A SOLEMN CONCLAVE
_Il.u.s.trados_ _Representatives_ _Count Luie_ _Tightwad Twins_ _A Band of Minstrels_
_Scene: A Garden Bower_
A MINSTREL SINGS: The day hath shed its gauzy veil of light, As evening's sable gown usurps its place.
Hear the night bird sweetly singing While through s.p.a.ce her way she's winging, Melody she's gaily flinging Peace and joy with twilight bringing If Care's dull day, while beck'ning to the night, Hath us depressed let Joy now show his face.
FIRST Il.u.s.tRADO: Son of Arion, from Castalia's fount Where melody divine doth bubble forth, Thou must thy thirst have slaked with copious drafts For G.o.ds alone inspire such sounds divine.
SECOND GENTLEMAN OF STATE: 'Twere well the cares of day to toss aside And welcome evening's quiet with a smile, But we who here in solemn conclave meet Can squander moment few to court the Muse; Stern duty calls, and to each patriot ear 'Tis music sweet, to which he quick responds, Then to the council board let us repair And these the mysteries of state evolve.
FIRST REPRESENTATIVE: Time swiftly flies with heading on her wings.
From out the eastern skies where Caesar dwells, The lightnings flash reports that should rejoice Each loyal heart within this island realm.
Soon, senators with dignity enrobed Will grace the halls of our enfranchised state, And then the padlock which our lips now close Shall like a useless toy to be cast side.
Then can we voice unto the list'ning world Those n.o.ble aspirations long confined Lest their frank utterance should work us ill And closer seal the bonds which hold us fast.
For, what concessions our oppressors make, Can never be withdrawn; and when they see That folly prompted all, 'twill be in vain, And we can their discomfort laugh to scorn.
SECOND Il.u.s.tRADO: O, for the days when under Spanish rule _Costumbre_ firmly anch.o.r.ed on her throne Disdainfully did innovation block Whene'er it threatened danger to our peace; Then every _tao_ in his wonted place Was taught that sweet contentment with the lot Which his creator had to him a.s.signed Epitome of virtue did proclaim.
But now dire discontent doth stalk abroad And with a vitriol tongue disturbance make Through pedagogues, imported from a land Which recognizes not distinction wise.
FIRST Il.u.s.tRADO: Thou hast my thoughts in happy words expressed.
When once the _tao_ has his A B C Well hammered in his stupid mulelike skull He ever looks on toil with proud disdain And even for _zapatos_ fondly yearns, While now that Francos hath the fas.h.i.+on set By proclamation as he neared our isles These callow youths may covet stove pipe hats.
SECOND Il.u.s.tRADO: Alas, I fear these happy days when we Can loll in cooling shades while others toil For us, on stipends which like widow's mite Are small: will in the future disappear.
These men who prate of slavery in these isles Do know full well that witness false they bear.
We buy not souls and on the record place Their names among the chattels which we own, But their life's labor for a certain sum We purchase, when in times of sorry stress They fain prefer it thus, rather than starve; But slavery! The Orient knows it not.
THIRD Il.u.s.tRADO: And usury! 'Tis an offensive word: Our enemies, like arrow from the bow, Are aiming it to pierce our very heart While 'tis a practice which _costumbre_ s.h.i.+elds.
The slothful servant, so the Good Book says, Was he who in a napkin hid his gold; But he who shrewdly other talents made The Master praised, and to him also gave The unused talent which he wisely took From him who slothfully no effort made To double that which in his care was placed, And thus by usury much wealth ama.s.s; Yet the _Americanos_ from this learn No wisdom, but forthwith condemn The teachings of the Savior of Mankind Which we with thrift and energy apply.
FIRST Il.u.s.tRADO: And so again the Bible aptly says That he who careth for his family not Is worse than he who infidelity Doth to his breast with loving arms enfold.
SECOND REPRESENTATIVE: Alas, 'tis innovation they enthrone Within the halls of science where they steal Our trusty dogs to torture in the name Of progress, while our hearts indignant burn.
FIRST Il.u.s.tRADO: Again, in terms opprobrious they mouth Anent our n.o.ble elevating sport Where our ill.u.s.trious citizens do meet And in the c.o.c.kpit spend a happy hour.
THIRD REPRESENTATIVE: And while we read that patriarchs of old Did revel in the arms of beauty fair, But now when we _queridas_ do embrace Like lions caged _Americanos_ roar: Our customs sacred made by hand of time Are most irrev'rent treated by these men.
