Five years have elapsed between Acts I. and II.
SCENE.--A meadow. On one side a pathway going over a rustic bridge. At back the farmhouse among trees. In the distance a church spire.
DOBSON and DORA.
DOBSON. So the owd uncle i' Coomberland be dešd, Miss Dora, bešnt he?
DORA. Yes, Mr. Dobson, I've been attending on his death-bed and his burial.
DOBSON. It be five year sin' ye went afoor to him, and it seems to me nobbut t'other day. Hesn't he left ye nowt?
DORA. No, Mr. Dobson.
DOBSON. But he were mighty fond o' ye, warn't he?
DORA. Fonder of poor Eva--like everybody else.
DOBSON (handing DORA basket of roses). Not like me, Miss Dora; and I ha' browt these roses to ye--I forgits what they calls 'em, but I hallus gi'ed soom on 'em to Miss Eva at this time o' year. Will ya taške 'em? fur Miss Eva, she set the bush by my dairy winder afoor she went to school at Littlechester--so I allus browt soom on 'em to her; and now she be gone, will ye taške 'em, Miss Dora?
DORA. I thank you. They tell me that yesterday you mentioned her name too suddenly before my father. See that you do not do so again!
DOBSON. Noš; I knaws a deal better now. I seed how the owd man wur vext.
DORA. I take them, then, for Eva's sake. [Takes basket, places some in her dress.
DOBSON. Eva's saške. Yeas. Poor gel, poor gel! I can't abešr to think on 'er now, fur I'd ha' done owt fur 'er mysen; an' ony o' Steer's men, an' ony o' my men 'ud ha' done owt fur 'er, an' all the parish 'ud ha' done owt fur 'er, fur we was all on us proud on 'er, an' them theer be soom of her ošn roses, an' she wur as sweet as ony on 'em--the Lord bless 'er--'er ošn sen; an' wešnt ye taške 'em now, Miss Dora, fur 'er saške an' fur my saške an' all?
DORA. Do you want them back again?
DOBSON. Noš, noš! Keep 'em. But I hed a word to sašy to ye.
DORA. Why, Farmer, you should be in the hayfield looking after your men; you couldn't have more splendid weather.
DOBSON. I be a going theer; but I thowt I'd bring tha them roses fust. The weather's well anew, but the glass be a bit shašky. S'iver we've led mošst on it.
DORA. Ay! but you must not be too sudden with it either, as you were last year, when you put it in green, and your stack caught fire.
DOBSON. I were insured, Miss, an' I lost nowt by it. But I wešnt be too sudden wi' it; and I feel sewer, Miss Dora, that I ha' been nošn too sudden wi' you, fur I ha' sarved for ye well nigh as long as the man sarved for 'is sweet'art i' Scriptur'. Wešnt ye gi'e me a kind answer at last?
DORA. I have no thought of marriage, my friend. We have been in such grief these five years, not only on my sister's account, but the ill success of the farm, and the debts, and my father's breaking down, and his blindness. How could I think of leaving him?
DOBSON. Eh, but I be well to do; and if ye would nobbut hev me, I would taške the owd blind man to my ošn fireside. You should hev him allus wi' ye.
DORA. You are generous, but it cannot be. I cannot love you; nay, I think I never can be brought to love any man. It seems to me that I hate men, ever since my sister left us. Oh, see here. (Pulls out a letter.) I wear it next my heart. Poor sister, I had it five years ago. 'Dearest Dora,--I have lost myself, and am lost for ever to you and my poor father. I thought Mr. Edgar the best of men, and he has proved himself the worst. Seek not for me, or you may find me at the bottom of the river.--EVA.'
DOBSON. Be that my fault?
DORA. No; but how should I, with this grief still at my heart, take to the milking of your cows, the fatting of your calves, the making of your butter, and the managing of your poultry?
DOBSON. Naš'y, but I hev an owd woman as 'ud see to all that; and you should sit i' your ošn parlour quite like a lašdy, ye should!
