OBI; or, THREE-FINGER'D JACK
A MELO-DRAMA IN TWO ACTS.
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SCENE I.—A view of an extensive plantation in Jamaica.—A gate L.U.E.—A large house R.—The perspective represents, in figures, slaves, oxen, &c. tilling the ground, and working.—At the back are sugar houses, and a practical wheel, as of a mill at work.
(NEGROES discovered at work; they come forward, and the OVERSEER sing.
Black ladies and gentlemen, I pray you draw near,
And attend to the words of your grand overseer.
Leave work till to-morrow, my hearts—in the morning
Be jovial and gay,
For this is the day,
Miss Rosa, the good planter's daughter was born in.
'Tis our lady's birth-day,
Therefore we'll make holyday,
And you shall all be merry,
And you shall all be merry,
Sing ting-a-ring, &c.CHORUS.
Good massa we find,
Sing ting a ring, sing terry,
Where buckra man kind,
Then Negro heart merry,
Sing ting-a-ring, terry
OVERSEER. Now, my black beauties, quiet your ebony pipes, and listen to the words of your Grand Overseer. Be it known to all that this is the birth-day of the Lady Rosa, the fair daughter of our own benevolent master, Mr. Ormond.
QUASHEE. Bless her heart! she bery kind lady, she make fine wife for buckra man.
OVERSEER. Right, Quashee: and there's a buckra man coming to make a fine husband for her—Captain Orford, to whom she has long given her heart, returns this very day to claim her hand.
QUASHEE. Captain Orford! Oh! he good kind man, too; me never forget when he here before, long, long, long time eber since ago: he save poor black much floggee, floggee; me wish him happy long time, marry good old wife, and many good pickaninies.
OVERSEER. And in requital of such good wishes, our good master gives you a holyday. (NEGROES shout.) Adieu to labour! Let the sugar canes take care of themselves, and hey for mirth and merriment! (NEGROES shout.) And a fig for Obi, and Three-Fingered Jack!
(NEGROES, evidently alarmed, look cautiously around, and drawing close to OVERSEER, exclaim, "Hush!")
OVERSEER. What the devil's the matter with you all? Has the name of that three-fingered rascal power to stop your mirth so suddenly?
SAM. Oh, massa, take care, he hear us and make Obi woman kill us.
OVERSEER. Nonsense, nonsense! ye black ninny hammers. Do you think an old woman, as great a noodle as yourselves, can stop your wind-pipes by cramming parrots feathers, dogs' teeth, broken bottles, rum, and egg-shells into a cow's horn, and then mumbling a few words over it, as incomprehensible as your own fears?
QUASHEE. Oh, massa, you say what you please, but Obi woman know ebery ting from top of head to bottom of toe; and if once she put Obi o poor negro man, he no eat, he no drink, he no nothing, but pine, pine, pine, pine, pine and die away.
OVERSEER. Why, ladies and gentlemen, to judge from your aversion to work, Obi seems rather a fashionable disorder, but as to not eating, drinking, or sleeping, I really discover no symptoms of the complaint, so set your minds at rest, and enjoy the sports. See! our master approaches.
(Shout. ORMOND enters, R.2 E., all the NEGROES crowd round shouting, and expressing great affection for him.)
ORMOND. Thanks, thanks, my friends! We may every moment expect the arrival of Captain Orford. The vessel is in harbour, and ere this he must have landed; so haste and prepare to receive him with the respect due to the intended husband of your young mistress.
(Music.—NEGROES shout and exeunt, V E.L., NEGRO girls exeunt, 2 E.R.H.)
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. (shouts are heard, and distant music announces the approach of ORFORD.) But hark! the gallant Orford comes. Haste and bid them conduct my daughter hither.
(Exit OVERSEER, R.1 E.)
(Music.—Negro's march. The MALE SLAVES enter, with garlands and emblems, L.U.E. preceding CAPTAIN ORFORD and TUCKEY. ORMOND affectionately embraces ORFORD.)
ORMOND. Orford, most welcome! behold, my daughter comes.
(Music.—Re-enter OVERSEER, R.I.E. followed by KITTY and the Female Domestics, preceding ROSA.)
ORMOND. This is indeed a moment which atones for years of sorrow, a moment which gives a protector to my child in every manner worthy of her.
