nuhome‎ > ‎plays‎ > ‎

uncle tom

  

Uncle Tom's Cabin

 

a play based on George L. Aiken's 1853 stage version

of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel

 

 

 

H

 

 

adapted by

 Peter Ramon


nupoetics@gmail.com 

 

 

"If you can laugh at me, you don't have to kill me.  If I can laugh at you, I don't have to kill you."

--Ralph Ellison, “An Extravagance of Laughter”

 

 

 

 

 


Copyright © 1990




H


PRODUCTION NOTES

This play is based on George Aiken's 1853 stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel.  Although some of the original play's dialogue and situations remain, I've shifted scenes around and invented new plot lines, characters, and twists.  It wasn't my intention to remain faithful to the original but to interpret the originaI.  I was writing about culture, not history.  Not about Uncle Tom, but about the myth surrounding Uncle Tom.

This play shouldn't be performed realistally.  Realism would kill the irony of the illusion.  It should be performed melodramatically, yet sincerely.

White roles could be played by black actors in whiteface and black roles by white actors in blackface, with the exception of Eva and Topsy, who could be played by children of the appropriate race, or little Harry, who could be acted by even a puppet or a doll.  This would help distance the play and add another level of irony.  Alternatively, the relatively large number of characters could be played by actors of any race, depending on availability and the casting needs of the production.

Sets for Uncle Tom  can be minimal, merely indicating a scene.  For example, in the scene with Eliza and Harry on the river of ice, the icefloes could be rolling platforms pushed by stagehands.  Also, the "projections" in the last act could be made by slides, video, film, even an overhead projector, or done live –– whatever suits the production and is practical.  The important thing is to get the idea across.

The hymn beginning on page 34 is from The English Hymnal (Oxford University Press, 1933).  The song Uncle Tom sings on page 36 is adapted from "Little Eva Song" by John G. Whittier and Manuel Emilio (1858).  The music for both of these may be found at the end of the script.  The Maypole song on page 26 requires original music.  Musical interludes could bridge scenes and accompany other sections of the play.

 


CAST OF CHARACTERS

(including suggested doublings)

 

BLACK

              GEORGE MORRIS -- Legree's runaway slave, handsome and in his prime, married to Eliza.

 

              UNCLE TOM -- an aged slave, everyone's friend.

 

              KIMBO and JIMBO -- Legree's ferocious, pagan slaves.

              OTHER SLAVES -- as needed.

 

              ELIZA MORRIS -- Shelby's slave, lovely and light-skinned, married to George Morris.

              LUCY -- a light-skinned, teenage slave of Marie.

 

              TOPSY -- a sassy young slave girl, about nine years old, Eva's friend.

 

              HARRY -- George and Eliza's son, about two or three years old.

 

 

WHITE

              ST. CLAIR -- a young, progressive, Louisiana plantation owner, Tom's second master.

              SPECTATOR -- an old geezer type.

 

              SIMON LEGREE -- a plantation owner notorious for his cruelty to slaves.

              HALEY -- a slave trader who buys Tom and Harry from Shelby.

             

              SHELBY -- a plantation owner, Tom's first master.

              STARKER -- a professional killer, hired by Marker.

              AUCTIONEER -- a man about fifty.

 

              DEACON SWAIN -- Ophelia's Northern suitor.

              FERRYMAN -- a wizened old coot.

              MARKER -- an agent of Legree.

              MR. JACKS -- an ambitious, young man from the bank.

 

              MARIE -- a Southern belle, St. Clair's wife.

              RUTH -- a Quaker lady who tries to help George and Eliza.

 

              EVA -- the angelic, ailing, only child, about seven or eight years old, of  St. Clair and Marie.

 

              OPHELIA -- St. Clair's spinster cousin from New York.

 


 

SYNOPSIS OF SCENES


ACT ONE


Scene 1 -- Morning.  Inside Eliza's cabin on Shelby's plantation in Kentucky.   George Morris enters and tells his wife, Eliza, that he can endure slavery no more and intends to flee to Canada.  There he will earn enough money to buy her and their child, Harry, from her master, Shelby.  Eliza begs him not to go, but he is determined.

 

Scene 2 -- A room in Shelby's house.  Shelby agrees to sell Uncle Tom and Eliza's son, Harry, to a slavetrader named Haley in order to settle Shelby's gambling debt.

 

Scene 3 -- Eliza and Harry meet Uncle Tom outside his cabin on a cold, wintry Kentucky night.  Eliza tells Tom that their master, Shelby, plans to sell him and little Harry.  She asks Tom to runaway with them to Canada.  Tom refuses.  It wouldn't be fair to the mas'r, he says.

 

Scene 4 -- A ferrycrossing on the banks of the Ohio River.  The Ferryman tells Eliza and little Harry that they can't cross the river because it's choked with ice.  Haley appears, inquiring after Eliza and Harry.  Eliza and Harry make a run for it.  Haley and the ferryman chase after them.

 

Scene 5 -- Eliza and Harry escape Haley and the Ferryman  by leaping into the river and jumping from icefloe to icefloe.

 

Scene 6 -- On the river of ice Eliza loses hold of Harry and they drift apart.

 

Scene 7 -- In the parlor of St. Clair's plantation house near New Orleans Marie waits impatiently for the return of her husband, St. Clair, and their daughter, Eva, who has been under doctors' care in New York.  St. Clair enters and introduces his Northern cousin, Ophelia, who will be Eva's tutor, and the aged black slave, Uncle Tom, who has saved Eva from drowning.

 

Scene 8 -- A Quaker house in Ohio.  George and Eliza are miraculously reunited.  Ruth, a Quaker lady, enters to tell them that a posse is hot on their trail.  Eliza leaves to fetch Harry from another room.  Shelby bursts in and pleads with George to return with him to Kentucky.  George doesn't trust Shelby and fires his pistol at him but hits Ruth instead.

 

Scene 9 -- High in the mountains of Ohio.  George, Eliza and Harry take a position behind some boulders.  Haley, Shelby and others enter and spy them among the rocks.  Haley and George fight and George throws Haley off a rock.  Shelby and the others flee.



ACT TWO


Scene 1 -- A lovely day on St. Clair's plantation.  Eva and Topsy enjoy the weather sewing or knitting while conversing.  St. Clair and Ophelia enter.  St. Clair announces to Ophelia that, as a social experiment, he is giving her Topsy to be her slave, to bring-up and educate in the way she should go.  At first hesitant, Ophelia sees it as her Christian duty and accepts Topsy as her possession.

 

Scene 2 -- A tavern in Kentucky.  Simon Legree receives a report from his agent, Marker, on the whereabouts of George Morris, Legree's runaway slave.  Legree asks Marker if he also knows what's happened to Tom, Shelby's former slave, whom he so much desires.  He suggests that he'd might like to buy Tom.  Marker says he has some friends in New Orleans who could help.  Legree likes the idea.

 

Scene 3 -- A study in St. Clair's house.  St. Clair asks Tom to deliver some money to the bank.  Tom asks St. Clair not to drink anymore.  St. Clair is deeply offended and sends Tom away but, once alone, admits his weakness.

 

Scene 4 -- Marker accosts his old friend Starker on a sleazy street of bars in New Orleans.  They agree to work together to gain possession of Tom from St. Clair.

 

Scene 5 -- Mayday on St. Clair's plantation.  Eva and Topsy dance around Uncle Tom, who is decked out as a Maypole.  Suddenly Eva is wracked by coughs and collapses.  She has a vision of heaven.  They all hug and kiss.  Enter St. Clair and Ophelia.  St. Clair sees Tom, Topsy and Eva kissing and suspects Tom of hanky panky.  St. Clair is outraged and sends Tom away.  Topsy runs away.  Ophelia runs off after her.  Eva, as a last request before she dies, asks St. Clair to free his slaves.  St. Clair, grief stricken, agrees.  As the weather darkens, St. Clair picks up Eva and carries her off to her snug little room.

 

Scene 6 -- Outside the door to Eva's room.  St. Clair laments to Tom, who tries to console him.  From within her room, Eva calls to Tom, who goes to her.  Ophelia enters and announces the doctor's departure.  There's nothing he can do.  St. Clair goes to tell the sad news to his wife, Marie.

 

Scene 7 -- Marie's boudoir, a room with two doors, a few moments later.  Marie calls for her comb.  Her servant, Lucy, enters with the news of Eva.  They rush off.  Enter St. Clair who, not finding Marie, exits.  Enter Marie who, not finding St. Clair, exits.  Enter and exit, in succession, Lucy, St. Clair, Ophelia, Marie, Tom, Ophelia, Lucy, Topsy, Tom, etc., all of whom just miss meeting each other.  Finally Marie enters and faints from the strain.  St. Clair enters and revives her.  Marie is angry at St. Clair for keeping her in the dark about Eva's condition.

 

Scene 8 -- St. Clair, Marie, Ophelia, Tom, Lucy and Topsy are all gathered in a tableau around the dying Eva, who has one of her visions.  They sing an Anglican hymn.  Eva dies.

 



ACT THREE

 

SCENE 1 -- Evening. A parlor in St. Clair's house.  In one part of the room St. Clair and Tom are talking, in another Ophelia and Topsy are sewing.  St. Clair tells Tom he has decided to heed Eva's last request and free all his slaves.  Ophelia discovers Topsy's most treasured possession -- a curly lock of little Eva's golden hair -- and allows her to keep it.  Any child, she tells her, who is capable of real sorrow is capable of real good.  St. Clair says he's going to mosey on downtown and see what's going on.  Tom and Ophelia worry about St. Clair.  Tom decides to lay him down a pallet by the door and wait for his master.

 

SCENE 2 -- Later that night on a dark street in old New Orleans a drunken St. Clair indignantly rejects Marker's offer to buy Tom.  Starker steps from the shadows and throws a knife which hits St. Clair in the back.  Mortally wounded, St. Clair draws a gun and fires wildly.  Marker and Starker flee.

 

SCENE 3 --  In the dimly lit entrance hall of St. Clair's house Tom is awakened by a faint scratching sound.  He thinks it's mice and goes back to sleep.  Lucy enters and chastises Tom for sleeping on the floor.  Tom hears St. Clair's voice faintly calling him from outside the door.  As Tom throws open the door, St. Clair falls into his arms with a knife stuck in his back.  Tom sends Lucy to fetch Ophelia.  St. Clair raves deliriously.  He has forgetten to sign the papers freeing his slaves!  Ophelia enters and immediately sends Lucy for Marie.  St. Clair raves on.  He thinks he sees Eva waiting for him in heaven.  Marie and Lucy enter.  St. Clair dies.  Marie screams.

 

SCENE 4 -- Marie and Mr. Jacks from the bank discuss finances in a parlor in St. Clair's house.  Lucy listens in.  There is just one thing, Mr. Jacks tells Marie.  A matter of the mortgage.  It turns out that the whole plantation must be sold and all its slaves with it.  The only hope is to come up with another source of cash.  Marie and Lucy perk up.  Now who could that be?

 

SCENE 5 --  At the slave market in New Orleans Tom, Lucy and St. Clair's other slaves are being auctioned off.  Legree, who has come all the way from Kentucky at Marker's behest, intends to bid on Tom.  A local Spectator criticizes St. Clair's Negroes -- calls them a lazy bunch.  Legree assures him they'll soon mend their ways under his care.  St. Clair examines Tom's teeth and admires Lucy.  The Auctioneer delays the start of the bidding.  He's waiting for a lady.  Suddenly Marie enters with Ophelia and Topsy, a wad of cash clutched in her hand.  She wants to buy back all her slaves.  But Legree refuses to allow the auction to be cancelled.  He contemptuously flings Marie's money into the air.  Let the bidding begin!

 

SCENE 6 --  In a room in St. Clair's soon-to-be vacated house Ophelia and Topsy are having a serious conversation.  On the verge of tears, Ophelia tells Topsy that the plantation has been sold, Marie has run off with Legree, and she, Ophelia, is moving back to New York.  She offers Topsy freedom but Topsy doesn't understand what freedom means.  She offers to take Topsy with her to New York, but Topsy doesn't want to go.  Topsy begs Ophelia not to leave her.  "Stay with me here, Mammy, down South."  Ophelia is truly touched and has a change of heart.  She agrees to stay.  Together they'll forge a new life!

 

SCENE 7 -- Tom in shackles in a dungeon somewhere on Legree's plantation.  Tom finds consolation in a lock of Eva's golden hair which she gave to him before she died.  Legree enters with his evil minions, Kimbo and Jimbo, who tear the lock from Tom's grasp.  When Legree idly twists it around his finger, it burns him.  Enraged, he beats Tom.  Marie enters in a disheveled state and tries to stop Legree.  Legree throws Marie aside and begins whipping her.  Tom jumps up and defends Marie.  Kimbo and Jimbo drag Tom off to "The Pit".  Marie pleads with Legree to spare Tom.  Legree assures her that Tom will come to no harm.  He whispers sweet nothings in her ear, kisses her neck and reminds her of the good times they've had.