DORA. It cannot be.
DOBSON. And plašy the pianner, if ye liked, all dašy long, like a lašdy, ye should an' all.
DORA. It cannot be.
DOBSON. And I would loove tha moor nor ony gentleman 'ud I loove tha.
DORA. No, no; it cannot be.
DOBSON. And p'raps ye hears 'at I soomtimes taškes a drop too much; but that be all along o' you, Miss, because ye wešnt hev me; but, if ye would, I could put all that o' one side ešsy anew.
DORA. Cannot you understand plain words, Mr. Dobson? I tell you, it cannot be.
DOBSON. Eh, lass! Thy feyther eddicated his darters to marry gentlefošlk, and see what's coomed on it.
DORA. That is enough, Farmer Dobson. You have shown me that, though fortune had born you into the estate of a gentleman, you would still have been Farmer Dobson. You had better attend to your hayfield. Good afternoon. [Exit.
DOBSON. 'Farmer Dobson'! Well, I be Farmer Dobson; but I thinks Farmer Dobson's dog 'ud ha' knaw'd better nor to cast her sister's misfortin inter 'er teeth arter she'd been a-readin' me the letter wi' 'er voice a-shaškin', and the drop in 'er eye. Theer she gošs! Shall I foller 'er and ax 'er to maške it up? Noš, not yet. Let 'er cool upon it; I likes 'er all the better fur taškin' me down, like a lašdy, as she be. Farmer Dobson! I be Farmer Dobson, sewer anew; but if iver I cooms upo' Gentleman Hedgar agešn, and došnt lašy my cartwhip athurt 'is shou'ders, why then I bešnt Farmer Dobson, but summun else--blašme't if I bešnt!
Enter HAYMAKERS with a load of hay.
The last on it, eh?
1ST HAYMAKER. Yeas.
DOBSON. Hošm wi' it, then. [Exit surlily.
1ST HAYMAKER. Well, it be the last lošd hošm.
2ND HAYMAKER. Yeas, an' owd Dobson should be glad on it. What maškes 'im allus sa glum?
SALLY ALLEN. Glum! he be wus nor glum. He coom'd up to me yisterdašy i' the hašyfield, when meš and my sweet'art was a workin' along o' one side wi' one another, and he sent 'im awašy to t'other end o' the field; and when I axed 'im why, he telled me 'at sweet'arts niver worked well togither; and I telled 'im 'at sweet'arts allus worked best togither; and then he called me a rude našme, and I can't abide 'im.
JAMES. Why, lass, došnt tha knaw he be sweet upo' Dora Steer, and she wešnt sa much as look at 'im? And wheniver 'e sees two sweet'arts togither like thou and me, Sally, he be fit to bust hissen wi' spites and jalousies.
SALLY. Let 'im bust hissen, then, for owt I cares.
1ST HAYMAKER. Well but, as I said afoor, it be the last lošd hošm; do thou and thy sweet'art sing us hošm to supper--'The Last Lošd Hošm.'
ALL. Ay! 'The Last Lošd Hošm.'
What did ye do, and what did ye sašy, Wi' the wild white rose, an' the woodbine sa gaš'y, An' the midders all mow'd, an' the sky sa blue-- What did ye sašy, and what did ye do, When ye thowt there were nawbody watchin' o' you, And you an' your Sally was forkin' the hašy, At the end of the dašy, For the last lošd hošm?
What did we do, and what did we sašy, Wi' the briar sa green, an' the willer sa grašy, An' the midders all mow'd, an' the sky sa blue-- Do ye think I be gawin' to tell it to you, What we mowt sašy, and what we mowt do, When me an' my Sally was forkin' the hašy, At the end of the dašy, For the last lošd hošm?
But what did ye sašy, and what did ye do, Wi' the butterflies out, and the swallers at plaš'y, An' the midders all mow'd, an' the sky sa blue? Why, coom then, owd feller, I'll tell it to you; For me an' my Sally we swear'd to be true, To be true to each other, let 'appen what mašy, Till the end of the dašy And the last lošd hošm.