O, for the day when Spain did rule supreme, For they, the "haughty Dons," did sympathize With us in taste, and in our native sports Joined with a hearty zest which proved them men; But now, where'er we turn, obstacles rise To curb and mar, until our lives seem drear.
SECOND GENTLEMAN OF THE STATE: Alas, our beardless youths seem satisfied With club in hand to pa.s.s at fleeting ball Or chase it, monkey-like, in open field Thus throwing dignity unto the winds.
FIRST TWIN: And those who from the hand of Boreas filched Congealment's art, which did _dinero_ put Within their well filled purse, as day by day They fattened on the appet.i.tes of those Who loved a cooling draft more than the pelf Which is alas the seed that germinates To form a mighty tree which time enfruits With greed which sours the eager mouth it feeds.
We did a statute draw with cunning hand To guard this enterprise of worthy aim, But now the enemy hath broke our guard And Ice a gold mine now no longer is; Hence we must hedge our various rights about With laws, as soon as Jones hath made his play.
No Filipino hunts the hills for gold.
_Americanos_ show this vulgar greed, And so we'll tax them: _tax them till they squeal_!
Then they may in disgust depart this land, While we, just for a song, may gobble up The claims which they so long uncertain sought.
SECOND TWIN: Francos is honest, hence were easy fooled; But we suspicion in his mind must plant.
We are but few who hold the purse strings here, And union sweet: we to our aid must call Those who have tarried long within our walls.
The saints, be praised, are weak and pow'rless now, For Francos stubbornly disdains them all, And hence our scheming he will ne'er discern.
FIRST TWIN: Well said: the vultures which are nested here Have eyes that cat-like pierce the deepest shades, And were these men in high official place 'Twere vain attempt to work our deep laid plans.
FIRST Il.u.s.tRADO: We long have profit made from rentals high And quiet sat, while, like the cormorant We gulped sweet morsels from their quiv'ring flesh; But soon we must their very forms devour.
FIRST REPRESENTATIVE: But we must ever wear engaging smile While poisoned chalice off'ring to their lips; Hence we should caution woo, lest she doth warn Him who the offered cup would fool-like taste.
_Count Luie: Enter: with fanfare: bowing right and left._
FIRST TWIN: But honor ever should be kept in view-- No spot should tarnish her encircling robe.
COUNT LUIE (_grandiloquently_): But what is honor? 'tis a slip'ry word Which oft is used vile turpitude to hide; She smiles on those who Mount Parna.s.sus climb; On those who fail, she casts disdainful frown.
O, fickle world, which kneels before success No matter how its Idol was enthroned!
Hence, one to pow'r attain should scruple not, For it were balm which cureth ev'ry ill.
SECOND TWIN: Here speaks a friend of those who do aspire To build a nation from these many isles; His mind doth soar above all selfish thoughts;
But Windbag, at the club, with honeyed tongue Did seem to love the Filipinos well, But when a high official his support Did need, rumor doth says, a scowling face He turned upon him, and he e'en did threat That prosecution might be his stern fate; And had not Francos wisely intervened This n.o.ble _Il.u.s.trado_ might e'en now Be close entombed in Bilibid!
FIRST TWIN: But here Americanos showed their hand And were disloyal to their bureau chief: But had escribiente's of our race Unseated been, then all indeed were well.
COUNT LUIE: But, friends, this Windbag is no Democrat-- In school Republican, he hath been trained.
That spark divine of loyalty to friends He knoweth not, else he had Francos-like O'erlooked with kindly eye the trifling graft Of scheming for the welfare of his friends.
That perquisites of office do allow Much freedom is a Democratic creed.
SECOND Il.u.s.tRADO: But Windbag said they know just what they want And strongly urged that our desires be met.
COUNT LUIE: But friends, he like all converts new, did try To prove his loyalty to his new creed.
Those words were only chosen to arraign His predecessors at the homeland bar; Thus politics doth in its various forms Seem quite erratic to the layman's mind.
_But trust in ME!_ I from my southern home Have come to dwell in this G.o.d-favored land, And when those men have hied them to their homes I still will like a rock breast every wave And on my judgment clear, in state affairs, The grateful Filipinos may depend.
ALL IN CONCERT: Ah, here's a man who boasts a mighty mind That doth compare unto his giant form; Long Live Count Luie! When the tide shall turn Our grateful hearts will hasten his reward.
COUNT LUIE: (_a.s.suming a pose of great dignity_): Thanks, n.o.ble friends, my heart with grat.i.tude Doth well, like gutter after April show'r.
_It's like taking candy from the baby._