The Maid of Arran

(An Irish Idyl.)

book, lyrics, and music by
L. Frank Baum

based on the novel A Princess of Thule, by William Black


directed by
L. Frank Baum

 

This page will not display properly in Netscape, though it will in Internet Explorer.

The Maid of Arran had its world premiere at Baum's Opera House in Gillmor, Pennsylvania.  It opened on 15 May 1882 at The Grand Opera House in Syracuse, New York.  It ran on Broadway at The Windsor Theatre in a special limited engagement 19-24 June 1882.  It opened at the Academy of Music, Chicago, Illinois, on 9 October, for a limited run of nine shows, followed by a tour of Michigan, Indiana, Kansas, London, Ontario; Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  It returned to New York at Lee Avenue Academy of Music, 26 March 1883, and returned to The Grand Opera House of Syracuse 19 May 1883.  It closed in Richmond, Indiana on 7 June 1883.  It is performed one final time on 17 March 1885 in Syracuse, New York.  The cast was as follows:

 

SHIELA O'MARA, The Maid of Arran                                                                               Agnes Hallock
OONA MAVOURNEEN, "A girl that's Irish from top to toe"                                     Genevieve Rogers
                                                                                                                                                       Marie Frances
MRS. HARRIET HOLCOMB, a disciple of Marcus  Aurelius Antonius                         Katharine Gray
GRAY, her maid and "well broken to the harness"                                                                Cordie Aiken
THE PROPHETESS, "a relic of Arran's greatness"                                                              Katharine Gray
CAPT. JOHN INGRAM, commanding the H.M.S. Firefly, afterwards the Malabar  Frank E. Aiken
                                                                                                                                                           J.L. Morgan
HUGH HOLCOMB, "the fair-haired stranger," nephew of Harriet                                   L. Frank Baum
CON. O'MARA, with "the blood of the O'Maras in his veins"                                              John F. Ryan
                                                                        (in the world community theatre premiere) L. Frank Baum
PHADRIG O' THE PIPES, a follower of O'Mara's                                                         John H. Nicholson
DENNIE, a waif "with the luck of a bad penny"                                                              Mike J. Gallagher
THE BOATSWAIN OF THE MALABAR                                                                                 C.F. Edwards
FETCHU A, a valet*                                                                                                                  C.H. Dennison

*Though listed in the program, this character is never mentioned in the surviving typescript promptbook.  The promptbook lists, in rather illegible print what appears to be "Jack" as the name of a character, who appears to be described, in even less legible print, as "a tar," but that character does not appear to be mentioned.  The cast list also calls for "soldiers, marines, etc.," though only the former are needed.  A few have lines during Act 4th.


 

L. Frank Baum was consistently credited as Louis F. Baum, and he also used the name in the family oil business.  Katharine Gray, Baum's aunt, was billed as "Kate Roberts" for her smaller role of The Prophetess.

 

CREW

John W. Baum                                                                                                                              Manager
E.B. Brown                                                                                                                   Business Manager
John A. Moak                                                                                                                                               
Frank E. Aiken                                                                                                                  Stage Manager
Genevieve Roberts                                                                                                       Musical Director

 

MUSICAL NUMBERS


1. "The Legend of Castle Arran"                                                                                                         SHIELA
2. "When O'Mara Is King Once Again"                                                                                                 CON.*
3. "A Rollicking Irish Boy" (Song and Dance)                                                                                  DENNIE
4. "The Legend of Castle Arran" chorus reprise                                                                                 OONA
5. "Oona's Gift:  A Tuft from the Old Irish Bog"                                                                                 OONA
6. "Sailing"                                                                                                                         SAILORS' CHORUS
7. "Waiting for the Tide to Turn"                                                                                                          HUGH
8. "A Pair o' Blue Eyes"                                                                                                                          OONA

OTHER SONGS INCLUDED DURING THE RUN


5A. "Ship Ahoy!"                                                                                                                                    SHIELA


    *Surviving programs indicate that Hugh sang this song, but the script shows otherwise, as does the sheet music.  The programs listed the songs in this order:  8, 1, 3, 5A., 5, 7, numbered accordingly.  The typescript neglects to mention "A Rollicking Irish Boy" in its song list, but it is mentioned in the script, which does not reproduce the lyrics.  Though the songs have an organic feel to them, only "Oona's Gift" is used as an organic musical would, although who "Colleen" is in the song is unclear.  In fact, Oona's father is not a Kearney, as sung in "A Pair of Blue Eyes"; her last name is given as Mavourneen.  The song is implied to be diegetically pre-existing, as are all the remaining songs.

