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BAPTIZING THE TWINS.
COMEDY NEGRO-DIALECT MONOLOGUE FOR A WOMAN.
STORY BY EDITH ARNOLD HOGAN.
IVritten as monologue by Stanley Schell expressly for this book.
CHARACTERS: CHLORINDY, colored mammy, speaker present;
Miss EDIE, her employer, supposed to be present. COSTUME: Plain dark skirt, bright red waist, with white ker
chief, red bandanna around head. SCENE: Yard of Miss EDIE's home. Chair at stage center on
which stands imaginary washtub; CHLORINDY stands bending
De pride an' self-conceit done kiver 'em like de watahs dat kivers de sea.
[Stops a moment.] Oh, dat Jake! he am de same triflin' darkey as uver. Ef I warn de nios' patientes? saint on de yearth I couldn't nuver stan’ hit. He done got de twins all baptizened wrong! dat's what he done dis time!
[Sniffles, wipes eyes and nose on corner of apron.] How was dat?
[Continues to wash and wring clothes, placing them in imaginary basket R. of chair with much earnestness of
voice.] Why, Miss Edie, hit war dis-a-way. Uver sense I married dat fool Jake, I’se been bearin' wid his follies an' puttin' up wid his punnicious dap'avities. De on'y t’ing I uver see dat darkey teak any pride in am de style he kin kerry. Des let 'em dress hisself
up in a swaller-tail coat an' a speckley vez' an' a high collah, an' he am dat pompous an’ puf up dat hit am re’ly redic’lous ter see 'im. Well, you knows we's got a right smaht lot o'chillen. Dey war seben befo’ de twins, an' dey brung de numbah right up ter nine. An eve’y las’ one o' dem–Ketury, Rose, Em’line, J'osaphat, Phil'delphy, Debory, Pompus, Grakkus, an’ Veshuvus—ev'ry one, des as soon as dey war ’rived ter de right age, dey done got a church baptizenin'.
Dem las' offsprings, de twins, dey hadn't nuver been baptizened. Dey war gittin' on ter nine mont’s, dey war. De reason hit hadn't been did befo' war 'caze we bofe wanted hit ter be a kin' o' special 'cashun, count o'hit's bein'de fus' time we'd uver had two ter be baptizened ter once-t. Jake he done wanted a new coat. “De eyes o' de 'sembled mult’tude gwine be fastened terreckly on ter me," he kep’ a-sayin'. “Hit am boun’ ter be a proud puffo’mance fo’ bofe o' us when I pussents dem two infants, one on each arm, ter de dominie. An' my attiah mus' be mo' imposin’er dan common."
Of co’se, I see de jestice o’dat, so I tooken in extry washin' an’ s’cured de money an' 'vested in de coat. [Proudly.] Hit war
’ ’ plum cullah, des de putties' shade you uver sot yo' eyes on. De tails done reached clean to de flo'.
When he done got all ’rayed out in de pink ves' an' de high collah an’de red tie, I didn't wunner huccome I marry dat fool niggah. I see terreckly dat hit mus' a been de style looks o' 'im. I wush you could a' seen de twins' dresses, Miss Edie—dey war gran', all kivered wid lace an' tucks an insertins, an' de hull tuhnout war dat fine I knowed ev'ry darkey in de chu'ch done open dey eyes when dey sees hit.
[Carries imaginary tub to L. of stage, pours out water, returns tub to chair, takes imaginary pail across to R., pumps water in pail, crosses to C., pours water in tub, re
peats while talking ] Ev'ry night Jake he 'tiah hisself in dem gyarments au' practise how he gwine look an' what he gwine say. He would stan' befo' de miryor an' lif' de twins in dem big arms o' his'n while he done rehussed de 'currence. Once-t he got so eggscited dat he let one o de infunts fall. Of co’se, no mammy couldn't run no mo' resks like dat, so I p'ovided 'im wid two sticks outen de woodpile f'om dat time fo’th. Den he would hol' up one stick an' say: "Dis heah chile, de blessed son o' myse'f an' Chlorindy, am named Moses”; an' den lift t’other one an' p'oclaim, “Dis heah chile, the blessed daughtah o' myse'f an' Chlorindy, am named Ar’minty.” All de res' o' de chillen dey set aroun', lookin' at dey daddy wid de eyes o’ rejoicin', an' even me, Miss Edie, even me, done half fo’git how triflin' an'onery he re’ly am!
[Heaves a sigh; screws wringer to side of tub, turns
basket of clothes into tub, rinses and wrings them out.] Well, de night befo' de baptizenin' he come home mo' earlier dan common, des mighty eggscited over somet'ing. Aftah suppah, come 'long time fo' de practisin', he meck dis remark, “Chlorindy, des you listen reel good. I done got de sentymunt improved terday. Dis new piece am got a mo' 'fectionate soun' ter my jedgment. What am yo' opinion?" Wid dat he raise de lef' stick an' say, “Dis heah blessed cheryubim, de las' offspring o' mese'f an’ Chlorindy, am appellyated Moses.” Den he lif' de right stick an’ say, “Dis heah delightfulsome seryaphim, de las' offspring o' mese'f an’ Chlorindy, am done appellyated Ar’minty. Ain't dat got a mo' teckin' soun’?”
