Children's Classics In Dramatic Form
Augusta Stevenson

Part 3 out of 3

ALLIGATOR (_freeing the Man; turning to the Rabbit_). We'll show thee just
how it was done, young man.

RABBIT. Seeing is believing.

[_The Man brings his net; opens it._]

ALLIGATOR. See! I put my legs under--so! Then I fold my arms--so! Now I
roll myself up and up and up. And now I am in--all in!

RABBIT. As I live--thou art! Well, seeing is believing. But how couldst
thou remain within the net? It is quite open.

ALLIGATOR. Tie it up, Man. Show him exactly how we did it.

MAN (_tying net_). I tied it tight--like this, Brother Rabbit.

RABBIT. Is it quite tight?

ALLIGATOR. Let him try the knot, Man.

RABBIT (_trying knot_). Most truly, it is tight.

(_Turning to the Alligator._)

Thou dost look as if thou couldst not move, Ally dear.

ALLIGATOR. Of a surety--I cannot.

RABBIT. Well, Brother Man, now that thou hast him, don't be foolish enough
to let him go. Get thy big stick and beat him to death.

ALLIGATOR (_surprised_). Eh?

MAN (_not heeding the Alligator_). That is just what I will do, that I
will! Thanks to thee for helping me, Brother Rabbit.

ALLIGATOR. Have pity!

RABBIT (_not heeding the Alligator_). No thanks are necessary, Brother Man.
I haven't forgotten the good turnips thou didst give me last winter when
the ground was covered with snow. Some of us know how to return favor for



TIME: _once upon a time_.
PLACE: _in the house of the poor Spinner_.

* * * * *

ISABEL, _her daughter_.
HANGING-LIP } _the Three Great-Aunts_.

* * * * *

[_The living-room in the Dame's cottage is seen. The_ DAME _and the_ THREE
GREAT-AUNTS _are spinning._ ISABEL _sits at her spinning-wheel, but has
stopped work and looks out of the open door._]

DAME (_sharply_). Isabel! You gaze without!

ISABEL (_nodding_). Upon those great trees, mother. How beautiful they are!
How like sentinels they stand at our door guarding us!

FLAT-FOOT (_growling_). What nonsense! You'd better be spinning.

ISABEL (_not heeding_). Mother, see you that old oak! See how proudly it
lifts its head up into the sky! 'T is the king of the forest!

HANGING-LIP (_growling_). I never heard such foolish talk!

ISABEL (_not heeding_). Mother, a song has come to me,--'t is a song to the
beautiful trees. Let me stop to write it down, while my heart is full of

BROAD-THUMB (_to the Dame_). Do not permit it, sister! She should be
working. She can scarcely spin at all.

DAME (_showing much feeling_). Isabel! Isabel! Not a maid in the village
thinks of anything but spinning.

ISABEL. Mother, let me stop! Soon the song will leave me. I may ne'er hear
it again.

FLAT-FOOT (_to the Dame_). Sister, she will bring you to shame.

HANGING-LIP. Already the village folk laugh at her!

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding_). Aye! They call her "the Dreamer." I myself have
heard them.

ISABEL. I care not what they call me!

DAME (_raising her voice_). Nay, but I care. I'll not have you different
from other folk.

HANGING-LIP. _We_ were never seen gazing upon trees!

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding_). Aye! _We_ never heard songs within _us_!

FLAT-FOOT (_nodding_). Aye! _We_ think only of our work!

ISABEL. What's your work may not be mine!

DAME (_decidedly_). There's no other work for a maid than spinning.

ISABEL (_sighing_). I like it not! Though every other maid in all the world
did love to spin, I'd say the same--I like it not!

DAME (_to Flat-foot; showing alarm_). Sister, close the door, that none
without may hear such words.

[_Flat-foot rises, but is too late. The_ QUEEN _enters from the street._]

QUEEN (_showing displeasure_). How now! What's all this noise? I heard it
from the street!

[_All are frightened; Isabel weeps._]

DAME (_bowing_). 'T will not happen again, your Majesty.

QUEEN (_looking at Isabel_). Have they beaten you, my child?

ISABEL (_still sobbing_). N--o--, your Majesty.

QUEEN (_to the Dame_). Tell me why your daughter weeps.

DAME (_more frightened_). She weeps because--because--

[_She stops in confusion._]

QUEEN. Well--well?

DAME. Because--because--I will not let her spin.

QUEEN (_showing surprise_). Because you will not let her spin?

DAME (_nodding_). Yes, your Majesty.

QUEEN. Why, this is most strange.

DAME (_nodding_). Would I but let her, she'd spin from morn till night, and
from then on till morn again.

QUEEN. I see how it can be so. There's nothing I like better than spinning.

DAME. She weeps whenever I make her leave off.

QUEEN. 'T is because she loves it! I am never more pleased than when the
wheels are whirring.

DAME. But stop she must, for to-day at least. There is no more flax.

QUEEN. I have rooms full of flax. Let your daughter come to my castle. She
may spin there as much as she pleases.

