Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas >> Part I — Scene I >> Page 3

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 3

Drama | John R. Thompson | 1852
Transcription MICHAEL BONHAM;
OR, THE FALL OF BEXAR.

The tale which follows, was originally prepared with a view to performance. Subsequently, however, I have persuaded myself that it would read better as a story. The reader will find that I have taken some liberties with the historical facts in the leaguer and taking of the town and castle of San Antonio de Bexar; but the history will suffer little from my freedoms, while, I believe, the story gains by them.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE.

Texians.
COL. MILAM, Chief of the Texians.
MICHAEL BONHAM, Second in Command.
DAVID CROCKETT, Ex-Member of American Congress.
ALABAMA DAVIS, Orderly.
RICHARD HARRIS, A Moody Hunter.
SPARROW, A Huge Feeder and Wit.
KENNEDY: Sings a good Song.
TEXIAN SOLDIERS, &C.
ELLEN HARRIS, Wife to Richard Harris, but in disguise as Billy Harris.

Mexicans.
DON ESTEBAN DE MONTENEROS, Governor of Bexar.
DON PEDRO DE ZAVALO, Suitor to his Daughter.
GOVERNOR'S SECRETARY.
BRAVO.
MEXICAN SOLDIERS.
MASQUERS, &C.
DONNA OLIVIA DE MONTENEROS, Governor's Daughter.
DONNA MARIA DE PACHECO, her Cousin.
DUENNA OF OLIVIA.
JACINTHA, Attendant on Maria.
CHARACTERS IN BAL MASQUE.

PART I.—SCENE I.
Time, Afternoon. Texian Bivouack among the hills---a wild, mountainous country in the back ground. Fires scattered about as in an Encampment of Hunters. Groups of Texians seen disposed in picturesque situations, and in wild and various costume—chiefly the hunting shirt—but some of them clothed in buffalo and deer skins, all armed with bowie-knife and rifle. Songs and laughter, at intervals and from a distance. Sentries disposed in the distance. Enter a group upon the foreground.

Sparrow. No sign of supper yet ! My nose brings me no intelligence. Mere smoke, common smoke all, (snuffs the breeze,) as if there were any need of the fire before the butcher has dressed the meat.
Davis. What, old fellow, still growling? That stomach of yours keeps you very unhappy.
Sparrow. 'Tis I that keep my stomach unhappy ! That I should deliberately put myself in a situation where so excellent a member may never be pacified ! Here, too, where I offer so prominent a mark for a Mexican bullet, But did'nt somebody say something about supper?
Davis. No one but yourself; we spoke of fighting, or skulking—any thing but supper.
Sparrow. Not a word of fighting until I am fed. I won't fight on an empty stomach. The Yankee may duthat, not I. I'm of the genuine John Bull breed, though I never saw the island—which I suppose furnishes the best grazing country in the world. I may never see it,—but I shall live and die with the pious conviction that it's the only part of the world in which they have any proper idea of what's due to a human stomach.
Davis. Well, certainly, Sparrow, you show the blood if any man ; but what was that you said of Yankee fighting ? Now, when I'm out of the States, I acknowledge the Yankee myself. When I'ni at home, its quite another thing.
Sparrow. Something I heard a hundred years ago in a sort of comparison 'twixt Bull and Jonathan.
Davis. Let's have it.
Sparrow. It's short, my lad, as your mother's blessing. Bull, then. you must know, won't fight till he's had his belly full, while Jonathan will never fight after. Give Bull his breakfast, and he will use his bayonet with as much certainty of' victory, as the Mussulmans have of Paradise when going into battle. But beware how you give Jonathan a bite. You must only show him his dinner—let him only smell the smokes from the cook-pot and see the enemy at the same moment, keen of appetite as forty Indians, making after it. Your Yankee will then prove himself an ugly customer. He will fight worse than any Turk.
Davis. Very good, and that was a say
Sparrow. A hundred years ago, more or less. You remember it was to save their stores that they fought at Concord.
Davis. But Lexington?
Sparrow. Well, then it was to save their bacon ! But, look you, Davis, as you regard my happiness in this life, tell me, hasn't Crockett gone out after game ?
Davis. 'Will he find it? He don't know the country.
Sparrow. Pshaw ! I've fed well in the States. have I lost my nose for roast or boiled, now that I'm in Texas ? The good hunter no more loses his sense for hunting on strange ground, than I do for eating. The same instinct is at the bottom of both faculties. You must show that the animal and the appetite change as well as the country : and that we know from sacred writ is out of the question. Coelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.
Davis. What's that ?
Sparrow. Camanche, if not Latin. It means that even when a man's half seas over, his nature undergoes no change. He still feeds, and fights, and frolics, as he did before. Hark! what's that ? [Horn sounds.
Davis. A horn! It sounds like Crockett's.
Sparrow. Now bless the babe ! I have an instinct that he brings in something of better flavor than himself. My nose is monstrous keen. My appetite is a marvellous faculty
Richard Harris, [coming forward and putting his hand on Sparrow's shoulder ] Old man, enough of this! Wait like a man.
Be patient. Don't be howling like a beast,
When meat is scarce in the forest.
Sparrow. Like a beast!
Why, true, I have a wolfish appetite.
But, beast ! Old fellow: hark you, don't you eat?