Inner apartment of Mr. TIFFANY'S Counting House. Mr. TIFFANY, R. c., seated at a desk looking over papers. Mr. SNOBSON, L. C., on a high stool at another desk, with a pen behind his ear.
Snobson. (rising L., advances L. to the front of the stage, regards TIFFANY and shrugs his shoulders) How the old boy frets and fames over those papers, to be sure! He's working himself into a perfect fever--ex-actly,--therefore bleeding's the prescription! So here goes! (aside) Mr. Tiffany, a word with you, if you please, Sir?Tif. (sitting still) Speak on, Mr. Snobson, I attend.
Snob. What I have to say, Sir, is a matter of the first importance to the credit of the concern--the credit of the concern, Mr. Tiffany!Tif. Proceed, Mr. Snobson.
Snob. Sir, you've a handsome house--fine carriage--nigger in livery--feed on the fat of the land--everything first rate--Tif. Well, Sir?
Snob. My salary, Mr. Tiffany!
Tif. It has been raised three times within the last year.
Snob. Still it is insufficient for the necessities of an honest man,--mark me, an honest man, Mr. Tiffany.
Tif. (crossing L.) What a weapon he has made of that word! (aside) Enough--another hundred shall be added. Does that content you?Snob. There is one other subject which I have before mentioned, Mr. Tiffany,--your daughter,--what's the reason you can't let the folks at home know at once that I'm to be the man?
Tif. Villain! And must the only seal upon this scoundrel's lips be placed there by the hand of my daughter? (aside) Well, Sir, it shall be as you desire.
Snob. And Mrs. Tiffany shall be informed of your resolution?Tif. Yes.
--End of page 16--
Snob. Enough said! That's the ticket! The CREDIT of the concern's safe, Sir!
[returns to his seat.
Tif. How low have I bowed to this insolent rascal! To rise himself he mounts upon my shoulders, and unless I can shake him off he must crush me! (aside)
Enter TRUEMAN, C., down on L. H.
True. Here I am, Antony, man! I told you I'd pay you a visit in your money-making quarters. (looks around) But it looks as dismal here as a cell in the States' Prison!
Tif. (forcing a laugh) Ha, ha, ha ! States' Prison! You are so facetious! Ha, ha, ha!
True. Well, for the life of me I can't see anything so amusing in that! I should think the States' Prison plaguy uncomfortable lodgings. And you laugh, man, as though you fancied yourself there already.Tif. Ha, ha, ha!
True. (imitating him) Ha, ha, ha! What on earth do you mean by that ill-sounding laugh, that has nothing of a laugh about it! This fashion-worship has made heathens and hypocrites of you all! Deception is your household God! A man laughs as if he were crying, and cries as if he were laughing in his sleeve. Everything is something else from what it seems to be. I have lived in your house only three days, and I've heard more lies than were ever invented during a Presidential election! First your fine lady of a wife sends me word that she's not at home--I walk up stairs, and she takes good care that I shall not be at home--wants to turn me out of doors. Then you come in--take your old friend by the hand--whisper, the deuce knows what, in your wife's ear, and the tables are turned in a tangent! Madam curtsies--says she's enchanted to see me--and orders her grinning nigger to show me a room.
Tif. We were exceedingly happy to welcome you as our guest!
True. Happy? You happy? Ah! Antony! Antony! that hatchet face of yours, and those criss-cross furrows tell quite another story! It's many a long day since you were happy at anything! You look as if you'd melted down your flesh into dollars, and mortgaged your soul in the bargain! Your warm heart has grown cold over your
--End of page17--
ledger--your light spirits heavy with calculation! You have traded away your youth--your hopes--your tastes for wealth! and now you have the wealth you coveted, what does it profit you? Pleasure it cannot buy; for you have lost your capacity for enjoyment--Ease it will not bring; for the love of gain is never satisfied! It has made your counting-house a penitentiary, and your home a fashionable museum where there is no niche for you! You have spent so much time ciphering in the one, that you find yourself at last a very cipher in the other! See me, man! seventy-two last August!--strong as a hickory and every whit as sound!