DAME (_now, most frightened_). I--I fear she would be a trouble to you.

QUEEN. Why, no! In fact, I am so pleased with your daughter's industry I
will have my son marry her.

DAME (_so frightened she can scarcely breathe_). O your Majesty--

QUEEN (_interrupting_). But first she must spin all my flax. There are
three rooms full of it--from top to bottom.

ISABEL (_showing alarm_). Three rooms full!

QUEEN (_nodding_). Aye, my dear, and when you have spun it all, you shall
become a princess!

(_Turning to the Dame._)

Bring your daughter to my castle to-morrow.

DAME (_bowing_). Yes, your Majesty.

QUEEN (_going_). To-morrow, mind you.

DAME (_bowing_). Yes, your Majesty.

[_All bow to the Queen, who goes._]

ISABEL. Mother, how could you tell the Queen I love to spin?

DAME. Think you I'd let the truth be known? I'd not shame myself so!

ISABEL. I could not spin three rooms of flax in three hundred years.

DAME. Alas! alas! What shall we do?

FLAT-FOOT (_to Hanging-lip and Broad-thumb_). Sisters, let us speak

[_The three Great-Aunts whisper together for a moment._]

HANGING-LIP. Isabel, we will help you--

FLAT-FOOT (_interrupting_). On one condition!

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding_). Aye,--on a certain condition!

ISABEL. What do you mean?

HANGING-LIP. We'll spin the flax for you--

FLAT-FOOT (_interrupting_). On one condition.

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding_). Aye,--on a certain condition!

DAME. You speak in riddles, sisters.

HANGING-LIP. 'T is this--if Isabel will invite us to her wedding, we'll
spin the flax.

FLAT-FOOT. That's the condition.

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding_). Aye,--that's the certain condition.

ISABEL. 'T will be deceiving the Queen and the Prince, both.

DAME. There's no other way to mend things. Go now! Since you are so soon to
be a princess, I'll give you leave to write down your song.

ISABEL (_sadly_). The song is no longer in my heart.

DAME. 'T is well. Now listen--you must never let the Prince know about your
songs. He'd send you from the castle.

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding_). Besides, 't would bring great shame upon us, for
we are a family of spinners.

FLAT-FOOT (_nodding_). Aye, aye!

HANGING-LIP (_nodding_). Aye, aye!


TIME: _one week later_.
PLACE: _the Queen's castle_.

* * * * *


* * * * *

[_The_ THREE GREAT-AUNTS _are working at the last heap of flax in the third
room._ ISABEL _watches them anxiously._]

ISABEL. Think you to finish before the Queen comes?

FLAT-FOOT (_nodding as she treads the wheel_). Aye, if treading the wheel
will do it!

HANGING-LIP (_nodding, as she moistens the thread over her lip_). Aye, if
moistening the thread will do it!

BROAD-THUMB (_nodding, as she presses the thread with her thumb_). Aye, if
pressing the thread will do it!

ISABEL. 'T is to-day she brings the Prince.

FLAT-FOOT. Another minute and we'll have finished.

ISABEL. Should they come suddenly, you know where to hide--behind those
curtains there.

THREE GREAT-AUNTS (_nodding_). Aye, we know!

[_A noise is heard in the distance._]

ISABEL. Some one comes!

(_She runs to the door, opens it, and looks out._)

The Prince comes down the stairs! Quick, aunts, quick!

FLAT-FOOT (_rising_). Well, 't is finished!

ISABEL (_looking into hall_). Now comes the Queen! To the curtains, quick!

[_The three Great-Aunts hide behind the curtains, just as the_ QUEEN _and
the_ PRINCE _enter._]

QUEEN. Well, have you finished?

ISABEL (_pointing to a pile of thread_). There's the last of it, your

QUEEN (_looking at thread_). Spun in the finest style, too! Prince, but a
week ago these rooms were filled with flax. Now look at them.

PRINCE (_looking about_). Empty, as if flax had never been here. 'T is
wonderful how one maid could do so much!

QUEEN. 'T is most wonderful!

PRINCE. The wedding shall take place to-day. Isabel, come now with us.

ISABEL (_thoughtfully_). No, no! I cannot!

PRINCE. You cannot?

QUEEN. You cannot! What do you mean?

ISABEL (_to the Queen_). Let me go home, your Majesty!

QUEEN. Go home!

ISABEL. I am not worthy--

PRINCE (_interrupting_). Nonsense! That you are poor is nothing to me.

QUEEN (_going_). Come, the wedding bells shall ring at once!

ISABEL. Your Majesty--I--I--did not spin the flax.

QUEEN. What! You did not spin the flax?

PRINCE. What is this?

ISABEL. I deceived you--I can scarcely spin at all.

QUEEN. But this pile of thread here--

ISABEL. 'T was spun by another.

PRINCE. Another?

ISABEL. Yes, Prince.

QUEEN. You shall marry that one then, my son!

(_To Isabel._)

As for you, return to your hovel!

(_Isabel turns to go._)


(_Isabel stops._)

Who is the wonderful spinner? Tell us where to find her.