    "But if they saw nothing wonderful about Sheila, they, at all events, were considerably surprised by the strange sort of music she sang.  It was not of a sort commonly heard in a London drawing-room.  The pathos of its minor chords, its abrupt intervals, startling and wild in their effect, and the slowly subsiding wail in which it closed, did not much resemble the ordinary drawing-room 'piece.'  Here, at least, Sheila had produced an impression; and presently there was a heap of people around the piano, expressing their admiration, asking questions, and begging her to continue," (Black, 193)

    This rather well sums up the type of music Baum was trying to compose.  It may have left an impression considering the odd intervals of Alberta N. Hall Burton's music for "Captain Bing."  The synthesized music as performed by James Patrick Doyle only hints at what authentic instruments could do to make Baum's score sound as though it came from the highlands.

 

SYNOPSIS OF PLAY

ACT I.--A Young Man's Fancy.  SCENE--The Ruins of Castle Arran.
ACT II.--Weighed in the Balance.  SCENE--Hugh Holcomb's London Home.
ACT III.--A Friend in Need.  SCENE--Mrs. Holcomb's Apartment at Kensington.
Act IV.--The Turning of the Tide.  SCENE--On Board H.M.S. the MALABAR.  The Prison Hole.  The Open Sea.  The Escape
Act V.--The Scales Balanced.  SCENE--Con. O'Mara's Island Home.

Character in Play   

Shiela O'Mara   
Oona Mavourneen   
Mrs. Harriet Holcomb   
Gray   
The Prophetess   
Captain John Ingram   
Hugh Holcomb   
Con. O'Mara   
Phadrig o' the Pipes   
Dennie   
The Boatswain of the Malabar   
Fetchu   


Mrs. Lorraine*  




Tim Mulligan*   
Michal Hoolahan*    

  
*This character is only mentioned, and does not appear on stage.  

   Character in Novel

   Sheila Mackenzie
   Mairi
   Mrs. Caroline Lavender
   Mrs. Paterson
   John the Piper
   Captain Edward "Ted" Ingram
   Frank Lavender
   Mr. Mackenzie
   John the Piper
   composite of Duncan and Johnny
   Donald
   Mr. M'Alpine
   Duncan Macdonald 
   Scarlett Macdonald
   Mrs. Cecelia Lorraine
   Mrs. Kavanagh
   Lord Arthur Redburn, M.P.
   Mosenberg
   Johnny Eyre

SETTING

The play is set in Arran, an island in the Firth of Clyde, and in London, and at sea.
The novel is set in Borva, a headland off Lewis, off the coast of Scotland, in London, and at sea.

    Borva appears to be fictional, though the nearest city, Stornaway, is real enough, as are some of the locations cited, including the Butt of Lewis (sic) and the island of Skye.  These islands are in the Outer Hebrides, west of the Scottish mainland.  Other real islands mentioned in the novel are Mull, Jura, and yes, Arran:  "A flash of lightning, somewhere down among the Arran hills, interrupted the speaker," (Black, 390).  All links, except Hebrides, take you to The Gazztteer for Scotland.

Detailed Synopsis and Lyrics

Synopsis  © 2001 Scott Andrew Hutchins.  Lyrics © 1882 (expired) L. Frank Baum.  Summary based on the 1967 microprint card produced by the New York Public Library, copy held by the Indiana University Library.  Some sources state the play itself was published, but no evidence of that has come to light.  Unless it does, the rights to the play are owned by The Baum Trust, so I can only quote from it sparingly.  Be forewarned, however, that this synopsis contains spoilers for both the novel and the play.


