Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Deseret: The Opera — Act II
 


Deseret: The Opera — Act II

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 19, 2011

ACT II.

Elder Scram’s parlor in Salt Lake City. The Elder alone. Picks up packages of bills on table; opens one.)

Scram. Hello! what’s this?
A hat for Sis!
Bill of Angelina’s bonnet
With tremendous charges on it.
O dear! O dear!

(Opens another.)

Hello! what’s that?
Another hat!
Ah! my great surprise enlarges
When I gaze upon the charges.

(throws down remainder of bills.)

Past recall
And more next fall!
I will eat my hat for dinner
If I an’t a bankrupt sinner.
O dear! O dear!

Why oh1 why do I want to marry again, when even twenty-four wives are more than any one man can manage? And the cost of it! This bonnet question troubles me more than the question of the perseverance of the saints. Yea. verily!

The only way I can keep my scalp on (feels experimentally of scalp) is by lying to them, day by day, and swearing to each one that she is my favorite ducky-ducky, petsy-petsy! And every one knows I am lying to her. And I know she knows I am lying to her. And she knows I know she knows I know – oh! Yet I must see them again this morning (sighs mournfully), ho-hum! (Rings table bell, striking one, one-two, one-two-three, etc., and wives emerge from rooms and file before him, one carrying baby. He embraces them as they appear.)

(To No. 1.) I love you, my dear, for your hand,
As small as the neatest of girls;

(To No. 2.) I love you for cherry-red lips;
They cover the whitest of pearls.

(To No. 3.) I love you, my dear, for your eyes;
They’re blue and the lashes are long;

(To No. 4.) I love, my dear, for your pies,
And almost as much for your song.

Wives (chorus). Yes, well does he love us, dear man,
He loves each for one thing or other;
Then let us all show that we can
Avoid giving him any bother.

Scram. (To No. 5.) I love you, my dear, for your chat;

(To No. 6.) I love you because you are small;

(To No. 7.) I love you because you are fat,

(To No. 8.) I love you because you are tall.

(To No. 9.) I love you, my dear, for your nose;

(To No. 10.) I love you, my dear, for your – bother!
All you at the end, I suppose,
I love you for one thing or other.

Wives (chorus.) Yes, well does he love us, dear man,
He loves each for one thing or other;
Then let us all show that we can
Avoid giving him any bother.

Scram. My dearie birdies! now listen to me. I have invited some friends to a dance here to-night – among them my Gentile friend, Joseph Jessup.

(Looks suddenly and sharply at first wife, who starts. Expressions of delight from wives.)

Now listen! The “Avengers” report to the church of Latter-Day Saints in Deseret that some emissaries of Satan in Salt Lake City are bent on attacking our Holy Institution.

(O horrible! horrible! from wives, with expressions and gestures of surprise.)

Yes, they are going to take me to jail.

(Screeches of terror, and wives try to faint in his arms.)

No, no, my dears, my own wives. Keep a little nearer off. if you are ever going to faint, faint in sections. Yes! they will seize me and hurl me into jail, and try me before that hateful despotism known as the United States.

First wife (pathetically). Our only husband.

Other wives. Our only husband.

Scram. Some of my foes may be here to-night, for I shall invite Gentiles only. I ask these heretics here to see how happy an Apostle’s wives can be.

(Wives dance joyously round, singing:)

Yes! yes! yes! yes!
Our gratitude we can’t express,
Although we feel it more or less.
We’ll go and dress!
O! sister how shall I fix my hair
To grace the gay occasion?
How shall I look and what shall I wear?
I wonder if soldiers will be there –
Defenders of the nation?

First wife. It is, it is the Joseph whose love I once did share.
For him alone will I dress my hair.
I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go and dress up
For to meet my Joseph Jessup!

Wives. Yes! yes! yes! yes!
Our gratitude we can’t express,
Although we feel it more or less.
We’ll go and dress!

Scram. I’m very glad the project suits;
I’ll go and get my other boots.

Wives. We’ll go and dress!

Scram. I’ll get my other boots.

(Exeunt Scram and wives to rooms, leaving First Wife in charge. As soon as she is alone she walks anxiously up and down.)

First Wife. Oh! it is my Joseph Jessup, my old Vermont lover, whom I thought murdered by the Indians years ago. O my poor heart! But I remember now they never could hurt Joseph. When the Androscoggin dam washed away – O my poor heart! How much better if I’d –

(Servant brings in card.)

First Wife (looking at card, agitated). Oh, it is Joseph. My poor heart!

(Enter Joseph Jessup. They embrace.)

Joseph Jessup. At last! at last!

First Wife. At last! at last!

Both. this hour recalls the tender past.
And now, beloved one, I will

Joseph Jessup. Think you the same, same Sally still.

