'A Comedy Of Errors' In Seven Acts / Part 3
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Dramatis Personae

_Francos:_ . . . . . . _Governor General of a Province._ _Quezox:_ . . . . . . _Resident Delegate of the Province._ _Seldonskip:_ . . . . _Secretary of the Governor General._ _Commissioners_ _Halstrom:_ . . . . . _Aide to the Governor General._

_Scene I. Garden of the Palace._

_Francos (Soliloquizes):_ Methinks the poet of the past who scrolled "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"

Indeed were wise and kenned whereof he wrote.

His keen imagination doth amaze And fill my mind with wonder at his full Discernment of the most unhappy lot Which great responsibility doth load Upon the shoulders of betroubled men Whom fate relentless hath before ordained To, like the pack-horse, patiently, each day, Upbear most galling burden, born of cares Which do encompa.s.s the affairs of state.

When in the Nation's forum I did sit, Like to a minnow in a mighty pool, I did disport, and, nouris.h.i.+ng no care, Found naught to mar the pleasures born each day.

But now there looms before me mountain high Questions of mighty import to the state Which I must quickly and with wisdom solve Without the bell mare's chime to charm mine ear.

On whose sound judgment dare I now rely?

Whose honor, on grave issues, can I trust?

Shall I use Quezox blindly as a staff On which to lean, as on my path I grope?

Or shall I ope' mine ear to those entrenched Behind official desks, with knowledge armed And primed for combat, when I shall disclose The policy profound, by wisdom sired?

Alas, I find that I must war with friends, Who seem enamored with the tricky foe, And by long contact they infected be By doctrines both heretical and vile.

Of those who legal robbery do make A vehicle to stuff their bellies full I must beware; for it doth to me seem That long and double squinting at the law Impairs their moral sight for all but fees; Hence deep entanglements might be the goal To which their slimy tongues would shrewdly guide That from disturbance, they might profit reap.

Alas, what to me seemed but pigmy state Now looms up mightily before mine eye, And like the feathered mother with her brood Must I my many cares each day enwing And from the circling hawk with hungry eye Protect and shelter, till mature, they grow.

But this commission! We must shrewd select Such pliant men as will our pleasure work; For we ken not what yeast in working deep Within the inexperienced minds of those Foregath'ring soon to fas.h.i.+on laws to meet The pressing needs of our embarra.s.sed state.

I feel mayhap, that seeds of self were sown Within the willing hearts of those who long Have profit made at this poor State's expense; Which seeds have grown into a mighty tree That hides behind its fol'age justice sweet So deep within those shades that e'en the sun Of righteousness reveals its presence not.

For such compa.s.sion's bowels ne'er should yearn, And yet mine eyes behold a handiwork Which were the offspring but of earnest zeal; Yet since example's perfect work is done, The pattern to oblivion's shades we'll cast.

But I to mine uneasy couch will hie.

The morrow's cares may feed upon their day!

_(Slowly retires)_

_Scene. Governor's office._

_Francos:_ Good Halstrom, to my mind uncertainty Is but a mental sore, which cancer like, Doth spread its roots until the surgeon's knife With sharp incision shall the curse remove.

So must I cross the Rubicon and strike The foe in parts most vulnerable.

Caesar, from the deep cavern of his mind, Hath fas.h.i.+oned, with a statesman's ready hand, A plan which we must now inaugurate, Amid the cruel jeers of all who long Have watched the workings of the dark hued mind Excepting only such as office seek.

_Halstrom:_ My Liege, thy look doth seem to answer woo And my stern schooling bids me to obey, But it were act from gross presumption born To, from my lowly post, advice bestow.

_Enters Seldonskip:_ Well Gov'nor, standing just outside the door There are two chaps who loudly make the claim That they are sure expected at this hour To hobn.o.b with you on some public stunt.

_Francos:_ Hold, Seldonskip! Thy tongue unruly wags Like to the shuttle on its weaving way To fas.h.i.+on fabric of but little worth 'Twere well to throttle it or else belike A pebble small, in gear of great machine Disaster grave may work to wheels of state.

_(Seldonskip retires.)_

_Turns to Halstrom:_ Good Halstrom, quick I prithee do repair To outer chamber and with pleasant mien Escort these high officials with all state Unto our presence, when I will undo The mischief, by soft words clothed with a smile.

_(Enters Quezox: Speaks):_ Most honored Francos, I had closed mine ear But Seldonskip like to a jacka.s.s brayed And I perforce did catch his words distraught, Which seemed to fling an insult in thy face.

And cast contempt upon our worthy sons.

If concord sweet shall lend us helping hand I fear me much this yokel must go hence For he doth gag us with his silly tongue!

_Francos:_ Patience, good Quezox. Heed no idle word;

_(Warningly)_ It falls upon thine ear, and then 'tis gone; 'Tis but a breath of air which into naught Doth vanish. Can'st thou, thy finger on it Put and say 'tis here? Alas, it like a Heavenly orb doth shoot its comet way An then twere gone. It was, but now 'tis not!

Hence it were folly, "Nothing," to pursue.

_Quezox:_ They keen philosophy falls on mine ear Like music, as it trickles from thy brain; But still the wound remains which venomed tongue Hath deeply stung upon my memory.

But thou hast said: an uttered thought is dead.

Perhaps 'tis so, but in the human heart, There lingers long a mem'ry, blessed indeed, Of those preceding us to that long home Where, be it utter darkness which prevails, Or light supernal with celestial ray, Yet death hath not erased from mental scroll The image which th' Eternal painted there.