ISABEL. Here, your Majesty.

QUEEN. Hidden away, I suppose?

ISABEL (_nodding_). Yes, your Highness, behind those curtains.

QUEEN. Go, my son, and draw the curtains. You shall be the first to look
upon your bride.

[_The Prince draws the curtains and sees the three Great-Aunts, who sit in
a row. They smile and smile upon the Prince, who stands looking at them in

FLAT-FOOT. You'd never be sorry to take me for your bride, my lord.

PRINCE (_not heeding_). Why is your foot so flat?

FLAT-FOOT. From treading the wheel! From treading the wheel!

HANGING-LIP. You'd never be sorry to take me for your bride, my lord.

PRINCE (_not heeding_). Why is your lip so long?

HANGING-LIP. From moistening the thread! From moistening the thread!

BROAD-THUMB. You'd never be sorry to take me for your bride, my lord.

PRINCE (_not heeding_). Why is your thumb so broad?

BROAD-THUMB. From pressing the thread! From pressing the thread!

[_The Prince turns to Isabel._]

FLAT-FOOT (_quickly_). Isabel does naught but gaze and gaze, on flowers and
trees and running brooks. Ha, ha, ha!

PRINCE. Is this true, Isabel?

ISABEL (_timidly_). Yes, Prince.

HANGING-LIP. She says these flowers and trees and running brooks do sing
her songs. Ha, ha, ha!

PRINCE. Is this true, Isabel?

ISABEL (_as before_). Yes, Prince.

BROAD-THUMB. And she begs leave to write down these songs. Ha, ha, ha!


PRINCE. Is this true, Isabel?

ISABEL (_hanging head_). Yes, Prince.

PRINCE. Isabel, hang not your head. I'll give you time to write your songs.

QUEEN. My son--

PRINCE (_interrupting_). Nay, nay, mother! The songs please me better than
the flat-foot and the hanging-lip and the broad-thumb of the spinners.
Come, Isabel, you shall be my princess! You shall sing me your songs! You
shall teach me how to gaze upon flowers and trees and running brooks, for
these things have ever been dear to my heart. Come, Isabel, come!



TIME: _one spring; noon_.
PLACE: _an army camp on the banks of a large creek. A village is near by.
To the south is a great forest_.

* * * * *


* * * * *

[_An ante-room in the Emperor's tent is seen. Great curtains separate this
room from the Emperor's room back. An_ AIDE _waits in the ante-room. Enter
the_ GENERAL _from the Emperor's room._]

GENERAL (_to the Aide_). Have any yet come from the village? The Emperor
would know.

AIDE. Yes, General. They wait without.

GENERAL. Bid them enter.

AIDE (_crossing; speaking to those without_). You will please enter.

[_Enter the_ MAYOR'S WIFE _and_ SON; _the_ RICH MERCHANT'S WIFE _and_ SON.]

GENERAL. You have come to see the Emperor?

THE LADIES. General, we have.

GENERAL. His Majesty wishes you to leave your sons here in camp until

MAYOR'S WIFE. General, could you not tell us the Emperor's plans?

GENERAL. Yes, madam. The Emperor must march southward where the enemy is in
camp. He wishes a guide who can lead him safely through this great forest.

RICH MERCHANT'S WIFE. We were told the Emperor would greatly honor the lad
he chooses.

GENERAL. 'T is true, madam. The lad chosen will be made an aide.

MAYOR'S WIFE. I thought only princes were chosen for the Emperor's aides.

GENERAL. They have always been princes. This is a great opportunity for the
lads of this village.

MAYOR'S WIFE. But how will the Emperor make a choice?

GENERAL. A test will be given every boy who comes. This test will prove his
fitness to be guide.

[_Enter an_ AIDE _from Emperor's room._]

AIDE. General, the Emperor would see you.

[_The General bows to the ladies and leaves._]

AIDE (_turning to the ladies_). The Emperor will receive you presently.

[_Aide goes. Enter the_ POOR WOODCUTTER'S WIFE _and_ SON.]

POOR WOODCUTTER'S WIFE (_timidly_). I heard the Emperor wanted a guide.

MAYOR'S WIFE. The Emperor only wants the boys of the best families, madam.

[_Enter the_ EMPEROR, GENERAL, _and_ CAPTAIN; _they remain back; are not
seen by the ladies._]

POOR WOODCUTTER'S WIFE (_sighing_). I suppose that is true, but Pierre is a
smart boy. If the Emperor could only see him--

RICH MERCHANT'S WIFE (_interrupting_). The Emperor wants a boy with proud
manners such as our boys have.

EMPEROR (_indignantly_). Fiddlesticks!

THE LADIES (_bowing_). Your Highness!

EMPEROR. Fiddlesticks and candles, I say!

POOR WOODCUTTER'S WIFE. I am sorry, your Majesty. I didn't know how it was.
Come, Pierre.