ALL. Well sung!
JAMES. Fanny be the našme i' the song, but I swopt it fur she. [Pointing to SALLY.
SALLY. Let ma alošn afoor fošlk, wilt tha?
1ST HAYMAKER. Ye shall sing that agešn to-night, fur owd Dobson'll gi'e us a bit o' supper.
SALLY. I wešnt goš to owd Dobson; he wur rude to me i' tha hašyfield, and he'll be rude to me agešn to-night. Owd Steer's gotten all his grass down and wants a hand, and I'll goš to him.
1ST HAYMAKER. Owd Steer gi'es nubbut cowd tea to 'is men, and owd Dobson gi'es beer.
SALLY. But I'd like owd Steer's cowd tea better nor Dobson's beer. Good-bye. [Going.
JAMES. Gi'e us a buss fust, lass.
SALLY. I tell'd tha to let ma alošn!
JAMES. Why, wasn't thou and me a-bussin' o' one another t'other side o' the hašycock, when owd Dobson coom'd upo' us? I can't let tha alošn if I would, Sally. [Offering to kiss her.
SALLY. Git along wi' ye, do! [Exit. [All laugh; exeunt singing.
'To be true to each other, let 'appen what mašy, Till the end o' the daš'y An' the last lošd hošm.'
HAROLD. Not Harold! 'Philip Edgar, Philip Edgar!' Her phantom call'd me by the name she loved. I told her I should hear her from the grave. Ay! yonder is her casement. I remember Her bright face beaming starlike down upon me Thro' that rich cloud of blossom. Since I left her Here weeping, I have ranged the world, and sat Thro' every sensual course of that full feast That leaves but emptiness.
'To be true to each other, let 'appen what mašy, To the end o' the daš'y An' the last lošd hošm.'
HAROLD. Poor Eva! O my God, if man be only A willy-nilly current of sensations-- Reaction needs must follow revel--yet-- Why feel remorse, he, knowing that he must have Moved in the iron grooves of Destiny? Remorse then is a part of Destiny, Nature a liar, making us feel guilty Of her own faults. My grandfather--of him They say, that women-- O this mortal house, Which we are born into, is haunted by The ghosts of the dead passions of dead men; And these take flesh again with our own flesh, And bring us to confusion. He was only A poor philosopher who call'd the mind Of children a blank page, a tabula rasa. There, there, is written in invisible inks 'Lust, Prodigality, Covetousness, Craft, Cowardice, Murder'--and the heat and fire Of life will bring them out, and black enough, So the child grow to manhood: better death With our first wail than life--
Song (further off).
'Till the end o' the dašy An' the last lošd hošm, Load hošm.'
This bridge again! (Steps on the bridge.) How often have I stood With Eva here! The brook among its flowers! Forget-me-not, meadowsweet, willow-herb. I had some smattering of science then, Taught her the learned names, anatomized The flowers for her--and now I only wish This pool were deep enough, that I might plunge And lose myself for ever.
Enter DAN SMITH (singing).
Gee oop! whoš! Gee oop! whoš! Scizzars an' Pumpy was good uns to goš Thruf slush an' squad When rošds was bad, But hallus ud stop at the Vine-an'-the-Hop, Fur bošth on 'em knaw'd as well as mysen That beer be as good fur 'erses as men. Gee oop! whoš! Gee oop! whoš! Scizzars an' Pumpy was good uns to goš.
The beer's gotten oop into my 'ešd. S'iver I mun git along back to the farm, fur she tell'd ma to taške the cart to Littlechester.
Half an hour late! why are you loitering here? Away with you at once.
[Exit DAN SMITH. (Seeing HAROLD on bridge.)
Some madman, is it, Gesticulating there upon the bridge? I am half afraid to pass.
