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Title: Plays
Author: Glaspell, Susan, 1882-1948
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Plays" ***

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Plays by

Susan Glaspell


TRIFLES

THE OUTSIDE

THE VERGE

INHERITORS



TRIFLES


First performed by the Provincetown Players at the Wharf Theatre,
Provincetown, Mass., August 8, 1916.


GEORGE HENDERSON (County Attorney)

HENRY PETERS (Sheriff)

LEWIS HALE, A neighboring farmer

MRS PETERS

MRS HALE


SCENE: _The kitchen is the now abandoned farmhouse of_ JOHN WRIGHT, _a
gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order--unwashed pans
under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dish-towel on
the table--other signs of incompleted work. At the rear the outer door
opens and the_ SHERIFF _comes in followed by the_ COUNTY ATTORNEY _and_
HALE. _The_ SHERIFF _and_ HALE _are men in middle life, the_ COUNTY
ATTORNEY _is a young man; all are much bundled up and go at once to the
stove. They are followed by the two women--the_ SHERIFF_'s wife first;
she is a slight wiry woman, a thin nervous face_. MRS HALE _is larger
and would ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, but she is
disturbed now and looks fearfully about as she enters. The women have
come in slowly, and stand close together near the door_.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_rubbing his hands_) This feels good. Come up to the
fire, ladies.

MRS PETERS: (_after taking a step forward_) I'm not--cold.

SHERIFF: (_unbuttoning his overcoat and stepping away from the stove as
if to mark the beginning of official business_) Now, Mr Hale, before we
move things about, you explain to Mr Henderson just what you saw when
you came here yesterday morning.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: By the way, has anything been moved? Are things just as
you left them yesterday?

SHERIFF: (_looking about_) It's just the same. When it dropped below
zero last night I thought I'd better send Frank out this morning to make
a fire for us--no use getting pneumonia with a big case on, but I told
him not to touch anything except the stove--and you know Frank.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Somebody should have been left here yesterday.

SHERIFF: Oh--yesterday. When I had to send Frank to Morris Center for
that man who went crazy--I want you to know I had my hands full
yesterday. I knew you could get back from Omaha by today and as long as
I went over everything here myself--

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Well, Mr Hale, tell just what happened when you came
here yesterday morning.

HALE: Harry and I had started to town with a load of potatoes. We came
along the road from my place and as I got here I said, I'm going to see
if I can't get John Wright to go in with me on a party telephone.' I
spoke to Wright about it once before and he put me off, saying folks
talked too much anyway, and all he asked was peace and quiet--I guess
you know about how much he talked himself; but I thought maybe if I went
to the house and talked about it before his wife, though I said to Harry
that I didn't know as what his wife wanted made much difference to
John--

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Let's talk about that later, Mr Hale. I do want to talk
about that, but tell now just what happened when you got to the house.

HALE: I didn't hear or see anything; I knocked at the door, and still it
was all quiet inside. I knew they must be up, it was past eight o'clock.
So I knocked again, and I thought I heard somebody say, 'Come in.' I
wasn't sure, I'm not sure yet, but I opened the door--this door
(_indicating the door by which the two women are still standing_) and
there in that rocker--(_pointing to it_) sat Mrs Wright.

(_They all look at the rocker_.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: What--was she doing?

HALE: She was rockin' back and forth. She had her apron in her hand and
was kind of--pleating it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: And how did she--look?

HALE: Well, she looked queer.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: How do you mean--queer?

HALE: Well, as if she didn't know what she was going to do next. And
kind of done up.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: How did she seem to feel about your coming?

HALE: Why, I don't think she minded--one way or other. She didn't pay
much attention. I said, 'How do, Mrs Wright it's cold, ain't it?' And
she said, 'Is it?'--and went on kind of pleating at her apron. Well, I
was surprised; she didn't ask me to come up to the stove, or to set
down, but just sat there, not even looking at me, so I said, 'I want to
see John.' And then she--laughed. I guess you would call it a laugh. I
thought of Harry and the team outside, so I said a little sharp: 'Can't
I see John?' 'No', she says, kind o' dull like. 'Ain't he home?' says I.
'Yes', says she, 'he's home'. 'Then why can't I see him?' I asked her,
out of patience. ''Cause he's dead', says she. _'Dead_?' says I. She
just nodded her head, not getting a bit excited, but rockin' back and
forth. 'Why--where is he?' says I, not knowing what to say. She just
pointed upstairs--like that (_himself pointing to the room above_) I got
up, with the idea of going up there. I walked from there to here--then I
says, 'Why, what did he die of?' 'He died of a rope round his neck',
says she, and just went on pleatin' at her apron. Well, I went out and
called Harry. I thought I might--need help. We went upstairs and there
he was lyin'--

COUNTY ATTORNEY: I think I'd rather have you go into that upstairs,
where you can point it all out. Just go on now with the rest of the
story.

HALE: Well, my first thought was to get that rope off. It looked ...
(_stops, his face twitches_) ... but Harry, he went up to him, and he
said, 'No, he's dead all right, and we'd better not touch anything.' So
we went back down stairs. She was still sitting that same way. 'Has
anybody been notified?' I asked. 'No', says she unconcerned. 'Who did
this, Mrs Wright?' said Harry. He said it business-like--and she stopped
pleatin' of her apron. 'I don't know', she says. 'You don't _know_?'
says Harry. 'No', says she. 'Weren't you sleepin' in the bed with him?'
says Harry. 'Yes', says she, 'but I was on the inside'. 'Somebody
slipped a rope round his neck and strangled him and you didn't wake up?'
says Harry. 'I didn't wake up', she said after him. We must 'a looked as
if we didn't see how that could be, for after a minute she said, 'I
sleep sound'. Harry was going to ask her more questions but I said maybe
we ought to let her tell her story first to the coroner, or the sheriff,
so Harry went fast as he could to Rivers' place, where there's a
telephone.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: And what did Mrs Wright do when she knew that you had
gone for the coroner?

HALE: She moved from that chair to this one over here (_pointing to a
small chair in the corner_) and just sat there with her hands held
together and looking down. I got a feeling that I ought to make some
conversation, so I said I had come in to see if John wanted to put in a
telephone, and at that she started to laugh, and then she stopped and
looked at me--scared, (_the_ COUNTY ATTORNEY, _who has had his notebook
out, makes a note_) I dunno, maybe it wasn't scared. I wouldn't like to
say it was. Soon Harry got back, and then Dr Lloyd came, and you, Mr
Peters, and so I guess that's all I know that you don't.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_looking around_) I guess we'll go upstairs first--and
then out to the barn and around there, (_to the_ SHERIFF) You're
convinced that there was nothing important here--nothing that would
point to any motive.

SHERIFF: Nothing here but kitchen things.

(_The_ COUNTY ATTORNEY, _after again looking around the kitchen, opens
the door of a cupboard closet. He gets up on a chair and looks on a
shelf. Pulls his hand away, sticky_.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Here's a nice mess.

(_The women draw nearer_.)

MRS PETERS: (_to the other woman_) Oh, her fruit; it did freeze, (_to
the_ LAWYER) She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the
fire'd go out and her jars would break.

SHERIFF: Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin'
about her preserves.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: I guess before we're through she may have something
more serious than preserves to worry about.

HALE: Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

(_The two women move a little closer together_.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_with the gallantry of a young politician_) And yet,
for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies? (_the women
do not unbend. He goes to the sink, takes a dipperful of water from the
pail and pouring it into a basin, washes his hands. Starts to wipe them
on the roller-towel, turns it for a cleaner place_) Dirty towels!
(_kicks his foot against the pans under the sink_) Not much of a
housekeeper, would you say, ladies?

MRS HALE: (_stiffly_) There's a great deal of work to be done on a farm.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: To be sure. And yet (_with a little bow to her_) I know
there are some Dickson county farmhouses which do not have such roller
towels. (_He gives it a pull to expose its length again_.)

MRS HALE: Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men's hands aren't always
as clean as they might be.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Ah, loyal to your sex, I see. But you and Mrs Wright
were neighbors. I suppose you were friends, too.

MRS HALE: (_shaking her head_) I've not seen much of her of late years.
I've not been in this house--it's more than a year.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: And why was that? You didn't like her?

MRS HALE: I liked her all well enough. Farmers' wives have their hands
full, Mr Henderson. And then--

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Yes--?

MRS HALE: (_looking about_) It never seemed a very cheerful place.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: No--it's not cheerful. I shouldn't say she had the
homemaking instinct.

MRS HALE: Well, I don't know as Wright had, either.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: You mean that they didn't get on very well?

MRS HALE: No, I don't mean anything. But I don't think a place'd be any
cheerfuller for John Wright's being in it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: I'd like to talk more of that a little later. I want to
get the lay of things upstairs now. (_He goes to the left, where three
steps lead to a stair door_.)

SHERIFF: I suppose anything Mrs Peters does'll be all right. She was to
take in some clothes for her, you know, and a few little things. We left
in such a hurry yesterday.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Yes, but I would like to see what you take, Mrs Peters,
and keep an eye out for anything that might be of use to us.

MRS PETERS: Yes, Mr Henderson.

(_The women listen to the men's steps on the stairs, then look about the
kitchen_.)

MRS HALE: I'd hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around
and criticising.

(_She arranges the pans under sink which the_ LAWYER _had shoved out of
place_.)

MRS PETERS: Of course it's no more than their duty.

MRS HALE: Duty's all right, but I guess that deputy sheriff that came
out to make the fire might have got a little of this on. (_gives the
roller towel a pull_) Wish I'd thought of that sooner. Seems mean to
talk about her for not having things slicked up when she had to come
away in such a hurry.

MRS PETERS: (_who has gone to a small table in the left rear corner of
the room, and lifted one end of a towel that covers a pan_) She had
bread set. (_Stands still_.)

MRS HALE: (_eyes fixed on a loaf of bread beside the bread-box, which is
on a low shelf at the other side of the room. Moves slowly toward it_)
She was going to put this in there, (_picks up loaf, then abruptly drops
it. In a manner of returning to familiar things_) It's a shame about her
fruit. I wonder if it's all gone. (_gets up on the chair and looks_) I
think there's some here that's all right, Mrs Peters. Yes--here;
(_holding it toward the window_) this is cherries, too. (_looking
again_) I declare I believe that's the only one. (_gets down, bottle in
her hand. Goes to the sink and wipes it off on the outside_) She'll feel
awful bad after all her hard work in the hot weather. I remember the
afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.

(_She puts the bottle on the big kitchen table, center of the room. With
a sigh, is about to sit down in the rocking-chair. Before she is seated
realizes what chair it is; with a slow look at it, steps back. The chair
which she has touched rocks back and forth_.)

MRS PETERS: Well, I must get those things from the front room closet,
(_she goes to the door at the right, but after looking into the other
room, steps back_) You coming with me, Mrs Hale? You could help me carry
them.

(_They go in the other room; reappear,_ MRS PETERS _carrying a dress and
skirt,_ MRS HALE _following with a pair of shoes._)

MRS PETERS: My, it's cold in there.

(_She puts the clothes on the big table, and hurries to the stove._)

MRS HALE: (_examining the skirt_) Wright was close. I think maybe that's
why she kept so much to herself. She didn't even belong to the Ladies
Aid. I suppose she felt she couldn't do her part, and then you don't
enjoy things when you feel shabby. She used to wear pretty clothes and
be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in
the choir. But that--oh, that was thirty years ago. This all you was to
take in?

MRS PETERS: She said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want, for there
isn't much to get you dirty in jail, goodness knows. But I suppose just
to make her feel more natural. She said they was in the top drawer in
this cupboard. Yes, here. And then her little shawl that always hung
behind the door. (_opens stair door and looks_) Yes, here it is.

(_Quickly shuts door leading upstairs._)

MRS HALE: (_abruptly moving toward her_) Mrs Peters?

MRS PETERS: Yes, Mrs Hale?

MRS HALE: Do you think she did it?

MRS PETERS: (_in a frightened voice_) Oh, I don't know.

MRS HALE: Well, I don't think she did. Asking for an apron and her
little shawl. Worrying about her fruit.

MRS PETERS: (_starts to speak, glances up, where footsteps are heard in
the room above. In a low voice_) Mr Peters says it looks bad for her. Mr
Henderson is awful sarcastic in a speech and he'll make fun of her
sayin' she didn't wake up.

MRS HALE: Well, I guess John Wright didn't wake when they was slipping
that rope under his neck.

MRS PETERS: No, it's strange. It must have been done awful crafty and
still. They say it was such a--funny way to kill a man, rigging it all
up like that.

MRS HALE: That's just what Mr Hale said. There was a gun in the house.
He says that's what he can't understand.

MRS PETERS: Mr Henderson said coming out that what was needed for the
case was a motive; something to show anger, or--sudden feeling.

MRS HALE: (_who is standing by the table_) Well, I don't see any signs
of anger around here, (_she puts her hand on the dish towel which lies
on the table, stands looking down at table, one half of which is clean,
the other half messy_) It's wiped to here, (_makes a move as if to
finish work, then turns and looks at loaf of bread outside the breadbox.
Drops towel. In that voice of coming back to familiar things._) Wonder
how they are finding things upstairs. I hope she had it a little more
red-up up there. You know, it seems kind of sneaking. Locking her up in
town and then coming out here and trying to get her own house to turn
against her!

MRS PETERS: But Mrs Hale, the law is the law.

MRS HALE: I s'pose 'tis, (_unbuttoning her coat_) Better loosen up your
things, Mrs Peters. You won't feel them when you go out.

(MRS PETERS _takes off her fur tippet, goes to hang it on hook at back
of room, stands looking at the under part of the small corner table_.)

MRS PETERS: She was piecing a quilt. (_She brings the large sewing
basket and they look at the bright pieces_.)

MRS HALE: It's log cabin pattern. Pretty, isn't it? I wonder if she was
goin' to quilt it or just knot it?

(_Footsteps have been heard coming down the stairs_. The SHERIFF enters
followed by HALE and the COUNTY ATTORNEY.)

SHERIFF: They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it! (_The
men laugh, the women look abashed_.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_rubbing his hands over the stove_) Frank's fire
didn't do much up there, did it? Well, let's go out to the barn and get
that cleared up. (_The men go outside_.)

MRS HALE: (_resentfully_) I don't know as there's anything so strange,
our takin' up our time with little things while we're waiting for them
to get the evidence. (_she sits down at the big table smoothing out a
block with decision_) I don't see as it's anything to laugh about.

MRS PETERS: (_apologetically_) Of course they've got awful important
things on their minds.

(_Pulls up a chair and joins MRS HALE at the table_.)

MRS HALE: (_examining another block_) Mrs Peters, look at this one.
Here, this is the one she was working on, and look at the sewing! All
the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It's all
over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn't know what she was about!

(_After she has said this they look at each other, then start to glance
back at the door. After an instant_ MRS HALE _has pulled at a knot and
ripped the sewing_.)

MRS PETERS: Oh, what are you doing, Mrs Hale?

MRS HALE: (_mildly_) Just pulling out a stitch or two that's not sewed
very good. (_threading a needle_) Bad sewing always made me fidgety.

MRS PETERS: (nervously) I don't think we ought to touch things.

MRS HALE: I'll just finish up this end. (_suddenly stopping and leaning
forward_) Mrs Peters?

MRS PETERS: Yes, Mrs Hale?

MRS HALE: What do you suppose she was so nervous about?

MRS PETERS: Oh--I don't know. I don't know as she was nervous. I
sometimes sew awful queer when I'm just tired. (MRS HALE _starts to say
something, looks at_ MRS PETERS, _then goes on sewing_) Well I must get
these things wrapped up. They may be through sooner than we think,
(_putting apron and other things together_) I wonder where I can find a
piece of paper, and string.

MRS HALE: In that cupboard, maybe.

MRS PETERS: (_looking in cupboard_) Why, here's a bird-cage, (_holds it
up_) Did she have a bird, Mrs Hale?

MRS HALE: Why, I don't know whether she did or not--I've not been here
for so long. There was a man around last year selling canaries cheap,
but I don't know as she took one; maybe she did. She used to sing real
pretty herself.

MRS PETERS: (_glancing around_) Seems funny to think of a bird here. But
she must have had one, or why would she have a cage? I wonder what
happened to it.

MRS HALE: I s'pose maybe the cat got it.

MRS PETERS: No, she didn't have a cat. She's got that feeling some
people have about cats--being afraid of them. My cat got in her room and
she was real upset and asked me to take it out.

MRS HALE: My sister Bessie was like that. Queer, ain't it?

MRS PETERS: (_examining the cage_) Why, look at this door. It's broke.
One hinge is pulled apart.

MRS HALE: (_looking too_) Looks as if someone must have been rough with
it.

MRS PETERS: Why, yes.

(_She brings the cage forward and puts it on the table_.)

MRS HALE: I wish if they're going to find any evidence they'd be about
it. I don't like this place.

MRS PETERS: But I'm awful glad you came with me, Mrs Hale. It would be
lonesome for me sitting here alone.

MRS HALE: It would, wouldn't it? (_dropping her sewing_) But I tell you
what I do wish, Mrs Peters. I wish I had come over sometimes when _she_
was here. I--(_looking around the room_)--wish I had.

MRS PETERS: But of course you were awful busy, Mrs Hale--your house and
your children.

MRS HALE: I could've come. I stayed away because it weren't
cheerful--and that's why I ought to have come. I--I've never liked this
place. Maybe because it's down in a hollow and you don't see the road. I
dunno what it is, but it's a lonesome place and always was. I wish I had
come over to see Minnie Foster sometimes. I can see now--(_shakes her
head_)

MRS PETERS: Well, you mustn't reproach yourself, Mrs Hale. Somehow we
just don't see how it is with other folks until--something comes up.

MRS HALE: Not having children makes less work--but it makes a quiet
house, and Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come
in. Did you know John Wright, Mrs Peters?

MRS PETERS: Not to know him; I've seen him in town. They say he was a
good man.

MRS HALE: Yes--good; he didn't drink, and kept his word as well as most,
I guess, and paid his debts. But he was a hard man, Mrs Peters. Just to
pass the time of day with him--(_shivers_) Like a raw wind that gets to
the bone, (_pauses, her eye falling on the cage_) I should think she
would 'a wanted a bird. But what do you suppose went with it?

MRS PETERS: I don't know, unless it got sick and died.

(_She reaches over and swings the broken door, swings it again, both
women watch it_.)

MRS HALE: You weren't raised round here, were you? (_MRS PETERS shakes
her head_) You didn't know--her?

MRS PETERS: Not till they brought her yesterday.

MRS HALE: She--come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird
herself--real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and--fluttery.
How--she--did--change. (_silence; then as if struck by a happy thought
and relieved to get back to everyday things_) Tell you what, Mrs Peters,
why don't you take the quilt in with you? It might take up her mind.

MRS PETERS: Why, I think that's a real nice idea, Mrs Hale. There
couldn't possibly be any objection to it, could there? Now, just what
would I take? I wonder if her patches are in here--and her things.

(_They look in the sewing basket_.)

MRS HALE: Here's some red. I expect this has got sewing things in it.
(_brings out a fancy box_) What a pretty box. Looks like something
somebody would give you. Maybe her scissors are in here. (_Opens box.
Suddenly puts her hand to her nose_) Why--(MRS PETERS _bends nearer,
then turns her face away_) There's something wrapped up in this piece of
silk.

MRS PETERS: Why, this isn't her scissors.

MRS HALE: (_lifting the silk_) Oh, Mrs Peters--it's--

(MRS PETERS _bends closer_.)

MRS PETERS: It's the bird.

MRS HALE: (_jumping up_) But, Mrs Peters--look at it! It's neck! Look at
its neck!

It's all--other side _to_.

MRS PETERS: Somebody--wrung--its--neck.

(_Their eyes meet. A look of growing comprehension, of horror. Steps are
heard outside_. MRS HALE _slips box under quilt pieces, and sinks into
her chair. Enter_ SHERIFF _and_ COUNTY ATTORNEY. MRS PETERS _rises_.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_as one turning from serious things to little
pleasantries_) Well ladies, have you decided whether she was going to
quilt it or knot it?

MRS PETERS: We think she was going to--knot it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Well, that's interesting, I'm sure. (_seeing the
birdcage_) Has the bird flown?

MRS HALE: (_putting more quilt pieces over the box_) We think the--cat
got it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_preoccupied_) Is there a cat?

(MRS HALE _glances in a quick covert way at_ MRS PETERS.)

MRS PETERS: Well, not now. They're superstitious, you know. They leave.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_to_ SHERIFF PETERS, _continuing an interrupted
conversation_) No sign at all of anyone having come from the outside.
Their own rope. Now let's go up again and go over it piece by piece.
(_they start upstairs_) It would have to have been someone who knew just
the--

(MRS PETERS _sits down. The two women sit there not looking at one
another, but as if peering into something and at the same time holding
back. When they talk now it is in the manner of feeling their way over
strange ground, as if afraid of what they are saying, but as if they can
not help saying it_.)

MRS HALE: She liked the bird. She was going to bury it in that pretty
box.

MRS PETERS: (_in a whisper_) When I was a girl--my kitten--there was a
boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes--and before I could get
there--(_covers her face an instant_) If they hadn't held me back I
would have--(_catches herself, looks upstairs where steps are heard,
falters weakly_)--hurt him.

MRS HALE: (_with a slow look around her_) I wonder how it would seem
never to have had any children around, (_pause_) No, Wright wouldn't
like the bird--a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too.

MRS PETERS: (_moving uneasily_) We don't know who killed the bird.

MRS HALE: I knew John Wright.

MRS PETERS: It was an awful thing was done in this house that night, Mrs
Hale. Killing a man while he slept, slipping a rope around his neck that
choked the life out of him.

MRS HALE: His neck. Choked the life out of him.

(_Her hand goes out and rests on the bird-cage_.)

MRS PETERS: (_with rising voice_) We don't know who killed him. We don't
_know_.

MRS HALE: (_her own feeling not interrupted_) If there'd been years and
years of nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful--still,
after the bird was still.

MRS PETERS: (_something within her speaking_) I know what stillness is.
When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died--after he was two
years old, and me with no other then--

MRS HALE: (_moving_) How soon do you suppose they'll be through, looking
for the evidence?

MRS PETERS: I know what stillness is. (_pulling herself back_) The law
has got to punish crime, Mrs Hale.

MRS HALE: (_not as if answering that_) I wish you'd seen Minnie Foster
when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the
choir and sang. (_a look around the room_) Oh, I _wish_ I'd come over
here once in a while! That was a crime! That was a crime! Who's going to
punish that?

MRS PETERS: (_looking upstairs_) We mustn't--take on.

MRS HALE: I might have known she needed help! I know how things can
be--for women. I tell you, it's queer, Mrs Peters. We live close
together and we live far apart. We all go through the same things--it's
all just a different kind of the same thing, (_brushes her eyes,
noticing the bottle of fruit, reaches out for it_) If I was you, I
wouldn't tell her her fruit was gone. Tell her it _ain't_. Tell her it's
all right. Take this in to prove it to her. She--she may never know
whether it was broke or not.

MRS PETERS: (_takes the bottle, looks about for something to wrap it in;
takes petticoat from the clothes brought from the other room, very
nervously begins winding this around the bottle. In a false voice_) My,
it's a good thing the men couldn't hear us. Wouldn't they just laugh!
Getting all stirred up over a little thing like a--dead canary. As if
that could have anything to do with--with--wouldn't they _laugh_!

(_The men are heard coming down stairs_.)

MRS HALE: (_under her breath_) Maybe they would--maybe they wouldn't.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: No, Peters, it's all perfectly clear except a reason
for doing it. But you know juries when it comes to women. If there was
some definite thing. Something to show--something to make a story
about--a thing that would connect up with this strange way of doing it--

(_The women's eyes meet for an instant. Enter HALE from outer door_.)

HALE: Well, I've got the team around. Pretty cold out there.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: I'm going to stay here a while by myself, (_to the_
SHERIFF) You can send Frank out for me, can't you? I want to go over
everything. I'm not satisfied that we can't do better.

SHERIFF: Do you want to see what Mrs Peters is going to take in?

(_The_ LAWYER _goes to the table, picks up the apron, laughs_.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Oh, I guess they're not very dangerous things the
ladies have picked out. (_Moves a few things about, disturbing the quilt
pieces which cover the box. Steps back_) No, Mrs Peters doesn't need
supervising. For that matter, a sheriff's wife is married to the law.
Ever think of it that way, Mrs Peters?

MRS PETERS: Not--just that way.

SHERIFF: (_chuckling_) Married to the law. (_moves toward the other
room_) I just want you to come in here a minute, George. We ought to
take a look at these windows.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_scoffingly_) Oh, windows!

SHERIFF: We'll be right out, Mr Hale.

(HALE _goes outside. The_ SHERIFF _follows the_ COUNTY ATTORNEY _into
the other room. Then_ MRS HALE _rises, hands tight together, looking
intensely at_ MRS PETERS, _whose eyes make a slow turn, finally meeting_
MRS HALE_'s. A moment_ MRS HALE _holds her, then her own eyes point the
way to where the box is concealed. Suddenly_ MRS PETERS _throws back
quilt pieces and tries to put the box in the bag she is wearing. It is
too big. She opens box, starts to take bird out, cannot touch it, goes
to pieces, stands there helpless. Sound of a knob turning in the other
room_. MRS HALE _snatches the box and puts it in the pocket of her big
coat. Enter_ COUNTY ATTORNEY _and_ SHERIFF.)

COUNTY ATTORNEY: (_facetiously_) Well, Henry, at least we found out that
she was not going to quilt it. She was going to--what is it you call it,
ladies?

MRS HALE: (_her hand against her pocket_) We call it--knot it, Mr
Henderson.


(CURTAIN)



THE OUTSIDE


First performed by the Provincetown Players at the Playwrights' Theatre,
December 28, 1917.


CAPTAIN (of 'The Bars' Life-Saving Station)

BRADFORD (a Life-Saver)

TONY (a Portuguese Life-Saver)

MRS PATRICK (who lives in the abandoned Station)

ALLIE MAYO (who works for her)


SCENE: _A room in a house which was once a life-saving station. Since
ceasing to be that it has taken on no other character, except that of a
place which no one cares either to preserve or change. It is painted the
life-saving grey, but has not the life-saving freshness. This is one end
of what was the big boat room, and at the ceiling is seen a part of the
frame work from which the boat once swung. About two thirds of the back
wall is open, because of the big sliding door, of the type of barn door,
and through this open door are seen the sand dunes, and beyond them the
woods. At one point the line where woods and dunes meet stands out
clearly and there are indicated the rude things, vines, bushes, which
form the outer uneven rim of the woods--the only things that grow in the
sand. At another point a sand-hill is menacing the woods. This old
life-saving station is at a point where the sea curves, so through the
open door the sea also is seen. (The station is located on the outside
shore of Cape Cod, at the point, near the tip of the Cape, where it
makes that final curve which forms the Provincetown Harbor.) The dunes
are hills and strange forms of sand on which, in places, grows the stiff
beach grass--struggle; dogged growing against odds. At right of the big
sliding door is a drift of sand and the top of buried beach grass is
seen on this. There is a door left, and at right of big sliding door is
a slanting wall. Door in this is ajar at rise of curtain, and through
this door_ BRADFORD _and_ TONY, _life-savers, are seen bending over a
man's body, attempting to restore respiration. The captain of the
life-savers comes into view outside the big open door, at left; he
appears to have been hurrying, peers in, sees the men, goes quickly to
them._

CAPTAIN: I'll take this now, boys.

BRADFORD: No need for anybody to take it, Capt'n. He was dead when we
picked him up.

CAPTAIN: Dannie Sears was dead when we picked him up. But we brought him
back. I'll go on awhile.

(_The two men who have been bending over the body rise, stretch to
relax, and come into the room._)

BRADFORD: (_pushing back his arms and putting his hands on his chest_)
Work,--tryin to put life in the dead.

CAPTAIN: Where'd you find him, Joe?

BRADFORD: In front of this house. Not forty feet out.

CAPTAIN: What'd you bring him up here for?

(_He speaks in an abstracted way, as if the working part of his mind is
on something else, and in the muffled voice of one bending over._)

BRADFORD: (_with a sheepish little laugh_) Force of habit, I guess. We
brought so many of 'em back up here, (_looks around the room_) And then
it was kind of unfriendly down where he was--the wind spittin' the sea
onto you till he'd have no way of knowin' he was ashore.

TONY: Lucky I was not sooner or later as I walk by from my watch.

BRADFORD: You have accommodating ways, Tony. No sooner or later. I
wouldn't say it of many Portagees. But the sea (_calling it in to the_
CAPTAIN) is friendly as a kitten alongside the women that live _here_.
Allie Mayo--they're _both_ crazy--had that door open (_moving his head
toward the big sliding door_) sweepin' out, and when we come along she
backs off and stands lookin' at us, _lookin_'--Lord, I just wanted to
get him somewhere else. So I kicked this door open with my foot
(_jerking his hand toward the room where the_ CAPTAIN _is seen bending
over the man_) and got him _away. (under his voice_) If he did have any
notion of comin' back to life, he wouldn't a come if he'd seen her.
(_more genially_) I wouldn't.

CAPTAIN: You know who he is, Joe?

BRADFORD: I never saw him before.

CAPTAIN: Mitchell telephoned from High Head that a dory came ashore
there.

BRADFORD: Last night wasn't the _best_ night for a dory. (_to_ TONY,
_boastfully_) Not that I couldn't 'a' stayed in one. Some men can stay
in a dory and some can't. (_going to the inner door_) That boy's dead,
Capt'n.

CAPTAIN: Then I'm not doing him any harm.

BRADFORD: (_going over and shaking the frame where the boat once swung_)
This the first time you ever been in this place, ain't it, Tony?

TONY: I never was here before.

BRADFORD: Well, _I_ was here before. (_a laugh_) And the old
man--(_nodding toward the_ CAPTAIN) he lived here for twenty-seven
years. Lord, the things that happened _here_. There've been dead ones
carried through _that_ door. (_pointing to the outside door_) Lord--the
ones _I've_ carried. I carried in Bill Collins, and Lou Harvey and--huh!
'sall over now. You ain't seen no _wrecks_. Don't ever think you have. I
was here the night the Jennie Snow was out there. (_pointing to the
sea_) There was a _wreck_. We got the boat that stood here (_again
shaking the frame_) down that bank. (_goes to the door and looks out_)
Lord, how'd we ever do it? The sand has put his place on the blink all
right. And then when it gets too God-for-saken for a life-savin'
station, a lady takes it for a summer residence--and then spends the
winter. She's a cheerful one.

TONY: A woman--she makes things pretty. This not like a place where a
woman live. On the floor there is nothing--on the wall there is nothing.
Things--(_trying to express it with his hands_) do not hang on other
things.

BRADFORD: (_imitating_ TONY_'s gesture_) No--things do not hang on other
things. In my opinion the woman's crazy--sittin' over there on the
sand--(_a gesture towards the dunes_) what's she _lookin'_ at? There
ain't nothin' to _see_. And I know the woman that works for her's
crazy--Allie Mayo. She's a Provincetown girl. She was all right once,
but--

(MRS PATRICK _comes in from the hall at the right. She is a 'city
woman', a sophisticated person who has been caught into something as
unlike the old life as the dunes are unlike a meadow. At the moment she
is excited and angry_.)

MRS PATRICK: You have no right here. This isn't the life-saving station
any more. Just because it used to be--I don't see why you should
think--This is my house! And--I want my house to myself!

CAPTAIN: (_putting his head through the door. One arm of the man he is
working with is raised, and the hand reaches through the doorway_) Well
I must say, lady, I would think that any house could be a life-saving
station when the sea had sent a man to it.

MRS PATRICK: (_who has turned away so she cannot see the hand_) I don't
want him here! I--(_defiant, yet choking_) I must have my house to
myself!

CAPTAIN: You'll get your house to yourself when I've made up my mind
there's no more life in this man. A good many lives have been saved in
this house, Mrs Patrick--I believe that's your name--and if there's any
chance of bringing one more back from the dead, the fact that you own
the house ain't goin' to make a damn bit of difference to me!

MRS PATRICK: (_in a thin wild way_) I must have my house to myself.

CAPTAIN: Hell with such a woman!

(_Moves the man he is working with and slams the door shut. As the_
CAPTAIN _says, 'And if there's any chance of bringing one more back from
the dead_', ALLIE MAYO _has appeared outside the wide door which gives
on to the dunes, a bleak woman, who at first seems little more than a
part of the sand before which she stands. But as she listens to this
conflict one suspects in her that peculiar intensity of twisted things
which grow in unfavoring places_.)

MRS PATRICK: I--I don't want them here! I must--

(_But suddenly she retreats, and is gone_.)

BRADFORD: Well, I couldn't say, Allie Mayo, that you work for any too
kind-hearted a lady. What's the matter with the woman? Does she want
folks to die? Appears to break her all up to see somebody trying to save
a life. What d'you work for such a fish for? A crazy fish--that's what I
call the woman. I've seen her--day after day--settin' over there where
the dunes meet the woods, just sittin' there, lookin'. (_suddenly
thinking of it_) I believe she _likes_ to see the sand slippin' down on
the woods. Pleases her to see somethin' gettin' buried, I guess.

(ALLIE MAYO, _who has stepped inside the door and moved half across the
room, toward the corridor at the right, is arrested by this last--stands
a moment as if seeing through something, then slowly on, and out_.)

BRADFORD: Some coffee'd taste good. But coffee, in this house? Oh, no.
It might make somebody feel better. (_opening the door that was slammed
shut_) Want me now, Capt'n?

CAPTAIN: No.

BRADFORD: Oh, that boy's dead, Capt'n.

CAPTAIN: (_snarling_) Dannie Sears was dead, too. Shut that door. I
don't want to hear that woman's voice again, ever.

(_Closing the door and sitting on a bench built into that corner between
the big sliding door and the room where the_ CAPTAIN _is_.)

BRADFORD: They're a cheerful pair of women--livin' in this cheerful
place--a place that life savers had to turn over to the sand--huh! This
Patrick woman used to be all right. She and her husband was summer folks
over in town. They used to picnic over here on the outside. It was Joe
Dyer--he's always talkin' to summer folks--told 'em the government was
goin' to build the new station and sell this one by sealed bids. I heard
them talkin' about it. They was sittin' right down there on the beach,
eatin' their supper. They was goin' to put in a fire-place and they was
goin' to paint it bright colors, and have parties over here--summer folk
notions. Their bid won it--who'd want it?--a buried house you couldn't
move.

TONY: I see no bright colors.

BRADFORD: Don't you? How astonishin'! You must be color blind. And I
guess _we're_ the first party. (_laughs_) I was in Bill Joseph's grocery
store, one day last November, when in she comes--Mrs Patrick, from New
York. 'I've come to take the old life-saving station', says she. 'I'm
going to sleep over there tonight!' Huh! Bill is used to queer ways--he
deals with summer folks, but that got _him_. November--an empty house, a
buried house, you might say, off here on the outside shore--way across
the sand from man or beast. He got it out of her, not by what she said,
but by the way she looked at what he said, that her husband had died,
and she was runnin' off to hide herself, I guess. A person'd feel sorry
for her if she weren't so stand-offish, and so doggon _mean_. But mean
folks have got minds of their own. She slept here that night. Bill had
men hauling things till after dark--bed, stove, coal. And then she
wanted somebody to work for her. 'Somebody', says she, 'that doesn't say
an unnecessary word!' Well, then Bill come to the back of the store, I
said, 'Looks to me as if Allie Mayo was the party she's lookin' for.'
Allie Mayo has got a prejudice against words. Or maybe she likes 'em so
well she's savin' of 'em. She's not spoke an unnecessary word for twenty
years. She's got her reasons. Women whose men go to sea ain't always
talkative.

(_The_ CAPTAIN _comes out. He closes door behind him and stands there
beside it. He looks tired and disappointed. Both look at him. Pause_.)

CAPTAIN: Wonder who he was.

BRADFORD: Young. Guess he's not been much at sea.

CAPTAIN: I hate to leave even the dead in this house. But we can get
right back for him. (_a look around_) The old place used to be more
friendly. (_moves to outer door, hesitates, hating to leave like this_)
Well, Joe, we brought a good many of them back here.

BRADFORD: Dannie Sears is tendin' bar in Boston now.

(_The three men go; as they are going around the drift of sand_ ALLIE
MAYO _comes in carrying a pot of coffee; sees them leaving, puts down
the coffee pot, looks at the door the_ CAPTAIN _has closed, moves toward
it, as if drawn_. MRS PATRICK _follows her in_.)

MRS PATRICK: They've gone?

(MRS MAYO _nods, facing the closed door_.)

MRS PATRICK: And they're leaving--him? (_again the other woman nods_)
Then he's--? (MRS MAYO _just stands there_) They have no right--just
because it used to be their place--! I want my house to myself!

(_Snatches her coat and scarf from a hook and starts through the big
door toward the dunes_.)

ALLIE MAYO: Wait.

(_When she has said it she sinks into that corner seat--as if
overwhelmed by what she has done. The other woman is held_.)

ALLIE MAYO: (_to herself._) If I could say that, I can say more.
(_looking at woman she has arrested, but speaking more to herself_) That
boy in there--his face--uncovered something--(_her open hand on her
chest. But she waits, as if she cannot go on; when she speaks it is in
labored way--slow, monotonous, as if snowed in by silent years_) For
twenty years, I did what you are doing. And I can tell you--it's not the
way. (_her voice has fallen to a whisper; she stops, looking ahead at
something remote and veiled_) We had been married--two years. (_a start,
as of sudden pain. Says it again, as if to make herself say it_)
Married--two years. He had a chance to go north on a whaler. Times hard.
He had to go. A year and a half--it was to be. A year and a half. Two
years we'd been married.

(_She sits silent, moving a little back and forth._)

The day he went away. (_not spoken, but breathed from pain_) The days
after he was gone.