[_She turns to go._]

EMPEROR. Remain. Pierre shall have the test with the others. Ladies, you
shall know whom I have chosen when the test is finished. I bid you

[_The ladies bow and go._]

EMPEROR (_turning to the boys_). My lads, go through the forest southward,
till you come to the river. You may then return. Captain, see that guards
go with them. My lads, you must not speak the one to the other until I have
again seen you. I must have your word on that. Do you promise?

BOYS. Sire, we promise.

EMPEROR. 'T is well. Captain, they are now in your charge. General, a word
with you.

[_The Emperor and General go into Emperor's room. The Captain leads the
boys from the tent._]


TIME: _two hours later_.
PLACE: _the Emperor's tent; the Emperor's room_.

* * * * *


* * * * *

[_The_ EMPEROR _is seen sitting at a table looking at maps. Enter an_ AIDE.
_He salutes._]


AIDE. The prisoner has returned, sire.

EMPEROR. What prisoner?

AIDE. The one sent out for the test, sire.

EMPEROR. Who was sent?

AIDE. Ludwig, the prisoner who has been ill for so long.

EMPEROR. Ah, yes; bid him enter.

(_Aide goes; he reenters with_ LUDWIG, _who wears an old, torn army cloak
over his uniform. He salutes._)

I notice you are a bit lame, Ludwig.

LUDWIG. Yes, sire; in my left leg. My dog was hit at the same time.

EMPEROR. Does your dog go to battle with you?

LUDWIG. If he can slip into the ranks, sire. He always goes where I go,

EMPEROR. Then he went with you to-day, of course?

LUDWIG. Yes, sire.

EMPEROR. You are sure the boys didn't see you?

LUDWIG. No one saw me. I kept a sharp lookout. When I came to a clear space
I went to one side, hiding behind trees, to look ahead. Then I ran across.

EMPEROR. That must have tired you, Ludwig. You're not quite well yet.

LUDWIG. I found I couldn't leap the streams; I had to climb down the banks
and wade them.

EMPEROR. You rested by the way, didn't you?

LUDWIG. Yes, sire, and once I stopped to pick berries.

EMPEROR. You made the return trip by boat up the creek?

LUDWIG. Yes, sire.

EMPEROR. That is all.

[_The Aide and Ludwig go. The Emperor claps his hands. Enter_ SECOND AIDE.
_He salutes._]

EMPEROR (_to Aide_). Have the lads returned?

AIDE. No, sire.

EMPEROR. Do you know when the Captain expects them?

AIDE. In about half an hour, sire.

EMPEROR. Bid their mothers return at that time. I wish them to be present
at the test.

AIDE. Yes, sire.

[_He salutes and goes._]

EMPEROR (_slowly_). Let me see--a lame man; a lame dog; running footprints
across open spaces; wading streams instead of leaping them; stopping to
pick berries--Why, the story reads itself!

(_He sits at table; takes up maps._)

Well, we shall see what we shall see!


TIME: _a half hour later_.
PLACE: _the Emperor's tent; the ante-room_.

* * * * *


* * * * *

[_The_ LADIES _wait in the lower end of ante-room. Back is a great

MAYOR'S WIFE. I cannot think why the boys were sent into the forest!

RICH MERCHANT'S WIFE. Nor I! It seems to me the Emperor should have asked
them what they could do. Now, my boy dances so prettily!

MAYOR'S WIFE. I was certain he would ask them to ride. Now, my boy rides so
well--just like a prince!

RICH MERCHANT'S WIFE. Well, he will no doubt ask them all these things upon
their return.

(_She turns to Pierre's mother._)

You see, madam, how little chance your boy has. I am sure he cannot dance?

POOR WOODCUTTER'S WIFE (_sadly_). No, madam.

MAYOR'S WIFE. I am certain he does not ride?

POOR WOODCUTTER'S WIFE (_sighing_). No, madam.

[_Enter an_ AIDE; _crosses to Emperor's room; announces at curtains._]

AIDE. The boys have returned, sire!

[_Enter the_ CAPTAIN _with the_ BOYS. _Enter the_ GENERAL _from Emperor's

GENERAL (_announcing_). The Emperor!

[_Enter the_ EMPEROR; _all bow._]

EMPEROR (_sitting in armchair_). I will now give the test. Captain, bring
up the first boy.

[_The Captain brings up the_ RICH MERCHANT'S SON.]

EMPEROR. Well, my lad, what did you see in the forest?

RICH MERCHANT'S SON. Many, many trees, sire.

EMPEROR. You saw nothing but trees?

RICH MERCHANT'S SON. That was all, sire--just trees.

EMPEROR. I shall not want you; you may go.

RICH MERCHANT'S WIFE. Oh, your Majesty, if you could only see him dance!

EMPEROR. Candles and cheese! Do I want a dancing guide? Captain, bring up
the next one.

[_The Captain brings up the_ MAYOR'S SON.]

EMPEROR. Well, my lad, what did you see in the forest?

MAYOR'S SON. I saw trees and bushes, sire.

EMPEROR. Nothing more?

MAYOR'S SON. No, sire.

EMPEROR. I shall not want you; you may go.