Tif. I take the greatest pleasure in remarking your superiority, Sir.
True. Bah! no man takes pleasure in remarking the superiority of another! Why the deuce can't you speak the truth, man? But it's not the fashion I suppose! I have not seen one frank, open face since--no, no, I can't say that either, though lying is catching! There's that girl, Gertrude, who is trying to teach your daughter music--but Gertrude was bred in the country!
Tif. A good girl; my wife and daughter find her very useful.
True. Useful? Well I must say you have queer notions of use!--But come, cheer up, man! I'd rather see one of your old smiles, than know you'd realized another thousand! I hear you are making money on the true, American, high pressure system--better go slow and sure--the more steam, the greater danger of the boiler's bursting! All sound, I hope? Nothing rotten at the core?Tif. Oh, sound--quite sound!
True. Well that's pleasant--though I must say you don't look very pleasant about it!
Tif. My good friend, although I am solvent, I may say, perfectly solvent--yet you--the fact is, you can be of some assistance to me!
True. That's the fact is it? I'm glad we've hit upon one fact at last! Well--
[SNOBSON, who during this conversation has been employed in writing, but stops occasionally to listen, now gives vent to a dry chuckling laugh.
--End of page 18--
True. Hey? What's that? Another of those deuced ill-sounding, city laughs! (sees Snobson) Who's that perched upon the stool of repentance--eh, Antony?
Snob. The old boy has missed his text there--that's the stool of repentance!
[aside and looking at TIFFANY'S seat.
Tif. One of my clerks--my confidential clerk!
True. Confidential? Why he looks for all the world like a spy--the most inquisitorial, hang-dog face--ugh! the sight of it makes my blood run cold! Come, (crosses R.) let us talk over matters where this critter can't give us the benefit of his opinion! Antony, the next time you choose a confidential clerk, take one that carries his credentials in his face--those in his pocket are not worth much without!
[Exeunt TRUEMAN and TIFFANY, R. 1 E.
Snob. (jumping from his stool and advancing C.) The old prig has got the tin, or Tiff would never be so civil! All right--Tiff will work every shiner into the concern--all the better for me! Now I'll go and make love to Seraphina. The old woman needn't try to knock me down with any of her French lingo! Six months from to-day if I ain't driving my two footmen tandem, down Broadway--and as fashionable as Mrs. Tiffany herself, then I ain't the trump I thought I was! that's all. (looks at his watch) Bless me! eleven o'clock and I haven't had my julep yet? Snobson, I'm ashamed of you!
The interior of a beautiful conservatory; walk through the centre; stands of flower pots in bloom; a couple of rustic seats. GERTRUDE, R. C., attired in white, with a white rose in her hair; watering the flowers. Colonel HOWARD, L., regarding her.
How., L. C. I am afraid you lead a sad life here, Miss Gertrude?Ger., R. C. (turning round gaily) What! amongst the flowers? (continues her occupation)
How. No, amongst the thistles, with which Mrs. Tiffany surrounds you; the tempests, which her temper raises!Ger. They never harm me. Flowers and herbs are
--End of page 19--
excellent tutors. I learn prudence from the reed, and bend until the storm has swept over me!
How. Admirable philosophy! But still this frigid atmosphere of fashion must be uncongenial to you? Accustomed to the pleasant companionship of your kind friends in Geneva, surely you must regret this cold exchange?
Ger. Do you think so? Can you suppose that I could possibly prefer a ramble in the woods to a promenade in Broadway? A wreath of scented wild flowers to a bouquet of these sickly exotics? The odour of new-mown hay to the heated air of this crowded conservatory? Or can you imagine that I could enjoy the quiet conversation of my Geneva friends, more than the edifying chit-chat of a fashionable drawing room? But I see you think me totally destitute of taste?
How. You have a merry spirit to jest thus at your grievances!
