Page images
[ocr errors]

Dom. (R.) That cottage belongs to Virginia; her character should silence your suspicions. Be assured the slave you seek is not there.

Die. Stand aside, and let me pass.

Dom. Look ye, friend,-I always do my duty ; I am naturally a merry fellow, and tolerably good-natured, but if you persist, I must knock you down,-I must, indeed; I must do my duty.

Die. Your duty !

Dom. Yes ; Virginia has no parents, no relations to protect her. I lived as a servant with Virginia's father when she was born. He died when she was an infant : her mother, when she was on her death-bed, bequeathed this her only daughter to my protection ; and I will protect her while this arm can do its duty.

Die. Do you mean to strike me ?

Dom. Not I, indeed, except you oblige me to do so. My hand, at any time, would rather greet a friend than conquer an enemy. As I told you before, I am naturally a merry fellow : a song or dance will make me skip as if my nervēs were fiddle-strings. My heels are light, for my heart is light,-'tis not incumbered with a bad conscience; and when I lay my hand on it, and say I have always endeavoured to do my duty, it won't contradict me.

Die. Ha, ha, ha! Virginia is fortunate in having such a slave.

Dom. A slave! No, no; I am, indeed, her servant; nay, I will be bold enough to say, her friend ;

but I am no slave, for I have British blood in my veins.

Die. Indeed !

Dom. Yes; I am told my father was an English sailor, who, being above vulgar prejudices, admired a black beauty. I was born in this island, and the sun gave a gentle tinge to my complexion, to mark me as a favourite ; so good morning to yon. [Exit Diego, L.) The whole island, blacks and whites, will rejoice in the happiness of the lovers : every negro, as he passes them, will show his white teeth, and nod in salutation. Ackee ()! Ackee () ! ay, and the negroes will remember them in their songs when they dance by moonlight, Jike so many black fairies.

When the moon shines o'er the deep,

Ackee ()! Ackee (!
And whisker'd dons are fast asleep,

Snoring, fast asleep,
From their huts the negroes run,

Ackee () ! Ackee 0);
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,
They dance the merry round,

Ackee ()! Ackee O!
To the cymbal's sound.
Black lad 'whispers to black lass,

Ackee O! Ackee 0 !
Glances sly between them pass,

Of beating hearts to tell.
Though no blush can paint her cheek,

Ackee O! Ackee O!
Still her eyes the language speak
Of passion quite as well.

Till morn, &c.

Enter PAUL, L. V. E. Paul. Well, Dominique, here I am, all curiosity, all expectation. You know I am yet ignorant of Virginia's history and my own. You have promised to satisfy my curiosity.

Dom. Now it becomes my duty. Know, then, that Virginia's mother was of a noble family in Spain.

Enter MARY from the Cottage, R. Mary. Dominique !

Dom. (R.) Unlucky! there is my wife; she knows the story by this time, and envies me the pleasure of telling it. [To Mary) Leave us to ourselves but one minute, I entreat you. [Mary retires a little up.

Paul. (L.) Oh! Dominique, my anxiety

Dom. Shall be gratified. Virginia's mother was, as I told you, of a noble family in Spain, who cast her off from their protection on her marrying my master, a young merchant of inferior birth. Deserted by their friends, he retired to a small plantation in this island; but one misfortune succeeded another, and he soon died of a broken heart, leaving his wife and infant in poverty and distress.

Paul. Without a protector, without a friend !

Dom. Without a friend ! No, young man, I hope I knew my duty better.

Paul. Forgive my impatience, I was in the wrong. Mary. (Coming forward, R.) Not at all in the wrong ; who can keep their pattence to hear him talk so slow?

Dom. That is a reproach, Mary, which I cannot retort upon you. Paul, hitherto you have believed Virginia to be your sister ; but she is not your sister.

Paul. Indeed! were not Virginia's parents mine?
Dom, and Mary. No.
Paul. To whom, then, do I owe my birth ?
Mary. To poor Margaret.
Dom. Who was a faithful domestic to my mistress.
Mary. And passed for your nurse.

Dom. [To Mary.] Now your story is at an end ; you know no more.

Paul. And my father?

