Shenandoah Part 22

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JENNY. [_Aside._] Papa said I'd have to help him, but I don't see an opening. [HEARTSEASE _plays part of an air with one finger; strikes two or three wrong notes._

HEARTSEASE. There are two notes down there, somewhere, that I never could get right. The fellows in prison used to dance while I played--[_Playing._]--that is, the lame ones did; those that weren't lame couldn't keep the time.

JENNY. You must have been in great danger, Captain, when you escaped from prison.

HEARTSEASE. Y-e-s. I was badly frightened several times. One night I came face to face, on the road, with a Confederate officer. It was Captain Thornton.

JENNY. Oh! What did you do?



HEARTSEASE. I killed him. [_Very quietly, and trying the tune again at once. Enter_ JANNETTE, _from in hall; she glances into the room and goes up the stairs._] I used to skip those two notes on the banjo.

It's very nice for a soldier to come home from the war, and meet those--I mean the one particular person--that he--you see, when a soldier loves a woman, as--as--

JENNY. [_Aside._] As he loves me. [_Approaches him._

HEARTSEASE. As soldiers often do--[_Plays; she turns away, petulantly; he plays the tune through correctly._] That's it!

JENNY. [_Aside._] I'm not going to be made love to by piece-meal, like this, any longer. [_Aloud._] Captain Heartsease! Have you anything in particular to say to me? [_He looks up._

HEARTSEASE. Y-e-s. [_Rising._

JENNY. Say it! You told my father, and all my friends, that you were in love with me. Whom are you going to tell next?

HEARTSEASE. I _am_ in love with you.

JENNY. It was my turn.

HEARTSEASE. [_Going near to her._] Do you love me?

JENNY. [_Laying her head quietly on his breast._] I must take time to consider.

HEARTSEASE. [_Quietly._] I assume that this means "Yes."

JENNY. It isn't the way a girl says "No."

HEARTSEASE. My darling!

JENNY. Why! His heart is beating as fast as mine is!

HEARTSEASE. [_Quietly._] I am frantic with joy. [_He kisses her. She hides her face on his breast. Enter_ MRS. HAVERILL, _down-stairs, followed by_ JANNETTE. MRS. HAVERILL _stops suddenly._ JANNETTE _stands in the doorway._ HEARTSEASE _inclines his head to her, quietly looking at her over_ JENNY.] I am delighted to see you, after so long an absence; I trust that we shall meet more frequently hereafter.

JENNY. [_Looking at him._] Eh?

HEARTSEASE. [_Looking down at her._] I think, perhaps, it might be as well for us to repair to another apartment, and continue our interview, there!

JENNY. [_Dropping her head on his breast again._] This room is very comfortable.

MRS. HAVERILL. Jenny, dear! [JENNY _starts up; looks from_ MRS.

HAVERILL _to_ HEARTSEASE.

JENNY. Constance! I--'Bout face! March! [_Turns and goes out._

MRS. HAVERILL. I am glad to see you again, Captain, and happy as well as safe.

HEARTSEASE. Thank you, Madam. I am happy. If you will excuse me, I will join--my father--in the smoking-room. [MRS. HAVERILL _inclines her head, and_ HEARTSEASE _walks out._

MRS. HAVERILL. Jannette! You may ask General Haverill to come into this room. [_Exit_ JANNETTE. MRS. HAVERILL _walks down, reading a note._] "I have hesitated to come to you personally, as I have hesitated to write to you. If I have been silent, it is because I could not bring my hand to write what was in my mind and in my heart.

I do not know that I can trust my tongue to speak it, but I will come."

_Enter_ HAVERILL _from hall; he stops._

HAVERILL. Constance!

MRS. HAVERILL. My husband! May I call you husband? After all these months of separation, with your life in almost daily peril, and my life--what? Only a weary longing for one loving word--and you are silent.

HAVERILL. May I call you wife? I do not wish to speak that word except with reverence. You have asked me to come to you. I am here. I will be plain, direct and brief. Where is the portrait of yourself, which I gave you, in Charleston, for my son?

MRS. HAVERILL. Your son is dead, sir; and my portrait lies upon his breast, in the grave. [HAVERILL _takes the miniature from his pocket and holds it towards her in his extended hand. She starts back._] He gave it to you? And you ask me where it is?

HAVERILL. It might have lain in the grave of Kerchival West!

MRS. HAVERILL. Ah!

HAVERILL. Not in my son's. I found it upon _his_ breast. [_She turns front, dazed._] Well! I am listening! It was not I that sought this interview, Madam; and if you prefer to remain silent, I will go. You know, now, why I have been silent so long.

MRS. HAVERILL. My only witnesses to the truth are both dead. I shall remain silent. [_Turning towards him._] We stand before each other, living, but not so happy as they. We are parted, forever. Even if you should accept my unsupported word--if I could so far forget my pride as to give it to you--suspicion would still hang between us. I remain silent. [HAVERILL _looks at her, earnestly, for a moment; then approaches her._

HAVERILL. I cannot look into your eyes and not see truth and loyalty there. Constance!

MRS. HAVERILL. No, John! [_Checking him._] I will not accept your blind faith!

HAVERILL. [_Looking down at the picture in his hand._] My faith is blind; blind as my love! I do not wish to see! [_Enter_ EDITH. _She stops; looks at_ HAVERILL. _He raises his head and looks at her._

EDITH. This is General Haverill? [_Dropping her eyes._] I am Edith, sir.

HAVERILL. [_Gently._] My son's wife. [_Kisses her forehead._] You shall take the place he once filled in my heart. His crime and his disgrace are buried in a distant grave.

EDITH. And you have not forgiven him, even yet?

MRS. HAVERILL. Is there no atonement for poor Frank's sin--not even his death? Can you only bury the wrong and forget the good?

HAVERILL. The good?

MRS. HAVERILL. Your own words to the Government, as his commander!

HAVERILL. What do you mean?

MRS. HAVERILL. "The victory of Cedar Creek would have been impossible without the sacrifice of this young officer."

Shenandoah Part 22

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Shenandoah Part 22 summary

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