Obi Melodrama: Act I, Scene 1

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OVERSEER. Ay! they can shout loud enough now, though but a moment ago, the very name of Obi and Three-fingered jack struck them as dumb as—

ORMOND. I charge you name not that murderous villain in my presence; you awaken recollections which pain, which agonize me.

OVERSEER. Dear sir, your pardon, I knew not—

ORMOND. No, I allude to scenes long past; to scenes of joy and happiness for ever blasted by the ruffian you have named. Alas! this very day, the birth-day of my Rosa, was the one on which I saw her mother fall beneath the hands of that accursed wretch.

OVERSEER. Good Heavens! was your wife the victim of his cruelty?

ORMOND. Long had he been on the estate, and long had every art been tried to soothe his savage nature, for Heaven knows I pitied the unfortunates, and strove by kindness and humanity to mitigate their cruel lot. With Karfa, (for so was he then named,) alone, my efforts failed; each day but added to his ferocity; crime followed crime, until the villain dared to attempt the honour of my wife. The signal punishment which awaited him drove him to madness, and under shade of night he burst his bonds, broke into my chamber, and before my sight murdered my unhappy wife. Vainly I endeavoured to grapple with the monster—his giant strength dashed me to the earth, and in the confusion the wretch escaped.

OVERSEER. And has no attempt been made to secure the murderer?

ORMOND. Often. But all have failed; the negroes dread his incantations, and many of our colour believe him possessed of some supernatural power; he has neither accomplices nor associates; alone he plunders, alone he combats, and has hitherto ever destroyed his pursuers or retreated to fastnesses where none dare to follow him; still his malice seems levelled more at me than others, and I often fear my daughter's life will fall a victim to his hatred.

August 2002

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Praxis Series