 


ACT FOUR

SCENE 1 --  One afternoon Ophelia is pleasantly sewing in the parlor of her new abode in New Orleans, which she shares with Topsy, when Topsy enters to announce that a gentleman caller from the North is waiting to see her.  In walks Deacon Swain, an old suitor of Ophelia, with a bouquet of flowers.  Ophelia asks Topsy to run and put the flowers in water.  Once Topsy is gone, Deacon Swain declares his love for Ophelia, asks her to marry him and attempts to embrace her.  Topsy, entering with the vase of flowers, thinks Deacon Swain is attacking Ophelia and pummels him with the flowers.  Ophelia tells Deacon Swain she is proud to be Topsy's legal mother.  If he really wants to marry her, she says, he must take Topsy too.  Suddenly loud knocks at the door are heard.  It's George Morris, from Act I, come all the way from Canada on a mission of mercy to free Uncle Tom!

 

SCENE 2 -- In a room in his house, Legree seduces Lucy.

 

SCENE 3 -- Making their way through the thick Kentucky swamp that surrounds Legree's plantation, George, disguised as a white man, Shelby, Uncle Tom's former master, and Deacon Swain come upon a horrible sight:  Kimbo and Jimbo dancing around a pile of human bones!  As they watch, the two pagans have an argument and fight.  Kimbo kills Jimbo and scampers off with the bones.  Deacon Swain wants to flee but George and Shelby dissuade him.  Suddenly Kimbo returns with a hatchet in his hand.  Shelby and Deacon Swain run off.  George battles with Kimbo and kills him.

 

SCENE 4 -- The Pit on Legree's plantation.  Tom, bloodied from a whipping, lies cradled in the arms of Marie, who is trying to succour him.  Legree enters and begins to whip them both.  Enter George, Shelby and Deacon Swain.  Legree pulls out a gun and points it at Marie.  Tom bites Legree's ankle and all pile on.  A shot rings out!  The pile parts to reveal Tom -- mortally wounded!  Legree knocks out George and escapes.  Deacon Swain follows him off.  A shot is heard, then a scream.  Lucy enters and reveals someone's been wounded.  Legree enters with a knife and lurches towards Shelby, Tom and Marie.  Before he can attack them another shot rings out and Legree falls dead.  Deacon Swain enters with a smoking gun in his hand.  Shelby tells him Legree is dead.  Deacon Swain faints from the shock.

 

SCENE 5 --  Shelby, Marie, Deacon Swain, Lucy and George are gathered in a tableau around the dying Uncle Tom.  They beg him not to die.  Tom wakes up, sees a vision of Eva, says goodbye to them, and dies.  Enter Topsy and Ophelia on another part of the stage, while projections of Eva, Tom and St. Clair, accompanied by a heavenly choir, appear overhead.  All cry and wave goodbye as the images recede and fade.

 



H 

 


Uncle Tom's Cabin

     -- Childlike but not childish

 

 

ACT ONE

 

ACT 1, SCENE 1

DAWN.  SHELBY's PLANTATION somewhere in Kentucky.  Inside ELIZA'S CABIN.  ELIZA is standing with a lantern in her hand as her husband, GEORGE MORRIS, ENTERS.            

                                                                       

                                                                        ELIZA

                        George, is that you?  What's the matter?  Are you ill?  Why don't you smile and ask after our son, Harry?

                                                                        GEORGE

                        I wish our son had never been born!  I wish I had never been born!  I wish we had never been married!  At least then you might have been happy...

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Oh George, why do you speak like this?  What dreadful thing has happened or is about to happen?

                                                                        GEORGE

                        It's all misery, Eliza, all misery.  What's the use of carrying on?  I'm nothing but a worm, a slave, a mindless drudge in the eyes of my master, the heartless and cruel Simon Legree. 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        We must obey our masters, George, otherwise we wouldn't be Christians.  We must believe heaven is doing its best.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        My heart is full of bitterness, Eliza.  I don't believe in heaven anymore.  Why does it let things happen as they do?  I'm sorry, Eliza, but I must go.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Go!  But where?

                                                                        GEORGE

                        To Canada!  That's the only hope left.  There I'll settle down, make some money and buy you from your master, Mr. Shelby.  He's a kind man.  Surely he'll set you free.

                                            ELIZA

                        Oh George, do be careful -- for my sake and the boy's.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Don't worry, Eliza, they won't take me alive.  I'll find freedom or die!  Kiss me now, Eliza, and say farewell.   I must prepare for my journey.

 

ACT 1, SCENE 2

A ROOM in SHELBY'S HOUSE.  SHELBY and HALEY, a slave trader, seated around a table in conversation.

 

                                                                        SHELBY

                        I tell you, he's worth every penny!  The fact is, Haley, that Tom has been with my family for years and it breaks my heart to see him go.  He's an uncommon good negro -- steady, sensible, loyal, pious.  I trust him completely with everything I own -- money, house, horses -- and I've even set him up as a sort of overseer to my other slaves.  Why, last year I even sent him to Cincinatti with $600 and when some scalliwags tempted him along the way saying, "Why don't you make tracks to Canada with all that gold?" he put them down and said, "No, my master trusts me, my master trusts me."  Why, the man's a gem!  A bargain at twice the price.

                                                                        HALEY

                        It's still too high, Shelby, you can talk all you want.  One nigger won't cover your debt.  And besides, he's too old. 

 

ENTER HARRY, running after a ball.  ELIZA follows after him. 

 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Harry, come here child.  I told you not to play in the master's study. 

She quickly hustles the boy out.

                                                                        HALEY

                        Now you throw in that light-skinned gal and the boy and it's a deal.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        No, I couldn't do that, Haley.  My wife wouldn't part with Eliza for her weight in gold.  She's too much help to her in the kitchen.  But I'll ask her about the boy.

                                                                        HALEY

You do that.  I got a friend of mine who buys up handsome, young boys.  But don't take too long to make up your mind.  In this business you've got to know if you have something to depend on.

                                           SHELBY

                        Come by tonight and I'll tell you.

                                                                        HALEY

                        All right, see you then, Shelby.

 

EXIT HALEY.

 

                                                                        SHELBY

                        The fellow sees his advantage and means to press it.  I never thought the day would come when I'd have to sell my faithful Tom.  And throw in Eliza's boy to boot!  But I'm helpless, my debt demands it.  Oh, how the curse of gambling has brought me low!

 

ACT 1, SCENE 3

A snowy NIGHT outside UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.  ENTER ELIZA and HARRY.

 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        My poor boy, they may have sold you but they don't possess you.  Your mother's still got you by her side.  (She knocks on the cabin window.)  Uncle Tom, Uncle Tom, wake up!

                                                                        TOM (within)

                        Who's there?  Who's there on such a snowy night?

                                                                        ELIZA

                        It's me, Eliza, and little Harry.  (ENTER TOM.)  Oh, Uncle Tom, the master's sold you and Harry too!   It's been settled, the trader takes possession tomorrow.  Hurry, Uncle Tom, come with us, we're running away.

                                                                        TOM

                        Me, sold!  The master wouldn't do that...

                                                                        ELIZA

                        He doesn't want to but he must.  I overheard him tell the mistress it was to pay his gambling debts.  Otherwise the whole plantation and everyone on it must be sold.

                                                                        TOM

                        The whole plantation!...  No, I'm not going.  It wouldn't be right.  I can't desert the master.  He's always found me on the spot and he always will.  If it's between selling me or everybody on the place -- well then, let me  be sold.  I suppose I can bear it as well as anyone.  The master's not to blame. 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        I saw my husband, George, this morning, and he told me he was going away.  Now I'm all alone.  Perhaps I'll try to meet him in Toronto.  Or if I never see him again on this earth, perhaps we'll meet someday in heaven...  Oh, Uncle Tom, won't you change your mind and run away with us?

                                                                        TOM

                        No, child, the Lord has put me here to do His work, to do His will until the end.  He that saved Daniel from the lion's den, the children of Israel from the sea, and Jonah from the whale, I have faith will deliver me.  Now I'm beginning to see what my life was meant to be!

 

ACT 1, SCENE 4

DAWN. ELIZA and HARRY near the RIVER.

 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Courage my boy, at last we've reached the river.  Once it rolls between us and our pursuers, we'll be in Ohio and safe.  Gracious heaven!  The river's choked with ice!  Oh Lord above, please protect me and my little boy.  Guide us to safety.  Thy will be done.  Amen.

                                                                        FERRYMAN  (off-stage)

                        Hallo!  Who's there?

 

ENTER FERRYMAN.

 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Are you the ferryman?  We've walked all day to get here.  My little boy is very sick and he needs to get home.  Could you take us across the river?  I have some money, I can pay.

                                                                        FERRYMAN

                        Don't care how much money you have, ferry ain't runnin'.  River's blocked.  What's the matter with your young 'un?  All tuckered out?  Well, you can warm yourself by the fire in yonder cabin till the ice clears, if you've a mind to.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        How can I ever thank you for your kindness?

                                                                        FERRYMAN

                        No need, no need.  You're human too.  (EXIT ELIZA and HARRY.)  Bless my soul if that ain't a pretty yaller-skinned gal.  Wouldn't mind giving her a whirl.

 

ENTER HALEY

 

                                                                        HALEY

                        You there!  Is the ferry running today?

                                                                        FERRYMAN

                        Not likely.

                                                                        HALEY

                        I am a lawyer and my name is Haley. (He gives him his card.)  I'm searching for two runaway slaves.  A woman and a child.  Have you seen them?

                                                                        FERRYMAN

                        I might have and I might not.  What's in it for me?

 

ELIZA and HARRY try to sneak away.

                                                                        HALEY

                        There they are now!  They're trying to get away!  They're headed for the river!  After them! 

 

EXIT ELIZA and HARRY pursued by HALEY and FERRYMAN.

     

ACT 1, SCENE 5

The RIVERBANK.  ENTER ELIZA and HARRY.

 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        How can I escape these human bloodhounds that keep pressing at my heels?  The river is my only hope -- the river of ice -- a black stream that lies between me and freedom.  Surely we'll reach the other shore.  Surely the ice will bear our weight.  Yet, if not, better to sink beneath the frigid waters with my child clasped to my breast than to see him snatched violently away and sold into slavery.  Courage, my son, we'll be free or perish!

 

EXIT ELIZA and HARRY.  ENTER HALEY and FERRYMAN.

 

                                                                        HALEY

                        We'll catch her yet.  The river will stop her.

                                                                        FERRYMAN

                        No, look!  She's jumping on a block of ice.  She'll be drowned!

                                                                        HALEY

                        (Aside)  The bitch is worth $1000 clear to me in New Orleans.  (To FERRYMAN)  To the ferry!  To the ferry!  A hundred dollars for your boat!  (He pulls out a wad of bills.)


                                                                        FERRYMAN

                        To the ferry!  To the ferry!

 

ACT 1, SCENE 6

ELIZA and HARRY on an icefloe.  Other icefloes batter them about.  HARRY and

ELIZA become separated on different icefloes.  They drift apart.

 

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Harry, Harry, my child, my son!  Come back, come back!

                                                                        HARRY

                        Momma!  Momma!

 

ACT 1, SCENE 7

INSIDE ST. CLAIR'S HOUSE near New Orleans.  MARIE is reclining on a couch.

 

                                                                        MARIE

                        I wish my husband would come home.  He's been gone too long. And me with a sick-headache.  (SOUND of a HORSE and CARRIAGE)  Perhaps that's him now!

ENTER EVA who throws her arms around her mother's neck.

                                                                        EVA

                        Momma!  Momma!  We're home!

                                                                        MARIE

                        Eva, my child!  Careful dear, you'll muss my hair.

 

ENTER ST. CLAIR and behind him, OPHELIA and UNCLE TOM.

 

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Well, home at last, Marie.  The happy wanderers have returned.  I'm sorry we've been gone so long.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Your message said you'd be home yesterday, St. Clair.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

Well, we had a little adventure on the way.  Marie, may I present my cousin Ophelia who has agreed to be Eva's new tutor, as we had hoped...

                                                                        MARIE

                        I'm delighted to see you and so glad you could come and visit New Orleans, cousin Ophelia.  We rarely get a chance to meet members of the Northern branch of St. Clair's family.  I do hope you like our little city's fair appearance. 

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        I am looking forward to its appeal, cousin Marie.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        And here we have the cause of our delay, my dear, your new coachman, Tom.  Now don't say I never think of you when I'm gone!

                                                                        MARIE

                        How extravagant of you, St. Clair.  I hope he doesn't drink like the others.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh no, he's attested to as being a sober, pious article, my dear, the very hearse of his race.