Dom. Really, I cannot tell who he was, for I never heard myself; but console yourself; if your ignorance in that respect is a misfortune, you are not single in it.

Mary. [To Dom.] And now your story is at an end. Dom. Not yet.

Paul. Virginia no longer my sister ! A thousand emotions rise in my bosom-but why was the secret of my birth kept for fifteen years, and why disclosed on this day?

Dom. [To Mary:] You can't answer that, I can. You must know that my poor mistress, on her death-bed, conjured me to sanction the deceit until Virginia should attain her fifteenth year.

Mary. Well, and she's fifteen this day.

Dom If, at that period, no news from her family in Spain should arrive Mary. And no news from Spain has arrived. Dom. Now do hold your tongue. [Sends Mary off into

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Cottage, R.) I was at liberty to explain the secret of your birth, and to add the blessings of Virginia's mother to your union.

Paul. Kind Dominique ! invaluable friend I let me fly to Virginia.

Dom. I have already acquainted her with the whole story.

[Music. Enter, from the Cottage, the young Women with Vir

GINIA ; all go off, except Paul and Virginia, R. Paul. Why that averted look, my dear Virginia ? Do you not share in my joy, my transport, at this discovery ?

Vir. Indeed I do: my affection for you commenced with my life, and can only end with it. The first word my infant lips pronounced, was your beloved name; and when my eyes opened to the light of heaven, my heart opened to love.

Paul. Ob, Virginia! my happiness seems too great to be real.

Vast is the swelling tide of joy,

Too mighty bliss abounding ;
Do not, ye powers, with sweets destroy-

Each yielding sense confounding.
Thus, from the dungeon's gloom restor’d,

The captive courts the sudden light;
Shrinks from the blessing he ador'd,

And hides in shades his dazzled sight.
Enter ALAMBRA from behind the Cottage, R.U. E.

Alam. (R.) Pity, pity the miserable Alambra! Oh! compassionate a wretched creature, forced by ill usage to escape from a neighbouring plantation.

Paul. (L.) How! a runaway negro!

Ala. For several days the neighbouring forest has sheltered me from my pursuers; but, alas ! I dared not venture from my hiding-place to implore charity, till famine rendered me desperate“I faint with hunger.

Paul. Poor wretch ! thou hast, indeed, suffered for thy errors.

Vir. (c.) We must forget his errors in his misery. Let us thank heaven, my dear Paul, for having again afforded us the satisfaction of relieving a fellow-creature in distress.

Paul. Unfortunate victim of avarice!

Alas! you know the strict laws of this island will not allow us to afford you shelter in our abode. What misfortune tempted you to the rashness of deserting your master's service!

Ala. Oppression, cruel oppression; not exerted on my own person, but on my helpless sister. Our parents died on board the ship which tore us from our native country; we were left belpless and deserted orphans.

Vir. Paul, do you mark this? We are orphans, and know how to pity you.

Ala. I thought myself too happy that our lot was to serve the same master. We were purchased for a planter named Tropic.

Paul. His principal servant, Diego, was in search of you this morning.

Ala. It is of his cruel servant I complain. For some time my strength and activity enabled me not only to perform my own task with cheerfulness, but to assist in that portion of labour alloted to my sister. This was discovered by Diego, and he chastised me with stripes.

Vir. How wretched must be the reflections of that bad man!

Ala. bore my punishment with fortitude; but the next hour, alas !-hearts like your's will scarcely give credit to the tale- the next hour, I saw my gentle sister sink under the lash of my tormentor. Maddess seized my brain. I struck the cruel Diego to the ground.

Paul. Heaven stamped that energy in your heart, which raised your avenging arm.

Vir. [To Paul.] Cannot we intercede with this poor slave's master to forgive him! What, though he may be a man of high rank, and we cannot speak to him eloquently, surely no eloquence is required to plead the cause of nature.

Paul. Virginia, we feel the impulse of a guardian power: let us obey it.

Ala. [Crossing, O., and fulling on his knees.] He who implanted mercy in your breasts will thank you for


Paul. (L.) Take some refreshment in this cottage, and then lead the way to your plantation.

Ala. "Across that mountain lies our path ; it is rugged and difficult.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »