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SCENE EIGHT

  Dawn. Same as Scene Two, the dividing line of forest and plain. The nearest tree trunks are dimly revealed but the forest behind them is still a mass of glooming shadow. The tom-tom seems on the very spot, so loud and continuously vibrating are its beats. Lem enters from the left, followed by a small squad of his soldiers, and by the Cockney trader, Smithers. Lem is a heavy-set, ape-faced old savage of the extreme African type, dressed only in a loin cloth. A revolver and cartridge belt are about his waist. His soldiers are in different degrees of rag-concealed nakedness. All wear broad palm leaf hats. Each one carries a rifle. Smithers is the same as in Scene One. One of the soldiers, evidently a tracker, is peering about keenly on the ground. He grunts and points to the spot where Jones entered the forest. Lem and Smithers come to look.

  SMITHERS—(after a glance, turns away in disgust) That's where 'e went in right enough. Much good it'll do yer. 'E's miles orf by this an' safe to the Coast damn 'S 'ide! I tole yer yer'd lose 'im, didn't I?—wastin' the 'ole bloomin' night beatin' yer bloody drum and castin' yer silly spells! Gawd blimey, wot a pack!

  LEM—(gutturally) We cotch him. You see. (He makes a motion to his soldiers who squat down on their haunches in a semi-circle.)

  SMITHERS—(exasperatedly) Well, ain't yer goin 'in an' 'unt 'im in the woods? What the 'ell's the good of waitin'?

  LEM—(imperturbably—squatting down himself) We cotch him.

  SMITHERS—(turning away from him contemptuously) Aw! Garn! 'E's a better man than the lot o' you put together. I 'ates the sight o' 'im but I'll say that for 'im. (A sound of snapping twigs comes from the forest. The soldiers jump to their feet, cocking their rifles alertly. Lem remains sitting with an imperturbable expression, but listening intently. The sound from the woods is repeated. Lem makes a quick signal with his hand. His followers creep quickly but noiselessly into the forest, scattering so that each enters at a different spot.)

  SMITHERS—(in the silence that follows—a contemptuous whisper) You ain't thinkin' that would be 'im, I 'ope?

  LEM—(calmly) We cotch him.

  SMITHERS—Blarsted fat 'eads! (then after a second's thought—wonderingly) Still an' all, it 'might 'appen. If 'e lost 'is bloody way in these stinkin' woods 'e'd likely turn in a circle without 'is knowin' it. They all does.

  LEM—(peremptorily) Sssh! (The reports of several rifles sound from the forest, followed a second later by savage, exultant yells. The beating of the tom-tom abruptly ceases. Lem looks up at the white man with a grin of satisfaction.) We cotch him. Him dead.

  SMITHERS—(with a snarl) 'Ow d'yer know it's 'im an' 'ow d'yer know 'e's dead?

  LEM—My mens dey got 'urn silver bullets. Dey kill him shore.

  SMITHERS—(astonished) They got silver bullets?

  LEM—Lead bullet no kill him. He got urn strong charm. I cook urn money, make urn silver bullet, make urn strong charm, too.

  SMITHERS—(light breaking upon him) So that's wot you was up to all night, wot? You was scared to put after 'im till you'd moulded silver bullets, eh?

  LEM—(simply stating a fact) Yes. Him got strong charm. Lead no good.

  SMITHERS—(slapping his thigh and guffawing) Haw-haw! If yer don't beat all 'ell! (then recovering himself—scornfully) I'll bet yer it ain't 'im they shot at all, yer bleedin' looney!

  LEM—(calmly) Dey come bring him now. (The soldiers come out of the forest, carrying Jones' limp body. There is a little reddish purple hole under his left breast. He is dead. They carry him to Lem who examines his body with great satisfaction.)

  SMITHERS—(leans over his shoulder—in a tone of frightened awe) Well, they did for yer fight enough, Jonsey, me lad! Dead as a 'erring! (mockingly) Where's yer 'igh an' mighty airs now, yer bloornin' Majesty? (then with a grin) Silver bullets! Gawd blimey, but yer died in the 'eighth o' style, any'ow!

(Curtain)


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