                                                                        MARIE

                        I hope you'll be happy here, Tom.

                                                                        TOM

                        Thank you, ma'm.  I'm happy wherever the Lord puts me.

                                                                        EVA

                        Call him Uncle  Tom, Momma, call him Uncle  Tom.

She runs to TOM, throws her arms around his neck and gives him a kiss.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        (Aside)  Humph!  How disgusting!  Even in New York we don't kiss Negroes.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        But you haven't heard how we acquired Uncle Tom, my dear.  Eva persuaded me to buy him.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Eva?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tell her, sweetheart.

                                                                        EVA

                        There were all these people on the boat, momma, and when we stopped at the dock they all came pushing and shoving and crowding against the rail and then they pushed me into the water and I thought I was going to drown but Uncle Tom, he jumped into the river and saved me, momma, he brought me up out of the waters and all the people cheered him and they made him a hero and I made him a paper crown and Papa said he looked like the king of the slaves and he bought him for you -- oh, momma, he's the kindest, gentlest friend.  Can we keep him, can we keep Uncle Tom?

                                                                        MARIE

                        Well, I guess if you're so set...

                                                                        EVA

                        Yippee!  Ride 'em, Uncle Tom, ride 'em!

 

She jumps on TOM's back.

 

                                                                        MARIE

                        Now Eva, take care, you'll exhaust yourself.  Remember, you've had a long, hard trip.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Let her play, my dear, let her play.  The Northern air has done her good.  The doctors say her condition has improved.  And Uncle Tom doesn't mind, do you, Tom?

                                                                        TOM 

                        No sir.  She's as light as a feather.

                                                                        EVA

                        Giddee'up, Uncle Tom, giddee'up.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Show Uncle Tom about the house, Eva.

 

EXIT EVA riding TOM.

                       

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Really, cousin St. Clair, I believe in loving-kindness and love thy neighbor and all that, and I wouldn't want to hurt a fly, but as to kissing -- I'm surprised you allow such things in your home!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh, Ophelia, here in the South we're used to such carryings-on.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Goodness, St. Clair, you'll give your cousin the wrong idea!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

Pshaw, madam.  Eva's but a sweet, affectionate child and Tom a loyal, faithful friend.  T'would be a sin to ban such innocence.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Really, sir, now you surprise me!  (She puts her hand to her forehead and begins to totter.)  Oh, I'm not feeling very well.  All this excitement!  I've been lying on my back waiting here all day with a sick-headache...  You know how fragile I am when I get upset, St. Clair.  Please excuse me, cousin Ophelia, I feel I must retire to my room and repose until dinner time.   

 

EXIT MARIE.

 

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Alas, my wife is a perfect martyr to the sick-headache.     

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Humph!

 

 

ACT 1, SCENE 8

INSIDE a QUAKER HOUSE in Ohio.  GEORGE and ELIZA.

 

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Thank God, Eliza, we've been reunited.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Yes, thanks to these gentle Quakers who have given us shelter.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        It seems incredible that you and Harry got across the river of ice to Ohio safely.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Indeed it does.  It was terrible.  Once we even drifted apart.  I thought I'd never see our son again.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        And the ice all broken-up in blocks and churning and heaving and crashing about you!

                                                                        ELIZA

                        I leapt across the ice from floe to floe.  How I reached our son I'll never know.  It was like a miracle.

                                          GEORGE                                                               

                        You deserve you're freedom -- you've earned it.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Yes, and when we get to Canada I'll find a job and between us we'll earn a living.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Don't worry about that, Eliza.  I feel rich and powerful though I've nothing but my bare hands.  I seem to smell free air, and it makes me strong.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        We're not out of danger yet, George.  We have miles to go, remember.

There is a knock at the door.  ENTER RUTH, a Quaker lady.

                                                                        RUTH

                        My husband says come quickly!  There's a posse on your trail led by a man named Haley.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        That's him!  That's the trader that bought our son!  I must wake up Harry.

 

EXIT ELIZA.

 

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Woe to the man who tries to tear me away from my wife and child!  (He throws open his coat and reveals a brace of pistols.)  I'll fight to the death to protect my family.  Back down South I'll never go! 

                                                                        RUTH

                        I pray you put your guns away.  We want no killings here.

 

A KNOCK at the door.  ENTER SHELBY.  GEORGE draws his gun.

 

                                                                        GEORGE (recognizing Shelby)

                        Why it's Shelby, Eliza's former master!

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Don't shoot, George.  I've come to help you.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        I won't attack unprovoked.  Say what you have to say. 

                                                                        SHELBY                                              

                        George, listen to me, you're making a terrible mistake!  Haley and his men

are coming with warrants for your arrest.  I advise you to turn back.  You're setting yourself in opposition to the laws of the land!

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Bah!  I have no land but the grave!

                                                                        SHELBY

                        You don't understand, George.  You're endangering the safety of your wife and child.  Oh, George, I can't blame you for what you have done.  No mortal man would.  You've been sorely mistreated by your master, the infamous Simon Legree.  Everyone knows he's a harsh and cruel tyrant and I agree.  As for your son and Uncle Tom -- well, I'm ashamed of myself.  How could I have sold little Harry and old Tom, my faithful servant who virtually raised me up from a pup, to pay off a gambling debt?  Why, better if I had hocked my wife's jewels!  This is why I beg you, George, come back, come back with me to Kentucky and I'll make everything all right.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        So that's your game, is it!

 

VVVVVVVV

 

ACT 1, SCENE 9

GEORGE, ELIZA and HARRY in the MOUNTAINS of Ohio.  They struggle up to a high

place among the rocks.   

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Come up, Eliza, come up!  These boulders will shelter us.  Here, hand me the boy.  They'll have to come single file to get to us here.  Well within range of my pistols.

                                                                        ELIZA

                        Please, I beg you George, no more violence.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        But Eliza, you don't understand, it's either them or us!

ENTER HALEY, SHELBY and OTHERS.          

                                                                        HALEY

                        There they are, up among the rocks!  (HALEY fires at GEORGE.)

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Stay back, Eliza, stay back.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Why'd you do that for, Haley?

                                                                        HALEY

                        He's worth the same dead or alive.  What's the matter with you anyway, Shelby?  Getting soft?  (To GEORGE)  George Morris, I have a warrant for your arrest!  Come down peaceable and you won't get hurt.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        All I ask is to be left alone to leave this country in peace!  You may have the law and power on your side, but I've got arms to defend myself and the will to do it.  The first man who comes within range of my pistols I'll shoot.              SHELBY

                        Give up, George, give up!  Think of your family! 

                                                                        HALEY

                        Shut up, Shelby.  Haven't you done enough already?  I'll handle this.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Shelby!  Is that you?  What happened to the Quaker woman?  Is she all right?  (GEORGE reveals himself for an instant.  HALEY fires and wounds him slightly.)  It's nothing, Eliza, just a scratch.

                                                                        HALEY

                        I'm going up.  Cover me.  I never was afraid of no niggers and I ain't startin' now.

HALEY dashes up the rock.  GEORGE fires.  HALEY staggers for a moment, then

recovers himself and lunges at GEORGE.  They struggle.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Friend, you are not wanted here.

                                                                        HALEY

                        But here I am!

They continue to fight.  GEORGE throws HALEY off the rock.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        He's a madman!  Let's get out of here!

EXIT SHELBY  and OTHERS.  

                                                                        GEORGE  (beating on his chest like Tarzan)

                        Aaaaaiiiieeeeeooooooaaaaahhhhh! 

                                                                        ELIZA  (falling to her knees)

                        Forgive us Lord for what we do.

                                                                       


ACT TWO

 

ACT 2, SCENE 1

On the GROUNDS of ST. CLAIR'S PLANTATION.  EVA and TOPSY sewing or knitting.

                                                                        EVA

                        Topsy, why are you so naughty?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I d'know, Miss Eva, I d'know.

Pause.

                                                                        EVA

                        Topsy, why are you so mean?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I d'know, Miss Eva, I d'know.

Pause.

                                                                        EVA

                        Topsy, why'd you steal Lucy's new earrings my momma gave her for being such a good girl in the kitchen and smash them into smithereens?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Oh that Lucy!  She makes me so mad, Miss Eva!  All the time thinkin' she's better'n everyone 'cause her skin's so light.   Why, she ain't nothin' but a cream-colored field nigger herself, dressin'-up fancy and givin' herself airs!  Well, I showed her!  I seen those earrings of hers on the table and I felt a boilin' rage risin' up inside me and I snatched those earrings off the table and I threw 'em on the floor and I scrunched 'em into tiny bits under my foot!  Hee hee.  Once she called me a little black devil and said I didn't know nothin' and I threw a bucket o' slop on her head.  Hee hee hee.

                                                                        EVA

                        Oh Topsy, how can you do such things?  Don't you care about anyone?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I cares 'bout you and Uncle Tom and your father, the mas'r, but I don't cares about Lucy or Miss Feelie or yo' momma or...

                                                                        EVA

                        Hush, Topsy.  I won't hear another word. "If you can't say anything nice about someone don't say anything at all."  Oh Tops, what makes you so negative,  you're so negative  all the time,  why aren't you more positive,  like me?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I d'know, Miss Eva, I d'know.  I's just evil I guess.

                                                                        EVA

                        Oh don't say that, Topsy, don't say evil!  No one's evil.  Deep down you're good.  We're all good.  I can see it in your soul.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        My soul's black, Miss Eva, just like my skin.  Miss Feelie says my soul is black and evil through and through. 

                                                                        EVA

                        Oh no, Topsy, your soul is white, like mine.  Deep down your soul is white and pure and good and true.  This I know because the Bible tells me so. 

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Oh teach me the Bible, Miss Eva, teach me the Bible, so's I can be white too!                

                                                                        EVA

                        Very well.  In the beginning was baby Jesus.  And he was born...

ENTER ST. CLAIR and OPHELIA, interrupting.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Ah, just the lassies I was looking for.

                                                                        EVA

                        Papa! (running to him) I'm teaching Topsy the Bible so she can be white too!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh, er, how nice, my dear.  Wouldn't you say, Ophelia?

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Humph, seems like foolishness to me!

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Howdy, Capt'n!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Why, howdy, Topsy, howdy do!  Topsy, you know Miss Ophelia, don't you?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Sho 'nuff, Capt'n.  She was the one what whupped me good for stickin' my hand in the cookie jar.  Howdy do, Miss Feelie!

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        (Aside)  The child is incorrigible.  (To Topsy)  Howdy do, Topsy, howdy doody doo-doo! 

TOPSY and EVA giggle.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        I'm glad you two know each other already, Ophelia.  It makes it easier for me to propose something to you.   After our conversation at dinner last night I had an idea...

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Propose something to me?  Our conversation at dinner last night?  An idea?  I don't follow you, cousin.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Ophelia, you and your Northern brethren are always preachin' that what keeps the blacks from becomin' civilized is mainly ignorance and superstition and lack of a good, sound Christian upbringing and education, and you're always bemoaning slavery and startin' up some new society or other to raise money to send some poor missionary off to darkest Africa to save the souls of the poor benighted heathen -- well, that got me thinkin'... What if I gave you a heathen of your own to try your theories out on, a fresh-caught specimen, so to speak, from the pool of life for you to educate and bring-up in the way she should go?  Topsy here, for instance.  How would that be?  She's as close to a true heathen as you could possibly get short of going to Africa to fetch one.  You're a schoolmarm at heart, Ophelia, what do you say to my proposal?  

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Well, I never!  Cousin, sometimes you amaze me.  They warned me you were a strange one... Hmm, then again, it might be real missionary work.  I could write it up for the Church journal... Topsy, come here child.  Tell me, Topsy, how old are you?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I d'know, Miss Feelie, I d'know.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        You don't know how old you are?  Humph, how ignorant.  Well then, tell me Topsy, who is your father?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I d'know, Miss Feelie, I d'know. 

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        You don't know who your father is?  Humph, how shiftless.  Well then, tell me Topsy, who is your mother?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        I d'know, Miss Feelie, I d'know.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Ah, I should have known.  A poor orphan.  How pathetic.  Now I understand.   Tell me, Topsy dear, do you know who baby Jesus is and Christ who died on the cross for our sins, and our Father in heaven, hallowed be his Name, who made you, me, heaven, hell, the earth and everything in it?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        No ma'm, no ma'm, I don't knows nothin' 'bout none o'that.  I don't knows nothin' 'bout no baby Jesus, 'though I's willing to learn.  I don't knows nothin' 'bout no Christ who died on the cross, and I swears I ain't to blame.  I don't knows nothin' 'bout no Fadder in heaven, whatever be his name, and I don't knows nothin' 'bout who made you, me, heaven, hell, the earth and nothin' what's in it.  I ain't got no mudder, I ain't got no fadder.  I don't knows when I was born.  I's just Topsy and I growed!