HAROLD. Sometimes I wonder, When man has surely learnt at last that all His old-world faith, the blossom of his youth, Has faded, falling fruitless--whether then All of us, all at once, may not be seized With some fierce passion, not so much for Death As against Life! all, all, into the dark-- No more!--and science now could drug and balm us Back into nescience with as little pain As it is to fall asleep. This beggarly life, This poor, flat, hedged-in field--no distance--this Hollow Pandora-box, With all the pleasures flown, not even Hope Left at the bottom! Superstitious fool, What brought me here? To see her grave? her ghost? Her ghost is everyway about me here.
DORA (coming forward). Allow me, sir, to pass you.
HAROLD. What are you? Where do you come from?
DORA. From the farm Here, close at hand.
HAROLD. Are you--you are--that Dora, The sister. I have heard of you. The likeness Is very striking.
DORA. You knew Eva, then?
HAROLD. Yes--I was thinking of her when--O yes, Many years back, and never since have met Her equal for pure innocence of nature, And loveliness of feature.
DORA. No, nor I.
HAROLD. Except, indeed, I have found it once again In your own self.
DORA. You flatter me. Dear Eva Was always thought the prettier.
HAROLD. And her charm Of voice is also yours; and I was brooding Upon a great unhappiness when you spoke.
DORA. Indeed, you seem'd in trouble, sir.
HAROLD. And you Seem my good angel who may help me from it.
DORA (aside). How worn he looks, poor man! who is it, I wonder. How can I help him? (Aloud.) Might I ask your name?
DORA. I never heard her mention you.
HAROLD. I met her first at a farm in Cumberland-- Her uncle's.
DORA. She was there six years ago.
HAROLD. And if she never mention'd me, perhaps The painful circumstances which I heard-- I will not vex you by repeating them-- Only last week at Littlechester, drove me From out her memory. She has disappear'd, They told me, from the farm--and darker news.
DORA. She has disappear'd, poor darling, from the world-- Left but one dreadful line to say, that we Should find her in the river; and we dragg'd The Littlechester river all in vain: Have sorrow'd for her all these years in vain. And my poor father, utterly broken down By losing her--she was his favourite child-- Has let his farm, all his affairs, I fear, But for the slender help that I can give, Fall into ruin. Ah! that villain, Edgar, If he should ever show his face among us, Our men and boys would hoot him, stone him, hunt him With pitchforks off the farm, for all of them Loved her, and she was worthy of all love.
HAROLD. They say, we should forgive our enemies.
DORA. Ay, if the wretch were dead I might forgive him; We know not whether he be dead or living.
HAROLD. What Edgar?
DORA. Philip Edgar of Toft Hall In Somerset. Perhaps you know him?
HAROLD. Slightly. (Aside.) Ay, for how slightly have I known myself.
DORA. This Edgar, then, is living?
HAROLD. Living? well-- One Philip Edgar of Toft Hall in Somerset Is lately dead.
DORA. Dead!--is there more than one?
HAROLD. Nay--now--not one, (aside) for I am Philip Harold.
DORA. That one, is he then--dead!
HAROLD. (Aside.) My father's death, Let her believe it mine; this, for the moment, Will leave me a free field.
DORA. Dead! and this world Is brighter for his absence as that other Is darker for his presence.
HAROLD. Is not this To speak too pitilessly of the dead?
DORA. My five-years' anger cannot die at once, Not all at once with death and him. I trust I shall forgive him--by-and-by--not now. O sir, you seem to have a heart; if you Had seen us that wild morning when we found Her bed unslept in, storm and shower lashing Her casement, her poor spaniel wailing for her, That desolate letter, blotted with her tears, Which told us we should never see her more-- Our old nurse crying as if for her own child, My father stricken with his first paralysis, And then with blindness--had you been one of us And seen all this, then you would know it is not So easy to forgive--even the dead.