MAYOR'S WIFE. Oh, your Majesty, if you could only see him ride! Just like a
prince, sire!

EMPEROR. Fiddlesticks! Captain, the last boy there.

[_The Captain brings up_ PIERRE].

EMPEROR. Well, my lad, what did you see in the forest?

PIERRE. I saw that a man had passed southward just before us, sire.

EMPEROR. How did you know that? Did you see him?

PIERRE. No, sire, I saw his footprints. He was lame in the left leg.

EMPEROR. How did you learn that?

PIERRE. The footprints were deeper on the right side. His dog was lame

EMPEROR. He had a dog?

PIERRE. Yes, sire; a lame dog I'm sure, because one of his tracks was
always faint or missing.

EMPEROR. Did you trace this man and dog by their footprints?

PIERRE. Yes, sire, to the river. There were traces of them in the grass, in
the mud, in the dust, on rocks, and in still water. I am certain they had
passed but a short time before--not more than a half hour.

EMPEROR. How could you tell that?

PIERRE. The grass had not yet straightened up. The tracks in the mud had
not yet filled with water. The prints in the dust were still clear although
a wind was blowing.

EMPEROR. Good! But how did you know they had but just passed through still
water and over rocks?

PIERRE. The water had not yet settled, and the rocks were still damp.

EMPEROR. Good! Very good!

PIERRE. Sire, I fear this man is one of the enemy!

EMPEROR. Indeed! What proof have you of that?

PIERRE. This, sire.

(_Handing a small piece of cloth to Emperor._)

'T is the color of the enemy's uniform.

EMPEROR. It is, my lad. How came you by it?

PIERRE. I found it on a thorn-bush. It was torn from his cloak, sire.

EMPEROR. And why from his cloak?

PIERRE. The thorn-bush was at least three feet from the man's line of
travel. The wind blew the cloak about.

EMPEROR (_handing the cloth to an aide; whispering to him_). Take this to

(_The Aide goes._)

Well, Pierre, do you think we should be in fear of this enemy?

PIERRE. I do not know, sire. I only know that he has a good disposition.

EMPEROR (_surprised_). A good disposition? How do you know that?

PIERRE. The dog was always near him. When the man stopped to rest, the dog
lay down at his feet.

EMPEROR. But he may have held the dog there, my lad.

PIERRE. Not while he was picking berries, sire.

EMPEROR. So our enemy picked berries, did he?

PIERRE. Yes, sire, the dog lying by the bushes all the while.

EMPEROR. Do you think we could capture this man?

PIERRE. Yes, sire, for he was very tired.

EMPEROR. How do you know that?

PIERRE. He climbed down the banks of every small stream. I should have
leaped them.

EMPEROR. You think it would be an easy matter, then, to follow and capture

PIERRE. Not easy, sire, for he was always on the lookout.

EMPEROR. How do you know that?

PIERRE. Whenever he reached a clear space, he went to one side, hiding
behind trees to look ahead. Then he ran across the open.

EMPEROR. Your proof of this, my lad?

PIERRE. His footprints in every clear space showed only the balls of the

EMPEROR. Good! You followed him only to the river.

PIERRE. Those were the orders, sire. Had I gone on, I could have overtaken
him by evening.

EMPEROR. That you could not, my lad, for the man is now here, in camp. He
returned by boat. Ladies, the test is over.

(_He turns to Pierre's mother._)

Madam, your son shall be my guide. I am proud to have a boy of such keen
sight and quick thought in my kingdom. And 't is much to be the mother of
such a lad. I salute you, madam! With greatest respect I salute you!

[_He bows to the happy woman with great courtesy._]

EMPEROR (_turning to the ladies_). Ladies, I bid you farewell.



TIME: _one morning; 1484_.
PLACE: _a street in front of King John's palace, Lisbon, Portugal. Gates to
courtyard of palace in background_.

* * * * *

ROQUE.[Footnote: Pronounced _R[=o]'k[=a]_.]
PANCHO.[Footnote: Pronounced _Paen'ch[=o]_ (_ch_ as in _ch_urch.)]
RIVERRA,[Footnote: Pronounced _R[=e]-ver'rae_.] A SEA-CAPTAIN.

* * * * *

[_Enter_ CARLOS, ROQUE _and_ PANCHO. _They carry their school-books. A
noise is heard in courtyard._]

ROQUE (_stopping; listening_). There's stirring in the King's courtyard!

[_He runs to closed gates; peeps through a crack._]

CARLOS. Come, Roque, we shall be late to school.

ROQUE (_throwing down books_). Come, look! They are laying the red carpets
in the court!

PANCHO (_throwing down books; peeping_). 'T is for the King they lay them!

CARLOS. Come, the master will be angry.

ROQUE. But the King will soon be coming!

PANCHO. Let's wait and see him, Carlos!

CARLOS. Not I! I know how the master flogs! Yesterday I came late to

PANCHO. Why were you late?

CARLOS. I stopped to watch the crazy Italian, Columbus.

[_He starts off; the others follow._]

ROQUE. I saw him once!

PANCHO. I wish I might see him!

