you, one for you, Mrs. Mountchessington, one for you, Capt. De Boots, and one for you, Harry. [Hiding letter behind her.]
Ver Ah, one for me, Florence?
Flo Now what will you give me for one?
Ver Ah, then you have one?
Flo Yes, there, Harry. [Gives it.]
Ver Ah, for a ship. [Opens and reads.]
Flo Ah! Mon ami, you are to leave us. Good news, or bad?
Ver No ship yet, this promises another year of land lubbery. [Goes up.]
Flo. I'm so sorry. [Aside.] I'm so glad he's not going away. But where's Dundreary. Has anybody seen Dundreary?
Dun Good morning, Miss Florence.
Flo [Comes down, L.] Good morning, my Lord Dundreary. Who do you think has been here? What does the postman bring?
Dun Well, sometimes he brings a bag with a lock on it, sometimes newspapers, and sometimes letters, I suppothe.
Flo There. [Gives letter. Dundreary opens letter and Florence goes up R. Dun. knocks knees against chair, turns round knocks shins, and at last is seated extreme, R.]
Dun Thank you. [Reads letter.]
De B [Reading paper.] By Jove, old Soloman has made a crop of it.
Dun A—what of it?
De B I beg pardon, an event I am deeply interested in, that's all. I beg pardon.
Aug Ah! Florence, dear, there's a letter of yours got among mine. [Gives it.]
Flo Why papa, it's from dear brother Ned.
Sir E From my boy! Where is he? How is he? Read it.
Flo He writes from Brattleboro' Vt. [Reading written letter.] "Quite well, just come in from a shooting excursion, with a party of Crows, splendid fellows, six feet high."
Dun Birds six feet high, what tremendous animals they must be.
Flo Oh, I see what my brother means; a tribe of indians called Crows, not birds.
Dun Oh, I thought you meant those creatures with wigs on them.
Dun I mean those things that move, breathe and walk, they look like animals with those things. [Moving his arms like wings.]
Dun Birds with wings, that's the idea.
Flo [Reading written letter.] "Bye-the-bye, I have lately come quite hap-hazard upon the other branch of our family, which emigrated to America at the Restoration. They are now thriving in this State, and discovering our relationship, they received me most hospitably. I have cleared up the mysterious death of old Mark Trenchard."
Sir E Of my uncle!
Flo [Reading written letter.] "It appears that when he quarreled with his daughter on her marriage with poor Meredith, he came here in search of this stray shoot of the family tree, found them and died in their house, leaving Asa, one of the sons, heir to his personal property in England, which ought to belong to poor Mary Meredith. Asa is about to sail for the old country, to take possession. I gave him directions to find you out, and he should arrive almost as soon as this letter. Receive him kindly for the sake of the kindness he has shown to me, and let him see some of our shooting." Your affectionate brother, NED.
Sir E An American branch of the family.
Mrs M Oh, how interesting!
Aug [Enthusiastically.] How delightfully romantic! I can imagine the wild young hunter. An Apollo of the prairie.
Flo An Apollo of the prairie; yes, with a strong nasal twang, and a decided taste for tobacco and cobblers.
Sir E Florence, you forget that he is a Trenchard, and no true Trenchard would have a liking for cobblers or low people of that kind.
Flo I hate him, whatever he is, coming here to rob poor cousin Mary of her grandmother's guineas.
Sir E Florence, how often must I request you not to speak of Mary Meredith as your cousin?
Flo Why, she is my cousin, is she not? Besides she presides over her milk pail like a duchess playing dairymaid. [Sir E. goes up.] Ah! Papa won't hear me speak of my poor cousin, and then I'm so fond of syllabubs. Dundreary, do you know what syllabubs are?
Dun Oh, yeth, I know what syllabubs is—yeth—yeth.
Flo Why, I don't believe you do know what they are.
Dun Not know what syllabubs are? That's a good idea. Why they are—syllabubs are—they are only babies, idiotic children; that's a good idea, that's good. [Bumps head against Florence.]
Flo No, it's not a bit like the idea. What you mean are called cherubims.
Dun What, those things that look like oranges, with wings on them?
Flo Not a bit like it. Well, after luncheon you must go with me and I'll introduce you to my cousin Mary and syllabubs.
Dun I never saw Mr. Syllabubs, I am sure.
Flo Well, now, don't forget.
Dun I never can forget—when I can recollect.
Flo Then recollect that you have an appointment with me after luncheon.
Dun Yeth, yeth.
Flo Well, what have you after luncheon?
Dun Well, sometimes I have a glass of brandy with an egg in it, sometimes a run 'round the duck-pond, sometimes a game of checkers—that's for exercise, and perhaps a game of billiards.
Flo No, no; you have with me after luncheon, an ap—an ap—
Dun An ap— an ap—
Flo An ap—an appoint—appointment.
Dun An ointment, that's the idea. [Knocks against De Boots as they go up stage.]
Mrs M [Aside.] That artful girl has designs upon Lord Dundreary. Augusta, dear, go and see how your poor, dear sister is this morning.
Aug Yes, mamma. [Exit, L. 1 E.]
Mrs M She is a great sufferer, my dear.
Dun Yeth, but a lonely one.
Flo What sort of a night had she?
Mrs M Oh, a very refreshing one, thanks to the draught you were kind enough to prescribe for her, Lord Dundreary.
Flo What! Has Lord Dundreary been prescribing for Georgina?
Dun Yeth. You see I gave her a draught that cured the effect of the draught, and that draught was a draft that didn't pay the doctor's bill. Didn't that draught—
Flo Good gracious! what a number of draughts. You have almost a game of draughts.
Dun Ha! ha! ha!
Flo What's the matter?
Dun That wath a joke, that wath.
Flo Where's the joke? [Dundreary screams and turns to Mrs. M.]
Mrs M No.
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