ST. CLAIR bursts into laughter.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Impertinent child!  Really, St. Clair, how do you expect me to succeed with material such as this?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Mold her to your will, Ophelia, mold her to your will!  The deed is done!  She's yours to keep.  I signed the documents today.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        You what!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        I signed the official documents today.  A  gift from me to you.  Consider yourself the proud new owner of a little black female slave!

TOPSY embraces OPHELIA.                          

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Mammy!

OPHELIA is speechless.

 

 

ACT 2, SCENE 2

NIGHT. A TAVERN somewhere in Kentucky.  LEGREE sitting, MARKER standing.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Well Marker, have you any news of those runaway niggers I sent you for?

                                                                        MARKER

                        I'm afraid they've gotten clean away, Mr. Legree.  They're probably in Canada by now. 

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Dammit!  To lose all three -- man, woman, child -- and Haley too, my best agent... What do I pay you people for, anyway?  Well, it can't be helped and tomorrow is another day.  Here, sit down and have a drink, Marker.  You must be thirsty.

                                                                        MARKER

                        Don't mind if I do, Mr. Legree.

MARKER sits and has a drink.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Tell me, Marker, what do you hear of old Tom, the one that Shelby sold along with the boy to pay off his gambling debt?

                                                                        MARKER

                        I believe he was bought by a man named St. Clair down New Orleans way.  Don't know much about him 'cept he's got a big plantation down there and his Papa was a Yankee.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Mighty smart nigger, that Tom.  They don't make 'em like that anymore.  One of the old-fashioned kind.  Used to keep all of Shelby's books for him.  Understand that Shelby used him as a kind of overseer to keep the other blacks in line when they got fiesty.

                                                                        MARKER

                        Is that so?

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Nigger like that's mighty handy.  Wouldn't mind findin' a smart nigger like Tom for myself one day.  Might pay a good price for him.  You know what I mean?

                                                                        MARKER

                        Hmm.  Well, you know, Mr. Legree, I got me a friend or two down New Orleans way.  I could make inquiries, feel out the situation, see if Tom is...available. 

                                                                        LEGREE

                        You do that and let me know what turns up.  You're a good man, Marker.  Here, have another drink.

 

 

ACT 2,SCENE 3

ST. CLAIR'S STUDY.  ST. CLAIR, seated at his desk, and TOM standing.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Here are the bills, Tom, and the money to pay them.  Mr. Jacks at the bank will help you.  (He returns to his papers.  Pause.)  Well Tom, what are you waiting for?  Is there something wrong?

                                                                        TOM

                        I feel very bad about somethin', mas'r.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Well, out with it, Tom.  What's the matter?  Have you some complaint?  Haven't I been good to you?

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh yes mas'r, you been good to me.  I ain't got no complaint.  It's just, mas'r...you ain't good to yourself.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Myself!  What on earth do you mean?

                                                                        TOM  (dropping to his knees)

                        Oh mas'r, last night I seen it, I seen it, you come home... drunk!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Well yes, I suppose I was a little inebriated last night, in my cups, off my stride.

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh no, mas'r, you was drunk.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tom, be careful of what you're saying...

                                                                        TOM

                        It's because I do care that I begs you to stop, mas'r.  Oh mas'r, I's afraid this drinking of yours'll lead to the loss of all  -- money, hearth, home.  Heart, mind and soul.  Remember what the good book says, "It biteth like a serpent and stingeth like a bee."

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh Tom, you poor silly fool!  Don't worry about me.

                                                                        TOM

                        You is the fool, mas'r, you is the po' silly fool.  Oh mas'r, I implores you, before it's too late.  Just say no, mas'r, just say no!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        That will be enough, Tom!  You've gone too far!  Now take those bills to the bank and go about your business.

                                                                        TOM

                        Yes mas'r, whatever you say. 

EXIT TOM.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        And yet he's right.  I am chained to the bottle and cursed because of it.  Oh, if only I had the inner strength to never go there  (gesturing vaguely offstage) anymore.

 

 

ACT 2, SCENE 4

MARKER and STARKER meet in front of a saloon on a STREET in New Orleans. 

                                                                        STARKER

                        Marker!  Fancy meeting you here.  What brings you to New Orleans?

                                                                        MARKER

                        Why, Starker!  Just the man I was hoping to see.  How're you doing?

                                                                        STARKER

                        Not bad, not bad.  Could be better.  What're you up to these days?

                                                                        MARKER

                        Oh, a little of this, a little of that.  Catch as catch can.  I'm mainly in the nigger trade now.  Doin' quite well, as matter of fact.  Workin' for a man named Legree owns a big plantation up in Kentucky.

                                                                        STARKER

                        Is that so?  No more runnin' guns and whiskey to the Indians?

                                                                        MARKER

                        Well, you know, that got a little hot.

                                                                        STARKER

                        Yeah, but those were the good old days, weren't they, Marker?

                                                                        MARKER

                        You bet, Starker, you bet.  But say, how're you keeping yourself these days?  Still practicing your...skills.

                                                                        STARKER

                        I can still throw a knife at twenty paces and hit a man between the shoulderblades, if that's what you mean.

                                                                        MARKER

                        You know Starker, I always said you were the man for me.  In fact, I think I might have a place for you on my team.  Here's the scam.  I'm looking for a fellow named St. Clair, owns a big plantation 'round here.  Know him?

                                                                        STARKER

                        Know him?  Why, me and him's like this.  (He holds up two crossed fingers.)  We're old drinking buddies.  Why, many's the night he's bought me a pint.

                                                                        MARKER

                        I knew you'd come in handy, Starker, I knew you'd come in handy.  Why, you're my handyman!  (They laugh.)  Now here's my plan...

MARKER whispers in STARKER's  ear.  They walk off.

 

 

ACT 2, SCENE 5

MAYDAY on ST. CLAIR'S PLANTATION.  EVA and TOPSY dance around UNCLE TOM,

who is festooned with ribbons and flowers.

                                                                        EVA and TOPSY (singing)  

                                              Round we all go in a ring

                                              To welcome in the birds of Spring.

                                              Hearts are light and spirits gay

                                              In the merry month of May.

                                             

                                              Hearts are light because today

                                              Boys and girls go out to play.

                                              When they're through and day is done

                                              Count your blessings everyone.

EVA starts to cough and stops dancing.

                                                                        EVA (coughing)

                        Oh, Uncle Tom, I've never had so much fun.  (Cough, cough.)

                                                                        TOM

                        Careful, Miss, remember what your mama said.  You mustn't 'xhaust yourself.

                                                                        EVA

                        But the doctors in New York said I was better.  (Cough.)  And I do feel better, I do, I do.  (Cough, cough.)  I'm just a little tired...  New York is such a lonely place.  I'm glad I'm home.

EVA sinks to the ground in a swoon, supported by TOM and TOPSY. 

                                                                        TOPSY (fanning EVA with her apron)

                        Miss Eva, Miss Eva, ain't you feelin' good?

                                                                        EVA (recovering)

                        I'm all right, Tops, I'm all right.  For a moment I thought I saw a band of bright angels comin' straight at me and caught a glimpse of the jeweled gates of the New Jerusalem in all their glory.

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh, Miss Eva, you is havin' one of your visions again.

                                                                        EVA

                        Don't let them take my visions away, Uncle Tom, don't let them take them away!  (Cough, cough.)

                                                                        TOM

                        Ain't no one gonna take nothin' from no one, Miss Eva.  Don't you worry.  The only thing anybody's gonna be doing 'round here is givin'. 

                                                                        EVA

                        Oh, Uncle Tom, I love you so.  You're my sweetest, sweetest, dearest, dearest.  (TOPSY looks abashed.)  And of course I love you too, Topsy.  That goes without saying.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Oh, thank you, Miss Eva, thank you.

They all hug and kiss.  ENTER ST. CLAIR and OPHELIA.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tom!  Eva!

                                                                        EVA

                        Papa!

                                                                        TOM

                        Mas'r!

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Topsy!

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Mammy!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        What's the meaning of this, Tom?

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh mas'r, it don't mean a thing, it don't mean a thing.  We was just playin' and Miss Eva fell sick and...

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Is this, then, your idea of therapy?  Oh Tom, Tom, Tom, you disappoint me.  After all I've done for you...

                                                                         EVA

                        But it's true, Papa.  We were only playing and... (Cough, cough.)   

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (going to her)

                        Hush now, pussy, hush, Daddy's with you now.  Stand aside, Tom, I'll take care of my daughter now.  (He cradles EVA in his arms.)  Eva, darling, are you all right? 

She continues coughing.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Oh cousin, I fear for her life.

                                                                         ST. CLAIR

                        Silence, woman!  I'll hear no gloom and doom.  You females see a child with a cold or a cough and immediately you throw up your hands in despair.  You need only keep her out of the night air and the chill of the morning dew and don't let her play too hard and she'll be fine.  Won't you, my dear?

                                                                        EVA

                        Oh Papa...

She is wracked with coughs.

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh Lord, bless this child.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tom, go to your cabin!  I'll speak to you later.  And take off that ridiculous costume!

                                                                        TOM

                        Yes, mas'r, yes.  Like the ox in the Good Book, all dressed up for the sacrifice, I goes to the slaughter.

EXIT TOM.

                                                                         OPHELIA

                        Topsy, come over here!  I want to talk to you.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Nanny, nanny, boo boo.  I's a nigger and so is you.

TOPSY sticks her tongue out at OPHELIA, gives her a Bronx cheer and runs away.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Topsy, you come back here, come back here this instant!  Oh, that child is nothing but a bother to me.  I can't do anything with her.  I've taught and taught and taught until I'm tired.  I've punished and punished and punished till I'm blue.  Nothing seems to help.  She's  the same as ever -- incorrigible.  I wish you'd never given her to me, St. Clair!  (TOPSY reappears and sticks out her tongue at OPHELIA.)  Topsy, Topsy, you come back here!

OPHELIA runs off after Topsy.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Eva, my darling, speak to me!  Aren't you feeling any better these days?

                                                                        EVA

                        Not really, Papa.  These days I don't feel so good.  (Cough, cough.)

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh don't say so, don't say so, my sweet.  You look healthy and blooming as rose.

                                                                        EVA

                        It's no use, Papa, it's no use.  The time is coming.   I'm going and I'm not coming back. 

                                                                        ST.CLAIR

                        You mustn't indulge yourself in such morbid thoughts, my dear.  You'll be well again, you'll see.

                                                                        EVA (coughing)

                        Oh Papa, there's something I must ask of you before it's too late.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Anything, my darling, anything.

                                                                        EVA

                        Promise me that for my sake, after I'm gone, you'll free your slaves.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Free my slaves!

                                                                        EVA

                        Yes, Papa, free your slaves!  I see poor people all around.  They moan and groan from dawn to night and nobody gives them a break.  They're torn from their children, their families and friends and forced to labor long hours in hot fields under a burning sun.  They're bought and sold like cattle.  They're beaten like dogs.  They're trained to serve their masters hand and foot and to bob and bow like sheep and in return all they get is contempt.  They have no self-respect, no legal rights, no right to property.  Oh Papa, for my sake, when I am gone, free your slaves, free your slaves, set Tom and Topsy and all your slaves free!

                                                                        ST.CLAIR

                        Hush now, child, hush.  You mustn't distress yourself with such thoughts.  You speak of things beyond your ken.

                                                                        EVA

                        Promise me, Papa, promise me that when I am dead...

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh don't say dead, Eva dear, don't say dead.  That word pierces my heart.  I'll do whatever you ask, I'll free my slaves, I'll send them off with a plow and a mule, 20 dollars cash and an acre of land, I'll do anything you want, I'll fulfill your every wish, only don't say... dead.  (THUNDER and LIGHTNING.  ST. CLAIR lifts EVA in his arms and stands.)  The air grows chill, the wild wind rushes about and tosses the tops of the trees, dark clouds obscure the sun.  Come, my precious one, let's hasten to your snug little room and tuck you into bed.  (He starts to cross but pauses for a moment, thoughtfully.)  Oh Eva, my child, so innocent, so sweet, has there ever been a child like you?  Have you been sent from above to teach us love, to show us the way, to gladden our hearts, to bear us up -- but for a while, but for a little while?  Would God give just to take?  That deep, spiritual light that shines in your eyes shows itself in words and deeds more precious and pure than those of an ordinary child.  Surely you're an angel, that has come to be!  You seem too delicate, too fine, too fragile to bear our worldly life.  Strange and wonderful, I see as if in a dream the mark of heaven upon your brow, an air of immortality quivering upon your lips and your soul within, poised for flight. Oh,  I fear what fate has in store for you, I fear the days ahead.  I fear for us all and I'm full of dread.  It's a gift to be simple, it's a gift to be kind.  Oh, what will ease my trouble-in-mind?