CARLOS. There he comes now! (_Calling_.) _Loco!_[Footnote: Pronounced
_l[=o]'k[=o]_; Spanish for _crazy_.] _Loco!_

ROQUE. Aye, there he is! (_Calling._) _Loco! Loco!_

PANCHO (_calling_). _Loco! Loco!_

[_Enter_ COLUMBUS, _dignified and gentle. A crowd of_ BOYS _follow._]

ALL BOYS. _Loco! Loco! Loco! Loco!_

[_Enter_ SCHOOLMASTER, _carrying a switch._]

MASTER (_flourishing switch_). To school with you! To school now!

[_Boys run off in alarm._]

MASTER (_turning angrily upon Columbus_). You were teaching them your
foolish notions, sir!

COLUMBUS (_smiling_). I'd like the chance to do so, master.

MASTER. Ah, then you _have_ been at it! I saw them all about you!

COLUMBUS. I taught them nothing, master,--this time.

MASTER. 'T is well for you, sir, that you did not. The world is flat, sir,
flat! Do you not know that, sir?

COLUMBUS. I was so taught--

MASTER. How do you dare, then, to say the world is round?

COLUMBUS. Much study and common sense, dear master, have made me dare.

MASTER. The lessons taught your fathers are good enough for you, sir.

COLUMBUS. That cannot be, dear master. How, then, could the world move on?

MASTER. Move on? Hear him talk! Do you think, sir, that an elephant carries
this flat world on his back and walks about with it? Ha, ha!

[_Gates are opened;_ PORTER _is seen._]

MASTER (_going_). Go tell the King this world is round! Ha, ha! Go tell the

[_Schoolmaster goes._]

PORTER (_seeing Columbus; aside_). Ah, 't is the crazy Italian!

COLUMBUS. Porter, I seek the King!

PORTER. Do you think he'll listen to your silly talk? O, I've heard of you!

COLUMBUS. Come, let me in!

PORTER. Away! Away with you, _loco_!

[_Enter from gates, the_ JESTER _in cap and bells,_ HOSTLERS _and_

JESTER. Who's away? Who's crazy?

PORTER. The Italian there! He who says this world is round!

JESTER. Round? How now? Round, say you?

PORTER (_nodding; laughing_). With people on the other side!

JESTER. A-standing on their heads--so!

[_Jester stands on his head; all laugh. Enter a_ COURTIER.]

COURTIER. The King comes!

[_Enter_ KING JOHN _and many_ COURTIERS.]

JESTER (_capering about Columbus_). Ha, ha, ha, ha!

KING. What's this, Jester?

JESTER. Here's he, sire, who says this world is round!

[_He capers about Columbus; all laugh._]

KING. I've heard of your notions, Columbus. So you think there's land to be
discovered, do you?

COLUMBUS. Yes, your Majesty, I'm sure of it.

JESTER. With people a-standing on their heads--so!

[_He stands on his head; all laugh._]

KING. Silence! Columbus, I've a mind to listen, and give you ships and
money. Have you maps and charts to prove your plans?

COLUMBUS (_taking maps from cloak_). Yes, sire.

KING. Wait, then, till I have spoken with my Courtiers.

[_Columbus bows, retires, and unrolls maps._ CAPTAIN RIVERRA _crosses to
Columbus; talks with him aside._]

KING (_speaking softly to Courtiers_). You know, my Courtiers, that should
there be new lands, great glory will be given the discoverer of them.

FIRST COURTIER. Aye, sire, 't will bring him great honor.


KING. 'T is I, and I alone, who should have the honor and the riches!



THIRD COURTIER. But nothing can be done without the Italian's maps and
charts. No one but he knows the route over the unknown seas.

KING. Well, we must have his maps and charts.

FIRST COURTIER. He'll not sell them, sire. You may depend on that.

KING. And we'll not buy them. Go, bid my fool take them.

(_Courtiers showing surprise._)

Go, I say, and see to it!

[_Courtiers talk aside with Jester._]

RIVERRA (_to Columbus_). I wish you well, sir, for I believe that what you
say is true.

COLUMBUS. I'm glad to hear you say that, Captain.

RIVERRA. My ship is in the harbor now, and I must go. But I wish you well,
Columbus, I wish you well.

[_Columbus, throwing his maps on the stone bench near gates, takes
Riverra's hands in his. The Jester creeps up, takes maps, runs into the
court with them, and disappears._]

COLUMBUS (_with feeling_). I thank you, Captain--so few believe in me--

KING. Come now within, Columbus; I'll look at your maps and charts.

[_Riverra goes._]

COLUMBUS (_turning to take up maps_). Why, how is this! My maps were here
but just a moment ago!

KING. Who saw his maps?


The Courtiers are silent, sir.

COLUMBUS. I laid them there, sire!

KING. Then there they should be.

COLUMBUS. Some one has taken them--'t is a joke--

KING (_interrupting_). My Courtiers do not play jokes in my presence.

COLUMBUS. Those maps and charts are precious to me, sire!

