More of THE DARWINS: Tierra Del Fuego and the Galapagos....
What is God’s purpose?
I know you could tell me, Emma.
That’s what the children asked.
We are bound next for Chile.
Then a group of islands called the Galapagos.
Lights out on Charles. Elizabeth and Emma are once again restoring the area after Sunday School.
I reminded them that, like He did with Abraham,
the Almighty tests our faith. It is not meant to
be easy for us to remain faithful.
The children should take comfort knowing
that Fanny is in Heaven in God’s embrace.
Where are all the women, one wondered. In Heaven.
Since all the angels are men. Isn’t that precious?
What does Charles say?
He is in some terrible place at the tip end
of Argentina. Or was, nine weeks ago.
We must say a prayer for him.
I do each night.
I hope God won’t take you away before you’re
married. Of course, I shant ever be.
Perhaps you shant ever be either.
Elizabeth recoils, making much of Emma raising her voice in such a way.
Forgive me, I am tired and I... still need to
go and help Mother with her dinner... It is
in God’s hands if we are to live or marry,
Elizabeth. Let us try not to dwell on it.
An island in the Galapagos Archipelago. The sounds of local wildlife including birds. Charles enters with a red note book. He curiously looks at something perched slightly over his head (in the direction of the audience). He sits on a rock, opens his note book and starts sketching. After a few moments, Fitzroy enters behind.
This God forsaken place. Island after island of
the same barren landscape, the same hideous beasts.
Sound of a tortoise hissing is heard.
Not quite the same, sir.
Granted, the tortoises are aboriginal
inhabitants-- we’ve found them
on every island in the archipelago,
but each is peculiar to its island.
How do you mean?
The slope and thickness of the shell, the color--
Vice-Governor Lawson can identify which
island in the Galapagos a tortoise comes from
simply by looking at it.
Yes, well, I doubt the colonists
here have much else to do. And these
Fitzroy crosses downstage left, looking out toward the audience.
I suppose they are all different.
Perhaps we should name each one:
Loathsome, Leatherback, Lethargio.
No, sir, there is just the black marine
iguana and those yellowish-brown terrestrial ones.
That’s a comfort.
I have, however, noted and sketched
a number of bird species. Four more
Fitzroy looks at Charles’ drawings over his shoulder.
Those are all finches, Mr. Darwin.
Finches. All the same bird.
Pardon, sir, but... their beaks. The size
and shape differs.
I suppose, yes.
It’s slight, but, they differ from island
Charles is struck by an idea that raises him from his seat on the rock. A finch chirps.
You find that a curious thing?
I’m sorry, sir?
You find that curious. Why?
I simply do.
It suggests, sir, that over time, a single
type of finch gradually adapted and changed to
better survive in its specific environment.
That there was transmutation of the species.
Each species is a new creation. Every
reasonable man agrees to that, even “philosophers.”
Yes, sir, it is what I had tended to believe.
I like you, Mr. Darwin. But I don’t believe I like
I’m not certain I like my science either.
No doubt the Creator designed the birds to
be different for the mystery and pleasure
of men, such as yourself.
(almost trying to convince himself, looking heavenward)
That’s the trap of being a traveler.
You stay but a short space of time
in each place. It leads you, perhaps, to fill up
the wide gaps of knowledge with inaccurate and
I am glad to hear you say it. I, for one, will
not regret traveling away from the Galapagos.
New Zealand, Australia, round
the Cape of Good Hope and home.
Home... Yes, sir.
Fitzroy turns to leave. Charles opens his sketch book and continues drawing.
It’s time to close that book.
(Charles continues sketching)
(Charles continues sketching)
I am a scientist, Captain, this is my job.
Yes, sir, that is why I brought you on.
I am not a n’er-do-well traveling companion
here for your amusement.
I am a scientist!
I am glad of it.
When you were ill in Santiago,
I arranged the shipment of your
specimens to England!
Yes, with disappointment burned on your face.
I would not confirm proof of Genesis
I fully admit you have not met my expectations.
You speculate wildly on your own twisted
notions, while ignoring my own.
Charles rises and turns on Fitzroy.
I do not conjure my findings like some
novelist! If I did, I would not choose this story to write!
Stand down, sir!
Science is guided by fixed laws, Captain!
Nature does not care what we believe!
Or you will leave me behind? Is that
your threat again? Then do so!
Charles turns away from him, sits, and resumes his sketching. Fitzroy turns to leave, stops.
I don’t understand, Mr. Darwin.
I recall sailors laughing at you for your
orthodoxy-- for quoting the
Bible as the unanswerable authority on some
point of morality... Now, I see a young man--
of whom I have grown fond-- playing into
the hands of the Devil.
Yes, sir. That is possible, too.
We cast off in two hours. If you are on board,
so be it. If not, God save you.
Fitzroy exits. Charles looks at the creatures of the Galapagos, stops sketching. Lights down to a spot on Charles as he rises.
Dear Emma... How changed I feel.
Charles stares at the creatures of the Galapagos, then to the birds on the rocks, then to heaven. In the dim light behind him, Emma appears in a spot.
Dear Charley.... Welcome home.