THUNDER and LIGHTNING.  EXIT ST. CLAIR with EVA.

 

 

ACT 2, SCENE 6

Outside EVA'S CHAMBER DOOR.  ST. CLAIR and TOM.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        All the beauty is going out of my life, Tom.  She's slipping away.  The world is like an empty eggshell to me.  I'm falling to pieces.  I can't stand the strain!

                                                                        TOM

                        Pray, mas'r, pray!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Pray to whom and for what, Tom?  I don't believe in prayer anymore.  I'm all prayed out.

                                                                        TOM

                        Look up, mas'r, look up!  And you will see!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        I do look up, but it's nothing that I see.  Oh, I wish I had your faith, Tom.  How ironic that it's given to children and poor, honest wretches like yourself but withheld from wealthy, educated fools like me.

                                                                        EVA  (within)

                        Uncle Tom, Uncle Tom, is that you, Uncle Tom?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Hark, she calls your name.  Go to her, Tom.  She's explained everything to me.  It was all a silly misunderstanding.  You are forgiven.  Perhaps your prayers can accomplish what the doctor's medicines can not.

                                                                        TOM

                        God bless you, mas'r, God bless you.  You is a truly good and kind man.  I's comin', Miss Eva, I's comin'. 

EXIT TOM.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        What a saint!  What a gem!  I'd be sorely loath to lose that Tom.  He's one in a million.  His whole mission in life seems to be to emulate his Lord and Saviour and succour the lowly and poor.  Remarkable that a Black man can be so affected by the story of a Jew who died over eighteen hundred years ago...

ENTER OPHELIA.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        I've seen the doctor to the door.  He says he can do no more.  We must wait until the fever has passed.  Cousin, have you told your wife yet?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        I haven't talked to Marie yet, Ophelia.  I was waiting for a better moment.  I must go to her now.  I fear this may be the hardest part of all...  Stay here, cousin, and watch over my little girl.

 

 

ACT 2, SCENE 7

MARIE'S BOUDOIR, a room with two doors.  MARIE is dressing.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Lucy, Lucy, get me a comb.  Oh that girl, where can she be?  Whenever you need her she's not around.  Lucy!  Lucy!   (She looks for her.)  Where has she gone off to?

ENTER LUCY, crying.

                                                                        LUCY

                        Oh mistress, oh mistress, she is dying, she is dying.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Lucy, where have you been?  Who is dying?  What are you talking about?

                                                                        LUCY

                        Miss Eva!  She is dying!  The doctor says it's too late.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Eva?  Dying?  Nonsense.  She's been feeling much better these days...  Wicked girl, you're lying to me!

                                                                        LUCY

                        No mistress, I swear, I swear.  It's not a trick.  The master and Miss Ophelia are with her now.  Oh mistress, come, come quick!

MARIE and LUCY EXIT.  Pause.  ENTER ST. CLAIR through the other door.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Pardon me for barging in, Marie, but I must speak with you...  Marie?  Marie?   (He looks around.)  Hm, she's not in her room.  Where could she be?

EXIT ST. CLAIR.  Pause.  ENTER MARIE.

                                                                        MARIE

                        St. Clair!  Husband!  Here I am!  Are you looking for me?  Husband?  St. Clair?

EXIT MARIE.  Pause.  ENTER LUCY.

                                                                        LUCY

                        Mistress!  Mistress!

EXIT LUCY.  Pause.  ENTER ST. CLAIR.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Marie!  Marie!  (To himself, exasperated.)  We keep missing each other.

EXIT ST. CLAIR.  Pause.  ENTER OPHELIA.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Cousin!  Your wife seeks you.  Cousin!

EXIT OPHELIA.  Pause.  ENTER MARIE.

                                                                        MARIE

                        I can't bear to be with the child alone.  It frightens me.  Where is St. Clair?  Where has he disappeared to?

EXIT MARIE.  Pause.  ENTER TOM.

                                                                        TOM

                        Mas'r!  Mas'r!  You must come quick!  She's sinkin' fast.  Oh, where can he be?  (Singing, to the tune of "Jimmy Crack Corn")  "My mas'r's gone away..."

EXIT TOM.  Pause.  ENTER OPHELIA.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Marie!  St. Clair!  Cousins!  Oh, I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round!

EXIT OPHELIA.  Pause.  ENTER LUCY.

                                                                        LUCY

                        Mistress!  Mistress!

EXIT LUCY.  Pause.  ENTER TOPSY.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Lucy!  Lucy!

EXIT TOPSY.  Pause.  ENTER TOM.

                                                                        TOM

                        Mas'r!  Mas'r!

EXIT TOM.  Pause.  ENTER OPHELIA.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Where is everybody?

EXIT OPHELIA.  Pause.  ENTER MARIE.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Husband!  St. Clair!  Ohhh, this is getting to me!

MARIE falls to the floor in a faint.  ENTER ST. CLAIR.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (running to her side)

                        Marie!

                                                                        MARIE (coming-to)

                        St. Clair!  Thank God you're back!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        But, dear, I never left...

                                                                        MARIE

                        How is Eva?  Now, don't lie to me!  Oh my baby, my poor baby, I hear my baby calling me!  I'm coming, my angel!  I'm coming, my sweet!  (She struggles to her feet.)  Mama's here, precious one, don't cry!  Oh, why didn't you tell me as soon as it happened, St. Clair?  Why do you never consult me?  Why do you keep me in the dark about everything?  Oh, how can you be so cruel?

 

 

ACT 2, SCENE 8 

At EVA'S BEDSIDE.  EVA surrounded by ST. CLAIR, MARIE, OPHELIA, TOM, TOPSY

and LUCY in tableau.  AUDIO of WEEPING and CHOPIN'S FUNERAL MARCH.  WEEPING

gradually overpowers FUNERAL MARCH.  LIGHTS brighten on EVA.  WEEPING and LIGHTS come to a climax and cut.  EVA suddenly sits bolt upright in bed with her hand outstretched before her and her eyes open wide.

                                                                        EVA

                        I see a sea of glass mingled with fire.  I see a band of angels bright.  Look, look at the clouds!  They're like giant pearly gates!  And there's St. Peter with his golden key!  Oh say, can you see far off, beyond?  It's gold, all gold...  And now the sky opens wide and I see the Glory within!  And now I hear the trumpet sound of a new day about to begin!  And now I feel the rush around me of a thousand beating wings!  O joy!  O peace!  O love!

EVA falls back on her bed, exhausted.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Eva, my child!  Oh, this is awful.  Eva, darling, mama's here.  Don't you know me?  Speak to me, sweetheart, speak!  Oh, if only she would wake and speak once more...                                                            ST. CLAIR (hoarsely)

                        Hush, Marie, she is dying.

                                                                        EVA  (sitting up suddenly)

                        I'd rather be in Heaven.  (She sings.)

                                        Jerusalem, my happy home,

                                        When shall I come to thee?

                                        When shall my sorrows have an end?

                                        Thy joys when shall I see?

                                                                        TOM (singing)

                                        O happy harbour of the saints,

                                        O sweet and pleasant soil,

                                        In thee no sorrow may be found,

                                        No grief, no care, no toil.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (singing)

                                        There lust and lucre cannot dwell,

                                        There envy bears no sway.

                                                                        MARIE (singing)

                                        There is no hunger, heat nor cold,

                                        But pleasure every way.

                                                                        OPHELIA (singing)

                                        Thy walls are made of precious stones,

                                        Thy bulwarks diamonds square.

                                                                        TOPSY (singing)                                 

                                        Thy gates are of right orient pearl,

                                                                        LUCY (singing)

                                         Exceeding rich and rare.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                                        In thee no sickness may be seen,

                                        No hurt, no ache, no sore.

                                                                        TOM

                                        In thee there is no dread of death,

                                        But life for evermore.

                                                                        MARIE

                                        Thy houses are of ivory,

                                                                        OPHELIA

                                        Thy windows crystal clear.

                                                                        TOPSY and LUCY (together)

                                        Thy tiles are made of beaten gold.

                                                                        EVA

                                        O God, that I were there!

EVA falls back and dies.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Eva!  My little Eva!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Gone!  All gone!

                                                                        TOM

                        She was too good for keeping.  Now the angels have her home.  (He sings.)

                                        Weep no more for happy Eva.

                                        With the blessed angels leave her.

                                        Care and pain and weariness

                                        Never more will her distress.

 

                                        All is light and peace with Eva.

                                        Wrong and sin no more shall grieve her.

                                        Tears are wiped and fetters fall

                                        And the Lord is good to all.

                                       

                                        O for faith like thine, sweet Eva,

                                        Child confessor, true believer.

                                        All the blessings of the poor

                                        Waft thee to th' eternal shore.

AUDIO of WEEPING and CHOPIN'S FUNERAL MARCH fade-in, as before.  AUDIO of WEEPING overpowers FUNERAL MARCH.  LIGHTS dim to black as AUDIO builds to a climax and cuts.  BLACKOUT.  HOUSE LIGHTS come up immediately as CURTAIN descends.


ACT THREE

 

ACT 3, SCENE 1

EVENING.  A ROOM in ST. CLAIR'S HOUSE.  ST. CLAIR and TOM conversing.  OPHELIA

and TOPSY, in another part of the room, sewing.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        You know, Tom, I'd give everything I own just to have Eva back. 

                                                                        TOM

                        I knows, mas'r, I knows.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        But that can never ever be, can it, Tom, can it?

                                                                        TOM

                        No, mas'r, no.  That can never ever be.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Yet I can still  fulfill my dying daughter's last request and set you free, can't I, Tom, old man, can't I?  Yes!  Pack your bags and get ready to leave, faithful friend!  I'm going to set you free!

                                                                        TOM

                        You're what, mas'r?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        I'm going to set you free!

                                                                        TOM

                        Free!  Me, free?  You mean it, mas'r?  You really mean it?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        With all my heart and soul...

                                                                        TOM

                        Great God all mighty, free at last!  But, mas'r...what about the others?  I can't desert the others.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Splendid fellow!  Yes, the others too, even all the others.  All shall be free!  That was my vow and I intend to keep it.

                                                                        TOM

                        Praise the Lord, His ways are wonderful to behold!  But, mas'r... what about you?  I can't desert you while you're in need.  What will you do all alone without your slaves?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh, don't worry about me, Tom.  I'll get by.  Sell the plantation.  Move to New York.  Get a job...  Besides, small town life is not my style.  I need room to grow, a place to expand and spread my wings.

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh, mas'r, spread 'em here, spread 'em down here!  Don't run off to New York.  There's work to be done down here that only you can do!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Work?  What sort of work, Tom?

                                                                        TOM

                        The Lord's work, mas'r, the Lord's work.  Why, a man with your talent and abilities -- there's no limit to what you could do for the Lord.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Your Lord seems in dire need of help, Tom.

                                                                        TOM

                        We helps Him when we helps His critters, mas'r.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Good theology but difficult practice, Tom.  Yet your words excite within me a new and suggestive train of thought...

                                                                        OPHELIA (suddenly interrupting)

                        Topsy!  What have you got in your hand?  Open it up and show it to me!  It's something you stole, isn't it?

OPHELIA and TOPSY struggle.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        It ain't nothin' I stole.  It's mine, it's mine!

OPHELIA finally forces TOPSY'S hand open.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Ah, what have we here?

She holds up a little tattered bag with a ribbon wrapped around it.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        It's mine, it's mine!  T'ain't none of yours.

OPHELIA opens the bag and takes out the contents.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Why it's a lock of golden hair wrapped 'round a tiny silver spoon and with it a little rag doll.

                                                                        TOPSY (tearfully)

                        Don't take 'em away, Miss Feelie!  It's what Miss Eva gave me 'fore she died.  She cut that lock of hair herself from her own adorable head.   And that spoon was what she ate from when she was a kid.  And that little raggedy doll I made from one of her old socks and the other sock's the bag what holds 'em all...  Oh, please don't take 'em away, Miss Feelie!  When I sees 'em I remembers Miss Eva and when I remembers Miss Eva I does right.

                                                                        OPHELIA (touched)

                        Come, come, child.  Of course you may have them.  Any one who is capable of real sorrow is capable of real good.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Oh, thank you, Mammy, thank you.  You'll see, I ain't never gonna be wicked no more.

TOPSY RUNS OFF.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        I really think you could make something of that girl, Ophelia.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        The child has improved very much.  I have high hopes for her.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Well, I guess I'll mosey on downtown and see what's goin' on...

                                                                        TOM

                        Can I drive you, mas'r?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        No thanks, Tom. I'll drive myself.  Good night, Ophelia.  Don't wait up for me.  Tell Marie I'll drop in to see her when I get back.  Pen the dogs, would you, Tom? 

EXIT ST. CLAIR.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        His days are long and his nights are hard.  Ever since little Eva died he can't do anything for his wife and she is useless to him.  What a pity.

