II III IV
V VI VII
In the forest. The moon has
just risen. Its beams, drifting
through the canopy of leaves, make a barely perceptible, suffused,
eerie glow. A dense low wall of under-brush and creepers is
in the nearer foreground, fencing in a small triangular clearing.
Beyond this is the massed blackness of the
forest like an encompassing barrier.
A path is dimly discerned leading down to the clearing from left,
rear, and winding away from it again toward the right. As the scene
opens nothing can be distinctly made out. Except for the beating of
the tom-tom, which is a trifle louder and quicker than in the previous
scene, there is silence, broken every few
seconds by a queer, clicking sound.
Then gradually the figure of the negro, Jeff,
can be discerned crouching on his haunches at the
rear of the triangle. He is middle-aged, thin, brown in color, is
dressed in a Pullman porter's uniform, cap, etc. He is throwing a
pair of dice on the ground before him, picking them up, shaking them,
casting them out with the regular, rigid, mechanical movements of
an automaton. The heavy, plodding footsteps of someone approaching
along the trail from the left are heard and
Jones' voice, pitched in a slightly
higher key and strained in a cheering effort to
overcome its own tremors.
De moon's rizen. Does you heah dat,
nigger? You gits more light from dis
out. No mo' buttin' yo' fool head agin' de trunks an'
scratchin' de hide off yo' legs in de bushes. Now you sees whar yo'se
gwine. So cheer up! From now on you has a snap. (He steps
just to the rear of the triangular clearing
and mops off his face on his sleeve.
He has lost his Panama hat. His face is scratched, his
brilliant uniform shows several large rents.) what time's it gittin'
to be, I wonder? I dassent light no match to find out. Phoo'. It's
wa'm an' dats a fac'! (wearily) How long r been makin' tracks
in dese woods? Must be hours an' hours. Seems like fo'evah! Yit
can't be, when de moon's jes' riz. Dis am a
long night fo' yo', yo' Majesty! (with a mournful chuckle)
Majesty! Der ain't much majesty 'bout dis
baby now. (with attempted cheerfulness)
Never min'. It's all part o' de game. Dis night come to
an end like everything else. And when you gits dar safe and has dat
bankroll in yo' hands you laughs at all dis. (He starts to
whistle but checks himself abruptly.)
What yo' whistlin' for, you po'
dope! Want all de won' to heah you? (He stops talking to listen.)
Heah dat ole drum! Sho' gits nearer from de
sound. Dey're packin' it along wid
'em. Time fo' me to move. (He takes a step forward, then
stops—worriedly.) What's dat odder queer clicketty sound I
heah? Den it is! Sound close! Sound like—sound like—Fo' God
sake, sound like some nigger was shootin' crap! (frightenedly)
I better beat it quick when I gits dem
notions. (He walks quickly into
the clear space—then stands transfixed as
he sees Jeff in a terrified gasp.) Who dar? Who dat? Is dat you,
Jeff? (starting toward the
other, forgetful for a moment of his surroundings and really believing
it is a living man that he sees—in a tone of happy relief) Jeff!
I'se sho' mighty glad to see you! Dey tol'
me you done died from dat razor cut I gives you. (stopping
suddenly, bewilderedly) But how
you come to be heah, nigger? (He stares
fascinatedly at the other who
continues his mechanical play with the dice. Jones' eyes
begin to roll wildly. He stutters.) Ain't you gwine—look up—can't
you speak to me? Is you—is you—a
ha'nt? (He jerks out his revolver in a frenzy
of terrified rage.) Nigger, I kills you dead once. Has I got
to kill you agin? You take it den. (He
fires. When the smoke clears away Jeff has disappeared. Jones
stands trembling—then with a certain reassurance.) He's gone,
anyway. Ha'nt or no ha'nt, dat shot fix him.
(The beat of the far-off tom-tom is
perceptibly louder and more rapid.
Jones becomes conscious of it—with a start, looking
back over his shoulder.) Dey's gittin' near! Dey'se comin' fast! And
heah I is shootin' shots to let 'em
know jes' whar I is. Oh, Gorry, I'se got
to run. (Forgetting the path he plunges wildly into the underbrush
the rear and disappears in the shadow.)