De baptizenin’ war to be did de nex' day, in de Mef'dis chu'ch at fo' o'clock. By free o'clock I had de twins all ready an' done got Jake 'tiahed in dem reg mentals o'his'n.
De twins dey looked des beautiful! De on’ies diffe'ence between de pair war dat Moses wo’e a puffeckly elegant yaller bow, whiles Ar’minty war risplendent in a rosyet o’ vermilion.
Befo' we done started I p’inted dis diffe’ence out ter Jake. "Don't yo' fo'git," I says ter 'im, "de cheryubim Moses am dessynated by de yaller 'dornment, an’de seryaphim Ar’minty by de red.”
Jake he war dat kerried away by de dignutty o' de 'cashun dat he swep me a gran' bow an' say, “Chlorindy, honored paryunt o' day offsprings, I’se puffeckly fummiliar wid de linimunts o’ dem two twins. Dey am no' necessorty fo’ you to give yo’se'f no puplexity 'bout'n de mattah." De chu'ch am right 'crost de road f’om our house.
Soon's we see all de congregation done got in, Jake he tookened dem two precious burdens in dem arms o’his'n an' we got de seben chillen in a row an’ started off. De organist set up a low, j'yful playin' when he seen us comin'.
[Stretches imaginary clothes-line from R. to L. of stage, fastens line securely to posts R. and L. Stands with arms akinibo a moment then goes back to put more clothes into
basket.] Well, ev'rything went ’long gran' tell hit come time o' de namin'. Den de dominie he put de question plain an' stiddy. Said he, "Mistah Brudder Brown, what am de names o' des candydates for baptizenin'?"
Jake he nuver even stop ter teck a bref. He des h’ist de fust infunt up an' say in de tones o’t’under, “Dis heah blessed cheryubim, de beloved offspring of myse'f an' Chlorindy Brown, am done appellyated Moses !"
Miss Edie, I des stood speechless an' peterfied! I see in a minit dat dat fool man had got de cheryubim an’seryaphim mixed! [Shocked.] But befo’ I could c'lect my senses de dominie done laid dem paʼms o' his'n on Ar’minty's head an' p'onounced, "I baptizen' des chile Moses Brown.” [Angry.] An'den Jake speak up promp' an' mo' louder dan uver an' say, “Dis heah beloved seryaphim, de 'fectionate daughtah o myse'f an' Chlorindy Brown, am done appellyated Ar’minty.”
[Ties clothespin-bag around waist, carries basket to R. of stage and begins to hang out clothes; shakes each piece
before pinning to line, faces audience.) You ain't nuver been no mammy yo'se'f, Miss Edie, so you can't unnerstan’a mammy's feelin's when I see dat blessed he'pless innercent Moses baptizened wid de name o Ar’minty. I’se allus predastunnated dat boy fo’ de ministery. I war dat 'fected dat I wep'. De dominie an' de hull congregation come crowdin' ’roun’ me aftah de cer’mony, a-tellin' me not ter mo’n, 'caze dem chillen mought live even ef dey hadn't cried when de water teched 'em. You see, not unnerstandin' de trufe o' de case, dey natchelly 'cluded dat war de trouble. An' dat fool Jake he kep' sayin', "Don' you 'stract yo' min', my beloved wife, fo' I p'ognostercate dem twins gwine live ter be famous yit," tell I war fair wo'e out a-listenun’ ter ’im.
T’ink I gwine hab dem jealous darkeys a-crowin' over me? I done tol’ Jake dat night when we war alone, but lan' sakes honey! dat man so puffup wid de pompussity he'd been in an' de compliments dat had been give 'im, dat he ac des like de names o' dem blessed chillen am de smalles' t'ing in de world!
But we's got de names straighten' out at las'. We's had another baptizenin'.
Yas’m. Hit war dis-a-way. Dey ain't nuffin' in de discerpline O’de chu'ch dat fo’bids a chile ter be baptizened wid a middle name sep’rate. Hit was Jake's idee. He tooken notice how stylish hit am in de papers ter des put a lettah an'dan a pusson's secon' named-fo' eggsample, Mistah M. Thomas Cole, an' Miss N. Ettie Edards. So Jake he meck dis p'op'sition, "Why can't dem twins git baptizened wid a middle name? Den when dey grows up dey kin write dey names, A. Moses Brown, an' M. Ar’minty Brown, an' dey'll des be in de cream oʻs'ciety.”
So we done had another baptizenin. De on’ies divvusity f’om de fus' one war dat on de secon’ 'cashun I done held de cheryubim an’seryaphim, an' pussented de right one ter dey daddy at de right time. Den he pussented dem ter de dominie. I warn’t goin’ ter teck no mo' chances wid de names o’ dem twins. De secon' baptizenin' war all right, praise de Lord ! Tain't ev'ry day one has twins to be baptizened—no'm.