American Literature, 1800-1915 (EL 266)

8 Dec 2005

Belasco, Girl of the Golden West (Finish)

While I've assigned the play, I thought it might be interesting to add a link to the novel Belasco wrote. It describes in detail some of the scenes only mentioned in the play, and may help explain what is going on in some of the more chaotic scenes.

If a particular event in the play strikes you as confusing, you might take a look at how Belasco described it in the novel. For instance, here is how Belasco explains why a gentlemanly character like Johnson finds himself leading a band of thieves. The passage begins with the deathbed speech of Johnson's dying father, a Mexican:

"Little by little these cursed Americanos have taken all that I had from me. But as they have sown so shall they reap. I have taken my revenge, and you shall take more!" He paused to get his breath; then in a terrible voice he cried: "Yes, I have robbed—robbed! For the last three years, almost, your father has been a bandit!"

The son sprang to his feet.

"A bandit? You, father, a Ramerrez, a bandit?"

"Ay, a bandit, an outlaw, as you also will be when I am no more, and rob, rob, rob, these Americanos. It is my command and—you—have—sworn…"

The Girl of the Golden West (novel)

I just noticed that pages 242 and 243 are missing from the photocopy I made last year when I got this book through interlibrary loan.

Here is the text from the novel version, that explains the action that took place in the missing pages of the script:

"It is true," began the unfortunate road agent in an even, unemotional voice, "that I love the Girl."

At these words Rance's arms flew up threateningly, while a mocking smile sprang to his lips.

"Well, you won't in a minute," he reminded him grimly.

The taunt brought no change of expression to the prisoner's face or change of tone in his voice as he went on to say that he did not care what they did to him; that he was prepared for anything; and that every man who travelled the path that he did faced death every day for a drink of water or ten minutes' sleep, concluding calmly:

"You've got me and I wouldn't care but for the Girl."

"You've got just three minutes!" A shade almost of contempt was in Sonora's exclamation.

"Yes…!" blazed Trinidad.

There was an impressive silence; then in a voice that trembled strangely between pride and humility Johnson continued:

"I don't want her to know my end. Why, that would be an awful thought for her to go on with all her life—that I died out there—near at hand. Why, boys, she couldn't stay here after that—she couldn't…"

"That's understood," replied Rance, succinctly.

"I'd like her to think," went on the prisoner, with difficulty choking back the tears, "that I got away clear and went East and changed my way of living. So you just drag me a good ways from here before you—" He stopped abruptly and began to swallow nervously. When he spoke again it was with a perceptible change of manner. "And when I don't write and she never hears why she will say, 'he's forgotten me,' and that will be about enough for her to remember, because she loved me before she knew what I was—and you can't change love in a minute."

All the while Johnson had been speaking the Sheriff's jealousy had been growing steadily until, finally, turning upon the other with a succession of oaths he struck him a fierce blow in the face.

"I don't blame you," returned the prisoner without a trace of malice in his voice. "Strike me again—strike me—one death is not enough for me. Damn me—I wish you could… Oh, why couldn't I have let her pass! I'm sorry I came her way—but it's too late now, it's too late…"

Rance, not in the least affected by what the prisoner had been saying, asked if that was his last word.

Johnson nodded.

Trinidad, simultaneously with his nod, snapped his finger, indicating that the prisoner's time was up.

"Dep!" called the Sheriff, sharply.

The Deputy came forward and took his prisoner in charge.

"Good-bye, sir!" said Nick, who was visibly affected.

"Good-bye!" returned the prisoner, briefly. "You tell the Girl—no, come to think of it, Nick, don't say anything…"

"Come on, you!" ordered Happy.

Whereupon with a shout and an imprecation the men removed en masse to the door.

"Boys," intervened Nick at this juncture, rushing into their midst, "when Alliger was hanged Rance let 'im see his sweetheart. I think, considerin' as how she ain't goin' to see no more o' Mr. Johnson here, an' knowin' the Girl's feelin's—well, I think she ought to have a chance to—"

Nick was not allowed to finish, for instantly the men were up in arms raising a most vigorous objection to his proposal; but, notwithstanding, Nick, evidently bent upon calling the Girl, started for the door.

"No," objected Rance, obstinately.

