'A Comedy Of Errors' In Seven Acts / Part 7
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_Sir Windbag_ ... _A high official._ _Count Luie_ ..... _Another windbag._

SIR WINDBAG, _(to Count Luie):_ "Oh that mine enemy would write a book."

A wise man in the past hath shrewdly said, Knowing full well that when one's thoughts are paged They like foul spirits menace peace of mind.

Alas! 'tis so, when tongue shall like a bird Take wing, soaring aloft, and as the wind Fly aimless over mountain, hill and dale, Until tired nature doth demand repose, Why did I Roosevelt as a pattern take And boast his doctrines as the wisdom's fount From which I drank as a disciple might Who wors.h.i.+ps blindly at his idol's shrine?

And now these varlets point with taunting grin At what my demiG.o.d hath ordered here, And oh, ye sages, what shall I reply?

For now his work I purpose to undo.

When I with eloquence did picture draw Of tyranny which from above did flow, And with convincing tongue did loud proclaim That pow'r should ever from below take root; I little dreamed that subtle minds would carp And inconsistency against me charge For earnest effort which eventuates In placing pow'r within the crafty hands Of those who long have under Spanish rule Imbibed the time clad notion that the few Who by the accident of happy birth, May make a gold mine of the hapless poor.

They voice in cutting words that I who late Have cast my lot in these downtrodden Isles Should study well conditions e'er I speak As c.o.c.k-sure as a teacher to his cla.s.s.

I, in triumphant tone, did voice the truth That in our homeland stinking graft prevails, But, ah! I overlook the d.a.m.ning fact That ignorance among our foreign born Hath been the hotbed whence this thistle grew, And that our Governor did get his boost Into the forum through that rotten host Which proudly boasts a "Tammany" as its G.o.d.

And do the people of our Empire State Evolve the doctrine which I loud proclaimed?

No! in the dire extremity they laid Restraining hand upon the venal mob, Sternly refusing "what they know they want"

But now strong opposition draws the veil, And I behold, to me, the starting fact, That human minds oft vain illusions hug Which time alone hath pow'r that grasp to loose; And only then through friction with the world Will freedom from provincial slavery And mental la.s.situde be e'er attained.

When I my glorious deeds with savage tribes Did iterate before the gaping throng, It seemed to me as to the schoolboy raw That ne'er before had such superb exploits E'er been achieved by knightly mortal man.

But now 'tis said my predecessor wrought Like wounders in a less ostentious way And mine are but a copy of his acts.

Within my brain indeed are many wheels That heretofore have whirled me into place, But they ne'er buzzed the fact that in these Isles Abode Americans who dare to speak In plain derision of officials high; Forsooth, I dreamed they at the public trough Did feed; but, lo! an army, small but brave, Hath thrown its skirmishers into the field And offered battle with a cold disdain That maketh chills run down my weakening spine And causeth question whether my defy Was born from Wisdom's or from Folly's womb.

Quick in my logic's dome where thought doth dwell Those wheels whirled out these brilliant, burning words: "These varlets have no place within these Isles And quick should speed them to their native land;"

But mem'ry doth recall the "pine-tree" wilds Where fate decreed that I should have my birth, Only to later bid me wander forth And seek asylum in the "Empire State."

Indeed, it seems that in man dwells a force That doth impel adventure from the spot Where nature willed that he should ope an eye In childish wonder at G.o.d's handiwork: So here again I, like to hair spring gun In careless hand, went off, alas, "half c.o.c.ked,"

And now I fear to ope my babbling mouth Lest I should put my clumsy foot therein.

COUNT LUIE: My honest frend, for so I speak thee fair, Since thou hast from thy shoulders ever cast That d.a.m.ning cloak, Republican in woof.

And armor of Democracy hast donned, Fear not that words so deep an import bear.

The mob applauds today, but quick forgets.

I once, before we kenned our party's stand, Did lightly tongue imperialistic thoughts.

The throng did loud applaud my eloquence, Which made demand that Filipinos here Should be debarred, when they procession form, From proudly marching 'neath their flag of state.

And now my tender bowels do me gripe As I reflect that this tyrannic act Runs counter to the doctrines thou dost teach, Because, you bet, "they know just what they want."

SIR WINDBAG: But will the rabble not thy words recall, And like to mud, flung from the grutter deep, Will they not sore disfigure and besmirch Thy reputation for consistency?

COUNT LUIE: Fear not; we who do ornament the bar Can twist and turn as doth the shuttle-c.o.c.k, And in our mouths today words have a ring Which changes with tomorrow's rising sun.

SIR WINDBAG: I quick discern the import of thy speech, And in the past have seen it verified.

If mem'ries of the people were not short, Disaster to us patriots would befall.

When like a parson one can slip the tongue And speed it like a race-horse on its course, 'Tis well; but let some ill-bred boor Bold interruption make, in query's form, The discourse of its symmetry is shorn, While bond of sympathy 'twixt him who speaks And those who list receives a brutral shock, Which doth demand dexterity to soothe.

