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

Deseret: The Opera — Act III

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 21, 2011


Camp Scene, as in Act I.)

Soldiers. Lo! the red man is a joker,
In the camp he loves to lurk,
And in keno and in poker
He is cunning as a Turk.
When he paints with yellow ochre,
And allows his squaw to work,
We feed him up,
We feed him up,
And show him how to shirk!

Lieut. The department at Washington seems to have mistrusted Jessup at last. They have sent orders to investigate his accounts, and the Major detailed me for the duty. I find that he has stolen half of their goods and annuities every year. In fact, he has taken everything he could lay hands on. But Setting Hen can read and understand, and he has spread the net that caught him. I wonder what our good Major will say when he finds that his friend is such a rogue.

Major (coming in with MSS. in hand).

Lieutenant, your report has sadly grieved me.
Now, are you sure the Agent has deceived me?
Oh! are the Indians taken in?
And have they plundered been
By Joseph Jessup?

Lieut. O Major! he is tricky, as I told you;
His false pretence has very badly sold you1
The helpless victims of the theft
Were swindled right and left
By Joseph Jessup!

Major. But now you say that Setting Hen is posted;
He’s gone upon the war-path, and has boasted
That if he finds him anywhere
He’ll surely lift the hair
Of Joseph Jessup!

Lieut. He seems protected by the powers supernal,
And Setting Hen, with tomahawk infernal,
With arrow, bullet, or the rest,
Can never touch the breast
Of Joseph Jessup!

Major. Our duty calls! Go, give him your protection!
For hair the red man has a predilection!
So march, and keep, as I have said,
The hair upon the head
Of Joseph Jessup!

(Lieutenant salutes Major. Soldiers make evolutions. Major suddenly calls “Halt!” and peers out into woods as if he saw something. They all retire to rear and wings as Jessup comes upon stage.)

Jessup. I am the jolly Joseph, in the service territorial;
I have a valuable aboriginal memorial;
I’ve done my duty by myself and profited substantially;
My nest is very downy and I’ve feathered it financially.
Yet I am sorry to depart; the Major isn’t sorrier;
For I had even rather be a sutler than a warrior.

Soldiers (sotto voce). He had even rather, be a sutler than a warrior.

Jessup (looks around surprised). What a place for echoes!

I fear that the Lieutenant may discover my duplicity,
And not believe that I was driven to it by necessity;
So I will git me up and git and fly from this vicinity,
And take with me a specimen of Mormon femininity.
Yet I am sorry to depart; the Major isn’t sorrier;
For I had even rather be a sutler than a warrior.

Jessup (walks hastily across and back). How can I send this letter to Sally? The Indians are off for some reason. how can I tell her where to meet me? if there were some messenger! (Sees Arabella; is evidently struck with an idea. She approaches him with an enquiring look. He calls her aside.)

Jessup. I wish you would go to the ranch of the Elder,
where numerous beauties in custody held are.

Arabella. To balk the villain Scram
I ready am!

Jessup. There make yourself known to that one of the number
Who watches for me while the others all slumber.

Arabella. I’m certain I know who
You refer to.

jessup. I want you to creep where the victims of woe are,
And slip it right in through a hole in the do-ar! (Handing her a letter.)

Arabella. Thus Cupid’s bonds are knit;
I will do – it!

Jessup and Arabella.

Ere the morrow’s glad sun will have risen
We’ll rescue this bird from the gloom of a prison!
I know! Courageous Jo!
Jest so! Then go!

(Exit Jessup. Arabella starts quickly across as if to run into the woods, then stops, walks around excitedly, looking at letter and laughing. Lieutenant Montgomery comes out of tent.)

Lieut. What now, Arabella?

Arabella. Why, I’ve got two villains on my hands.

Opens letter and shows it to Lieut. They read it together and laugh after each line.)

Lieut. To Scram’s first wife!

Arabella. He calls her “dear”!

Lieut. To “bless her life”!

Arabella. He’ll “meet her here”!

Lieut. “By moonlight dim”!

Arabella. “And don’t defer”!

Lieut. And she with him!

Arabella. And he with her!

What had we better do?

Lieut. I have a plan in view!

(Lieutenant goes up and down laughing. They laugh together.)

Arabella. What ails you now?

Lieut. to spoil the fun!