I heard at first. Last letter said farther north--not another chance to
write till on the way home. (_a wait_)

Six months. Another, I did not hear. (_long wait_) Nobody ever heard.
(_after it seems she is held there, and will not go on_) I used to talk
as much as any girl in Provincetown. Jim used to tease me about my
talking. But they'd come in to talk to me. They'd say--'You may hear
_yet._' They'd talk about what must have happened. And one day a woman
who'd been my friend all my life said--'Suppose he was to walk _in!_' I
got up and drove her from my kitchen--and from that time till this I've
not said a word I didn't have to say. (_she has become almost wild in
telling this. That passes. In a whisper_) The ice that caught
Jim--caught me. (_a moment as if held in ice. Comes from it. To_ MRS
PATRICK _simply_) It's not the way. (_a sudden change_) You're not the
only woman in the world whose husband is dead!

MRS PATRICK: (_with a cry of the hurt_) Dead? My husband's not _dead_.

ALLIE MAYO: He's _not?_ (_slowly understands_) Oh.

(_The woman in the door is crying. Suddenly picks up her coat which has
fallen to the floor and steps outside._)

ALLIE MAYO: (_almost failing to do it_) Wait.

MRS PATRICK: Wait? Don't you think you've said enough? They told me you
didn't say an unnecessary word!

ALLIE MAYO: I don't.

MRS PATRICK: And you can see, I should think, that you've bungled into
things you know nothing about!

(_As she speaks, and crying under her breath, she pushes the sand by the
door down on the half buried grass--though not as if knowing what she is
doing._)

ALLIE MAYO: (_slowly_) When you keep still for twenty years you
know--things you didn't know you knew. I know why you're doing that.
(_she looks up at her, startled_) Don't bury the only thing that will
grow. Let it grow.

(_The woman outside still crying under her breath turns abruptly and
starts toward the line where dunes and woods meet._)

ALLIE MAYO: I know where you're going! (MRS PATRICK _turns but not as if
she wants to_) What you'll try to do. Over there. (_pointing to the line
of woods_) Bury it. The life in you. Bury it--watching the sand bury the
woods. But I'll tell you something! _They_ fight too. The woods! They
fight for life the way that Captain fought for life in there!

(_Pointing to the closed door_.)

MRS PATRICK: (_with a strange exultation_) And lose the way he lost in
there!

ALLIE MAYO: (_sure, sombre_) They don't lose.

MRS PATRICK: Don't _lose_? (_triumphant_) I have walked on the tops of
buried trees!

ALLIE MAYO: (_slow, sombre, yet large_) And vines will grow over the
sand that covers the trees, and hold it. And other trees will grow over
the buried trees.

MRS PATRICK: I've watched the sand slip down on the vines that reach out
farthest.

ALLIE MAYO: Another vine will reach that spot. (_under her breath,
tenderly_) Strange little things that reach out farthest!

MRS PATRICK: And will be buried soonest!

ALLIE MAYO: And hold the sand for things behind them. They save a wood
that guards a town.

MRS PATRICK: I care nothing about a wood to guard a town. This is the
outside--these dunes where only beach grass grows, this outer shore
where men can't live. The Outside. You who were born here and who die
here have named it that.

ALLIE MAYO: Yes, we named it that, and we had reason. He died here
(_reaches her hand toward the closed door_) and many a one before him.
But many another reached the harbor! (_slowly raises her arm, bends it
to make the form of the Cape. Touches the outside of her bent arm_) The
Outside. But an arm that bends to make a harbor--where men are safe.

MRS PATRICK: I'm outside the harbor--on the dunes, land not life.

ALLIE MAYO: Dunes meet woods and woods hold dunes from a town that's
shore to a harbor.

MRS PATRICK: This is the Outside. Sand (_picking some of it up in her
hand and letting it fall on the beach grass_) Sand that _covers_--hills
of sand that move and cover.

ALLIE MAYO: Woods. Woods to hold the moving hills from Provincetown.
Provincetown--where they turn when boats can't live at sea. Did you ever
see the sails come round here when the sky is dark? A line of
them--swift to the harbor--where their children live. Go back!
(_pointing_) Back to your edge of the woods that's the _edge of the
dunes_.

MRS PATRICK: The edge of life. Where life trails off to dwarfed things
not worth a name.

(_Suddenly sits down in the doorway_.)

ALLIE MAYO: Not worth a name. And--meeting the Outside!

(_Big with the sense of the wonder of life_.)

MRS PATRICK: (_lifting sand and letting it drift through her hand_.)
They're what the sand will let them be. They take strange shapes like
shapes of blown sand.

ALLIE MAYO: Meeting the Outside. (_moving nearer; speaking more
personally_) I know why you came here. To this house that had been given
up; on this shore where only savers of life try to live. I know what
holds you on these dunes, and draws you over there. But other things are
true beside the things you want to see.

MRS PATRICK: How do you know they are? Where have you been for twenty
years?

ALLIE MAYO: Outside. Twenty years. That's why I know how brave _they_
are (_indicating the edge of the woods. Suddenly different_) You'll not
find peace there again! Go back and watch them _fight_!

MRS PATRICK: (_swiftly rising_) You're a cruel woman--a hard, insolent
woman! I knew what I was doing! What do you know about it? About me? I
didn't go to the Outside. I was left there. I'm only--trying to get
along. Everything that can hurt me I want buried--buried deep. Spring is
here. This morning I _knew_ it. Spring--coming through the storm--to
take me--take me to hurt me. That's why I couldn't bear--(_she looks at
the closed door_) things that made me know I feel. You haven't felt for
so long you don't know what it means! But I tell you, Spring is here!
And now you'd take _that_ from me--(_looking now toward the edge of the
woods_) the thing that made me know they would be buried in my
heart--those things I can't _live_ and know I feel. You're more cruel
than the sea! 'But other things are true beside the things you want to
see!' Outside. Springs will come when I will not know that it is spring.
(_as if resentful of not more deeply believing what she says_) What
would there be for me but the Outside? What was there for you? What did
you ever find after you lost the thing you wanted?

ALLIE MAYO: I found--what I find now I know. The edge of life--to hold
life behind me--

(_A slight gesture toward_ MRS PATRICK.)

MRS PATRICK: (_stepping back_) You call what you are life? (_laughs_)
Bleak as those ugly things that grow in the sand!

ALLIE MAYO: (_under her breath, as one who speaks tenderly of beauty_)
Ugly!

MRS PATRICK: (_passionately_) I have _known_ life. I have known _life_.
You're like this Cape. A line of land way out to sea--land not life.

ALLIE MAYO: A harbor far at sea. (_raises her arm, curves it in as if
around something she loves_) Land that encloses and gives shelter from
storm.

MRS PATRICK: (_facing the sea, as if affirming what will hold all else
out_) Outside sea. Outer shore. Dunes--land not life.

ALLIE MAYO: Outside sea--outer shore, dark with the wood that once was
ships--dunes, strange land not life--woods, town and harbor. The line!
Stunted straggly line that meets the Outside face to face--and fights
for what itself can never be. Lonely line. Brave growing.

MRS PATRICK: It loses.

ALLIE MAYO: It wins.

MRS PATRICK: The farthest life is buried.

ALLIE MAYO: And life grows over buried life! (_lifted into that; then,
as one who states a simple truth with feeling_) It will. And Springs
will come when you will want to know that it is Spring.

(_The_ CAPTAIN _and_ BRADFORD _appear behind the drift of sand. They
have a stretcher. To get away from them_ MRS PATRICK _steps farther into
the room_; ALLIE MAYO _shrinks into her corner. The men come in, open
the closed door and go in the room where they left the dead man. A
moment later they are seen outside the big open door, bearing the man
away_. MRS PATRICK _watches them from sight_.)

MRS PATRICK: (_bitter, exultant_) Savers of life! (_to_ ALLIE MAYO) You
savers of life! 'Meeting the Outside!' Meeting--(_but she cannot say it
mockingly again; in saying it, something of what it means has broken
through, rises. Herself lost, feeling her way into the wonder of life_)
Meeting the Outside!

(_It grows in her as_ CURTAIN _lowers slowly_.)



THE VERGE


First performed at the Provincetown Playhouse on November 14, 1921.


PERSONS OF THE PLAY

ANTHONY

HARRY ARCHER, Claire's husband

HATTIE, The maid

CLAIRE

DICK, Richard Demming

TOM EDGEWORTHY

ELIZABETH, Claire's daughter

ADELAIDE, Claire's sister

DR EMMONS


ACT I

_The Curtain lifts on a place that is dark, save for a shaft of light
from below which comes up through an open trap-door in the floor. This
slants up and strikes the long leaves and the huge brilliant blossom of
a strange plant whose twisted stem projects from right front. Nothing is
seen except this plant and its shadow. A violent wind is heard. A moment
later a buzzer. It buzzes once long and three short. Silence. Again the
buzzer. Then from below--his shadow blocking the light, comes_ ANTHONY,
_a rugged man past middle life;--he emerges from the stairway into the
darkness of the room. Is dimly seen taking up a phone._

ANTHONY: Yes, Miss Claire?--I'll see. (_he brings a thermometer to the
stairway for light, looks sharply, then returns to the phone_) It's down
to forty-nine. The plants are in danger--(_with great relief and
approval_) Oh, that's fine! (_hangs up the receiver_) Fine!

(_He goes back down the stairway, closing the trap-door upon himself,
and the curtain is drawn upon darkness and wind. It opens a moment later
on the greenhouse in the sunshine of a snowy morning. The snow piled
outside is at times blown through the air. The frost has made patterns
on the glass as if--as Plato would have it--the patterns inherent in
abstract nature and behind all life had to come out, not only in the
creative heat within, but in the creative cold on the other side of the
glass. And the wind makes patterns of sound around the glass house.

The back wall is low; the glass roof slopes sharply up. There is an
outside door, a little toward the right. From outside two steps lead
down to it. At left a glass partition and a door into the inner room.
One sees a little way into this room. At right there is no dividing wall
save large plants and vines, a narrow aisle between shelves of plants
leads off.

This is not a greenhouse where plants are being displayed, nor the usual
workshop for the growing of them, but a place for experiment with
plants, a laboratory.

At the back grows a strange vine. It is arresting rather than beautiful.
It creeps along the low wall, and one branch gets a little way up the
glass. You might see the form of a cross in it, if you happened to think
it that way. The leaves of this vine are not the form that leaves have
been. They are at once repellent and significant_.

ANTHONY _is at work preparing soil--mixing, sifting. As the wind tries
the door he goes anxiously to the thermometer, nods as if reassured and
returns to his work. The buzzer sounds. He starts to answer the
telephone, remembers something, halts and listens sharply. It does not
buzz once long and three short. Then he returns to his work. The buzzer
goes on and on in impatient jerks which mount in anger. Several times_
ANTHONY _is almost compelled by this insistence, but the thing that
holds him back is stronger. At last, after a particularly mad splutter,
to which_ ANTHONY _longs to make retort, the buzzer gives it up_.
ANTHONY _goes on preparing soil.

A moment later the glass door swings violently in, snow blowing in, and
also_ MR HARRY ARCHER, _wrapped in a rug._)

ANTHONY: Oh, please close the door, sir.

HARRY: Do you think I'm not trying to? (_he holds it open to say this_)

ANTHONY: But please _do_. This stormy air is not good for the plants.

HARRY: I suppose it's just the thing for me! Now, what do you mean,
Anthony, by not answering the phone when I buzz for you?

ANTHONY: Miss Claire--Mrs Archer told me not to.

HARRY: Told you not to answer me?

ANTHONY: Not you especially--nobody but her.

HARRY: Well, I like her nerve--and yours.

ANTHONY: You see, she thought it took my mind from my work to be
interrupted when I'm out here. And so it does. So she buzzes once long
and--Well, she buzzes her way, and all other buzzing--

HARRY: May buzz.

ANTHONY: (_nodding gravely_) She thought it would be better for the
flowers.

HARRY: I am not a flower--true, but I too need a little attention--and a
little heat. Will you please tell me why the house is frigid?

ANTHONY: Miss Claire ordered all the heat turned out here, (_patiently
explaining it to_ MISS CLAIRE's _speechless husband_) You see the roses
need a great deal of heat.

HARRY: (_reading the thermometer_) The roses have seventy-three I have
forty-five.

ANTHONY: Yes, the roses need seventy-three.

HARRY: Anthony, this is an outrage!

ANTHONY: I think it is myself; when you consider what we paid for the
heating plant--but as long as it is defective--Why, Miss Claire would
never have done what she has if she hadn't looked out for her plants in
just such ways as this. Have you forgotten that Breath of Life is about
to flower?

HARRY: And where's my breakfast about to flower?--that's what I want to
know.

ANTHONY: Why, Miss Claire got up at five o'clock to order the heat
turned off from the house.

HARRY: I see you admire her vigilance.

ANTHONY: Oh, I do. (_fervently_) I do. Harm was near, and that woke her
up.

HARRY: And what about the harm to--(_tapping his chest_) Do roses get
pneumonia?

ANTHONY: Oh, yes--yes, indeed they do. Why, Mr Archer, look at Miss
Claire herself. Hasn't she given her heat to the roses?

HARRY: (_pulling the rug around him, preparing for the blizzard_) She
has the fire within.

ANTHONY: (_delighted_) Now isn't that true! How well you said it. (_with
a glare for this appreciation_, HARRY _opens the door. It blows away
from him_) Please do close the door!

HARRY: (_furiously_) You think it is the aim of my life to hold it open?

ANTHONY: (_getting hold of it_) Growing things need an even temperature,
(_while saying this he gets the man out into the snow_)

(ANTHONY _consults the thermometer, not as pleased this time as he was
before. He then looks minutely at two of the plants--one is a rose, the
other a flower without a name because it has not long enough been a
flower. Peers into the hearts of them. Then from a drawer under a shelf,
takes two paper bags, puts one over each of these flowers, closing them
down at the bottom. Again the door blows wildly in, also_ HATTIE, _a
maid with a basket_.)

ANTHONY: What do you mean--blowing in here like this? Mrs Archer has
ordered--

HATTIE: Mr Archer has ordered breakfast served here, (_she uncovers the
basket and takes out an electric toaster_)

ANTHONY: _Breakfast_--here? _Eat_--here? Where plants grow?

HATTIE: The plants won't poison him, will they? (_at a loss to know what
to do with things, she puts the toaster under the strange vine at the
back, whose leaves lift up against the glass which has frost leaves on
the outer side_)

ANTHONY: (_snatching it away_) You--you think you can cook eggs under
the Edge Vine?

HATTIE: I guess Mr Archer's eggs are as important as a vine. I guess my
work's as important as yours.

ANTHONY: There's a million people like you--and like Mr Archer. In all
the world there is only one Edge Vine.

HATTIE: Well, maybe one's enough. It don't look like nothin', anyhow.

ANTHONY: And you've not got the wit to know that that's why it's the
Edge Vine.

HATTIE: You want to look out, Anthony. You talk nutty. Everybody says
so.

ANTHONY: Miss Claire don't say so.

HATTIE: No, because she's--

ANTHONY: You talk too much!

(_Door opens, admitting_ HARRY; _after looking around for the best place
to eat breakfast, moves a box of earth from the table_.)

HARRY: Just give me a hand, will you, Hattie?

(_They bring it to the open space and he and_ HATTIE _arrange breakfast
things_, HATTIE _with triumphant glances at the distressed_ ANTHONY)

ANTHONY: (_deciding he must act_) Mr Archer, this is not the place to
eat breakfast!

HARRY: Dead wrong, old boy. The place that has heat is the place to eat
breakfast. (_to_ HATTIE) Tell the other gentlemen--I heard Mr Demming
up, and Mr Edgeworthy, if he appears, that as long as it is such a
pleasant morning, we're having breakfast outside. To the conservatory
for coffee.

(HATTIE _giggles, is leaving_.)

And let's see, have we got everything? (_takes the one shaker, shakes a
little pepper on his hand. Looks in vain for the other shaker_) And tell
Mr Demming to bring the salt.

ANTHONY: But Miss Claire will be very angry.

HARRY: I am very angry. Did I choose to eat my breakfast at the other
end of a blizzard?

ANTHONY: (_an exclamation of horror at the thermometer_) The temperature
is falling. I must report. (_he punches the buzzer, takes up the phone_)
Miss Claire? It is Anthony. A terrible thing has happened. Mr
Archer--what? Yes, a terrible thing.--Yes, it is about Mr
Archer.--No--no, not dead. But here. He is here. Yes, he is well, he
seems well, but he is eating his breakfast. Yes, he is having breakfast
served out here--for himself, and the other gentlemen are to come
too.--Well, he seemed to be annoyed because the heat had been turned off
from the house. But the door keeps opening--this stormy wind blowing
right over the plants. The temperature has already fallen.--Yes, yes. I
thought you would want to come.

(ANTHONY _opens the trap-door and goes below_. HARRY _looks
disapprovingly down into this openness at his feet, returns to his
breakfast_. ANTHONY _comes up, bearing a box_.)

HARRY: (_turning his face away_) Phew! What a smell.

ANTHONY: Yes. Fertilizer has to smell.

HARRY: Well, it doesn't have to smell up my breakfast!

ANTHONY: (_with a patient sense of order_) The smell belongs here. (_he
and the smell go to the inner room_)

(_The outer door opens just enough to admit_ CLAIRE--_is quickly closed.
With_ CLAIRE _in a room another kind of aliveness is there_.)

CLAIRE: What are you doing here?

HARRY: Getting breakfast. (_all the while doing so_)

CLAIRE: I'll not have you in my place!

HARRY: If you take all the heat then you have to take me.

CLAIRE: I'll show you how I have to take you. (_with her hands begins
scooping upon him the soil_ ANTHONY _has prepared_)

HARRY: (_jumping up, laughing, pinning down her arms, putting his arms
around her_) Claire--be decent. What harm do I do here?

CLAIRE: You pull down the temperature.

HARRY: Not after I'm in.

CLAIRE: And you told Tom and Dick to come and make it uneven.

HARRY: Tom and Dick are our guests. We can't eat where it's warm and
leave them to eat where it's cold.

CLAIRE: I don't see why not.

HARRY: You only see what you want to see.

CLAIRE: That's not true. I wish it were. No; no, I don't either. (_she
is disturbed--that troubled thing which rises from within, from deep,
and takes_ CLAIRE. _She turns to the Edge Vine, examines. Regretfully
to_ ANTHONY, _who has come in with a plant_) It's turning back, isn't
it?

ANTHONY: Can you be sure yet, Miss Claire?

CLAIRE: Oh yes--it's had its chance. It doesn't want to be--what hasn't
been.

HARRY: (_who has turned at this note in her voice. Speaks kindly_) Don't
take it so seriously, Claire. (CLAIRE _laughs_)

CLAIRE: No, I suppose not. But it _does_ matter--and why should I
pretend it doesn't, just because I've failed with it?

HARRY: Well, I don't want to see it get you--it's not important enough
for that.

CLAIRE: (_in her brooding way_) Anything is important enough for
that--if it's important at all. (_to the vine_) I thought you were out,
but you're--going back home.

ANTHONY: But you're doing it this time, Miss Claire. When Breath of Life
opens--and we see its heart--

(CLAIRE _looks toward the inner room. Because of intervening plants they
do not see what is seen from the front--a plant like caught motion, and
of a greater transparency than plants have had. Its leaves, like waves
that curl, close around a heart that is not seen. This plant stands by
itself in what, because of the arrangement of things about it, is a
hidden place. But nothing is between it and the light_.)

CLAIRE: Yes, if the heart has (_a little laugh_) held its own, then
Breath of Life is alive in its otherness. But Edge Vine is running back
to what it broke out of.

HARRY: Come, have some coffee, Claire.

(ANTHONY _returns to the inner room, the outer door opens_. DICK _is
hurled in_.)

CLAIRE: (_going to the door, as he gasps for breath before closing it_)
How dare you make my temperature uneven! (_she shuts the door and leans
against it_)

DICK: Is that what I do?

(_A laugh, a look between them, which is held into significance_.)

HARRY: (_who is not facing them_) Where's the salt?

DICK: Oh, I fell down in the snow. I must have left the salt where I
fell. I'll go back and look for it.

CLAIRE: And change the temperature? We don't need salt.

HARRY: You don't need salt, Claire. But we eat eggs.

CLAIRE: I must tell you I don't like the idea of any food being eaten
here, where things have their own way to go. Please eat as little as
possible, and as quickly.

HARRY: A hostess calculated to put one at one's ease.

CLAIRE: (_with no ill-nature_) I care nothing about your ease. Or about
Dick's ease.

DICK: And no doubt that's what makes you so fascinating a hostess.

CLAIRE: Was I a fascinating hostess last night, Dick? (_softly sings_)
'Oh, night of love--' (_from the Barcorole of 'Tales of Hoffman'_)

HARRY: We've got to have salt.

(_He starts for the door._ CLAIRE _slips in ahead of him, locks it,
takes the key. He marches off, right_.)

CLAIRE: (_calling after him_) That end's always locked.

DICK: Claire darling, I wish you wouldn't say those startling things.
You do get away with it, but I confess it gives me a shock--and really,
it's unwise.

CLAIRE: Haven't you learned that the best place to hide is in the truth?
(_as_ HARRY _returns_) Why won't you believe me, Harry, when I tell you
the truth--about doors being locked?

HARRY: Claire, it's selfish of you to keep us from eating salt just
because you don't eat salt.

CLAIRE: (_with one of her swift changes_) Oh, Harry! Try your egg
without salt. Please--please try it without salt! (_an intensity which
seems all out of proportion to the subject_)

HARRY: An egg demands salt.

CLAIRE: 'An egg demands salt.' Do you know, Harry, why you are such an
unseasoned person? 'An egg demands salt.'

HARRY: Well, it doesn't always get it.

CLAIRE: But your spirit gets no lift from the salt withheld.

HARRY: Not an inch of lift. (_going back to his breakfast_)

CLAIRE: And pleased--so pleased with itself, for getting no lift. Sure,
it is just the right kind of spirit--because it gets no lift. (_more
brightly_) But, Dick, you must have tried your egg without salt.

DICK: I'll try it now. (_he goes to the breakfast table_)

CLAIRE: You must have tried and tried things. Isn't that the way one
leaves the normal and gets into the byways of perversion?

HARRY: Claire.

DICK: (_pushing back his egg_) If so, I prefer to wait for the salt.

HARRY: Claire, there is a _limit_.

CLAIRE: Precisely what I had in mind. To perversion too there is a
limit. So--the fortifications are unassailable. If one ever does get
out, I suppose it is--quite unexpectedly, and perhaps--a bit terribly.

HARRY: Get out where?

CLAIRE: (_with a bright smile_) Where you, darling, will never go.

HARRY: And from which you, darling, had better beat it.

CLAIRE: I wish I could. (_to herself_) No--no I don't either

(_Again this troubled thing turns her to the plant. She puts by
themselves the two which_ ANTHONY _covered with paper bags. Is about to
remove these papers_. HARRY _strikes a match_.)

CLAIRE: (_turning sharply_) You can't smoke here. The plants are not
used to it.

HARRY: Then I should think smoking would be just the thing for them.

CLAIRE: There is design.

HARRY: (_to_ DICK) Am I supposed to be answered? I never can be quite
sure at what moment I am answered.

(_They both watch_ CLAIRE, _who has uncovered the plants and is looking
intently into the flowers. From a drawer she takes some tools. Very
carefully gives the rose pollen to an unfamiliar flower--rather
wistfully unfamiliar, which stands above on a small shelf near the door
of the inner room_.)

DICK: What is this you're doing, Claire?

CLAIRE: Pollenizing. Crossing for fragrance.

DICK: It's all rather mysterious, isn't it?

HARRY: And Claire doesn't make it any less so.

CLAIRE: Can I make life any less mysterious?

HARRY: If you know what you are doing, why can't you tell Dick?

DICK: Never mind. After all, why should I be told? (_he turns away_)

(_At that she wants to tell him. Helpless, as one who cannot get across
a stream, starts uncertainly_.)

CLAIRE: I want to give fragrance to Breath of Life (_faces the room
beyond the wall of glass_)--the flower I have created that is outside
what flowers have been. What has gone out should bring fragrance from
what it has left. But no definite fragrance, no limiting enclosing
thing. I call the fragrance I am trying to create Reminiscence. (_her
hand on the pot of the wistful little flower she has just given pollen_)
Reminiscent of the rose, the violet, arbutus--but a new thing--itself.
Breath of Life may be lonely out in what hasn't been. Perhaps some day I
can give it reminiscence.

DICK: I see, Claire.

CLAIRE: I wonder if you do.

HARRY: Now, Claire, you're going to be gay to-day, aren't you? These are
Tom's last couple of days with us.

CLAIRE: That doesn't make me especially gay.

HARRY: Well, you want him to remember you as yourself, don't you?

CLAIRE: I would like him to. Oh--I would like him to!

HARRY: Then be amusing. That's really you, isn't it, Dick?

DICK: Not quite all of her--I should say.

CLAIRE: (_gaily_) Careful, Dick. Aren't you indiscreet? Harry will be
suspecting that I am your latest strumpet.

HARRY: Claire! What language you use! A person knowing you only by
certain moments could never be made to believe you are a refined woman.

CLAIRE: True, isn't it, Dick?

HARRY: It would be a good deal of a lark to let them listen in at
times--then tell them that here is the flower of New England!

CLAIRE: Well, if this is the flower of New England, then the half has
never been told.

DICK: About New England?

CLAIRE: I thought I meant that. Perhaps I meant--about me.

HARRY: (_going on with his own entertainment_) Explain that this is what
came of the men who made the laws that made New England, that here is
the flower of those gentlemen of culture who--

DICK: Moulded the American mind!

CLAIRE: Oh! (_it is pain_)

HARRY: Now what's the matter?

CLAIRE: I want to get away from them!

HARRY: Rest easy, little one--you do.

CLAIRE: I'm not so sure--that I do. But it can be done! We need not be
held in forms moulded for us. There is outness--and otherness.

HARRY: Now, Claire--I didn't mean to start anything serious.

CLAIRE: No; you never mean to do that. I want to break it up! I tell
you, I want to break it up! If it were all in pieces, we'd be (_a little
laugh_) shocked to aliveness (_to_ DICK)--wouldn't we? There would be
strange new comings together--mad new comings together, and we would
know what it is to be born, and then we might know--that we are. Smash
it. (_her hand is near an egg_) As you'd smash an egg. (_she pushes the
egg over the edge of the table and leans over and looks, as over a
precipice_)

HARRY: (_with a sigh_) Well, all you've smashed is the egg, and all that
amounts to is that now Tom gets no egg. So that's that.

CLAIRE: (_with difficulty, drawing herself back from the fascination of
the precipice_) You think I can't smash anything? You think life can't
break up, and go outside what it was? Because you've gone dead in the
form in which you found yourself, you think that's all there is to the
whole adventure? And that is called sanity. And made a virtue--to lock
one in. You never worked with things that grow! Things that take a
sporting chance--go mad--that sanity mayn't lock them in--from life
untouched--from life--that waits, (_she turns toward the inner room_)
Breath of Life. (_she goes in there_)

HARRY: Oh, I wish Claire wouldn't be strange like that, (_helplessly_)
What is it? What's the matter?

DICK: It's merely the excess of a particularly rich temperament.

HARRY: But it's growing on her. I sometimes wonder if all this
(_indicating the place around him_) is a good thing. It would be all
right if she'd just do what she did in the beginning--make the flowers
as good as possible of their kind. That's an awfully nice thing for a
woman to do--raise flowers. But there's something about this--changing
things into other things--putting things together and making queer new
things--this--

DICK: Creating?

HARRY: Give it any name you want it to have--it's unsettling for a
woman. They say Claire's a shark at it, but what's the good of it, if it
gets her? What is the good of it, anyway? Suppose we can produce new
things. Lord--look at the one ones we've got. (_looks outside; turns
back_) Heavens, what a noise the wind does make around this place, (_but
now it is not all the wind, but_ TOM EDGEWORTHY, _who is trying to let
himself in at the locked door, their backs are to him_) I want my _egg_.
You can't eat an egg without salt. I must say I don't get Claire lately.
I'd like to have Charlie Emmons see her--he's fixed up a lot of people
shot to pieces in the war. Claire needs something to tone her nerves
_up_. You think it would irritate her?

DICK: She'd probably get no little entertainment out of it.

HARRY: Yes, dog-gone her, she would. (TOM _now takes more heroic
measures to make himself heard at the door_) Funny--how the wind can
fool you. Now by not looking around I could imagine--why, I could
imagine anything. Funny, isn't it, about imagination? And Claire says I
haven't got any!

DICK: It would make an amusing drawing--what the wind makes you think is
there. (_first makes forms with his hands, then levelling the soil
prepared by_ ANTHONY, _traces lines with his finger_) Yes, really--quite
jolly.

(TOM, _after a moment of peering in at them, smiles, goes away._)

HARRY: You're another one of the queer ducks, aren't you? Come now--give
me the dirt. Have you queer ones really got anything--or do you just put
it over on us that you have?

DICK: (_smiles, draws on_) Not saying anything, eh? Well, I guess you're
wise there. If you keep mum--how are we going to prove there's nothing
there?

DICK: I don't keep mum. I draw.

HARRY: Lines that don't make anything--how can they tell you anything?
Well, all I ask is, don't make Claire queer. Claire's a first water good
sport--really, so don't encourage her to be queer.

DICK: Trouble is, if you're queer enough to be amusing, it might--open
the door to queerness.

HARRY: Now don't say things like that to Claire.

DICK: I don't have to.

HARRY: Then _you_ think she's queer, do you? Queer as you are, you think
she's queer. I would like to have Dr Emmons come out. (_after a moment
of silently watching_ DICK, _who is having a good time with his
drawing_) You know, frankly, I doubt if you're a good influence for
Claire. (DICK _lifts his head ever so slightly_) Oh, I don't worry a bit
about--things a husband might worry about. I suppose an intellectual
woman--and for all Claire's hate of her ancestors, she's got the bug
herself. Why, she has times of boring into things until she doesn't know
you're there. What do you think I caught her doing the other day?
Reading Latin. Well--a woman that reads Latin needn't worry a husband
much.

DICK: They said a good deal in Latin.

HARRY: But I was saying, I suppose a woman who lives a good deal in her
mind never does have much--well, what you might call passion, (_uses the
word as if it shouldn't be used. Brows knitted, is looking ahead, does
not see_ DICK_'s face. Turning to him with a laugh_) I suppose you know
pretty much all there is to know about women?

DICK: Perhaps one or two details have escaped me.

HARRY: Well, for that matter, you might know all there is to know about
women and not know much about Claire. But now about (_does not want to
say passion again_)--oh, feeling--Claire has a certain--well, a
certain--

DICK: Irony?

HARRY: Which is really more--more--

DICK: More fetching, perhaps.

HARRY: Yes! Than the thing itself. But of course--you wouldn't have much
of a thing that you have irony about.

DICK: Oh--wouldn't you! I mean--a man might.

HARRY: I'd like to talk to Edgeworth about Claire. But it's not easy to
talk to Tom about Claire--or to Claire about Tom.

DICK: (_alert_) They're very old friends, aren't they?

HARRY: Why--yes, they are. Though they've not been together much of late
years, Edgeworthy always going to the ends of the earth to--meditate
about something. I must say I don't get it. If you have a place--that's
the place for you to be. And he did have a place--best kind of family
connections, and it was a very good business his father left him.
Publishing business--in good shape, too, when old Edgeworthy died. I
wouldn't call Tom a great success in life--but Claire does listen to
what he says.

DICK: Yes, I've noticed that.

HARRY: So, I'd like to get him to tell her to quit this queer business
of making things grow that never grew before.

DICK: But are you sure that's what he would tell her? Isn't he in the
same business himself?

HARRY: Why, he doesn't raise anything.

(TOM _is again at the door_.)

DICK: Anyway, I think he might have some idea that we can't very well
reach each other.

HARRY: Damn nonsense. What have we got intelligence for?

DICK: To let each other alone, I suppose. Only we haven't enough to do
it.

(TOM _is now knocking on the door with a revolver_. HARRY _half turns,
decides to be too intelligent to turn_.)

HARRY: Don't tell me I'm getting nerves. But the way some of you people
talk is enough to make even an aviator jumpy. Can't reach each other!
Then we're fools. If I'm here and you're there, why can't we reach each
other?

DICK: Because I am I and you are you.

HARRY: No wonder your drawing's queer. A man who can't reach another
man--(TOM _here reaches them by pointing the revolver in the air and
firing it_. DICK _digs his hand into the dirt_. HARRY _jumps to one
side, fearfully looks around_. TOM, _with a pleased smile to see he at
last has their attention, moves the handle to indicate he would be glad
to come in_.)

HARRY: Why--it's Tom! What the--? (_going to the door_) He's locked out.
And Claire's got the key. (_goes to the inner door, tries it_) And she's
locked in! (_trying to see her in there_) Claire! Claire! (_returning to
the outer door_) Claire's got the key--and I can't get to Claire.
(_makes a futile attempt at getting the door open without a key, goes
back to inner door--peers, pounds_) Claire! Are you there? Didn't you
hear the revolver? Has she gone down the cellar? (_tries the trap-door_)
Bolted! Well, I love the way she keeps people locked out!

DICK: And in.

HARRY: (_getting angry, shouting at the trap-door_) Didn't you hear the
revolver? (_going to_ TOM) Awfully sorry, old man, but--(_in
astonishment to_ DICK) He can't hear me. (TOM, _knocking with the
revolver to get their attention, makes a gesture of inquiry with it_)
No--no--no! Is he asking if he shall shoot himself? (_shaking his head
violently_) Oh, no--no! Um--_um_!

DICK: Hardly seems a man would shoot himself because he can't get to his
breakfast.

HARRY: I'm coming to believe people would do anything! (TOM _is making
another inquiry with the revolver_) No! not here. Don't shoot yourself.
(_trying hard to get the word through_) _Shoot_ yourself. I mean--don't,
(_petulantly to_ DICK) It's ridiculous that you can't make a man
understand you when he looks right at you like that. (_turning back to_
TOM) Read my lips. Lips. I'm saying--Oh damn. Where is Claire? All
right--I'll explain it with motions. We wanted the salt ... (_going over
it to himself_) and Claire wouldn't let us go out for it on account of
the temperature. Salt. Temperature. (_takes his egg-cup to the door,
violent motion of shaking in salt_) But--no (_shakes his head_) No salt.
(_he then takes the thermometer, a flower pot, holds them up to_ TOM) On
account of the temperature. Tem-per-a--(TOM _is not getting it_)
Oh--well, what can you do when a man don't _get_ a thing? (TOM _seems to
be preparing the revolver for action_. HARRY _pounds on the inner door_)
Claire! Do you want Tom to shoot himself?

(_As he looks in there, the trap-door lifts, and CLAIRE comes half-way
up._)

CLAIRE: Why, what is Tom doing out there, with a revolver?

HARRY: He is about to shoot himself because you've locked him out from
his breakfast.

CLAIRE: He must know more interesting ways of destroying himself.
(_bowing to_ TOM) Good morning. (_from his side of the glass_ TOM _bows
and smiles back_) Isn't it strange--our being in here--and he being out
there?

HARRY: Claire, have you no ideas of hospitality? Let him in!

CLAIRE: In? Perhaps that isn't hospitality.

HARRY: Well, whatever hospitality is, what is out there is snow--and
wind--and our guest--who was asked to come here for his breakfast. To
think a man has to _such_ things.

CLAIRE: I'm going to let him in. Though I like his looks out there.
(_she takes the key from her pocket_)

HARRY: Thank heaven the door's coming open. Somebody can go for salt,
and we can have our eggs.

CLAIRE: And open the door again--to let the salt in? No. If you insist
on salt, tell Tom now to go back and get it. It's a stormy morning and
there'll be just one opening of the door.

HARRY: How can we tell him what we can't make him hear? And why does he
think we're holding this conversation instead of letting him in?

CLAIRE: It would be interesting to know. I wonder if he'll tell us?

HARRY: Claire! Is this any time to wonder anything?

CLAIRE: Give up the idea of salt for your egg and I'll let him in.
(_holds up the key to _TOM_ to indicate that for her part she is quite
ready to let him in_)

HARRY: I want my egg!

CLAIRE: Then ask him to bring the salt. It's quite simple.

(HARRY _goes through another pantomime with the egg-cup and the missing
shaker._ CLAIRE, _still standing half-way down cellar, sneezes._ HARRY,
_growing all the while less amiable, explains with thermometer and
flower-pot that there can only be one opening of the door._ TOM _looks
interested, but unenlightened. But suddenly he smiles, nods, vanishes._)

HARRY: Well, thank heaven (_exhausted_) that's over.

CLAIRE: (_sitting on the top step_) It was all so queer. He locked out
on his side of the door. You locked in on yours. Looking right at each
other and--

HARRY: (_in mockery_) And me trying to tell him to kindly fetch the
salt!

CLAIRE: Yes.

HARRY: (_to_ DICK) Well, I didn't do so bad a job, did I? Quite an idea,
explaining our situation with the thermometer and the flower-pot. That
was really an apology for keeping him out there. Heaven knows--some
explanation was in order, (_he is watching, and sees_ TOM _coming_) Now
there he is, Claire. And probably pretty well fed up with the weather.

(CLAIRE _goes to the door, stops before it. She and_ TOM _look at each
other through the glass. Then she lets him in._)

TOM: And now I am in. For a time it seemed I was not to be in. But after
I got the idea that you were keeping me out there to see if I could get
the idea--it would be too humiliating for a wall of glass to keep one
from understanding. (_taking it from his pocket_) So there's the other
thermometer. Where do you want it? (CLAIRE _takes it_)

CLAIRE: And where's the pepper?

TOM: (_putting it on the table_) And here's the pepper.

HARRY: Pepper?

TOM: When Claire sneezed I knew--

CLAIRE: Yes, I knew if I sneezed you would bring the pepper.

TOM: Funny how one always remembers the salt, but the pepper gets
overlooked in preparations. And what is an egg without pepper?

HARRY: (_nastily_) There's your egg, Edgeworth. (_pointing to it on the
floor_) Claire decided it would be a good idea to smash everything, so
she began with your egg.

TOM: (_looking at his egg_) The idea of smashing everything is really
more intriguing than an egg.

HARRY: Nice that you feel that way about it.

CLAIRE: (_giving_ TOM _his coffee_) You want to hear something amusing?
I married Harry because I thought he would smash something.

HARRY: Well, that was an error in judgment.

CLAIRE: I'm such a naive trusting person (HARRY _laughs_--CLAIRE _gives
him a surprised look, continues simply_). Such a guileless soul that I
thought flying would do something to a man. But it didn't take us out.
We just took it in.

TOM: It's only our own spirit can take us out.

HARRY: Whatever you mean by out.

CLAIRE: (_after looking intently at_ TOM, _and considering it_) But our
own spirit is not something on the loose. Mine isn't. It has something
to do with what I do. To fly. To be free in air. To look from above on
the world of all my days. Be where man has never been! Yes--wouldn't you
think the spirit could get the idea? The earth grows smaller. I am
leaving. What are they--running around down there? Why do they run
around down there? Houses? Houses are funny lines and down-going
slants--houses are vanishing slants. I am alone. Can I breathe this
rarer air? Shall I go higher? Shall I go too high? I am loose. I am out.
But no; man flew, and returned to earth the man who left it.

HARRY: And jolly well likely not to have returned at all if he'd had
those flighty notions while operating a machine.

CLAIRE: Oh, Harry! (_not lightly asked_) Can't you see it would be
better not to have returned than to return the man who left it?

HARRY: I have some regard for human life.

CLAIRE: Why, no--I am the one who has the regard for human life, (_more
lightly_) That was why I swiftly divorced my stick-in-the-mud artist and
married--the man of flight. But I merely passed from a stick-in-the-mud
artist to a--

DICK: Stick-in-the-air aviator?

HARRY: Speaking of your stick-in-the-mud artist, as you romantically
call your first blunder, isn't his daughter--and yours--due here to-day?

CLAIRE: I knew something was disturbing me. Elizabeth. A daughter is
being delivered unto me this morning. I have a feeling it will be more
painful than the original delivery. She has been, as they quaintly say,
educated; prepared for her place in life.

HARRY: And fortunately Claire has a sister who is willing to give her
young niece that place.

CLAIRE: The idea of giving anyone a place in life.

HARRY: Yes! The very idea!

CLAIRE: Yes! (_as often, the mocking thing gives true expression to what
lies sombrely in her_) The war. There was another gorgeous chance.

HARRY: Chance for what? I call you, Claire. I ask you to say what you
mean.

CLAIRE: I don't know--precisely. If I did--there'd be no use saying it.
(_at_ HARRY's _impatient exclamation she turns to_ TOM)

TOM: (_nodding_) The only thing left worth saying is the thing we can't
say.

HARRY: Help!

CLAIRE: Yes. But the war didn't help. Oh, it was a stunning chance! But
fast as we could--scuttled right back to the trim little thing we'd been
shocked out of.

HARRY: You bet we did--showing our good sense.

CLAIRE: Showing our incapacity--for madness.

HARRY: Oh, come now, Claire--snap out of it. You're not really trying to
say that capacity for madness is a good thing to have?

CLAIRE: (_in simple surprise_) Why yes, of course.

DICK: But I should say the war did leave enough madness to give you a
gleam of hope.

CLAIRE: Not the madness that--breaks through. And it was--a stunning
chance! Mankind massed to kill. We have failed. We are through. We will
destroy. Break this up--it can't go farther. In the air above--in the
sea below--it is to kill! All we had thought we were--we aren't. We were
shut in with what wasn't so. Is there one ounce of energy has not gone
to this killing? Is there one love not torn in two? Throw it in! Now?
Ready? Break up. Push. Harder. Break up. And then--and then--But we
didn't say--'And then--' The spirit didn't take the tip.

HARRY: Claire! Come now (_looking to the others for help_)--let's talk
of something else.

CLAIRE: Plants do it. The big leap--it's called. Explode their
species--because something in them knows they've gone as far as they can
go. Something in them knows they're shut in to just that. So--go
mad--that life may not be prisoned. Break themselves up into crazy
things--into lesser things, and from the pieces--may come one sliver of
life with vitality to find the future. How beautiful. How brave.

TOM: (_as if he would call her from too far--or would let her know he
has gone with her_) Claire!

CLAIRE: (_her eyes turning to him_) Why should we mind lying under the
earth? We who have no such initiative--no proud madness? Why think it
death to lie under life so flexible--so ruthless and ever-renewing?

ANTHONY: (_from the door of the inner room_) Miss Claire?

CLAIRE: (_after an instant_) Yes? (_she goes with him, as they disappear
his voice heard_,'show me now ... want those violets bedded')

HARRY: Oh, this has got to _stop_. I've got to--put a stop to it some
way. Why, Claire used to be the best sport a man ever played around
with. I can't stand it to see her getting hysterical.

TOM: That was not hysterical.

HARRY: What was it then--I want to know?

TOM: It was--a look.

HARRY: Oh, I might have known I'd get no help from either of you. Even
you, Edgeworthy--much as she thinks of you--and fine sort as I've no
doubt you are, you're doing Claire no good--encouraging her in these
queer ways.

TOM: I couldn't change Claire if I would.

HARRY: And wouldn't if you could.

TOM: No. But you don't have to worry about me. I'm going away in a day
or two. And I shall not be back.

HARRY: Trouble with you is, it makes little difference whether you're
here or away. Just the fact of your existence does encourage Claire in
this--this way she's going.

TOM: (_with a smile_) But you wouldn't ask me to go so far as to stop my
existence? Though I would do that for Claire--if it were the way to help
her.

HARRY: By Jove, you say that as if you meant it.

TOM: Do you think I would say anything about Claire I didn't mean?

HARRY: You think a lot of her, don't you? (TOM _nods_) You don't mean
(_a laugh letting him say it_)--that you're--in love with Claire!

TOM: In love? Oh, that's much too easy. Certainly I do love Claire.

HARRY: Well, you're a cool one!

TOM: Let her be herself. Can't you see she's troubled?

HARRY: Well, what is there to trouble Claire? Now I ask you. It seems to
me she has everything.

TOM: She's left so--open. Too exposed, (_as_ HARRY _moves impatiently_)
Please don't be annoyed with me. I'm doing my best at saying it. You see
Claire isn't hardened into one of those forms she talks about. She's
too--aware. Always pulled toward what could be--tormented by the lost
adventure.

HARRY: Well, there's danger in all that. Of course there's danger.

TOM: But you can't help that.

HARRY: Claire was the best fun a woman could be. Is yet--at times.

TOM: Let her be--at times. As much as she can and will. She does need
that. Don't keep her from it by making her feel you're holding her in
it. Above all, don't try to stop what she's doing here. If she can do it
with plants, perhaps she won't have to do it with herself.

HARRY: Do what?

TOM: (_low, after a pause_) Break up what exists. Open the door to
destruction in the hope of--a door on the far side of destruction.

HARRY: Well, you give me the willies, (_moves around in irritation,
troubled. To_ ANTHONY, _who is passing through with a sprayer_) Anthony,
have any arrangements been made about Miss Claire's daughter?

ANTHONY: I haven't heard of any arrangements.

HARRY: Well, she'll have to have some heat in her room. We can't all
live out here.

ANTHONY: Indeed you cannot. It is not good for the plants.

HARRY: I'm going where I can _smoke_, (_goes out_)

DICK: (_lightly, but fascinated by the idea_) You think there is a door
on the--hinter side of destruction?

TOM: How can one tell--where a door may be? One thing I want to say to
you--for it is about you. (_regards_ DICK _and not with his usual
impersonal contemplation_) I don't think Claire should have--any door
closed to her. (_pause_) You know, I think, what I mean. And perhaps you
can guess how it hurts to say it. Whether it's--mere escape
within,--rather shameful escape within, or the wild hope of that door
through, it's--(_suddenly all human_) Be good to her! (_after a
difficult moment, smiles_) Going away for ever is like dying, so one can
say things.

DICK: Why do you do it--go away for ever?

TOM: I haven't succeeded here.

DICK: But you've tried the going away before.

TOM: Never knowing I would not come back. So that wasn't going away. My
hope is that this will be like looking at life from outside life.

DICK: But then you'll not be in it.

TOM: I haven't been able to look at it while in it.

DICK: Isn't it more important to be in it than to look at it?

TOM: Not what I mean by look.

DICK: It's hard for me to conceive of--loving Claire and going away from
her for ever.

TOM: Perhaps it's harder to do than to conceive of.

DICK: Then why do it?

TOM: It's my only way of keeping her.

DICK: I'm afraid I'm like Harry now. I don't get you.

TOM: I suppose not. Your way is different, (_with calm, with
sadness--not with malice_) But I shall have her longer. And from deeper.

DICK: I know that.

TOM: Though I miss much. Much, (_the buzzer_. TOM _looks around to see
if anyone is coming to answer it, then goes to the phone_) Yes?... I'll
see if I can get her. (_to_ DICK) Claire's daughter has arrived,
(_looking in the inner room--returns to phone_) I don't see her.
(_catching a glimpse of ANTHONY off right_) Oh, Anthony, where's Miss
Claire? Her daughter has arrived.

ANTHONY: She's working at something very important in her experiments.

DICK: But isn't her daughter one of her experiments?

ANTHONY: (_after a baffled moment_) Her daughter is finished.

TOM: (_at the phone_) Sorry--but I can't get to Claire. She appears to
have gone below. (ANTHONY _closes the trap-door_) I did speak to
Anthony, but he says that Claire is working at one of her experiments
and that her daughter is finished. I don't know how to make her hear--I
took the revolver back to the house. Anyway you will remember Claire
doesn't answer the revolver. I hate to reach Claire when she doesn't
want to be reached. Why, of course--a daughter is very important, but
oh, that's too bad. (_putting down the receiver_) He says the girl's
feelings are hurt. Isn't that annoying? (_gingerly pounds on the
trap-door. Then with the other hand. Waits_. ANTHONY _has a gentle smile
for the gentle tapping--nods approval as,_ TOM _returns to the phone_)
She doesn't come up. Indeed I did--with both fists--Sorry.

ANTHONY: Please, you won't try again to disturb Miss Claire, will you?

DICK: Her daughter is here, Anthony. She hasn't seen her daughter for a
year.

ANTHONY: Well, if she got along without a mother for a year--(_goes back
to his work_)

DICK: (_smiling after_ ANTHONY) Plants are queer. Perhaps it's _safer_
to do it with pencil (_regards_ TOM)--or with pure thought. Things that
grow in the earth--

TOM: (_nodding_) I suppose because we grew in the earth.

DICK: I'm always shocked to find myself in agreement with Harry, but I
too am worried about Claire--and this, (_looking at the plants_)

TOM: It's her best chance.

DICK: Don't you hate to go away to India--for ever--leaving Claire's
future uncertain?

TOM: You're cruel now. And you knew that you were being cruel.

DICK: Yes, I like the lines of your face when you suffer.

TOM: The lines of yours when you're causing suffering--I don't like
them.

DICK: Perhaps that's your limitation.

TOM: I grant you it may be. (_They are silent_) I had an odd feeling
that you and I sat here once before, long ago, and that we were plants.
And you were a beautiful plant, and I--I was a very ugly plant. I
confess it surprised me--finding myself so ugly a plant.

(_A young girl is seen outside_. HARRY _gets the door open for her and
brings_ ELIZABETH _in_.)

HARRY: There's heat here. And two of your mother's friends. Mr
Demming--Richard Demming--the artist--and I think you and Mr Edgeworthy
are old friends.

(ELIZABETH _comes forward. She is the creditable young American--well
built, poised, 'cultivated', so sound an expression of the usual as to
be able to meet the world with assurance--assurance which training has
made rather graceful. She is about seventeen--and mature. You feel solid
things behind her_.)

TOM: I knew you when you were a baby. You used to kick a great deal
then.

ELIZABETH: (_laughing, with ease_) And scream, I haven't a doubt. But
I've stopped that. One does, doesn't one? And it was you who gave me the
idol.

TOM: Proselytizing, I'm afraid.

ELIZABETH: I beg--? Oh--_yes (laughing cordially_) I _see. (she
doesn't_) I dressed the idol up in my doll's clothes. They fitted
perfectly--the idol was just the size of my doll Ailine. But mother
didn't like the idol that way, and tore the clothes getting them off.
(_to_ HARRY, _after looking around_) Is mother here?

HARRY: (_crossly_) Yes, she's here. Of course she's here. And she must
know you're here, (_after looking in the inner room he goes to the
trap-door and makes a great noise_)

ELIZABETH: Oh--_please_. Really--it doesn't make the least difference.

HARRY: Well, all I can say is, your manners are better than your
mother's.

ELIZABETH: But you see I don't do anything interesting, so I have to
have good manners. (_lightly, but leaving the impression there is a
certain superiority in not doing anything interesting. Turning cordially
to_ DICK) My father was an artist.

DICK: Yes, I know.

ELIZABETH: He was a portrait painter. Do you do portraits?

DICK: Well, not the kind people buy.

ELIZABETH: They bought father's.

DICK: Yes, I know he did that kind.

HARRY: (_still irritated_) Why, you don't do portraits.

DICK: I did one of you the other day. You thought it was a milk-can.

ELIZABETH: (_laughing delightedly_) No? Not really? Did you think--How
could you think--(_as_ HARRY _does not join the laugh_) Oh, I beg your
pardon. I--Does mother grow beautiful roses now?

HARRY: No, she does not.

(_The trap-door begins to move_. CLAIRE's _head appears_.)

ELIZABETH: Mother! It's been so long--(_she tries to overcome the
difficulties and embrace her mother_)

CLAIRE: (_protecting a box she has_) Careful, Elizabeth. We mustn't
upset the lice.

ELIZABETH: (_retreating_) Lice? (_but quickly equal even to lice_)
Oh--yes. You take it--them--off plants, don't you?

CLAIRE: I'm putting them on certain plants.

ELIZABETH: (_weakly_) Oh, I thought you took them off.

CLAIRE: (_calling_) Anthony! (_he comes_) The lice. (_he takes them from
her_) (CLAIRE, _who has not fully ascended, looks at_ ELIZABETH,
_hesitates, then suddenly starts back down the stairs_.)

HARRY: (_outraged_) Claire! (_slowly she re-ascends--sits on the top
step. After a long pause in which he has waited for_ CLAIRE _to open a
conversation with her daughter_.) Well, and what have you been doing at
school all this time?

ELIZABETH: Oh--studying.

CLAIRE: Studying what?

ELIZABETH: Why--the things one studies, mother.

CLAIRE: Oh! The things one studies. (_looks down cellar again_)

DICK: (_after another wait_) And what have you been doing besides
studying?

ELIZABETH: Oh--the things one does. Tennis and skating and dancing and--

CLAIRE: The things one does.

ELIZABETH: Yes. All the things. The--the things one does. Though I
haven't been in school these last few months, you know. Miss Lane took
us to Europe.

TOM: And how did you like Europe?

ELIZABETH: (_capably_) Oh, I thought it was awfully amusing. All the
girls were quite mad about Europe. Of course, I'm glad I'm an American.

CLAIRE: Why?

ELIZABETH: (_laughing_) Why--mother! Of course one is glad one is an
American. All the girls--

CLAIRE: (_turning away_) O--h! (_a moan under the breath_)

ELIZABETH: Why, mother--aren't you well?

HARRY: Your mother has been working pretty hard at all this.

ELIZABETH: Oh, I do so want to know all about it? Perhaps I can help
you! I think it's just awfully amusing that you're doing something. One
does nowadays, doesn't one?--if you know what I mean. It was the war,
wasn't it, made it the thing to do something?

DICK: (_slyly_) And you thought, Claire, that the war was lost.

ELIZABETH: The _war? Lost!_ (_her capable laugh_) Fancy our losing a
war! Miss Lane says we should give _thanks_. She says we should each do
some expressive thing--you know what I mean? And that this is the
_keynote_ of the age. Of course, one's own kind of thing. Like
mother--growing flowers.

CLAIRE: You think that is one's own kind of thing?

ELIZABETH: Why, of course I do, mother. And so does Miss Lane. All the
girls--

CLAIRE: (_shaking her head as if to get something out_) S-hoo.

ELIZABETH: What is it, mother?

CLAIRE: A fly shut up in my ear--'All the girls!'

ELIZABETH: (_laughing_) Mother was always so amusing. So _different_--if
you know what I mean. Vacations I've lived mostly with Aunt Adelaide,
you know.

CLAIRE: My sister who is fitted to rear children.

HARRY: Well, somebody has to do it.

ELIZABETH: And I do love Aunt Adelaide, but I think its going to be
awfully amusing to be around with mother now--and help her with her
work. Help do some useful beautiful thing.

CLAIRE: I am not doing any useful beautiful thing.

ELIZABETH: Oh, but you are, mother. Of course you are. Miss Lane says
so. She says it is your splendid heritage gives you this impulse to do a
beautiful thing for the race. She says you are doing in your way what
the great teachers and preachers behind you did in theirs.

CLAIRE: (_who is good for little more_) Well, all I can say is, Miss
Lane is stung.

ELIZABETH: Mother! What a thing to say of Miss Lane. (_from this
slipping into more of a little girl manner_) Oh, she gave me a spiel one
day about living up to the men I come from.

(CLAIRE _turns and regards her daughter_.)

CLAIRE: You'll do it, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH: Well, I don't know. Quite a job, I'll say. Of course, I'd
have to do it in my way. I'm not going to teach or preach or be a stuffy
person. But now that--(_she here becomes the product of a superior
school_) values have shifted and such sensitive new things have been
liberated in the world--

CLAIRE: (_low_) Don't use those words.

ELIZABETH: Why--why not?

CLAIRE: Because you don't know what they mean.

ELIZABETH: Why, of course I know what they mean!

CLAIRE: (_turning away_) You're--stepping on the plants.

HARRY: (_hastily_) Your mother has been working awfully hard at all
this.

ELIZABETH: Well, now that I'm here you'll let me help you, won't you,
mother?

CLAIRE: (_trying for control_) You needn't--bother.

ELIZABETH: But I _want_ to. Help add to the wealth of the world.

CLAIRE: Will you please get it out of your head that I am adding to the
wealth of the world!

ELIZABETH: But, mother--of course you are. To produce a new and better
kind of plant--

CLAIRE: They may be new. I don't give a damn whether they're better.

ELIZABETH: But--but what are they then?

CLAIRE: (_as if choked out of her_) They're different.

ELIZABETH: (_thinks a minute, then laughs triumphantly_) But what's the
use of making them different if they aren't better?

HARRY: A good square question, Claire. Why don't you answer it?

CLAIRE: I don't have to answer it.

HARRY: Why not give the girl a fair show? You never have, you know.
Since she's interested, why not tell her what it is you're doing?

CLAIRE: She is not interested.

ELIZABETH: But I am, mother. Indeed I am. I do want awfully to
understand what you are doing, and help you.

CLAIRE: You can't help me, Elizabeth.

HARRY: Why not let her try?

CLAIRE: Why do you ask me to do that? This is my own thing. Why do you
make me feel I should--(_goes to_ ELIZABETH) I will be good to you,
Elizabeth. We'll go around together. I haven't done it, but--you'll see.
We'll do gay things. I'll have a lot of beaus around for you. Anything
else. Not--this is--Not this.

ELIZABETH: As you like, mother, of course. I just would have been so
glad to--to share the thing that interests you. (_hurt borne with good
breeding and a smile_)

HARRY: Claire! (_which says, 'How can you?'_)

CLAIRE: (_who is looking at_ ELIZABETH) Yes, I will try.

TOM: I don't think so. As Claire says--anything else.

ELIZABETH: Why, of course--I don't at all want to intrude.

HARRY: It'll do Claire good to take someone in. To get down to brass
tacks and actually say what she's driving at.

CLAIRE: Oh--_Harry_. But yes--I will try. (_does try, but no words come.
Laughs_) When you come to say it it's not--One would rather not nail it
to a cross of words--(_laughs again_) with brass tacks.

HARRY: (_affectionately_) But I want to see you put things into words,
Claire, and realize just where you are.

CLAIRE: (_oddly_) You think that's a--good idea?

ELIZABETH: (_in her manner of holding the world capably in her hands_)
Now let's talk of something else. I hadn't the least idea of making
mother feel badly.

CLAIRE: (_desperately_) No, we'll go on. Though I don't know--where
we'll end. I can't answer for that. These plants--(_beginning
flounderingly_) Perhaps they are less beautiful--less sound--than the
plants from which they diverged. But they have found--otherness,
(_laughs a little shrilly_) If you know--what I mean.

TOM: Claire--stop this! (_To_ HARRY) This is wrong.

CLAIRE: (_excitedly_) No; I'm going on. They have been shocked out of
what they were--into something they were not; they've broken from the
forms in which they found themselves. They are alien. Outside. That's
it, outside; if you--know what I mean.

ELIZABETH: (_not shocked from what she is_) But of course, the object of
it all is to make them better plants. Otherwise, what would be the sense
of doing it?

CLAIRE: (_not reached by_ ELIZABETH) Out there--(_giving it with her
hands_) lies all that's not been touched--lies life that waits. Back
here--the old pattern, done again, again and again. So long done it
doesn't even know itself for a pattern--in immensity. But this--has
invaded. Crept a little way into--what wasn't. Strange lines in life
unused. And when you make a pattern new you know a pattern's made with
life. And then you know that anything may be--if only you know how to
reach it. (_this has taken form, not easily, but with great struggle
between feeling and words_)

HARRY: (_cordially_) Now I begin to get you, Claire. I never knew before
why you called it the Edge Vine.

CLAIRE: I should destroy the Edge Vine. It isn't--over the edge. It's
running, back to--'all the girls'. It's a little afraid of Miss Lane,
(_looking sombrely at it_) You are out, but you are not alive.

ELIZABETH: Why, it looks all right, mother.

CLAIRE: Didn't carry life with it from the life it left. Dick--you know
what I mean. At least you ought to. (_her ruthless way of not letting
anyone's feelings stand in the way of truth_) Then destroy it for me!
It's hard to do it--with the hands that made it.

DICK: But what's the point in destroying it, Claire?

CLAIRE: (_impatiently_) I've told you. It cannot create.

DICK: But you say you can go on producing it, and it's interesting in
form.

CLAIRE: And you think I'll stop with that? Be shut in--with different
life--that can't creep on? (_after trying to put destroying hands upon
it_) It's hard to--get past what we've done. Our own dead things--block
the way.

TOM: But you're doing it this next time, Claire, (_nodding to the inner
room_.) In there!

CLAIRE: (_turning to that room_) I'm not sure.

TOM: But you told me Breath of Life has already produced itself. Doesn't
that show it has brought life from the life it left?

CLAIRE: But timidly, rather--wistfully. A little homesick. If it is less
sure this time, then it is going back to--Miss Lane. But if the
pattern's clearer now, then it has made friends of life that waits. I'll
know to-morrow.

ELIZABETH: You know, something tells me this is _wrong_.

CLAIRE: The hymn-singing ancestors are tuning up.

ELIZABETH: I don't know what you mean by that, mother but--

CLAIRE: But we will now sing, 'Nearer, my God, to Thee: Nearer to--'

ELIZABETH: (_laughingly breaking in_) Well, I don't care. Of course you
can make fun at me, but something does tell me this is wrong. To do
what--what--

DICK: What God did?

ELIZABETH: Well--yes. Unless you do it to make them better--to _do_ it
just to do it--that doesn't seem right to me.

CLAIRE: (_roughly_) 'Right to you!' And that's all you know of
adventure--and of anguish. Do you know it is you--world of which you're
so true a flower--makes me have to leave? You're there to hold the door
shut! Because you're young and of a gayer world, you think I can't _see_
them--those old men? Do you know why you're so sure of yourself? Because
you can't _feel_. Can't feel--the limitless--out there--a sea just over
the hill. I will not stay with you! (_buries her hands in the earth
around the Edge Vine. But suddenly steps back from it as she had from_
ELIZABETH) And I will not stay with _you! (grasps it as we grasp what we
would kill, is trying to pull it up. They all step forward in horror.
ANTHONY is drawn in by this harm to the plant_)

ANTHONY: Miss Claire! Miss Claire! The work of years!

CLAIRE: May only make a prison! (_struggling with_ HARRY, _who is trying
to stop her_) You think I too will die on the edge? (_she has thrown him
away, is now struggling with the vine_) Why did I make you? To get past
you! (_as she twists it_) Oh yes, I know you have thorns! The Edge Vine
should have thorns, (_with a long tremendous pull for deep roots, she
has it up. As she holds the torn roots_) Oh, I have loved you so! You
took me where I hadn't been.

ELIZABETH: (_who has been looking on with a certain practical horror_)
Well, I'd say it would be better not to go there!

CLAIRE: Now I know what you are for! (_flings her arm back to strike_
ELIZABETH _with the Edge Vine_)

HARRY: (_wresting it from her_) Claire! Are you mad?

CLAIRE: No, I'm not mad. I'm--too sane! (_pointing to_ ELIZABETH--_and
the words come from mighty roots_) To think that object ever moved my
belly and sucked my breast! (ELIZABETH _hides her face as if struck_)

HARRY: (_going to_ ELIZABETH, _turning to_ CLAIRE) This is atrocious!
You're cruel.

(_He leads_ ELIZABETH _to the door and out. After an irresolute moment
in which he looks from_ CLAIRE _to_ TOM, DICK _follows._ ANTHONY _cannot
bear to go. He stoops to take the Edge Vine from the floor._ CLAIRE's
_gesture stops him. He goes into the inner room._)

CLAIRE: (_kicking the Edge Vine out of her way, drawing deep breaths,
smiling_) O-h. How good I feel! Light! (_a movement as if she could
fly_) Read me something, Tom dear. Or say something pleasant--about God.
But be very careful what you say about him! I have a feeling--he's not
far off.

CURTAIN



ACT II


_Late afternoon of the following day._ CLAIRE _is alone in the tower--a
tower which is thought to be round but does not complete the circle. The
back is curved, then jagged lines break from that, and the front is a
queer bulging window--in a curve that leans. The whole structure is as
if given a twist by some terrific force--like something wrong. It is
lighted by an old-fashioned watchman's lantern hanging from the ceiling;
the innumerable pricks and slits in the metal throw a marvellous pattern
on the curved wall--like some masonry that hasn't been.

There are no windows at back, and there is no door save an opening in
the floor. The delicately distorted rail of a spiral staircase winds up
from below._ CLAIRE _is seen through the huge ominous window as if shut
into the tower. She is lying on a seat at the back looking at a book of
drawings. To do this she has left the door of her lantern a little
open--and her own face is clearly seen.

A door is heard opening below; laughing voices,_ CLAIRE _listens, not
pleased._

ADELAIDE: (_voice coming up_) Dear--dear, why do they make such
twisting steps.

HARRY: Take your time, most up now. (HARRY_'s head appears, he looks
back._) Making it all right?

ADELAIDE: I can't tell yet. (_laughingly_) No, I don't think so.

HARRY: (_reaching back a hand for her_) The last lap--is the bad lap.
(ADELAIDE _is up, and occupied with getting her breath._)

HARRY: Since you wouldn't come down, Claire, we thought we'd come up.

ADELAIDE: (_as_ CLAIRE _does not greet her_) I'm sorry to intrude, but I
have to see you, Claire. There are things to be arranged. (CLAIRE
_volunteering nothing about arrangements,_ ADELAIDE _surveys the tower.
An unsympathetic eye goes from the curves to the lines which diverge.
Then she looks from the window_) Well, at least you have a view.

HARRY: This is the first time you've been up here?

ADELAIDE: Yes, in the five years you've had the house I was never asked
up here before.

CLAIRE: (_amiably enough_) You weren't asked up here now.

ADELAIDE: Harry asked me.

CLAIRE: It isn't Harry's tower. But never mind--since you don't like
it--it's all right.

ADELAIDE: (_her eyes again rebuking the irregularities of the tower_)
No, I confess I do not care for it. A round tower should go on being
round.

HARRY: Claire calls this the thwarted tower. She bought the house
because of it. (_going over and sitting by her, his hand on her ankle_)
Didn't you, old girl? She says she'd like to have known the architect.

ADELAIDE: Probably a tiresome person too incompetent to make a perfect
tower.

CLAIRE: Well, now he's disposed of, what next?

ADELAIDE: (_sitting down in a manner of capably opening a conference_)
Next, Elizabeth, and you, Claire. Just what is the matter with
Elizabeth?

CLAIRE: (_whose voice is cool, even, as if herself is not really engaged
by this_) Nothing is the matter with her. She is a tower that is a
tower.

ADELAIDE: Well, is that anything against her?

CLAIRE: She's just like one of her father's portraits. They never
interested me. Nor does she. (_looks at the drawings which do interest
her_)

ADELAIDE: A mother cannot cast off her own child simply because she does
not interest her!

CLAIRE: (_an instant raising cool eyes to_ ADELAIDE) Why can't she?

ADELAIDE: Because it would be monstrous!

CLAIRE: And why can't she be monstrous--if she has to be?

ADELAIDE: You don't have to be. That's where I'm out of patience with
you Claire. You are really a particularly intelligent, competent person,
and it's time for you to call a halt to this nonsense and be the woman
you were meant to be!

CLAIRE: (_holding the book up to see another way_) What inside dope have
you on what I was meant to be?

ADELAIDE: I know what you came from.

CLAIRE: Well, isn't it about time somebody got loose from that? What I
came from made you, so--

ADELAIDE: (_stiffly_) I see.

CLAIRE: So--you being such a tower of strength, why need I too be
imprisoned in what I came from?

ADELAIDE: It isn't being imprisoned. Right there is where you make your
mistake, Claire. Who's in a tower--in an unsuccessful tower? Not I. I go
about in the world--free, busy, happy. Among people, I have no time to
think of myself.

CLAIRE: No.

ADELAIDE: No. My family. The things that interest them; from morning
till night it's--

CLAIRE: Yes, I know you have a large family, Adelaide; five and
Elizabeth makes six.

ADELAIDE: We'll speak of Elizabeth later. But if you would just get out
of yourself and enter into other people's lives--

CLAIRE: Then I would become just like you. And we should all be just
alike in order to assure one another that we're all just right. But
since you and Harry and Elizabeth and ten million other people bolster
each other up, why do you especially need me?

ADELAIDE: (_not unkindly_) We don't need you as much as you need us.

CLAIRE: (_a wry face_) I never liked what I needed.

HARRY: I am convinced I am the worst thing in the world for you, Claire.

CLAIRE: (_with a smile for his tactics, but shaking her head_) I'm
afraid you're not. I don't know--perhaps you are.

ADELAIDE: Well, what is it you want, Claire?

CLAIRE: (_simply_) You wouldn't know if I told you.

ADELAIDE: That's rather arrogant.

HARRY: Yes, take a chance, Claire. I have been known to get an idea--and
Adelaide quite frequently gets one.

CLAIRE: (_the first resentment she has shown_) You two feel very
superior, don't you?

ADELAIDE: I don't think we are the ones who are feeling superior.

CLAIRE: Oh, yes, you are. Very superior to what you think is my feeling
of superiority, comparing my--isolation with your 'heart of humanity'.
Soon we will speak of the beauty of common experiences, of the--Oh, I
could say it all before we come to it.

HARRY: Adelaide came up here to help you, Claire.

CLAIRE: Adelaide came up here to lock me in. Well, she can't do it.

ADELAIDE: (_gently_) But can't you see that one may do that to one's
self?

CLAIRE: (_thinks of this, looks suddenly tired--then smiles_) Well, at
least I've changed the keys.

HARRY: 'Locked in.' Bunkum. Get that our of your head, Claire. Who's
locked in? Nobody that I know of, we're all free Americans. Free as air.

ADELAIDE: I wish you'd come and hear one of Mr Morley's sermons, Claire.
You're very old-fashioned if you think sermons are what they used to be.

CLAIRE: (_with interest_) And do they still sing 'Nearer, my God, to
Thee'?

ADELAIDE: They do, and a noble old hymn it is. It would do you no harm
at all to sing it.

CLAIRE: (_eagerly_) Sing it to me, Adelaide. I'd like to hear you sing
it.

ADELAIDE: It would be sacrilege to sing it to you in this mood.

CLAIRE: (_falling back_) Oh, I don't know. I'm not so sure God would
agree with you. That would be one on you, wouldn't it?

ADELAIDE: It's easy to feel one's self set apart!

CLAIRE: No, it isn't.

ADELAIDE: (_beginning anew_) It's a new age, Claire. Spiritual values--

CLAIRE: Spiritual values! (_in her brooding way_) So you have pulled
that up. (_with cunning_) Don't think I don't know what it is you do.

ADELAIDE: Well, what do I do? I'm sure I have no idea what you're
talking about.

HARRY: (_affectionately, as_ CLAIRE _is looking with intentness at what
he does not see_) What does she do, Claire?

CLAIRE: It's rather clever, what she does. Snatching the phrase--(_a
movement as if pulling something up_) standing it up between her
and--the life that's there. And by saying it enough--'We have life! We
have life! We have life!' Very good come-back at one who would really
be--'Just so! _We_ are that. Right this way, please--'That, I suppose is
what we mean by needing each other. All join in the chorus, 'This is it!
This is it! This is it!' And anyone who won't join is to be--visited by
relatives, (_regarding_ ADELAIDE _with curiosity_) Do you really think
that anything is going on in you?

ADELAIDE: (_stiffly_) I am not one to hold myself up as a perfect
example of what the human race may be.

CLAIRE: (_brightly_) Well, that's good.

HARRY: Claire!

CLAIRE: Humility's a _real_ thing--not just a fine name for laziness.

HARRY: Well, Lord A'mighty, you can't call Adelaide lazy.

CLAIRE: She stays in one place because she hasn't the energy to go
anywhere else.

ADELAIDE: (_as if the last word in absurdity has been said) I_ haven't
energy?

CLAIRE: (_mildly_) You haven't any energy at all, Adelaide. That's why
you keep so busy.

ADELAIDE: _Well_--Claire's nerves are in a worse state than I had
realized.

CLAIRE: So perhaps we'd better look at Blake's drawings, (_takes up the
book_)

ADELAIDE: It would be all right for me to look at Blake's drawings.
You'd better look at the Sistine Madonna, (_affectionately, after she
has watched_ CLAIRE_'s face a moment_) What is it, Claire? Why do you
shut yourself out from us?

CLAIRE: I told you. Because I do not want to be shut in with you.

ADELAIDE: All of this is not very pleasant for Harry.

HARRY: I want Claire to be gay.

CLAIRE: Funny--you should want that, (_speaks unwillingly, a curious,
wistful unwillingness_) Did you ever say a preposterous thing, then go
trailing after the thing you've said and find it wasn't so preposterous?
Here is the circle we are in._describes a big circle_) Being gay. It
shoots little darts through the circle, and a minute later--gaiety all
gone, and you looking through that little hole the gaiety left.

ADELAIDE: (_going to her, as she is still looking through that little
hole_) Claire, dear, I wish I could make you feel how much I care for
you. (_simply, with real feeling_) You can call me all the names you
like--dull, commonplace, lazy--that is a new idea, I confess, but the
rest of our family's gone now, and the love that used to be there
between us all--the only place for it now is between you and me. You
were so much loved, Claire. You oughtn't to try and get away from a
world in which you are so much loved, (_to_ HARRY) Mother--father--all
of us, always loved Claire best. We always loved Claire's queer gaiety.
Now you've got to hand it to us for that, as the children say.

CLAIRE: (_moved, but eyes shining with a queer bright loneliness_) But
never one of you--once--looked with me through the little pricks the
gaiety made--never one of you--once, looked with me at the queer light
that came in through the pricks.

ADELAIDE: And can't you see, dear, that it's better for us we didn't?
And that it would be better for you now if you would just resolutely
look somewhere else? You must see yourself that you haven't the poise of
people who are held--well, within the circle, if you choose to put it
that way. There's something about being in that main body, having one's
roots in the big common experiences, gives a calm which you have missed.
That's _why_ I want you to take Elizabeth, forget yourself, and--

CLAIRE: I do want calm. But mine would have to be a calm I--worked my
way to. A calm all prepared for me--would stink.

ADELAIDE: (_less sympathetically_) I know you have to be yourself,
Claire. But I don't admit you have a right to hurt other people.

HARRY: I think Claire and I had better take a nice long trip.

ADELAIDE: Now why don't you?

CLAIRE: I am taking a trip.

ADELAIDE: Well, Harry isn't, and he'd like to go and wants you to go
with him. Go to Paris and get yourself some awfully good-looking
clothes--and have one grand fling at the gay world. You really love
that, Claire, and you've been awfully dull lately. I think that's the
whole trouble.

HARRY: I think so too.

ADELAIDE: This sober business of growing plants--

CLAIRE: Not sober--it's mad.

ADELAIDE: All the more reason for quitting it.

CLAIRE: But madness that is the only chance for sanity.

ADELAIDE: Come, come, now--let's not juggle words.

CLAIRE: (_springing up_) How dare you say that to me, Adelaide. You who
are such a liar and thief and whore with words!

ADELAIDE: (_facing her, furious_) How _dare_ you--

HARRY: Of course not, Claire. You have the most preposterous way of
using words.

CLAIRE: I respect words.

ADELAIDE: Well, you'll please respect me enough not to dare use certain
words to me!

