Our American Cousin

Author: Tom Taylor

Scene 2. Chamber as Before.

Enter Mrs. Montchessington, and Augusta, L. 1 E.

Mrs M Yes, my child, while Mr. De Boots and Mr. Trenchard are both here, you must ask yourself seriously, as to the state of your affections, remember, your happiness for life will depend upon the choice you make.

Aug What would you advise, mamma? You know I am always advised by you.

Mrs M Dear, obedient child, De Boots has excellent expectations, but then they are only expectations after all. This American is rich, and on the whole I think a well regulated affection ought to incline to Asa Trenchard.

Aug Very well, mamma.

Mrs M At the same time, you must be cautious, or in grasping at Asa Trenchard’s solid good qualities, you may miss them, and De Boots expectations into the bargain.

Aug Oh, I will take care not to give up my hold on poor De Boots ’till I am quite sure of the American.

Mrs M That’s my own girl. [Enter Asa L.] Ah, Mr. Trenchard, we were just talking of your archery powers.

Asa Wal, I guess shooting with bows and arrows is just about like most things in life, all you’ve got to do is keep the sun out of your eyes, look straight—pull strong—calculate the distance, and you’re sure to hit the mark in most things as well as shooting.

Aug But not in England, Mr. Trenchard. There are disinterested hearts that only ask an opportunity of showing how they despise that gold, which others set such store by.

Asa Wal, I suppose there are, Miss Gusty.

Aug All I crave is affection.

Asa [Crosses to C.] Do you, now? I wish I could make sure of that, for I’ve been cruelly disappointed in that particular.

Mrs M Yes, but we are old friends, Mr. Trenchard, and you needn’t be afraid of us.

Asa Oh, I ain’t afraid of you—both on you together.

Mrs M People sometimes look a great way off, for that which is near at hand. [Glancing at Augusta and Asa alternatively.]

Asa You don’t mean, Miss Gusta. [Augusta casts sheeps eyes at him.] Now, don’t look at me in that way. I can’t stand it, if you do, I’ll bust.

Mrs M Oh, if you only knew how refreshing this ingenuousness of yours is to an old woman of the world like me.

Asa Be you and old woman of the world?

Mrs M Yes, sir.

Aug Oh yes.

Asa Well I don’t doubt it in the least. [Aside.] This gal and the old woman are trying to get me on a string. [Aloud.] Wal, then, if a rough spun fellow like me was to come forward as a suitor for you daughter’s hand, you wouldn’t treat me as some folks do, when they find out I wasn’t heir to the fortune.

Mrs M Not heir to the fortune, Mr. Trenchard?

Asa Oh, no.

Aug What, no fortune?

Asa Nary red, it all comes to their barkin up the wrong tree about the old man’s property.

Mrs M Which he left to you.

Asa Oh, no.

Aug Not to you?

Asa No, which he meant to leave to me, but he thought better on it, and left it to his granddaughter Miss Mary Meredith.

Mrs M Miss Mary Meredith! Oh, I’m delighted.

Aug Delighted?

Asa Yes, you both look tickled to death. Now, some gals, and mothers would go away from a fellow when they found that out, but you don’t valley fortune, Miss Gusty?

Mrs M [Aside, crosses to Aug.] My love, you had better go.

Asa You crave affection, do. Now I’ve no fortune, but I’m filling over with affections which I’m ready to pour out all over you like apple sass, over roast pork.

Mrs M Mr. Trenchard, you will please recollect you are addressing my daughter, and in my presence.

Asa Yes, I’m offering her my heart and hand just as she wants them with nothing in ’em.

Mrs M Augusta, dear, to you room.

Aug Yes, ma, the nasty beast. [Exit R.]

Mrs M I am aware, Mr. Trenchard, you are not used to the manners of good society, and that, alone, will excuse the impertinence of which you have been guilty.

Asa Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal— you sockdologizing old man-trap. Wal, now, when I think what I’ve thrown away in hard cash to-day I’m apt to call myself some awful hard names, 400,000 dollars is a big pile for a man to light his cigar with. If that gal had only given me herself in exchange, it wouldn’t have been a bad bargain. But I dare no more ask that gal to be my wife, than I dare ask Queen Victoria to dance a Cape Cod reel.

Enter Florence, L. 1 E.

Flo What do you mean by doing all these dreadful things?

Asa Which things.

Flo Come here sir. [He does so.]

Asa What’s the matter?

Flo Do you know this piece of paper? [Showing burnt paper.]

Asa Well I think I have seen it before. [Aside.] Its old Mark Trenchard’s will that I left half burned up like a landhead, that I am.

Flo And you’re determined to give up this fortune to Mary Meredith?

