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Full Online Book HomePlaysTwo Men Of Sandy Bar: A Drama - Act 4 Scene 4
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Two Men Of Sandy Bar: A Drama - Act 4 Scene 4 Post by :Truman Category :Plays Author :Bret Harte Date :May 2012 Read :1645

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Two Men Of Sandy Bar: A Drama - Act 4 Scene 4

SCENE 4. Front scene. Room in villa. Enter MISS MARY and JOVITA.

MISS MARY. I tell you, you are wrong, you are not only misunderstanding your lover, which is a woman's privilege, but you are abusing my cousin, which, as his relative, I won't put up with.

JOVITA (passionately). But hear me, MISS MARY. It is a year since we were betrothed; and such a betrothal! Why, I was signed, sealed, and delivered to him, on conditions, as if I were a part of the rancho; and the very night, too, I had engaged to run away with him! And during that year I have seen the gentleman twice,--yes, twice!

MISS MARY. But he has written?

JOVITA. Mother of God! Yes,--letters delivered by my father, sent to HIS CARE, read by him first, of course; letters hoping that I was well, and obeying my father's commands; letters assuring me of his unaltered devotion; letters that, compared with the ones he used to hide in the confessional of the ruined mission church, were as ice to fire, were as that snow-flower you value so much, Mary, to this mariposa blossom I wear in my hair. And then to think that this man--this John Oakhurst, as I knew him; this man who used to ride twenty miles for a smile from me on the church porch; this Don Juan who leaped that garden wall (fifteen feet, Mary, if it is an inch), and made old Concho his stepping-stone; this man, who daily perilled death for my sake--is changed into this formal, methodical man of business--is--is--I tell you there's a WOMAN at the bottom of it! I know it sure!

MISS MARY (aside). How can I tell her about the Duchess? I won't! (Aloud.) But listen, my dear JOVITA. You know he is under probation for you, JOVITA. All this is for you. His father is cold, methodical, unsympathetic. HE looks only to his bond with this son,--this son that he treats, even in matters of the heart, as a BUSINESS partner. Remember, on his complete reformation, and subjection to his father's will, depends your hand. Remember the agreement!

JOVITA. The agreement; yes! It is the agreement, always the agreement! May the Devil fly away with the agreement! Look you, Miss Mary, I, Dona Jovita, didn't fall in love with an agreement: it was with a man! Why, I might have married a dozen agreements--yes, of a shorter limitation than this! (Crossing.)

MISS MARY. Yes. But what if your lover had failed to keep those promises by which he was to gain your hand? what if he were a man incapable of self-control? what if he were--a--a drunkard?

JOVITA (musing). A drunkard! (Aside.) There was Diego, he was a drunkard; but he was faithless. (Aloud.) You mean a weak, faithless drunkard?

MISS MARY. No! (Sadly.) Faithless only to himself, but devoted--yes, devoted to YOU.

JOVITA. Miss Mary, I have found that one big vice in a man is apt to keep out a great many smaller ones.

MISS MARY. Yes; but if he were a slave to liquor?

JOVITA. My dear, I should try to change his mistress. Oh, give me a man that is capable of a devotion to anything, rather than a cold, calculating average of all the virtues!

MISS MARY (aside). I, who aspire to be her teacher, am only her pupil. (Aloud.) But what if, in this very drunkenness, this recklessness, he had once loved and worshipped another woman? What if you discovered all this after--after--he had won your heart?

JOVITA. I should adore him! Ah, Miss Mary! Love differs from all the other contagious diseases: the last time a man is exposed to it, he takes it most readily, and has it the worst! But you, YOU cannot sympathize with me. You have some lover, the ideal of the virtues; some man as correct, as well regulated, as calm as--yourself; some one who addresses you in the fixed morality and severe penmanship of the copy-books. He will never precipitate himself over a garden wall or through a window. Your Jacob will wait for you through seven years, and receive you from the hands of your cousin and guardian--as a reward of merit! No, you could not love a vagabond.

MISS MARY (very slowly and quietly). No?

JOVITA. No! (Passionately.) No, it is impossible. Forgive me, Miss Mary: you are good; a better girl than I am. But think of me! A year ago my lover leaped a wall at midnight to fly with me: today, the day that gives me to him, he writes a few cold lines, saying that he has business, BUSINESS--you understand--business, and that he shall not see me until we meet in the presence of--of--of--our fathers.

MISS MARY. Yes; but you will see him at least, perhaps alone. Listen: it is no formal meeting, but one of festivity. My guardian has told me, in his quaint scriptural way, it is the killing of the fatted calf, over his long-lost prodigal. Have patience, little one. Ah! Jovita, we are of a different race, but we are of one sex; and as a woman I know how to accept another woman's abuse of her lover. Come, come! (Exeunt MISS MARY and JOVITA.

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