'A Comedy Of Errors' In Seven Acts / Part 4
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_Halstrom:_ I think, my Liege, 'twere safe to give them ear So that offense may rankle not their minds.

_Francos:_ Ha, thinkst thou so? Then hail them to my court.

But stay! Wisdom doth hint that in each ear A caution should be breathed that concise speech Were best, for pressing matters constant urge.

_Halstrom:_ Thy words are uttered but to be obeyed.

That time is precious I will firm impart. _(Retires and ushers the visitors in.)_ Most honored Sire, these gentlement would speak On matters of great import to the state.

_Francos:_ Welcome, sweet Gentlement, I greet thee well, And wait the import of the words ye bring.

I beg thee speedily the burden ease From off thy overladen minds, that we May then in converse wise consider well The various phases of a matter new.

_Gentleman:_ Your Honor!--Please excuse the term, as I From pleading long before the bar have thus Familiar with this t.i.tle grown, and so From 'tween my lips the word did careless slip.

_Francos (earnestly):_ But honored Sir, I fain would ask what bar It wast before which thou didst earnest plead?

_Gentlemen:_ Ha! Ha! Methinks a subtle humor finds Its home within the mind of him who rules.

But in all truth the point were taken well, For Caesar, rumor saith, disdains the cup Which doth inebriate and thus befool The mind of him who at it tarries long.

But Sire, the business which doth urge us here Is of great import to our party's needs.

_Francos:_ I pray thee, hasten to the point, for time Hath wings that bear us swiftly on.

_Gentleman:_ Most n.o.ble Governor, I sore lament That from our n.o.ble South there be men here Who have deep sympathy for these, who in The past have fattened at the public crib, And find no sympathy for Caesar's plan To mould this commonwealth on model grand Perfected by the chivalry front which Both he and thou didst draw sweet childhood's milk.

These men did quick condone the ev'ry act Which emanated from the Northern mind.

Yearly were millions spent on bootless task Of feeding vacant minds on useless food Because unfitted to their various needs.

"A little knowledge is a dang'rous thing"

And doth unfit the plodding ma.s.s for toil, Which is their proper sphere; hence ev'ry thought Hard thrust within their skulls doth discontent Engender, and thus far stability Doth threathen for the ruling cla.s.s, and so As in our "Sunny South" the specter grins Prophetic of grave danger to the State.

_Francos:_ The plea doth fall on sympathetic ears.

Yet Caesar counseled in his parting words That discord here among our party friends Would breed distemper if 'twere not ignored.

_Both Gentlemen, despondingly:_ Alas! 'Tis so, that we who burdens bore Are thrust aside when vict'ry crowns our work And renegades are placed on equal terms With loyal sons who ne'er a duty s.h.i.+rked.

_(Exeunt Gentlemen)._ _Francos:_ Ah! so it is. Each ent.i.ty is filled With selfish impulse which doth ever hide Justice eternal from its clouded sight And pigmy self exalt to giant form.

_Bonset:_ But Sire, it were the common lot of man To seek preferment; and unless he doth, No other will lift hand to boost him on, Unless great wealth doth like a magnet draw Support from those who with a greedy eye Expect to feel most happy contact with The s.h.i.+ning coin, which doth a lever prove To pry success from out the voting mob.

_Francos:_ But Bonset, see'st thou not that native worth And mental parts may overtower the gold And thus perforce attract attention from The ones who guide their party to success?

_(Bonset doublingly)_ Perhaps, my Liege. But in the outer hall A deputation waits to greeting give And tokens of respectful homage show On the behalf of Briton's col'ny here.

_(Enter Quezox)_ _Francos:_ But Bonset, list! 'Twere well to let them wait: To quick respond will lower dignity.

The British mind doth breed a rev'rence deep For form and etiquette which swift cognition Might debase, and thus we on their mental Vision might mayhap but feeble impress Make as envoys by most n.o.ble Caesar sent To rule these Isles with gravity and state.

_Quezox:_ Most n.o.ble Sire! If I might but suggest, 'Twere well for Bonset to inquire each name And mental picture stamp upon his mind That he may fluent be when he presents Each sev'ral person as he shall proceed To pa.s.s before thee and his greeting voice, And when the proper waiting hath an end, I will speed forth and beck the conclave in.

_Francos:_ 'Tis well! And in the intervining time 'Twere wise important matters to discuss.

_(Enter Carpen)_ Ha! Carpen, thou hast long experience had In dealings intricate with this proud race, And thee alone from out the anch.o.r.ed host I trust to honest voice conditions here.

_Carpen:_ Sire! dost thou seek a true, unvarnished tale, Or rather wouldst a colored picture please?

_Francos:_ Truth is so hidden in her various garbs That nakedness alone presents her fair; Hence ornament and furbelow disdain, And Hebe-like unbedecked let her stand forth.

_Carpen:_ It were indeed a most stupendous mind Which, as the argonaut with mining pan Doth sift pure gold from ever present dross, Can Truth unmesh from Error's well spread net.