Asa Well, I couldn’t help it if I tried.

Flo Oh, don’t say that.

Asa I didn’t mean to do it when I first came here—hadn’t the least idea in the world of it, but when I saw that everlasting angel of a gal movin around among them doing fixins like a sunbeam in a shady place; and when I pictured here without a dollar in the world—I— well my old Adam riz right up, and I said, "Asa do it"—and I did it.

Flo Well, I don’t know who your old Adam may be, but whoever it is, he’s a very honest man to consult you to do so good an action. But how dare you do such an outrageous thing? you impudent— you unceremonious, oh! you unselfish man! you! you, you! [Smothers him with kisses, and runs off, R. 1 E.]

Asa Well, if that ain’t worth four hundred thousand dollars, I don’t know what is, it was sweeter than sweet cider right out of the bung hole. Let me see how things stand round here. Thanks to old whiskers I’ve got that ship for the sailor man, and that makes him and Miss Florence all hunk. Then there’s that darned old Coyle. Well I guess me and old Murcott can fix his flint for him. Then there’s—[Looks off, L.] Christopher Columbus, here comes Mary.

Enter Mary, L. 1 E.

Mary Mr. Trenchard, what can I say to you but offer you my lifelong gratitude.

Asa Don’t now, Miss, don’t—

Mary If I knew what else to offer. Heaven knows there is nothing that is mine to give that I would keep back.

Asa Give me yourself. [Bus.] I know what a rude, ill-mannered block I am; but there’s a heart inside me worth something, if it’s only for the sake of your dear little image, that’s planted right plump in the middle of it.

Mary Asa Trenchard, there is my hand, and my heart is in it.

Asa [Seizes here hand, then drops it suddenly.] Miss Mary, I made what folks call a big sacrifice for you, this morning. Oh! I know it, I ain’t so modest, but that I know it. Now what’s this you’re doing? Is this sacrifice you are making out of gratitude for me? Cause if it is, I wouldn’t have it, though not to have it would nigh break my heart, tough as it is.

Mary No, no, I give myself freely to you—as freely as you, this morning, gave my grandfather’s property to me.

Asa Say it again, last of hope and blessed promise. [Clasps her in his arms.] Mary, there’s something tells me that you’ll not repent it. I’m rough, Mary, awful rough, but you needn’t fear that I’ll ever be rough to you. I’ve camped out in the woods, Mary, often and often, and seen the bears at play with their cubs in the moonlight, the glistening teeth, that would tear the hunter, was harmless to them; the big strong claws that would peel a man’s head, as a knife would a pumpkin, was as soft for them as velvet cushions, and that’s what I’ll be with you, my own little wife; and if ever harm does come to you, it must come over the dead body of Asa Trenchard.

Mary I know it Asa; and if I do not prove a true and loving wife to you; may my mother’s bright spirit never look down to bless her child.

Asa Wal, if I don’t get out in the air, I’ll bust. [Exit hastily R. 1 E. pulling Mary after him.]

Enter Binny, L. 1 E. Drunk.

Binny [Calling.] Mr. H’Asa, Mr. H’Asa! Oh he’s gone; well, I suppose he’ll come back to keep his happointment. Mr. Coyle’s quite impatient. It isn’t hoften that han hamerican has the run of the wine cellars of Trenchard Manor, and in such company, too. There’s me and Mr. Coyle, which is a good judge of old port wine, and he knows it when he drinks; and his clerk, Mr. Murcott, which I don’t hexactly like sitting down with clerks. But Mr. H’Asa wished it and Mr. Coyle hadn’t any objections, so in course I put my feelings in my pocket, besides, Murcott is a man of hedication, though unfortunately taken to drink. Well, what of that, it’s been many a man’s misfortune, though I say it, what shouldn’t say it, being a butler. But now to join my distinguished party. [Exit, R. 1 E.]


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Chicago: Tom Taylor, "Scene 2. Chamber as Before.," Our American Cousin, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Curtin, Jeremiah, 1835-1906 in Our American Cousin (Boston: John W. Luce and Company, 1911), Original Sources, accessed December 5, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MDDLNBBEED27KF.

MLA: Taylor, Tom. "Scene 2. Chamber as Before." Our American Cousin, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Curtin, Jeremiah, 1835-1906, in Our American Cousin, Boston, John W. Luce and Company, 1911, Original Sources. 5 Dec. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MDDLNBBEED27KF.

Harvard: Taylor, T, 'Scene 2. Chamber as Before.' in Our American Cousin, ed. and trans. . cited in 1911, Our American Cousin, John W. Luce and Company, Boston. Original Sources, retrieved 5 December 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MDDLNBBEED27KF.