ORFORD. At least one, sire, who will endeavour to merit such high praise.
ORMOND. Rosa! I know your heart beats responsive to your father's wish.
ROSA. It ever has done so, sire; nor does it now incline to disobey.
ORMOND. My every wish is gratified. Come, friends, to the house, where song and dance shall usher in the hour which gives you, Orford, a new claim on my affection.
(Music.—ORMOND leads ROSA to car, and she is carried off in procession, the GIRLS dancing, MEN shouting R.H.U.E.)
(Enter KITTY, R.H., followed by TUCKEY.)
TUCKEY. Come, my pretty maid, be brisk; Mr. Ormond and the captain intend to go out shooting for a few hours, so fly and bid the servants prepare.
KITTY. Fly, indeed! Quite free and easy. Pray, where did you learn to forget the difference between black and white, my dingy spark?
TUCKEY. In England, my dear, where, truth to speak, though I saw many pretty damsels, I saw none that could in any way compare with you, fine model of perfection.
KITTY. Upon my word, the boy has some sense, and is not so dingy as I at first thought him. Exit. L. H.
TUCKEY. Ah, we poor blacks have a weary time of it, and are as much railed at as if the darkness of our skins were a sample of the colour of our hearts.
SONG.—TUCKEY. "Possum up a gum tree."
Opossum up a gum tree,
His tail his body follow,
Racoon quickly him see
Looking out o' hollow—
Pull him by the long tail,
Opossum squall—opossum squall,
Racoon stick his long nail,
Him louder squall—him louder squeak,
Opossum up, &c.
Opossum him look shy now,
Racoon grin, Racoon grin,
Opossum wink his eye now,
Move him chin, move him chin,
Opossum down him stumble
From the tree, from the tree,
And make him 'gin to tremble,
Racoon he, he, Racoon he, he,
Opossum up, &c.
Black boy him love Jill Jenkins,
Tink he'll wed—tink he'll wed,
His massa chide him thinking,
Beat him head—beat him head,
Black boy him love rum, too,
Make him groggy—make him groggy,
But massa make him come to
When him floggy—when him floggy.
Opossum up, &c.
SCENE III.—Interior of OBI WOMAN's hut. A fire—a bench before it having figure—covered with a white cloth on it. Wand for OBI WOMAN—charms, and a handful of feathers in OBI WOMAN's wallet. The fire under an iron pot, suspended by three sticks as in Guy Mannering.
OBI WOMAN discovered, sitting near fire, forming an Obi. After performing several incantations, she speaks.
Magic fire duly placed
In square within a circle traced,
Boil the mystic herbs I've brought,
Till the Obi charm be wrought;
Bones I've raked from the burial ground,
When night and the storm were black around;
Give strength to my work, till I've fixed my dart,
Like a cankerous thorn in the white man's heart—
Till I pierce him and wring him in nerve and spleen
By the arrows felt, but never seen.
Then by flame unbodied burn him,
Then on racking windlass turn him,
Till his sinews quiver and ache anew,
And the cold sweat falls like drops of dew,
Toil him and moil him again and again,
Sicken his heart and madden his brain;
Till strength, and sense, and life depart,
As I tear the last pulse from the white man's heart.
(Music.—As the OBI WOMAN completes her charm, three loud knocks are heard, she trembles, and advancing cautiously to the door, demands, "Who's there?"A voice answers, "Karfa!" She immediately unlocks the door and THREE-FINGERED JACK enters.)
JACK. Well, mother, how work our charms? do they hasten to an end! or still, tortoise-like, so creep to their completion, that the white man's breath is more like to waste with age than be stopped by my revenge?
OBI WOMAN. Son! thy impatience—
JACK. Impatience—impatience, hag! The gods of my fathers frown my delay. Years have elapsed since I sacrificed the wife of the white man, a victim to the memory of my beloved Olinda, whom they tore lifeless from these arms as they dragged me from my native land; can I forget? can I forgive? Never. And long ere this should vengeance have been satisfied, had not a mistaken faith in thy mummery restrained my arm.
OBI WOMAN. Mummery! ha! sayst thou? Rail not on Obi, lest thou feel its power.
