to Étienne's double identity, taking half the proceeds of his depredations as hush money, yet refusing to acknowledge even a sleeping part in the operation. He is perfectly aware that Étienne has the real Governor imprisoned on a Caribbean island as part of his plan eventually to turn Louisiana into a dictatorship under his own control. Governor Grandet comes to the market place to oversee the arrival of the casket girls. The men gather round excitedly as the brides arrive, and hurry to engage them in conversation. One girl, a plain and gawky creature called Lizette, finds herself ignored until Simon O'Hara, Captain Dick's Yiddish low-comic servant, takes a shine to her. Grandet is alarmed at being asked to sign Captain Dick's warrant, but Étienne is amused at the situation and he elaborately offers his hospitality to the Americans. If they had stayed in the square a moment longer, they would all have heard the ghost. From the urn of the fountain comes a silvery voice with a fragment of song and an instant later a very unghostly head appears. The voice comes from a diminutive Italian girl who describes herself as 'Naughty Marietta'. Marietta was one of the casket girls, but she ran away from the ship at Mozambique rather than be married off to some uncouth colonist, and made her way alone to New Orleans. She dallies too long over her song and is discovered but, fortunately, her discoverer is Dick whom she already knows. When he and his men encountered the bride ship at Mozambique they had exchanged words and looks and Marietta counts on him, as a friend, to help her to remain hidden. Dick is reluctant to get involved. Women are not a part of his life and Marietta's flirtatious ways trouble him, but he arranges for her to pose as the missing son of the Italian singer and puppeteer, Rudolfo, and to work in the marionette theatre as a boy. Before she leaves with her new 'father', Marietta turns to Dick and repeats the melody which she had earlier sung from the fountain. It has been foretold that she shall only lose her heart to the man who can complete this melody which came to her in a dream. Would he care to try? Dick refuses roughly and is irritated to catch himself unconsciously whistling the unfinished tune minutes later. Lizette has so far drawn a blank with the men of New Orleans but she doesn't show any signs of accepting Simon, until he stages a fine piratical piece of braggadocio to impress her. Adah is suffering more deeply for she senses that Étienne is cooling towards her, and she attempts to read the future of her love in the cards. Rudolfo brings his little 'son' to sing in the square and Marietta carries off her act convincingly in front of Étienne. Then the Lieutenant Governor arrives on the scene with alarming news: a dispatch has come from the King of France offering 10,000 francs reward for the recovery of the Contessa d'Altena who has run away from her family and is known to have exchanged places with a casket girl and sailed for the colonies. The Contessa has the habit of singing an unfinished melody. Étienne tries the tune and the populace immediately recognise it — it is the ghost's tune. The ghost and the missing casket girl must be the countess. Sir Harry Blake comes on the scene and spies Marietta. Before Dick can stop him, he has spilled the beans. Why, surely that is one of the casket girls, dressed as a boy? Etienne immediately seizes Marietta, but she refuses to admit her identity. She agrees that she is no boy, but insists equally that she is not the missing Contessa. A fight between Dick's followers and Etienne's guards seems to threaten, but Governor Grandet, once again, will not take firm action and, eventually, the girl runs off with Rudolfo. ACT2 Marietta spends her time learning from Rudolfo how to work the marionettes, but she finds that Étienne will not let her go so easily. He is convinced that she is the Contessa, but he is also attracted to her and he persuades her that she should come to the quadroon ball, a gay but louche local version of the Saturnalia, where he hopes to make her his own. She is reluctant, for Dick has warned her that these occasions are dangerous and immoral, but when she thinks that Dick has been paying attentions to Adah she promptly agrees to go. She will not attend as Étienne's partner, but she will be there. The ball is a vibrant, highly-coloured affair, peopled by the most swaggering members of the creole establishment, gambling, dicing and drinking, and womanising. Lizette is there, still in search of a husband since Simon, who has been appointed to the post of whipping boy (with no whipping) to the Governor, has now got the idea that he can do better for himself. He is going to find the end to Marietta's dream song and win himself a genuine Contessa.