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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Acorn-planter: A California Forest Play (1916) - Act 2
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The Acorn-planter: A California Forest Play (1916) - Act 2 Post by :newfound Category :Plays Author :Jack London Date :May 2012 Read :781

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The Acorn-planter: A California Forest Play (1916) - Act 2

ACT II

(A hundred years have passed, when the
hillside and the Nishinam in their
temporary camp are revealed. The spring
is flowing, and Women are filling gourds
with water. Red Cloud and Dew-
Woman stand apart from their people.)

Shaman.
(Pointing.)
There is a sign.
The spring lives.
The water flows from the spring
And all is well with the Nishinam.

People.
There is a sign.
The spring lives.
The water flows from the spring.

War Chief.
(Boastingly.)
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
All is well with the Nishinam.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
It is I who have made all well with the Nishinam.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!

I led our young men against the Napa.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
We left no man living of the camp.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!

Shaman.
Great is our War Chief!
Good is war!
No more will the Napa hunt our meat.
No more will the Napa pick our berries.
No more will the Napa catch our fish.

People.
No more will the Napa hunt our meat.
No more will the Napa pick our berries.
No more will the Napa catch our fish.

War Chief.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The War Chiefs before me made all well with
the Nishinam.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The War Chief of long ago slew the Sun Man.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The Sun Man said his brothers would come after.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The Sun Man lied.

People.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The Sun Man lied.
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The Sun Man lied.

Shaman.
(Derisively.)
Red Cloud is sick. He lives in dreams. Ever
he dreams of the wonders of the Sun Man.

Red Cloud.
The Sun Man was strong. The Sun Man was
a life-maker. The Sun Man planted acorns,
and cut quickly with a knife not of bone nor
stone, and of grasses and hides made cunning
cloth that is better than all grasses and hides.
--Old Man, where is the cunning cloth that is
better than all grasses and hides?

Old Man.
(Fumbling in his skin pouch for the doth.)
In the many moons aforetime,
Hundred moons and many hundred,
When the old man was the young man,
When the young man was the youngling,
Dragging branches for the campfire,
Stealing suet from the bear-meat,
Cause of trouble to his mother,
Came the Sun Man in the night-time.
I alone of all the Nishinam
Live to-day to tell the story;
I alone of all the Nishinam
Saw the Sun Man come among us,
Heard the Sun Man and his Sun Men
Sing their death-song here among us
Ere they died beneath our arrows,
War Chief's arrows sharp and feathered--

War Chief.
(Interrupting braggartly.)
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!

Old Man.
(Producing cloth.)
And the Sun Man and his Sun Men
Wore nor hair nor hide nor birdskin.
Cloth they wore from beaten grasses
Woven like our willow baskets,
Willow-woven acorn baskets
Women make in acorn season.

(Old Man hands piece of cloth to Red
Cloud.)

Red Cloud.
(Admiring cloth.)
The Sun Man was an acorn-planter, and we
killed the Sun Man. We were not kind. We
made a blood-debt. Blood-debts are not good.

Shaman.
The Sun Man lied. His brothers did not come
after. There is no blood-debt when there is no
one to make us pay.

Red Cloud.
He who plants acorns reaps food, and food is
life. He who sows war reaps war, and war is death.

People.
(Encouraged by Shaman and War Chief
to drown out Red Cloud's voice.)

Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The Sun Man is dead!
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
The Sun Man and his Sun Men are dead!

Red Cloud.
(Shaking his head.)
His brothers of the Sun are coming after.
I have reports.

(Red Cloud beckons one after another of
the young hunters to speak)

First Hunter.
To the south, not far, I wandered and lived
with the Petaluma. With my eyes I did not
see, but it was told me by those whose eyes had
seen, that still to the south, not far, were many
Sun Men--war chiefs who carry the thunder in
their hands; cloth-makers and weavers of cloth
like to that in Red Cloud's hand; acorn-planters
who plant all manner of strange seeds that ripen
to rich harvests of food that is good. And there
had been trouble. The Petaluma had killed
Sun Men, and many Petaluma had the Sun Men
killed.

Second Hunter.
To the east, not far, I wandered and lived with
the Solano. With my own eyes I did not see,
but it was told me by those whose eyes had seen,
that still to the east, not far, and just beyond the
lands of the Tule tribes, were many Sun Men--
war chiefs and cloth-makers and acorn-planters.
And there had been trouble. The Solano had
killed Sun Men, and many Solano had the Sun Men killed.

