SEE ENTIRE SCREENPLAY “Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story:” New and Improved
For background, see: (from War, Literature and the Arts)
Scene Twelve: The Spanish surrender, Santiago, Cuba, July 1898
On July 3, two days after the attack on San Juan Hill, Admiral Cerveza’s Spanish fleet in Santiago Harbor attempted to escape and was demolished by the waiting Americans. On July 17th, the commander of Santiago surrendered his 24,000 men, and the Cuban Campaign was over.At a victory ceremony, Cuban General Calixto Garcia and several of soldiers watch the proceedings from the rear. Garica speaks with a U.S. diplomatic representative.
Garcia: Sir, why was I not invited to speak? Without my army, you Americans would have been thrown back into the Caribbean.
Representative: Yes, General, yes. You see, this ceremony was just for the Americans. There will be another, we promise.
Garica: You know we are grateful for the help of the Americans. But we would have defeated the Spanish ourselves soon enough. The Bourbon monarchy is weak and its people do not stomach war. There is no way they could maintain Cuba as a colony. And when will you Americans be leaving?
Representative: And, yes General, we are also grateful for your efforts. As for when we will leave, very soon I assure you. Right now we just want to help with the famine spreading and to help Cuba recover from the damage of the war. We certainly harbor no territorial ambitions.
[Frank Norris’ quasi-fictional Comida: An Experience in Famine describes the famine faced by the people of Santiago.]
Garcia: But already in the Philippines you are fighting against the Filipino heroes who also fought to liberate their nation from Spanish colonial rule.
Representative: I assure you the Philippines is entirely different. Anyway, at the most all we want there are some coaling stations for our Asiatic Fleet.
Garcia: I pray everything you say is true. And that your nation truly believes in Cuba Libre as you so proclaim.
[In 1901 the U.S. Congress passed the Platt Amendment, sharply limiting Cuban sovereignty and autonomy. From 1906 to 1909, there would be a Second Occupation of Cuba by the United States.
In The Clan of No-Name, Crane tells the story of a young Cuban soldier who was living in Florida but returns to fight the Spanish before the American intervention. Manolo Prat is ignominiously beheaded by a machete and also loses his paramour, Margharita, to an American businessman. Critics, myself included, see the story as Crane’s prediction for the fate of Cuba.]
One of Garca’s men arrives and hands Garcia a letter. The letter is from New York and by Margharita Quesadas.
Garcia reads the letter.
My pepito, I am enduring during our separation only barely. My love for Cuba and our people burns in absence.
I am well in New York. As you know, Mr. Stephen Crane of the Times helped me get here. What a foolish fellow he is. During our escape in Havana, I was only thinking of our own escape from the prison in Madrid. And what it felt like when we were finally alone.
Now that Spain is defeated, I know you fear the Americans will be no different. But Por La Paz, always Por La Paz. One day Cuba will be free.
Garcia becomes quiet.
Cuban soldier # 1: From who is the letter?
Cuban soldier #2: I forgot, Pedro, you are new to the cause.
Margharita Quesadas is the most beautiful girl in all Cuba. She is called the “Jewel of the Antilles.” And ever since she joined the cause of Cuba Libre, we call her the “Cuban Joan of Arc.”
Soldier # 1: Joined our cause?
Soldier # 2: Margharita is from a wealthy aristocratic Peninsular family [term used to describe Spanish settlers in Cuba]. Margharita was attending school in Madrid when Garcia was imprisoned there. She visited him often. The story is that Garcia inspired her to disavow her family and throw herself in with the revolution. In 1895, she helped him escape and came with him back to Cuba. She even joined our troops in the jungle.
Soldier # 1: (smiling) So are Garcia and Margharita lovers? But he is 40 years older than she.
Soldier # 2: Garcia may be 62 but I assure you he has the machismo of men half his age. (chuckling) The soldiers like to call him the “grande cubano cigaro.” But, of course, he and Margharita are not open about their relationship, whatever it is. It remains a mystery.
Soldier #1: Why does he look worried reading her letter? Is he not happy to hear from her?
Soldier # 2: Because Margharita is now in New York. Garcia knows that the great publisher William Randolph Hearst paid a handsome sum in bribery money and expenses to free Margharita and bring her to New York. Margharita is a young and naïve woman. Garcia is worried that Hearst may try to be her protector. No matter what, Garcia is fearful that Margharita will never come back to Cuba.
Scene 7 and Scene 8: Havana, May 1898
The soldiers look over at Garcia, still sitting pensively on his horse.