JACK. Power? thy power is in the fear of thy votaries—and fear I know not. As Africa receded from my gaze I swore that the first white man who purchased Karfa's services should also feel his hate. Ormond was that man. The wife of his bosom was my first victim, and long ere this should his bones have been mouldering in the grave, but that you promised a sweeter, though a slower vengeance.
OBI WOMAN. And I will perform my promise; Ormond shall die. He but hovers round me for a time, as the fluttering bird struggles to avoid the fascinations of the serpent. But here have I his image made in wax, and as it is molten by a blue fire kindled with dead men's eyes, so shall he waste, waste, waste. (throws in coloured fire.)
JACK. In what time, pry' thee?
OBI WOMAN. Perchance a month.
JACK. A month! A day shall not elapse ere the blow be struck! 'Tis the anniversary of his daughter's birth—'tis the anniversary of that, when blasting their revelry, I struck my first strong blow against his peace. Now, 'tis the day on which he purposes to give his daughter's hand in marriage to her lover; and 'tis the day when, bursting like a whirlwind on him, I will sacrifice his every remaining joy to the memory of my broken-hearted wife, my helpless infants, and the wrongs of my poor country. (crosses to L.H.—distant horns heard, as of sporting party.) Hark, hark! ere night those instruments shall sound a sadder note. Quick! Quick! (giving horn.) More of your charms, which in the eye of superstition make me invisible—and let me to my work. (crosses to R.)
OBI WOMAN. Here, my son. (puts a handful of feathers into horn.) Yet be not rash, and trust that Obi—
(JACK rushes out, and the OBI WOMAN resumes her seat. The music continues during change of scene.)
(Music.—ORMOND, ORFORD, TUCKEY, and SERVANTS, cross the stage, as on a shooting party. TUCKEY shows ORFORD game he has killed; ORFORD commends his skill; they then exeunt R.H.—TUCKEY, elevated at his master's praise. A pause in the music—JACK, L.H., follows them attentively, watching their motions, and expressing his desire of vengeance. Exits, R.H.)
ORFORD and TUCKEY enter R.H.E., whilst JACK is observed watching them from the rocks.
ORFORD. 'Tis unfortunate that we have missed our companions, for how to regain the path I know not.
TUCKEY. Nor I either, massa; and I wish we were safe at home again. This is but a wild looking place, and they tell such stories of that three-fingered gentleman, Mr. Jack, that—
ORFORD. Fear not, my little man! fair play, and I warrant you, this "Mr. Jack," is but as other men. (horns R.H., at distance.) Hark! is not that our party? Haste to the summit of yonder hill and look around.
TUCKEY. And leave you here alone, massa?
ORFORD. Fear not, I will reload and prepare to pursue our sport. Do as I desire you.
(Music.—TUCKEY, somewhat reluctantly obeys, and exits, R.H.1 E., whilst the CAPTAIN, preparing to load his fowling-piece, crosses to R.H., JACK now rushes upon him, wrests his gun from him, and severely wounds him with a dagger, ere he has time to call for aid. The CAPTAIN falls at JACK'S feet.—Horns sound nearer.—JACK looks cautiously and keenly off in the direction of the sound, and all around, then raising the body of ORFORD, bears it to his cave, and the scene closes on picture.)
(Enter QUASHEE, L. 1 E., followed by other SLAVES.)
QUASHEE. Haste, haste, my merry hearts. This night good buckra man give grand dance and much kous kous; 'cause Captain Orford makes himself all one with Missee Rosa; so run and tell merry Jonkanoo to get him big head on, and all dansa, dansa, like mad. (Exeunt SLAVES, L. 1 E.) Oh, it be sweet, when work a done, and poor black danse by moonlight, and his pretty black lady.
SONG.—"Ackee, O!" (from "Paul and Virginia.")
When the moon shines o'er the deep,
Ackee, O! Ackee, O!
Whisker'd dons fall fast asleep,
Snoring fast asleep.
From their huts the negroes run,
Ackee, O! Ackee,O!
Full of frolic, full of fun,
Holyday to keep.
Till morn they dance the merry round,
To the fife and cymbal;
See so brisk, how they frisk,
Airy, gay, and nimble.
With gestures antic, joyous, frantic,
Dance the merry round,
Ting a ring ching—ting a ring ching,
To the merry cymbal's sound.
