Charles Sears Lancaster.

Advice to husbands; an original comedietta in one act online

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Advice to Husbands









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' ^ tl.NiVl.KSl iV Ol' CALIFORNIA

'4^(ob ' SAMA BAKliARA

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Scene I. — A Shady Lane, with Latidscape, in 1 o.

Enter Two Footpads, l. h. 1 e.

Isf. Footp. Two whole days, and not a single customer ! I ■won-
der what the profession will come to next ?

2d. Foofp. I know what we shall come to if Ave travel the same
road much longer.

Ist. Footp. What ?

2d. Footp. The gallows !

Isf. Footp. You're a fool ! Our forefathers earned a reputable live-
lihood on the highway, and were respected by all who met them.

2d. Fontp. Now the confounded railroads let nothing go ahead but
themselves. There was some chance of a gang overhauling a mail
coach ; but, hang me, if you will find a troop with pluck enough to
stop a railway train. For my part I hate steam. It's an imposition,
and interferes with our riglits.

\st. Footp. I'm longing for a bold deed !

2d. Footp. (^L'lokimj ojf, L. H.) There's one to your hand.

1«^ Footp. Where ?

2d. Footp. Crossing the third stile, you'll observe

\st. Footp. No : he won't do.

2d. Foofp. Why not ? He's well dressed.

\st. Footp. Yes ; but he wears mustaches.

2d. Footp. What of that ?

1st. Fuofp. Mustaches tights !

2d. Footp. Does they ? •

1st. Footp. {Lofikuig in another direction, R. H.) There's one more
to my taste — a handsome girl.

2d. Foiitp. That's the charitable young widow, Mrs. Trevor, Gen-
eral Leslie's daughter, that lives at the big house here.

1a^ Fur'p. They say she always carries plenty of money.

2d. Footp. Yes, to give away.

l-it. Footp. More foul she. Besides she won't miss it : it can but
go once.

2d. For/tp. Yes ; but she's just come out of widow Frecland's cot-
tage. The children are all ill, and she risks infection for the sake of
doing good.



1st. Fooip. Hold your peace, and stand back.

2d. Footp. {Obeying suUenhj.') I'll have no hand in this !

\st. Footp, Then I'll do it myself. {Conceals himself behind wing,
». H.) {Exit 'Id Footpad, l. h. 1 e.)

Enter Mrs. Teetor, r. h. 1 e.

Mrs. T. I forgot to tell the poor woman I would return to-morrow.
Shall I go back ? No — I have never missed a day yet : she will be
sure to expect me. How clear and fresh the morning, and what a
tranquil spot ! How like my own heart once ! Not now ? Alas !
half the charm is faded ; it stUl beats calmly ; but its freshness is
gone !

\st. Footp. {Advancing, R. H.) Now for a bit of the polite. Ex-
cuse me, yoimg woman, I'll trouble you for your money.

Mrs. T. You ask roughly. I have httle left ; but that you are
welcome to.

Isl. Footp. {Seizing her.) Then give me your watch.

Mrs. T. Unhand me, and you shall have all.

Is^. Footp. I'll help myself.

Mrs. T. {Struggling.) Help — help !

1st. Footp. There's no use in struggling. {Shows a clasp kni/e.^

Enter Colonel Rashleigh, with a pistol, l. h. 1 e.

Col. M. Coward — stand off! ( Throws him back.)
Mrs. T. O, Heaven ! I shall bring destruction upon another.
Col. R. Fear not for me, madam. I will make short -work with
him.. {Cocks the pistol — the Footpad springs vpon him, and grasps
it.) \\'e\\, if you're fond of wTestling, have with you ; but, if the East
have not spoiled me, this shall be your last exploit !

{Exeunt, struggling, R. H. 1 e.)

Mrs. T. I may yet be in time to send assistance. Help — help !

{Exit, L. H. 1 E. A shot heard without, R. H.)

Reenter Coloxel Eashleigh, hastily, R. h. 1 e.)

Col. R. Faith, this is occupation for cooler weather ! I beg your

?ardon, ma'am ; but — eh ? fled, and left me alone with my glory !
expected a more amiable companion. She had a form to love with
once gazing on. But that's passed with me. I have loved — been
cruelly deceived — had every hope dashed and — pshaw ! "Will my
heart never be at rest ? Enough — she was a woman, and Avanted
protection — perhaps may do so still. I saw two fellows lurking
about. She can't have gone that road without stumbling over one, so
I'll e'en take this, and follow her, for her safety demands it.

{Exit, L. H. 1 e.)


Scene II. — A Dratcinc/ Room, tcith French tcindotos opening on a
laicn. Table and two chairs on L, H. ; table and two chairs on R. H. ;
sofa on L. C. ; C. d. practical.

Enter Mrs. Trevor, hurriedly, from the lawn, c. d. l. h.

Mrs. T. O, that dreadful pistol ! The report still rings in my
ear — the knell of one — perhaps my preserver ! To be even the in-
nocent cause of harming a fellow-creature is insupportable !

Enter Colonel Rashleigh, /rom the latcn, c. d. l. h.

Thank Heaven, he is safe !

Co/. R. (l.) Pardon, madam, this immannerly intrusion. I did
not perceive you until so near the house that I feared my retiring
■would create suspicion and surprise. I followed solely for your pro-
tection ; say that my object is accomplished, and I will at once withdraw.

Mrs. T. (k.) Nay, sir, my heart is too full for adequate thanks.
Pray stay, my father's coming — he would not be happy without press-
ing the hand of his child's preserver. {^Going, r. h.)

Col. R. Thanks are superfluous for an act that carries its own re-
ward. But you wish it, and I obey.

Mrs. T. (^Aside.) His voice seems like a memory of other days.

— {Aloicd.) Excuse me, sir, I — pray, sir, be seated. (Colonel
Rashleigh advances, and appears to recognise Mrs. Trevor, who
courtesies and exit, R. H. 1 e.)

Col. R. Powers of mercy, it is she ! Yes — I cannot be mistaken.
The same enchanting harmony of form and feature — the same in-
tense brilliancy of eye — the same haliness of expression ! It is she

— it is my wife ! {Recovering his emotio7i.') Shall I stay to be her
spoil ? Shall years of disgrace and mental suffering be burned away
by a single glance of an inconstant woman ? No — we have met for
the last time ! {He quits the room hastily, c. d. ; returns, and pauses
on the threshold.) Yet, stay. {Advances slotclg.) She appeared not
to recognize me ; she could not do so, and meet my injured gaze !
She is little changed; but time and climate have done their Avork on
me. I should like to know if she is happy, and to look once more
upon features that have been to me, for so many j-ears, as a beautiful
and melancholy dream !

Gen. L. {Without, R. H.) Leave the house unthanked ! Were
there no other way of detaining him, I'd knock the generous rascal

dOAATi !

Col. R. Her father's voice ! He was no party to her gtiilt. He
left England immediately after our marriage.

Enter General Leslie, r. h. 1 e.

Gen. L. {Speaking as he enters.) Where is this modest youth?
Hejday ! I tliought to find a stripling, not a hero ! Are you the pre-
server of my poor girl ?
I *


Col. R. {Formalhj.') Opportimity, sir, has happily thro-\vn me into
so enviable a position.

Gen, L. A brother soldier, and fear to face a volley of gratitude
from an old man and a lovely woman ! You have laid us under a
debt beyond our means to paj- — do not make wsfcel bankrupt by re-
fusing the small instalment of our thanks. Your hand, young man.
Accept the bluff but deep acknoAvledgment of one who never uttered
a sentiment he did not feel. (Shakes Colonel Rashleigh xcarndy by
the hand.) If you knew my daughter — her gentleness — her tender-
ness — her charity — her piety — you would think her a being rather
sent to teach than to suffer, and wonder how a stony-hearted, doating
old father could have his child saved from death, and press the hand
of her preserver without a tremor or a tear ! I'm as hard-hearted as
an old gun flint ! {^IVipes his eyes.)

Col. R. I once knew such a being — I once ( Turns aside to

hide his emotion.) I cannot speak of her ! His words bring back so
Strong a tide of memory that my very thoughts almost choke me.

Gen. L. Y^ou are moved — ill — nay, nay, no disguise, man.
(^Again putting his handkerchief to his eyes.) The strongest of us may
have our hearts unstrung by the excitation of a moment. Y''our strug-
gle, too — perhaps you are hurt ?

Col. R. No — not hurt. I am, by nature, light of spirit, which a
recent affair has clouded. I am now en route to a distant part of the
countr}\ Excuse my tarrying longer. I feel that the delay of a
single hour may change the complexion of a life.

Gen. L. How : Not stay to witness the result of your morning's
■work ? The eye that you have brightened — the cheek that you have
tinted — egad, the escape of my dear daughter, makes me talk to you
as freely as if you were my son. — (^Aside.) I wish he were ; for he's
a fine fellow, and that's the truth on't.

Col. R. (^Aside.) Shall I at once declare myself?

Gen. L. {Aside.) He seems in grief: perhaps for the loss of some

Col. R. (Aside.) Should she be again married ! O, that thought
is insupportable ! — (Aloud.) Sir, you may deem the question I am
about to ask strange — impertinent — but I have a strong, an uncon-
trollable motive for asking it. Has your daughter (Pauses.)

Gen. L. Speak on, sir. I admire frankness.

Col. R. (After a struggle.) Has your daughter — a husband ?

Gen. L. (Seriously.) She has not, sir.

Col, R, Nor ever had one ?

Gen, L, (Warmly.) Never!

Col. R. Never ?

Gen. L. "What are the duties of a husband? To love and cherish
the gentle object confided to him — to nurture and direct her opening
mind, to watch over and protect her name and iaxne, and, should
calumny assail, to stifle its very breath ere it grew into the form of
words ! No, no — she never had a husband.

Col. R. You speak with deep meaning, and raise an inexpressible
interest. Dare I ask

Gen. L. I have nothing to disguise. There was one who professed
to love her.


Col. R. (Aside.) Professed !

Gen. L. He seemed a fine, noble, generous fellow, just such an-
other as yourself. (Observing him minutely.) Your name, young
man ?

Col. R. Rashleigh — Colonel Rashleigh.

Gen. L. You have done well, sir, for your country in the east. I
have heard your name associated with deeds of greatness. ( With emo-
tion.) You resemble Frank Trevor so much, that you might pass for
his elder brother.

Col. R. (Aside.) He forgets the effect of seven years.

Gen. L. (Recovering himself.) Six months after their marriage
affairs of importance di-ew him to London, and then — suffice it —
•we never saw him more !

Col. R. Nor heard from him ?

Gen. L. {Struggling loith his feelings.) Why should I conceal it ?
He was a scoundrel !

Col. R. A scoundrel !

Gen. L. Ay, sir — a scoundrel !

Col. R. (Aside.) Could I have been deceived ? Alas ! no. De
Vere fell beneath my pistol, avowing his treachery !

Gen. L. One letter reached us containing charges against his spot-
less wife that he lacked courage to utter.

Col. R. (Hastily.) Was there no excuse — no palliative ? Might
he not be the dupe of a designing knave ?

Gen. L. He lied the test of scrutiny.

Col. R. (Eagerly, and much impassioned.) And the charge was
false ? (Genekal Leslie makes a moveinent towards Colonel Rash-
leigh, stops, and partly recovers himself.)

Gen. L. ( With great determination.) Y'oung man, did not an hour
since make my life a debt to you — for mine is WTapped in hers — an-
other hour would, perhaps, end fatally to one or both of us !

Col. R. Forgive my anxiety. Nothing was more distant from my
thought than to make a charge a father should blush to hear. Your
threat, general, was premature.

Gen. L. (Endeavoring to speak with composure.) To doubt honor
is to wound it. Shall I not avenge myself on the traducer of my
child ? You are too young — too inexperienced to know the refined
torture that a chance word may inflict upon a parent's heart.

Col. R. (Aside.) I will not — cannot longer delay the avowal.
— (To General Leslie.) I dared to breathe a thought in his de-
fence, knowing that that man — that he himself is

Gen. L. Dead !

Col. R. Dead ?

Gen. L. I knew what you were about to urge. (Reflects for a
moment.) He died — and not by my hand — that is my reproach !

Col. R. And she — his wife — his widow I Did she, too, cherish a
bitter feeling against him ?

Gen. L. (Much moved.) AVe will not speak of her. Change of
scene was resorted to — there was a blank in her life, and ^he has
never uttered his name since !


Enter William, l. h. 1 e.

Wil. The messenger has returned, sir.

Gen. L. Let him wait. {Exit William, l. h. I e.) I sent him
to a neighboring magistrate with information of the attack in which
you were a conspicuous actor. A few moments, and I will return.
{Crosses, L. h.) Your hand once more. We shall not be worse
mends for you having defended the dead and / the living !

{Exit, L. H. 1 E.)

Col. R. Well may they say that life is a melancholy jest. Here
am I, a dead man and a confirmed scoundrel — compelled by circum-
stances to hear all sorts of charges, to endure all sorts of hard names,
and to find that my sole redeeming act is an unsuccessful effort at a
post tnortem defence. After all, I feel my heart most wonderfully
Ughtened. The thought of my wife's truth comes like a rainbow to
wrecked hope ! Still are there many clouds to dissipate. What
course shall I take ? What if I begin afresh — once more turn lover,
and try to win the heart I owned ? What if I be successful ?
Humph ! the result is mortifying : at best, I triumph over my former
self — so, in either case, one of us must be cast into the shade !
Well, self-victory is the hardest to attain — so say the wise ones. Be
it my lot to make the attempt.