Third Hunter.
To the north, and far, I wandered and lived
with the Klamath. With my own eyes I did
not see, but it was told me by those whose eyes
had seen, that still to the north, and far, were
many Sun Men--war chiefs and cloth-makers
and acorn-planters. And there had been trouble.
The Klamath had killed Sun Men, and many
Klamath had the Sun Men killed.

Fourth Hunter.
To the west, not far, three days gone I
wandered, where, from the mountain, I looked
down upon the great sea. With my own eyes
I saw. It was like a great bird that swam upon
the water. It had great wings like to our great
trees here. And on its back I saw men, many
men, and they were Sun Men. With my own
eyes I saw.

Red Cloud.
We shall be kind to the Sun Men when they
come among us.

War Chief.
(Dancing stiff-legged.)
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
Let the Sun Men come!
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
We will kill the Sun Men when they come!

People.
(As they join in the war dance.)
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
Let the Sun Men come!
Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!
We will kill the Sun Men when they come.

(The dance grows wilder, the Shaman and
War Chief encouraging it, while Red
Cloud and Dew-Woman stand sadly at
a distance.)

(Rifle shots ring out from every side. Up
the hillside appear Sun Men firing rifles.
The Nishinam reel to death from their
dancing.)

(Red Cloud shields Dew-Woman with
one arm about her, and with the other arm
makes the peace-sign)

(The massacre is complete, Dew-Woman
and Red Cloud being the last to fall.
Red Cloud, wounded, the sole survivor,
rests on his elbow and watches the Sun
Men assemble about their leader)

(The Sun Men are the type of pioneer
Americans who, even before the discovery
of gold, were already drifting across the
Sierras and down into Oregon and
California with their oxen and great wagons.
With here and there a Rocky Mountain
trapper or a buckskin-clad scout of the
Kit Carson type, in the main they are
backwoods farmers. All carry the long
rifle of the period.)

(The Sun Man is buckskin-clad, with long
blond hair sweeping his shoulders.)

Sun Men.
(Led by Sun Man.)
We crossed the Western Ocean
Three hundred years ago,
We cleared New England's forests
Three hundred years ago.
Blow high, blow low,
Heigh hi, heigh ho,
We cleared New England's forests
Three hundred years ago.

We climbed the Alleghanies
Two hundred years ago,
We reached the Susquehanna
Two hundred years ago.
Blow high, blow low,
Heigh hi, heigh ho,
We reached the Susquehanna
Two hundred years ago.

We crossed the Mississippi
One hundred years ago,
And glimpsed the Rocky Mountains
One hundred years ago.
Blow high, blow low,
Heigh hi, heigh ho,
And glimpsed the Rocky Mountains
One hundred years ago.

We passed the Rocky Mountains
A year or so ago,
And crossed the salty deserts
A year or so ago.
Blow high, blow low,
Heigh hi, heigh ho,
And crossed the salty deserts
A year or so ago.

We topped the high Sierras
But a few days ago,
And saw great California
But a few days ago.
Blow high, blow low,
Heigh hi, heigh ho,
And saw great California
But a few days ago.

We crossed Sonoma's mountains
An hour or so ago,
And found this mighty forest
An hour or so ago.
Blow high, blow low,
Heigh hi, heigh ho,
And found this mighty forest
An hour or so ago.

Sun Man.
(Glancing about at the slain and at the giant
forest.)

Good the day, good the deed, and good this
California land.

Red Cloud.
Not with these eyes, but with other eyes in my
lives before, have I beheld you. You are the
Sun Man.

(The attention of all is drawn to Red
Cloud, and they group about him and the
Sun Man.)

Sun Man.
Call me White Man. Though in truth we
follow the sun. All our lives have we followed
the sunset sun, as our fathers followed it before
us.

Red Cloud.
And you slay us with the thunder in your hand.
You slay us because we slew your brothers.

Sun Man.
(Nodding to Red Cloud and addressing
his own followers)

You see, it was no mistake. He confesses it.
Other white men have they slain.

Red Cloud.
There will come a day when men will not slay
men and when all men will be brothers. And in
that day all men will plant acorns.

Sun Man.
You speak well, brother.

Red Cloud.
Ever was I for peace, but in war I did not command.
Ever I sought the secrets of the growing
things, the times and seasons for planting. Ever
I planted acorns, making two black oak trees
grow where one grew before. And now all is
ended. Oh my black oak acorns! My black
oak acorns! Who will plant them now?

Sun Man.
Be of good cheer. We, too, are planters.
Rich is your land here. Not from poor soil can
such trees sprout heavenward. We will plant
many seeds and grow mighty harvests.