Act 1st.

INVOCATION

Music:  "The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls."

THE PROPHETESS
The picture lives, breathing ruin where once was magnificence and kingly splendor.  And this fair-haired stranger comes not to paint Arran in her palmy days, but in desolation.  Aye!  And more than this.  He comes to woo our last treasure whose soul is centered in all the sweetness and honor of a kingly race.  Would I could save her.  But I cannot.*  The Hand of Fate is here, and we must bow to her will.

*Frank Joslyn Baum adds to the melodrama by quoting this sentence as "But I can not!" (Baum, 38).

    Following this invocation, we are introduced to a young Irish couple, Oona Mavourneen (last name reported in Act 5th.) and Dennie, as well is to their friend Phadrig, who plays the Uilleann pipes.  The next scene introduces us to Hugh Holcomb, a painter from London, and his friend, John Ingram.  Heavily condensing the events of the novel until shortly before the leaving, Hugh tells Ingram he intends to marry Shiela O'Mara (the novel depicted a long courtship between Lavender and Sheila--here it is only implied), the daughter of the island's king.  Ingram (referred to above his lines as "Capt.") confesses to Hugh that he loves Shiela as well.  (In the novel, Ingram loved her more like a niece, and scoffed at the idea of marrying her, though it seems it may have crossed his mind more than once.)  The next scene introduces Shiela, and brings Ingram, Hugh, Shiela, Phadrig, Oona, and Dennie together on stage.  Phadrig asks Shiela to sing of the legend of the castle.

"The Legend of Castle Arran"

SHIELA
In the days when our Isle was a kingdom
And O'Mara was lord of it all,
Then the fairest of Arran's fair daughters
Reign'd a princess in this Castle Hall.
Oh, her eyes were the brightest, her hand was the whitest, and heart of the tightest had she.
And she had a lover, and he was a rover, and sailed the blue seas o'er did he.

CHORUS
Sail'd the seas o'er,
Sail'd the seas o'er
Sail'd the sea over did he...

SHIELA
And she had a lover, and he was a rover, and

CHORUS
Sail'd the seas over did he.


SHIELA
But the day came when he had to leave her
And sail to far Africa's shore
And he vow'd that he'd never deceive her
But tho' absent would love her the more,
With a kiss on her lips, then he row'd to his ship, she cable did slip and away,
And she utter'd no moan of the grief he had sown when he left her alone, on that day.

CHORUS
Left her alone,
Left her alone,
Left her alone on that day...

SHIELA
She utter'd no moan of the grief he had sown when he

CHORUS
Left her alone, on that day.

SHIELA
Then she sat herself down at her window
To watch for his coming again
With her eyes gazing far o'er the waters
On her sweet face a look as of pain,
Though her fond heart was burning, she stifled its yearning, her eyes were turning astray,
But he came back no more from far Africa's shore until Death came and bore her away.

CHORUS
Bore her away,
Bore her away,
Death came and bore her away...

SHIELA
He came back no more from far Africa's shore Until 

CHORUS
Death came and bore her away.

 

    After this, Hugh tells Shiela he would like her to consider marrying him.  Much of the rest of the act uses dialogue straight out of the novel, names changed where appropriate.  O'Mara expects Shiela to marry, and he wants her to marry the man of her choice.  She chooses Hugh.  Ingram admits Hugh has won her.  In the evening, Phadrig asks Con. to sing an old highland song.  Con. detests these old tunes.  (In the novel, Mackenzie expresses contempt for Gaelic, despite it being his native tongue.  He disdains the language's lack of a present tense, and favors English songs about the present.  Gaelic songs are all about sad partings of the past or uncertain futures.  He likes English songs about people in love.)  Phadrig prods Con. some more, so he sings.