Redtiier General Leslie, l. h. 1. e.

Gen. L. I am once more at your service, and hope our momentary
difference will not prevent a friendship commenced jinder cii'cumstan-
ces so deeply interesting. .

Col. R. My dear general, reflection has so increased my interest
in your family, that I have resolved on a few days stay in the village
to give me an opportunity of proving my respect and esteem.

Gen. L, You are a man after my own heart — ever ready for ac-
tion, yet never bearing malice. A flash — a burst — and then as cool
as a gun barrel.

Col. R. I wUl just step to my hotel

Gen. L. You are in it. This house is your hotel, and I the ready
host ! Determined not to lose you, I took upon myself to send for
your baggage. Come, sit down. — {They sit.) Being particularly
anxious to introduce you to an agreeable acquaintance

Col. R. Y''ou mean your daughter, I prestune ?

Gen. L. O, no — a gentleman.

Col. R. Indeed ! — {Aside.) I'm growing fidgety already. —
{Aloud.) An acquaintance, may I ask, or friend ?

Gen. L. The latter : I may say a relative.

Col. R. {Aside.) That's an equivocal animal. — {Aloud.) Not a
cousin, I hope ?

Gen. L, O, no — a son-in-law.

Col. R. A what ?

Gen. L. A son-in-law.

Col. R. I beg pardon. — Have you another daughter ?

Gen. L. You saved my only child.


Col. R. (Aside.) O, I am on the rack ! — (^Alcud.) I under-
stood you she was a widow ?

Gen. L. Ay — teas.

Col. R. And is she not ?

Gen. L. And is for the present. I call him son-in-law. The bond
of affection wants but a word to make it perfect.

Col. R. (^Bitterly.) True — words are wax, and change their form
at pleasiu-e. Is it with j^our consent ?

Gen. L. Undoubtedly.

Col. R. (^Aside.) She has not suffered as J have suffered, else could
she never give her heart again. " Frailty, thy name is woman ! "

Gen. L. He will have to thank you for the brightest earthly gift a
man can receive — a good wife !

Col. R. (Aside.) Curse his thanks !

Gen. L. What a gratification must such a thought afford you.

Col. R. Overwhelming ! — (Aside.) Have I found a lost gem to
see it worn by another ? I'll die first !

Gen. L. You are grave. Do you disapprove of second marriages ?

Col. R. If a woman can love twice, it is well.

Gen. L. She was but eighteen when she sacrificed herself — at five
and twenty she may have learned wisdom.

Col. R. (Aside.) Perhaps this is a marriage of compulsion —
there is yet hope. — (Aloicd.) Is your daughter left to follow the
stream of her affections ?

Gen. L. Heaven forbid that I should tamper with things so sacred !
I am gi-owing old, and must anticipate that my child will soon be
deprived of her only earthly protector : enough that the dutiful girl
entered into my views, and fixed this day for her decision.

Col. R. And that decision is

Gen. L. Wholly miknov\Ti to me.

Col. R. (Aside.) I breathe again ! My mind's made up. I'll
enter the lists against him. — (Aloud.) When is the vital decision to
be given ?

Ge7i. L. (Looking at his watch.) In an hoxxr from this time.

Col. R. One hoiur ! — (Aside.) The fate of an empire has been
decided in less time !

Gen. L. My consent is given ; and the bridegroom, that is to be,
confidently awaits her compliance.

Col. R. (Rises. — Aside.) So, then, it seems I am to make love to
my own wife, with only an hovu to do it in, and the odds against me !
— (Aloud.) General, what class of beings are we most apt to love ?

Gen. L. Those for whom we have sxiffered, or who have received
our protection.

Cul. R. You speak my own thoughts.

Gen. L. Well, and what follows ?

Col. R. This simple answer. I have protected your daughter,
therefore I love her !

Gen . L. The deuse you do !

Col. R. Ay, sir — love her deeply, madly, devotedly : love her as
if she were my wife ! — (Aside.) That's an unfortunate simile !

Ge7i. L. I'm thunderstruck !


Col. R. In plain terms, general, I at once declare myself your
daughter's suitor, and shall devote the coming hour to the advance-
ment of my suit.

Gen. L. You take me by surprise. What shall I say to her old
lover r

Col. R. Leave that to me. / will settle with him in any case.

Gen. L. Consider my honor

Col. R. Shall I not consider my o^fra. ? I have taken a prize. —
Shall I yield her tamely ? No, general ; the arm that fought for her
can and will do so again, if occasion need it. Grant my request,
and, upon the honor of a soldier, the instant the dial hand points to
the moment of decision, I will quit this roof forever, save at the de-
sire of your own child.