Wife. Think you the same, same Joseph still.

Baby cries.)

First Wife. This Mormon doesn’t suit me quite;
I would elope this very night.

Joseph Jessup. But, by the way, the squalling brat –
My chickey-birdie, whose was that?

First Wife. I don’t remember, Joseph dear;
It belongs to some of the ladies here.
It isn’t mine, as you suspect,
As near as I can recollect.

Joseph Jessup.

Then come to my arms and marry me.

First Wife. I’ll follow you to the surging sea!

Joseph Jessup. Wait for the summons fond and true
My Indian guide shall bring to you.

First Wife. I will! I will! I’ll don my best!

Joseph Jessup. Then fly! then fly! And don your best!

First Wife. To meet my darling dearestest!

Joseph Jessup. to meet your darling dearestest!

(Exit First Wife in haste. Jessup conceals himself. Scram re-enters.)

Scram (singing at doors of wives’ rooms.)

Oh! come, oh! come, oh! come, my dear.
I’m waiting here,
I’m waiting here,
For all my wife to reappear!
For all my wife –
The best in life –
To reappear, to reappear.

(Wives appear in front of doors and advance, singing:)

We come! we come!
We come! we come!
Our hearts are palpitating some,
With happiness our lips are dumb.
We come! we come
Into our happy home!

(Enter to parlor Lieutenant and Rosamond, Maj. Clem and Arabella, Soldiery and Setting Hen. Jessup mingles unobserved with the company. Scram welcomes them.)

Scram (with gesture of introduction.) Welcome, neighbors – all my wives!
Good subjection they are under.

Soldiers. Living peaceful, quiet lives –
So contented, ‘tis a wonder!

Scram. Every one of them is happy,
And (chucking baby under chin) ze baby knows its pappy!

Wives. yes, each one of us is happy;
See! the baby knows its pappy!

Rosa. Oh! can it be that they are happy?
This hateful man I will not marry!

Major. Ah! she could never here be happy;
Never shall Scram my Rosa marry!

Scram. Many lands my brides supply –
Two were sent from Pennsylvenny.

Rosa and Arabella. How can you afford to buy
Bread and butter for so many?

Scram. They adopt the Mormon view;
For the church they’re very zealous.

Rosa and Arabella. Tell us, Elder, tell us true,
Are the ladies never jealous?

Scram. No, not one of them’s unhappy,
And ze baby knows its pappy!

Wives. Yes, each one of us is happy!
See! the baby knows its pappy!

Rosa. Oh! can it be that they are happy?
This hateful man I will not marry!

Major. Ah! she could never here be happy;
Never shall Scram my Rosa marry!

Scram. But now a dance!

All. A dance!

(The Home Dance.)

Scram. Now, Major, let us hear from you.

All. A song! A song!

Major (with chorus).

Frowning castles by the gliding Rhine;
There two loving hearts imprisoned pine,
Yet a slanting sunbeam furtive falls
Through the grating in the gloomy walls.
Stars of hope are shining in the sky:
Gentle, gentle spirit!
Tell my why,
Tell me why
Stars of hope are shining in the sky?

Joy! the castles crumble into air!
Love can do whatever it will dare;
Fly the lovers to each other’s arms,
Happy there, unconscious of alarms;
Fear is far whenever love is nigh.
Gentle, gentle spirit!
Tell me why,
Tell me why
Fear is far whenever love is nigh?

Scram. What thinks the brave Daughter of the Regiment of the sacred tie that makes so many hearts to beat as one?

Arabella (sings to Scram). Thank yer! I’m glad that yer asked me here!
I re’ly don’t wish to be too severe,
But when yer divide ’mong so many womin
It’s splittin’ yer up most dreadf’ly thin,
And – this – I – know,
That Nature has never intended it so.

Chorus (by soldiers). Kalow! Kalew!
This naughty man
Was born and grew,
Gazip! Gazan!
At Kalamazoo,
In Michigan.
Ba-a-ad Scram!!

Arabella (echoes soldiers)> Ba-a-ad Scram!

I’ll start a scheme that’ll make you flop,
And tip polygamy t’other side up,
Where male oppression will suddenly cease,
And women can have ten husbands a piece,
For – this – I – know,
That possibly Nature intended it so.

Chorus (by soldiers). Kalow! Kalew!
This naughty man
Was born and grew,
Gazip! Gazan!
At Kalamazoo,
In Michigan.
Ba-a-ad Scram!

Chorus (wives). Kalow! Kalew!
This blessed man
Was born and grew,
Gazip! Gazan!
At Kalamazoo,
In Michigan.
Dear Scram!

Arabella. Ba-a-ad Scram!

Scram (aside). This is another Gentile outrage. This comes of having troops at the polls. (Aloud) I remonstrate against the introduction of politics on this delightful social occasion. (To Rosa.) Rosa, give us a hearty love song – such as I might sing just married to my heart’s dearest (subdued sensation among wives) when by the church to me most duly “sealed.”

Rosa (with chorus).

Earth is bright where lovers go;
Hope their happiness enhances,
And each cheek is all aglow,
And each heart with rapture dances.
Echo sings a mocking song
Floating over hill and hollow,
Tripping laughingly along
As the fairies lightly follow.

Green below and blue above,
See! their path is strewn with roses:
In the lambent light of love
All her beauty earth discloses.
Echo sings a mocking song,
Floating over hill and hollow,
Tripping laughingly along
As the fairies lightly follow.

(The party breaks up.)

Major. Elder, it is growing late. The moon is up. We must away. We take our leave and thank you. Good-night, fair ladies, and may sweet dreams attend you.

(The guests having departed, Scram at once breaks into tears. Wives, much agitated, gather around.)

Scram (weeping ostentatiously). My dearie dears!
Observe these tears! boo-hoo! boo-hoo!
My heart – my tender heart is broke! boo-hoo! boo-hoo!

First Wife (sternly to others). Another handkerchief asoak.

Scram. For holy duty’s sake
I have resolved to take
Another burden on my life –
Namely – another wife!

First Wife (indignantly). Another wife!

Scram (deprecatingly). I really don’t wish to.

Wives. You do1 you do! you do1 you do!
You vile old wretch!

Scram (angrily). Don’t call me setch.

Wives. We’ll scratch, we’ll scratch,
We’ll scratch her optics out!

Scram. I know what I’m about.

O sisters! curb your tongue;
You still can do the cooking,
For Rosamond is young,
And mighty pretty-looking!

Wives. You’re an old deceiver!
You’re a wretched scamp!
You’re an unbeliever!
You had better tramp.
For a man of his age
He’s a thorough fraud!
First he knows, his visage
Will be badly clawed!

Scram. I would wed in moderation;
Truth and virtue I revere!
Listen to my explanation –
Strike! but hear!

Wives. Coming here to quarrel,
Wickedest of men!
Awfully immoral!
Marrying again!
I would like to trounce her!
She is mad to come!
Merrily we’ll bounce her
When you bring her home!

Scram. I would wed in moderation;
Truth and virtue I revere.
Listen to my explanation –
Strike! but hear!

(He tries to explain; they refuse to listen. He eludes them and gets away. Exit.)

First Wife. He’s gone to Rosamond.

Wives all. I’ll run away
This very day,
Or, latest, by to-morrow.
I will elope
For love and hope.

First Wife (aside). With Jessup slope.

(Baby cries. They strike up weeping chorus and go to rooms:)

There’s nothing here but sorrow,
Boo-hoo1 boo-hoo! boo-hoo!
There’s nothing here but sorrow,
Boo-hoo! boo-hoo! boo-hoo!

(Jessup, the stage being clear and darkened, appears at window; moonlight reveals him.)

The prairie air is sweet; the night is cool; athwart the plain the silvery moonlight falls. The beauties of this sad seraglio now sleep the sleep of innocence.

He climbs in stealthily.)

Awake, my light guitar! the sleep of one (or more)
Who ought to wed a Gentile.
Though, ’tis true, there’s nothing on earth
Important enough to be serious about.

Serenade with Chorus.)

Jessup. O fair one! come away, and together let us stray
Where the soft moon is shining white and still:
Where the purple violet with the early dew is wet,
And the mule-team is waiting on the hill.

Wives (appearing simultaneously in night-caps at windows). Oh, I will! I will! I will!
Very joyfully I will,
Where the mule-team is waiting on the hill!

Jessup. Oh! wander, love, with me where the heart is warm and free
And the red rose is sweet above the rill;
Where the glow-worm is alight, like a spirit of the night,
And the mule-team is waiting on the hill!

Wives. Oh, I will! I will! I will!
Very joyfully I will,
Where the mule-team is waiting on the hill!

Jessup. Oh! hasten, darling! Come! left affection build a home
Where the lark woos the dreamy daffodil;
Where the twinkling stars above seem to wink the way to love,
And the mule-team is waiting on the hill!

Wives. Oh, I will! I will! I will!
Very joyfully I will,
Where the mule-team is waiting on the hill!

Curtain.



1 Comment »

  1. I know why this failed. The love triangle became a love polyhedron, whatever it is that has 26 sides. Plus the interspecies dating: “Where the lark woos the dreamy daffodil”.

    Hark, the mule team is waiting, and I hasten to greet the fed ex driver!

    Comment by kevinf — October 19, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

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