Thus, when I wisdom spouted at the club, A man most pestulent did query put Anent the spreading of our civic rule O'er Moros, if it proved to be the case That they demur and, "knowing what they want,"

Prefer to rule themselves in custom's groove.

I, loyal to the ethics of our craft Tried to becloud the query, and declared That Moros loved the Filipinos well.

But this persistent boor did pin me down Until imprudently I answered, "No!"

And this unwisdom now doth trouble me.

COUNT LUIE: But, gentle Windbag, these were idle words Which on the record have no place. 'Twere well To quick erase them from the memory: Words only spoken vanish into air.

SIR WINDBAG: Thou dost console me, Luie, and I feel A kindred spirit fills thy giant form; But tell me, from among thy many friends Are hearts that for me beat in sympathy?

COUNT LUIE, _(eying the ceiling):_ Good Windbag, a searching introspection Finds but few, excepting only those Who office hold or look with longing eyes For vacancies the future may disclose.

SIR WINDBAG: But when "the Man of G.o.d" his voice doth raise In ecstasy to praise my every word, Will not his former flock follow the bell Which in the past hath led to pastures green?

COUNT LUIE: Alas, I fear their memories will point To former words, which voiced another song, When he did nurse at theologic teat And softly chant imperialistic creed.

SIR WINDBAG, _(eagerly):_ But may not my convincing words have caused Conversion to the views of "Era New?"

COUNT LUIE, _(doubtfully):_ 'Twere wiser to ascribe his recent "flop"

To strong desire to hold a paying job!

SIR WINDBAG: But this Sandixo seems a proper man, Who boasts a heart welling with grat.i.tude.

He eloquent approved my every word, And lays his duty wholly at my feet.

His words do ring as from an honest mould, Yet rumor whispers divers ugly tales.

Thou knowest how his record truly reads: How far should confidence extend her hand?

COUNT LUIE, _(hesitatingly):_ Friend Windbag, if to thee I ope my heart, 'Twere in strict confidence 'twixt man and man For publication I would loud proclaim "This man a patriot with n.o.ble aims."

If for opinion private thou dost ask, I will a tale unfold much to the point.

One Quezox, holding now a place of pow'r, With tongue of silver did to me extend A promise to advance my ev'ry plan For preferment to an exalted place.

Alas! he turned me down with sweet disdain.

Eating his words, whilst I did gulp down "crow."

SIR WINDBAG: Ah Ha! I see! The game, not fairly played, Doth lose its zest, and confidence once lost, Like to a maiden's virtue, ne'er can be Restored. 'Tis sad, yet though 'tis sad, 'tis true.

But, honored sir, the hint you give will keep.

Perhaps this man may look with greedy eye Upon some high official post, which we Must give because "he knows just what he wants."

COUNT LUIE: But softly, friend, if this thy doctrine be, 'Twere best to pack thy grip and ready stand To get thee hence; for in these lovely Isles There be not seats of honor to go round.

SIR WINDBAG: Ha! Think you this politico aspires To _me_ supplant _my_ important post?

COUNT LUIE: A royal flush; he doth, for in time past, 'Neath Aguinaldo, he that chair did fill!

SIR WINDBAG: But tell me, is this not a pliant race Which skilful hand may at its pleasure mould?

COUNT LUIE: 'Tis said the serpent warming on the breast With sting doth ever show its grat.i.tude!

SIR WINDBAG: Thou by enigma seemingly imply That all our labors here are but in vain.

Methought within thy heart dwelt confidence In the ability of this proud race To guide their s.h.i.+p of state on troubled seas, And trim its sails to meet each threat'ning storm.

But now thy cynicism breeds a fear That thy past words do bear "Pickwickian sense."

COUNT LUIE: Sir Windbag, thou unto our party grand Art but a convert new, and needs must learn That platforms are the Bible which we read, And to them we do blindly pin our faith.

If one has doubts, he, like a Christian true, Must stifle them and reason throw aside, 'Tis thus we from the Sunny South do act, When facts run counter to our party creed.

SIR WINDBAG: Alas! I in my innocence did deem The words you uttered in the last campaign Did true portray the situation here, But now I fear they were but party gush.

But, ah! "The pen is mightier than the sword."

These venomed quills must be from porcupine; For deeper do they bore, as I reflect That I invited all their smarting wounds.

I sought to give their idol Worcester but His proper place by "d.a.m.ning with faint praise;"

And now they prod me as the muleteer Doth goad his jacka.s.s when he thoughtless brays.

COUNT LUIE: But, sir, remember that the a.s.s can kick, And that when kicking, a.s.ses never bray, So gird your armor on and lop each head Who hath at your dilemma dared to scoff.

SIR WINDBAG: But Riggs! he hath in beaten trail proclaimed What the old regimen hath always mouthed.

While I the "Era New" did bold announce, And now my head is crowned with p.r.i.c.king thorns.