CLAIRE: Yes, I do dare. I'm tired of what you do--you and all of you.
Life--experience--values--calm--sensitive words which raise their heads
as indications. And you _pull them up_--to decorate your stagnant little
minds--and think that makes you--And because you have pulled that word
from the life that grew it you won't let one who's honest, and aware,
and troubled, try to reach through to--to what she doesn't know is
there, (_she is moved, excited, as if a cruel thing has been done_) Why
did you come here?

ADELAIDE: To try and help you. But I begin to fear I can't do it. It's
pretty egotistical to claim that what so many people are, is wrong.

(_CLAIRE, after looking intently at ADELAIDE, slowly, smiling a little,
describes a circle. With deftly used hands makes a quick vicious break
in the circle which is there in the air._)

HARRY: (_going to her, taking her hands_) It's getting close to
dinner-time. You were thinking of something else, Claire, when I told
you Charlie Emmons was coming to dinner to-night, (_answering her look_)
Sure--he is a neurologist, and I want him to see you. I'm perfectly
honest with you--cards all on the table, you know that. I'm hoping if
you like him--and he's the best scout in the world, that he can help
you. (_talking hurriedly against the stillness which follows her look
from him to ADELAIDE, where she sees between them an 'understanding'
about her_) Sure you need help, Claire. Your nerves are a little on the
blink--from all you've been doing. No use making a mystery of it--or a
tragedy. Emmons is a cracker-jack, and naturally I want you to get a
move on yourself and be happy again.

CLAIRE: (_who has gone over to the window_) And this neurologist can
make me happy?

HARRY: Can make you well--and then you'll be happy.

ADELAIDE: (_in the voice of now fixing it all up_) And I had just an
idea about Elizabeth. Instead of working with mere plants, why not think
of Elizabeth as a plant and--

(CLAIRE, _who has been looking out of the window, now throws open one of
the panes that swings out--or seems to, and calls down in great
excitement._)

CLAIRE: Tom! _Tom!_ Quick! Up here! I'm in trouble!

HARRY: (_going to the window_) That's a rotten thing to do, Claire!
You've frightened him.

CLAIRE: Yes, how fast he can run. He was deep in thought and I stabbed
right through.

HARRY: Well, he'll be none too pleased when he gets up here and finds
there was no reason for the stabbing!

(_They wait for his footsteps,_ HARRY _annoyed,_ ADELAIDE _offended, but
stealing worried looks at_ CLAIRE, _who is looking fixedly at the place
in the floor where_ TOM _will appear.--Running footsteps._)

TOM: (_his voice getting there before he does_) Yes,
Claire--yes--yes--(_as his head appears_) What is it?

CLAIRE: (_at once presenting him and answering his question_) My sister.

TOM: (_gasping_) Oh,--why--is that all? I mean--how do you do? Pardon, I
(_panting_) came up--rather hurriedly.

HARRY: If you want to slap Claire, Tom, I for one have no objection.

CLAIRE: Adelaide has the most interesting idea, Tom. She proposes that I
take Elizabeth and roll her in the gutter. Just let her lie there until
she breaks up into--

ADELAIDE: _Claire!_ I don't see how--even in fun--pretty vulgar fun--you
can speak in those terms of a pure young girl. I'm beginning to think I
had better take Elizabeth.

CLAIRE: Oh, I've thought that all along.

ADELAIDE: And I'm also beginning to suspect that--oddity may be just a
way of shifting responsibility.

CLAIRE: (_cordially interested in this possibility_) Now you know--that
might be.

ADELAIDE: A mother who does not love her own child! You are an unnatural
woman, Claire.

CLAIRE: Well, at least it saves me from being a natural one.

ADELAIDE: Oh--I know, you think you have a great deal! But let me tell
you, you've missed a great deal! You've never known the faintest
stirring of a mother's love.

CLAIRE: That's not true.

HARRY: No. Claire loved our boy.

CLAIRE: I'm glad he didn't live.

HARRY: (_low_) Claire!

CLAIRE: I loved him. Why should I want him to live?

HARRY: Come, dear, I'm sorry I spoke of him--when you're not feeling
well.

CLAIRE: I'm feeling all right. _Just_ because I'm seeing something, it
doesn't mean I'm sick.

HARRY: Well, let's go down now. About dinner-time. I shouldn't wonder if
Emmons were here. (_as ADELAIDE is starting down stairs_) Coming,
Claire?

CLAIRE: No.

HARRY: But it's time to go down for dinner.

CLAIRE: I'm not hungry.

HARRY: But we have a guest. Two guests--Adelaide's staying too.

CLAIRE: Then you're not alone.

HARRY: But I invited Dr Emmons to meet you.

CLAIRE: (_her smile flashing_) Tell him I am violent to-night.

HARRY: Dearest--how can you joke about such things!

CLAIRE: So you do think they're serious?

HARRY: (_irritated_) No, I do not! But I want you to come down for
dinner!

ADELAIDE: Come, come, Claire; you know quite well this is not the sort
of thing one does.

CLAIRE: Why go on saying one doesn't, when you are seeing one does (_to_
TOM) Will you stay with me a while? I want to purify the tower.

(ADELAIDE _begins to disappear_)

HARRY: Fine time to choose for a _tête-à-tête. (as he is leaving_) I'd
think more of you, Edgeworthy, if you refused to humour Claire in her
ill-breeding.

ADELAIDE: (_her severe voice coming from below_) It is not what she was
taught.

CLAIRE: No, it's not what I was taught, (_laughing rather timidly_) And
perhaps you'd rather have your dinner?

TOM: No.

CLAIRE: We'll get something later. I want to talk to you. (_but she does
not--laughs_) Absurd that I should feel bashful with you. Why am I so
awkward with words when I go to talk to you?

TOM: The words know they're not needed.

CLAIRE: No, they're not needed. There's something underneath--an open
way--down below the way that words can go. (_rather desperately_) It is
there, isn't it?

TOM: Oh, yes, it is there.

CLAIRE: Then why do we never--go it?

TOM: If we went it, it would not be there.

CLAIRE: Is that true? How terrible, if that is true.

TOM: Not terrible, wonderful--that it should--of itself--be there.

CLAIRE: (_with the simplicity that can say anything_) I want to go it,
Tom, I'm lonely up on top here. Is it that I have more faith than you,
or is it only that I'm greedier? You see, you don't know (_her reckless
laugh_) what you're missing. You don't know how I could love you.

TOM: Don't, Claire; that isn't--how it is--between you and me.

CLAIRE: But why can't it be--every way--between you and me?

TOM: Because we'd lose--the open way. (_the quality of his denial shows
how strong is his feeling for her_) With anyone else--not with you.

CLAIRE: But you are the only one I want. The only one--all of me wants.

TOM: I know; but that's the way it is.

CLAIRE: You're cruel.

TOM: Oh, Claire, I'm trying so hard to--save it for us. Isn't it our
beauty and our safeguard that underneath our separate lives, no matter
where we may be, with what other, there is this open way between us?
That's so much more than anything we could bring to being.

CLAIRE: Perhaps. But--it's different with me. I'm not--all spirit.

TOM: (_his hand on her_) Dear!

CLAIRE: No, don't touch me--since (_moving_) you're going away
to-morrow? (_he nods_) For--always? (_his head just moves assent_) India
is just another country. But there are undiscovered countries.

TOM: Yes, but we are so feeble we have to reach our country through the
actual country lying nearest. Don't you do that yourself, Claire? Reach
your country through the plants' country?

CLAIRE: My country? You mean--outside?

TOM: No, I don't think it that way.

CLAIRE: Oh, yes, you do.

TOM: Your country is the inside, Claire. The innermost. You are
disturbed because you lie too close upon the heart of life.

CLAIRE: (_restlessly_) I don't know; you can think it one way--or
another. No way says it, and that's good--at least it's not shut up in
saying. (_she is looking at her enclosing hand, as if something is shut
up there_)

TOM: But also, you know, things may be freed by expression. Come from
the unrealized into the fabric of life.

CLAIRE: Yes, but why does the fabric of life have to--freeze into its
pattern? It should (_doing it with her hands_) flow, (_then turning like
an unsatisfied child to him_) But I wanted to talk to you.

TOM: You are talking to me. Tell me about your flower that never was
before--your Breath of Life.

CLAIRE: I'll know to-morrow. You'll not go until I know?

TOM: I'll try to stay.

CLAIRE: It seems to me, if it has--then I have, integrity in--(_smiles,
it is as if the smile lets her say it_) otherness. I don't want to die
on the edge!

TOM: Not you!

CLAIRE: Many do. It's what makes them too smug in allness--those dead
things on the edge, died, distorted--trying to get through. Oh--don't
think I don't see--The Edge Vine! (_a pause, then swiftly_) Do you know
what I mean? Or do you think I'm just a fool, or crazy?

TOM: I think I know what you mean, and you know I don't think you are a
fool, or crazy.

CLAIRE: Stabbed to awareness--no matter where it takes you, isn't that
more than a safe place to stay? (_telling him very simply despite the
pattern of pain in her voice_) Anguish may be a thread--making patterns
that haven't been. A thread--blue and burning.

TOM: (_to take her from what even he fears for her_) But you were
telling me about the flower you breathed to life. What is your Breath of
Life?

CLAIRE: (_an instant playing_) It's a secret. A secret?--it's a trick.
Distilled from the most fragile flowers there are. It's only
air--pausing--playing; except, far in, one stab of red, its quivering
heart--that asks a question. But here's the trick--I bred the air-form
to strength. The strength shut up behind us I've sent--far out.
(_troubled_) I'll know tomorrow. And I have another gift for Breath of
Life; some day--though days of work lie in between--some day I'll give
it reminiscence. Fragrance that is--no one thing in here
but--reminiscent. (_silence, she raises wet eyes_) We need the haunting
beauty from the life we've left. I need that, (_he takes her hands and
breathes her name_) Let me reach my country with you. I'm not a plant.
After all, they don't--accept me. Who does--accept me? Will you?

TOM: My dear--dear, dear, Claire--you move me so! You stand alone in a
clearness that breaks my heart, (_her hands move up his arms. He takes
them to hold them from where they would go--though he can hardly do it_)
But you've asked what you yourself could answer best. We'd only stop in
the country where everyone stops.

CLAIRE: We might come through--to radiance.

TOM: Radiance is an enclosing place.

CLAIRE: Perhaps radiance lighting forms undreamed, (_her reckless
laugh_) I'd be willing to--take a chance, I'd rather lose than never
know.

TOM: No, Claire. Knowing you from underneath, I know you couldn't bear
to lose.

CLAIRE: Wouldn't men say you were a fool!

TOM: They would.

CLAIRE: And perhaps you are. (_he smiles a little_) I feel so desperate,
because if only I could--show you what I am, you might see I could have
without losing. But I'm a stammering thing with you.

TOM: You do show me what you are.

CLAIRE: I've known a few moments that were life. Why don't they help me
now? One was in the air. I was up with Harry--flying--high. It was about
four months before David was born--the doctor was furious--pregnant
women are supposed to keep to earth. We were going fast--I _was_
flying--I had left the earth. And then--within me, movement, for the
first time--stirred to life far in air--movement within. The man unborn,
he too, would fly. And so--I always loved him. He was movement--and
wonder. In his short life were many flights. I never told anyone about
the last one. His little bed was by the window--he wasn't four years
old. It was night, but him not asleep. He saw the morning star--you
know--the morning star. Brighter--stranger--reminiscent--and a promise.
He pointed--'Mother', he asked me, 'what is there--beyond the stars?' A
baby, a sick baby--the morning star. Next night--the finger that pointed
was--(_suddenly bites her own finger_) But, yes, I am glad. He would
always have tried to move and too much would hold him. Wonder would
die--and he'd laugh at soaring, (_looking down, sidewise_) Though I
liked his voice. So I wish you'd stay near me--for I like your voice,
too.

TOM: Claire! That's (_choked_) almost too much.

CLAIRE: (_one of her swift glances--canny, almost practical_) Well, I'm
glad if it is. How can I make it more? (_but what she sees brings its
own change_) I know what it is you're afraid of. It's because I have so
much--yes, why shouldn't I say it?--passion. You feel that in me, don't
you? You think it would swamp everything. But that isn't all there is to
me.

TOM: Oh, I know it! My dearest--why, it's because I know it! You think I
_am_--a fool?

CLAIRE: It's a thing that's--sometimes more than I am. And yet I--I am
more than it is.

TOM: I know. I know about you.

CLAIRE: I don't know that you do. Perhaps if you really knew about
me--you wouldn't go away.

TOM: You're making me suffer, Claire.

CLAIRE: I know I am. I want to. Why shouldn't you suffer? (_now seeing
it more clearly than she has ever seen it_) You know what I think about
you? You're afraid of suffering, and so you stop this side--in what you
persuade yourself is suffering, (_waits, then sends it straight_) You
know--how it is--with me and Dick? (_as she sees him suffer_) Oh, no, I
don't want to hurt you! Let it be you! I'll teach you--you needn't scorn
it. It's rather wonderful.

TOM: Stop that, Claire! That isn't you.

CLAIRE: Why are you so afraid--of letting me be low--if that is low? You
see--(_cannily_) I believe in beauty. I have the faith that can be bad
as well as good. And you know why I have the faith? Because
sometimes--from my lowest moments--beauty has opened as the sea. From a
cave I saw immensity.

  My love, you're going away--
  Let me tell you how it is with me;
  I want to touch you--somehow touch you once before I die--
  Let me tell you how it is with me.
    I do not want to work,
  I want to be;
  Do not want to make a rose or make a poem--
  Want to lie upon the earth and know. (_closes her eyes_)
  Stop doing that!--words going into patterns;
  They do it sometimes when I let come what's there.
  Thoughts take pattern--then the pattern is the thing.
  But let me tell you how it is with me. (_it flows again_)
  All that I do or say--it is to what it comes from,
  A drop lifted from the sea.
  I want to lie upon the earth and know.
  But--scratch a little dirt and make a flower;
  Scratch a bit of brain--something like a poem. (_covering her face_)
  Stop _doing_ that. Help me stop doing that!

TOM: (_and from the place where she had carried him_)
  Don't talk at all. Lie still and know--
  And know that I am knowing.

CLAIRE:
  Yes; but we are so weak we have to talk;
  To talk--to touch.
  Why can't I rest in knowing I would give my life to reach you?
  That has--all there is.
  But I must--put my timid hands upon you,
  Do something about infinity.
  Oh, let what will flow into us,
  And fill us full--and leave us still.
  Wring me dry,
  And let me fill again with life more pure.
  To know--to feel,
  And do nothing with what I feel and know--
  That's being good. That's nearer God.

(_drenched in the feeling that has flowed through her--but
surprised--helpless_) Why, I said your thing, didn't I? Opened my life
to bring you to me, and what came--is what sends you away.

TOM: No! What came is what holds us together. What came is what saves us
from ever going apart. (_brokenly_) My beautiful one. You--you brave
flower of all our knowing.

CLAIRE: I am not a flower. I am too torn. If you have anything--help me.
Breathe, Breathe the healing oneness, and let me know in calm. (_with a
sob his head rests upon her_)

CLAIRE: (_her hands on his head, but looking far_) Beauty--you pure one
thing. Breathe--Let me know in calm. Then--trouble me, trouble me, for
other moments--in farther calm. (_slow, motionless, barely articulate_)

TOM: (_as she does not move he lifts his head. And even as he looks at
her, she does not move, nor look at him_) Claire--(_his hand out to her,
a little afraid_) You went away from me then. You are away from me now.

CLAIRE: Yes, and I could go on. But I will come back, (_it is hard to
do. She brings much with her_) That, too, I will give you--my
by-myself-ness. That's the uttermost I can give. I never thought--to try
to give it. But let us do it--the great sacrilege! Yes! (_excited, she
rises; she has his hands, and bring him up beside her_) Let us take the
mad chance! Perhaps it's the only way to save--what's there. How do we
know? How can we know? Risk. Risk everything. From all that flows into
us, let it rise! All that we never thought to use to make a moment--let
it flow into what could be! Bring all into life between us--or send all
down to death! Oh, do you know what I am doing? Risk, risk everything,
why are you so afraid to lose? What holds you from me? Test all. Let it
live or let it die. It is our chance--our chance to bear--what's there.
My dear one--I will love you so. With all of me. I am not afraid
now--of--all of me. Be generous. Be unafraid. Life is for _life_--though
it cuts us from the farthest life. How can I make you know that's true?
All that we're open to--(_hesitates, shudders_) But yes--I will, I will
risk the life that waits. Perhaps only he who gives his
loneliness--shall find. You never keep by holding, (_gesture of giving_)
To the uttermost. And it is gone--or it is there. You do not know
and--that makes the moment--(_music has begun--a phonograph downstairs;
they do not heed it_) Just as I would cut my wrists--(_holding them
out_) Yes, perhaps this lesser thing will tell it--would cut my wrists
and let the blood flow out till all is gone if my last drop would
make--would make--(_looking at them fascinated_) I want to see it doing
that! Let me give my last chance for life to--

(_He snatches her--they are on the brink of their moment; now that there
are no words the phonograph from downstairs is louder. It is playing
languorously the Barcarole; they become conscious of this--they do not
want to be touched by the love song._)

CLAIRE: Don't listen. That's nothing. This isn't that, (_fearing_) I
tell you--it isn't that. Yes, I know--that's amorous--enclosing. I
know--a little place. This isn't that, (_her arms going around him--all
the lure of 'that' while she pleads against it as it comes up to them_)
We will come out--to radiance--in far places (_admitting, using_) Oh,
then let it be that! Go with it. Give up--the otherness. I will! And in
the giving up--perhaps a door--we'd never find by searching. And if it's
no more--than all have known, I only say it's worth the allness! (_her
arms wrapped round him_) My love--my love--let go your pride in
loneliness and let me give you joy!

TOM: (_drenched in her passion, but fighting_) It's _you_. (_in
anguish_) You rare thing untouched--not--not into this--not back into
this--by me--lover of your apartness.

(_She steps back. She sees he cannot. She stands there, before what she
wanted more than life, and almost had, and lost. A long moment. Then she
runs down the stairs._)

CLAIRE: (_her voice coming up_) Harry! Choke that phonograph! If you
want to be lewd--do it yourselves! You tawdry things--you cheap little
lewd cowards, (_a door heard opening below_) Harry! If you don't stop
that music, I'll kill myself.

(_far down, steps on stairs_)

HARRY: Claire, what _is_ this?

CLAIRE: Stop that phonograph or I'll--

HARRY: Why, of course I'll stop it. What--what is there to get so
excited about? Now--now just a minute, dear. It'll take a minute.

(CLAIRE _comes back upstairs, dragging steps, face ghastly. The amorous
song still comes up, and louder now that doors are open. She and_ TOM
_do not look at one another. Then, on a languorous swell the music comes
to a grating stop. They do not speak or move. Quick footsteps_--HARRY
_comes up_.)

HARRY: What in the world were you saying, Claire? Certainly you could
have asked me more quietly to turn off the Victrola. Though what harm
was it doing you--way up here? (_a sharp little sound from_ CLAIRE; _she
checks it, her hand over her mouth_. HARRY _looks from her to_ TOM)
Well, I think you two would better have had your dinner. Won't you come
down now and have some?

CLAIRE: (_only now taking her hand from her mouth_) Harry, tell him to
come up here--that insanity man. I--want to ask him something.

HARRY: 'Insanity man!' How absurd. He's a nerve specialist. There's a
vast difference.

CLAIRE: Is there? Anyway, ask him to come up here. Want to--ask him
something.

TOM: (_speaking with difficulty_) Wouldn't it be better for us to go
down there?

CLAIRE: No. So nice up here! Everybody--up here!

HARRY: (_worried_) You'll--be yourself, will you, Claire? (_She checks a
laugh, nods_.) I think he can help you.

CLAIRE: Want to ask him to--help me.

HARRY: (_as he is starting down_) He's here as a guest to-night, you
know, Claire.

CLAIRE: I suppose a guest can--help one.

TOM: (_when the silence rejects it_) Claire, you must know, it's because
it is so much, so--

CLAIRE: Be still. There isn't anything to say.

TOM: (_torn--tortured_) If it only weren't _you_!

CLAIRE: Yes,--so you said. If it weren't. I suppose I wouldn't be
so--interested! (_hears them starting up below--keeps looking at the
place where they will appear_)

(HARRY _is heard to call_, 'Coming, Dick?' _and_ DICK's _voice replies_,
'In a moment or two.' ADELAIDE _comes first_.)

ADELAIDE: (_as her head appears_) Well, these stairs should keep down
weight. You missed an awfully good dinner, Claire. And kept Mr Edgeworth
from a good dinner.

CLAIRE: Yes. We missed our dinner. (_her eyes do not leave the place
where_ DR EMMONS _will come up_)

HARRY: (_as he and_ EMMONS _appear_) Claire, this is--

CLAIRE: Yes, I know who he is. I want to ask you--

ADELAIDE: Let the poor man get his breath before you ask him anything.
(_he nods, smiles, looks at_ CLAIRE _with interest. Careful not to look
too long at her, surveys the tower_)

EMMONS: Curious place.

ADELAIDE: Yes; it lacks form, doesn't it?

CLAIRE: What do you mean? How _dare_ you?

(_It is impossible to ignore her agitation; she is backed against the
curved wall, as far as possible from them._ HARRY _looks at her in
alarm, then in resentment at_ TOM, _who takes a step nearer_ CLAIRE.)

HARRY: (_trying to be light_) Don't take it so hard, Claire.

CLAIRE: (_to_ EMMONS) It must be very interesting--helping people go
insane.

ADELAIDE: Claire! How preposterous.

EMMONS: (_easily_) I hope that's not precisely what we do.

ADELAIDE: (_with the smile of one who is going to 'cover it'._) Trust
Claire to put it in the unique and--amusing way.

CLAIRE: Amusing? You are amused? But it doesn't matter, (_to the
doctor_) I think it is very kind of you--helping people go insane. I
suppose they have all sorts of reasons for having to do it--reasons why
they can't stay sane any longer. But tell me, how do they do it? It's
not so easy to--get out. How do so many manage it?

EMMONS: I'd like immensely to have a talk with you about all this some
day.

ADELAIDE: Certainly this is not the time, Claire.

CLAIRE: The time? When you--can't go any farther--isn't that that--

ADELAIDE: (_capably taking the whole thing into matter-of-factness_)
What I think is, Claire has worked too long with plants. There's
something--not quite sound about making one thing into another thing.
What we need is unity. (_from_ CLAIRE _something like a moan_) Yes,
dear, we do need it. (_to the doctor_) I can't say that I believe in
making life over like this. I don't think the new species are worth it.
At least I don't believe in it for Claire. If one is an intense,
sensitive person--

CLAIRE: Isn't there any way to _stop_ her? Always--always smothering it
with the word for it?

EMMONS: (_soothingly_) But she can't smother it. Anything that's really
there--she can't hurt with words.

CLAIRE: (_looking at him with eyes too bright_) Then you don't see it
either, (_angry_) Yes, she can hurt it! Piling it up--always piling it
up--between us and--What there. Clogging the way--always, (_to_ EMMONS)
I want to cease to know! That's all I ask. Darken it. Darken it. If you
came to help me, strike me blind!

EMMONS: You're really all tired out, aren't you? Oh, we've got to get
you rested.

CLAIRE: They--deny it saying they have it; and he (_half looks at_
TOM_--quickly looks away_)--others, deny it--afraid of losing it. We're
in the way. Can't you see the dead stuff piled in the path?
(_Pointing._)

DICK: (_voice coming up_) Me too?

CLAIRE: (_staring at the path, hearing his voice a moment after it has
come_) Yes, Dick--you too. Why not--you too. (_after he has come up_)
What is there any more than you are?

DICK: (_embarrassed by the intensity, but laughing_) A question not at
all displeasing to me. Who can answer it?

CLAIRE: (_more and more excited_) Yes! Who can answer it? (_going to
him, in terror_) Let me go with you--and be with you--and know nothing
else!

ADELAIDE: (_gasping_) Why--!

HARRY: Claire! This is going a little too--

CLAIRE: Far? But you have to go far to--(_clinging to_ DICK) Only a
place to hide your head--what else is there to hope for? I can't stay
with them--piling it up! Always--piling it up! I can't get through
to--he won't let me through to--what I don't know is there! (DICK _would
help her regain herself_) Don't push me away! Don't--don't stand me up,
I will go back--to the worst we ever were! Go back--and remember--what
we've tried to forget!

ADELAIDE: It's time to stop this by force--if there's no other way.
(_the doctor shakes his head_)

CLAIRE: All I ask is to die in the gutter with everyone spitting on me.
(_changes to a curious weary smiling quiet_) Still, why should they
bother to do that?

HARRY: (_brokenly_) You're sick, Claire. There's no denying it. (_looks
at_ EMMONS, _who nods_)

ADELAIDE: Something to quiet her--to stop it.

CLAIRE: (_throwing her arms around_ DICK) You, Dick. Not them. Not--any
of them.

DICK: Claire, you are overwrought. You must--

HARRY: (_to_ DICK, _as if only now realizing that phase of it_) I'll
tell you one thing, you'll answer to me for this! (_he starts for_
DICK--_is restrained by_ EMMONS, _chiefly by his grave shake of the
head. With_ HARRY_'s move to them,_ DICK _has shielded_ CLAIRE)

CLAIRE: Yes--hold me. Keep me. You have mercy! You will have mercy.
Anything--everything--that will let me be nothing!


CURTAIN



ACT III


_In the greenhouse, the same as Act I._ ANTHONY _is bedding small plants
where the Edge Vine grew. In the inner room the plant like caught motion
glows as from a light within._ HATTIE, _the Maid, rushes in from
outside._

ANTHONY: (_turning angrily_) You are not what this place--

HATTIE: Anthony, come in the house. I'm afraid. Mr Archer, I never saw
him like this. He's talking to Mr Demming--something about Mrs Archer.

ANTHONY: (_who in spite of himself is disturbed by her agitation_) And
if it is, it's no business of yours.

HATTIE: You don't know how he _is_. I went in the room and--

ANTHONY: Well, he won't hurt you, will he?

HATTIE: How do I know who he'll hurt--a person's whose--(_seeing how to
get him_) Maybe he'll hurt Mrs Archer.

ANTHONY: (_startled, then smiles_) No; he won't hurt Miss Claire.

HATTIE: What do you know about it?--out here in the plant house?

ANTHONY: And I don't want to know about it. This is a very important day
for me. It's Breath of Life I'm thinking of today--not you and Mr
Archer.

HATTIE: Well, suppose he does something to Mr Demming?

ANTHONY: Mr Demming will have to look out for himself, I am at work.

(_resuming work_)

HATTIE: Don't you think I ought to tell Mrs Archer that--

ANTHONY: You let her alone! This is no day for her to be bothered by
you. At eleven o'clock (_looks at watch_) she comes out here--to Breath
of Life.

HATTIE: (_with greed for gossip_) Did you see any of them when they came
downstairs last night?

ANTHONY: I was attending to my own affairs.

HATTIE: They was all excited. Mr Edgeworth--he went away. He was gone
all night, I guess. I saw him coming back just as the milkman woke me
up. Now he's packing his things. _He_ wanted to get to Mrs Archer
too--just a little while ago. But she won't open her door for none of
them. I can't even get in to do her room.

ANTHONY: Then do some other room--and leave me alone in this room.

HATTIE: (_a little afraid of what she is asking_) Is she sick,
Anthony--or what? (_vindicating herself, as he gives her a look_) The
doctor, he stayed here late. But she'd locked herself in. I heard Mr
Archer--

ANTHONY: You heard too much! (_he starts for the door, to make her
leave, but_ DICK _rushes in. Looks around wildly, goes to the trap-door,
finds it locked_)

ANTHONY: What are you doing here?

DICK: Trying not to be shot--if you must know. This is the only place I
can think of--till he comes to his senses and I can get away. Open that,
will you? Rather--ignominious--but better be absurd than be dead.

HATTIE: Has he got the revolver?

DICK: Gone for it. Thought I wouldn't sit there till he got back, (_to_
ANTHONY) Look here--don't you get the idea? Get me some place where he
can't come.

ANTHONY: It is not what this place is for.

DICK: Any place is for saving a man's life.

HATTIE: Sure, Anthony. Mrs Archer wouldn't want Mr Demming shot.

DICK: That's right, Anthony. Miss Claire will be angry at you if you get
me shot. (_he makes for the door of the inner room_)

ANTHONY: You can't go in there. It's locked. (HARRY _rushes in from
outside_.)

HARRY: I thought so! (_he has the revolver_. HATTIE _screams_)

ANTHONY: Now, Mr Archer, if you'll just stop and think, you'll know Miss
Claire wouldn't want Mr Demming shot.

HARRY: You think that can stop me? You think you can stop me? (_raising
the revolver_) A dog that--

ANTHONY: (_keeping squarely between_ HARRY _and_ DICK) Well, you can't
shoot him in here. It is not good for the plants. (HARRY _is arrested by
this reason_) And especially not today. Why, Mr Archer, Breath of Life
may flower today. It's years Miss Claire's been working for this day.

HARRY: I never thought to see this day!

ANTHONY: No, did you? Oh, it will be a wonderful day. And how she has
worked for it. She has an eye that sees what isn't right in what looks
right. Many's the time I've thought--Here the form is set--and then
she'd say, 'We'll try this one', and it had--what I hadn't known was
there. She's like that.

HARRY: I've always been pleased, Anthony, at the way you've worked with
Miss Claire. This is hardly the time to stand there eulogizing her. And
she's (_can hardly say it_) things you don't know she is.

ANTHONY: (_proudly_) Oh, I know that! You think I could work with her
and not know she's more than I know she is?

HARRY: Well, if you love her you've got to let me shoot the dirty dog
that drags her down!

ANTHONY: Not in here. Not today. More than like you'd break the glass.
And Breath of Life's in there.

HARRY: Anthony, this is pretty clever of you--but--

ANTHONY: I'm not clever. But I know how easy it is to turn life back.
No, I'm not clever at all (CLAIRE _has appeared and is looking in from
outside_), but I do know--there are things you mustn't hurt, (_he sees
her_) Yes, here's Miss Claire.

(_She comes in. She is looking immaculate._)

CLAIRE: From the gutter I rise again, refreshed. One does, you know.
Nothing is fixed--not even the gutter, (_smilingly to_ HARRY _and
refusing to notice revolver or agitation_) How did you like the way I
entertained the nerve specialist?

HARRY: Claire! You can _joke_ about it?

CLAIRE: (_taking the revolver from the hand she has shocked to
limpness_) Whom are you trying to make hear?

HARRY: I'm trying to make the world hear that (_pointing_) there stands
a dirty dog who--

CLAIRE: Listen, Harry, (_turning to_ HATTIE, _who is over by the tall
plants at right, not wanting to be shot but not wanting to miss the
conversation_) You can do my room now, Hattie. (_HATTIE goes_) If you're
thinking of shooting Dick, you can't shoot him while he's backed up
against that door.

ANTHONY: Just what I told them, Miss Claire. Just what I told them.

CLAIRE: And for that matter, it's quite dull of you to have any idea of
shooting him.

HARRY: I may be dull--I know you think I am--but I'll show you that I've
enough of the man in me to--

CLAIRE: To make yourself ridiculous? If I ran out and hid my head in the
mud, would you think you had to shoot the mud?

DICK: (_stung out of fear_) That's pretty cruel!

CLAIRE: Well, would you rather be shot?

HARRY: So you just said it to protect him!

CLAIRE: I change it to grass, (_nodding to_ DICK) Grass. If I hid my
face in the grass, would you have to burn the grass?

HARRY: Oh, Claire, how _can_ you? When you know how I love you--and how
I'm suffering?

CLAIRE: (_with interest_) Are you suffering?

HARRY: Haven't you _eyes_?

CLAIRE: I should think it would--do something to you.

HARRY: God! Have you no heart? (_the door opens._ TOM _comes in_)

CLAIRE: (_scarcely saying it_) Yes, I have a heart.

TOM: (_after a pause_) I came to say good-bye.

CLAIRE: God! Have you no heart? Can't you at least wait till Dick is
shot?

TOM: Claire! (_now sees the revolver in her hand that is turned from
him. Going to her_) Claire!

CLAIRE: And even you think this is so important? (_carelessly raises the
revolver, and with her left hand out flat, tells_ TOM _not to touch
her_) Harry thinks it important he shoot Dick, and Dick thinks it
important not to be shot, and you think I mustn't shoot anybody--even
myself--and can't any of you see that none of that is as important
as--where revolvers can't reach? (_putting revolver where there is no
Edge Vine_) I shall never shoot myself. I'm too interested in
destruction to cut it short by shooting. (_after looking from one to the
other, laughs. Pointing_) One--two--three. You-love-me. But why do you
bring it out here?

ANTHONY: (_who has resumed work_) It is not what this place is for.

CLAIRE: No this place is for the destruction that can get through.

ANTHONY: Miss Claire, it is eleven. At eleven we are to go in and see--

CLAIRE: Whether it has gone through. But how can we go--with Dick
against the door?

ANTHONY: He'll have to move.

CLAIRE: And be shot?

HARRY: (_irritably_) Oh, he'll not be shot. Claire can spoil anything.

(DICK _steps away from the door_; CLAIRE _takes a step nearer it_.)

CLAIRE: (_halting_) Have I spoiled everything? I don't want to go in
there.

ANTHONY: We're going in together, Miss Claire. Don't you remember? Oh
(_looking resentfully at the others_) don't let any little thing spoil
it for you--the work of all those days--the hope of so many days.

CLAIRE: Yes--that's it.

ANTHONY: You're afraid you haven't done it?

CLAIRE: Yes, but--afraid I have.

HARRY: (_cross, but kindly_) That's just nervousness, Claire. I've had
the same feeling myself about making a record in flying.

CLAIRE: (_curiously grateful_) You have, Harry?

HARRY: (_glad enough to be back in a more usual world_) Sure. I've been
afraid to know, and almost as afraid of having done it as of not having
done it.

(CLAIRE _nods, steps nearer, then again pulls back_.)

CLAIRE: I can't go in there. (_she almost looks at_ TOM) Not today.

ANTHONY: But, Miss Claire, there'll be things to see today we can't see
tomorrow.

CLAIRE: You bring it in here!

ANTHONY: In--out from its own place? (_she nods_) And--where they are?
(_again she nods. Reluctantly he goes to the door_) I will not look into
the heart. No one must know before you know.

(_In the inner room, his head a little turned away, he is seen very
carefully to lift the plant which glows from within. As he brings it in,
no one looks at it_. HARRY _takes a box of seedlings from a stand and
puts them on the floor, that the newcomer may have a place_.)

ANTHONY: Breath of Life is here, Miss Claire.

(CLAIRE _half turns, then stops._)

CLAIRE: Look--and see--what you see.

ANTHONY: No one should see what you've not seen.

CLAIRE: I can't see--until I know.

(ANTHONY _looks into the flower._)

ANTHONY: (_agitated_) Miss Claire!

CLAIRE: It has come through?

ANTHONY: It has gone on.

CLAIRE: Stronger?

ANTHONY: Stronger, surer.

CLAIRE: And more fragile?

ANTHONY: And more fragile.

CLAIRE: Look deep. No--turning back?

ANTHONY: (_after a searching look_) The form is set. (_he steps back
from it_)

CLAIRE: Then it is--out. (_from where she stands she turns slowly to the
plant_) You weren't. You are.

ANTHONY: But come and see, Miss Claire.

CLAIRE: It's so much more than--I'd see.

HARRY: Well, I'm going to see. (_looking into it_) I never saw anything
like that before! There seems something alive--inside this outer shell.

DICK: (_he too looking in and he has an artist's manner of a hand up to
make the light right_) It's quite new in form. It--says something about
form.

HARRY: (_cordially to_ CLAIRE, _who stands apart_) So you've really put
it over. Well, well,--congratulations. It's a good deal of novelty, I
should say, and I've no doubt you'll have a considerable success with
it--people always like something new. I'm mighty glad--after all your
work, and I hope it will--set you up.

CLAIRE: (_low--and like a machine_) Will you all--go away?

(ANTHONY _goes--into the other room._)

HARRY: Why--why, yes. But--oh, Claire! Can't you take some pleasure in
your work? (_as she stands there very still_) Emmons says you need a
good long rest--and I think he's right.

TOM: Can't this help you, Claire? Let this be release. This--breath of
the uncaptured.

CLAIRE: (_and though speaking, she remains just as still_)
  Breath of the uncaptured?
  You are a novelty.
  Out?
  You have been brought in.
  A thousand years from now, when you are but a form too long repeated,
  Perhaps the madness that gave you birth will burst again,
  And from the prison that is you will leap pent queernesses
  To make a form that hasn't been--
  To make a person new.
  And this we call creation, (_very low, her head not coming up_)
  Go away!

(TOM _goes_; HARRY _hesitates, looking in anxiety at_ CLAIRE. _He starts
to go, stops, looks at_ DICK, _from him to_ CLAIRE. _But goes. A moment
later_ DICK _moves near_ CLAIRE; _stands uncertainly, then puts a hand
upon her. She starts, only then knowing he is there._)

CLAIRE: (_a slight shrinking away, but not really reached_) Um, um.

(_He goes_. CLAIRE _steps nearer her creation. She looks into what
hasn't been. With her breath, and by a gentle moving of her hands, she
fans it to fuller openness. As she does this_ TOM _returns and from
outside is looking in at her. Softly he opens the door and comes in. She
does not know that he is there. In the way she looks at the flower he
looks at her._)

TOM: Claire, (_she lifts her head_) As you stood there, looking into the
womb you breathed to life, you were beautiful to me beyond any other
beauty. You were life and its reach and its anguish. I can't go away
from you. I will never go away from you. It shall all be--as you wish. I
can go with you where I could not go alone. If this is delusion, I want
that delusion. It's more than any reality I could attain, (_as she does
not move_) Speak to me, Claire. You--are glad?

CLAIRE: (_from far_) Speak to you? (_pause_) Do I know who you are?

TOM: I think you do.

CLAIRE: Oh, yes. I love you. That's who you are. (_waits again_) But why
are you something--very far away?

TOM: Come nearer.

CLAIRE: Nearer? (_feeling it with her voice_) Nearer. But I think I am
going--the other way.

TOM: No, Claire--come to me. Did you understand, dear? I am not going
away.

CLAIRE: You're not going away?

TOM: Not without you, Claire. And you and I will be together. Is
that--what you wanted?

CLAIRE: Wanted? (_as if wanting is something that harks far back. But
the word calls to her passion_) Wanted! (_a sob, hands out, she goes to
him. But before his arms can take her, she steps back_) Are you trying
to pull me down into what I wanted? Are you here to make me stop?

TOM: How can you ask that? I love you because it is not in you to stop.

CLAIRE: And loving me for that--would stop me? Oh, help me see it! It is
so important that I see it.

TOM: It is important. It is our lives.

CLAIRE: And more than that. I cannot see it because it is so much more
than that.

TOM: Don't try to see all that it is. From peace you'll see a little
more.

CLAIRE: Peace? (_troubled as we are when looking at what we cannot see
clearly_) What is peace? Peace is what the struggle knows in moments
very far apart. Peace--that is not a place to rest. Are you resting?
What are you? You who'd take me from what I am to something else?

TOM: I thought you knew, Claire.

CLAIRE: I know--what you pass for. But are you beauty? Beauty is that
only living pattern--the trying to take pattern. Are you trying?

TOM: Within myself, Claire. I never thought you doubted that.

CLAIRE: Beauty is it. (_she turns to Breath of Life, as if to learn it
there, but turns away with a sob_) If I cannot go to you now--I will
always be alone.

(TOM _takes her in his arms. She is shaken, then comes to rest._)

TOM: Yes--rest. And then--come into joy. You have so much life for joy.

CLAIRE: (_raising her head, called by promised gladness_) We'll run
around together. (_lovingly he nods_) Up hills. All night on hills.

TOM: (_tenderly_) All night on hills.

CLAIRE: We'll go on the sea in a little boat.

TOM: On the sea in a little boat.

CLAIRE: But--there are other boats on other seas, (_drawing back from
him, troubled_) There are other boats on other seas.

TOM: (_drawing her back to him_) My dearest--not now, not now.

CLAIRE: (_her arms going round him_) Oh, I would love those hours with
you. I want them. I want you! (_they kiss--but deep in her is sobbing_)
Reminiscence, (_her hand feeling his arm as we touch what we would
remember_) Reminiscence. (_with one of her swift changes steps back from
him_) How dare you pass for what you're not? We are tired, and so we
think it's you. Stop with you. Don't get through--to what you're in the
way of. Beauty is not something you say about beauty.

TOM: I say little about beauty, Claire.

CLAIRE: Your life says it. By standing far off you pass for it. Smother
it with a life that passes for it. But beauty--(_getting it from the
flower_) Beauty is the humility breathed from the shame of succeeding.

TOM: But it may all be within one's self, dear.

CLAIRE: (_drawn by this, but held, and desperate because she is held_)
When I have wanted you with all my wanting--why must I distrust you now?
When I love you--with all of me, why do I know that only you are worth
my hate?

TOM: It's the fear of easy satisfactions. I love you for it.

CLAIRE: (_over the flower_) Breath of Life--you here? Are you
lonely--Breath of Life?

TOM: Claire--hear me! Don't go where we can't go. As there you made a
shell for life within, make for yourself a life in which to live. It
must be so.

CLAIRE: As you made for yourself a shell called beauty?

TOM: What is there for you, if you'll have no touch with what we have?

CLAIRE: What is there? There are the dreams we haven't dreamed. There is
the long and flowing pattern, (_she follows that, but suddenly and as if
blindly goes to him_) I am tired. I am lonely. I'm afraid, (_he holds
her, soothing. But she steps back from him_) And because we are
tired--lonely--and afraid, we stop with you. Don't get through--to what
you're in the way of.

TOM: Then you don't love me?

CLAIRE: I'm fighting for my chance. I don't know--which chance.

(_Is drawn to the other chance, to Breath of Life. Looks into it as if
to look through to the uncaptured. And through this life just caught
comes the truth she chants._)

  I've wallowed at a coarse man's feet,
  I'm sprayed with dreams we've not yet come to.
  I've gone so low that words can't get there,
  I've never pulled the mantle of my fears around me
  And called it loneliness--And called it God.
  Only with life that waits have I kept faith.

(_with effort raising her eyes to the man_)

  And only you have ever threatened me.

TOM: (_coming to her, and with strength now_) And I will threaten you.
I'm here to hold you from where I know you cannot go. You're trying what
we can't do.

CLAIRE: What else is there worth trying?

TOM: I love you, and I will keep you--from fartherness--from harm. You
are mine, and you will stay with me! (_roughly_) You hear me? You will
stay with me!

CLAIRE: (_her head on his breast, in ecstasy of rest. Drowsily_) You can
keep me?

TOM: Darling! I can keep you. I will keep you--safe.

CLAIRE: (_troubled by the word, but barely able to raise her head_)
Safe?

TOM: (_bringing her to rest again_) Trust me, Claire.

CLAIRE: (_not lifting her head, but turning it so she sees Breath of
Life_) Now can I trust--what is? (_suddenly pushing him roughly away_)
No! I will beat my life to pieces in the struggle to--

TOM: To _what_, Claire?

CLAIRE: Not to stop it by seeming to have it. (_with fury_) I will keep
my life low--low--that I may never stop myself--or anyone--with the
thought it's what _I_ have. I'd rather be the steam rising from the
manure than be a thing called beautiful! (_with sight too clear_) Now I
know who you are. It is you puts out the breath of life. Image of
beauty--_You fill the place--should be a gate._ (_in agony_) Oh, that it
is _you_--fill the place--should be a gate! My darling! That it should
be you who--(_her hands moving on him_) Let me tell you something. Never
was loving strong as my loving of you! Do you know that? Oh, know that!
Know it now! (_her arms go around his neck_) Hours with you--I'd give my
life to have! That it should be you--(_he would loosen her hands, for he
cannot breathe. But when she knows she is choking him, that knowledge is
fire burning its way into the last passion_) It _is_ you. It is you.

TOM: (_words coming from a throat not free_) Claire! What are you doing?
(_then she knows what she is doing_)

CLAIRE: (_to his resistance_) No! You are _too much_! You are _not
enough_. (_still wanting not to hurt her, he is slow in getting free. He
keeps stepping backward trying, in growing earnest, to loosen her hands.
But he does not loosen them before she has found the place in his throat
that cuts off breath. As he gasps_)

Breath of Life--my gift--to you!

(_She has pushed him against one of the plants at right as he sways,
strength she never had before pushes him over backward, just as they
have struggled from sight. Violent crash of glass is heard._)

TOM: (_faint smothered voice_) _No_. I'm--hurt.

CLAIRE: (_in the frenzy and agony of killing_) Oh, gift! Oh, gift!
(_there is no sound._

CLAIRE _rises--steps back--is seen now; is looking down_) Gift.

(_Like one who does not know where she is, she moves into the
room--looks around. Takes a step toward Breath of Life; turns and goes
quickly to the door. Stops, as if stopped. Sees the revolver where the
Edge Vine was. Slowly goes to it. Holds it as if she cannot think what
it is for. Then raises it high and fires above through the place in the
glass left open for ventilation_. ANTHONY _comes from the inner room.
His eyes go from her to the body beyond_. HARRY _rushes in from
outside_.)

HARRY: Who fired that?

CLAIRE: I did. Lonely.

(_Seeing_ ANTHONY'S _look_, HARRY _'s eyes follow it_.)

HARRY: Oh! What? What? (DICK _comes running in_) Who? Claire!

(DICK _sees--goes to_ TOM)

CLAIRE: Yes. I did it. MY--Gift.

HARRY: Is he--? He isn't--? He isn't--?

(_Tries to go in there. Cannot--there is the sound of broken glass, of a
position being changed--then_ DICK _reappears_.)

DICK: (_his voice in jerks_) It's--it's no use, but I'll go for a
doctor.

HARRY: No--no. Oh, I suppose--(_falling down beside_ CLAIRE--_his face
against her_) My darling! How can I save you now?

CLAIRE: (_speaking each word very carefully_) Saved--myself.

ANTHONY: I did it. Don't you see? I didn't want so many around.
Not--what this place is for.

HARRY: (_snatching at this but lets it go_) She wouldn't let--(_looking
up at_ CLAIRE--_then quickly hiding his face_) And--don't you see?

CLAIRE: Out. (_a little like a child's pleased surprise_) Out.

(DICK _stands there, as if unable to get to the door--his face
distorted, biting his hand_.)

ANTHONY: Miss Claire! You can do anything--won't you try?

CLAIRE: Reminiscence? (_speaking the word as if she has left even that,
but smiles a little_)

(ANTHONY _takes Reminiscence, the flower she was breeding for fragrance
for Breath of Life--holds it out to her. But she has taken a step
forward, past them all_.)

CLAIRE: Out. (_as if feeling her way_)
  Nearer,
      (_Her voice now feeling the way to it_.)
  Nearer--
      (_Voice almost upon it_.)
  --my God,
      (_Falling upon it with surprise_.)
  to Thee,
      (_Breathing it_.)
  Nearer--to Thee,
  E'en though it be--
      (_A slight turn of the head toward the dead man she loves--a
      mechanical turn just as far the other way_.)
  a cross
  That
      (_Her head going down_.)
  raises me;
      (_Her head slowly coming up--singing it_.)
  Still all my song shall be,
  Nearer, my--

(_Slowly the curtain begins to shut her out. The last word heard is the
final_ Nearer--_a faint breath from far_.)


CURTAIN



INHERITORS

_Inheritors_ was first performed at the Provincetown Playhouse on April 27, 1921.

SMITH (a young business man)

GRANDMOTHER (SILAS MORTON'S mother)

SILAS MORTON (a pioneer farmer)

FELIX FEJEVARY, the First (an exiled Hungarian nobleman)

FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second (his son, a Harvard student)

FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second (a banker)

SENATOR LEWIS (a State Senator)

HORACE FEJEVARY (son of FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second)

DORIS (a student at Morton College)

FUSSIE (another college girl)

MADELINE FEJEVARY MORTON (daughter of IRA MORTON, and granddaughter of
SILAS MORTON)

ISABEL FEJEVARY (wife of FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second, and MADELINE'S
aunt)

HARRY (a student clerk)

HOLDEN (Professor at Morton College)

IRA MORTON (son of SILAS MORTON, and MADELINE'S father)

EMIL JOHNSON (an Americanized Swede)


ACT I


SCENE: _Sitting-room of the Mortons' farmhouse in the Middle West--on
the rolling prairie just back from the Mississippi. A room that has been
long and comfortably lived in, and showing that first-hand contact with
materials which was pioneer life. The hospitable table was made on the
place--well and strongly made; there are braided rugs, and the wooden
chairs have patchwork cushions. There is a corner closet--left rear. A
picture of Abraham Lincoln. On the floor a home-made toy boat. At rise
of curtain there are on the stage an old woman and a young man._
GRANDMOTHER MORTON _is in her rocking-chair near the open door, facing
left. On both sides of door are windows, looking out on a generous land.
She has a sewing basket and is patching a boy's pants. She is very old.
Her hands tremble. Her spirit remembers the days of her strength._

SMITH _has just come in and, hat in hand, is standing by the table. This
was lived in the year 1879, afternoon of Fourth of July._

SMITH: But the celebration was over two hours ago.

GRANDMOTHER: Oh, celebration, that's just the beginning of it. Might as
well set down. When them boys that fought together all get in one
square--they have to swap stories all over again. That's the worst of a
war--you have to go on hearing about it so long. Here it is--1879--and
we haven't taken Gettysburg yet. Well, it was the same way with the war
of 1832.

SMITH: (_who is now seated at the table_) The war of 1832?

GRANDMOTHER: News to you that we had a war with the Indians?

SMITH: That's right--the Blackhawk war. I've heard of it.

GRANDMOTHER: Heard of it!

SMITH: Were your men in that war?

GRANDMOTHER: I was in that war. I threw an Indian in the cellar and
stood on the door. I was heavier then.

SMITH: Those were stirring times.

GRANDMOTHER: More stirring than you'll ever see. This war--Lincoln's
war--it's all a cut and dried business now. We used to fight with
anything we could lay hands on--dish water--whatever was handy.

SMITH: I guess you believe the saying that the only good Indian is a
dead Indian.

GRANDMOTHER: I dunno. We roiled them up considerable. They was mostly
friendly when let be. Didn't want to give up their land--but I've
noticed something of the same nature in white folks.

SMITH: Your son has--something of that nature, hasn't he?

GRANDMOTHER: He's not keen to sell. Why should he? It'll never be worth
less.

SMITH: But since he has more land than any man can use, and if he gets
his price--

GRANDMOTHER: That what you've come to talk to him about?

SMITH: I--yes.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, you're not the first. Many a man older than you has
come to argue it.

SMITH: (_smiling_) They thought they'd try a young one.

GRANDMOTHER: Some one that knew him thought that up. Silas'd help a
young one if he could. What is it you're set on buying?

SMITH: Oh, I don't know that we're set on buying anything. If we could
have the hill (_looking off to the right_) at a fair price--

GRANDMOTHER: The hill above the town? Silas'd rather sell me and the
cat.

SMITH: But what's he going to do with it?

GRANDMOTHER: Maybe he's going to climb it once a week.

SMITH: But if the development of the town demands its use--

GRANDMOTHER: (_smiling_) You the development of the town?

SMITH: I represent it. This town has been growing so fast--

GRANDMOTHER: This town began to grow the day I got here.

SMITH: You--you began it?

GRANDMOTHER: My husband and I began it--and our baby Silas.

SMITH: When was that?

GRANDMOTHER: 1820, that was.

SMITH: And--you mean you were here all alone?

GRANDMOTHER: No, we weren't alone. We had the Owens ten miles down the
river.

SMITH: But how did you get here?

GRANDMOTHER: Got here in a wagon, how do you s'pose? (_gaily_) Think we
flew?

SMITH: But wasn't it unsafe?

GRANDMOTHER: Them set on safety stayed back in Ohio.

SMITH: But one family! I should think the Indians would have wiped you
out.

GRANDMOTHER: The way they wiped us out was to bring fish and corn. We'd
have starved to death that first winter hadn't been for the Indians.

SMITH: But they were such good neighbours--why did you throw dish water
at them?

GRANDMOTHER: That was after other white folks had roiled them up--white
folks that didn't know how to treat 'em. This very land--land you want
to buy--was the land they loved--Blackhawk and his Indians. They came
here for their games. This was where their fathers--as they called
'em--were buried. I've seen my husband and Blackhawk climb that hill
together. (_a backward point right_) He used to love that
hill--Blackhawk. He talked how the red man and the white man could live
together. But poor old Blackhawk--what he didn't know was how many white
man there was. After the war--when he was beaten but not conquered in
his heart--they took him east--Washington, Philadelphia, New York--and
when he saw the white man's cities--it was a different Indian came back.
He just let his heart break without ever turning a hand.

SMITH: But we paid them for their lands. (_she looks at him_) Paid them
something.

GRANDMOTHER: Something. For fifteen million acres of this Mississippi
Valley land--best on this globe, we paid two thousand two hundred and
thirty-four dollars and fifty cents, and promised to deliver annually
goods to the value of one thousand dollars. Not a fancy price--even for
them days, (_children's voices are heard outside. She leans forward and
looks through the door, left_) Ira! Let that cat be!

SMITH: (_looking from the window_) These, I suppose, are your
grandchildren?

GRANDMOTHER: The boy's my grandson. The little girl is Madeline
Fejevary--Mr Fejevary's youngest child.

SMITH: The Fejevary place adjoins on this side? (_pointing right, down_)

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. We've been neighbours ever since the Fejevarys came
here from Hungary after 1848. He was a count at home--and he's a man of
learning. But he was a refugee because he fought for freedom in his
country. Nothing Silas could do for him was too good. Silas sets great
store by learning--and freedom.

SMITH: (_thinking of his own project, looking off toward the hill--the
hill is not seen from the front_) I suppose then Mr Fejevary has great
influence with your son?

GRANDMOTHER: More 'an anybody. Silas thinks 'twas a great thing for our
family to have a family like theirs next place to. Well--so 'twas, for
we've had no time for the things their family was brought up on. Old Mrs
Fejevary (_with her shrewd smile_)--she weren't stuck up--but she did
have an awful ladylike way of feeding the chickens. Silas thinks--oh, my
son has all kinds of notions--though a harder worker never found his bed
at night.

SMITH: And Mr Fejevary--is he a veteran too?

GRANDMOTHER: (_dryly_) You don't seem to know these parts well--for one
that's all stirred up about the development of the town. Yes--Felix
Fejevary and Silas Morton went off together, down that road (_motioning
with her hand, right_)--when them of their age was wanted. Fejevary came
back with one arm less than he went with. Silas brought home everything
he took--and something he didn't. Rheumatiz. So now they set more store
by each other 'an ever. Seems nothing draws men together like killing
other men. (_a boy's voice teasingly imitating a cat_) Madeline, make
Ira let that cat be. (_a whoop from the girl--a boy's whoop_)
(_looking_) There they go, off for the creek. If they set in it--(_seems
about to call after them, gives this up_) Well, they're not the first.

(_rather dreams over this_)

SMITH: You must feel as if you pretty near owned this country.

GRANDMOTHER: We worked. A country don't make itself. When the sun was up
we were up, and when the sun went down we didn't. (_as if this renews
the self of those days_) Here--let me set out something for you to eat.
(_gets up with difficulty_)

SMITH: Oh, no, please--never mind. I had something in town before I came
out.

GRANDMOTHER: Dunno as that's any reason you shouldn't have something
here.

(_She goes off, right; he stands at the door, looking toward the hill
until she returns with a glass of milk, a plate of cookies._)

SMITH: Well, this looks good.

GRANDMOTHER: I've fed a lot of folks--take it by and large. I didn't
care how many I had to feed in the daytime--what's ten or fifteen more
when you're up and around. But to get up--after sixteen hours on your
feet--_I_ was willin', but my bones complained some.

SMITH: But did you--keep a tavern?

GRANDMOTHER: Keep a tavern? I guess we did. Every house is a tavern when
houses are sparse. You think the way to settle a country is to go on
ahead and build hotels? That's all you folks know. Why, I never went to
bed without leaving something on the stove for the new ones that might
be coming. And we never went away from home without seein' there was
a-plenty for them that might stop.

SMITH: They'd come right in and take your food?

GRANDMOTHER: What else could they do? There was a woman I always wanted
to know. She made a kind of bread I never had before--and left a-plenty
for our supper when we got back with the ducks and berries. And she left
the kitchen handier than it had ever been. I often wondered about
her--where she came from, and where she went, (_as she dreams over this
there is laughing and talking at the side of the house_) There come the
boys.

(MR FEJEVARY _comes in, followed by_ SILAS MORTON. _They are men not far
from sixty, wearing their army uniforms, carrying the muskets they used
in the parade_. FEJEVARY _has a lean, distinguished face, his dark eyes
are penetrating and rather wistful. The left sleeve of his old uniform
is empty_. SILAS MORTON _is a strong man who has borne the burden of the
land, and not for himself alone--the pioneer. Seeing the stranger, he
sets his musket against the wall and holds out his hand to him, as_ MR
FEJEVARY _goes up to_ GRANDMOTHER MORTON.)

SILAS: How do, stranger?

FEJEVARY: And how are you today, Mrs Morton?

GRANDMOTHER: I'm not abed--and don't expect to be.

SILAS: (_letting go of the balloons he has bought_) Where's Ira? and
Madeline?

GRANDMOTHER: Mr Fejevary's Delia brought them home with her. They've
gone down to dam the creek, I guess. This young man's been waiting to
see you, Silas.

SMITH: Yes, I wanted to have a little talk with you.

SILAS: Well, why not? (_he is tying the gay balloons to his gun, then as
he talks, hangs his hat in the corner closet_) We've been having a
little talk ourselves. Mother, Nat Rice was there. I've not seen Nat
Rice since the day we had to leave him on the road with his torn
leg--him cursing like a pirate. I wanted to bring him home, but he had
to go back to Chicago. His wife's dead, mother.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, I guess she's not sorry.

SILAS: Why, mother.

GRANDMOTHER: 'Why, mother.' Nat Rice is a mean, stingy, complaining
man--his leg notwithstanding. Where'd you leave the folks?

SILAS: Oh--scattered around. Everybody visitin' with anybody that'll
visit with them. Wish you could have gone.

GRANDMOTHER: I've heard it all. (_to_ FEJEVARY) Your folks well?

FEJEVARY: All well, Mrs Morton. And my boy Felix is home. He'll stop in
here to see you by and by.

SILAS: Oh, he's a fine-looking boy, mother. And think of what he knows!
(_cordially including the young man_) Mr Fejevary's son has been to
Harvard College.

SMITH: Well, well--quite a trip. Well, Mr Morton, I hope this is not a
bad time for me to--present a little matter to you?

SILAS: (_genially_) That depends, of course, on what you're going to
present. (_attracted by a sound outside_) Mind if I present a little
matter to your horse? Like to uncheck him so's he can geta a bit
o'grass.

SMITH: Why--yes. I suppose he would like that.

SILAS: (_going out_) You bet he'd like it. Wouldn't you, old boy?

SMITH: Your son is fond of animals.

GRANDMOTHER: Lots of people's fond of 'em--and good to 'em. Silas--I
dunno, it's as if he was that animal.

FEJEVARY: He has imagination.

GRANDMOTHER: (_with surprise_) Think so?

SILAS: (_returning and sitting down at the table by the young man_) Now,
what's in your mind, my boy?

SMITH: This town is growing very fast, Mr Morton.

SILAS: Yes. (_slyly--with humour_) I know that.

SMITH: I presume you, as one of the early settlers--as in fact a son of
the earliest settler, feel a certain responsibility about the welfare
of--

SILAS: I haven't got in mind to do the town a bit of harm. So--what's
your point?

SMITH: More people--more homes. And homes must be in the healthiest
places--the--the most beautiful places. Isn't it true, Mr Fejevary, that
it means a great deal to people to have a beautiful outlook from their
homes? A--well, an expanse.

SILAS: What is it they want to buy--these fellows that are figuring on
making something out of--expanse? (_a gesture for expanse, then a
reassuring gesture_) It's all right, but--just what is it?

SMITH: I am prepared to make you an offer--a gilt-edged offer for that
(_pointing toward it_) hill above the town.

SILAS: (_shaking his head--with the smile of the strong man who is a
dreamer_) The hill is not for sale.

SMITH: But wouldn't you consider a--particularly good offer, Mr Morton?

(SILAS, _who has turned so he can look out at the hill, slowly shakes
his head_.)

SMITH: Do you feel you have the right--the moral right to hold it?

SILAS: It's not for myself I'm holding it.

SMITH: Oh,--for the children?

SILAS: Yes, the children.

SMITH: But--if you'll excuse me--there are other investments might do
the children even more good.

SILAS: This seems to me--the best investment.

SMITH: But after all there are other people's children to consider.

SILAS: Yes, I know. That's it.

SMITH: I wonder if I understand you, Mr Morton?

SILAS: (_kindly_) I don't believe you do. I don't see how you could. And
I can't explain myself just now. So--the hill is not for sale. I'm not
making anybody homeless. There's land enough for all--all sides round.
But the hill--

SMITH: (_rising_) Is yours.

SILAS: You'll see.

SMITH: I am prepared to offer you--

SILAS: You're not prepared to offer me anything I'd consider alongside
what I am considering. So--I wish you good luck in your business
undertakings.

SMITH: Sorry--you won't let us try to help the town.

SILAS: Don't sit up nights worrying about my chokin' the town.

SMITH: We could make you a rich man, Mr Morton. Do you think what you
have in mind will make you so much richer?

SILAS: Much richer.

SMITH: Well, good-bye. Good day, sir. Good day, ma'am.

SILAS: (_following him to the door_) Nice horse you've got.

SMITH: Yes, seems all right.

(SILAS _stands in the doorway and looks off at the hill_.)

GRANDMOTHER: What are you going to do with the hill, Silas?

SILAS: After I get a little glass of wine--to celebrate Felix and me
being here instead of farther south--I'd like to tell you what I want
for the hill. (_to_ FEJEVARY _rather bashfully_) I've been wanting to
tell you.

FEJEVARY: I want to know.

SILAS: (_getting the wine from the closet_) Just a little something to
show our gratitude with.

(_Goes off right for glasses_.)

GRANDMOTHER: I dunno. Maybe it'd be better to sell the hill--while
they're anxious.

FEJEVARY: He seems to have another plan for it.

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. Well, I hope the other plan does bring him something.
Silas has worked--all the days of his life.

FEJEVARY: I know.

GRANDMOTHER: You don't know the hull of it. But I know. (_rather to
herself_) Know too well to think about it.

GRANDMOTHER: (_as_ SILAS _returns_) I'll get more cookies.

SILAS: I'll get them, mother.

GRANDMOTHER: Get 'em myself. Pity if a woman can't get out her own
cookies.

SILAS: (_seeing how hard it is for her_) I wish mother would let us do
things for her.

FEJEVARY: That strength is a flame frailness can't put out. It's a great
thing for us to have her,--this touch with the life behind us.

SILAS: Yes. And it's a great thing for us to have you--who can see those
things and say them. What a lot I'd 'a' missed if I hadn't had what
you've seen.

FEJEVARY: Oh, you only think that because you've got to be generous.

SILAS: I'm not generous. _I'm_ seeing something now. Something about
you. I've been thinking of it a good deal lately--it's got something to
do with--with the hill. I've been thinkin' what it's meant all these
years to have a family like yours next place to. They did something
pretty nice for the corn belt when they drove you out of Hungary.
Funny--how things don't end the way they begin. I mean, what begins
don't end. It's another thing ends. Set out to do something for your own
country--and maybe you don't quite do the thing you set out to do--

FEJEVARY: No.

SILAS: But do something for a country a long way off.

FEJEVARY: I'm afraid I've not done much for any country.

SILAS: (_brusquely_) Where's your left arm--may I be so bold as to
inquire? Though your left arm's nothing alongside--what can't be
measured.

FEJEVARY: When I think of what I dreamed as a young man--it seems to me
my life has failed.

SILAS: (_raising his glass_) Well, if your life's failed--I like
failure.

(GRANDMOTHER MORTON _returns with her cookies_.)

GRANDMOTHER: There's two kinds--Mr Fejevary. These have seeds in 'em.

FEJEVARY: Thank you. I'll try a seed cookie first.

SILAS: Mother, you'll have a glass of wine?

GRANDMOTHER: I don't need wine.

SILAS: Well, I don't know as we need it.

GRANDMOTHER: No, I don't know as you do. But I didn't go to war.

FEJEVARY: Then have a little wine to celebrate that.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, just a mite to warm me up. Not that it's cold.
(FEJEVARY _brings it to her, and the cookies_) The Indians used to like
cookies. I was talking to that young whippersnapper about the Indians.
One time I saw an Indian watching me from a bush, (_points_) Right out
there. I was never afraid of Indians when you could see the whole of
'em--but when you could see nothin' but their bright eyes--movin'
through leaves--I declare they made me nervous. After he'd been there an
hour I couldn't seem to put my mind on my work. So I thought, Red or
White, a man's a man--I'll take him some cookies.

FEJEVARY: It succeeded?

GRANDMOTHER: So well that those leaves had eyes next day. But he brought
me a fish to trade. He was a nice boy.

SILAS: Probably we killed him.

GRANDMOTHER: I dunno. Maybe he killed us. Will Owens' family was
massacred just after this. Like as not my cookie Indian helped out
there. Something kind of uncertain about the Indians.

SILAS: I guess they found something kind of uncertain about us.

GRANDMOTHER: Six o' one and half a dozen of another. Usually is.

SILAS: (_to_ FEJEVARY) I wonder if I'm wrong. You see, I never went to
school--

GRANDMOTHER: I don't know why you say that, Silas. There was two winters
you went to school.

SILAS: Yes, mother, and I'm glad I did, for I learned to read there, and
liked the geography globe. It made the earth so nice to think about. And
one day the teacher told us all about the stars, and I had that to think
of when I was driving at night. The other boys didn't believe it was so.
But I knew it was so! But I mean school--the way Mr Fejevary went to
school. He went to universities. In his own countries--in other
countries. All the things men have found out, the wisest and finest
things men have thought since first they began to think--all that was
put before them.

FEJEVARY: (_with a gentle smile_) I fear I left a good deal of it
untouched.

SILAS: You took a plenty. Tell in your eyes you've thought lots about
what's been thought. And that's what I was setting out to say. It makes
something of men--learning. A house that's full of books makes a
different kind of people. Oh, of course, if the books aren't there just
to show off.

GRANDMOTHER: Like in Mary Baldwin's new house.

SILAS: (_trying hard to see it_) It's not the learning itself--it's the
life that grows up from learning. Learning's like soil. Like--like
fertilizer. Get richer. See more. Feel more. You believe that?

FEJEVARY: Culture should do it.

SILAS: Does in your house. You somehow know how it is for the other
fellow more'n we do.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, Silas Morton, when you've your wood to chop an' your
water to carry, when you kill your own cattle and hogs, tend your own
horses and hens, make your butter, soap, and cook for whoever the Lord
sends--there's none too many hours of the day left to be polite in.

SILAS: You're right, mother. It had to be that way. But now that we buy
our soap--we don't want to say what soap-making made us.

GRANDMOTHER: We're honest.

SILAS: Yes. In a way. But there's another kind o' honesty, seems to me,
goes with that more seein' kind of kindness. Our honesty with the
Indians was little to brag on.

GRANDMOTHER: You fret more about the Indians than anybody else does.

SILAS: To look out at that hill sometimes makes me ashamed.

GRANDMOTHER: Land sakes, you didn't do it. It was the government. And
what a government does is nothing for a person to be ashamed of.

SILAS: I don't know about that. Why is _he_ here? Why is Felix Fejevary
not rich and grand in Hungary to-day? 'Cause he was ashamed of what his
government was.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, that was a foreign government.

SILAS: A seeing how 'tis for the other person--_a bein'_ that other
person, kind of honesty. Joke of it, 'twould do something for _you_.
'Twould 'a' done something for us to have _been_ Indians a little more.
My father used to talk about Blackhawk--they was friends. I saw
Blackhawk once--when I was a boy. (_to_ FEJEVARY) Guess I told you. You
know what he looked like? He looked like the great of the earth. Noble.
Noble like the forests--and the Mississippi--and the stars. His face was
long and thin and you could see the bones, and the bones were beautiful.
Looked like something that's never been caught. He was something many
nights in his canoe had made him. Sometimes I feel that the land itself
has got a mind that the land would rather have had the Indians.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, don't let folks hear you say it. They'd think you was
plum crazy.

SILAS: I s'pose they would, (_turning to_ FEJEVARY) But after you've
walked a long time over the earth--and you all alone, didn't you ever
feel something coming up from it that's like thought?

FEJEVARY: I'm afraid I never did. But--I wish I had.

SILAS: I love land--this land. I suppose that's why I never have the
feeling that I own it.

GRANDMOTHER: If you don't own it--I want to know! What do you think we
come here for--your father and me? What do you think we left our folks
for--left the world of white folks--schools and stores and doctors, and
set out in a covered wagon for we didn't know what? We lost a horse.
Lost our way--weeks longer than we thought 'twould be. You were born in
that covered wagon. You know that. But what you don't know is what
_that's_ like--without your own roof--or fire--without--

(_She turns her face away._)

SILAS: No. No, mother, of course not. Now--now isn't this too bad? I
don't say things right. It's because I never went to school.

GRANDMOTHER: (_her face shielded_) You went to school two winters.

SILAS: Yes. Yes, mother. So I did. And I'm glad I did.

GRANDMOTHER: (_with the determination of one who will not have her own
pain looked at_) Mrs Fejevary's pansy bed doing well this summer?

FEJEVARY: It's beautiful this summer. She was so pleased with the new
purple kind you gave her. I do wish you could get over to see them.

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. Well, I've seen lots of pansies. Suppose it was pretty
fine-sounding speeches they had in town?

FEJEVARY: Too fine-sounding to seem much like the war.

SILAS: I'd like to go to a war celebration where they never mentioned
war. There'd be a way to celebrate victory, (_hearing a step, looking
out_) Mother, here's Felix.

(FELIX, _a well-dressed young man, comes in_.)

GRANDMOTHER: How do, Felix?

FELIX: And how do you do, Grandmother Morton?

GRANDMOTHER: Well, I'm still here.

FELIX: Of course you are. It wouldn't be coming home if you weren't.

GRANDMOTHER: I've got some cookies for you, Felix. I set 'em out, so you
wouldn't have to steal them. John and Felix was hard on the cookie jar.

FELIX: Where is John?

SILAS: (_who is pouring a glass of wine for_ FELIX) You've not seen John
yet? He was in town for the exercises. I bet those young devils ran off
to the race-track. I heard whisperin' goin' round. But everybody'll be
home some time. Mary and the girls--don't ask me where they are. They'll
drive old Bess all over the country before they drive her to the bam.
Your father and I come on home 'cause I wanted to have a talk with him.

FELIX: Getting into the old uniforms makes you want to talk it all over
again?

SILAS: The war? Well, we did do that. But all that makes me want to talk
about what's to come, about--what 'twas all for. Great things are to
come, Felix. And before you are through.

FELIX: I've been thinking about them myself--walking around the town
to-day. It's grown so much this year, and in a way that means more
growing--that big glucose plant going up down the river, the new lumber
mill--all that means many more people.

FEJEVARY: And they've even bought ground for a steel works.

SILAS: Yes, a city will rise from these cornfields--a big rich
place--that's bound to be. It's written in the lay o' the land and the
way the river flows. But first tell us about Harvard College, Felix.
Ain't it a fine thing for us all to have Felix coming home from that
wonderful place!

FELIX: You make it seem wonderful.

SILAS: Ah, you know it's wonderful--know it so well you don't have to
say it. It's something you've got. But to me it's wonderful the way the
stars are wonderful--this place where all that the world has learned is
to be drawn from me--like a spring.

FELIX: You almost say what Matthew Arnold says--a distinguished new
English writer who speaks of: 'The best that has been thought and said
in the world'.

SILAS: 'The best that has been thought and said in the world!' (_slowly
rising, and as if the dream of years is bringing him to his feet_)
That's what that hill is for! (_pointing_) Don't you see it? End of our
trail, we climb a hill and plant a college. Plant a college, so's after
we are gone that college says for us, says in people learning has made
more: 'That is why we took this land.'

GRANDMOTHER: (_incredulous_) You mean, Silas, you're going to _give the
hill away_?

SILAS: The hill at the end of our trail--how could we keep that?

GRANDMOTHER: Well, I want to know why not! Hill or level--land's land
and not a thing you give away.

SILAS: Well, don't scold _me_. I'm not giving it away. It's giving
itself away, get down to it.

GRANDMOTHER: Don't talk to me as if I was feeble-minded.

SILAS: I'm talking with all the mind I've got. If there's not mind in
what I say, it's because I've got no mind. But I have got a mind, (_to_
FEJEVARY, _humorously_) Haven't I? You ought to know. Seeing as you gave
it to me.

FEJEVARY: Ah, no--I didn't give it to you.

SILAS: Well, you made me know 'twas there. You said things that woke
things in me and I thought about them as I ploughed. And that made me
know there had to be a college there--wake things in minds--so
ploughing's more than ploughing. What do you say, Felix?

FELIX: It--it's a big idea, Uncle Silas. I love the way you put it. It's
only that I'm wondering--

SILAS: Wondering how it can ever be a Harvard College? Well, it can't.
And it needn't be (_stubbornly_) It's a college in the cornfields--where
the Indian maize once grew. And it's for the boys of the cornfields--and
the girls. There's few can go to Harvard College--but more can climb
that hill, (_turn of the head from the hill to_ FELIX) Harvard on a
hill? (_As_ FELIX _smiles no_, SILAS _turns back to the hill_) A college
should be on a hill. They can see it then from far around. See it as
they go out to the barn in the morning; see it when they're shutting up
at night. 'Twill make a difference--even to them that never go.

GRANDMOTHER: Now, Silas--don't be hasty.

SILAS: Hasty? It's been company to me for years. Came to me one
night--must 'a' been ten years ago--middle of a starry night as I was
comin' home from your place (_to_ FEJEVARY) I'd gone over to lend a hand
with a sick horse an'--

FEJEVARY: (_with a grateful smile_) That was nothing new.

SILAS: Well, say, I'd sit up with a sick horse that belonged to the
meanest man unhung. But--there were stars that night had never been
there before. Leastways I'd not seen 'em. And the hill--Felix, in all
your travels east, did you ever see anything more beautiful than that
hill?

FELIX: It's like sculpture.

SILAS: Hm. (_the wistfulness with which he speaks of that outside his
knowledge_) I s'pose 'tis. It's the way it rises--somehow--as if it knew
it rose from wide and fertile lands. I climbed the hill that night,
(_to_ FEJEVARY) You'd been talkin'. As we waited between medicines you
told me about your life as a young man. All you'd lived through seemed
to--open up to you that night--way things do at times. Guess it was
'cause you thought you was goin' to lose your horse. See, that was
Colonel, the sorrel, wasn't it?

FEJEVARY: Yes. Good old Colonel.

SILAS: You'd had a long run o' off luck. Hadn't got things back in shape
since the war. But say, you didn't lose him, did you?

FEJEVARY: Thanks to you.

SILAS: Thanks to the medicine I keep in the back kitchen.

FEJEVARY: You encouraged him.

GRANDMOTHER: Silas has a way with all the beasts.

SILAS: We've got the same kind of minds--the beasts and me.

GRANDMOTHER: Silas, I wish you wouldn't talk like that--and with Felix
just home from Harvard College.

SILAS: Same kind of minds--except that mine goes on a little farther.

GRANDMOTHER: Well I'm glad to hear you say that.

SILAS: Well, there we sat--you an' me--middle of a starry night, out
beside your barn. And I guess it came over you kind of funny you should
be there with me--way off the Mississippi, tryin' to save a sick horse.
Seemed to--bring your life to life again. You told me what you studied
in that fine old university you loved--the Vienna,--and why you became a
revolutionist. The old dreams took hold o' you and you talked--way you
used to, I suppose. The years, o' course, had rubbed some of it off.
Your face as you went on about the vision--you called it, vision of what
life could be. I knew that night there was things I never got wind of.
When I went away--knew I ought to go home to bed--hayin' at daybreak.
'Go to bed?' I said to myself. 'Strike this dead when you've never had
it before, may never have it again?' I climbed the hill. Blackhawk was
there.

GRANDMOTHER: Why, he was _dead_.

SILAS: He was there--on his own old hill, with me and the stars. And I
said to him--

GRANDMOTHER: Silas!

SILAS: Says I to him, 'Yes--that's true; it's more yours than mine, you
had it first and loved it best. But it's neither yours nor mine,--though
both yours and mine. Not my hill, not your hill, but--hill of vision',
said I to him. 'Here shall come visions of a better world than was ever
seen by you or me, old Indian chief.' Oh, I was drunk, plum drunk.

GRANDMOTHER: I should think you was. And what about the next day's hay?

SILAS: A day in the hayfield is a day's hayin'--but a night on the
hill--

FELIX: We don't have them often, do we, Uncle Silas?

SILAS: I wouldn't 'a' had that one but for your father, Felix. Thank God
they drove you out o' Hungary! And it's all so dog-gone _queer_. Ain't
it queer how things blow from mind to mind--like seeds. Lord
A'mighty--you don't know where they'll take hold.

(_Children's voices off_.)

GRANDMOTHER: There come those children up from the creek--soppin' wet, I
warrant. Well, I don't know how children ever get raised. But we raise
more of 'em than we used to. I buried three--first ten years I was here.
Needn't 'a' happened--if we'd known what we know now, and if we hadn't
been alone. (_With all her strength_.) I don't know what you mean--the
hill's not yours!

SILAS: It's the future's, mother--so's we can know more than we know
now.

GRANDMOTHER: We know it now. 'Twas then we didn't know it. I worked for
that hill! And I tell you to leave it to your own children.

SILAS: There's other land for my own children. This is for all the
children.

GRANDMOTHER: What's all the children to you?

SILAS: (_derisively_) Oh, mother--what a thing for you to say! You who
were never too tired to give up your own bed so the stranger could have
a better bed.

GRANDMOTHER: That was different. They was folks on their way.

FEJEVARY: So are we.

(SILAS _turns to him with quick appreciation_.)

GRANDMOTHER: That's just talk. We're settled now. Children of other old
settlers are getting rich. I should think you'd want yours to.

SILAS: I want other things more. I want to pay my debts 'fore I'm too
old to know they're debts.

GRANDMOTHER: (_momentarily startled_) Debts? Huh! More talk. You don't
owe any man.

SILAS: I owe him (_nodding to_ FEJEVARY). And the red boys here before
me.

GRANDMOTHER: Fiddlesticks.

FELIX: You haven't read Darwin, have you, Uncle Silas?

SILAS: Who?

FELIX: Darwin, the great new man--and his theory of the survival of the
fittest?

SILAS: No. No, I don't know things like that, Felix.

FELIX: I think he might make you feel better about the Indians. In the
struggle for existence many must go down. The fittest survive. This--had
to be.

SILAS: Us and the Indians? Guess I don't know what you mean--fittest.

FELIX: He calls it that. Best fitted to the place in which one finds
one's self, having the qualities that can best cope with conditions--do
things. From the beginning of life it's been like that. He shows the
growth of life from forms that were hardly alive, the lowest animal
forms--jellyfish--up to man.

SILAS: Oh, yes, that's the thing the churches are so upset about--that
we come from monkeys.

FELIX: Yes. One family of ape is the direct ancestor of man.

GRANDMOTHER: You'd better read your Bible, Felix.

SILAS: Do people believe this?

FELIX: The whole intellectual world is at war about it. The best
scientists accept it. Teachers are losing their positions for believing
it. Of course, ministers can't believe it.

GRANDMOTHER: I should think not. Anyway, what's the use believing a
thing that's so discouraging?

FEJEVARY: (_gently_) But is it that? It almost seems to me we have to
accept it because it is so encouraging. (_holding out his hand_) Why
have we hands?

GRANDMOTHER: Cause God gave them to us, I s'pose.

FEJEVARY: But that's rather general, and there isn't much in it to give
us self-confidence. But when you think we have hands because ages
back--before life had taken form as man, there was an impulse to do what
had never been done--when you think that we have hands today because
from the first of life there have been adventurers--those of best brain
and courage who wanted to be more than life had been, and that from
aspiration has come doing, and doing has shaped the thing with which to
do--it gives our hand a history which should make us want to use it
well.

SILAS: (_breathed from deep_) Well, by God! And you've known this all
this while! Dog-gone you--why didn't you tell me?

FEJEVARY: I've been thinking about it. I haven't known what to believe.
This hurts--beliefs of earlier years.

FELIX: The things it hurts will have to go.

FEJEVARY: I don't know about that, Felix. Perhaps in time we'll find
truth in them.

FELIX: Oh, if you feel that way, father.

FEJEVARY: Don't be kind to me, my boy, I'm not that old.

SILAS: But think what it is you've said! If it's true that we made
ourselves--made ourselves out of the wanting to be more--created
ourselves you might say, by our own courage--our--what is
it?--aspiration. Why, I can't take it in. I haven't got the mind to take
it in. And what mind I have got says no. It's too--

FEJEVARY: It fights with what's there.

SILAS: (_nodding_) But it's like I got this (_very slowly_) other way
around. From underneath. As if I'd known it all along--but have just
found out I know it! Yes. The earth told me. The beasts told me.

GRANDMOTHER: Fine place to learn things from.

SILAS: Anyhow, haven't I seen it? (_to_ FEJEVARY) In your face haven't I
seen thinking make a finer face? How long has this taken, Felix,
to--well, you might say, bring us where we are now?

FELIX: Oh, we don't know how many millions of years since earth first
stirred.

SILAS: Then we are what we are because through all that time there've
been them that wanted to be more than life had been.

FELIX: That's it, Uncle Silas.

SILAS: But--why, then we aren't _finished_ yet!

FEJEVARY: No. We take it on from here.

SILAS: (_slowly_) Then if we don't be--the most we can be, if we don't
be more than life has been, we go back on all that life behind us; go
back on--the--

(_Unable to formulate it, he looks to_ FEJEVARY.)

FEJEVARY: Go back on the dreaming and the daring of a million years.

(_After a moment's pause_ SILAS _gets up, opens the closet door_.)

GRANDMOTHER: Silas, what you doing?

SILAS: (_who has taken out a box_) I'm lookin' for the deed to the hill.

GRANDMOTHER: What you going to do with it?

SILAS: I'm going to get it out of my hands.

GRANDMOTHER: Get it out of your hands? (_he has it now_) Deed your
father got from the government the very year the government got it from
the Indians?

(_rising_) Give me that! (_she turns to_ FEJEVARY) Tell him he's crazy.
We got the best land 'cause we was first here. We got a right to keep
it.

FEJEVARY: (_going soothingly to her_) It's true, Silas, it is a serious
thing to give away one's land.

SILAS: You ought to know. You did it. Are you sorry you did it?

FEJEVARY: No. But wasn't that different?

SILAS: How was it different? Yours was a fight to make life more, wasn't
it? Well, let this be our way.

GRANDMOTHER: What's all that got to do with giving up the land that
should provide for our own children?

SILAS: Isn't it providing for them to give them a better world to live
in? Felix--you're young, I ask you, ain't it providing for them to give
them a chance to be more than we are?

FELIX: I think you're entirely right, Uncle Silas. But it's the
practical question that--

SILAS: If you're right, the practical question is just a thing to fix
up.

FEJEVARY: I fear you don't realize the immense amount of money required
to finance a college. The land would be a start. You would have to
interest rich men; you'd have to have a community in sympathy with the
thing you wanted to do.

GRANDMOTHER: Can't you see, Silas, that we're all against you?

SILAS: All against me? (_to_ FEJEVARY) But how can you be? Look at the
land we walked in and took! Was there ever such a chance to make life
more? Why, the buffalo here before us was more than we if we do nothing
but prosper! God damn us if we sit here rich and fat and forget man's in
the makin'. (_affirming against this_) There will one day be a college
in these cornfields by the Mississippi because long ago a great dream
was fought for in Hungary. And I say to that old dream, Wake up, old
dream! Wake up and fight! You say rich men. (_holding it out, but it is
not taken_) I give you this deed to take to rich men to show them one
man believes enough in this to give the best land he's got. That ought
to make rich men stop and think.

GRANDMOTHER: Stop and think he's a fool.

SILAS: (_to_ FEJEVARY) It's you can make them know he's not a fool. When
you tell this way you can tell it, they'll feel in you what's more than
them. They'll listen.

GRANDMOTHER: I tell you, Silas, folks are too busy.

SILAS: Too busy!' Too busy bein' nothin'? If it's true that we created
ourselves out of the thoughts that came, then thought is not something
_outside_ the business of life. Thought--(_with his gift for wonder_)
why, thought's our chance. I know now. Why I can't forget the Indians.
We killed their joy before we killed them. We made them less, (_to_
FEJEVARY, _and as if sure he is now making it clear_) I got to give it
back--their hill. I give it back to joy--a better joy--joy o'aspiration.

FEJEVARY: (_moved but unconvinced_) But, my friend, there are men who
have no aspiration. That's why, to me, this is as a light shining from
too far.

GRANDMOTHER: (_old things waked in her_) Light shining from far. We used
to do that. We never pulled the curtain. I used to want to--you like to
be to yourself when night conies--but we always left a lighted window
for the traveller who'd lost his way.

FELIX: I should think that would have exposed you to the Indians.

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. (_impatiently_) Well, you can't put out a light just
because it may light the wrong person.

FEJEVARY: No. (_and this is as a light to him. He turns to the hill_)
No.

SILAS: (_with gentleness, and profoundly_) That's it. Look again. Maybe
your eyes are stronger now. Don't you see it? I see that college rising
as from the soil itself, as if it was what come at the last of that
thinking that breathes from the earth. I see it--but I want to know it's
real before I stop knowing. Then maybe I can lie under the same sod with
the red boys and not be ashamed. We're not old! Let's fight! Wake in
other men what you woke in me!

FEJEVARY: And so could I pay my debt to America. (_His hand goes out_.)

SILAS: (_giving him the deed_) And to the dreams of a million years!
(_Standing near the open door, their hands are gripped in compact_.)


CURTAIN



ACT II


SCENE: _A corridor in the library of Morton College, October of the year
1920, upon the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of its founding.
This is an open place in the stacks of books, which are seen at both
sides. There is a reading-table before the big rear window. This window
opens out, but does not extend to the floor; only a part of its height
is seen, indicating a very high window. Outside is seen the top of a
tree. This outer wall of the building is on a slant, so that the
entrance right is near, and the left is front. Right front is a section
of a huge square column. On the rear of this, facing the window, is hung
a picture of SILAS MORTON. Two men are standing before this portrait_.

SENATOR LEWIS _is the Midwestern state senator. He is not of the city
from which Morton College rises, but of a more country community farther
in-state_. FELIX FEJEVARY, _now nearing the age of his father in the
first act, is an American of the more sophisticated type--prosperous,
having the poise of success in affairs and place in society_.

SENATOR: And this was the boy who founded the place, eh? It was his
idea?

FEJEVARY: Yes, and his hill. I was there the afternoon he told my father
there must be a college here. I wasn't any older then than my boy is
now.

(_As if himself surprised by this_.)

SENATOR: Well, he enlisted a good man when he let you in on it. I've
been told the college wouldn't be what it is today but for you, Mr
Fejevary.

FEJEVARY: I have a sentiment about it, and where our sentiment is, there
our work goes also.

SENATOR: Yes. Well, it was those mainsprings of sentiment that won the
war.

(_He is pleased with this_.)

FEJEVARY: (_nodding_) Morton College did her part in winning the war.

SENATOR: I know. A fine showing.

FEJEVARY: And we're holding up our end right along. You'll see the boys
drill this afternoon. It's a great place for them, here on the
hill--shows up from so far around. They're a fine lot of fellows. You
know, I presume, that they went in as strike-breakers during the trouble
down here at the steel works. The plant would have had to close but for
Morton College. That's one reason I venture to propose this thing of a
state appropriation for enlargement. Why don't we sit down a moment?
There's no conflict with the state university--they have their
territory, we have ours. Ours is an important one--industrially
speaking. The state will lose nothing in having a good strong college
here--a one-hundred-per-cent-American college.

SENATOR: I admit I am very favourably impressed.

FEJEVARY: I hope you'll tell your committee so--and let me have a chance
to talk to them.

SENATOR: Let's see, haven't you a pretty radical man here?

FEJEVARY: I wonder if you mean Holden?

SENATOR: Holden's the man. I've read things that make me question his
Americanism.

FEJEVARY: Oh--(_gesture of depreciation_) I don't think he is so much a
radical as a particularly human human-being.

SENATOR: But we don't want radical human beings.

FEJEVARY: He has a genuine sympathy with youth. That's invaluable in a
teacher, you know. And then--he's a scholar.

(_He betrays here his feeling of superiority to his companion, but too
subtly for his companion to get it_.)

SENATOR: Oh--scholar. We can get scholars enough. What we want is
Americans.

FEJEVARY: Americans who are scholars.

SENATOR: You can pick 'em off every bush--pay them a little more than
they're paid in some other cheap John College. Excuse me--I don't mean
this is a cheap John College.

FEJEVARY: Of course not. One couldn't think that of Morton College. But
that--pay them a little more, interests me. That's another reason I want
to talk to your committee on appropriations. We claim to value education
and then we let highly trained, gifted men fall behind the plumber.

SENATOR: Well, that's the plumber's fault. Let the teachers talk to the
plumber.

FEJEVARY: (_with a smile_) No. Better not let them talk to the plumber.
He might tell them what to do about it. In fact, is telling them.

SENATOR: That's ridiculous. They can't serve both God and mammon.

FEJEVARY: Then let God give them mammon. I mean, let the state
appropriate.

SENATOR: Of course this state, Mr Fejevary, appropriates no money for
radicals. Excuse me, but why do you keep this man Holden?

FEJEVARY: In the scholar's world we're known because of him. And really,
Holden's not a radical--in the worst sense. What he doesn't see
is--expediency. Not enough the man of affairs to realize that we can't
always have literally what we have theoretically. He's an idealist.
Something of the--man of vision.

SENATOR: If he had the right vision he'd see that we don't every minute
have literally what we have theoretically because we're fighting to keep
the thing we have. Oh, I sometimes think the man of affairs has the only
vision. Take you, Mr Fejevary--a banker. These teachers--books--books!
(_pushing all books back_) Why, if they had to take for one day the
responsibility that falls on your shoulders--big decisions to make--man
among men--and all the time worries, irritations, particularly now with
labour riding the high horse like a fool! I know something about these
things. I went to the State House because my community persuaded me it
was my duty. But I'm the man of affairs myself.

FEJEVARY: Oh yes, I know. Your company did much to develop that whole
northern part of the state.

SENATOR: I think I may say we did. Well, that's why, after three
sessions, I'm chairman of the appropriations committee. I know how to
use money to promote the state. So--teacher? That would be a perpetual
vacation to me. Now, if you want my advice, Mr Fejevary,--I think your
case before the state would be stronger if you let this fellow Holden
go.

FEJEVARY: I'm going to have a talk with Professor Holden.

SENATOR: Tell him it's for his own good. The idea of a college professor
standing up for conscientious objectors!

FEJEVARY: That doesn't quite state the case. Fred Jordan was one of
Holden's students--a student he valued. He felt Jordan was perfectly
sincere in his objection.

SENATOR: Sincere in his objections! The nerve of him thinking it was his
business to be sincere!

FEJEVARY: He was expelled from college--you may remember; that was how
we felt about it.

SENATOR: I should hope so.

FEJEVARY: Holden fought that, but within the college. What brought him
into the papers was his protest against the way the boy has been treated
in prison.

SENATOR: What's the difference how he's treated? You know how I'd treat
him? (_a movement as though pulling a trigger_) If I didn't know you for
the American you are, I wouldn't understand your speaking so calmly.

FEJEVARY: I'm simply trying to see it all sides around.

SENATOR: Makes me see red.

FEJEVARY: (_with a smile_) But we mustn't meet red with red.

SENATOR: What's Holden fussing about--that they don't give him caviare
on toast?

FEJEVARY: That they didn't give him books. Holden felt it was his
business to fuss about that.

SENATOR: Well, when your own boy 'stead of whining around about his
conscience, stood up and offered his life!

FEJEVARY: Yes. And my nephew gave his life.

SENATOR: That so?

FEJEVARY: Silas Morton's grandson died in France. My sister Madeline
married Ira Morton, son of Silas Morton.

SENATOR: I knew there was a family connection between you and the
Mortons.

FEJEVARY: (_speaking with reserve_) They played together as children and
married as soon as they were grown up.

SENATOR: So this was your sister's boy? (FEJEVARY _nods_) One of the
mothers to give her son!

FEJEVARY: (_speaking of her with effort_) My sister died--long ago.
(_pulled to an old feeling; with an effort releasing himself_) But Ira
is still out at the old place--place the Mortons took up when they
reached the end of their trail--as Uncle Silas used to put it. Why, it's
a hundred years ago that Grandmother Morton began--making cookies here.
She was the first white woman in this country.

SENATOR: Proud woman! To have begun the life of this state! Oh, our
pioneers! If they could only see us now, and know what they did!
(FEJEVARY _is silent; he does not look quite happy_) I suppose Silas
Morton's son is active in the college management.

FEJEVARY: No, Ira is not a social being. Fred's death about finished
him. He had been--strange for years, ever since my sister died--when the
children were little. It was--(_again pulled back to that old feeling_)
under pretty terrible circumstances.

SENATOR: I can see that you thought a great deal of your sister, Mr
Fejevary.

FEJEVARY: Oh, she was beautiful and--(_bitterly_) it shouldn't have gone
like that.

SENATOR: Seems to me I've heard something about Silas Morton's
son--though perhaps it wasn't this one.

FEJEVARY: Ira is the only one living here now; the others have gone
farther west.

SENATOR: Isn't there something about corn?

FEJEVARY: Yes. His corn has several years taken the prize--best in the
state. He's experimented with it--created a new kind. They've given it
his name--Morton corn. It seems corn is rather fascinating to work
with--very mutable stuff. It's a good thing Ira has it, for it's about
the only thing he does care for now. Oh, Madeline, of course. He has a
daughter here in the college--Madeline Morton, senior this year--one of
our best students. I'd like to have you meet Madeline--she's a great
girl, though--peculiar.

SENATOR: Well, that makes a girl interesting, if she isn't peculiar the
wrong way. Sounds as if her home life might make her a little peculiar.

FEJEVARY: Madeline stays here in town with us a good part of the time.
Mrs Fejevary is devoted to her--we all are. (_a boy starts to come
through from right_) Hello, see who's here. This is my boy. Horace, this
is Senator Lewis, who is interested in the college.

HORACE: (_shaking hands_) How do you do, Senator Lewis?

SENATOR: Pleased to see you, my boy.

HORACE: Am I butting in?

FEJEVARY: Not seriously; but what are you doing in the library? I
thought this was a day off.

HORACE: I'm looking for a book.

FEJEVARY: (_affectionately bantering_) You are, Horace? Now how does
that happen?

HORACE: I want the speeches of Abraham Lincoln.

SENATOR: You couldn't do better.

HORACE: I'll show those dirty dagoes where they get off!

FEJEVARY: You couldn't show them a little more elegantly?

HORACE: I'm going to sick the Legion on 'em.

FEJEVARY: Are you talking about the Hindus?

HORACE: Yes, the dirty dagoes.

FEJEVARY: Hindus aren't dagoes you know, Horace.

HORACE: Well, what's the difference? This foreign element gets my goat.

SENATOR: My boy, you talk like an American. But what do you
mean--Hindus?

FEJEVARY: There are two young Hindus here as students. And they're good
students.

HORACE: Sissies.

FEJEVARY: But they must preach the gospel of free India--non-British
India.

SENATOR: Oh, that won't do.

HORACE: They're nothing but Reds, I'll say. Well, one of 'em's going
back to get his. (_grins_)

FEJEVARY: There were three of them last year. One of them is wanted back
home.

SENATOR: I remember now. He's to be deported.

HORACE: And when they get him--(_movement as of pulling a rope_) They
hang there.

FEJEVARY: The other two protest against our not fighting the deportation
of their comrade. They insist it means death to him. (_brushing off a
thing that is inclined to worry him_) But we can't handle India's
affairs.

SENATOR: I should think not!

HORACE: Why, England's our ally! That's what I told them. But you can't
argue with people like that. Just wait till I find the speeches of
Abraham Lincoln!

(_Passes through to left_)

SENATOR: Fine boy you have, Mr Fejevary.

FEJEVARY: He's a live one. You should see him in a football game.
Wouldn't hurt my feelings in the least to have him a little more of a
student, but--

SENATOR: Oh, well, you want him to be a regular fellow, don't you, and
grow into a man among men?

FEJEVARY: He'll do that, I think. It was he who organized our boys for
the steel strike--went right in himself and took a striker's job. He
came home with a black eye one night, presented to him by a picket who
started something by calling him a scab. But Horace wasn't thinking
about his eye. According to him, it was not in the class with the
striker's upper lip. 'Father,' he said, 'I gave him more red than he
could swallow. The blood just--' Well, I'll spare you--but Horace's
muscle is one hundred per cent American. (_going to the window_) Let me
show you something. You can see the old Morton place off on that first
little hill. (_pointing left_) The first rise beyond the valley.

SENATOR: The long low house?

FEJEVARY: That's it. You see, the town for the most part swung around
the other side of the hill, so the Morton place is still a farm.

SENATOR: But you're growing all the while. The town'll take the
cornfield yet.

FEJEVARY: Yes, our steel works is making us a city.

SENATOR: And this old boy (_turning to the portrait of_ SILAS MORTON)
can look out on his old home--and watch the valley grow.

FEJEVARY: Yes--that was my idea. His picture really should be in
Memorial Hall, but I thought Uncle Silas would like to be up here among
the books, and facing the old place. (_with a laugh_) I confess to being
a little sentimental.

SENATOR: We Americans have lots of sentiment, Mr Fejevary. It's what
makes us--what we are. (FEJEVARY _does not speak; there are times when
the senator seems to trouble him_) Well, this is a great site for a
college. You can see it from the whole country round.

FEJEVARY: Yes, that was Uncle Silas' idea. He had a reverence for
education. It grew, in part, out of his feeling for my father. He was a
poet--really, Uncle Silas. (_looking at the picture_) He gave this hill
for a college that we might become a deeper, more sensitive people--

(_Two girls, convulsed with the giggles, come tumbling in_.)

DORIS: (_confused_) Oh--oh, excuse us.

FUSSIE: (_foolishly_) We didn't know anybody was here.

(MR FEJEVARY _looks at them sternly. The girls retreat_.)

SENATOR: (_laughing_) Oh, well girls will be girls. I've got three of my
own.

(HORACE _comes back, carrying an open book_.)

HORACE: Say, this must be a misprint.

FEJEVARY: (_glancing at the back of the book_) Oh, I think not.

HORACE: From his first inaugural address to Congress, March 4, 1861.
(_reads_) 'This country with its institutions belong to the people who
inhabit it.' Well, that's all right. 'Whenever they shall grow weary of
the existing government they can exercise their constitutional right of
amending it'--(_after a brief consideration_) I suppose that that's all
right--but listen! 'or their revolutionary right to dismember or
overthrow it.'

FEJEVARY: He was speaking in another age. An age of different values.

SENATOR: Terms change their significance from generation to generation.

HORACE: I suppose they do--but that puts me in bad with these lice. They
quoted this and I said they were liars.

SENATOR: And what's the idea? They're weary of our existing government
and are about to dismember or overthrow it?

HORACE: I guess that's the dope.

FEJEVARY: Look here, Horace--speak accurately. Was it in relation to
America they quoted this?

HORACE: Well, maybe they were talking about India then. But they were
standing up for being revolutionists. We were giving them an earful
about it, and then they spring Lincoln on us. Got their nerve--I'll
say--quoting Lincoln to us.

SENATOR: The fact that they are quoting it shows it's being misapplied.

HORACE: (_approvingly_) I'll tell them that. But gee--Lincoln oughta
been more careful what he said. Ignorant people don't know how to take
such things.

(_Goes back with book_.)

FEJEVARY: Want to take a look through the rest of the library? We
haven't been up this way yet--(_motioning left_) We need a better
scientific library. (_they are leaving now_) Oh, we simply must have
more money. The whole thing is fairly bursting its shell.

DORIS: (_venturing in cautiously from the other side, looking back,
beckoning_) They've gone.

FUSSIE: Sure?

DORIS: Well, are they here? And I saw them, I tell you--they went up to
science.

FUSSIE: (_moving the_ SENATOR'S _hat on the table_) But they'll come
back.

DORIS: What if they do? We're only looking at a book. (_running her hand
along the books_) Matthew Arnold.

(_Takes a paper from_ FUSSIE, _puts it in the book. They are bent with
giggling as_ HORACE _returns_.)

HORACE: For the love o' Pete, what's the joke? (_taking the book from
the helpless girl_) Matthew Arnold. My idea of nowhere to go for a
laugh. When I wrote my theme on him last week he was so dry I had to go
out and get a Morton Sundee (_the girls are freshly attacked, though all
of this in a subdued way, mindful of others in the library_) Say, how'd
you get that way?

DORIS: Now, Horace, don't you _tell_.

HORACE: What'd I tell, except--(_seeing the paper_) Um hum--what's this?

DORIS: (_trying to get it from him_) Horace, now _don't_ you (_a
tussle_) You great strong mean thing! Fussie! Make him _stop_.

(_She gets the paper by tearing it_.)

HORACE: My dad's around here--showing the college off to a politician.
If you don't come across with that sheet of mystery, I'll back you both
out there (_starts to do it_) and--

DORIS: Horace! You're just _horrid_.

HORACE: Sure I'm horrid. That's the way I want to be. (_takes the paper,
reads_)

  'To Eben
  You are the idol of my dreams
  I worship from afar.'
What is this?

FUSSIE: Now, listen, Horace, and don't you _tell_. You know Eben Weeks.
He's the homeliest man in school. Wouldn't you say so?

HORACE: Awful jay. Like to get some of the jays out of here.

DORIS: But listen. Of course, no girl would _look_ at him. So we've
thought up the most _killing_ joke, (_stopped by giggles from herself
and_ FUSSIE) Now, he hasn't handed in his Matthew Arnold dope. I heard
old Mac hold him up for it--and what'd you think he said? That he'd been
_ploughing_. Said he was trying to run a farm and go to college at the
same time! Isn't it a _scream_?

HORACE: We oughta--make it more unpleasant for some of those jays. Gives
the school a bad name.

FUSSIE: But, listen, Horace, honest--you'll just _die_. He said he was
going to get the book this afternoon. Now you know what he _looks_ like,
but he turns to--(_both girls are convulsed_)

DORIS: It'll get him all fussed up! And for nothing at all!

HORACE: Too bad that class of people come here. I think I'll go to
Harvard next year. Haven't broken it to my parents--but I've about made
up my mind.

DORIS: Don't you think Morton's a good school, Horace?

HORACE: Morton's all right. Fine for the--(_kindly_) people who would
naturally come here. But one gets an acquaintance at Harvard. Wher'd'y'
want these passionate lines?

(FUSSIE _and_ DORIS _are off again convulsed_.)

HORACE: (_eye falling on the page where he opens the book_) Say, old
Bones could spill the English--what? Listen to this flyer. 'For when we
say that culture is to know the best that has been thought and said in
the world, we simply imply that for culture a system directly tending to
that end is necessary in our reading.' (_he reads it with mock
solemnity, delighting_ FUSSIE _and_ DORIS) The best that has been
thought and said in the world!'

(MADELINE MORTON _comes in from right; she carries a tennis racket_.)

MADELINE: (_both critical and good-humoured_) You haven't made a large
contribution to that, have you, Horace?

HORACE: Madeline, you don't want to let this sarcastic habit grow on
you.

MADELINE: Thanks for the tip.

FUSSIE: Oh--_Madeline, (holds out her hand to take the book from_ HORACE
_and shows it to_ MADELINE) You know--

DORIS: S-h Don't be silly, (_to cover this_) Who you playing with?

HORACE: Want me to play with you, Madeline?

MADELINE: (_genially_) I'd rather play with you than talk to you.

HORACE: Same here.

FUSSIE: Aren't cousins affectionate?

MADELINE: (_moving through to the other part of the library_) But first
I'm looking for a book.

HORACE: Well, I can tell you without your looking it up, he did say it.
But that was an age of different values. Anyway, the fact that they're
quoting it shows it's being misapplied.

MADELINE: (_smiling_) Father said so.

HORACE: (_on his dignity_) Oh, of course--if you don't want to be
serious.

(MADELINE _laughs and passes on through_.)

DORIS: What are you two talking about?

HORACE: Madeline happened to overhear a little discussion down on the
campus.

FUSSIE: Listen. You know something? Sometimes I think Madeline Morton is
a highbrow in disguise.

HORACE: Say, you don't want to start anything like that. Madeline's all
right. She and I treat each other rough--but that's being in the family.

FUSSIE: Well, I'll _tell_ you something. I heard Professor Holden say
Madeline Morton has a great deal more mind than she'd let herself know.

HORACE: Oh, well--Holden, he's erratic. Look at how popular Madeline is.

DORIS: I should say. What's the matter with you, Fussie?

FUSSIE: Oh, I didn't mean it really _hurt_ her.

HORACE: Guess it don't hurt her much at a dance. Say, what's this new
jazz they were springing last night?

DORIS: I know! Now look here, Horace--L'me show you. (_she shows him a
step_)

HORACE: I get you. (_He begins to dance with her; the book he holds
slips to the floor. He kicks it under the table_.)

FUSSIE: Be careful. They'll be coming back here, (_glances off left_)

DORIS: Keep an eye out, Fussie.

FUSSIE: (_from her post_) They're coming! I tell you, they're _coming!_

DORIS: Horace, come on.

(_He teasingly keeps hold of her, continuing the dance. At sound of
voices, they run off, right_. FUSSIE _considers rescuing the book,
decides she has not time_.)

SENATOR: (_at first speaking off_) Yes, it could be done. There is that
surplus, and as long as Morton College is socially valuable--right here
above the steel works, and making this feature of military
training--(_he has picked up his hat_) But your Americanism must be
unimpeachable, Mr Fejevary. This man Holden stands in the way.

FEJEVARY: I'm going to have a talk with Professor Holden this afternoon.
If he remains he will--(_it is not easy for him to say_) give no
trouble. (MADELINE _returns_) Oh, here's Madeline--Silas Morton's
granddaughter, Madeline Fejevary Morton. This is Senator Lewis,
Madeline.

SENATOR: (_holding out his hand_) How do you do, Miss Morton. I suppose
this is a great day for you.

MADELINE: Why--I don't know.

SENATOR: The fortieth anniversary of the founding of your grandfather's
college? You must be very proud of your illustrious ancestor.

MADELINE: I get a bit bored with him.

SENATOR: Bored with him? My dear young lady!

MADELINE: I suppose because I've heard so many speeches about him--'The
sainted pioneer'--'the grand old man of the prairies'--I'm sure I
haven't any idea what he really was like.

FEJEVARY: I've tried to tell you, Madeline.

MADELINE: Yes.

SENATOR: I should think you would be proud to be the granddaughter of
this man of vision.

MADELINE: (_her smile flashing_) Wouldn't you hate to be the
granddaughter of a phrase?

FEJEVARY: (_trying to laugh it off_) Madeline! How absurd.

MADELINE: Well, I'm off for tennis.

(_Nods good-bye and passes on_.)

FEJEVARY: (_calling to her_) Oh, Madeline, if your Aunt Isabel is out
there--will you tell her where we are?

MADELINE: (_calling back_) All right.

FEJEVARY: (_after a look at his companion_) Queer girl, Madeline.
Rather--moody.

SENATOR: (_disapprovingly_) Well--yes.

FEJEVARY: (_again trying to laugh it off_) She's been hearing a great
many speeches about her grandfather.

SENATOR: She should be proud to hear them.

FEJEVARY: Of course she should. (_looking in the direction_ MADELINE
_has gone_) I want you to meet my wife, Senator Lewis.

SENATOR: I should be pleased to meet Mrs Fejevary. I have heard what she
means to the college--socially.

FEJEVARY: I think she has given it something it wouldn't have had
without her. Certainly a place in the town that is--good for it. And you
haven't met our president yet.

SENATOR: Guess, I've met the real president.

FEJEVARY: Oh--no. I'm merely president of the board of trustees.

SENATOR: 'Merely!'

FEJEVARY: I want you to know President Welling. He's very much the
cultivated gentleman.

SENATOR: Cultivated gentlemen are all right. I'd hate to see a world
they ran.

FEJEVARY: (_with a laugh_) I'll just take a look up here, then we can go
down the shorter way.

(_He goes out right_. SENATOR LEWIS _turns and examines the books_.
FUSSIE _slips in, looks at him, hesitates, and then stoops under the
table for the Matthew Arnold (and her poem) which_ HORACE _has kicked
there. He turns_.)

FUSSIE: (_not out from under the table_) Oh, I was just looking for a
book.

SENATOR: Quite a place to look for a book.

FUSSIE: (_crawling out_) Yes, it got there. I thought I'd put it back.
Somebody--might want it.

SENATOR: I see, young lady, that you have a regard for books.

FUSSIE: Oh, yes, I do have a regard for them.

SENATOR: (_holding out his hand_) And what is your book?

FUSSIE: Oh--it's--it's nothing.

(_As he continues to hold out his hand, she reluctantly gives the
book_.)

SENATOR: (_solemnly_) Matthew Arnold? Nothing?

FUSSIE: Oh, I didn't mean _him_.

SENATOR: A master of English! I am glad, young woman, that you value
this book.

FUSSIE: Oh yes, I'm--awfully fond of it.

(_Growing more and more nervous as in turning the pages he nears the
poem_.)

SENATOR: I am interested in you young people of Morton College.

FUSSIE: That's so good of you.

SENATOR: What is your favourite study?

FUSSIE: Well--(_an inspiration_) I like all of them.

SENATOR: Morton College is coming on very fast, I understand.

FUSSIE: Oh yes, it's getting more and more of the right people. It used
to be a little jay, you know. Of course, the Fejevarys give it class.
Mrs Fejevary--isn't she wonderful?

SENATOR: I haven't seen her yet. Waiting here now to meet her.

FUSSIE: (_worried by this_) Oh, I must--must be going. Shall I put the
book back? (_holding out her hand_)

SENATOR: No, I'll just look it over a bit. (_sits down_)

FUSSIE: (_unable to think of any way of getting it_) This is where it
belongs.

SENATOR: Thank you.

(_Reluctantly she goes out_. SENATOR LEWIS _pursues Matthew Arnold with
the conscious air of a half literate man reading a 'great book'. The_
FEJEVARYS _come in_)

FEJEVARY: I found my wife, Senator Lewis.

AUNT ISABEL: (_she is a woman of social distinction and charm_) How do
you do, Senator Lewis? (_They shake hands_.)

SENATOR: It's a great pleasure to meet you, Mrs Fejevary.

AUNT ISABEL: Why don't we carry Senator Lewis home for lunch?

SENATOR: Why, you're very kind.

AUNT ISABEL: I'm sure there's a great deal to talk about, so why not
talk comfortably, and really get acquainted? And we want to tell you the
whole story of Morton College--the good old American spirit behind it.

SENATOR: I am glad to find you an American, Mrs Fejevary.

AUNT ISABEL: Oh, we are that. Morton College is one hundred per cent
American. Our boys--

(_Her boy_ HORACE _rushes in_.)

HORACE: (_wildly_) Father! Will you go after Madeline? The police have
got her!

FEJEVARY: _What!_

AUNT ISABEL: (_as he is getting his breath_) What absurd thing are you
saying, Horace?

HORACE: Awful row down on the campus. The Hindus. I told them to keep
their mouths shut about Abraham Lincoln. I told them the fact they were
quoting him--

FEJEVARY: Never mind what you told them! What happened?

HORACE: We started--to rustle them along a bit. Why, they had
_handbills_ (_holding one up as if presenting incriminating
evidence--the_ SENATOR _takes it from him_) telling America what to do
about deportation! Not on this campus--I say. So we were--we were
putting a stop to it. They resisted--particularly the fat one. The cop
at the corner saw the row--came up. He took hold of Bakhshish, and when
the dirty anarchist didn't move along fast enough, he took hold of
him--well, a bit rough, you might say, when up rushes Madeline and calls
to the cop, 'Let that boy alone!' Gee--I don't know just what did
happen--awful mix-up. Next thing I knew Madeline hauled off and pasted
the policeman a fierce one with her tennis racket!

SENATOR: She _struck_ the officer?

HORACE: I should say she did. Twice. The second time--

AUNT ISABEL: _Horace_. (_looking at her husband_) I--I can't believe it.