HAROLD. But sure am I that of your gentleness You will forgive him. She, you mourn for, seem'd A miracle of gentleness--would not blur A moth's wing by the touching; would not crush The fly that drew her blood; and, were she living, Would not--if penitent--have denied him her Forgiveness. And perhaps the man himself, When hearing of that piteous death, has suffer'd More than we know. But wherefore waste your heart In looking on a chill and changeless Past? Iron will fuse, and marble melt; the Past Remains the Past. But you are young, and--pardon me-- As lovely as your sister. Who can tell What golden hours, with what full hands, may be Waiting you in the distance? Might I call Upon your father--I have seen the world-- And cheer his blindness with a traveller's tales?
DORA. Call if you will, and when you will. I cannot Well answer for my father; but if you Can tell me anything of our sweet Eva When in her brighter girlhood, I at least Will bid you welcome, and will listen to you. Now I must go.
HAROLD. But give me first your hand: I do not dare, like an old friend, to shake it. I kiss it as a prelude to that privilege When you shall know me better.
DORA. (Aside.) How beautiful His manners are, and how unlike the farmer's! You are staying here?
HAROLD. Yes, at the wayside inn Close by that alder-island in your brook, 'The Angler's Home.'
DORA. Are you one?
HAROLD. No, but I Take some delight in sketching, and the country Has many charms, altho' the inhabitants Seem semi-barbarous.
DORA. I am glad it pleases you; Yet I, born here, not only love the country, But its inhabitants too; and you, I doubt not, Would take to them as kindly, if you cared To live some time among them.
HAROLD. If I did, Then one at least of its inhabitants Might have more charm for me than all the country.
DORA. That one, then, should be grateful for your preference.
HAROLD. I cannot tell, tho' standing in her presence. (Aside.) She colours!
HAROLD. Be not afraid of me, For these are no conventional flourishes. I do most earnestly assure you that Your likeness-- [Shouts and cries without.
DORA. What was that? my poor blind father--
Enter FARMING MAN.
FARMING MAN. Miss Dora, Dan Smith's cart hes runned ower a lašdy i' the holler lašne, and they ha' ta'en the body up inter your chaumber, and they be all a-callin' for ye.
DORA. The body!--Heavens! I come!
HAROLD. But you are trembling. Allow me to go with you to the farm. [Exeunt.
DOBSON. What feller wur it as 'a' been a-talkin' fur hašfe an hour wi' my Dora? (Looking after him.) Seešms I ommost knaws the back on 'im-- drest like a gentleman, too. Damn all gentlemen, says I! I should ha' thowt they'd hed anew o' gentlefošlk, as I telled 'er to-dašy when she fell foul upo' me.
Minds ma o' summun. I could swešr to that; but that be all one, fur I haštes 'im afoor I knaws what 'e be. Theer! he turns round. Philip Hedgar o' Soomerset! Philip Hedgar o' Soomerset!--Noš--yeas--thaw the feller's gone and mašde such a litter of his fašce.
Eh lad, if it be thou, I'll Philip tha! a-plašyin' the sašme gašme wi' my Dora--I'll Soomerset tha.
I'd like to drag 'im thruff the herse-pond, and she to be a-lookin' at it. I'd like to leather 'im black and blue, and she to be a-laughin' at it. I'd like to fell 'im as dešd as a bullock! (Clenching his fist.) But what 'ud she sašy to that? She telled me once not to meddle wi' 'im, and now she be fallen out wi' ma, and I can't coom at 'er.
It mun be him. Noš! Fur she'd niver 'a been talkin' hašfe an hour wi' the divil 'at killed her ošn sister, or she bešnt Dora Steer.
Yeas! Fur she niver knawed 'is fašce when 'e wur 'ere afoor; but I'll maške 'er knaw! I'll maške 'er knaw!
Našy, but I mun git out on 'is wašy now, or I shall be the death on 'im. [Exit.