Conditions intricate with taunting smile Of Fate's stern irony, have faced us here; But now the seething problem must be solved And vague uncertainty be swept aside.

Shall the mestizos, as the ruling cla.s.s, Be firm entrenched by our a.s.sisting hand, Or must we in the well marked path still tread And longer bear our burden which will bring No grat.i.tude to recompense our pains?

_Quezox:_ Sire! Carpen well hath voiced mine ev'ry thought, We, who Caucasian blood boast in our veins Are numerous, and can uphold the state.

The pure-blood Filipinos to us look For guidance and our ev'ry counsel take.

To wait until the tao fills his skull With book lore were to see us in our graves And millions burden on thy native land.

But Sire, I feel that time enow has flown To proper impress make on waiting minds.

Hence it were well to bid them entrance speed That they may grave obeisance to thee make.

_(Exit Quezox)_

_Second Scene: Outer Room, where the deputation waits._

_Bonset:_ Good Gentlemen, a business of import Doth now engross His Highness, but forsooth When it is properly dispatched, he word Will by the mouth of Quezox speedy send.

_An English gentleman (brusquely)._ But sir, no business enterprise hath brought Us here, and if His Highness careth not To give us audience, why we'll depart!

_Bonset:_ Tut, tut, Good friend Quezox will soon appear.

_(The Gentlemen uneasily pace the room and whisper)_ _Enter Quezox:_ Sweet Gentlemen, His Highness bid me hail You to his presence, there to converse join.

_(All look at Quezox, disgusted)_ _Bonset:_ Fall in! Fall in! and form a proper line _(abruptly)_ While Quezox doth precede us as we go!

_1st Gentleman (indignant)_ Fall in! What doth such words portend?

Are we but jail birds who at keeper's call Move into line, and then with lockstep march To face a judge who may us sentence give?

_(Puts up his hands)_ I say, my friends, put up your "dukes" and I will show How Englishmen resent an insult gross.

_(Friends interefere to prevent blows.)_ _Quezox:_ Hold! Hold! my friends, sweet Bonset means no ill, 'Twere only lack of polish in his speech.

We Spaniards sweetly phrase our ev'ry word E'en when we p.r.i.c.k one sharply in the ribs.

_1st Gentleman (excitedly)_ Well, who is this, with dignity enrobed Who like a fighting c.o.c.k doth bravely strut?

_2nd Gentleman (whispers)_ Whist, little friend, this is the mighty Quezox, Who doth within his hand hold destiny.

Twere best for business purposes to yield Apparent homage, though we him disdain.

_1st Gentleman (turns to Quezox)_ Ho! Ho! I did a mistake serious make In expectation that a mind so great Would find its home within a form most grand, But like mine own it chose a cottage small.

_Bonset:_ Well, Gentlemen, so you like not the line, Proceed to scramble in at your sweet will.

_All speak:_ A trifling discord doth like sauce in soup Make betterment. Hence we my now declaim, In happy vein: "All's well that endeth well."



Dramatis Personae

_Francos_ . . . . . . _Governor General of a Province._ _Quezox_ . . . . . . _Resident Delegate from the Province._ _Halstrom_ . . . . . _Aide to the Governor._ _Carpen_ . . . . . . _Executive Secretary._ _Filipino Gentlemen._ _Muchacho._

_Scene I: A garden._

_Quezox sits in an arbor with lute in hand; sings._


My lute doth troll the longings of my heart; Deep-rooted there Are forms so fair Whose mem'ry of my life doth form a part.


But like the knights of old, when action calls, My Lady fair, With raven hair, Must be forgot till lovelit twilight falls.


But then those forms angelic in each line, With happy smile Which doth beguile, Appear before me, whisp'ring love divine.

_Quezox soliloquizes:_ But Venus, though enwrapped by pa.s.sion's robe, Like mortals, tires and seeks her restful bow'r, While duties stern demanding thought profound So that the morrow's needs were ably met, Shall for the nonce supplant within my mind All dreams of those who, fairy-like, do waft Themselves unbidden to my mental home Unless most firm resolve doth bar them hence.

But at the throne of Wisdom I must kneel And suppliant pray for light to guide my steps For there be deep entanglements to snare My feet, if circ.u.mspection aids me not.

This Carpen hath a sleek and subtle mind Full well equipped for all stern duty's calls; Hence we who seek to tread in Freedom's path Find him a stumbling block to be removed.

But we with clever strategy must work And hide our deep design in honey'd words, For he hath wisely kept his lips well sealed, Thus leaving us without just cause for plaint, Methinks 'tis hard to gauge this gentleman, For silence wise is oft misunderstood; Behind it Wisdom, hidden, may abide, Of Folly it may make her secret home.

Of import weighty is the post he holds, But from it we must shrewdly pry him out, For he may Francos slyly misinform And so delay fruition of our hopes.

_(Claps his hands; enter muchacho.)_ _Muchacho:_ What wouldst thou, sir; mine ears did hear the call, So quick I haste with "Scotch and soda" primed.