 

"When O'Mara Is King Once Again"

CON.
(Bravura.)
Arran is me home,
And the pride of Ireland's coast,
And her kings of old,
As we're often told,
Of their riches and power could boast,
So the legends say:
High above the sea
Stands O'Mara's Castle so grand,
And tho' waves have dash'd, and the lightning's flashed,
And its shores been lash'd by the storms of ten centuries.
Firm, undaunted, stands she still, and so, thro' time forever will
Our pride, our hope, and emblem, 'til the O'Mara is King once again,
'Til O'Mara is King once again!

Ruin'd tho' it stands,
And now crumbling to decay,
Ev'ry stone that's here,
To our mem'ry's dear,
As a relic of some better day,
When our country was
Free as Heaven's sun
And throng'd with warrier's bold
Men who fought for right in the battle's fight
And whose pow'r and might were the wonder of nations.
                                                                                                       And
still our boys can bravely fight, and soon the world will see a sight,
When Ireland's sons her wrongs shall right, and O'Mara is king once again,
And O'Mara is King once again!

 

    Phadrig explains that this is a mere metaphor.  Con. O'Mara is the king of Arran, but Arran is in decline, and his title less meaningful.  Ingram asks Con. about Dennie.  He is a waif who was washed up on the shores, so he was taken in and raised.  To prove that Dennie is well-educated, Con. asks him to perform a song and dance.

 

"A Rollicking Irish Boy"

DENNIE
I’m a lad that’s always glad to fling me foot and I’m never sad,
The mountains ring whene’er I sing for I am blithe and gay.
The girls all think whene’er I blink that at their ways I had meant to wink
Which makes their hearts all a jump wid joy
I’m a rollicking Irish boy.

There’s just one little lass who smiles whene’er I pass,
And makes my heart go bumpety bump,
A rollicking Irish lass.
The girls know I love her,
It’s my belief they’re mad wid grief,
They snub me now and, and never bow
To this rollicking Irish boy!

[Dance.]

Not long ago I’d have ye know I was ask’d to McGinneses ball to go,
I polish’d up me Sunday suit and started for to see
What I could find to suit me mind in the fashion of sensible womankind
To go wid me and dance wid me
A rollicking Irish girl.

It’s aisy for to look for fishes in a brook,
But if they havn’t a mind to bite,
Its divil a man will ye hook
First Katy she refused me,
And Biddy McCree said she’d go wid me,
But Oona went wid much content
Wid this rollicking Irish boy!

[Dance.]

 

    And so, Shiela and Hugh leave to get married, Dennie joins Ingram's crew on the H.M.S. Firefly, and the others remain on the island.

    The Prophetess appears once more.  Hugh asks her who she is, but she merely proceeds with her prophecy, stepping between him and Shiela.  It seems Baum took the prophetic, irritating aspects of John the Piper and placed them on this character to make Phadrig, who has a much bigger role in the play than John the Piper had in the book, more likeable.


Act 2nd.

    As the second and longest act begins, Shiela and Hugh have been married six months, and the marriage is in serious trouble.  Hugh is disappointed with Shiela because she has failed to acclimate herself to England.  She does not enjoy the same things Hugh enjoys, such as going to Mrs. Lorraine's parties.

    They go to meet Hugh's Aunt Harriet, and using Black's dialogue almost exclusively, Shiela and Harriet take a disliking to one another, and Harriet insists Shiela cannot wear her hair down as she always had in Ireland.  She has Gray take her scales and measure out appropriate portions for Shiela to eat, despite Hugh's protests.  Most importantly, she insists on quoting from Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (misspelled Antonius throughout the play, but correctly spelled in the novel), telling Shiela his advice is the way to live, and insisting Shiela ask Hugh to buy a copy of the book Ingram gave to her.

    Back home, Shiela dreams of being back on Arran with Oona and Phadrig.  Oona sings a reprise of a chorus from "The Legend of Castle Arran."  Then Oona and Phadrig arrive to visit Shiela.  (In the novel, Mairi came accompanied by a valet named M'Alpine, but he soon left--he probably became Fetchu A in the productions that note said character in the programs.)  They have brought natural gifts for her.