Ger. I have my mania,--as some wise person declares that all mankind have,--and mine is a love of independence! In Geneva, my wants were supplied by two kind, old maiden ladies, upon whom I know not that I have any claim. I had abilities, and desired to use them. I came here at my own request; for here I am no longer dependent! Voila tout, as Mrs. Tiffany would say.
How. Believe me, I appreciate the confidence you repose in me!
Ger. Confidence! Truly, Colonel Howard, the confidence is entirely on your part, in supposing that I confide that which I have no reason to conceal! I think I informed you that Mrs. Tiffany only received visitors on her reception day--she is therefore not prepared to see you. Zeke--Oh! I beg his pardon--Adolph, made some mistake in admitting you.
How. Nay, Gertrude, it was not Mrs. Tiffany, nor Miss Tiffany, whom I came to see; it--it was--
Ger. The conservatory perhaps? I will leave you to examine the flowers at leisure! (crosses L.)
How. Gertrude--listen to me. If I only dared to give utterance to what is hovering upon my lips! (aside) Gertrude!
Ger. Colonel Howard!How. Gertrude, I must--must--
--End of page 20--
Ger. Yes, indeed you must, must leave me! I think I hear somebody coming--Mrs. Tiffany would not be well pleased to find you here--pray, pray leave me--that door will lead you into the street.
[Hurries him out through door, C. F. ; takes up her watering pot, and commences watering flowers, tying up branches, &c.
What a strange being is man! Why should he hesitate to say--nay, why should I prevent his saying, what I would most delight to hear? Truly man is strange--but woman is quite as incomprehensible!
(walks about gathering flowers)
Enter Count JOLIMAITRE, L.
Count. There she is--the bewitching little creature! Mrs. Tiffany and her daughter are out of ear-shot. I caught a glimpse of their feathers floating down Broadway, not ten minutes ago. Just the opportunity I have been looking for! Now for an engagement with this captivating little piece of prudery! 'Pon honor, I am almost afraid she will not resist a Count long enough to give value to the conquest. (approaches her) Ma belle petite, were you gathering roses for me?
Ger. (starts on first perceiving him, but instantly regains her self-possession) The roses here, Sir, are carefully guarded with thorns--if you have the right to gather, pluck for yourself!
Count. Sharp as ever, little Gertrude! But now that we are alone, throw off this frigidity, and be at your ease.
Ger. Permit me to be alone, Sir, that I may be at my ease!
Count. Very good, ma belle, well said! (applauding her with his hands) Never yield too soon, even to a title! But, as the old girl may find her way back before long, we may as well come to particulars at once. I love you; but that you know already. (rubbing his eye-glass unconcernedly with his handkerchief) Before long I shall make Mademoiselle Seraphina my wife, and, of course, you shall remain in the family!Ger. (indignantly) Sir--
Count. 'Pon my honor you shall!. In France we arrange these little matters without difficulty!
--End of page 21--Ger. But I am an American! Your conduct proves that you are not one!
[going, crosses, R. H.
Count. (preventing her) Don't run away, my immaculate petite Americaine! Demme, you've quite overlooked my condescension--the difference of our stations--you a species of upper servant--an orphan--no friends.
Enter TRUEMAN unperceived, R. U. E.
Ger. And therefore more entitled to the respect and protection of every true gentleman! Had you been one, you would not have insulted me!
Count. My charming little orator, patriotism and declamation become you particularly! (approaches her) I feel quite tempted to taste--
True. (thrusting him aside) An American hickory switch! (strikes him) Well, how do you like it?Count. Old matter-of-fact! (aside) Sir, how dare you?
True. My stick has answered that question!
Ger. Oh! now I am quite safe!
True. Safe! not a bit safer than before! All women would be safe, if they knew how virtue became them! As for you, Mr. Count, what have you to say for yourself? Come, speak out!
Count. Sir,--aw--aw--you don't understand these matters.
True. That's a fact! Not having had your experience, I don't believe I do understand them!Count. A piece of pleasantry--a mere joke--
True. A joke was it? I'll show you a joke worth two of that! I'll teach you the way we natives joke with a puppy who don't respect an honest woman! (seizing him)
Count. Oh! oh! demme--you old ruffian! let me go. What do you mean?