                                                                        TOM

                        Shall I lock up, Miss Ophelia?

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Yes, please, Tom.  I'll be retiring myself, soon.

                                                                        TOM

                        I'll just lay me a pallet by the door and wait till the master comes home.  Oh, I fears that this drinkin' o' his will be the ruination of us all!

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        I pray that your fears be in vain, Tom.  Your master is a good man but, like his father before him, weak.  He can't seem to face life alone...

                                                                        TOM

                        Heaven grant him surcease from his sorrow, Miss Ophelia.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Amen, Tom, amen.

 

 

ACT 3, SCENE 2

NIGHT on a STREET in New Orleans.  ST. CLAIR followed by MARKER.

                                                                        MARKER

                        St. Clair, wait up!  Don't go off half-cocked.  You take everything too personal.  There's no harm done in making a friendly offer, is there?  Come on inside and I'll buy you a drink.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (drunkenly)

                        Sir, you insult me!  I want no drinks bought by you.  My faithful Tom receives his freedom tomorrow morning no matter what.  As I told you before, he's not for sale.  I swore to my daughter on her death bed that I would free my slaves and I intend to keep my pledge.  It's a matter of honor which perhaps you cannot understand.  We have nothing to discuss, sir.  Good night!

ST. CLAIR turns to go.

                                                                        MARKER

                        Now, Starker, now!

STARKER emerges from the shadows where he has been hiding, throws a knife

and hits ST. CLAIR in the back.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (staggering)

                        Help, police!  (ST. CLAIR draws a gun from his pocket and fires wildly.)  Murderers!

                                                                        MARKER

                        Let's get out of here!

MARKER and STARKER flee.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Murderers!

He shoots the gun into the audience and collapses.

 

 

ACT 3, SCENE 3

NIGHT.  The dimly lit ENTRANCE HALL of ST. CLAIR'S HOUSE, furnished with a door

and a divan.  TOM asleep on the floor by the door.

                                                                        TOM (waking up suddenly)

                        Who's there?  Mas'r, is that you?  (Pause. Silence.)   Must o' been a mouse...or my imagination.

He goes back to sleep.  Pause.  A soft, scratching sound is heard.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (barely audible outside the door)

                        Tom, Tom...  Help me...  Help...

                                                                        TOM (waking up suddenly again)

                        What was that?

ENTER LUCY with a lantern.

                                                                        LUCY

                        Uncle Tom, what are you sleeping on the floor for?  You'll catch your death of cold.  (She sneezes.)  Achoo!

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (scratching at the door again)

                        Tom... Help me...

                                                                        TOM

                        Did you hear something, Lucy?

                                                                        LUCY (blowing her nose)

                        Pardon me?

                                                                        ST. CLAIR (scratching again)

                        Tom... Tom...

i

                                                                        TOM

                        Mas'r!  (To LUCY)  Get a grip on yourself, girl!  Go fetch Miss Ophelia and tell her the mas'r's hurt bad.  (EXIT LUCY)  Easy now, mas'r.  This may smart a bit.  (TOM pulls the knife out of ST. CLAIR's back and helps him to the divan.)  (To himself)  The mas'r's in terrible shape.   He can scarcely speak.  I do believe he's fixin' to die.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tom...beware, beware.  They're murderers.  They wanted to buy you from me.  But I wouldn't sell.  They're bloodthirsty killers...  They mean to have you for their own...

                                                                        TOM

                        Hush now,mas'r, you're safe now. Save your strength.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tom, I've done a terrible thing, a terrible thing...  I haven't signed your papers yet.  They're in my desk.  Oh, I was wrong to let it wait.  Quick, I must get them... 

ST. CLAIR tries to get to his feet but is too weak.

                                                                        TOM

                        Lay back, mas'r, lay back. 

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        But Tom, you don't understand.  Oh, it preys on my mind.  What will become of you when I'm gone?  I tremble to think...  Tell Jacks, tell Jacks at the bank... 

ST. CLAIR falls back, exhausted.  ENTER OPHELIA and LUCY.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        St. Clair!  What has happened?

                                                                        TOM

                        He's dreadful weak, Miss Ophelia.  It's all he can do to speak.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Tell Jacks at the bank, tell Jacks...  Killers, killers...  Oh, I tremble to think... Eva, my little Eva, I see you, my sweet!  I'm coming home, darling, Daddy's coming home soon...

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        His mind is wandering.  Quick, go get his wife.

EXIT LUCY.

                                                                        ST. CLAIR

                        Oh, Tom, beware, beware...   Jacks at the bank...  Papers in the desk... I have received my death wound.  Pray for me, Tom...  Oh, I'm coming, Eva!  I'm coming, sweetheart...

ENTER MARIE and LUCY.  ST. CLAIR dies.  MARIE screams.

 

 

ACT 3, SCENE 4

A PARLOR in ST. CLAIR'S HOUSE.  MARIE, LUCY and MR. JACKS from the bank.

                                                                        JACKS

                        So you see, Mrs. St. Clair, since your beloved husband never signed the papers before he died, all of his slaves, with the exception of the one called Topsy, who is your cousin's possession, are still your property, to do with as you please.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Oh Mr. Jacks, thank God!  I am much relieved.  This has been hard, so very hard for me...

                                                                        JACKS

                        Of course.  Indeed.  Unfortunately, there is just one more thing.  A matter of the mortgage. 

                                                                        MARIE

                        The mortgage! 

                                                                        LUCY

                        The mortgage?

MARIE gives LUCY a sharp look.

                                                                        JACKS

                        Yes, I'm afraid so -- the mortgage.  In the course of a somewhat misguided attempt to modernise the plantation, your husband incurred certain debts against which as collateral he signed away certain assets, to wit, his ownership in the farm and all its chattel.  This mortgage is now come due.  As you can see the papers are all in order, the figures are all there...  I'm afraid we have no recourse but to sell the plantation and all its slaves at auction and see what they bring.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Sell the plantation!

                                                                        LUCY

                        And all its slaves!

MARIE shoots LUCY another look.

                                                                        JACKS

                        It's the only way.

LUCY bursts into tears.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Oh shut up, stupid girl!  You'll probably find a good home somewhere.  But where will I go?  What will I do?  I'll be left all alone!

LUCY cries even louder.

                                                                        JACKS

                        I'm sorry, madam.  I'm truly sorry.  My hands are tied.  There's nothing I can do.  Unless of course you can come up with another source of cash to cover the debt...

                                                                        MARIE

                        Another source of cash...

                                                                        LUCY

                        Another source of cash?

                                                                        JACKS

                        Another source of cash.  Exactly.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Now I wonder who that could be?

MARIE and LUCY look at each other.

 

 

ACT 3, SCENE 5

The SLAVE MARKET in New Orleans.  LEGREE, MARKER, SPECTATOR and AUCTIONEER. 

TOM, LUCY and OTHER SLAVES on platform.

                                                                        MARKER

                        Well, what do you think, Mr. Legree?  I bet a finer bunch of slaves you never did see.  I told you it would be well worth the trip to New Orleans.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Not bad, not bad.  We'll see, Marker, we'll see.  Oh, by the way, I'll do the bidding myself this time.

                                                                        MARKER

                        Yes sir, of course.  (He nudges LEGREE and motions towards LUCY.)  Say, look at that lovely high-yaller over there, sir.  Only sixteen and never been kissed, I warrant.  Ha ha.  I bet she'd be good in the kitchen.  Ha ha ha.

                                                                        SPECTATOR

                        Them's all St. Clair's people.  (He spits.)  More spoilt a bunch o' niggers I never did see.  Impudent devils, everyone!  Wouldn't waste my money on any of 'em.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        In my hands they'll soon learn to mend their ways, my friend...  Auctioneer, which is the one called Tom?

                                                                        AUCTIONEER

                        You there!  Step down!  (He grabs TOM by the jaw and forces open his mouth.)  Lookee here, Mr. Legree, what a fine specimen.  Near' a perfect set of teeth.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Hmm, seems a bit aged to me.

                                                                        AUCTIONEER

                        Aged!  Oh, don't say aged.  Say experienced.  Why, old Uncle Tom here is just about the most useful nigger in the world.  If you're lookin' for an overseer, a bookkeeper, a houseman, a driver, a valet, a butler or a cook, why he's the man for you.  A regular Tom of all trades, so to speak.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Still appears ancient and weak.  Well, we'll see, we'll see.  What about the girl? (Indicating LUCY.)  What can she do?

                                                                        AUCTIONEER

                        Why, anything you want, Mr. Legree, anything you want.  (Winking.)

                                                                        LEGREE (grabbing her by the arm)

                        You're a nice enough lookin' girl.  What's your name?

                                                                        LUCY

                        Ow!  You're hurting me!

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Ha ha.  Sometimes I like a saucy little wench.

                                                                        TOM

                        Leave her be, mas'r, please leave her be.  She's just a child.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Don't tell me what to do, old man!  (He releases LUCY.)  I'll soon teach the both of you...  Let the bidding begin!  What's the hold-up, auctioneer?

                                                                        AUCTIONEER

                        No hold-up, sir, no hold-up.  Matter of fact, I was just about to start.  Just waitin' a bit on a certain lady was supposed to be here...

                                                                        LEGREE

                        A lady!  What lady?

ENTER MARIE and OPHELIA with TOPSY trailing behind.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Stop the auction!  Stop the auction!  Wait, I have the money!  (She waves a wad of bills.)  Here it is, auctioneer.  Enough to buy back all my slaves.

MARIE hands the AUCTIONEER the money.  He counts it.

                                                                        AUCTIONEER

                        Well, I guess it's here, all right.  Auction cancelled!  Everybody go home!

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Now wait just a minute, Mr. Auctioneer!  I didn't come down here all the way from old Kentuck just to go home!  I came here to buy slaves!  This lady's got to bid for this merchandise just like anybody else.  She can't just waltz in here wavin' a wad of bills and 'xpect to take possession of what's no longer hers.  This here is legal I'm talking, auctioneer, and you know it!  Once an auction is posted, the public's got a right to bid!

                                                                        MARIE

                        But Mr. Jacks at the bank said...

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Oh, hang Jacks at the bank!  I don't care what that little conniver said.  The law's on my side.  (Aside to Marker)  I thought you told me we had Jacks in our pocket...  (To auctioneer)  Let me see that money.  (He grabs the money from his hand.)  This money's no good here!

LEGREE flings the money into the air.  It scatters everywhere.  MARIE faints.

EVERYONE runs to pick up the money.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Let the auction begin!

 

 

ACT 3, SCENE 6

A ROOM in ST. CLAIR'S HOUSE.  OPHELIA and TOPSY.

                                                                        OPHELIA (holding back her tears)

                        Topsy, I want you to listen to me.  I have something important to tell you.  Are you listening to me?

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Yes, Mammy, I is one big ear.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Good.  Topsy, I am leaving this place and going far away -- back home to New York.  For a long time now, Topsy, ever since you were given to me, I've been wondering what to do with you.  Now I've made up my mind.  Topsy, I am going to give you your freedom.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Freedom!

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Yes, freedom!  You do  know what freedom is, don't you, Topsy?                         TOPSY

                        Oh, er, no...  Is it something good to eat?

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        No,  silly, it's not something good to eat.

                                                                        TOPSY (excitedly)

                        Is it something pretty to wear?  Is it a fancy dress?  Is it big?  Is it small?  Is it jewelry?   Does you got it in your pocket?  If'n you got it in your pocket an' it's jewelry, I sure would like to see it, bein' it's mine...

                                                                        OPHELIA (laughing)

                        Oh, Topsy, you poor innocent dear.  (Aside)  I do believe the child is becoming more precious to me every day.  (To Topsy)  Listen to me, darling, try to understand.  I am giving you your liberty.

                                                                        TOPSY (very excited)

                        My liberty!  Does I get that too?  Oh, lemme see, lemme see, lemme see my freedom and my liberty!  

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        (Aside) She doesn't understand a thing.  (To Topsy)  Hush now, Topsy, hush.  Quiet down and attend to what I say.  The plantation has been sold.  The slaves have been dispersed.  Your mistress, Marie, that shameless hussy, has run off with the infamous Simon Legree.  And I... I must go home.  This place is like a graveyard to me, haunted by ghosts.  I can't stay here anymore.  Oh, Topsy, I am offering you the chance of a lifetime!  Leave the South and come to New York with me.  There you'll be free!

                                                                        TOPSY (tearfully)

                        Oh Mammy, I don't wants to go to New York.  I don't wants to leave the South.  I don't wants to be free.  I just wants to stay here -- with you!  This place ain't no graveyard, Mammy.  Why, it's a natural paradise!  Can't you see?  Oh, Mammy, don't leaves me here down South cryin' all alone...

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Topsy, my little girl.   I am truly touched.  It will be as you say.  Here we will stay.  We'll make a new life together, you and I.