_(Enters Halstrom):_ The twain are gone, my Liege, but to the page They for manana did bespeak return.

_Francos:_ Tis well!

Good gentlemen, my mind doth backward flit On wings of happy mem'ry to that hour When we, amid the plaudits of the hosts, Did well proclaim to all the happy words Which Caesar to expectant ears did send.

My heart doth overflow, when I recall The ecstasy that spoke in thunder tones And like to period rhetorical Did ever punctuate each proper pause.

Quick did I note in what well ordered ranks Our party friends did form before the stand.

_Quezox:_ But, n.o.ble Sire, methought I in each eye Discovered greedy looks which portend ill.

_(Enters Seldonskip)_ Unless their hungry hopes are satisfied By wellfilled bellies of official food.

If this discernment doth not truth belie It points prophetic to a scramble sharp To wear the cast off shoes of those who now Do suck the life blood from our downtrod race.

_Seldonskip:_ You bet they'll scramble and they'll scramble hard, An why not tell me? 'Tis all in the game!

_(Francos to Seldonskip):_ Again that tongue, in thoughtless prattle wags.

It seems that every opening of thy mouth, Doth point to utterance in words uncouth Which clothe some folly in a tattered garb.

_(Quezox to Francos):_ And yet most n.o.ble sire, my bowels of Discernment do fierce gripe me with the fear That in the rambling words this youth hath tongued Much bitter truth may deeply hidden be.

_Francos:_ Fear not! Caesar hath wise discerned that all Who long have on these Islands made their home Are blinded by self-interest, which doth, As colored gla.s.s speaks lies unto the eye, Befool their judgment; which may honest be.

And hence 'twere better from abroad to bring More open minds to fill important posts For the brief time until we do depart And leave all matters in thy trusty hands Which will upbuild a strong, Yea! mighty state.

_(Seldonskip aside):_ A mighty state! Ha! Ho! I think I see The natives jumping round from tree to tree Feeding on coconuts and dressed with old Plug hats and wearing coats of Tam'ny cut!

_Quezox:_ 'Twere well! Those vultures who among us dwell, While pleading loving friends.h.i.+p, shrewdly plan Like to the feathered tribes, to gather down _(Walks out):_ From careless wings to feather their own nests.

_(Francos turning to Seldonskip):_ I must in candor voice my perturbed thoughts Anent the strained relation which doth seem To liken to a s.h.i.+p with cable taut Which surging waves are threat'ning quick to snap.

Twixt thee and Quezox. Thou, mine eye doth speak, Art like dry powder, ready to ignite When Quezox looseth tongue which like a flint Doth spark the fuse to quick explosion work.

_Seldonskip:_ But on my life if he should touch the fuse He'd mighty quick know that there's "something doing."

_(Francos appealingly):_ O, Peace, sweet Peace, I pray thee to draw near And hover o'er me, lest I go distraught.


Dramatis Personae

_Francos_ . . . . . . _Governor General of a Province._ _Quezox_ . . . . . . _Resident Delegate of the Province._ _Bonset_ . . . . . . _Secretary of the Governor._ _Halstrom_ . . . . . _Aide to the Governor._ _Carpen_ . . . . . . _Executive Secretary._ _Two Gentlemen._ _Delegation of Englishmen._

_First Scene: Governor Office._

_Francos:_ When, as we tread the varied path of life, Disaster dire demands a valued limb, We with the mood of Stoic bear the pain; While nagging tooth doth ever set us wild.

'Tis vain on deep philosophy to call When stinging gnats, unseen, do us a.s.sail; A warring instinct urges us to kill, And we delay not, till Dame Reason speaks.

'Twas but an automatic action of the mind When matter trivial late did rouse a phlegm Within my soul, which irritated sore, And on the instant I did stern resolve That, like the surgeon when an abscess ripe Action demands with operating knife, To sever bonds politic which did fast Within my family executive Hold Seldonskip and bid him hence to speed.

But sometimes action swift doth breed regreet; An as I on the future cogitate, Methinks excuses which might satisfy Uninterested minds may weakly fail To ease paternal irritation, when Its offspring, bearing hence a varnished tale Of wrongs which from imagination's womb Were born and yet with specious sound do ring.

Hence I must speedily with subtle skill Frame a dispatch which like to plaster kind May ease the irritation of the sore And thus mar not a happy intercourse.

The mind of man can compa.s.s many things, But still, to reach perfection's dizzy height, It should be centered on some special point, Fathered by energy, to reach the goal.

How can I soar, upheld by wings of hope, When various projects, all demanding skill, Before me loom, as do the clouds of night All threat'ning storm which well may wreck the craft Unless the captain calls unto his aid Lieutenants by long school of action trained To guard from danger's shoals which are unknown Except to those who long the chart have scanned?

My predecessor who first ruled these Isles Did loud proclaim in optimistic tones The Philippines for Filipinos are, And so high expectations did arouse Which Time with all its mellowing pow'r did Dissapoint; and so at last Approval's Smile slowly did wane, and bitterest frown, Conceived from discontent, usurped its place.

Alas! Am I to be the pliant tool To work a policy from chaos born?

And on its failure, if perchance it fails, Will I too meet the cold and icy stare?

_Enter Halstrom; speaks:_ My Liege, thy self-communion I would halt And usher to thy presence men of weight Who would discourse upon some pregnant facts Which may perchance to thee be quite unknown.

_Francos:_ Good Halstrom, tell me of their every mien.

_(anxiously)_ Didst thou in judgment fair, within their eyes Spy greedy look as if on plunder bent?

If so, 'twere best preoccupation plead.