HORACE: I could have squared it, even then, but for Madeline herself. I
told the policeman that she didn't understand--that I was her cousin,
and apologized for her. And she called over at me, 'Better apologize for
yourself!' As if there was any sense to that--that she--she looked like
a _tiger_. Honest, everybody was afraid of her. I kept right on trying
to square it, told the cop she was the granddaughter of the man that
founded the college--that you were her uncle--he would have gone off
with just the Hindu, fixed this up later, but Madeline balled it up
again--didn't care who was her uncle--Gee! (_he throws open the window_)
There! You can see them, at the foot of the hill. A nice thing--member
of our family led off to the police station!

FEJEVARY: (_to the_ SENATOR) Will you excuse me?

AUNT ISABEL: (_trying to return to the manner of pleasant social
things_) Senator Lewis will go on home with me, and you--(_he is
hurrying out_) come when you can. (_to the_ SENATOR) Madeline is such a
high-spirited girl.

SENATOR: If she had no regard for the living, she might--on this day of
all others--have considered her grandfather's memory.

(_Raises his eyes to the picture of_ SILAS MORTON.)

HORACE: Gee! Wouldn't you _say_ so?


CURTAIN



ACT III

SCENE: _The same as Act II three hours later_. PROFESSOR HOLDEN _is
seated at the table, books before him. He is a man in the fifties. At
the moment his care-worn face is lighted by that lift of the spirit
which sometimes rewards the scholar who has imaginative feeling_. HARRY,
_a student clerk, comes hurrying in. Looks back_.

HARRY: Here's Professor Holden, Mr Fejevary.

HOLDEN: Mr Fejevary is looking for me?

HARRY: Yes.

(_He goes back, a moment later_ MR FEJEVARY _enters. He has his hat,
gloves, stick; seems tired and disturbed_.)

HOLDEN: Was I mistaken? I thought our appointment was for five.

FEJEVARY: Quite right. But things have changed, so I wondered if I might
have a little talk with you now.

HOLDEN: To be sure. (_rising_) Shall we go downstairs?

FEJEVARY: I don't know. Nice and quiet up here. (_to_ HARRY, _who is now
passing through_) Harry, the library is closed now, is it?

HARRY: Yes, it's locked.

FEJEVARY: And there's no one in here?

HARRY: No, I've been all through.

FEJEVARY: There's a committee downstairs. Oh, this is a terrible day.
(_putting his things on the table_) We'd better stay up here. Harry,
when my niece--when Miss Morton arrives--I want you to come and let me
know. Ask her not to leave the building without seeing me.

HARRY: Yes, sir. (_he goes out_)

FEJEVARY: Well, (_wearily_) it's been a day. Not the day I was looking
for.

HOLDEN: No.

FEJEVARY: You're very serene up here.

HOLDEN: Yes, I wanted to be--serene for a little while.

FEJEVARY: (_looking at the books_) Emerson. Whitman. (_with a smile_)
Have they anything new to say on economics?

HOLDEN: Perhaps not; but I wanted to forget economics for a time. I came
up here by myself to try and celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the
founding of Morton College. (_answering the other man's look_) Yes, I
confess I've been disappointed in the anniversary. As I left Memorial
Hall after the exercises this morning, Emerson's words came into my
mind--
  'Give me truth,
  For I am tired of surfaces
  And die of inanition.'
Well, then I went home--(_stops, troubled_)

FEJEVARY: How is Mrs Holden?

HOLDEN: Better, thank you, but--not strong.

FEJEVARY: She needs the very best of care for a time, doesn't she?

HOLDEN: Yes. (_silent a moment_) Then, this is something more than the
fortieth anniversary, you know. It's the first of the month.

FEJEVARY: And illness hasn't reduced the bills?

HOLDEN: (_shaking his head_) I didn't want this day to go like that; so
I came up here to try and touch what used to be here.

FEJEVARY: But you speak despondently of us. And there's been such a fine
note of optimism in the exercises. (_speaks with the heartiness of one
who would keep himself assured_)

HOLDEN: I didn't seem to want a fine note of optimism. (_with
roughness_) I wanted--a gleam from reality.

FEJEVARY: To me this is reality--the robust spirit created by all these
young people.

HOLDEN: Do you think it is robust? (_hand affectionately on the book
before him_) I've been reading Whitman.

FEJEVARY: This day has to be itself. Certain things go--others come;
life is change.

HOLDEN: Perhaps it's myself I'm discouraged with. Do you remember the
tenth anniversary of the founding of Morton College.

FEJEVARY: The tenth? Oh yes, that was when this library was opened.

HOLDEN: I shall never forget your father, Mr Fejevary, as he stood out
there and said the few words which gave these books to the students. Not
many books, but he seemed to baptize them in the very spirit from which
books are born.

FEJEVARY: He died the following year.

HOLDEN: One felt death near. But that didn't seem the important thing. A
student who had fought for liberty for mind. Of course his face would be
sensitive. You must be very proud of your heritage.

FEJEVARY: Yes. (_a little testily_) Well, I have certainly worked for
the college. I'm doing my best now to keep it a part of these times.

HOLDEN: (_as if this has not reached him_) It was later that same
afternoon I talked with Silas Morton. We stood at this window and looked
out over the valley to the lower hill that was his home. He told me how
from that hill he had for years looked up to this one, and why there had
to be a college here. I never felt America as that old farmer made me
feel it.

FEJEVARY: (_drawn by this, then shifting in irritation because he is
drawn_) I'm sorry to break in with practical things, but alas, I am a
practical man--forced to be. I too have made a fight--though the fight
to finance never appears an idealistic one. But I'm deep in that now,
and I must have a little help; at least, I must not have--stumbling-blocks.

HOLDEN: Am I a stumbling-block?

FEJEVARY: Candidly (_with a smile_) you are a little hard to finance.
Here's the situation. The time for being a little college has passed. We
must take our place as one of the important colleges--I make bold to say
one of the important universities--of the Middle West. But we have to
enlarge before we can grow. (_answering_ HOLDEN's _smile_) Yes, it is
ironic, but that's the way of it. It was a nice thing to open the
anniversary with fifty thousand from the steel works--but fifty thousand
dollars--nowadays--to an institution? (_waves the fifty thousand aside_)
They'll do more later, I think, when they see us coming into our own.
Meanwhile, as you know, there's this chance for an appropriation from
the state. I find that the legislature, the members who count, are very
friendly to Morton College. They like the spirit we have here. Well, now
I come to you, and you are one of the big reasons for my wanting to put
this over. Your salary makes me blush. It's all wrong that a man like
you should have these petty worries, particularly with Mrs Holden so in
need of the things a little money can do. Now this man Lewis is a
reactionary. So, naturally, he doesn't approve of you.

HOLDEN: So naturally I am to go.

FEJEVARY: Go? Not at all. What have I just been saying?

HOLDEN: Be silent, then.

FEJEVARY: Not that either--not--not really. But--be a little more
discreet. (_seeing him harden_) This is what I want to put up to you.
Why not give things a chance to mature in your own mind? Candidly, I
don't feel you know just what you do think; is it so awfully important
to express--confusion?

HOLDEN: The only man who knows just what he thinks at the present moment
is the man who hasn't done any new thinking in the past ten years.

FEJEVARY: (_with a soothing gesture_) You and I needn't quarrel about
it. I understand you, but I find it a little hard to interpret you to a
man like Lewis.

HOLDEN: Then why not let a man like Lewis go to thunder?

FEJEVARY: And let the college go to thunder? I'm not willing to do that.
I've made a good many sacrifices for this college. Given more money than
I could afford to give; given time and thought that I could have used
for personal gain.

HOLDEN: That's true, I know.

FEJEVARY: I don't know just why I've done it. Sentiment, I suppose. I
had a very strong feeling about my father, Professor Holden. And this
friend Silas Morton. This college is the child of that friendship. Those
are noble words in our manifesto: 'Morton College was born because there
came to this valley a man who held his vision for mankind above his own
advantage; and because that man found in this valley a man who wanted
beauty for his fellow-men as he wanted no other thing.'

HOLDEN: (_taking it up_) 'Born of the fight for freedom and the
aspiration to richer living, we believe that Morton College--rising as
from the soil itself--may strengthen all those here and everywhere who
fight for the life there is in freedom, and may, to the measure it can,
loosen for America the beauty that breathes from knowledge.' (_moved by
the words he has spoken_) Do you know, I would rather do that--really do
that--than--grow big.

FEJEVARY: Yes. But you see, or rather, what you don't see is, you have
to look at the world in which you find yourself. The only way to stay
alive is to grow big. It's been hard, but I have tried to--carry on.

HOLDEN: And so have I tried to carry on. But it is very hard--carrying
on a dream.

FEJEVARY: Well, I'm trying to make it easier.

HOLDEN: Make it easier by destroying the dream?

FEJEVARY: Not at all. What I want is scope for dreams.

HOLDEN: Are you sure we'd have the dreams after we've paid this price
for the scope?

FEJEVARY: Now let's not get rhetorical with one another.

HOLDEN: Mr Fejevary, you have got to let me be as honest with you as you
say you are being with me. You have got to let me say what I feel.

FEJEVARY: Certainly. That's why I wanted this talk with you.

HOLDEN: You say you have made sacrifices for Morton College. So have I.

FEJEVARY: How well I know that.

HOLDEN: You don't know all of it. I'm not sure you understand any of it.

FEJEVARY: (_charmingly_) Oh, I think you're hard on me.

HOLDEN: I spoke of the tenth anniversary. I was a young man then, just
home from Athens, (_pulled back into an old feeling_) I don't know why I
felt I had to go to Greece. I knew then that I was going to teach
something within sociology, and I didn't want anything I felt about
beauty to be left out of what I formulated about society. The Greeks--

FEJEVARY: (_as_ HOLDEN _has paused before what he sees_) I remember you
told me the Greeks were the passion of your student days.

HOLDEN: Not so much because they created beauty, but because they were
able to let beauty flow into their lives--to create themselves in
beauty. So as a romantic young man (_smiles_), it seemed if I could go
where they had been--what I had felt might take form. Anyway, I had a
wonderful time there. Oh, what wouldn't I give to have again that
feeling of life's infinite possibilities!

FEJEVARY: (_nodding_) A youthful feeling.

HOLDEN: (_softly_) I like youth. Well, I was just back, visiting my
sister here, at the time of the tenth anniversary. I had a chance then
to go to Harvard as instructor. A good chance, for I would have been
under a man who liked me. But that afternoon I heard your father speak
about books. I talked with Silas Morton. I found myself telling him
about Greece. No one had ever felt it as he felt it. It seemed to become
of the very bone of him.

FEJEVARY: (_affectionately_) I know how he used to do.

HOLDEN: He put his hands on my shoulders. He said, 'Young man, don't go
away. We need you here. Give us this great thing you've got!' And so I
stayed, for I felt that here was soil in which I could grow, and that
one's whole life was not too much to give to a place with roots like
that. (_a little bitterly_) Forgive me if this seems rhetoric.

FEJEVARY: (_a gesture of protest. Silent a moment_) You make it--hard
for me. (_with exasperation_) Don't you think I'd like to indulge myself
in an exalted mood? And why don't I? I can't afford it--not now. Won't
you have a little patience? And faith--faith that the thing we want will
be there for us after we've worked our way through the woods. We are in
the woods now. It's going to take our combined brains to get us out. I
don't mean just Morton College.

HOLDEN: No--America. As to getting out, I think you are all wrong.

FEJEVARY: That's one of your sweeping statements, Holden. Nobody's all
wrong. Even you aren't.

HOLDEN: And in what ways am I wrong--from the standpoint of your Senator
Lewis?

FEJEVARY: He's not my Senator Lewis, he's the state's, and we have to
take him as he is. Why, he objects, of course, to your radical
activities. He spoke of your defence of conscientious objectors.

HOLDEN: (_slowly_) I think a man who is willing to go to prison for what
he believes has stuff in him no college needs turn its back on.

FEJEVARY: Well, he doesn't agree with you--nor do I.

HOLDEN: (_still quietly_) And I think a society which permits things to
go on which I can prove go on in our federal prisons had better stop and
take a fresh look at itself. To stand for that and then talk of
democracy and idealism--oh, it shows no mentality, for one thing.

FEJEVARY: (_easily_) I presume the prisons do need a cleaning up. As to
Fred Jordan, you can't expect me to share your admiration. Our own
Fred--my nephew Fred Morton, went to France and gave his life. There's
some little courage, Holden, in doing that.

HOLDEN: I'm not trying to belittle it. But he had the whole spirit of
his age with him--fortunate boy. The man who stands outside the idealism
of this time--

FEJEVARY: Takes a good deal upon himself, I should say.

HOLDEN: There isn't any other such loneliness. You know in your heart
it's a noble courage.

FEJEVARY: It lacks--humility. (HOLDEN _laughs scoffingly_) And I think
you lack it. I'm asking you to co-operate with me for the good of Morton
College.

HOLDEN: Why not do it the other way? You say enlarge that we may grow.
That's false. It isn't of the nature of growth. Why not do it the way of
Silas Morton and Walt Whitman--each man being his purest and intensest
self. I was full of this fervour when you came in. I'm more and more
disappointed in our students. They're empty--flippant. No sensitive
moment opens them to beauty. No exaltation makes them--what they hadn't
known they were. I concluded some of the fault must be mine. The only
students I reach are the Hindus. Perhaps Madeline Morton--I don't quite
make her out. I too must have gone into a dead stratum. But I can get
back. Here alone this afternoon--(_softly_) I was back.

FEJEVARY: I think we'll have to let the Hindus go.

HOLDEN: (_astonished_) Go? Our best students?

FEJEVARY: This college is for Americans. I'm not going to have foreign
revolutionists come here and block the things I've spent my life working
for.

HOLDEN: I don't seem to know what you mean at all.

FEJEVARY: Why, that disgraceful performance this morning. I can settle
Madeline all right, (_looking at his watch_) She should be here by now.
But I'm convinced our case before the legislature will be stronger with
the Hindus out of here.

HOLDEN: Well, I seem to have missed something--disgraceful
performance--the Hindus, Madeline--(_stops, bewildered_)

FEJEVARY: You mean to say you don't know about the disturbance out here?

HOLDEN: I went right home after the address. Then came up here alone.

FEJEVARY: Upon my word, you do lead a serene life. While you've been
sitting here in contemplation I've been to the police court--trying to
get my niece out of jail. That's what comes of having radicals around.

HOLDEN: What happened?

FEJEVARY: One of our beloved Hindus made himself obnoxious on the
campus. Giving out handbills about freedom for India--howling over
deportation. Our American boys wouldn't stand for it. A policeman saw
the fuss--came up and started to put the Hindu in his place. Then
Madeline rushes in, and it ended in her pounding the policeman with her
tennis racket.

HOLDEN: Madeline Morton did that!

FEJEVARY: (_sharply_) You seem pleased.

HOLDEN: I am--interested.

FEJEVARY: Well, I'm not interested. I'm disgusted. My niece mixing up in
a free-for-all fight and getting taken to the police station! It's the
first disgrace we've ever had in our family.

HOLDEN: (_as one who has been given courage_) Wasn't there another
disgrace?

FEJEVARY: What do you mean?

HOLDEN: When your father fought his government and was banished from his
country.

FEJEVARY: That was not a disgrace!

HOLDEN: (_as if in surprise_) Wasn't it?

FEJEVARY: See here, Holden, you can't talk to me like that.

HOLDEN: I don't admit you can talk to me as you please and that I can't
talk to you. I'm a professor--not a servant.

FEJEVARY: Yes, and you're a damned difficult professor. I certainly have
tried to--

HOLDEN: (_smiling_) Handle me?

FEJEVARY: I ask you this. Do you know any other institution where you
could sit and talk with the executive head as you have here with me?

HOLDEN: I don't know. Perhaps not.

FEJEVARY: Then be reasonable. No one is entirely free. That's naïve.
It's rather egotistical to want to be. We're held by our relations to
others--by our obligations to the (_vaguely_)--the ultimate thing. Come
now--you admit certain dissatisfactions with yourself, so--why not go
with intensity into just the things you teach--and not touch quite so
many other things?

HOLDEN: I couldn't teach anything if I didn't feel free to go wherever
that thing took me. Thirty years ago I was asked to come to this college
precisely because my science was not in isolation, because of my vivid
feeling of us as a moment in a long sweep, because of my faith in the
greater beauty our further living may unfold.

(HARRY _enters_.)

HARRY: Excuse me. Miss Morton is here now, Mr Fejevary.

FEJEVARY: (_frowns, hesitates_) Ask her to come up here in five minutes
(_After_ HARRY _has gone_) I think we've thrown a scare into Madeline. I
thought as long as she'd been taken to jail it would be no worse for us
to have her stay there awhile. She's been held since one o'clock. That
ought to teach her reason.

HOLDEN: Is there a case against her?

FEJEVARY: No, I got it fixed up. Explained that it was just college girl
foolishness--wouldn't happen again. One reason I wanted this talk with
you first, if I do have any trouble with Madeline I want you to help me.

HOLDEN: Oh, I can't do that.

FEJEVARY: You aren't running out and clubbing the police. Tell her
she'll have to think things over and express herself with a little more
dignity.

HOLDEN: I ask to be excused from being present while you talk with her.

FEJEVARY: But why not stay in the library--in case I should need you.
Just take your books over to the east alcove and go on with what you
were doing when I came in.

HOLDEN: (_with a faint smile_) I fear I can hardly do that. As to
Madeline--

FEJEVARY: You don't want to see the girl destroy herself, do you? I
confess I've always worried about Madeline. If my sister had lived--But
Madeline's mother died, you know, when she was a baby. Her father--well,
you and I talked that over just the other day--there's no getting to
him. Fred never worried me a bit--just the fine normal boy. But
Madeline--(_with an effort throwing it off_) Oh, it'll be all right, I
haven't a doubt. And it'll be all right between you and me, won't it?
Caution over a hard strip of the road, then--bigger things ahead.

HOLDEN: (_slowly, knowing what it may mean_) I shall continue to do all
I can toward getting Fred Jordan out of prison. It's a disgrace to
America that two years after the war closes he should be kept
there--much of the time in solitary confinement--because he couldn't
believe in war. It's small--vengeful--it's the Russia of the Czars. I
shall do what is in my power to fight the deportation of Gurkul Singh.
And certainly I shall leave no stone unturned if you persist in your
amazing idea of dismissing the other Hindus from college. For what--I
ask you? Dismissed--for _what_? Because they love liberty enough to give
their lives to it! The day you dismiss them, burn our high-sounding
manifesto, Mr Fejevary, and admit that Morton College now sells her soul
to the--committee on appropriations!

FEJEVARY: Well, you force me to be as specific as you are. If you do
these things, I can no longer fight for you.

HOLDEN: Very well then, I go.

FEJEVARY: Go where?

HOLDEN: I don't know--at the moment.

FEJEVARY: I fear you'll find it harder than you know. Meanwhile, what of
your family?

HOLDEN: We will have to manage some way.

FEJEVARY: It is not easy for a woman whose health--in fact, whose
life--is a matter of the best of care to 'manage some way'. (_with real
feeling_) What is an intellectual position alongside that reality? You'd
like, of course, to be just what you want to be--but isn't there
something selfish in that satisfaction? I'm talking as a friend now--you
must know that. You and I have a good many ties, Holden. I don't believe
you know how much Mrs Fejevary thinks of Mrs Holden.

HOLDEN: She has been very, very good to her.

FEJEVARY: And will be. She cares for her. And our children have been
growing up together--I love to watch it. Isn't that the reality? Doing
for them as best we can, making sacrifices of--of _every_ kind. Don't
let some tenuous, remote thing destroy this flesh and blood thing.

HOLDEN: (_as one fighting to keep his head above water_) Honesty is not
a tenuous, remote thing.

FEJEVARY: There's a kind of honesty in selfishness. We can't always have
it. Oh, I used to--go through things. But I've struck a pace--one
does--and goes ahead.

HOLDEN: Forgive me, but I don't think you've had certain temptations
to--selfishness.

FEJEVARY: How do you know what I've had? You have no way of knowing
what's in me--what other thing I might have been? You know my heritage;
you think that's left nothing? But I find myself here in America. I love
those dependent on me. My wife--who's used to a certain manner of
living; my children--who are to become part of the America of their
time. I've never said this to another human being--I've never looked at
myself--but it's pretty arrogant to think you're the only man who has
made a sacrifice to fit himself into the age in which he lives. I hear
Madeline. This hasn't left me in very good form for talking with her.
Please don't go away. Just--

(MADELINE _comes in, right. She has her tennis racket. Nods to the two
men_. HOLDEN _goes out, left_.)

MADELINE: (_looking after_ HOLDEN--_feeling something going on. Then
turning to her uncle, who is still looking after_ HOLDEN) You wanted to
speak to me, Uncle Felix?

FEJEVARY: Of course I want to speak to you.

MADELINE: I feel just awfully sorry about--banging up my racket like
this. The second time it came down on this club. Why do they carry those
things? Perfectly fantastic, I'll say, going around with a club. But as
long as you were asking me what I wanted for my birthday--

FEJEVARY: Madeline, I am not here to discuss your birthday.

MADELINE: I'm sorry--(_smiles_) to hear that.

FEJEVARY: You don't seem much chastened.

MADELINE: Chastened? Was that the idea? Well, if you think that keeping
a person where she doesn't want to be chastens her! I never felt less
'chastened' than when I walked out of that slimy spot and looked across
the street at your nice bank. I should think you'd hate to--(_with
friendly concern_) Why, Uncle Felix, you look tired out.

FEJEVARY: I am tired out, Madeline. I've had a nerve-racking day.

MADELINE: Isn't that too bad? Those speeches were so boresome, and that
old senator person--wasn't he a stuff? But can't you go home now and let
auntie give you tea and--

FEJEVARY: (_sharply_) Madeline, have you no intelligence? Hasn't it
occurred to you that your performance would worry me a little?

MADELINE: I suppose it was a nuisance. And on such a busy day.
(_changing_) But if you're going to worry, Horace is the one you should
worry about. (_answering his look_) Why, he got it all up. He made me
ashamed!

FEJEVARY: And you're not at all ashamed of what you have done?

MADELINE: Ashamed? Why--no.

FEJEVARY: Then you'd better be! A girl who rushes in and assaults an
officer!

MADELINE: (_earnestly explaining it_) But, Uncle Felix, I had to stop
him. No one else did.

FEJEVARY: Madeline, I don't know whether you're trying to be naïve--

MADELINE: (_angrily_) Well, I'm _not_. I like that! I think I'll go
home.

FEJEVARY: I think you will not! It's stupid of you not to know this is
serious. You could be dismissed from school for what you did.

MADELINE: Well, I'm good and ready to be dismissed from any school that
would dismiss for that!

FEJEVARY: (_in a new manner--quietly, from feeling_) Madeline, have you
no love for this place?

MADELINE: (_doggedly, after thinking_) Yes, I have. (_she sits down_)
And I don't know why I have.

FEJEVARY: Certainly it's not strange. If ever a girl had a background,
Morton College is Madeline Fejevary Morton's background. (_he too now
seated by the table_) Do you remember your Grandfather Morton?

MADELINE: Not very well. (_a quality which seems sullenness_) I couldn't
bear to look at him. He shook so.

FEJEVARY: (_turning away, real pain_) Oh--how cruel!

MADELINE: (_surprised, gently_) Cruel? Me--cruel?

FEJEVARY: Not just you. The way it passes--(_to himself_) so _fast_ it
passes.

MADELINE: I'm sorry. (_troubled_) You see, he was too old then--

FEJEVARY: (_his hand up to stop her_) I wish I could bring him back for
a moment, so you could see what he was before he (_bitterly_) shook so.
He was a powerful man, who was as real as the earth. He was strangely of
the earth, as if something went from it to him. (_looking at her
intently_) Queer you should be the one to have no sentiment about him,
for you and he--sometimes when I'm with you it's as if--he were near. He
had no personal ambition, Madeline. He was ambitious for the earth and
its people. I wonder if you can realize what it meant to my father--in a
strange land, where he might so easily have been misunderstood, pushed
down, to find a friend like that? It wasn't so much the material
things--though Uncle Silas was always making them right--and as if--oh,
hardly conscious what he was doing--so little it mattered. It was the
way he _got_ father, and by that very valuing kept alive what was there
to value. Why, he literally laid this country at my father's feet--as if
that was what this country was for, as if it made up for the hard early
things--for the wrong things.

MADELINE: He must really have been a pretty nice old party. No doubt I
would have hit it off with him all right. I don't seem to hit it off
with the--speeches about him. Somehow I want to say, 'Oh, give us a
rest.'

FEJEVARY: (_offended_) And that, I presume, is what you want to say to
me.

MADELINE: No, no, I didn't mean you, Uncle. Though (_hesitatingly_) I
was wondering how you could think you were talking on your side.

FEJEVARY: What do you mean--my side?

MADELINE: Oh, I don't--exactly. That's nice about him being--of the
earth. Sometimes when I'm out for a tramp--way off by myself--yes, I
know. And I wonder if that doesn't explain his feeling about the
Indians. Father told me how grandfather took it to heart about the
Indians.

FEJEVARY: He felt it as you'd feel it if it were your brother. So he
must give his choicest land to the thing we might become. 'Then maybe I
can lie under the same sod with the red boys and not be ashamed.'

(MADELINE _nods, appreciatively_.)

MADELINE: Yes, that's really--all right.

FEJEVARY: (_irritated by what seems charily stated approval_) 'All
right!' Well, I am not willing to let this man's name pass from our
time. And it seems rather bitter that Silas Morton's granddaughter
should be the one to stand in my way.

MADELINE: Why, Uncle Felix, I'm not standing in your way. Of course I
wouldn't do that. I--(_rather bashfully_) I love the Hill. I was
thinking about it in jail. I got fuddled on direction in there, so I
asked the woman who hung around which way was College Hill. 'Right
through there', she said. A blank wall. I sat and looked through that
wall--long time. (_she looks front, again looking through that blank
wall_) It was all--kind of funny. Then later she came and told me you
were out there, and I thought it was corking of you to come and tell
them they couldn't put that over on College Hill. And I know Bakhshish
will appreciate it too. I wonder where he went?

FEJEVARY: Went? I fancy he won't go much of anywhere to-night.

MADELINE: What do you mean?

FEJEVARY: Why, he's held for this hearing, of course.

MADELINE: You mean--you came and got just me--and left him there?

FEJEVARY: Certainly.

MADELINE: (_rising_) Then I'll have to go and get him!

FEJEVARY: Madeline, don't be so absurd. You don't get people out of jail
by stopping in and calling for them.

MADELINE: But you got me.

FEJEVARY: Because of years of influence. At that, it wasn't simple.
Things of this nature are pretty serious nowadays. It was only your
ignorance got you out.

MADELINE: I do seem ignorant. While you were fixing it up for me, why
didn't you arrange for him too?

FEJEVARY: Because I am not in the business of getting foreign
revolutionists out of jail.

MADELINE: But he didn't do as much as I did.

FEJEVARY: It isn't what he did. It's what he is. We don't want him here.

MADELINE: Well, I guess I'm not for that!

FEJEVARY: May I ask why you have appointed yourself guardian of these
strangers?

MADELINE: Perhaps because they are strangers.

FEJEVARY: Well, they're the wrong kind of strangers.

MADELINE: Is it true that the Hindu who was here last year is to be
deported? Is America going to turn him over to the government he fought?

FEJEVARY: I have an idea they will all be deported. I'm not so sorry
this thing happened. It will get them into the courts--and I don't think
they have money to fight.

MADELINE: (_giving it clean and straight_) Gee, I think that's rotten!

FEJEVARY: Quite likely your inelegance will not affect it one way or the
other.

MADELINE: (_she has taken her seat again, is thinking it out_) I'm
twenty-one next Tuesday. Isn't it on my twenty-first birthday I get that
money Grandfather Morton left me?

FEJEVARY: What are you driving at?

MADELINE: (_simply_) They can have my money.

FEJEVARY: Are you crazy? What _are_ these people to you?

MADELINE: They're people from the other side of the world who came here
believing in us, drawn from the far side of the world by things we say
about ourselves. Well, I'm going to pretend--just for fun--that the
things we say about ourselves are true. So if you'll--arrange so I can
get it, Uncle Felix, as soon as it's mine.

FEJEVARY: And this is what you say to me at the close of my years of
trusteeship! If you could know how I've nursed that little legacy
along--until now it is--(_breaking off in anger_) I shall not permit you
to destroy yourself!

MADELINE: (_quietly_) I don't see how you can keep me from 'destroying
myself'.

FEJEVARY: (_looking at her, seeing that this may be true. In genuine
amazement, and hurt_) Why--but it's incredible. Have I--has my
house--been nothing to you all these years?

MADELINE: I've had my best times at your house. Things wouldn't have
been--very gay for me--without you all--though Horace gets my goat!

FEJEVARY: And does your Aunt Isabel--'get your goat'?

MADELINE: I love auntie. (_rather resentfully_) You know that. What has
that got to do with it?

FEJEVARY: So you are going to use Silas Morton's money to knife his
college.

MADELINE: Oh, Uncle Felix, that's silly.

FEJEVARY: It's a long way from silly. You know a little about what I'm
trying to do--this appropriation that would assure our future. If Silas
Morton's granddaughter casts in her lot with revolutionists, Morton
College will get no help from the state. Do you know enough about what
you are doing to assume this responsibility?

MADELINE: I am not casting 'in my lot with revolutionists'. If it's
true, as you say, that you have to have money in order to get justice--

FEJEVARY: I didn't say it!

MADELINE: Why, you did, Uncle Felix. You said so. And if it's true that
these strangers in our country are going to be abused because they're
poor,--what else could I do with my money and not feel like a skunk?

FEJEVARY: (_trying a different tack, laughing_) Oh, you're a romantic
girl, Madeline--skunk and all. Rather nice, at that. But the thing is
perfectly fantastic, from every standpoint. You speak as if you had
millions. And if you did, it wouldn't matter, not really. You are going
against the spirit of this country; with or without money, that can't be
done. Take a man like Professor Holden. He's radical in his
sympathies--but does he run out and club the police?

MADELINE: (_in a smouldering way_) I thought America was a democracy.

FEJEVARY: We have just fought a great war for democracy.

MADELINE: Well, is that any reason for not having it?

FEJEVARY: I should think you would have a little emotion about the
war--about America--when you consider where your brother is.

MADELINE: Fred had--all kinds of reasons for going to France. He wanted
a trip. (_answering his exclamation_) Why, he _said_ so. Heavens, Fred
didn't make speeches about himself. Wanted to see Paris--poor kid, he
never did see Paris. Wanted to be with a lot of fellows--knock the
Kaiser's block off--end war, get a French girl. It was all mixed up--the
way things are. But Fred was a pretty decent sort. I'll say so. He had
such kind, honest eyes. (_this has somehow said itself; her own eyes
close and what her shut eyes see makes feeling hot_) One thing I do
know! Fred never went over the top and out to back up the argument
you're making now!

FEJEVARY: (_stiffly_) Very well, I will discontinue the argument I'm
making now. I've been trying to save you from--pretty serious things.
The regret of having stood in the way of Morton College--(_his voice
falling_) the horror of having driven your father insane.

MADELINE: _What?_

FEJEVARY: One more thing would do it. Just the other day I was talking
with Professor Holden about your father. His idea of him relates back to
the pioneer life--another price paid for this country. The lives back of
him were too hard. Your great-grandmother Morton--the first white woman
in this region--she dared too much, was too lonely, feared and bore too
much. They did it, for the task gave them a courage for the task. But
it--left a scar.

MADELINE: And father is that--(_can hardly say it_)--scar. (_fighting
the idea_) But Grandfather Morton was not like that.

FEJEVARY: No; he had the vision of the future; he was robust with
feeling for others. (_gently_) But Holden feels your father is
the--dwarfed pioneer child. The way he concentrates on corn--excludes
all else--as if unable to free himself from their old battle with the
earth.

MADELINE: (_almost crying_) I think it's pretty terrible to--wish all
that on poor father.

FEJEVARY: Well, my dear child, it's life has 'wished it on him'. It's
just one other way of paying the price for his country. We needn't get
it for nothing. I feel that all our chivalry should go to your father in
his--heritage of loneliness.

MADELINE: Father couldn't always have been--dwarfed. Mother wouldn't
have cared for him if he had always been--like that.

FEJEVARY: No, if he could have had love to live in. But no endurance for
losing it. Too much had been endured just before life got to him.

MADELINE: Do you know, Uncle Felix--I'm afraid that's true? (_he nods_)
Sometimes when I'm with father I feel those things near--the--the too
much--the too hard,--feel them as you'd feel the cold. And now that it's
different--easier--he can't come into the world that's been earned. Oh,
I wish I could help him!

(_As they sit there together, now for the first time really together,
there is a shrill shout of derision from outside_.)

MADELINE: What's that? (_a whistled call_) Horace! That's Horace's call.
That's for his gang. Are they going to start something now that will get
Atma in jail?

FEJEVARY: More likely he's trying to start something. (_they are both
listening intently_) I don't think our boys will stand much more.

(_A scoffing whoop_. MADELINE _springs to the window; he reaches it
ahead and holds it_.)

FEJEVARY: This window stays closed.

(_She starts to go away, he takes hold of her_.)

MADELINE: You think you can keep me in here?

FEJEVARY: Listen, Madeline--plain, straight truth. If you go out there
and get in trouble a second time, I can't make it right for you.

MADELINE: You needn't!

FEJEVARY: You don't know what it means. These things are not child's
play--not today. You could get twenty years in prison for things you'll
say if you rush out there now. (_she laughs_) You laugh because you're
ignorant. Do you know that in America today there are women in our
prisons for saying no more than you've said here to me!

MADELINE: Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself!

FEJEVARY: I? Ashamed of myself?

MADELINE: Yes! Aren't you an American? (_a whistle_) Isn't that a
policeman's whistle? Are they coming back? Are they hanging around here
to--(_pulling away from her uncle as he turns to look, she jumps up in
the deep sill and throws open the window. Calling down_)
Here--Officer--_You_--Let that boy alone!

FEJEVARY: (_going left, calling sharply_) Holden. Professor
Holden--here--quick!

VOICE: (_coming up from below, outside_) Who says so?

MADELINE: I say so!

VOICE: And who are you talking for?

MADELINE: I am talking for Morton College!

FEJEVARY: (_returning--followed, reluctantly, by_ HOLDEN) Indeed you are
not. Close that window or you'll be expelled from Morton College.

(_Sounds of a growing crowd outside_.)

VOICE: Didn't I see you at the station?

MADELINE: Sure you saw me at the station. And you'll see me there again,
if you come bullying around here. You're not what this place is for!
(_her uncle comes up behind, right, and tries to close the window--she
holds it out_) My grandfather gave this hill to Morton College--a place
where anybody--from any land--can come and say what he believes to be
true! Why, you poor simp--this is America! Beat it from here! Atna!
Don't let him take hold of you like that! He has no right to--Oh, let me
_down_ there!

(_Springs down, would go off right, her uncle spreads out his arms to
block that passage. She turns to go the other way_.)

FEJEVARY: Holden! Bring her to her senses. Stand there. (HOLDEN _has not
moved from the place he entered, left, and so blocks the doorway_) Don't
let her pass.

(_Shouts of derision outside_.)

MADELINE: You think you can keep me in here--with that going on out
there? (_Moves nearer_ HOLDEN, _stands there before him, taut, looking
him straight in the eye. After a moment, slowly, as one compelled, he
steps aside for her to pass. Sound of her running footsteps. The two
men's eyes meet. A door slams_.)


CURTAIN



ACT IV


SCENE: _At the_ MORTON _place, the same room in which_ SILAS MORTON
_told his friend_ FELIX FEJEVARY _of his plan for the hill. The room has
not altogether changed since that day in 1879. The table around which
they dreamed for the race is in its old place. One of the old chairs is
there, the other two are modern chairs. In a corner is the rocker in
which_ GRANDMOTHER MORTON _sat. This is early afternoon, a week after
the events of Act II_.

MADELINE _is sitting at the table, in her hand a torn, wrinkled piece of
brown paper-peering at writing almost too fine to read. After a moment
her hand goes out to a beautiful dish on the table--an old dish of
coloured Hungarian glass. She is about to take something from this, but
instead lets her hand rest an instant on the dish itself Then turns and
through the open door looks out at the hill, sitting where her_
GRANDFATHER MORTON _sat when he looked out at the hill._

_Her father_, IRA MORTON, _appears outside, walking past the window,
left. He enters, carrying a grain sack, partly filled. He seems hardly
aware of_ MADELINE, _but taking a chair near the door, turned from her,
opens the sack and takes out a couple of ears of corn. As he is bent
over them, examining in a shrewd, greedy way_, MADELINE _looks at that
lean, tormented, rather desperate profile, the look of one confirming a
thing she fears. Then takes up her piece of paper_.

MADELINE: Do you remember Fred Jordan, father? Friend of our Fred--and
of mine?

IRA: (_not wanting to take his mind from the corn_) No. I don't remember
him. (_his voice has that timbre of one not related to others_)

MADELINE: He's in prison now.

IRA: Well I can't help that. (_after taking out another ear_) This is
the best corn I ever had. (_he says it gloatingly to himself_)

MADELINE: He got this letter out to me--written on this scrap of paper.
They don't give him paper. (_peering_) Written so fine I can hardly read
it. He's in what they call 'the hold', father--a punishment cell. (_with
difficulty reading it_) It's two and a half feet at one end, three feet
at the other, and six feet long. He'd been there ten days when he wrote
this. He gets two slices of bread a day; he gets water; that's all he
gets. This because he balled the deputy warden out for chaining another
prisoner up by the wrists.

IRA: Well, he'd better a-minded his own business. And you better mind
yours. I've got no money to spend in the courts. (_with excitement_)
I'll not mortgage this farm! It's been clear since the day my father's
father got it from the government--and it stays clear--till I'm gone. It
grows the best corn in the state--best corn in the Mississippi Valley.
Not for _anything_--you hear me?--would I mortgage this farm my father
handed down to me.

