A dark manor-house shuttered and unlighted, outlined against a pale sunset: in front a large, but neglected, garden. To the right, in the foreground, the porch of a chapel, with coloured windows lighted. Hymns within.
Above the porch a grotesque carved bracket, supporting a lantern. Astride of it sits CAPTAIN REDFEATHER, a flagon in his hand.
I have drunk to all I know of,
To every leaf on the tree,
To the highest bird of the heavens,
To the lowest fish of the sea.
What toast, what toast remaineth,
Drunk down in the same good wine,
By the tippler’s cup in the tavern,
And the priest’s cup at the shrine?
[A Priest comes out, stick in hand, and looks right and left.]
The brawler …
He has vanished
To the stars.
[The Priest looks up.]
What would you there, sir?
Give you all a toast.
[Lifts his flagon. More priests come out.]
I see my life behind me: bad enough–
Drink, duels, madness, beggary, and pride,
The life of the unfit: yet ere I drop
On Nature’s rubbish heap, I weigh it all,
And give you all a toast–
[Reels to his feet and stands.]
The health of God!
[They all recoil from him.]
Let’s give the Devil of the Heavens His due!
He that made grass so green, and wine so red,
Is not so black as you have painted him.
REDFEATHER [hurls the flagon among them.]
Howl! ye dumb dogs,
I named your King–let me have one great shout,
Flutter the seraphim like startled birds;
Make God recall the good days of His youth
Ere saints had saddened Him: when He came back
Conqueror of Chaos in a six days’ war,
With all the sons of God shouting for joy …
And you–what is your right, and who are you,
To praise God?
A lost soul. In earth or heaven
What has a better right?
Go, pagan, go!
Drink, dice, and dance: take no more thought than blind
Beasts of the field….
Or … lilies of the field,
To quote a pagan sage. I go my way.
And when Death comes….
He shall not find me dead.
[Puts on his plumed hat. The priests go out.]
These frozen fools….
[The Lady Olive comes out of the chapel. He sees her.]
Oh, they were right enough.
Where shall I hide my carrion from the sun?
[Buries his face. His hat drops to the ground.]
OLIVE [looking up.]
Captain, are you from church? I saw you not.
No, I am here.
[Lays his hand on a gargoyle.]
I, too, am a grotesque,
And dance with all the devils on the roof.
OLIVE [with a strange smile.]
For Satan, also, I have often prayed.
Satan may worry women if he will,
For he was but an angel ere he fell,
But I–before I fell–I was a man.
He too, my Master, was a man: too strong
To fear a strong man’s sins: ’tis written He
Descended into hell.
Write, then, that I
[Leaps to the ground before her.]
Descended into heaven….
You are ill?
You speak the truth–you are the Truth–
Lady, say once again then, ‘I am well.’
I–ah! God give me grace–I am nigh dead.
Is in your father’s house–
Having the title-deeds–would drive you forth.
Homeless, and with your father sick to death,
Into this winter, save on a condition
And unnameable. Even so; Lord Orm–
Ah! do you know him?
Ay, I saw him once.
The sun shone on his face, that smiled and smiled,
A sight not wholesome to the eyes of man.
Captain, I tell you God once fell asleep.
And in that hour the world went as it would;
Dogs brought forth cats, and poison grew in grapes,
And Orm was born….
Why, curse him! can he not
Be kicked or paid?