Arabella. But tell me how?

Lieut. I see it done!

Arabella. What is the plan?

Lieut. Why, can’t you guess?

Arabella. I never can!

Lieut. The copy-press!

I’ll show you what to do.

Arabella. You have a plan in view?

(Enter Corporal.)

Lieut. Corporal! (Corporal comes forward and salutes.) Carry this note (“Faith, I will”) to my secretary (“Sure I will”), and tell him (“Be jabers I will”) – silence, Corporal! – to take twenty-five copies on manifold-paper; and, Corporal (“Yis, sorr!”), you carry them and deliver them immediately at the doors of Elder Scram’s twenty-five wives. (“Yis, sorr, begorry I will!”)

(Corporal exits laughing.)

(Major appearing, evidently much agitated.)

Arabella. O Major! I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Rosa’s father has locked her up, and keeps her a prisoner till he can marry her to the Elder. Everything is ready for the wedding down there. It mustn’t be. We must prevent it!

Major. Now, what on earth is to be done?

Arabella. What now? What now?
You’ll go straight down to Salt Lake town
And run off with the girl this night!

Arabella, Major, and Lieut.

Oh! let us quick decide
What plan is to be tried,
whatever fate betide,
Oh! fly with her.
Before shall set the sun
There’ll be a chance for fun;
That Rosa may be won,
Oh1 haste away.


Rosa (entering, much exited). Escaped! escaped!

Aye, free at last! Kind Heaven be praised! Rather the dungeon’s darkness than to be his bride! Alas! my father, I have left my home, forced thence by your blind zeal which knows no mercy. O heart! take courage. A brother true remains, and – one to whom my inmost soul doth yearn.

My hands are loosed – the hateful chain is broken!
My heart, my heart is far from free!
Because the cruel word was spoken,
My love, my love, I come to thee!
Thy captive am I, and my king thou art!
Sweet is the thraldom of the heart!

(She looks around for signs of the presence of her friends.)

He is not here! Of him I’m ever dreaming;
Where does my gallant soldier rove?
Throughout the gloom a torch is gleaming,
The light of every life is Love.
Oh! claim thy captive. Monarch mine thou art;
Sweet is the thraldom of the heart.


(Enter Joseph Jessup.)

Jessup. Oh! now I get a wife for to cheer my lonely life,
And all my path illumine like a star;
She will coo to me of love as doth a turtle-dove,
And sew the buttons on my shirt col-lar!
How sweet will be the sight! The nectar of delight
Shall evermore the golden chalice fill,
And then, O blessed fate! her hand shall perpetrate
A mustard-plaster for me when I’m ill.

Oh! Cupid glances through from her eyes of heavenly blue,
While her heart like the happy linnet sings,
And, scorning to command, her little lily hand
Will darn my perforated stock-i-ings.
The wood she’ll saw and split, and build the fire with it,
And never will my morning slumber mar;
The mustard-plaster she will fabricate for me,
And sew the buttons on my shirt col-lar.

This surely is the spot I told her of. I hope the mule-team will not be late. Hark! I hear it rumbling down the mountain-side. It is near! (Jessup walks to the rear and looks at wagon.) There’s room enough in that great prairie-schooner (laughing) for old Scram’s whole family.

First Wife (suddenly appearing). O Joseph! (He advances quickly and meets her. She has in her hand a letter.)

Jessup. Oh! come to my arms, my dearest;
Your face it is sweet to see!
We’ll fly to the friendly forest,
For I’m sick of polygamee!

Jessup and First Wife. For I’m sick of polygamee!

Second Wife. O Joseph!

Jessup. I did not expect another!
But three of us now will fly
To the wilderness all together –

All. For I’m sick of polygami!

Third Wife. O Joseph!

Jessup. Another mistake of the printer!
How could it have happened so?
You can stop with me this winter,

All. For I’m sick of polygamo!

(All the other wives appearing at different entrances and advancing.)

Jessup. Come on, ye varied beauty;
I’ve taken the marriage vow,
And I think that I know my duty,
For I’m sick of polygamow!

All. For I’m sick of polygamow!

Joseph Jessup (offers arms to two of the wives, saying) “There’s nothing on earth important enough to be serious about.” (Others hook on right and left, and all march off, singing:)

“O darling! come away, and together let us stray,” etc.


(Enter Lieut. Montgomery and soldiers, Clem and Rosamond, Scram and baby, accompanied by Arabella.)

Scram. Now all my wives have fled,
I would this maiden wed –
But has she marrie-ed
Some other, as you said?
Explain it if you can!

Arabella (pointing to Major). Perhaps this is the man!

Soldiers. Undo it if you can.
Our Major is the man!

(Major gives hand to Rosamond.)

Rosa. He has the maiden wed;
No more has she to dread.
Are you astonished-ed?
What have I always said?
Undo it if you can –
Here stands the chosen man!

Scram. Win her I never can;
He surely is the man.

Soldiers. Undo it if you can –
Our Major is the man!

Rosa. O’er all sunlight glancing,
Ah! joy entrancing,
Bright the morning, la, la, la!
How glad my heart!
Dispelled is the gloom of the night
O’er all sunlight glancing,
Ah! joy entrancing,
Bright the morning, la, la, la!
With my lover true
Life I now renew,
I share it all, ye faithful few! la, la, la!
With my lover true
Life I now renew.
Sad was all my dreaming;
Morning bright is beaming,
My fears were but seeming!
All dispelled by love!
List, then, to themeasure1
Hearts o’erflow with pleasure!
Ah! join in the measure.
O’er all sunlight glancing,
Joy entrancing, la, la, la!

Scram (holding baby).

Oh! now I’m in trouble –
A motherless baby!
My sorrow is double,
And quadruple, may be!
‘Twas born in September,
The first; but, O bother!
I do not remember
Which one was its mother!

Major. Its mother?

Rosa. Its mother?

Arabella. Its mother?

Scram (in grief). Its mother!
I do not remember which one was its mother!

All. He does not remember which one was its mother!

Her eyes are like Polly’s.
Her ears are like Annie’s.
Her mouth is like Mollie’s.
Her feet are like Fannie’s.
‘Twas born in September,
The first; but, O bother!
I do not remember
Which one was its mother!


Major. Its mother?

Arabella. Its mother?

Rosa. Its mother?

Scram (in grief). Its mother!

All. He does not remember which one was its mother!

Scram. I do not remember which one was its mother.

I hear familiar voices! O joyful sound!

(Wives come in from woods singing mourning song.)

Wives. Come – we – back to this locality –
Once – more – ask your hospitality;
Vic-tims – of misfortune’s ravages –
Jo-seph – slaughtered by the savages!
They – am-bushed him with ability,
Scalp-ing – him with great ability,
Our only husband!

Friend-ships – formed in this vicinity
Need – no – ties of consanguinity.
While – we – ever meant to stay with him,
Set-ting – Hen has got away with him;
And – un-moved by the atrocity,
He – said – it was reciprocity!
Our only husband!

(Noise of violence in woods and Jessup rushes upon the stage.)

Jessup. Save me! Save me! However, there’s nothing on earth important enough to be serious about. (Falls.)

Wives. O Joseph!
Noblest of men!
You were a good provider;
You were the best of husbands!
Ah me!
You said we were your dearest one!
And you were true to us alone!
Ah me!

(Indians rush in and circle round the corpse.)

Setting Hen. Jessup great man! How! How!
Jessup no good!

(Jessup has vanished.)

First Wife. Oh, what will become of us?
Oh! what will become of us?

Scram (simultaneously with above). Oh! what will become of us?

First Wife. I know what I shall do. I will go and lecture all over the country.

Scram. Her hair is like Hattie’s.
Her form is like Flora’s.
Her chin is like Mattie’s.
Her nose is like Norah’s.
‘Twas born in September
And hadn’t any brother,
But I don’t remember
Which one was its mother!


Wives. We will go and lecture! We will go and lecture! And lecture, and lecture, till we find another!


God of Love! Our hearts for ever
Lift a song of praise to thee:
Urchin of the bow and quiver,
hear our joyous jubilee!
Past and gone our tribulation,
Therefore let us, ere we part,
Sing to thee in adoration,
Hail thee sovereign of the heart!

Scram and wives.

God of Love! Oh! wilt thou never
Rescue us and make us free?
From these bitter woes deliver!
Grant to us our jubilee!
Though extreme the complication,
Let us now, before we part,
From the depths of tribulation
Hail thee sovereign of the heart!



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