MADELINE: (_hurt_) Well, father, I'm not asking you to.

IRA: Then go and see your Uncle Felix. Make it up with him. He'll help
you--if you say you're sorry.

MADELINE: I'll not go to Uncle Felix.

IRA: Who will you go to then? (_pause_) Who will help you then? (_again
he waits_) You come before this United States Commissioner with no one
behind you, he'll hold you for the grand jury. Judge Watkins told Felix
there's not a doubt of it. You know what that means? It means you're on
your way to a cell. Nice thing for a Morton, people who've had their own
land since we got it from the Indians. What's the matter with your
uncle? Ain't he always been good to you? I'd like to know what things
would 'a' been for you without Felix and Isabel and all their friends.
You want to think a little. You like good times too well to throw all
that away.

MADELINE: I do like good times. So does Fred Jordan like good times.
(_smooths the wrinkled paper_) I don't know anybody--unless it is
myself--loves to be out, as he does. (_she tries to look out, but
cannot; sits very still, seeing what it is pain to see. Rises, goes to
that corner closet, the same one from which_ SILAS MORTON _took the deed
to the hill. She gets a yard stick, looks in a box and finds a piece of
chalk. On the floor she marks off_ FRED JORDAN'S _cell. Slowly, at the
end left unchalked, as for a door, she goes in. Her hand goes up as
against a wall; looks at her other hand, sees it is out too far, brings
it in, giving herself the width of the cell. Walks its length, halts,
looks up_.) And one window--too high up to see out.

(_In the moment she stands there, she is in that cell; she is all the
people who are in those cells_. EMIL JOHNSON _appears from outside; he
is the young man brought up on a farm, a crudely Americanized Swede_.)

MADELINE: (_stepping out of the cell door, and around it_) Hello, Emil.

EMIL: How are you, Madeline? How do, Mr Morton. (IRA _barely nods and
does not turn. In an excited manner he begins gathering up the corn he
has taken from the sack_. EMIL _turns back to_ MADELINE) Well, I'm just
from the courthouse. Looks like you and I might take a ride together,
Madeline. You come before the Commissioner at four.

IRA: What have you got to do with it?

MADELINE: Oh, Emil has a courthouse job now, father. He's part of the
law.

IRA: Well, he's not going to take you to the law! Anybody else--not Emil
Johnson!

MADELINE: (_astonished--and gently, to make up for his rudeness_)
Why--father, why not Emil? Since I'm going, I think it's nice to go in
with someone I know--with a neighbour like Emil.

IRA: If _this_ is what he lived for! If this is why--

(_He twists the ear of corn until some of the kernels drip off_.
MADELINE _and_ EMIL _look at one another in bewilderment_.)

EMIL: It's too bad anybody has to take Madeline in. I should think your
uncle could fix it up. (_low_) And with your father taking it like
this--(_to help_ IRA) That's fine corn, Mr Morton. My corn's getting
better all the time, but I'd like to get some of this for seed.

IRA: (_rising and turning on him_) You get my corn? I raise this corn
for you? (_not to them--his mind now going where it is shut off from any
other mind_) If I could make the _wind_ stand still! I want to _turn the
wind around_.

MADELINE: (_going to him_) Why--father. I don't understand at all.

IRA: Don't understand. Nobody understands. (_a curse with a sob in it_)
God damn the wind!

(_Sits down, his back to them_.)

EMIL: (_after a silence_) Well, I'll go. (_but he continues to look at_
IRA, _who is holding the sack of com shut, as if someone may take it_)
Too bad--(_stopped by a sign from_ MADELINE, _not to speak of it_) Well,
I was saying, I have go on to Beard's Crossing. I'll stop for you on my
way back. (_confidentially_) Couldn't you telephone your uncle? He could
do something. You don't know what you're going up against. You heard
what the Hindus got, I suppose.

MADELINE: No. I haven't seen anyone to-day.

EMIL: They're held for the grand jury. They're locked up now. No bail
for them. I've got the inside dope about them. They're going to get what
this country can hand 'em; then after we've given them a nice little
taste of prison life in America, they're going to be sent back home--to
see what India can treat them to.

MADELINE: Why are you so pleased about this, Emil?

EMIL: Pleased? It's nothin' to me--I'm just telling you. Guess you don't
know much about the Espionage Act or you'd go and make a little friendly
call on your uncle. When your case comes to trial--and Judge Lenon may
be on the bench--(_whistles_) He's one fiend for Americanism. But if
your uncle was to tell the right parties that you're just a girl, and
didn't realize what you were saying--

MADELINE: I did realize what I was saying, and every word you've just
said makes me know I meant what I said. I said if this was what our
country has come to, then I'm not for our country. I said that--and
a-plenty more--and I'll say it again!

EMIL: Well--gee, you don't know what it means.

MADELINE: I do know what it means, but it means not being a coward.

EMIL: Oh, well--Lord, you can't say everything you think. If everybody
did that, things'd be worse off than they are now.

MADELINE: Once in a while you have to say what you think--or hate
yourself.

EMIL: (_with a grin_) Then hate yourself.

MADELINE: (_smiling too_) No thank you; it spoils my fun.

EMIL: Well, look-a-here, Madeline, aren't you spoiling your fun now?
You're a girl who liked to be out. Ain't I seen you from our place, with
this one and that one, sometimes all by yourself, strikin' out over the
country as if you was crazy about it? How'd you like to be where you
couldn't even see out?

MADELINE: (_a step nearer the cell_) There oughtn't to be such places.

EMIL: Oh, well--Jesus, if you're going to talk about that--! You can't
change the way things are.

MADELINE: (_quietly_) Why can't I?

EMIL: Well, say, who do you think you are?

MADELINE: I think I'm an American. And for that reason I think I have
something to say about America.

EMIL: Huh! America'll lock you up for your pains.

MADELINE: All right. If it's come to that, maybe I'd rather be a
locked-up American than a free American.

EMIL: I don't think you'd like the place, Madeline. There's not much
tennis played there. Jesus--what's Hindus?

MADELINE: You aren't really asking Jesus, are you, Emil? (_smiles_) You
mightn't like his answer.

EMIL: (_from the door_) Take a tip. Telephone your uncle.

(_He goes_.)

IRA: (_not looking at her_) There might be a fine, and they'd come down
on me and take my land.

MADELINE: Oh, no, father, I think not. Anyway, I have a little money of
my own. Grandfather Morton left me something. Have you forgotten that?

IRA: No. No, I know he left you something. (_the words seem to bother
him_) I know he left you something.

MADELINE: I get it to-day. (_wistfully_) This is my birthday, father.
I'm twenty-one.

IRA: Your birthday? Twenty-one? (_in pain_) Was that twenty-one years
ago? (_it is not to his daughter this has turned him_)

MADELINE: It's the first birthday I can remember that I haven't had a
party.

IRA: It was your Aunt Isabel gave you your parties.

MADELINE: Yes.

IRA: Well, you see now.

MADELINE: (_stoutly_) Oh, well, I don't need a party. I'm grown up now.

(_She reaches out for the old Hungarian dish on the table; holding it,
she looks to her father, whose back is still turned. Her face tender,
she is about to speak when he speaks_.)

IRA: Grown up now--and going off and leaving me alone. You too--the last
one. And--_what for? (turning, looking around the room as for those long
gone_) There used to be so many in this house. My grandmother. She sat
there. (_pointing to the place near the open door_) Fine days like
this--in that chair (_points to the rocker_) she'd sit there--tell me
stories of the Indians. Father. It wasn't ever lonely where father was.
Then Madeline Fejevary--my Madeline came to this house. Lived with me in
this house. Then one day she--walked out of this house. Through that
door--through the field--out of this house. (_bitter silence_) Then
Fred--out of this house. Now you. With Emil Johnson! (_insanely, and
almost with relief at leaving things more sane_) Don't let him touch my
corn. If he touches one kernel of this corn! (_with the suspicion of the
tormented mind_) I wonder where he went? How do I know he went where he
_said_ he was going? (_getting up_) I dunno as that south bin's locked.

MADELINE: Oh--father!

IRA: I'll find out. How do I know what he's doing?

(_He goes out, turning left_. MADELINE _goes to the window and looks
after him. A moment later, hearing someone at the door, she turns and
finds her_ AUNT ISABEL, _who has appeared from right. Goes swiftly to
her, hands out_.)

MADELINE: Oh, _auntie_--I'm glad you came! It's my birthday, and
I'm--lonely.

AUNT ISABEL: You dear little girl! (_again giving her a hug, which_
MADELINE _returns, lovingly_) Don't I know it's your birthday? Don't
think that day will ever get by while your Aunt Isabel's around. Just
see what's here for your birthday. (_hands her the package she is
carrying_)

MADELINE: (_with a gasp--suspecting from its shape_) Oh! (_her face
aglow_) Why--_is_ it?

AUNT ISABEL: (_laughing affectionately_) Foolish child, open it and see.

(MADELINE _loosens the paper and pulls out a tennis racket_.)

MADELINE: (_excited, and moved_) Oh, aunt Isabel! that was dear of you.
I shouldn't have thought you'd--quite do that.

AUNT ISABEL: I couldn't imagine Madeline without a racket. (_gathering
up the paper, lightly reproachful_) But be a little careful of it,
Madeline. It's meant for tennis balls. (_they laugh together_)

MADELINE: (_making a return with it_) It's a _peach_. (_changing_)
Wonder where I'll play now.

AUNT ISABEL: Why, you'll play on the courts at Morton College. Who has a
better right?

MADELINE: Oh, I don't know. It's pretty much balled up, isn't it?

AUNT ISABEL: Yes; we'll have to get it straightened out. (_gently_) It
was really dreadful of you, Madeline, to rush out a second time. It
isn't as if they were people who were anything to you.

MADELINE: But, auntie, they are something to me.

AUNT ISABEL: Oh, dear, that's what Horace said.

MADELINE: What's what Horace said?

AUNT ISABEL: That you must have a case on one of them.

MADELINE: That's what Horace would say. That makes me sore!

AUNT ISABEL: I'm sorry I spoke of it. Horace is absurd in some ways.

MADELINE: He's a--

AUNT ISABEL: (_stopping it with her hand_) No, he isn't. He's a
headstrong boy, but a very loving one. He's dear with me, Madeline.

MADELINE: Yes. You are good to each other. (_her eyes are drawn to the
cell_)

AUNT ISABEL: Of course we are. We'd be a pretty poor sort if we weren't.
And these are days when we have to stand together--all of us who are the
same kind of people must stand together because the thing that makes us
the same kind of people is threatened.

MADELINE: Don't you think we're rather threatening it ourselves, auntie?

AUNT ISABEL: Why, no, we're fighting for it.

MADELINE: Fighting for what?

AUNT ISABEL: For Americanism; for--democracy.

MADELINE: Horace is fighting for it?

AUNT ISABEL: Well, Horace does go at it as if it were a football game,
but his heart's in the right place.

MADELINE: Somehow, I don't seem to see my heart in that place.

AUNT ISABEL: In what place?

MADELINE: Where Horace's heart is.

AUNT ISABEL: It's too bad you and Horace quarrel. But you and I don't
quarrel, Madeline.

MADELINE: (_again drawn to the cell_) No. You and I don't quarrel. (_she
is troubled_)

AUNT ISABEL: Funny child! Do you want us to?

(MADELINE _turns, laughing a little, takes the dish from the table,
holds it out to her aunt_.)

MADELINE: Have some fudge, auntie.

AUNT ISABEL: (_taking the dish_) Do you _use_ them?--the old Hungarian
dishes? (_laughingly_) I'm not allowed to--your uncle is so choice of
the few pieces we have. And here are you with fudge in one of them.

MADELINE: I made the fudge because--oh, I don't know, I had to do
something to celebrate my birthday.

AUNT ISABEL: (_under her breath_) Dearie!

MADELINE: And then that didn't seem to--make a birthday, so I happened
to see this, way up on a top shelf, and I remembered that it was my
mother's. It was nice to get it down and use it--almost as if mother was
giving me a birthday present.

AUNT ISABEL: And how she would love to give you a birthday present.

MADELINE: It was her mother's, I suppose, and they brought it from
Hungary.

AUNT ISABEL: Yes. They brought only a very few things with them, and
left--oh, so many beautiful ones behind.

MADELINE: (_quietly_) Rather nice of them, wasn't it? (_her aunt waits
inquiringly_) To leave their own beautiful things--their own beautiful
life behind--simply because they believed life should be more beautiful
for more people.

AUNT ISABEL: (_with constraint_) Yes. (_gayly turning it_) Well, now, as
to the birthday. What do you suppose Sarah is doing this instant?
Putting red frosting on white frosting, (_writing it with her finger_)
Madeline. And what do you suppose Horace is doing? (_this a little
reproachfully_) Running around buying twenty-one red candles.
Twenty-two--one to grow on. Big birthday cake. Party to-night.

MADELINE: But, auntie, I don't see how I can be there.

AUNT ISABEL: Listen, dear. Now, we've got to use our wits and all pull
together. Of course we'd do anything in the world rather than see
you--left to outsiders. I've never seen your uncle as worried,
and--truly, Madeline, as sad. Oh, my dear, it's these human things that
count! What would life be without the love we have for each other?

MADELINE: The love we have for each other?

AUNT ISABEL: Why, yes, dearest. Don't turn away from me Madeline.
Don't--don't be strange. I wonder if you realize how your uncle has
worked to have life a happy thing for all of us? Be a little generous to
him. He's had this great burden of bringing something from another day
on into this day. It is not as simple as it may seem. He's done it as
best he could. It will hurt him as nothing has ever hurt him if you now
undo that work of his life. Truly, dear, do you feel you know enough
about it to do that? Another thing: people are a little absurd out of
their own places. We need to be held in our relationships--against our
background--or we are--I don't know--grotesque. Come now, Madeline,
where's your sense of humour? Isn't it a little absurd for you to leave
home over India's form of government?

MADELINE: It's not India. It's America. A sense of humour is nothing to
hide behind!

AUNT ISABEL: (_with a laugh_) I knew I wouldn't be a success at world
affairs--better leave that to Professor Holden. (_a quick keen look
from_ MADELINE) They've driven on to the river--they'll be back for me,
and then he wants to stop in for a visit with you while I take Mrs
Holden for a further ride. I'm worried about her. She doesn't gain
strength at all since her operation. I'm going to try keeping her out in
the air all I can.

MADELINE: It's dreadful about families!

AUNT ISABEL: Dreadful? Professor Holden's devotion to his wife is one of
the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

MADELINE: And is that all you see it in?

AUNT ISABEL: You mean the--responsibility it brings? Oh, well--that's
what life is. Doing for one another. Sacrificing for one another.

MADELINE: I hope I never have a family.

AUNT ISABEL: Well, I hope you do. You'll miss the best of life if you
don't. Anyway, you have a family. Where is your father?

MADELINE: I don't know.

AUNT ISABEL: I'd like to see him.

MADELINE: There's no use seeing him today.

AUNT ISABEL: He's--?

MADELINE: Strange--shut in--afraid something's going to be taken from
him.

AUNT ISABEL: Poor Ira. So much has been taken from him. And now you.
Don't hurt him again, Madeline. He can't bear it. You see what it does
to him.

MADELINE: He has--the wrong idea about things.

AUNT ISABEL: 'The wrong idea!' Oh, my child--that's awfully young and
hard. It's so much deeper than that. Life has made him into
something--something he can't escape.

MADELINE: (_with what seems sullenness_) Well, I don't want to be made
into that thing.

AUNT ISABEL: Of course not. But you want to help him, don't you? Now,
dear--about your birthday party--

MADELINE: The United States Commissioner is giving me my birthday party.

AUNT ISABEL: Well, he'll have to put his party off. Your uncle has been
thinking it all out. We're to go to his office and you'll have a talk
with him and with Judge Watkins. He's off the state supreme bench
now--practising again, and as a favour to your uncle he will be your
lawyer. You don't know how relieved we are at this, for Judge Watkins
can do--anything he wants to do, practically. Then you and I will go on
home and call up some of the crowd to come in and dance to-night. We
have some beautiful new records. There's a Hungarian waltz--

MADELINE: And what's the price of all this, auntie?

AUNT ISABEL: The--Oh, you mean--Why, simply say you felt sorry for the
Hindu students because they seemed rather alone; that you hadn't
realized--what they were, hadn't thought out what you were saying--

MADELINE: And that I'm sorry and will never do it again.

AUNT ISABEL: I don't know that you need say that. It would be gracious,
I think, to indicate it.

MADELINE: I'm sorry you--had the cake made. I suppose you can eat it,
anyway. I (_turning away_)--can't eat it.

AUNT ISABEL: Why--Madeline.

(_Seeing how she has hurt her_, MADELINE _goes out to her aunt_.)

MADELINE: Auntie, dear! I'm sorry--if I hurt your feelings.

AUNT ISABEL: (_quick to hold out a loving hand, laughing a little_)
They've been good birthday cakes, haven't they, Madeline?

MADELINE: (_she now trying not to cry_) I don't know--what I'd have done
without them. Don't know--what I will do without them. I don't--see it.

AUNT ISABEL: Don't try to. Please don't see it! Just let me go on
helping you. That's all I ask. (_she draws_ MADELINE _to her_) Ah,
dearie, I held you when you were a little baby without your mother. All
those years count for something, Madeline. There's just nothing to life
if years of love don't count for something. (_listening_) I think I hear
them. And here are we, weeping like two idiots. (MADELINE _brushes away
tears_, AUNT ISABEL _arranges her veil, regaining her usual poise_)
Professor Holden was hoping you'd take a tramp with him. Wouldn't that
do you good? Anyway, a talk with him will be nice. I know he admires you
immensely, and really--perhaps I shouldn't let you know
this--sympathizes with your feeling. So I think his maturer way of
looking at things will show you just the adjustment you need to become a
really big and useful person. There's so much to be done in the world,
Madeline. Of course we ought to make it a better world. (_in a manner of
agreement with_ MADELINE) I feel very strongly about all that. Perhaps
we can do some things together. I'd love that. Don't think I'm hopeless!
Way down deep we have the same feeling. Yes, here's Professor Holden.

(HOLDEN _comes in. He seems older_.)

HOLDEN: And how are you, Madeline? (_holding out his hand_)

MADELINE: I'm--all right.

HOLDEN: Many happy returns of the day. (_embarrassed by her half laugh_)
The birthday.

AUNT ISABEL: And did you have a nice look up the river?

HOLDEN: I never saw this country as lovely as it is to-day. Mary is just
drinking it in.

AUNT ISABEL: You don't think the further ride will be too much?

HOLDEN: Oh, no--not in that car.

AUNT ISABEL: Then we'll go on--perhaps as far as Laughing Creek. If you
two decide on a tramp--take that road and we'll pick you up. (_smiling
warmly, she goes out_)

HOLDEN: How good she is.

MADELINE: Yes. That's just the trouble.

HOLDEN: (_with difficulty getting past this_) How about a little tramp?
There'll never be another such day.

MADELINE: I used to tramp with Fred Jordan. This is where he is now.
(_stepping inside the cell_) He doesn't even see out.

HOLDEN: It's all wrong that he should be where he is. But for you to
stay indoors won't help him, Madeline.

MADELINE: It won't help him, but--today--I can't go out.

HOLDEN: I'm sorry, my child. When this sense of wrongs done first comes
down upon one, it does crush.

MADELINE: And later you get used to it and don't care.

HOLDEN: You care. You try not to destroy yourself needlessly. (_he turns
from her look_)

MADELINE: Play safe.

HOLDEN: If it's playing safe it's that one you love more than yourself
be safe. It would be a luxury to--destroy one's self.

MADELINE: That sounds like Uncle Felix. (_seeing she has hurt him, she
goes over and sits across from him at the table_) I'm sorry. I say the
wrong things today.

HOLDEN: I don't know that you do.

MADELINE: But isn't uncle funny? His left mind doesn't know what his
right mind is doing. He has to think of himself as a person of
sentiment--idealism, and--quite a job, at times. Clever--how he gets
away with it. The war must have been a godsend to people who were in
danger of getting on to themselves. But I should think you could fool
all of yourself all the time.

HOLDEN: You don't. (_he is rubbing his hand on the table_)

MADELINE: Grandfather Morton made this table. I suppose he and
Grandfather Fejevary used to sit here and talk--they were great old
pals. (_slowly_ HOLDEN _turns and looks out at the hill_) Yes. How
beautiful the hill must have been--before there was a college there.
(_he looks away from the hill_) Did you know Grandfather Morton?

HOLDEN: Yes, I knew him. (_speaking of it against his will_) I had a
wonderful talk with him once; about Greece--and the cornfields, and
life.

MADELINE: I'd like to have been a pioneer! Some ways they had it fierce,
but think of the fun they had! A whole big land to open up! A big new
life to begin! (_her hands closing in from wideness to a smaller thing_)
Why did so much get shut out? Just a little way back--anything might
have been. What happened?

HOLDEN: (_speaking with difficulty_) It got--set too soon.

MADELINE: (_all of her mind open, trying to know_) And why did it?
Prosperous, I suppose. That seems to set things--set them in fear. Silas
Morton wasn't afraid of Felix Fejevary, the Hungarian revolutionist. He
laid this country at that refugee's feet! That's what Uncle Felix says
himself--with the left half of his mind. Now--the Hindu
revolutionists--! (_pause_) I took a walk late yesterday afternoon.
Night came, and for some reason I thought of how many nights have
come--nights the earth has known long before we knew the earth. The moon
came up and I thought of how moonlight made this country beautiful
before any man knew that moonlight was beautiful. It gave me a feeling
of coming from something a long way back. Moving toward--what will be
here when I'm not here. Moving. We seem here, now, in America, to have
forgotten we're moving. Think it's just _us_--just now. Of course, that
would make us afraid, and--ridiculous.

(_Her father comes in_.)

IRA: Your Aunt Isabel--did she go away--and leave you?

MADELINE: She's coming back.

IRA: For you?

MADELINE: She--wants me to go with her. This is Professor Holden,
father.

HOLDEN: How do you do, Mr Morton?

IRA: (_nods, not noticing_ HOLDEN_'s offered hand_) How'do. When is she
coming back?

MADELINE: Soon.

IRA: And then you're going with her?

MADELINE: I--don't know.

IRA: I say you go with her. You want them all to come down on us? (_to_
HOLDEN) What are you here for?

MADELINE: Aunt Isabel brought Professor Holden, father.

IRA: Oh. Then you--you tell her what to do. You make her do it. (_he
goes into the room at left_)

MADELINE: (_sadly, after a silence_) Father's like something touched by
an early frost.

HOLDEN: Yes. (_seeing his opening and forcing himself to take it_) But
do you know, Madeline, there are other ways of that happening--'touched
by an early frost'. I've seen it happen to people I know--people of fine
and daring mind. They do a thing that puts them apart--it may be the
big, brave thing--but the apartness does something to them. I've seen it
many times--so many times--so many times, I fear for you. You do this
thing and you'll find yourself with people who in many ways you don't
care for at all; find yourself apart from people who in most ways are
your own people. You're many-sided, Madeline. (_moves her tennis
racket_) I don't know about it's all going to one side. I hate to see
you, so young, close a door on so much life. I'm being just as honest
with you as I know how. I myself am making compromises to stay within. I
don't like it, but there are--reasons for doing it. I can't see you
leave that main body without telling you all it is you are leaving. It's
not a clean-cut case--the side of the world or the side of the angels. I
hate to see you lose the--fullness of life.

MADELINE: (_a slight start, as she realizes the pause. As one recalled
from far_) I'm sorry. I was listening to what you were saying--but all
the time--something else was happening. Grandfather Morton, big and--oh,
terrible. He was here. And we went to that walled-up hole in the
ground--(_rising and pointing down at the chalked cell_)--where they
keep Fred Jordan on bread and water because he couldn't be a part of
nations of men killing each other--and Silas Morton--only he was all
that is back of us, tore open that cell--it was his voice tore it
open--his voice as he cried, 'God damn you, this is America!' (_sitting
down, as if rallying from a tremendous experience_) I'm sorry--it should
have happened, while you were speaking. Won't you--go on?

HOLDEN: That's a pretty hard thing to go on against. (_after a moment_)
I can't go on.

MADELINE: You were thinking of leaving the college, and then--decided to
stay? (_he nods_) And you feel there's more--fullness of life for you
inside the college than outside?

HOLDEN: No--not exactly. (_again a pause_) It's very hard for me to talk
to you.

MADELINE: (_gently_) Perhaps we needn't do it.

HOLDEN: (_something in him forcing him to say it_) I'm staying for
financial reasons.

MADELINE: (_kind, but not going to let the truth get away_) You don't
think that--having to stay within--or deciding to, rather, makes you
think these things of the--blight of being without?

HOLDEN: I think there is danger to you in--so young, becoming alien to
society.

MADELINE: As great as the danger of staying within--and becoming like
the thing I'm within?

HOLDEN: You wouldn't become like it.

MADELINE: Why wouldn't I? That's what it does to the rest of you. I
don't see it--this fullness of life business. I don't see that Uncle
Felix has got it--or even Aunt Isabel, and you--I think that in buying
it you're losing it.

HOLDEN: I don't think you know what a cruel thing you are saying.

MADELINE: There must be something pretty rotten about Morton College if
you have to sell your soul to stay in it!

HOLDEN: You don't 'sell your soul'. You persuade yourself to wait.

MADELINE: (_unable to look at him, as if feeling shame_) You have had a
talk with Uncle Felix since that day in the library you stepped aside
for me to pass.

HOLDEN: Yes; and with my wife's physician. If you sell your soul--it's
to love you sell it.

MADELINE: (_low_) That's strange. It's love that--brings life along, and
then it's love--holds life back.

HOLDEN: (_and all the time with this effort against hopelessness_)
Leaving me out of it, I'd like to see you give yourself a little more
chance for detachment. You need a better intellectual equipment if
you're going to fight the world you find yourself in. I think you will
count for more if you wait, and when you strike, strike more maturely.

MADELINE: Detachment. (_pause_) This is one thing they do at this place.
(_she moves to the open door_) Chain them up to the bars--just like
this. (_in the doorway where her two grandfathers once pledged faith
with the dreams of a million years, she raises clasped hands as high as
they will go_) Eight hours a day--day after day. Just hold your arms up
like this one hour then sit down and think about--(_as if tortured by
all who have been so tortured, her body begins to give with sobs, arms
drop, the last word is a sob_) detachment.

HOLDEN _is standing helplessly by when her father comes in_.

IRA: (_wildly_) Don't cry. No! Not in this house! I can't--Your aunt and
uncle will fix it up. The law won't take you this time--and you won't do
it again.

MADELINE: Oh, what does _that_ matter--what they do to _me_?

IRA: What are you crying about then?

MADELINE: It's--the _world_. It's--

IRA: The _world_? If that's all you've got to cry about! (_to_ HOLDEN)
Tell her that's nothing to cry about. What's the matter with you.
Mad'line? That's crazy--cryin' about the world! What good has ever come
to this house through carin' about the world? What good's that college?
Better we had that hill. Why is there no one in this house to-day but me
and you? Where's your mother? Where's your brother? The _world_.

HOLDEN: I think your father would like to talk to you. I'll go
outside--walk a little, and come back for you with your aunt. You must
let us see you through this, Madeline. You couldn't bear the things it
would bring you to. I see that now. (_as he passes her in the doorway
his hand rests an instant on her bent head_) You're worth too much to
break.

IRA: (_turning away_) I don't want to talk to you. What good comes of
talking? (_In moving, he has stepped near the sack of corn. Takes hold
of it_.) But not with Emil Johnson! That's not--what your mother died
for.

MADELINE: Father, you must talk to me. What did my mother die for? No
one has ever told me about her--except that she was beautiful--not like
other people here. I got a feeling of--something from far away.
Something from long ago. Rare. Why can't Uncle Felix talk about her? Why
can't you? Wouldn't she want me to know her? Tell me about her. It's my
birthday and I need my mother.

IRA: (_as if afraid he is going to do it_) How can you touch--what
you've not touched in nineteen years? Just once--in nineteen years--and
that did no good.

MADELINE: Try. Even though it hurts. Didn't you use to talk to her?
Well, I'm her daughter. Talk to me. What has she to do with Emil
Johnson?

IRA: (_the pent-up thing loosed_) What has she to do with him? She died
so he could live. He lives because she's dead, (_in anguish_) And what
is _he_ alongside her? Yes. Something from far away. Something from long
ago. Rare. How'd you know that? Finding in me--what I didn't know was
there. Then _she_ came--that ignorant Swede--Emil Johnson's
mother--running through the cornfield like a crazy woman--'Miss Morton!
Miss Morton! Come help me! My children are choking!' Diphtheria they
had--the whole of 'em--but out of this house she ran--my Madeline,
leaving you--her own baby--running as fast as she could through the
cornfield after that immigrant woman. She stumbled in the rough
field--fell to her knees. That was the last I saw of her. She choked to
death in that Swede's house. They lived.

MADELINE: (_going to him_) Oh--father, (_voice rich_) But how lovely of
her.

IRA: Lovely? Lovely to leave you without a mother--leave me without her
after I'd had her? Wasn't she worth more than them.

MADELINE: (_proudly_) Yes. She was worth so much that she never stopped
to think how much she was worth.

IRA: Ah, if you'd known her you couldn't take it like that. And now you
cry about the world! That's what the world is--all coming to nothing. My
father used to sit there at the table and talk about the world--my
father and her father. They thought 'twas all for something--that what
you were went on into something more than you. That's the talk I always
heard in this house. But it's just talk. The rare thing that came here
was killed by the common thing that came here. Just happens--and happens
cruel. Look at your brother! Gone--(_snaps his fingers_) like that. I
told him not to go to war. He didn't have to go--they'd been glad enough
to have him stay here on the farm. But no,--he must--make the world safe
for democracy! Well, you see how safe he made it, don't you? Now I'm
alone on the farm and he--buried on some Frenchman's farm. That is, I
hope they buried him--I hope they didn't just--(_tormented_)

MADELINE: Oh, father--of course not. I know they did.

IRA: How do you know? What do you care--once they got him? _He_ talked
about the world--better world--end war. Now he's in his grave--I hope he
is--and look at the front page of the paper! No such thing--war to end
war!

MADELINE: But he thought there was, father. Fred believed that--so what
else could he do?

IRA: He could 'a' minded his own business.

MADELINE: No--oh, no. It was fine of him to give his life to what he
believed should be.

IRA: The light in his eyes as he talked of it, now--eyes gone--and the
world he died for all hate and war. Waste. Waste. Nothin' but waste--the
life of this house. Why, folks to-day'd laugh to hear my father talk. He
gave his best land for ideas to live. Thought was going to make us a
better people. What was his word? (_waits_) Aspiration. (_says it as if
it is a far-off thing_) Well, look at your friend, young Jordan. Kicked
from the college to prison for ideas of a better world. (_laughs_) His
'aspiration' puts him in a hole on bread and water! So--mind your own
business, that's all that's so in this country. (_constantly tormented
anew_) Oh, I told your brother all that--the night I tried to keep him.
Told him about his mother--to show what come of running to other folks.
And he said--standing right there--(_pointing_) eyes all bright, he
said, 'Golly, I think that's great!' And then _he_--walked out of this
house. (_fear takes him_) Madeline! (_she stoops over him, her arm
around him_) Don't you leave me--all alone in this house--where so many
was once. What's Hindus--alongside your own father--and him needing you?
It won't be long. After a little I'll be dead--or crazy--or something.
But not here alone where so many was once.

MADELINE: Oh--father. I don't know what to do.

IRA: Nothing stays at home. Not even the corn stays at home. If only the
wind wouldn't blow! Why can't I have my field to myself? Why can't I
keep what's mine? All these years I've worked to make it better. I
wanted it to be--the most that it could be. My father used to talk about
the Indians--how our land was their land, and how we must be more than
them. He had his own ideas of bein' more--well, what's that come to? The
Indians lived happier than we--wars, strikes, prisons. But I've made the
corn more! This land that was once Indian maize now grows corn--I'd like
to have the Indians see my corn! I'd like to see them side by
side!--their Indian maize, my corn. And how'd I get it? Ah, by
thinkin'--always tryin', changin', carin'. Plant this corn by that corn,
and the pollen blows from corn to corn--the golden dust it blows, in the
sunshine and of nights--blows from corn to corn like a--(_the word
hurts_) gift. No, you don't understand it, but (_proudly_) corn don't
stay what it is! You can make it anything--according to what you do,
'cording to the corn it's alongside. (_changing_) But that's it. I want
it to stay in my field. It goes away. The prevailin' wind takes it on to
the Johnsons--them Swedes that took my Madeline! I hear it! Oh, nights
when I can't help myself--and in the sunshine I can see it--pollen--soft
golden dust to make new life--goin' on to _them_,--and them too ignorant
to know what's makin' their corn better! I want my field to myself.
What'd I work all my life for? Work that's had to take the place o' what
I lost--is that to go to Emil Johnson? No! The wind shall stand still!
I'll make it. I'll find a way. Let me alone and I--I'll think it out.
Let me alone, I say.

(_A mind burned to one idea, with greedy haste he shuts himself in the
room at left_. MADELINE _has been standing there as if mist is parting
and letting her see. And as the vision grows power grows in her. She is
thus flooded with richer life when her_ AUNT _and Professor_ HOLDEN
_come back. Feeling something new, for a moment they do not speak_.)

AUNT ISABEL: Ready, dear? It's time for us to go now.

MADELINE: (_with the quiet of plentitude_) I'm going in with Emil
Johnson.

AUNT ISABEL: Why--Madeline. (_falteringly_) We thought you'd go with us.

MADELINE: No. I have to be--the most I can be. I want the wind to have
something to carry.

AUNT ISABEL: (_after a look at Professor_ HOLDEN, _who is looking
intensely at_ MADELINE) I don't understand.

MADELINE: The world is all a--moving field. (_her hands move, voice too
is of a moving field_) Nothing is to itself. If America thinks
so--America is like father. I don't feel alone any more. The wind has
come through--wind rich from lives now gone. Grandfather Fejevary, gift
from a field far off. Silas Morton. No, not alone any more. And afraid?
I'm not even afraid of being absurd!

AUNT ISABEL: But Madeline--you're leaving your father?

MADELINE: (_after thinking it out_) I'm not leaving--what's greater in
him than he knows.

AUNT ISABEL: You're leaving Morton College?

MADELINE: That runt on a high hill? Yes, I'm leaving grandfather's
college--then maybe I can one day lie under the same sod with him, and
not be ashamed. Though I must tell you (_a little laugh_) under the sod
is my idea of no place to be. I want to be a long time--where the wind
blows.

AUNT ISABEL: (_who is trying not to cry_) I'm afraid it won't blow in
prison, dear.

MADELINE: I don't know. Might be the only place it would blow. (EMIL
_passes the window, hesitates at the door_) I'll be ready in just a
moment, Emil.

(_He waits outside_.)

AUNT ISABEL: Madeline, I didn't tell you--I hoped it wouldn't be
necessary, but your uncle said--if you refused to do it his way, he
could do absolutely nothing for you, not even--bail.

MADELINE: Of course not. I wouldn't expect him to.

AUNT ISABEL: He feels so deeply about these things--America--loyalty, he
said if you didn't come with us it would be final, Madeline.
Even--(_breaks_) between you and me.

MADELINE: I'm sorry, auntie. You know how I love you. (_and her voice
tells it_) But father has been telling me about the corn. It gives
itself away all the time--the best corn a gift to other corn. What you
are--that doesn't stay with you. Then--(_not with assurance, but feeling
her way_) be the most you can be, so life will be more because you were.
(_freed by the truth she has found_) Oh--do that! Why do we three go
apart? Professor Holden, his beautiful trained mind; Aunt Isabel--her
beautiful love, love that could save the world if only you'd--throw it
to the winds. (_moving nearer_ HOLDEN, _hands out to him_) Why
do--(_seeing it is not to be, she turns away. Low, with sorrow for that
great beauty lost_) Oh, have we brought mind, have we brought heart, up
to this place--only to turn them against mind and heart?

HOLDEN: (_unable to bear more_) I think we--must go. (_going to_
MADELINE, _holding out his hand and speaking from his sterile life to
her fullness of life_) Good-bye, Madeline. Good luck.

MADELINE: Good-bye, Professor Holden. (_hesitates_) Luck to you.

(_Shaking his head, stooped, he hurries out_.)

MADELINE: (_after a moment when neither can speak_) Good-bye--auntie
dearest. Thank you--for the birthday present--the cake--everything.
Everything--all the years.

(_There is something_ AUNT ISABEL _would say, but she can only hold
tight to_ MADELINE_'s hands. At last, with a smile that speaks for love,
a little nod, she goes_. EMIL _comes in_.)

EMIL: You better go with them, Madeline. It'd make it better for you.

MADELINE: Oh no, it wouldn't. I'll be with you in an instant, Emil. I
want to--say good-bye to my father.

(_But she waits before that door, a door hard to go through. Alone_,
EMIL _looks around the room. Sees the bag of corn, takes a couple of
ears and is looking at them as_ MADELINE _returns. She remains by the
door, shaken with sobs, turns, as if pulled back to the pain she has
left_.)

EMIL: Gee. This is great corn.

MADELINE: (_turning now to him_) It is, isn't it, Emil?

EMIL: None like it.

MADELINE: And you say--your corn is getting better?

EMIL: Oh, yes--I raise better corn every year now.

MADELINE: (_low_) That's nice. I'll be right out, Emil.

(_He puts the corn back, goes out. From the closet_ MADELINE _takes her
hat and wrap. Putting them on, she sees the tennis racket on the table.
She goes to it, takes it up, holds it a moment, then takes it to the
closet, puts it carefully away, closes the door behind it. A moment she
stands there in the room, as if listening to something. Then she leaves
that house_.)


CURTAIN





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