Black lad whispers to black lass,
Ackee, O! Ackee, O!
Glances sly between them pass,
Of beating hearts to tell.
What tho' no blush can paint her cheek,
Ackee, O! Ackee O!
Well the eye can language speak
Of passion quite as well.
Till morn they dance, &c., &c., &c. (Exit L.1.E.)
SCENE VII.—The Indian fete by moonlight. The Planter's house illuminated in the background. Lights half down.The NEGROES are assembled, some sing the following air, while JONKANOO performs a comic dance to it. NEGRO WOMEN are seated during the dance.
We Negro men and women meet
And dance sing and eat,
With a yam foo-foo.
And when we come to Negro ball,
One funny big man be massa of all,
'Tis merry Jonkanoo.
Massa he poor negro treat,
Give grand ball and Jonkanoo.
Massa he poor Negro treat, &c., &c.
(The sports continue for a time when suddenly the voice of ORMOND is heard without exclaiming, "Hold, hold!" The music assumes a hurried character, and ORMOND, from 3 E. R. H., rushes down the centre of the stage followed by the OVERSEER with drawn sword, and TUCKEY.)
ORMOND. No more of mirth and revelry—no more of song and dance; but arm—arm, my faithful followers, and aid your unhappy master to avenge the murder of Captain Orford.
QUASHEE, SAM, & ALL. Captain Orford murdered!
ORMOND. Ay! by that detested wretch, that blood-stained villain, Karfa!
NEGROES. Three-fingered Jack!
(Chord.—NEGROES appear much alarmed as they pronounce his name.)
ORMOND. Can it be possible? do you draw back dismayed by the mere name of that detested monster? And yet poor Orford was the black man's friend. Oft at his intercession has the hand of punishment been stayed; and with my Rosa, often has he stood by the bed of sickness, and soothed the sorrows of the poor negro; yet now, subdued by vain and superstitious terrors, ye tremble to avenge the murder of your benfactor. For shame! for shame! Be men; and by one bold effort, let us rid ourselves of this detested wretch.
SONG and CHORUS.
Swear by the silver crescent of the night,
Beneath whose beams the negro breathes his prayer,
Swear by your fathers slaughtered in the fight,
By your dear native land and children swear,
Swear to pursue this traitor, and annoy him,
This Jack who daily works you harm,
With Obi and with magic charm,
Swear, swear you will destroy him!
Kolli! kolli! kolli! we swear all!
We kill when we come near him.
But no swear loud, for if we bawl,
Three-fingered Jack will hear us.
(At the end of the Chorus, QUASHEE advances, leading his wife by one hand, and his child by the other.)
QUASHEE. (with great feeling) Massa! you have been kind massa to me; and Missee Rosa been kind missee to wife and pickaninny here, and I now show you black man's heart beat warm as white. I will go; and if I meet this Jack, Quashee will kill him, or him kill Quashee, only if poor nigger die, you take care of wife and little Massa Quashee.
SAM. Quashee! you long been my comrade at the work, and you shall not go to the fight alone. D—n a heart, I go too. (extending his hand with emotion, QUASHEE grasps it earnestly.)
ORMOND. My gallant hearts, your courage shall not go unrewarded; and as the first proof of my bounty, no more my slaves—be free! (NEGROES shout.) Fear not his wily strategems—his magic art—all will fail before the arm that's nerved by freedom and by gratitude. This night continue your feast; let not my sorrows taint the few moments you have of mirth. Nay, 'tis my command. To-night celebrate your new-found liberty, to-morrow for vengeance! (Exit R.H.)
SOLO and CHORUS.
Nigger man go out to fight,
Heaven send him safe home back;
If by Sam and Quashee found,
Then good bye Three-fingered Jack.
Now we dance, sing, and eat,
With a yam, foo-foo, with a yam foo-foo.
Now we dance, sing, and eat
With a yam foo-foo.
Jack have charm in Obi bag,
Tom cat foot, pig tail, duck beak.
Quashee tear the charm to rag,
Make Three-fingered Jack to squeak.
Now we dance, sing, and eat,
With a yam foo-foo, with a yam foo-foo.
Now we dance, sing, and eat, &c.
(NEGROES shouting, dancing, &c., &c., and—
END OF ACT I.