The road agent took a step forward and, turning upon the Sheriff with a desperately hopeless expression upon his face, he said:

"Jack Rance, there were two of us—I've had my chance. Inside of ten minutes I'll be dead and it will be all your way. Couldn't you let me—"

He paused, and ended almost piteously with:

"Oh, I thought I'd have the courage not to ask, but, Oh, couldn't you let me—couldn't you—"

Once more Nick intervened by shrewdly prevaricating:

"Here's the Girl, boys!"

But this ruse of Nick's met with no greater success than his previous efforts, for Rance, putting his foot down heavily upon the stove, voiced a vigorous protest.

"All right," said the prisoner, resignedly. Nevertheless, his face reflected his disappointment. Turning now to Nick he thanked him for his efforts in his behalf.

"You must excuse Rance," remarked the little barkeeper with a significant look at the Sheriff, "for bein' so small a man as to deny the usual courtesies, but he ain't quite himself."

Weary of their cavilling, for he believed that in the end the Sheriff would carry his point, and determined to go before his courage failed him, Johnson made a movement towards the door. Speaking bravely, though his voice trembled, he said:

"Come, boys—come."

But, odd as it may seem, Nick's words had taken root.

"Wait a minute," Rance temporised.

The prisoner halted.

"I don't know that I'm so small a man as to deny the usual courtesies, since you put it that way," continued Rance. "I always have extended them. But we'll hear what you have to say—that's our protection. And it might interest some of us to hear what the Girl will have to say to you, Mr. Johnson—after a week in her cabin there may be more to know than—"

Fire leapt to Johnson's eyes; he cried hoarsely—


"Rance, you don't know what you're sayin'," resented Nick, casting hard looks at him; while Sonora put a heavy hand upon the Sheriff and threatened him with:

"Now, Rance, you stop that!"

"We'll hear every word he has to say," insisted the Sheriff, doggedly.

"You bet!" affirmed Trinidad.

"Nick! Nick!" called the Girl once more, and while the little barkeeper went over to admit her the Wells Fargo Agent took his leave, calling back after him:

"Well, boys, you've got him safe—I can't wait—I'm off!"

"Dep, untie the prisoner! Boys, circle round the bar! Trin, put a man at that door! And Sonora, put a couple of men at those windows!" And so swift were the men in carrying out his instructions, that even as he spoke, everyone was at his post, the Sheriff himself and Sonora remaining unseen but on guard at the doors, while the prisoner, edging up close to the door, was not in evidence when the Girl entered.

"You can think of something to tell her—lie to her," had been the Sheriff's parting suggestion.

"I'll let her think I risked coming back to see her again," had replied the prisoner, his throat trembling.

"She won't know it's for the last time—we'll be there," had come warningly from the Sheriff as he pointed to the door that led to the bar-room.

* * * * * *

"Why, what have you got the door barred for?" asked the Girl as she came into the room; and then without waiting for an answer: "Why, where are the boys?"

"Well, you see, the boys—the boys has—has—" began Nick confusedly and stopped.

"The boys—" There was a question in the Girl's voice.

"Has gone."

"Gone where?"

"Why, to the Palmetter," came out feebly from Nick; and then with a sudden change of manner, he added: "Oh, say, Girl, I likes you!" And here he laid his hand affectionately upon her shoulder. "You've been my religion—the bar an' you. Why, you don't never want to leave us—why, I'd drop dead for you."

"Nick, you're very nice to—" began the Girl, gratefully, and stopped, for at that instant a gentle tap came upon the door. Turning swiftly, she saw Johnson coming towards her.

MT QuickPost | Check Latest Trackbacks

End of the Girl
Excerpt: Belasco, Girl of the Golden West (Finish) -- American Literature, 1800-1915 (EL 266) Nick: You've been my religion-the bar an' you. You don't never want to leave us. Why I'd drop dead for you! (244) Well, I fininshed the play...
Weblog: AshleyHoltzer
Tracked: December 7, 2005 07:51 AM

Check out my blog on my webpage

Posted by: Stacy at December 7, 2005 03:05 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
        01 2 3
4 5 06 7 08 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
2 3 04 5 06 07 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
    01 2 03 4 5
6 7 08 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
        01 2 3
4 5 06 7 08 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31