KING. Come, now, I'm not so sure you ever had maps or charts.

COLUMBUS. Your Majesty!

KING. Well, produce them.

COLUMBUS. But, sire,--

KING (_interrupting_). I'll not hear excuses! Your maps, sir,--at once,

COLUMBUS. I'll make other maps and charts--

KING. Away with you!

COLUMBUS. Your Majesty--

KING. Away, I say! And come to us no more with tales of unknown lands.

[_Enter_ JESTER _from gates._]

JESTER. With people a-walking on their heads--so!

[_Jester stands on his head; all laugh. Columbus goes, showing bitter


TIME: _1492_.
PLACE: _Spain. Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella_.

* * * * *


* * * * *

[_Many_ COURTIERS _and_ LADIES _are seen in audience-room of palace; a
throne is in the background. Enter the_ FIRST COURTIER.]

FIRST COURTIER. The King and Queen!

LADIES _and the_ WISE MEN. _All bow as the King and Queen cross to throne
and sit. Enter the_ MONK; _he advances to throne and bows._]

KING. Speak, good Father.

MONK. I pray your Majesties to see one Christopher Columbus.

KING (_inquiringly_). Columbus?

MONK. The Italian who thinks he can find a short route to the Indies, sire.

KING (_nodding_). Ah, I remember. You brought his plans to us some time
ago, good Father.

QUEEN (_nodding_). Let us see him to-day, sire.

KING (_to First Courtier_). Admit this Christopher Columbus.

(_Courtier admits_ COLUMBUS. _He kneels before the King._)

Rise, Columbus, and tell us what you seek.

COLUMBUS (_rising_). Ships, sire, to prove the plans which I did send your
Majesties; plans for sailing in the unknown seas.

QUEEN. They seemed to me most wise and sensible.

COLUMBUS (_with joy_). Ah, your Majesty believes with me?

KING (_hastily_). I'd have our Wise Men speak. Unfold your maps before
them, sir.

[_Columbus crosses to Wise Men and unfolds a map before them. They look at
it, shake their heads and laugh._]

COLUMBUS (_with dignity_). I propose to sail by this route to find that
eastern land.

FIRST WISE MAN. Ha, ha! I never heard anything so absurd! He'd sail west to
find the east! Ha, ha!

SECOND WISE MAN (_pointing to map_). The edge of the world is out there in
those strange waters! And you are willing to fall off with your ships into
space, sir?

COLUMBUS. I'm sure the water continues--

THIRD WISE MAN (_interrupting_). How could there be land beyond? 'T would
be under us, and the trees would have to grow their roots in the air.

[_Wise Men nod wisely._]

SECOND WISE MAN. And the rain must needs fall upward there!

ALL WISE MEN (_nodding wisely_). Aye! Aye!

QUEEN. I've heard you did lay your plans before King John of Portugal?

COLUMBUS. I did, your Majesty.

KING. That was bad for you, Columbus. King John sent ships, but they soon

(_Turning to_ CAPTAIN RIVERRA.)

Was not that the way of it, Captain? You sailed with them, I believe?

RIVERRA. Yes, sire. But the failure came because the sailors were afraid
and refused to go on.

(_To Columbus._)

You were thus avenged for the theft of your maps, sir.

QUEEN. Would you sail again with this man as your leader, Captain?

RIVERRA. I would, your Majesty! I believe not in the monsters and the edge.

QUEEN. Nor I! Let's provide the ships, sire.

KING. Our people would not like it--they'd grumble. And so 't would be bad
for us.

[_Enter_ MESSENGER _in great haste; kneels before King and Queen._]

KING. What news do you bring? Speak!

MESSENGER. The Turks have captured the Spanish merchant ships!

KING. Our ships bound for the Indies?

MESSENGER. Yes, your Majesty.

KING. Alas! Alas!

QUEEN. The merchants and the sailors--did the Turks spare them?

MESSENGER. Not one, your Majesty!

QUEEN. Alas, such loss of life! And 't is not the first time! Not a month
that does not bring us the same sad news!

FIRST WISE MAN (_to Monk_). You must give our people consolation, Father.

MONK. 'T is not so much consolation they need, as another passage to the
Indies; one far away from Turkey and the cruel Turks.

QUEEN. You are right, Father. Speak on.

MONK. To find such a passage is the chief purpose of Christopher Columbus.
That is the hope that has given him courage when half the world called him

QUEEN. Sire, we must find ships and money!

KING. We dare not tax the people more--

QUEEN. Then I'll help you, Columbus! I'll pledge my own jewels to raise the

COLUMBUS (_joyfully_). Your Majesty!

QUEEN. 'T is for the safety of our merchants! 'T is for the glory of Spain!

COLUMBUS (_kneeling before Queen; kissing her robe_). My Queen!


TIME: _five months later; evening_.
PLACE: _on board the Santa Maria_.

* * * * *

CAPTAIN PINZON.[Footnote: Pronounced _Pin'th[=o]n_.]

* * * * *

[_The_ SAILORS _are seen sitting on deck in a group. They are gloomy and

FIRST SAILOR. 'T is a sea of darkness!