Gen. L. Humph ! I like your spirit — I like yourself. But Alice
is not the girl to be lightly won. You shall have the opportunity you
ask for. I will in no wise seek to mfluence my daughter, but simply
bring her here. — (Crosses, e.) You are a courageous fellow. I have
myself done a daring act or two since I entered the service, and I sup-
pose all brave spirits are of one family. (^Chuckling .^ Attempt to
win a girl in an hour, from a suitor of seven years' standing ! A bold,
conceited, impudent, noble-hearted coxcomb! {Exit, it. H. 1 e.)

Col. R. What if she loves this man ? Shall I step between to rob
her of the happiness she sought in vain with me r Will it not be more
kind, more gi-nerous, more honorable, to retreat? She believes me
dead ; and shall I not be amply repaid in seeing her smile upon one
she loves ? No — curse me if I shall ? I will employ the few re-
maining minutes in urging my, I fear, hopeless suit. O, that I could
dream for the next half hour ! I would give five years of my life to
have it over !

Enter William, l. h. 1 e.

Wil. Sir, the hot water is ready.

Col. R. Confound the fellow ! I've been in nothing else since
morning ! {Exeunt William and Col. E., l. h. 1 e.)

Reenter Mrs. Trevor, r. h. 1 e.

Mrs. T. Gone ! and -s^-ithout seeing me ? It is well. "WTiy be
surprised that he feels no interest in me r Why regret it, since I
must not feel interest in him ? And yet he saved my life. {Crosses
to a sofa on L. h.) What is the gift worth r {Rests her head upon her
hand in reverie, L.) This day completes my five and twentieth year,
and puts its seal upon the seventh of my loneliness ! This day," too,
must I confirm or destroy the strongest hope of a dear and indulgent
parent. {Fames.) It is not for us to judge, although it is hard to
bear a decree that checks the current of youthiul feeling, and sobers
a joyous girl into a bereaved matron ! '

Reenter General Leslie, r. h. 1 e.
Gen. L. I have just sent for you, my dear Alice, and am glad to


find you here. Our guest, Colonel Rashleigh, is desirous of an

Mrs. T. With me ? For what purpose ? I mean — when ?

Gen. L. Immediately.

Mrs. T. Not before Captain Thornton's visit ?

Gen. L. He is still in the house, and made that a point.

Mrs. T. How strange ! Have you explained to him my exact
position ?

Gen. L. Yes — without mentioning the captain's name. I am
confident that Colonel Rashleigh is a man of honor : the rest I leave
wholly to that excellent monitor — your own heart.

{Exit, 1 E. R. H.)

Mrs. T. {Sits on R. h.) This is a trial I little anticipated and less
desired. It calls up too many recollections of scenes now past recur-
rence. {Leans her head upon her hand, R., absorbed in thought.)

Reenter Colonel Rashleigh, l. h. 1 e.

Col. R. {Looking at Mrs. Trevor, unobsei-ved.) AVhat a sweet
picture ! I could fancy, for the moment, that years were annihilated,
and I stood in doubt before her once again a lover. What have I to
answer for r There is no time for self-reproach. I must strain every
thought to the attainment of the one absorbing object. {Advances.)
Madam ! — {Aside.) I would give my commission to know the oc-
cupant of her thoughts ! — {Aloud.) Madam !

Mrs. T. Sir! {Rises.) Pardon me — I did not observe your

Col. R. It is I who should apologize for an unannounced intrusion.
I wished, madam, to see you — alone ; and having a few words to say,
and but few moments to shape them in, I thought our introduction
of the morning, however informal, would plead an excuse.

Mrs. T. That circumstance alone induced my consent to an inter-
view at the present moment.

Col. R. And — as moments — as — as moments are precious

Pray, madam, be seated. {Hands Mrs. Trevor a chair ; she motions
for him to be seated also.) As I said, madam, moments being precious

— I {Aside.) She is a lovely creature. — {Aloud.) I — I

{half aside) haven't a word to say for myself !

Mrs. T. I am all attention.

Col. R. At the moment of my life when I would give gems for

words The fact is, madam, try me upon any other subject, and

I can discourse most eloquently ; but now — the truth is, that with
those two lustrous eyes looking into my very soul, I can only, without
the aid of ornament, in the plainest terms, repeat the avowal.

Mrs. T. {Smiling.) You have made none yet.


Online LibraryCharles Sears LancasterAdvice to husbands; an original comedietta in one act → online text (page 1 of 2)