True. Oh! a piece of pleasantry--a mere joke--very--pleasant isn't it?
[Attempts to strike him again; COUNT struggles with him. Enter Mrs. TIFFANY hastily, L 2 E., in her bonnet and shawl.
Mrs. Tif. What is the matter? I am perfectly abimi with terror. Mr. Trueman, what has happened?True. Oh! we have been joking!
Mrs. Tif. (to COUNT, who is re-arranging his dress)
--End of page 22--
My dear Count, I did not except to find you here--how kind of you!
True. Your dear Count, has been showing his kindness in a very foreign manner. Too foreign I think, he found it to be relished by an unfashionable native! What do you think of a puppy, who insults an innocent girl all in the way of kindness? This Count of yours--this importation of--
Count. My dear Madam, demme, permit me to explain. It would be unbecoming--demme--particularly unbecoming of you--aw--aw--to pay any attention to this ignorant person. (crosses to TRUEMAN.) Anything that he says concerning a man of my standing--aw--the truth is, Madam--
True. Let us have the truth by all means,--if it is only for the novelty's sake!
Count. (turning his back to TRUEMAN) You see, madam, hoping to obtain a few moments' private conversation with Miss Seraphina--with Miss Seraphina I say--and--aw--and knowing her passion for flowers, I found my way to your very tasteful and recherchi conservatory. (looks about him approvingly) Very beautifully arranged--does you great credit, madam! Here I encountered this young person. She was inclined to be talkative; and I indulged her with--with a--aw--demme--a few common places! What passed between us was mere harmless badinage--on my part. You, madam, you--so conversant with our European manners--you are aware that when a man of fashion--that is, when a woman--a man is bound--amongst noblemen, you know--
Mrs. Tif. I comprehend you perfectly--parfittement, my dear Count.Count. 'Pon my honor, that's very obliging of her. (aside)
Mrs Tif. I am shocked at the plebeian forwardness of this conceited girl!
True. (walking up to COUNT) Did you ever keep a reckoning of the lies you tell in an hour?Mrs Tif. Mr. Trueman, I blush for you!
(crosses C., to TRUEMAN)
True. Don't do that--you have no blushes to spare!
Mrs. Tif. It is a man of rank whom you are addressing, Sir!
--End of page 23--
True. A rank villain, Mrs. Antony Tiffany! A rich one he would be, had he as much gold as brass!
Mrs. Tif. Pray pardon him, Count; he knows nothing of how ton!
Count. Demme, he's beneath my notice. I tell you what, old fellow--(TRUEMAN raises his stick as COUNT approaches, the latter starts back) the sight of him discomposes me--aw--I feel quite uncomfortable--aw--let us join your charming daughter? I can't do you the honor to shoot you, Sir--(to TRUEMAN) you are beneath me--a nobleman can't fight a commoner! Good bye, old Truepenny! I--aw--I'm insensible to your insolence!
[Exeunt COUNT and Mrs. TIFFANY, R. H. U. E.
True. You won't be insensible to a cow hide in spite of your nobility! The next time he practises any of his foreign fashions on you, Gertrude, you'll see how I'll wake up his sensibilities!
Ger. I do not know what I should have done without you, sir.
True. Yes, you do--you know that you would have done well enough! Never tell a lie, girl! not even for the sake of pleasing an old man! When you open your lips let your heart speak. Never tell a lie! Let your face be the looking-glass of your soul--your heart its clock--while your tongue rings the hours! But the glass must be clear, the clock true, and then there's no fear but the tongue will do its duty in a woman's head!Ger. You are very good, Sir!
True. That's as it may be !--How my heart warms towards her! (aside) Gertrude, I hear that you have no mother?Ger. Ah! no, Sir; I wish I had.
True. So do I! Heaven knows, so do I! (aside, and with emotion) And you have no father, Gertrude?Ger. No, Sir--I often wish I had!