SECOND SAILOR. Last night I heard the angry sea-gods!

THIRD SAILOR (_nodding_). Aye, I heard them!

FOURTH SAILOR. What were they crying?

SECOND SAILOR. Angry words to us for coming into their own waters.

FIRST SAILOR. 'T is the Italian Columbus the sea-gods should destroy!


SECOND SAILOR. We'll never see Spain again!

THIRD SAILOR. We should compel him to return!


[_Enter_ COLUMBUS _with_ CAPTAIN PINZON. _They cross to bow of ship. The
Captain glances uneasily at the sailors._]

CAPTAIN. Admiral, I must tell you frankly, the sailors are dissatisfied.

COLUMBUS. I am sorry to hear that, Captain.

CAPTAIN. What shall we do, sir?

COLUMBUS. Do? Why, sail on!

CAPTAIN. I'll see to it, sir!

[_Captain goes._]

FIRST SAILOR (_crossing_). Admiral, the men have chosen me to speak for

COLUMBUS. What do they wish?

FIRST SAILOR. To return to Spain, sir!

COLUMBUS. Tell them we may see land any day now.

FIRST SAILOR (_shaking head_). They'll no longer listen to that!

COLUMBUS. Then tell them that I mean to sail on.

FIRST SAILOR (_starting_). Sail on?

COLUMBUS. Yes; to sail on and on. Go tell them that.

[_Sailor goes. Enter_ CAPTAIN.]

CAPTAIN. Admiral, the sailors below show signs of mutiny!

COLUMBUS (_alarmed_). Mutiny?

CAPTAIN (_nodding_). The same as these on deck. Only look at them!

[_The Sailors talk together excitedly and gesticulate wildly._]

COLUMBUS. Ah, if I could only give them my courage!

CAPTAIN. I fear for your life, Admiral, if the order is not given to

COLUMBUS. I cannot give it, Captain.

[_The Sailors on deck are joined by others from below. They rush down upon

FIRST SAILOR (_angrily_). You must take us back to Spain, sir!

SECOND SAILOR. We'll not go farther, sir!


COLUMBUS. I'm sure we will soon find land--

SAILORS (_interrupting; angrily_). Hear him! Hear him!

COLUMBUS. To the one who first sees land, the Queen has promised money--

FIRST SAILOR (_interrupting_). Money! to feed to the sea-monster!

SECOND SAILOR (_threateningly_). Will you turn back?

COLUMBUS (_with determination_). No!

CAPTAIN. Now, men, back to your duties.

THIRD SAILOR. Alas! we'll never see our homes again!

FOURTH SAILOR. Nor our friends!

FIRST SAILOR. We are lost, men!

SECOND SAILOR. What shall we do?

ALL SAILORS. What shall we do? What shall we do?

[_As their anger turns to despair, Columbus is touched._]

COLUMBUS. Listen, men,--I make you this promise: if we do not see land
within three days, we will return to Spain.

CAPTAIN. There, now,--that's a fair promise! Go now to your duties!

COLUMBUS. And let every man watch for land as he has never watched before!

SAILORS (_pleased_). Aye, aye, sir!

[_Sailors cross to a distant part of deck._]

COLUMBUS (_sadly_). Alas for my plans and my hopes, if these three days
bring not land!

[_He talks aside with the Captain._]

FIRST SAILOR. We were too easily won over, men.

SECOND SAILOR (_nodding_). Fearful things may happen to us in these three

THIRD SAILOR. Suppose we reach the edge to-morrow!

FOURTH SAILOR. Suppose the sea-monster should come for us to-night!


FIRST SAILOR (_cautiously_). Come closer, men! There's something I would
say to you!

[_Sailors close about him; Captain goes._]

FIRST SAILOR (_pointing to Columbus, who stands in bow looking at the
stars_). Why should he not fall into the seas to-night?

SECOND SAILOR. What! You mean--

FIRST SAILOR. I mean he _must_ fall into the seas to-night. Are you with
me, men?


FIRST SAILOR (_cautiously_). 'T is my plan to push him over as he stands
there looking at the stars.

FOURTH SAILOR. Why not creep upon him now?

FIRST SAILOR. Are you willing, men, to have the deed done now?


FIRST SAILOR (_to Second and Third Sailors_). Come with me, you two! We'll
creep up on his left.

[_They creep upon Columbus, who is seen to suddenly bend forward, looking
eagerly into the distance._]

COLUMBUS. Land! Land!

[_Sailors stop; enter the_ CAPTAIN.]

CAPTAIN. Did you say land, sir?

COLUMBUS. Land, Captain, land! Come, Sailors, come! Land! Land!

SAILORS (_looking; joyfully_). Land! Land!

COLUMBUS (_lifting his arms_). Now Heaven be praised!

NOTE TO TEACHER.--This play conforms to the spirit of the
traditional story of Columbus, but the dramatization has
made it necessary to condense into one scene the somewhat
prolonged negotiations with Ferdinand and Isabella.


Back to Full Books