"Oona's Gift"

OONA
It's a basket of rubbish from Arran I've brought,
As a gift to our darling Colleen.
It would be a reminder of home-life I thought,
And its no place beside it is seen.
Sure ye live in a city of wonders I know,
In the land of the English the mist and the fog
But here's a wee treasure all England can't show,
It's a bit of the old Irish sod.
Sure ye live in a city of wonders I know,
In the land of the mist and the fog,
But I've brought you a present all England can't show,
It's a tuft of the old Irish bog.

Sure your new London home is a palace so grand,
And you in your silks are its queen.
But you've not yet forgotten your dear native land,
And you're still our old Shiela, I ween.
Then welcome these mosses of Arran so green,
And a bunch of dried seaweed I found on the shore.
The loveliest bunch of our wild flow'rs ere seen,
They're a gift to our Shiela galore.
Sure ye live in a city of wonders I know,
Many grand sights have you seen,
But here are some gems that all England can't show,
All the way from old Arran so green.

 

    Phadrig pins a shamrock on Shiela's dress.  Hugh discovers them in his house and expresses contempt for the Irish, despite having appeared to like them while on Arran.  Ingram also appears.  He confesses to Shiela his love for her, and she asks him to leave.  Unsurprisingly fickle, she never wants to see him again.  Hugh orders him to never again set foot in the house.  (In the novel, Lavender forbids Sheila from seeing him.  She interprets it as meaning she cannot even acknowledge him on the street, which Frank regrets when he learns it, but is pleased with her obedience to him.)


Act 3rd.

    This act begins with Mrs. Holcomb on her deathbed.  Shiela takes in with her.  Not that Mrs. Holcomb likes her anymore, but is trying to make up for her good-for-nothing nephew's abuses of her.  Oona and Phadrig come with her, and Mrs. Holcomb acts just as contemptuously to the Irish as Hugh had.

Mrs. H.
(contemputously)
Oona, where did you get such an outlandish name as that?  

OONA
I-I don't know.

    Mrs. Holcomb proceeds to insult Oona's dress, pronunciation (maroon for marine, etc,), and status.  (In the novel, Mrs. Lavender attacks Sheila for having a servant-girl for a guest, despite the fact that Mairi is her cousin.  When Mackenzie comes to visit, he agrees with Mrs. Lavender, in keeping with the customs of the English.)

Mrs. H.
Gray, write* my signature.

*The prompt book, in writing not in Baum's hand, has this crossed out and replaces it with "forge" in order to spoon-feed the audience.  Here she is signing her fortune away to Ingram.  Hugh arrives in time to protest.

HUGH
The seeds of discord which separated me from the woman I love were sown by this man under the guise of friendship.  Behind that quiet smile is a heart that all hell cannot match for falsehood and deceit.  Watch him, and he is harmless.  Trust him and he will bury his fangs into the deepest recesses of your heart.*

*This line has no precedent in the novel, and really not even the play.  Although Ingram proves the villain in Act 4th, and hints at it in the end of Act 3rd, the only thing he seems to have done is give Mrs. Holcomb the Marcus Aurelius book, which he did to no ill effect in the novel.  Frank Joslyn Baum, in To Please a Child, erroneously places this statement in Act 4th.  The line here is quoted from that source (40), which has many punctuation errors and slight misquotes, though I was not able to compare them side by side without going up to the tenth floor and getting it, which I did not do to avoid potential theft of my materials.

    Near the end of the act, Ingram arrives and Mrs. Holcomb dies.  Ingram insists on having the forged codicil held by Phadrig.  Phadrig pulls a gun out in response and Ingram flees.


Act 4th.

    The act begins with the Boatswain of the H.M.S. Malabar calling for a song, "Sailing" which is not printed in the promptbook and has been lost.  When the song ends, he greets Hugh, aboard the ship.  The Boatswain informs Hugh that the captain of the ship is none other than John Ingram.  Hugh understands that the the trip is to India.  Ingram appears and tells Hugh about his "evil genius" plot in an excruciatingly bad speech.  Hugh is to be chained up in the prison hold, and abandoned in India upon arrival.  Dennie, the Boatswain, and the sailors begrudgingly follow orders and chain him up.

