The Acorn-Planter A California Forest Play (1916)

The Acorn-Planter
A California Forest Play (1916)

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ARGUMENT In the morning of the world, while his tribemakes its camp for the night in a grove, RedCloud, the first man of men, and the first manof the Nishinam, save in war, sings of the dutyof life, which duty is to make life more abundant.The Shaman, or medicine man, sings offoreboding and prophecy. The War Chief, whocommands in war, sings that war is the onlyway to life. This Red Cloud denies, affirmingthat the way of life is the way of the acorn-planter, and that whoso slays one man slaysthe planter of many acorns. Red Cloud winsthe Shaman and the people to his contention.After the passage of thousands of years, againin the grove appear the Nishinam. In RedCloud, the War Chief, the Shaman, and theDew-Woman are repeated the eternal figuresof the philosopher, the soldier, the priest, andthe woman—types ever realizing themselvesafresh in the social adventures of man. RedCloud recognizes the wrecked explorers asplanters and life-makers, and is for treatingthem with kindness. But the War Chief andthe idea of war are dominant The Shamanjoins with the war party, and is privy to themassacre of the explorers.A hundred years pass, when, on their seasonalmigration, the Nishinam camp for the night inthe grove. They still live, and the war formulafor life seems vindicated, despite the imminenceof the superior life-makers, the whites, who areflooding into California from north, south, east,and west—the English, the Americans, theSpaniards, and the Russians. The massacre bythe white men follows, and Red Cloud, dying,recognizes the white men as brother acorn-planters,the possessors of the superior life-formulaof which he had always been a protagonist.In the Epilogue, or Apotheosis, occur thecelebration of the death of war and the triumphof the acorn-planters.

PROLOGUE Time. In the morning of the world.Scene. A forest hillside where great trees stand with widespaces between. A stream flows from a spring that burstsout of the hillside. It is a place of lush ferns and brakes,also, of thickets of such shrubs as inhabit a redwood forestfloor. At the left, in the open level space at the foot of thehillside, extending out of sight among the trees, is visible aportion of a Nishinam Indian camp. It is a temporarycamp for the night. Small cooking fires smoulder. Standingabout are withe-woven baskets for the carrying of suppliesand dunnage. Spears and bows and quivers of arrows lieabout. Boys drag in dry branches for firewood. Youngwomen fill gourds with water from the stream and proceedabout their camp tasks. A number of older women arepounding acorns in stone mortars with stone pestles. Anold man and a Shaman, or priest, look expectantly up thehillside. All wear moccasins and are skin-clad, primitive,in their garmenting. Neither iron nor woven cloth occursin the weapons and gear.

ACT I. Shaman(Looking up hillside.)Red Cloud is late.Old Man(After inspection of hillside.)He has chased the deer far....