HAROLD. How the clown glared at me! that Dobbins, is it, With whom I used to jar? but can he trace me Thro' five years' absence, and my change of name, The tan of southern summers and the beard? I may as well avoid him. Ladylike! Lilylike in her stateliness and sweetness! How came she by it?--a daughter of the fields, This Dora! She gave her hand, unask'd, at the farm-gate; I almost think she half return'd the pressure Of mine. What, I that held the orange blossom Dark as the yew? but may not those, who march Before their age, turn back at times, and make Courtesy to custom? and now the stronger motive, Misnamed free-will--the crowd would call it conscience-- Moves me--to what? I am dreaming; for the past Look'd thro' the present, Eva's eyes thro' her's-- A spell upon me! Surely I loved Eva More than I knew! or is it but the past That brightens in retiring? Oh, last night, Tired, pacing my new lands at Littlechester, I dozed upon the bridge, and the black river Flow'd thro' my dreams--if dreams they were. She rose From the foul flood and pointed toward the farm, And her cry rang to me across the years, 'I call you, Philip Edgar, Philip Edgar! Come, you will set all right again, and father Will not die miserable.' I could make his age A comfort to him--so be more at peace With mine own self. Some of my former friends Would find my logic faulty; let them. Colour Flows thro' my life again, and I have lighted On a new pleasure. Anyhow we must Move in the line of least resistance when The stronger motive rules. But she hates Edgar. May not this Dobbins, or some other, spy Edgar in Harold? Well then, I must make her Love Harold first, and then she will forgive Edgar for Harold's sake. She said herself She would forgive him, by-and-by, not now-- For her own sake then, if not for mine--not now-- But by-and-by.
Enter DOBSON behind.
DOBSON. By-and-by--eh, lad, dosta knaw this pašper? Ye dropt it upo' the road. 'Philip Edgar, Esq.' Ay, you be a pretty squire. I ha' fun' ye out, I hev. Eh, lad, dosta knaw what tha mešns wi' by-and-by? Fur if ye be goin' to sarve our Dora as ye sarved our Eva--then, by-and-by, if she wešnt listen to me when I be a-tryin' to sašve 'er--if she wešnt--look to thysen, for, by the Lord, I'd think na moor o' maškin' an end o' tha nor a carrion craw--noš--thaw they hanged ma at 'Size fur it.
HAROLD. Dobbins, I think!
DOBSON. I bešnt Dobbins.
HAROLD. Nor am I Edgar, my good fellow.
DOBSON. Tha lies! What hasta been sašyin' to my Dora?
HAROLD. I have been telling her of the death of one Philip Edgar of Toft Hall, Somerset.
DOBSON. Tha lies!
HAROLD (pulling out a newspaper). Well, my man, it seems that you can read. Look there--under the deaths.
DOBSON. 'O' the 17th, Philip Edgar, o' Toft Hall, Soomerset.' How coom thou to be sa like 'im, then?
HAROLD. Naturally enough; for I am closely related to the dead man's family.
DOBSON. An 'ow coom thou by the letter to 'im?
HAROLD. Naturally again; for as I used to transact all his business for him, I had to look over his letters. Now then, see these (takes out letters). Half a score of them, all directed to me--Harold.
DOBSON. 'Arold! 'Arold! 'Arold, so they be.
HAROLD. My name is Harold! Good day, Dobbins! [Exit. DOBSON. 'Arold! The feller's clešn dašzed, an' mašzed, an' mašted, an' muddled ma. Dešd! It mun be true, fur it wur i' print as black as owt. Našay, but 'Good dašy, Dobbins.' Why, that wur the very twang on 'im. Eh, lad, but whether thou be Hedgar, or Hedgar's business man, thou hesn't naw business 'ere wi' my Dora, as I knaws on, an' whether thou calls thysen Hedgar or Harold, if thou stick to she I'll stick to thee-- stick to tha like a weasel to a rabbit, I will. Ay! and I'd like to shoot tha like a rabbit an' all. 'Good dašy, Dobbins.' Dang tha!