    A stowaway appears and Dennie confronts him and asks him for the password.  Phadrig is shocked that Dennie has failed to recognize him, but Dennie eventually lets him proceed.  Phadrig visits Hugh in the prison hold and tells him the story of Tim Mulligan, who was in a similar situation.  Though Hugh interrupts him several times, he eventually allows Phadrig to complete the story.  It seems this Tim Mulligan was chained up in the prison hold of some other ship, but unbeknownst to his captors, he had a saw that could cut through iron.  Realizing that the noise would alert them to what he was doing, he sang as loud as he could to drown out the noise, expecting the others aboard would not try to put a stop to the racket, as he was a good singer.  Phadrig gives Hugh such a saw, and Hugh provides the song.

"Waiting for the Tide to Turn"  Instrumental  Vocal

HUGH
When the tide comes in, in the dying sunset glow,
And the waves dash high upon the strand,
Then the sailor thinks of his sweetheart,
Who is waiting in some distant land.
And he sees her afar, in her home beside the sea,
Only waiting for the turning of the tide...  of the tide.

Waiting for the tide to turn,
Waiting for the tide to turn,
Waiting,
Waiting,
Waiting for the tide to turn.

When the tide comes in, with its wealth of treasures brought
From the wreck of some gallant ship at sea;
Each a message from some dying seaman,
To the loved ones he ne'er more will see.
Then the heart grows sad, and our eyes with pity fill,
At the story of the turning of the tide... of the tide.

Waiting for the tide to turn,
Waiting for the tide to turn,
Waiting,
Waiting,
Waiting for the tide to turn.

Hugh and Phadrig emerge from the prison and confront Ingram.  Ingram commands Dennie to fire upon Hugh.

DENNIE
I'll fire, but not at him.

[Dennie fires in air.  Capt. takes knife and jumps over board.  Phadrig strikes him with the oar.  He sinks.  Phadrig pulls Hugh into boat.]

    This scene has a very vague homologue in the novel.  At this point, unlike Hugh in the play, Frank is not aware where Sheila has gone.  His initial reaction is that she has returned to her homeland.  He takes a steamer hoping to find her on it.  He doesn't.  Eventually he encounters a young boatman in Tyrol named Johnny Eyre, whom Frank saves from drowning, and he and a young Jewish composer named Mosenberg, who fell in love with Sheila while in London, bring Frank on a leisurely trip back to Borvapost.  The character Dennie seems to be a composite of Johnny Eyre and Duncan Macdonald.  Duncan and his wife Scarlett are a traditional old Irish couple, and though Mackenzie gets so exasperated with Duncan he frequently takes the name of the Lord in vain when dealing with him, Duncan is perhaps Mackenzie's closest friend.  He is a foil for Mackenzie's distancing himself from Scottish ways for ways of the English.

    This act trivializes the novel and sounds like a teenager writing, inspired by cheap adventure novels, while the first three acts were a sincere effort at adapting the novel to the stage, albeit highly diluted (the play, not including lyrics, contains only 38 pages of text).  The special effects in this scene were highly appreciated by critics, however.  The next act is a talky and somewhat redundant one that brings the play to a conclusion, even if it severely lacks the depth of the novel.  Even so, it is not hard to see Ingram influencing the kindness and generosity displayed by the Nome King when he first appears taking shape in this perverse alteration of Black's character.


Act 5th.

    Once more at Arran, we find Oona now home.  The ship arrives, and she is delighted once more to see Dennie, and hem her.  He asks her to sing a favorite song for him.

"A Pair of Blue Eyes"

OONA
I'm a gay Irish girl from the county Killarney,
Me mother's a Murphy, me father's a Kearney,
I'm proud of me country and chock full of blarney,
Which is not a fact to surprise.

I never get tired of singing and dancing and any fine ev'ning you'll find me a prancing,
I'm fond of a joke and there's fun always glancing straight out from a pair o' blue eyes.

Eyes of blue are always true,
Admire them you can't fail to do,
The saints above would fall in love wid eyes of blue.

[Dance.]