Red Cloud.
I planted the short acorns in the valley. I
planted the long acorns in the valley. I made
food for life.

Sun Man.
You planted well, brother, but not well enough.
It is for that reason that you pass. Your fat
valley grows food but for a handful of men. We
shall plant your fat valley and grow food for ten
thousand men.

Red Cloud.
Ever I counseled peace and planting.

Sun Man.
Some day all men will counsel peace. No
man will slay his fellow. All men will plant.

Red Cloud.
But before that day you will slay, as you have
this day slain us?

Sun Man.
You killed our brothers first. Blood-debts must
be paid. It is man's way upon the earth. But
more, O brother! We follow the sunset sun, and
the way before us is red with war. The way
behind us is white with peace. Ever, before
us, we make room for life. Ever we slay the
squalling crawling things of the wild. Ever we
clear the land and destroy the weeds that block
the way of life for the seeds we plant. We are
many, and many are our brothers that come after
along the way of peace we blaze. Where you
make two black oaks grow in the place of one,
we make an hundred. And where we make one
grow, our brothers who come after make an
hundred hundred.

Red Cloud.
Truly are you the Sun Man. We knew about
you of old time. Our old men knew and sang of
you:

White and shining was the Sun Man,
Blue his eyes were as the sky-blue,
Bright his hair was as dry grass is,
Warm his eyes were as the sun is,
Fruit and flower were in his glances,
All he looked on grew and sprouted,
Where his glance fell grasses seeded,
Where his feet fell sprang upstarting
Buckeye woods and hazel thickets,
Berry bushes, manzanita,
Till his pathway was a garden,
Flowing after like a river
Laughing into bud and blossom.


SONG OF THE PIONEERS

Sun Men.
Our brothers follow on the trail we blaze.
Where howled the wolf and ached the naked plain
Spring bounteous harvests at our brothers' hands;
In place of war's alarums, peaceful days;
Above the warrior's grave the golden grain
Turns deserts grim and stark to laughing lands.

Sun Man.
We cleared New England's flinty slopes and plowed
Her rocky fields to fairness in the sun,
But fared we westward always for we sought
A land of golden richness and we knew
The land was waiting on the sunset trail.
Where we found forest we left fertile fields,
We bridled rivers wild to grind our corn,
The deer-paths turned to roadways at our heels,
Our axes felled the trees that bridged the streams,
And fenced the meadow pastures for our kine.

Sun Men.
Our brothers follow on the trail we blaze;
Where howled the wolf and ached the naked plain
Spring bounteous harvests at our brothers' hands;
In place of war's alarums, peaceful days;
Above the warrior's grave the golden grain
Turns deserts grim and stark to laughing lands.

Sun Man.
Beyond the Mississippi still we fared,
And rested weary by the River Platte
Until the young grass velveted the Plains,
Then yoked again our oxen to the trail
That ever led us west to farthest west.
Our women toiled beside us, and our young,
And helped to break the soil and plant the corn,
And fought beside us in the battle front
To fight of arrow, whine of bullet, when
We chained our circled wagons wheel to wheel.

Sun Men.
Our brothers follow on the trail we blaze;
Where howled the wolf and ached the naked plain
Spring bounteous harvests at our brothers hands;
In place of war's alarums, peaceful days;
Above the warrior's grave the golden grain
Turns deserts grim and stark to laughing lands.

Sun Man.
The rivers sank beneath the desert sand,
The tall pines dwarfed to sage-brush, and the grass
Grew sparse and bitter in the alkali,
But fared we always toward the setting sun.
Our oxen famished till the last one died
And our great wagons rested in the snow.
We climbed the high Sierras and looked down
From winter bleak upon the land we sought,
A sunny land, a rich and fruitful land,
The warm and golden California land.

Sun Men.
Our brothers follow on the trail we blaze;
Where howled the wolf and ached the naked plain
Spring bounteous harvests at our brothers' hands;
In place of war's alarums, peaceful days;
Above the warrior's grave the golden grain
Turns deserts grim and stark to laughing lands.

(The hillside begins to darken.)

Red Cloud.
(Faintly.)

The darkness is upon me. You are acorn-
planters. You are my brothers. The darkness
is upon me and I pass.

Sun Men.
(As total darkness descends.)
Our brothers follow on the trail we blaze;
Where howled the wolf and ached the naked plain
Spring bounteous harvests at our brothers' hands;
In place of war's alarums, peaceful days;
Above the warrior's grave the golden grain
Turns deserts grim and stark to laughing lands.

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