They embrace.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Oh, Mammy!  I loves you.  You is more than a Mammy to me.  You is almost a friend!

 

 

ACT 3, SCENE 7

The SLAVE QUARTERS on SIMON LEGREE'S PLANTATION.  Deep in a DUNGEON.  TOM in

shackles. 

                                                                        TOM

                        Woe is me.  I's come to a place of dark shadows.  I's come to a vale of tears.   My heart sinks like a lump o' lead.  My stomach rises up my gorge.  I fears I is a prisoner in Satan's den.  Oh Lord, why has you forsaken me?  Why has you forgotten your faithful friend?  Yet the Lord is with me and I shall not fear.  For when I is at my lowest ebb, I pulls from out o' my pocket this curly lock o' golden hair that little Miss Eva gave to me herself 'fore she died, and when I gazes upon it my soul grows calm, a sweetness fills my breast and I feels good again...

ENTER LEGREE with JIMBO and KIMBO.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Still mumbling your prayers, old man?  Still thinkin' God is gonna save you?  Haven't you figured out yet, I'm the only boss around here!  Didn't I buy you for 1200 dollars cash?  Ain't you mine, body and soul?  Say it, you cursed black devil!  Say you're mine, body and soul! 

                                                                        TOM

                        I can't say it, mas'r, I can't say it.  You may have bought my body, but you ain't bought my soul.  That was bought and paid for long ago by the One Who gave His life for mine.  And now it's in His keeping and you can't harm it.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        I can't, can't I?  Well, we'll see about that.  (LEGREE raises his whip.  TOM tries to hide EVA's lock of hair.  LEGREE notices.)  Eh?  What's that you got there?  Kimbo!  Jimbo!  Get it!  (KIMBO and JIMBO tear the lock of hair from TOM's grasp and bring it to LEGREE.)  Hmm.  What sort of trinket is this?  A  golden lock of curly hair...  My own sweet mother's hair resembled this.  Curse me if there's any such thing as forgetting...  (To himself)

I remember when my mother died.

She lifted up her face to mine and cried.

She bade me give up drink and evil friends,

To love the Lord and make amends.

And then she cut for me a lock of her hair

And begged me to promise to be honest and square.

I laughed in her face and slammed the door.

I never saw her face again no more.

Her head upturned, her hair aglow,

Still I remember it so...

Many years have passed since I spurned her vow.

Ah, I wonder where that lock of hair is now!

                        (LEGREE examines the lock of hair and idly twines it about his finger.  It begins to smoke.)  Ow!  It's burning me!  (He tries to take it off his finger but he can't.  Finally he tears it off, throws it to the ground and stomps on it.)  Some more of your cursed nigger voodoo tricks, is that it, old man? 

LEGREE whips TOM.

                                                                        TOM (as he is beaten)

                        I forgives you, mas'r, I forgives you.  I forgives you...etc.

ENTER MARIE in a disheveled state.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Stop it, Legree, stop it!  You told me you wouldn't.

MARIE grabs LEGREE's arm and tries to stop him.

                                                                        LEGREE (struggling with her)

                        This ain't none of your business, madam!

                                                                        MARIE

                        You promised, you promised!  You said no harm would come to my slaves, that they would all live an easy life.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Ain't nothin' easy in this world, Marie -- 'cept you...

He flings her aside and begins whipping TOM again.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Stop it!  Stop it!

She grabs LEGREE again. 

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Stay out of this, woman.  Or do you need a lesson too?

LEGREE throws MARIE down and begins to whip her.  TOM, in shackles, jumps up

and tries to stop LEGREE.  KIMBO and JIMBO grab TOM and throw him into a corner.

                                                                        LEGREE (To TOM)

                        I'll teach you!  I'll teach you to oppose your master!

LEGREE whips TOM again. 

                                                                        TOM (as before)

                        I forgives you, mas'r, I forgives you...etc.

                                                                        LEGREE (putting up his whip)

                        Ah, you disgust me.  What's the use?  Take him to the pit, boys.  I'll deal with him later. 

EXIT KIMBO, JIMBO and TOM.

                                                                        MARIE

                        The pit!  Not the pit!  He'll die there!

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Shut up, Marie!  Haven't you done enough already?  I'll brook no more interference from you! 

                                                                        MARIE (sobbing)

                        Have you no feelings of mercy or pity?  Have you no sense of shame?  You treat your slaves as though they were animals yet all the while you're nothing but an animal yourself!

                                                                        LEGREE

                        What of it?  So what?  Maybe we're all animals down deep -- poor dumb beasts, scratching and biting and clawing our selfish way to the top.  Don't tell me you ain't a little bit of a vixen yourself, Marie -- plotting and planning to get what you want.  Ain't that what life's all about -- dog eat dog, kill or be killed, to the victor goes the spoils?

                                                                        MARIE

                        No!  I don't believe it!  Life's not like that.  Life's not brutal and horrible and cruel like you say.  Somewhere there's truth and kindness.  Somewhere there's justice and fairplay.  Somewhere the sun is shining.  Somewhere hearts are gay.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Maybe in your world, Marie, but not in mine, not in mine... In my world, life's a jungle, life's a battlefield, life's hard, cruel, pitiless and tough.  I wasn't brought up like you, a spoiled rich bitch, waited on hand and foot with a silver spoon in my mouth.  I had to fight for a living every day.  I learned early on, in life you don't get something for nothing.  You must pay to play, you must pay to play, you must pay, you must PAY!

                                                                        MARIE

                        You're despicable!  I hate you!  How could I have ever let you have your way with me?  How could I have sunk so low?

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Humph!  Didn't seem so hard at the time, now did it?  (Suddenly conciliatory)  There, there, Marie.  Don't carry on so.  Everything's gonna be all right.  Don't you worry about that old nigger Tom.  I'll do him no harm.  And don't you think I ever was goin' to hurt you.  You know I was aimin' to miss.  It was all a game to scare Tom into obedience.  C'mon, Marie.  Don't you remember that weekend in Natchez?  Wasn't that a fine time we had?  Didn't you tell me I was your man and could do no wrong?  Wouldn't you like to visit there again?  Hey, don't be mad.  I really do care about you, I really do.  It was just a misunderstanding.  It'll never happen again, promise.  What's done is done.  You just caught me at a bad moment, that's all.  Here, let me see.  I didn't break the skin, did I? 

He kisses the nape of her neck.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Please, Simon.  Not here, not now.  I haven't forgiven you yet...

 

 


ACT FOUR

 

ACT 4, SCENE 1                                            

OPHELIA'S QUARTERS in New Orleans.  OPHELIA sewing or knitting.  ENTER TOPSY.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        There's a gen'l'man here to see you, Mammy.  Says he's a friend o' yours from up North.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        A friend of mine from up North?  Hmm...  Who could that be?  I no longer have friends up North.  Just relations.  Show him in, Topsy.  (TOPSY shows in DEACON SWAIN.)  Why it's Deacon Swain!

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        I'm flattered that you remember me, Ophelia.  You see, I haven't forgotten you.

He presents her with a bouquet of flowers.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Why Deacon, how thoughtful.  Run and put them in water, please, Topsy.  (EXIT TOPSY with flowers.)  Be seated, Deacon.  (They sit.)  I must say, I'm surprised to see you.  What brings you South to New Orleans, so far from your parish?

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Only the thought of you, Ophelia, only the thought of you.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Sir, you surprise me!

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Don't pretend, Ophelia.  You know as well as I that once we meant something to each other.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        That was long ago and faraway, and besides, circumstances have changed.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Nothing has changed in my heart, Ophelia.  That will never change.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        But you never wrote, you never answered my letters...

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        How could I?  My mother's delicate health would not permit it.  As a dutiful son, how could I leave her bedside for even an instant or intimate by even the most innocent means the innermost inclinations of my heart?  I hated to keep you hanging on, but I couldn't let you go.  I couldn't say yes, I couldn't say no, I couldn't say goodbye, I couldn't say hello -- in short, I couldn't commit!  I was bound to silence yet my heart was burning to speak and say, Yes, yes, yes, O yes!  Many nights and days I spent like this, tossing and turning, restless and alone, caught on the horns of a dilemma, roiled in sheets, mingling sobs with my tears.  Oh, Ophelia, my mother was borderline so long!  Her indomitable spirit would not break!  Yet finally, after a valiant struggle, she succombed... I awoke, free  at last -- free of my filial obligations, free to do as I pleased, free to be you, free to be me -- but, alas, you were gone -- gone, fled, disappeared into some strange, exotic, unknown Southern wilderness.  Thus it is, dear Ophelia, I have come all this way to see you and be near you, to speak to you, to express my affection, to tell you of my unswerving admiration and devotion, and to ask you -- dear, sweet, kind, gracious, sincere Ophelia -- to be my wife!  (He drops to one knee.)  Oh Ophelia, will you marry me?

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Marry you?  Why Deacon, you astonish me.  I don't know what to say.  I'm speechless.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Say nothing, Ophelia, only be my bride!

He attempts to embrace her.

                                                                        OPHELIA (fending him off)

                        Deacon Swain, have you lost your mind completely?  Please, I must ask you to unhand me!

ENTER TOPSY with a vase of flowers. She sees DEACON SWAIN embracing OPHELIA

and immediately begins to pummel him with the vase, of course making a mess

everywhere.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Leave her alone, you dirty old man!  Take your paws off my Mammy!  Get out o' here 'fore I calls the police.  Go on, get out o' here.  Don't you make me asks you twice!

The DEACON backs off spluttering.  TOPSY runs to OPHELIA.

                                                                        TOPSY

                        Mammy, is you all right?

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN (drying himself off)

                        Mammy?  Mammy?  What means this "Mammy", Ophelia?

                                                                        OPHELIA (embracing TOPSY)

                        It means what it says, Deacon.  No more, no less.  I am the child's legal mother.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Legal mother!  But how can this be?  Why, this puts a new complexion on everything!  If I had only known...

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        If you had only known you would not have come such a vast distance to express your love and affection for me?  Is that what you mean?

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Why, er, no...not at all.  That is not what I mean.  What I mean is that if, er, I had only known the circumstances better I, er, would have prepared myself differently.  I would have thought it through.  I would have taken stock...  Oh, this is all so confusing and new to me, Ophelia.

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        It's all so confusing and new to me too, Deacon, but I know what I must do.  I must stand by this little Afro-American girl despite the stares of strangers, the taunts of neighbors, and the fulminations of family.  And you, sir, you can choose:  Will it be a life of Sunday sermons, complacent ease, rich widows and afternoon teas in jolly old New York, or a life of hardship and care, ostracism and fear, struggle and strife down here in the steamy South with Topsy and me? 

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Ophelia, I...I'm speechless.  I don't know what to say.  Oh, give me time to think.  Perhaps in time I'll learn to understand...

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Time is marching on, Deacon, black clouds are forming, the days of reckoning are near.  Make up your mind.  It's now or never.  There's no time to lose.  Choose now, Deacon, choose!

Suddenly LOUD KNOCKS are heard off-stage.   

                                                                        GEORGE MORRIS (off-stage)

                        Miss Ophelia St. Clair, Miss Ophelia St. Clair!  I must speak to you!  (Knocking)  Please answer me!  Are you in there?  My name is George Morris.  I come from afar on a mission of mercy seeking news of a Negro named Tom.  Miss St. Clair, do you hear me?  (Knock, knock)  Will you help me?

 

 

ACT 4, SCENE 2

EVENING in A ROOM in LEGREE'S HOUSE.  LEGREE is waiting for LUCY who is just

ENTERING.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Ah, come in, my dear.  I've been expecting you.

                                                                        LUCY  (aside)

                        My soul sickens and my flesh creeps as his eyes gaze upon me.

LEGREE guides her to a chair.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Sit down, my dear, sit down. (She sits.)  There.  Don't be afraid.  I'm really quite harmless.  Tell me, Lucy -- that's what they call you, isn't it:  Lucy? -- how do you like it here on my Kentucky plantation?  Do you find it satisfactory?

                                                                        LUCY 

                        Yes, mas'r.  (Aside)  Oh, I wisht I was back home in the land o' cotton.  Old times there are not forgotten.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        You don't find your duties too arduous?

                                                                        LUCY

                        No, mas'r, no.  (Aside)  If  only I could escape... But Kimbo and Jimbo guard the door.   

                                                                        LEGREE

                        You know, Lucy, you'll soon learn that I'm a kindhearted man.  Say, I bet a pretty girl like you likes pretty things.  Did you ever have a pair of nice earrings?  I'll get you some...

LEGREE fingers her ears.                                          

                                                                        LUCY  (aside)

                        His very touch causes my stomach to turn.

LUCY shrinks from LEGREE.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Now, now, my dear.  Don't be scared.  There's nothing to be frightened of.  You know, I'm really quite easy to get along with.