Ev'ry boy says me eyes put his heart in a flurry,
And then wid his love makes a bother and worry,
Get married at liesure, repent in a hurry's
A maxim I'll never despise.

Be me faith then I'll think that I'll let them kape trying, I'm sure wid their love they will never be dying,
What matters to me if the whole world is sighing wid love for a pair o' blue eyes.

Eyes of blue are always true,
Admire them you can't fail to do,
The saints above would fall in love wid eyes of blue.

[Dance.]

    Hugh and Shiela are reunited.  Despite having wanted to leave him, Shiela wants Hugh back.  Con. is opposed, having been cruel to her before.  He wants to flog Hugh with a stick.  Phadrig stops him, and convinces Con. that Hugh deserves another chance.  Hugh and Shiela embraces, and Oona announces that Shiela will never more leave home on Arran.

    In the novel, Hugh, Johnny, and Mosenberg find that Hugh has fathered a son that Mairi sneaks through windows.  Ingram marries Mrs. Lorraine, who was never really married, except in name.  A dying old man was so fond of her that he wanted her to have his name and fortune, so they married on his deathbed, and Cecelia became one of the idle rich, having nothing but parties.  Ingram visited her more and more.  She complains that artists and writers mock the rich for being decadent and make the problems of the poor their virtues.  She is offended that even though rich people buy books and play tickets, they are always getting maligned, and feels that there are good people among the rich.  Ingram is one.  The two take a steamer to visit the Lavenders on their island home.  They ascend the Butt of Lewis and watch the sunset, which they had not done since before the marriage, and Shiela promises Mackenzie that she will never more go out in boats alone.  Black seems to be mocking the concessions a woman has to make in a marriage, yet in Mackenzie's advice to Ingram about marrying Mrs. Lorraine, he makes fun of those a man has to make, too.  Like in the play, Sheila and Hugh will live upon the island.  The Ingrams prove faithful friends, not Baum's false friends, and make regular visits.

    The largely forgotten novel, no longer in print, is quite good.  The play's first three acts are on par with William S. Gilbert's Engaged, which was reviled when it appeared by those who found its social commentary offensive, but still plays today.  Had Baum not tried to appeal to the lowest common denominator, as he did in such later works as Daughters of Destiny, The Maid of Arran, had it been published, might well continue to be performed today, with some playing with Ingram's lines to make them sound less juvenile.  Apart from this speech, if the play were handled in a realistic tone rather than obvious melodrama (Baum's performances as Hugh were seen as very sincere and a highlight of the show), it could very well be embraced by a new audience.  At the time the play was written, Irish-Americans were the most persecuted group in the American North, and here was a non-Irish voice (Baum's father was half German, half English; his mother half English, half Scots-Irish*) writing about Irish pride, something quite in vogue in the 1990s.  Oddly, Arran is in the Scottish county of North Ayrshire.  Perhaps Baum was thinking of Aran, and never bothered to check.

*Scottish living in Ireland, who generally found themselves superior to their hosts.

    The work of William Black, or at least this particular novel, seems to have been highly influential on Baum's writing style.  It is much easier to get a sense of Baum from reading this than Dickens or Shakespeare, said to be Baum's greatest influences.  Perhaps this early success in Baum's career was more of a milestone than it has heretofore been treated.


Text typed and edited by Scott Andrew Hutchins, based on texts in The Baum Bugle, Frank Joslyn Baum and Russell P. MacFall's To Please a Child:  A Biography of L. Frank Baum Royal Historian of Oz (Chicago:  Reilly & Lee Co. , 1961), Louis F. Baum's Popular Songs as Sung with Immense Success in Maid of Arran [sic].  (New York:  J.G. Hyde, 1882), L. Frank Baum's The Maid of Arran typescript promptbook (1895)  (New York:  The New York Public Library, 1967), and William Black's A Princess of Thule (1874) (New York:  A.L. Burt, undated [1898 inscription]).  Special thanks to Ruth Berman.
Editorial material and summaries copyright © 2000-2001 Scott Andrew Hutchins.