by Augusta Stevenson
TIME: one morning; 1484.
PLACE: a street in front of King John's palace,
Lisbon, Portugal. Gates to courtyard of palace
||RIVERRA,6 A SEA-CAPTAIN.
|BOYS, HOSTLERS, SERVANTS.
[Enter CARLOS, ROQUE and PANCHO. They
carry their school-books. A noise is heard in
ROQUE (stopping; listening). There's stirring
in the King's courtyard!
[He runs to closed gates; peeps through a crack.]
CARLOS. Come, Roque, we shall be late to school.
ROQUE (throwing down books). Come, look!
They are laying the red carpets in the court!
PANCHO (throwing down books; peeping).
'T is for the King they lay them!
CARLOS. Come, the master will be angry.
ROQUE. But the King will soon be coming!
PANCHO. Let's wait and see him, Carlos!
CARLOS. Not I! I know how the master flogs! Yesterday
I came late to school.
PANCHO. Why were you late?
CARLOS. I stopped to watch the crazy Italian,
[He starts off; the others follow.]
ROQUE. I saw him once!
PANCHO. I wish I might see him!
CARLOS. There he comes now! (Calling.) Loco![Footnote:
Pronounced l[=o]'k[=o]; Spanish for crazy.]
ROQUE. Aye, there he is! (Calling.) Loco! Loco!
PANCHO (calling). Loco! Loco!
[Enter COLUMBUS, dignified and gentle.
A crowd of BOYS follow.]
ALL BOYS. Loco! Loco! Loco! Loco!
[Enter SCHOOLMASTER, carrying a switch.]
MASTER (flourishing switch). To school
with you! To school now!
[Boys run off in alarm.]
MASTER (turning angrily upon Columbus).
You were teaching them your foolish notions, sir!
COLUMBUS (smiling). I'd like the chance
to do so, master.
MASTER. Ah, then you have been at it! I
saw them all about you!
COLUMBUS. I taught them
MASTER. 'T is well for you, sir, that you did
not. The world is flat, sir, flat! Do you not know
COLUMBUS. I was so taught—
MASTER. How do you dare, then, to say the world
COLUMBUS. Much study and common sense, dear master,
have made me dare.
MASTER. The lessons taught your fathers are good
enough for you, sir.
COLUMBUS. That cannot be, dear master. How, then,
could the world move on?
MASTER. Move on? Hear him talk! Do you think,
sir, that an elephant carries this flat world on
his back and walks about with it? Ha, ha!
[Gates are opened; PORTER is seen.]
MASTER (going). Go tell the King this world
is round! Ha, ha! Go tell the King!
PORTER (seeing Columbus; aside). Ah, 't
is the crazy Italian!
COLUMBUS. Porter, I seek the King!
PORTER. Do you think he'll listen to your silly
talk? O, I've heard of you! Away!
COLUMBUS. Come, let me in!
PORTER. Away! Away with you, loco!
[Enter from gates, the JESTER in cap
and bells, HOSTLERS and SERVANTS.]
JESTER. Who's away? Who's crazy?
PORTER. The Italian there! He who says this world
JESTER. Round? How now? Round, say you?
PORTER (nodding; laughing). With people
on the other side!
JESTER. A-standing on
[Jester stands on his head; all laugh. Enter
COURTIER. The King comes!
[Enter KING JOHN and many COURTIERS.]
JESTER (capering about Columbus). Ha, ha,
KING. What's this, Jester?
JESTER. Here's he, sire, who says this world is
[He capers about Columbus; all laugh.]
KING. I've heard of your notions, Columbus. So
you think there's land to be discovered, do you?
COLUMBUS. Yes, your Majesty, I'm sure of it.
JESTER. With people a-standing
on their heads—so!
[He stands on his head; all laugh.]
KING. Silence! Columbus, I've a mind to listen,
and give you ships and money. Have you maps and
charts to prove your plans?
COLUMBUS (taking maps from cloak). Yes,
KING. Wait, then, till I have spoken with my Courtiers.
[Columbus bows, retires, and unrolls maps. CAPTAIN
RIVERRA crosses to Columbus; talks with him
KING (speaking softly to Courtiers). You
know, my Courtiers, that should there be new lands,
great glory will be given the discoverer of them.
FIRST COURTIER. Aye, sire, 't will bring him great
SECOND COURTIER. And riches.
KING. 'T is I, and I alone, who should have the
honor and the riches!
FIRST COURTIER. Aye, sire!
SECOND COURTIER. Aye, sire!
THIRD COURTIER. But nothing can be done without
the Italian's maps and charts. No one but he knows
the route over the unknown seas.
KING. Well, we must have his maps and charts.
FIRST COURTIER. He'll not sell them, sire. You
may depend on that.
KING. And we'll not buy them. Go, bid my fool
(Courtiers showing surprise.)
Go, I say, and see to it!
[Courtiers talk aside with Jester.]
RIVERRA (to Columbus). I wish you well,
sir, for I believe that what you say is true.
COLUMBUS. I'm glad to hear you say that, Captain.
RIVERRA. My ship is in the harbor now, and I must
go. But I wish you well, Columbus, I wish you well.
[Columbus, throwing his maps on the stone bench
near gates, takes Riverra's hands in his. The
Jester creeps up, takes maps, runs into the court
with them, and disappears.]
COLUMBUS (with feeling).
I thank you, Captain—so
few believe in me—
KING. Come now within, Columbus; I'll look at
your maps and charts.
COLUMBUS (turning to take up maps). Why,
how is this! My maps were here but just a moment
KING. Who saw his maps?
The Courtiers are silent, sir.
COLUMBUS. I laid them there, sire!
KING. Then there they should be.
COLUMBUS. Some one has
taken them—'t is
KING (interrupting). My Courtiers do not
play jokes in my presence.
COLUMBUS. Those maps and charts are precious to
KING. Come, now, I'm not so sure you ever had
maps or charts.
COLUMBUS. Your Majesty!
KING. Well, produce them.
COLUMBUS. But, sire,—
I'll not hear excuses! Your maps, sir,—at
COLUMBUS. I'll make other
maps and charts—
KING. Away with you!
COLUMBUS. Your Majesty—
KING. Away, I say! And come to us no more with
tales of unknown lands.
[Enter JESTER from gates.]
JESTER. With people a-walking
on their heads—so!
[Jester stands on his head; all laugh. Columbus
goes, showing bitter disappointment.]
play conforms to the spirit of the traditional
story of Columbus, but the dramatization has made
it necessary to condense into one scene the somewhat
prolonged negotiations with Ferdinand and Isabella.