True. (hurriedly) Don't do that, girl! don't do that! Wish you had a mother--but never wish that you had a father again! Perhaps the one you had did not deserve such a child!
Enter PRUDENCE, R. U. E., down L. H.
Pru. Seraphina is looking for you, Gertrude.Ger. I will go to her. (crosses to R. H.) Mr. Trueman,
--End of page 24--
you will not permit me to thank you, but you cannot prevent my gratitude! [Exit, R. U. E.
True. (looking after her) If falsehood harbours there, I'll give up searching after truth!
[crosses R., retires up the stage musingly, and commences examining the flowers.
Pru. What a nice old man he is to be sure! I wish he would say something! (aside)
Don't mind me, Mr. Trueman![crosses R., walks after him, turning when he turns--after a pause,
True. Mind you? Oh! no, don't be afraid (crosses L.)--I wasn't minding you. Nobody seems to mind you much!
[continues walking and examining the flowers--PRUDENCE follows.
Pru. Very pretty flowers, ain't they? Gertrude takes care of them.
True. Gertrude? So I hear--(advancing L. C.) I suppose you can tell me now who this Gertrude--
Pru. Who she's in love with? I knew you were going to say that! I'll tell you all about it! Gertrude, she's in love with--Mr. Twinkle! and he's in love with her. And Seraphina she's in love with Count Jolly--what-d'ye-call-it: but Count Jolly don't take to her at all--but Colonel Howard--he's the man--he's desperate about her!True. Why you feminine newspaper! Howard in love with that quintessence of affectation! Howard--the only, frank, straightforward fellow that I've met since--I'll tell him my mind on the subject! And Gertrude hunting for happiness in a rhyming dictionary! The girl's a greater fool than I took her for! [crosses R.
Pru. So she is--you see I know all about them!
True. I see you do! You've a wonderful knowledge--wonderful--of other people's concerns! It may do here, but take my word for it, in the county of Catteraugus you'd get the name of a great busy-body. But perhaps you know that too?
Pru. Oh! I always know what's coming. I feel it beforehand all over me. I knew something was going to happen the day you came here--and what's more I can always tell a married man from a single--I felt right off that you were a bachelor?
--End of page 25--
True. Felt right off I was a bachelor did you? you were sure of it--sure ?--quite sure? (Prudence assents delightedly) Then you felt wrong!--a bachelor and a widower are not the same thing!
Pru. Oh! but it all comes to the same thing--a widower's as good as a bachelor any day! And besides I knew that you were a farmer right off.
True. On the spot, eh? I suppose you saw cabbages and green peas growing out of my hat?
Pru. No, I didn't--but I knew all about you. And I knew--(looking down and fidgetting with her apron) I knew you were for getting married soon! For last night I dream't I saw your funeral going along the streets, and the mourners all dressed in white. And a funeral is a sure sign of a wedding you know! (nudging him with her elbow)
True. (imitating her voice). Well I can't say that I know any such thing! you know ! (nudging her back)
Pru. Oh ! it does, and there's no getting over it! For my part, I like farmers--and I know all about setting hens and turkeys, and feeding chickens, and laying eggs, and all that sort of thing!
True. May I be shot! if mistress newspaper is not putting in an advertisement for herself! This is your city mode of courting I suppose, ha, ha, ha! (aside)
Pru. I've been west, a little; but I never was in the county of Catteraugus, myself.
True. Oh. you were not? And you have taken a particular fancy to go there, eh?Pru. Perhaps I shouldn't object--
True. Oh!--ah!--so I suppose. Now pay attention to what I am going to say, for it is a matter of great importance to yourself.
Pru. Now it's coming--I know what he's going to say! (aside).True. The next time you want to tie a man for life to your apron-strings, pick out one that don't come from the county of Catteraugus--for green horns are scarce in those parts, and modest women plenty! [Exit, R.
Pru. Now who'd have thought he was going to say that! But I won't give him up yet--I won't give him up. [Exit, R.
END OF ACT II.
--End of page 26--