LEGREE tries to embrace LUCY.  She flees from him.

                                                                        LUCY

                        No!  Let me work in the fields!  Let me be with my people!  I don't want to be a house nigger no more!  I don't want pretty things!

                                                                        LEGREE  (grabbing her wrist)

                        Listen to me!  You'll do as I say.  You'll come with me.  Here.  Now. Into this room.

                                                                        LUCY

                        No!  I'd rather die!  Kill me!  Kill me!

He forces her into the room.

 

 

ACT 4, SCENE 3

LATE AFTERNOON on LEGREE'S PLANTATION.  GEORGE MORRIS (in white face,

disguised as a white man), SHELBY and DEACON SWAIN are furtively making their

way through a thick Kentucky swamp.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Well, are we almost there yet, George?

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Pretty soon, Shelby, near as I can reckon.  I haven't been here in over a year and Legree's plantation is pretty hard to find located as it is in the middle of a swamp 10 miles from nowhere.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Yes, you're right, George.  It's so overgrown with weeds it's like a jungle right in the middle of Kentucky.  I've lived in this area all my life and I couldn't have found this place in a million years without a guide.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        That's how he likes it -- private, the better to carry out his nefarious deeds.  (Aside)  I can scarcely believe that my mission of mercy is nearly finished.  Have I really reached my perilous journey's end?  How ironic that impelled by fate and the entreaties of my wife I, George Morris, a former slave, disguised as a white man, have returned from the relative safety of Canada in order to rescue from the clutches of the cruel Simon Legree our beloved Uncle Tom, that sainted old black slave, whose living memory still burns brightly as an inspiration in the hearts of my wife, my child and me.  As the poet writes, In my end is my beginning, I guess...  Ah, but this revenge will be sweet!  We're coming, Uncle Tom!  Hold on, old man!  We're on our way!  But stay, what's this I see?

GEORGE motions the others to stop.  They hide behind some bushes as KIMBO and JIMBO enter, clutching large sacks.  GEORGE, SHELBY and DEACON SWAIN watch in horrified fascination as KIMBO and JIMBO dump out the contents of their sacks:  bones!  The two slaves are very pleased and dance around the bones.  Then they sit and begin to count, sort, trade and play with the bones, separating them into two piles.  They have a disagreement over the bones and begin to fight.  KIMBO kills JIMBO.  Standing over JIMBO's body, KIMBO triumphantly beats his chest and yells like Tarzan.   Then he gathers up all the bones, contemptuously kicks the lifeless JIMBO, and EXITS, scampering like a monkey.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        O the horror!  The horror!

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Shh, man!  Do you want to get us killed?     

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Let's get out of here!

                                                                        GEORGE

                        No, wait!  We can't stop now.  Haven't we all made a vow?  Didn't we all swear to bring the evil Simon Legree to justice?  (To DEACON SWAIN)  Deacon Swain, didn't you, sir, swear to the spinster Ophelia St. Clair that you'd return to her arms, there to enjoy all her charms, only after  you helped me free Uncle Tom?  (Turning to SHELBY)  And you, sir, Shelby, when I came and asked you for help, didn't you grab me by the hand and take me to the County Courthouse and there swear out a warrant for the arrest of Simon Legree on charges of murder, fraud, rape and sodomy, and then didn't you jump on a horse and waving the warrant in the air didn't we -- we three -- sally forth and come this far after two days of hard riding and now, at the very first sign of trouble, bein' so near, are we to turn on our heels like whipped dogs before there's even a fight?

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Y-yes!

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Bah, sir, you disgust me!

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        How dare you!  I'll let no black man speak to me like that!

                                                                        GEORGE 

                        Ah ha!  Now we have it.  It all comes down to race, doesn't it?  That's still the bottom line.  Behind the liberal grin there's yet the curse of skin. 

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Hold on now, George.  Let's not escalate this thing.  Listen, both of you.  Either patch up your differences now or I'm out of here!  As for you, Deacon:  George is right.  We made a commitment and it would be unmanly not to see it through.  Where I come from, a man's word is his honor.

Suddenly KIMBO JUMPS OUT with a bloodcurdling cry, holding a hatchet.  DEACON SWAIN and SHELBY scream and RUN OFF.  GEORGE and KIMBO fight.  GEORGE kills KIMBO.  GEORGE stands over KIMBO's lifeless body, beats his chest and yells like Tarzan.  EXIT GEORGE.

 

 

ACT 4, SCENE 4

The PIT on LEGREE'S PLANTATION.  UNCLE TOM, bloodied from a severe whipping, is

cradled in the arms of MARIE.

                                                                        TOM

                        I is done for, Miss Marie.  I is nothin' more than a bag o' bones and a heap o' clay.

                                                                        MARIE

                        Here, drink this, Uncle Tom, faithful friend.  It will make you well again.

He drinks and chokes.

                                                                        UNCLE TOM

                        Here now, Miss Marie, why you risk your life for me, one poor, old, tired nigger?

                                                                        MARIE

                        It's all I can do, Tom, it's all I can do.  I'm a miserable slave here just like you -- lower even.  Wasn't I once a woman delicately bred?  Didn't I once have diamonds and pearls, servants and cooks, family and friends?  Now, I have nothing.  To Simon Legree I'm just a toy to enjoy for awhile, a thing.  On this plantation, I'm a nigger too!

                                                                        TOM

                        Oh, don't say that, Miss Marie, don't say that.  You is a princess born and bred.  Oh,  I wisht I could succour you, you're so helpless and alone.  O Lord, send us comfort.  O Lord, lead us home.  In the Lord is my trust.  I shall not roam. 

                                        Trust in the Lord, He will see you through.       

                                        Trust in the Lord, He got things for you to do.             

                                        Trust in the Lord, He be your friend.      

                                        Trust in the Lord, to the bitter end.       

                                        Trust in the Lord, you is not alone.        

                                        Trust in the Lord, He gwine take you home.  Amen. 

                        Ah, I feels much better now, don't you?

ENTER LEGREE suddenly.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Marie!  What are you doing here?

                                                                        MARIE

                        Simon!

                                                                        TOM

                        She didn't mean no harm, mas'r, she didn't mean no harm.

                                                                        MARIE

                        I was caring for my friend.  Is there anything wrong with that?  He needs my help too. 

                                                                        LEGREE

                        Why, you nigger-loving bitch!  I should have figured with your hotpants...  (LEGREE takes out his whip.)  I do believe you both deserve a lesson.  (He calls off-stage.)  Kimbo!  Jimbo!  Come here!  Kimbo!  Jimbo!  Where are those boys?  They're never around when you need 'em...

Suddenly GEORGE MORRIS ENTERS followed by SHELBY and DEACON SWAIN.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Lookin' for someone, Legree?

                                                                        LEGREE

                        (Aside)  Why, it's my former slave, George Morris!  I'd recognize him anywhere even in his makeup. (To GEORGE)  Stay back, George Morris!  You and you're nigger-lovin' friends ain't welcome here.  (Calling off loudly again)  Kimbo!  Jimbo!

                                                                        GEORGE

                        Your minions can't hear you now, Legree.  They're dead -- consumed by their own evil hatred!

GEORGE beats his chest and yells like Tarzan.  LEGREE takes the opportunity to

draw a concealed pistol.  He grabs MARIE and points the pistol at her head.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        All right, back, all of you.  One false move and the little lady gets it.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Watch out!  He's got a gun!

Suddenly TOM reaches out and grabs LEGREE's ankle and bites it.  GEORGE rushes

forward and grapples with LEGREE.  The others pile on.  They fall to the floor

in a heap.  From the midst of the heap a shot rings out.  The heap slowly parts to

reveal UNCLE TOM at the bottom -- mortally wounded!  SHELBY cradles TOM in his

arms.

                                                                        UNCLE TOM

                        I is done for, mas'r.  The angels are a-comin' for to carry me home.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Hush, Tom.  You're safe now.  The perpetrator of this infamy shan't go free.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        That's what you think, Shelby!

LEGREE makes a break for it.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Stop him!

GEORGE tries to stop LEGREE.  They struggle.  LEGREE overpowers GEORGE and

knocks him out.  LEGREE FLEES.

                                                                        SHELBY (to DEACON SWAIN)

                        After him, you fool!  (DEACON SWAIN EXITS.)  Oh Tom, you were like a dad to me.  Since you left, everything's gone downhill.  Forgive me, Uncle Tom.  Come back home and be with us again.

                                                                        TOM

                        I is goin', mas'r.  I is slidin' fast.

SHOTS are heard off-stage, then a bloodcurdling scream.  ENTER LUCY.

                                                                        LUCY

                        He's been shot!  He's been shot!

She immediately EXITS.  Pause.  ENTER LEGREE staggering, holding a knife.  MARIE

screams.  LEGREE lurches menacingly towards SHELBY, TOM and MARIE.

                                                                        LEGREE

                        I'll count every drop of blood that's in ye, drop by drop.

He is about to stab them when a shot rings out from off-stage.  LEGREE falls dead.

ENTER DEACON SWAIN with a smoking pistol. 

                                                                        SHELBY  (examining LEGREE)

                        He's dead.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Oh my God, I've killed a man!

DEACON SWAIN faints.

 

 

ACT 4, SCENE 5

A few minutes later.  An unconscious UNCLE TOM surrounded by SHELBY, MARIE,

DEACON SWAIN, LUCY and GEORGE MORRIS in tableau.

                                                                        SHELBY (tearfully)

                        Wake up, Uncle Tom, wake up and speak once more.  Don't die, don't leave us alone.  Now that we've found you, how can we let you go?

                                                                        ALL

                        --Don't die, Uncle Tom.

                        --Don't leave us.

                        --We need you, Tom. 

                        --Stay with us. 

                        --Don't go away, Uncle Tom, etc.

                                                                        TOM (awakening)

                        Why, bless my soul!  It's a miracle!  Everybody's here!  Oh, it warms my heart.  You care, you really care!   But where's St. Clair and little Miss Eva?  And where are all the other dead?  And where's Saint Pete with his long white beard?

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Hush now, Uncle Tom.  You must try and get some rest.  Then we'll take you home.

                                                                        TOM

                        Home!  I don't want to go home.  I already is  home.  And I don't want no rest.  I feels all rested up.  (Suddenly looking off)  Yoo hoo!  Here I is, Miss Eva!  Over here, honey chile!  You wait for me now, sweetheart!  I'll be right there!  (To SHELBY and the OTHERS)  'Bye.

                                                                        SHELBY

                        Uncle Tom, Uncle Tom!

UNCLE TOM dies.  EVERYONE cries.  HEAVENLY MUSIC fills the air.  TOPSY and OPHELIA ENTER spotlighted on another part of the stage and point upward as PROJECTIONS appear.  ALL gaze at the PROJECTIONS above their heads.  First we see little MISS EVA waving to us from the clouds.  Then UNCLE TOM, smiling broadly.  Then EVA greeting UNCLE TOM.  Then ST. CLAIR enters, happy at last.  They meet and embrace.

                                                                        MARIE (weeping)

                        This is so beautiful and sad.

                                                                        DEACON SWAIN

                        Bless my soul, now I've seen everything!  It's a miracle, a real miracle!  A vision in the air!

                                                                        LUCY

Miss Eva, Miss Eva, can you hear me?  Can you see me?  It's me, Lucy!  I loves you, Miss Eva, I loves you!  Oh pooh!  She can't hear me...

                                                                        SHELBY

                        This restores my faith in everything.  Now my life has found its meaning and focus.  Now I can go on.

                                                                        GEORGE

                        At last I'm beginning to see the light!  How can I stay in Canada and avoid the fight!  My brothers and sisters still live in misery.  I must return and set them free!

                                                                        OPHELIA

                        Is this the way it ends, in vision and in prayer?  Does the suffering never stop?  I wish I knew, I wish I knew. 

TOPSY turns to the audience and speaks.

                                                                        TOPSY

                                                Totally, totally tragic

                                                Is this tale of Uncle Tom.

                                                And yet, as if by magic,

                                                Souls unite beyond.

                                                So Tom and little Eva,

                                                And with them St. Clair too,

                                                Forgetting class and race,

                                                Meet, embrace,

                                                And make love all day through.  Amen.

TOM, EVA and ST. CLAIR kiss and hug and wave goodbye from the clouds.  ALL weep and wave goodbye.  HEAVENLY MUSIC fades-in and swells.  TOM, EVA and ST. CLAIR slowly recede into the distance.  AUDIO of WEEPING fades-in, grows louder and louder, overpowers MUSIC as MUSIC fades-out.  PROJECTIONS and LIGHTS dim to black as AUDIO of WEEPING  builds to a climax and cuts.  BLACKOUT.  HOUSE LIGHTS come up immediately as CURTAIN descends.

 

H


THE END

 

                        

                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments