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Title: The Easiest Way - Representative Plays by American Dramatists: 1856-1911
Author: Walter, Eugene, 1874-1941
Language: English
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[Illustration: EUGENE WALTER]


(Born, Cleveland, Ohio, November 27, 1874)

When questioned once regarding "The Easiest Way," Mr. Eugene Walter
said, "Incidentally, I do not think much of it. To my mind a good play
must have a tremendous uplift in thought and purpose. 'The Easiest
Way' has none of this. There is not a character in the play really
worth while, with the exception of the old agent. The rest, at best,
are not a particular adornment to society, and the strength of the
play lies in its true portrayal of the sordid type of life which it
expressed. As it is more or less purely photographic, I do not
think it should be given the credit of an inspiration--it is rather
devilishly clever, but a great work it certainly is not."

Such was not the verdict of the first night audience, at the
Stuyvesant Theatre, New York, January 19, 1909. It was found to be
one of the most direct pieces of work the American stage had thus far
produced--disagreeably realistic, but purging--and that is the test of
an effective play--by the very poignancy of the tragic forces closing
in around the heroine. Though it is not as literary a piece of
dramatic expression as Pinero's "Iris," it is better in its effect;
because its relentlessness is due, not so predominantly to the moral
downgrade of the woman, as to the moral downgrade of a certain phase
of life which engulfs those nearest the centre of it. The play roused
a storm of comment; there were camps that took just the stand Mr.
Walter takes in the opening quotation. But the play is included in
this collection because its power, as a documentary report of a
phase of American stage life, is undeniable; because, as a piece of
workmanship, shorn of the usual devices called theatrical, it comes
down to the raw bone of the theme, and firmly progresses to its great
climax,--great in the sense of overpowering,--at the very fall of the
final curtain.

Mr. Walter's various experiences in the theatre as an advance man, his
star reporting on the Detroit _News_, his struggles to gain a footing
in New York, contributed something to the bitter irony which runs as
a dark pattern through the texture of "The Easiest Way." He is one of
the many American dramatists who have come from the newspaper ranks,
having served on the Cleveland _Plain Dealer_ and _Press_, the New
York _Sun_ and _Globe_, the Cincinnati _Post_ and the Seattle _Star_.
Not many will disagree with the verdict that thus far he has not
excelled this play, though "Paid in Full" (February 25, 1908)
contains the same sting of modern life, which drives his characters to
situations dramatic and dire, making them sell their souls and their
peace of minds for the benefit of worldly ease and comfort. Note this
theme in "Fine Feathers" (January 7, 1913) and "Nancy Lee" (April 9,
1918). In this sense, his plays all possess a consistency which makes
no compromises. Arthur Ruhl, in his "Second Nights", refers to Walter
as of the "no quarter" school. He brings a certain manly subtlety to
bear on melodramatic subjects, as in "The Wolf" (April 18, 1908) and
"The Knife" (April 12, 1917); he seems to do as he pleases with his
treatment, as he did right at the start with his first successful
play. For, of "The Easiest Way" it may be said that, for the first
time in his managerial career, Mr. David Belasco agreed to accept
it with the condition that not a word of the manuscript should be

It is interesting to note about Walter that, though he may now
repudiate it, "The Easiest Way" stands distinct in its class; perhaps
the dramatist has ripened more in technique--one immediately feels the
surety and vital grip of dramatic expertness in Walter, much more
so than in George Broadhurst, Bayard Veiller, or other American
dramatists of his class. But he has not surpassed "The Easiest Way" in
the burning intention with which it was written.

As a dramatist, Walter adopts an interesting method; he tries out his
plays on the road, experimenting with various names, and re-casting
until ready for metropolitan production. His dramas have many
_aliases_, and it is a long case to prove an alibi; any student who
has attempted to settle dates will soon find that out. His military
play, written out of his experiences as a United States cavalryman in
the Spanish American War, was called "Boots and Saddles," after it
was given as "Sergeant James." "Fine Feathers," "The Knife," "The
Heritage," "Nancy Lee"--were all second or third choice as to name.

In his advancement, Mr. Walter gives much credit to three American
managers--Kirke LaShelle, and the Selwyn brothers, Archie and Edgar.
It was the Selwyns who, during his various ventures in the "show
business," persuaded him to move to Shelter Island, and write "The
Undertow." It was in their house that "Paid in Full" was finished. Let
Mr. Walter continue the narrative:

    The circumstances under which "The Easiest Way" was written
    are rather peculiar. When I was an advance-agent, ahead of
    second-class companies, the need of money caused me to write a
    one-act piece called "All the Way from Denver," which in time
    I was able to dispose of. Later, after having written "Paid in
    Full," I realized that in the play, "All the Way from Denver,"
    there was a situation or theme that might prove exceedingly
    valuable in a four-act play. After discussing the
    possibilities with Mr. Archie Selwyn, we concluded to write
    it. In the meantime, the one-act piece had come into the
    possession of Margaret Mayo, and through her, Mr. Edgar Selwyn
    decided that the title should be "The Easiest Way" instead of
    "All the Way from Denver."

    The play was then taken in its scenario form to Mr. C.B.
    Dillingham, and discussed with him at length. This was prior
    to the public presentation of "Paid in Full." I possessed
    no particular reputation as a dramatic writer--in fact, the
    Messrs. Selwyn--Archie and Edgar--were the only ones who took
    me seriously, and thought me a possibility. Mr. Dillingham was
    not particularly impressed with the piece, because he thought
    it was much too broad in theme, and he did not like the idea
    of slapping the managerial knuckles of the theatre. Further,
    the obvious inference in "The Easiest Way," that _Laura_ was
    kept out of work in order to be compelled to yield herself to
    _Brockton_, was a point which did not appeal to him. However,
    we had a working agreement with him, and later, Mr. Archie
    Selwyn, in discussing the story of the play with Mr. David
    Belasco, aroused his interest. The latter saw "Paid in Full"
    and "The Wolf," and so he sent for me, with the result that
    "The Easiest Way" was first produced in Hartford, Conn., on
    December 31, 1908. Since its New York production, it has been
    presented in nearly every country of the world. It has not
    always met with commercial success, but it has always been
    regarded as a play of representative importance.

William Winter was one of the bitterest enemies of "The Easiest Way."
He placed it with "Zaza" and Brieux's "Three Daughters of M. Dupont."
As an opposite extreme view, we give the opinion of Mr. Walter Eaton,
written in 1909, concerning the play: "It places Mr. Walter as a
leader among our dramatists." In some respects, we may have surpassed
it since then, in imaginative ideality; but, as an example of
relentless realism, it still holds its own as a distinct contribution.
The text has been edited for private circulation, and it is this text
which is followed here. A few modifications, of a technical nature,
have been made in the stage directions; but even with these slight
changes, the directions are staccato, utilitarian in conciseness,
rather than literary in the Shaw sense.


_New York City_

Under the _sole_
management of


An American play concerning a peculiar phase of New York life.

In Four Acts and Four Scenes.



JOHN MADISON                      EDWARD H. ROBINS


JIM WESTON                         WILLIAM SAMPSON

LAURA MURDOCK                        FRANCES STARR


ANNIE                                    EMMA DUNN

Program Continued on Second Page Following


       *       *       *       *       *


ACT I.--Mrs. William's ranch house or country home, perched on
the side of the Ute Pass, near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Time--Late in an August afternoon.

ACT II.--Laura Murdock's furnished room, second story, back.
New York.
Time--Six months later.

ACT III.--Laura Murdock's apartments in an expensive hotel. New
Time--Two months later. In the morning.

ACT IV.--The same at Act III.
Time--The same afternoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The play produced under the personal supervision of Mr. Belasco.

       *       *       *       *       *



Stage Director                     William J. Dean
Stage Manager                         Langdon West

       *       *       *       *       *

Stage decorations and accessories designed by Wilfred Buckland.

       *       *       *       *       *

Scenes by Ernest Cross.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Scenery built by Charles J. Carson.
     Electrical effects by Louis Harlman.
Gowns by Mollie O'Hara.         Hats by Bendel.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pianola used is from the Aeolian Co., New York.








[The Editor wishes to thank Mr. Eugene Walter for his courtesy in
granting permission to include "The Easiest Way" in the present
Collection. All its dramatic rights are fully secured, and proceedings
will immediately be taken against anyone attempting to infringe them.]




LAURA MURDOCH, twenty-five years of age, is a type not uncommon in the
theatrical life of New York, and one which has grown in importance in
the profession since the business of giving public entertainments has
been so reduced to a commercial basis.

At an early age she came from Australia to San Francisco. She
possessed a considerable beauty and an aptitude for theatrical
accomplishment which soon raised her to a position of more or less
importance in a local stock company playing in that city. A woman of
intense superficial emotions, her imagination was without any enduring
depths, but for the passing time she could place herself in an
attitude of great affection and devotion. Sensually, the woman had
marked characteristics, and, with the flattery that surrounded her,
she soon became a favourite in the select circles which made such
places as "The Poodle Dog" and "Zinkand's" famous. In general
dissipation, she was always careful not in any way to indulge in
excesses which would jeopardize her physical attractiveness, or for
one moment to diminish her sense of keen worldly calculation.

In time she married. It was, of course, a failure. Her vacillating
nature was such that she could not be absolutely true to the man to
whom she had given her life, and, after several bitter experiences,
she had the horror of seeing him kill himself in front of her. There
was a momentary spasm of grief, a tidal wave of remorse, and then the
peculiar recuperation of spirits, beauty and attractiveness that
so marks this type of woman. She was deceived by other men in many
various ways, and finally came to that stage of life that is known in
theatrical circles as being "wised up."

At nineteen, the attention of a prominent theatrical manager being
called to her, she took an important part in a New York production,
and immediately gained considerable reputation. The fact that, before
reaching the age of womanhood, she had had more escapades than most
women have in their entire lives was not generally known in New York,
nor was there a mark upon her face or a single coarse mannerism to
betray it. She was soft-voiced, very pretty, very girlish. Her keen
sense of worldly calculation led her to believe that in order to
progress in her theatrical career she must have some influence outside
of her art and dramatic accomplishment; so she attempted, with no
little success, to infatuate a hard-headed, blunt and supposedly
invincible theatrical manager, who, in his cold, stolid way, gave her
what love there was in him. This, however, not satisfying her, she
played two ends against the middle, and, finding a young man of wealth
and position who could give her, in his youth, the exuberance and
joy utterly apart from the character of the theatrical manager, she
adopted him, and for a while lived with him. Exhausting his money, she
cast him aside, always spending a certain part of the time with the
theatrical manager. The young man became crazed, and, at a restaurant,
tried to murder all of them.

From that time up to the opening of the play, her career was a
succession of brilliant coups in gaining the confidence and love,
not to say the money, of men of all ages and all walks in life. Her
fascination was as undeniable as her insincerity of purpose. She
had never made an honest effort to be an honest woman, although she
imagined herself always persecuted, the victim of circumstances,--and
was always ready to excuse any viciousness of character which led her
into her peculiar difficulties. While acknowledged to be a mistress of
her business--that of acting--from a purely technical point of view,
her lack of sympathy, her abuse of her dramatic temperament in her
private affairs, had been such as to make it impossible for her
sincerely to impress audiences with real emotional power, and,
therefore, despite the influences which she always had at hand, she
remained a mediocre artist.

At the time of the opening of our play, she has played a summer
engagement with a stock company in Denver, which has just ended. She
has met JOHN MADISON, a man of about twenty-seven years of age, whose
position is that of a dramatic critic on one of the local papers.
LAURA MURDOCH, with her usual wisdom, started to fascinate JOHN
MADISON, but has found that, for once in her life, she has met her

JOHN MADISON is good to look at, frank, virile, but a man of broad
experience, and not to be hoodwinked. For the first time LAURA MURDOCH
feels that the shoe is pinching the other foot, and, without any
possible indication of reciprocal affection, she has been slowly
falling desperately, madly, honestly and decently in love with him.
She has for the past two years been the special favourite and mistress
of WILLARD BROCKTON. The understanding is one of pure friendship.
He is a man who has a varied taste in the selection of his women; is
honest in a general way, and perfectly frank about his amours. He has
been most generous with LAURA MURDOCK, and his close relations with
several very prominent theatrical managers have made it possible for
him to secure her desirable engagements, generally in New York. With
all her past experiences, tragic and otherwise, LAURA MURDOCH has
found nothing equal to this sudden, this swiftly increasing, love for
the young Western man. At first she attempted to deceive him. Her baby
face, her masterful assumption of innocence and childlike devotion,
made no impression upon him. He has let her know in no uncertain way
that he knew her record from the day she stepped on American soil in
San Francisco to the time when she had come to Denver, but still he
liked her.

JOHN MADISON is a peculiar type of the Western man. Up to the time of
his meeting LAURA, he had always been employed either in the mines
or on a newspaper west of the Mississippi River. He is one of those
itinerant reporters; to-day you might find him in Seattle, to-morrow
in Butte, the next week in Denver, and then possibly he would make
the circuit from Los Angeles to 'Frisco, and then all around again.
He drinks his whiskey straight, plays his faro fairly, and is not
particular about the women with whom he goes. He started life in
the Western country at an early age. His natural talents, both in
literature and in general adaptability to all conditions of life,
were early exhibited, but his _alma mater_ was the bar-room, and
the faculty of that college its bartenders and gamblers and general

He seldom has social engagements outside of certain disreputable
establishments, where a genial personality or an over-burdened
pocketbook gives _entrée_, and the rules of conventionality have
never even been whispered. His love affairs, confined to this class
of women, have seldom lasted more than a week or ten days. His editors
know him as a brilliant genius, irresponsible, unreliable, but at
times inestimably valuable. He cares little for personal appearance
beyond a certain degree of neatness. He is quick on the trigger, and
in a time of over-heated argument can go some distance with his fists;
in fact, his whole career is best described as "happy-go-lucky."

He realizes fully his ability to do almost anything fairly well, and
some things especially well, but he has never tried to accomplish
anything beyond the earning of a comfortable living. Twenty-five or
thirty dollars a week was all he needed. With that he could buy his
liquor, treat his women, sometimes play a little faro, sit up all
night and sleep all day, and in general lead the life of good-natured
vagabondage which has always pleased him and which he had chosen as a

The objection of safer and saner friends to this form of livelihood
was always met by him with a slap on the back and a laugh. "Don't you
worry about me, partner; if I'm going to hell I'm going there with
bells on," was always his rejoinder; and yet, when called upon to
cover some great big news story, or report some vital event, he
settled down to his work with a steely determination and a grim joy
that resulted in work which classified him as a genius. Any great
mental effort of this character, any unusual achievement along these
lines, would be immediately followed by a protracted debauch that
would upset him physically and mentally for weeks at a time, but he
always recovered and landed on his feet, and with the same laugh and
smile again went at his work.

If there have been opportunities to meet decent women of good social
standing, he has always thrown them aside with the declaration that
they bore him to death, and there never had entered into his heart a
feeling or idea of real affection until he met LAURA. He fell for a
moment under the spell of her fascination, and then, with cold logic,
he analyzed her, and found out that, while outwardly she had
every sign of girlhood,--ingenuousness, sweetness of character and
possibility of affection,--spiritually and mentally she was nothing
more than a moral wreck. He observed keenly her efforts to win him and
her disappointment at her failure--not that she cared so much for him
personally, but that it hurt her vanity not to be successful with
this good-for-nothing, good-natured vagabond, when men of wealth and
position she made kneel at her feet. He observed her slowly-changing
point of view: how from a kittenish ingenuousness she became serious,
womanly, really sincere. He knew that he had awakened in her her first
decent affection, and he knew that she was awakening in him his first
desire to do things and be big and worth while. So together these
two began to drift toward a path of decent dealing, decent ambition,
decent thought, and decent love, until at last they both find
themselves, and acknowledge all the wickedness of what had been, and
plan for all the virtue and goodness of what is to be. It is at this
point that our first act begins.

ELFIE ST. CLAIR is a type of a Tenderloin grafter in New York, who,
after all, has been more sinned against than sinning; who, having been
imposed upon, deceived, ill-treated and bulldozed by the type of men
who prey on women in New York, has turned the tables, and with her
charm and her beauty has gone out to make the same slaughter of the
other sex as she suffered with many of her sisters.

She is a woman without a moral conscience, whose entire life is
dictated by a small mental operation. Coming to New York as a
beautiful girl, she entered the chorus. She became famous for her
beauty. On every hand were the stage-door vultures ready to give her
anything that a woman's heart could desire, from clothes to horses,
carriages, money and what-not; but, with a girl-like instinct, she
fell in love with a man connected with the company, and, during
all the time she might have profited and become a rich woman by the
attentions of these outsiders, she remained true to her love, until
finally her fame as the beauty of the city had waned. The years told
on her to a certain extent, and there were others coming, as young as
she had been and as good to look at; and, where the automobile of the
millionaire had once been waiting for her, she found that, through her
faithfulness to her lover, it was now there for some one else. Yet she
was content with her joys, until finally the man deliberately jilted
her and left her alone.

What had gone of her beauty had been replaced by a keen knowledge of
human nature and of men, so she determined to give herself up entirely
to a life of gain. She knows just how much champagne should be
drunk without injuring one's health. She knows just what physical
necessities should be indulged in to preserve to the greatest degree
her remaining beauty. There is no trick of the hair-dresser, the
modiste, the manicurist, or any one of the legion of people who devote
their time to aiding the outward fascinations of women, which she does
not know. She knows exactly what perfumes to use, what stockings
to wear, how she should live, how far she should indulge in any
dissipation; and all this she has determined to devote to profit. She
knows that as an actress she has no future; that the time of a woman's
beauty is limited. Conscious that she has already lost the youthful
litheness of figure which had made her so fascinating in the past,
she has laid aside every sentiment, physical and spiritual, and
has determined to choose a man as her companion who has the biggest
bank-roll and the most liberal nature. His age, his station in life,
the fact whether she likes or dislikes him, do not enter into this
scheme at all. She figures that she has been made a fool of by men,
and that there is only one revenge,--the accumulation of a fortune to
make her independent of them once and for all. There are, of course,
certain likes and dislikes that she enjoys, and in a way she indulges
them. There are men whose company she cares for, but their association
is practically sexless and has come down to a point of mere good

WILLARD BROCKTON, a New York broker, is an honest sensualist, and when
one says an honest sensualist, the meaning is--a man who has none
of the cad in his character, who takes advantage of no one, and who
allows no one to take advantage of him. He honestly detests any man
who takes advantage of a pure woman. He detests any man who deceives a
woman. He believes that there is only one way to go through life,
and that is to be frank with those with whom one deals. He is a
master-hand in stock manipulation, and in the questionable practises
of Wall Street he has realized that he has to play his cunning and
craft against the cunning and craft of others. He is not at all in
sympathy with this mode of living, but he thinks it is the only
method by which he can succeed in life. He measures success by the
accumulation of money, but he considers his business career as a thing
apart from his private existence.

He does not associate, to any great extent, with what is known as
"society." He keeps in touch with it simply to maintain his business
position. There is always an inter-relationship among the rich in
business and private life, and he gives such entertainments as are
necessary to the members of New York's exclusive set, simply to make
certain his relative position with other successful Wall Street men.

As far as women are concerned, the particular type of actress, such as
LAURA MURDOCH and ELFIE ST. CLAIR, appeals to him. He likes their good
fellowship. He loves to be with a gay party at night in a café. He
likes the rather looseness of living which does not quite reach the
disreputable. Behind all this, however, is a certain high sense of
honour. He detests and despises the average stage-door Johnny, and
he loathes the type of man who seeks to take young girls out of
theatrical companies for their ruin.

His women friends are as wise as himself. When they enter into an
agreement with him there is no deception. In the first place he wants
to like them; in the second place he wants them to like him; and
finally, he wants to fix the amount of their living expenses at
a definite figure, and have them stand by it. He wants them to
understand that he reserves the right, at any time, to withdraw his
support, or transfer it to some other woman, and he gives them the
same privilege.

He is always ready to help anyone who is unfortunate, and he has
always hoped that some of these girls whom he knew would finally come
across the right man, marry and settle down; but he insists that such
an arrangement can be possible only by the honest admission on the
woman's part of what she has done and been, and by the thorough
understanding of all these things by the man involved. He is gruff in
his manner, determined in his purposes, honest in his point of view.
He is a brute, almost a savage, but he is a thoroughly good brute and
a pretty decent savage.

At the time of the opening of this play, he and LAURA MURDOCK have
been friends for two years. He knows exactly what she is and what she
has been, and their relations are those of pals. She has finished her
season in Denver, and he has come out there to accompany her home.
He has always told her, whenever she felt it inconsistent with her
happiness to continue her relations with him, it is her privilege to
quit, and he has reserved the same condition.

JIM WESTON, between forty-five and fifty years of age, is the type
of the semi-broken-down showman. In the evolution of the theatrical
business in America, the old circus and minstrel men have gradually
been pushed aside, while younger men, with more advanced methods, have
taken their place. The character is best realized by the way it is
drawn in the play.

ANNIE. The only particular attention that should be called to the
character of the negress, ANNIE, who is the servant of LAURA, is the
fact that she must not in any way represent the traditional smiling
coloured girl or "mammy" of the South. She is the cunning, crafty,
heartless, surly, sullen Northern negress, who, to the number of
thousands, are servants of women of easy morals, and who infest a
district of New York in which white and black people of the lower
classes mingle indiscriminately, and which is one of the most criminal
sections of the city. The actress who plays this part must keep in
mind its innate and brutal selfishness.


ACT I. Mrs. Williams' Ranch House or Country Home, perched on the side
of Ute Pass, near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

TIME. Late in an August afternoon.

ACT II. Laura Murdock's furnished Room, second story back, New York.

TIME. Six months later.

ACT III. Laura Murdock's Apartments in an expensive Hotel.

TIME. Two months later. In the morning.

ACT IV. Laura Murdock's Apartments. The same as Act III.

TIME. The afternoon of the same day.



SCENE. _The scene is that of the summer country ranch house of_ MRS.
WILLIAMS, _a friend of_ LAURA MURDOCK'S, _and a prominent society
woman of Denver, perched on the side of Ute Pass, near Colorado
Springs. The house is one of unusual pretentiousness, and, to a person
not conversant with conditions as they exist in this part of Colorado,
the idea might be that such magnificence could not obtain in such
a locality. At the left of stage the house rises in the form of a
turret, built of rough stone of a brown hue, two stories high, and
projecting a quarter of the way out on the stage. The door leads to a
small elliptical terrace built of stone, with heavy benches of Greek
design, strewn cushions, while over the top of one part of this
terrace is suspended a canopy made from a Navajo blanket. The terrace
is supposed to extend almost to the right of stage, and here it stops.
The stage must be cut here so that the entrance of_ JOHN _can give the
illusion that he is coming up a steep declivity or a long flight of
stairs. There are chairs at right and left, and a small table at left.
There are trailing vines around the balustrade of the terrace, and
the whole setting must convey the idea of quiet wealth. Up stage is
supposed to be the part of the terrace overlooking the cañon, a sheer
drop of two thousand feet, while over in the distance, as if across
the cañon, one can see the rolling foot-hills and lofty peaks of the
Rockies, with Pike's Peak in the distance, snow-capped and colossal.
It is late in the afternoon, and, as the scene progresses, the quick
twilight of a cañon, beautiful in its tints of purple and amber,
becomes later pitch black, and the curtain goes down on an absolutely
black stage. The cyclorama, or semi-cyclorama, must give the
perspective of greater distances, and be so painted that the various
tints of twilight may be shown_.

AT RISE. LAURA MURDOCK _is seen leaning a bit over the balustrade of
the porch and shielding her eyes with her hand from the late afternoon
sun, as she seemingly looks up the Pass to the left, as if expecting
the approach of someone. Her gown is simple, girlish and attractive,
and made of summery, filmy stuff. Her hair is done up in the simplest
fashion, with a part in the centre, and there is about her every
indication of an effort to assume that girlishness of demeanour which
has been her greatest asset through life_. WILLARD BROCKTON _enters;
he is a man six feet or more in height, stocky in build, clean-shaven
and immaculately dressed. He is smoking a cigar, and upon
entering takes one step forward and looks over toward_ LAURA _in a
semi-meditative manner_.

WILL. Blue?


WILL. What's up?

LAURA. Nothing.

WILL. A little preoccupied.

LAURA. Perhaps.

WILL. What's up that way?

LAURA. Which way?

WILL. The way you are looking.

LAURA. The road from Manitou Springs. They call it the trail out here.

WILL. I know that. You know I've done a lot of business west of the

LAURA. [_With a half-sigh_.] No, I didn't know it.

WILL. Oh, yes; south of here in the San Juan country. Spent a couple
of years there once.

LAURA. [_Still without turning_.] That's interesting.

WILL. It was then. I made some money there. It's always interesting
when you make money. Still--

LAURA. [_Still leaning in an absent-minded attitude_.] Still what?

WILL. Can't make out why you have your eyes glued on that road.
Someone coming?


WILL. One of Mrs. Williams' friends, eh? [_Will crosses, and sits on


WILL. Yours too?


WILL. Man?

LAURA. Yes, a _real_ man.

WILL. [_Catches the significance of this speech. He carelessly throws
the cigar over the balustrade. He comes down and leans on chair with
his back to_ LAURA. _She has not moved more than to place her left
hand on a cushion and lean her head rather wearily against it, looking
steadfastly up the Pass_.] A real man. By that you mean--

LAURA. Just that--a real man.

WILL. Any difference from the many you have known?

LAURA. Yes, from all I have known.

WILL. So that is why you didn't come into Denver to meet me to-day,
but left word for me to come out here?


WILL. I thought that I was pretty decent to take a dusty ride half-way
across the continent in order to keep you company on your way back to
New York, and welcome you to our home; but maybe I had the wrong idea.

LAURA. Yes, I think you had the wrong idea.

WILL. In love, eh?

LAURA. Yes, just that,--in love.

WILL. A new sensation.

LAURA. No; the first conviction.

WILL. You have had that idea before. Every woman's love is the real
one when it comes. [_Crosses up to_ LAURA.] Do you make a distinction
in this case, young lady?


WILL. For instance, what?

LAURA. This man is poor--absolutely broke. He hasn't even got a
[_Crosses to armchair, leans over and draws with parasol on ground_.]
good job. You know, Will, all the rest, including yourself, generally
had some material inducement.

WILL. What's his business? [_Crosses to table and sits looking at

LAURA. He's a newspaper man.

WILL. H'm-m. Romance?

LAURA. Yes, if you want to call it that,--romance.

WILL. Do I know him?

LAURA. How could you? You only came from New York to-day, and he has
never been there.

_He regards her with a rather amused, indulgent, almost paternal
expression, in contrast to his big, bluff, physical personality, with
his iron-gray hair and his bulldog expression_. LAURA _looks
more girlish than ever. This is imperative in order to thoroughly
understand the character_.

WILL. How old is he?

LAURA. Twenty-seven. You're forty-five.

WILL. No, forty-six.

LAURA. Shall I tell you about him? Huh?

[_Crosses to_ WILL, _placing parasol on seat_.

WILL. That depends.

LAURA. On what?

WILL. Yourself.

LAURA. In what way?

WILL. If it will interfere in the least with the plans I have made for
you and for me.

LAURA. And have you made any particular plans for me that have
anything particularly to do with you?

WILL. Yes, I have given up the lease of our apartment on West End
Avenue, and I've got a house on Riverside Drive. Everything will be
quiet and decent, and it'll be more comfortable for you. There's a
stable near by, and your horses and car can be kept over there. You'll
be your own mistress, and besides I've fixed you up for a new part.

LAURA. A new part! What kind of a part?

WILL. One of Charlie Burgess's shows, translated from some French
fellow. It's been running over in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, and all
those places, for a year or more, and appears to be an awful hit. It's
going to cost a lot of money. I told Charlie he could put me down
for a half interest, and I'd give all the money providing you got
an important rôle. Great part, I'm told. Kind of a cross between a
musical comedy and an opera. Looks as if it might stay in New York all
season. So that's the change of plan. How does it strike you?

[LAURA _crosses to door, meditating; pauses in thought_.

LAURA. I don't know.

WILL. Feel like quitting? [_Turns to her._

LAURA. I can't tell.

WILL. It's the newspaper man, eh?

LAURA. That would be the only reason.

WILL. You've been on the square with me this summer, haven't you?
[_Crosses to table_.

LAURA. [_Turns, looks at_ WILL.] What do you mean by "on the square?"

WILL. Don't evade. There's only one meaning when I say that, and you
know it. I'm pretty liberal. But you understand where I draw the line.
You've not jumped that, have you, Laura?

LAURA. No, this has been such a wonderful summer, such a wonderfully
different summer. Can you understand what I mean by that when I say
"wonderfully different summer?"

[_Crossing to WILL_.

WILL. Well, he's twenty-seven and broke, and you're twenty-five and
pretty; and he evidently, being a newspaper man, has that peculiar
gift of gab that we call romantic expression. So I guess I'm not
blind, and you both think you've fallen in love. That it?

LAURA. Yes, I think that's about it; only I don't agree to the "gift
of gab" and the "romantic" end of it. [_Crosses to table_.] He's a man
and I'm a woman, and we both have had our experiences. I don't think,
Will, that there can be much of that element of what some folks call

[_Sits on chair; takes candy-box on lap; selects candy_.

WILL. Then the Riverside Drive proposition and Burgess's show is off,

LAURA. I didn't say that.

WILL. And if you go back on the Overland Limited day after to-morrow,
you'd just as soon I'd go to-morrow of wait until the day after you
leave? [LAURA _places candy-box back on table_.

LAURA. I didn't say that, either.

WILL. What's the game?

LAURA. I can't tell you now.

WILL. Waiting for him to come? [_Crosses, sits on seat_.

LAURA. Exactly.

WILL. Think he is going to make a proposition, eh?

LAURA. I know he is.

WILL. Marriage?

LAURA. Possibly.

WILL. You've tried that once, and taken the wrong end. Are you going
to play the same game again?

LAURA. Yes, but with a different card.

[_Picks up magazine off table_.

WILL. What's his name?

LAURA. Madison--John Madison.

[_Slowly turning pages of magazine_.

WILL. And his job?

LAURA. Reporter.

WILL. What are you going to live on,--the extra editions?

LAURA. No, we're young, there's plenty of time. I can work in the
meantime, and so can he; and then with his ability and my ability
it will only be a matter of a year or two when things will shape
themselves to make it possible.

WILL. Sounds well--a year off.

LAURA. If I thought you were going to make fun of me, Will, I
shouldn't have talked to you.

[_Throws down magazine, crosses to door of house_.

WILL. [_Crossing down in front of table_.] I don't want to make fun of
you, but you must realize that after two years it isn't an easy thing
to be dumped with so little ceremony. Maybe you have never given
me any credit for possessing the slightest feeling, but even I can
receive shocks from other sources than a break in the market.

LAURA. [_Crosses to_ WILL.] It isn't easy for me to do this. You've
been awfully kind, awfully considerate, but when I went to you it was
just with the understanding that we were to be pals. You reserved the
right then to quit me whenever you felt like it, and you gave me the
same privilege. Now, if some girl came along who really captivated
you in the right way, and you wanted to marry, it would hurt me a
little,--maybe a lot,--but I should never forget that agreement
we made, a sort of two weeks' notice clause, like people have in

WILL. [_Is evidently very much moved. Walks up stage to right end of
seat, looks over the cañon_. LAURA _looks after him_. WILL _has his
back to the audience. Long pause_.] I'm not hedging, Laura. If that's
the way you want it to be, I'll stand by just exactly what I said
[_Turns to_ LAURA.], but I'm fond of you, a damn sight fonder than I
thought I was, now that I find you slipping away; but if this young
fellow is on the square [LAURA _crosses to_ WILL, _taking his right
hand_.] and he has youth and ability, and you've been on the square
with him, why, all right. Your life hasn't had much in it to help you
get a diploma from any celestial college, and if you can start out
now and be a good girl, have a good husband, and maybe some day good
children [LAURA _sighs_.], why, I'm not going to stand in the way.
Only I don't want you to make any of those mistakes that you made

LAURA. I know, but somehow I feel that this time the real thing has
come, and with it the real man. I can't tell you, Will, how much
different it is, but everything I felt before seems so sort of
earthly--and somehow this love that I have for this man is so
different. It's made me want to be truthful and sincere and humble
for the first time in my life. The only other thing I ever had that I
cared the least bit about, now that I look back, was your friendship.
We have been good pals, haven't we?

[_Puts arms about_ WILL.

WILL. Yes, it's been a mighty good two years for me. I was always
proud to take you around, because I think you one of the prettiest
things in New York [LAURA _crosses and girlishly jumps into
armchair._], and that helps some, and you're always jolly, and you
never complained. You always spent a lot of money, but it was a
pleasure to see you spend it; and then you never offended me. Most
women offend men by coming around looking untidy and sort of unkempt,
but somehow you always knew the value of your beauty, and you always
dressed up. I always thought that maybe some day the fellow would come
along, grab you, and make you happy in a nice way, but I thought
that he'd have to have a lot of money. You know you've lived a rather
extravagant life for five years, Laura. It won't be an easy job to
come down to cases and suffer for the little dainty necessities you've
been used to.

LAURA. I've thought all about that, and I think I understand.

[_Facing audience; leaning elbows on lap._

WILL. You know if you were working without anybody's help, Laura, you
might have a hard time getting a position. As an actress you're only

LAURA. You needn't remind me of that. That part of my life is my own.
[_Crosses up to seat._] I don't want you to start now and make it
harder for me to do the right thing. It isn't fair; it isn't square;
and it isn't right. You've got to let me go my own way. [_Crosses to_
WILL; _puts right hand on his shoulder._] I'm sorry to leave you, in
a way, but I want you to know that if I go with John it changes the
spelling of the word comradeship into love, and mistress into wife.
Now please don't talk any more. [_Crosses to post; takes scarf off

WILL. Just a word. Is it settled?

LAURA. [_Impatiently._] I said I didn't know. I would know
to-day--that's what I'm waiting for. Oh, I don't see why he doesn't
come. [WILL _turns up to seat looking over Pass._

WILL. [_Pointing up the Pass._] Is that the fellow coming up here?

LAURA. [_Quickly running toward the balustrade of seat, saying as she
goes_:] Where? [_Kneels on seat_.

WILL. [_Pointing_.] Up the road there. On that yellow horse.

LAURA. [_Looking_.] Yes, that's John. [_She waves her handkerchief,
and putting one hand to her mouth cries_:] Hello!

JOHN. [_Off stage with the effect as if he was on the road winding up
toward the house_.] Hello yourself!

LAURA. [_Same effect_.] Hurry up, you're late.

JOHN. [_Same effect, a little louder_.] Better late than never.

LAURA. [_Same effect_.] Hurry up.

JOHN. [_Little louder_.] Not with this horse.

LAURA. [_To_ WILL, _with enthusiastic expression_.] Now, Will, does he
look like a yellow reporter?

WILL. [_With a sort of sad smile_.] He _is_ a good-looking chap.

LAURA. [_Looking down again at_ JOHN.] Oh, he's just simply more than
that. [_Turns quickly to_ WILL.] Where's Mrs. Williams?

WILL. [_Motioning with thumb toward left side of ranch house_.]
Inside, I guess, up to her neck in bridge.

LAURA. [_Goes hurriedly over to door_.] Mrs. Williams! Oh, Mrs.

MRS. WILLIAMS. [_Heard off stage_.] What is it, my dear?

LAURA. Mr. Madison is coming up the path.

MRS. WILLIAMS. [_Off stage_.] That's good.

LAURA. Sha'n't you come and see him?

MRS. WILLIAMS. [_Same_.] Lord, no! I'm six dollars and twenty cents
out now, and up against an awful streak of luck.

LAURA. Shall I give him some tea?

MRS. WILLIAMS. [_Same_.] Yes, do, dear; and tell him to cross his
fingers when he thinks of me.

_In the meantime_ WILL _has leaned over the balustrade, evidently
surveying the young man, who is supposed to be coming up the, path,
with a great deal of interest. Underneath his stolid, businesslike
demeanour of squareness, there is undoubtedly within his heart a very
great affection for_ LAURA. _He realizes that during her whole career
he has been the only one who has influenced her absolutely. Since the
time they lived together, he has always dominated, and he has always
endeavoured to lead her along a path that meant the better things of a
Bohemian existence. His coming all the way from New York to Denver to
accompany_ LAURA _home was simply another example of his keen interest
in the woman, and he suddenly finds that she has drifted away from him
in a manner to which he could not in the least object, and that she
had been absolutely fair and square in her agreement with him._ WILL
_is a man who, while rough and rugged in many ways, possesses many of
the finer instincts of refinement, latent though they may be, and
his meeting with_ JOHN _ought, therefore, to show much significance,
because on his impressions of the young man depend the entire
justification of his attitude in the play._

LAURA. [_Turning toward_ WILL _and going to him, slipping her hand
involuntarily through his arm, and looking eagerly with him over the
balustrade in almost girlish enthusiasm._] Do you like him?

WILL. [_Smiling_.] I don't know him.

LAURA. Well, do you think you'll like him?

WILL. Well, I hope I'll like him.

LAURA. Well, if you hope you'll like him you ought to think you like
him. He'll turn the corner of that rock in just a minute and then you
can see him. Do you want to see him?

WILL. [_Almost amused at her girlish manner._] Why, yes--do you?

LAURA. Do I? Why, I haven't seen him since last night! There he is.
[_Waves her hand._] Hello, John!

[_Gets candy-box, throws pieces of candy at_ JOHN.

JOHN. [_His voice very close now_.] Hello, girlie! How's everything?

LAURA. Fine! Do hurry.

JOHN. Just make this horse for a minute. Hurry is not in his

LAURA. I'm coming down to meet you.

JOHN. All--right.

LAURA. [_Turns quickly to_ WILL.] You don't care. You'll wait, won't

WILL. Surely.

LAURA _hurriedly exits._ WILL _goes down centre of the stage. After
a short interval_ LAURA _comes in, more like a sixteen-year-old girl
than anything else, pulling_ JOHN _after her. He is a tall, finely
built type of Western manhood, a frank face, a quick, nervous energy,
a mind that works like lightning, a prepossessing smile, and a
personality that is wholly captivating. His clothes are a bit dusty
from the ride, but are not in the least pretentious, and his leggins
are of canvas and spurs of brass, such as are used in the Army. His
hat is off, and he is pulled on to the stage, more like a great
big boy than a man. His hair is a bit tumbled, and he shows every
indication of having had a rather long and hard ride_.

LAURA. Hello, John!

JOHN. Hello, girlie!

_Then she suddenly recovers herself and realizes the position she
is in. Both men measure each other for a moment in silence, neither
flinching the least bit. The smile has faded from_ JOHN'S _face, and
the mouth droops into an expression of firm determination._ LAURA _for
a moment loses her ingenuousness. She is the least bit frightened at
finally placing the two men face to face, and in a voice that trembles
slightly from apprehension_:

LAURA. Oh, I beg your pardon! Mr. Madison, this is Mr. Brockton, a
friend of mine from New York. You've often heard me speak of him; he
came out here to keep me company when I go home.

JOHN. [_Comes forward, extends a hand, looking_ WILL _right in the
eye._] I am very glad to know you, Mr. Brockton.

WILL. Thank you.

JOHN. I've heard a great deal about you and your kindness to
Miss Murdock. Anything that you have done for her in a spirit of
friendliness I am sure all her friends must deeply appreciate, and I
count myself in as one.

WILL. [_In an easy manner that rather disarms the antagonistic
attitude of_ JOHN.] Then we have a good deal in common, Mr. Madison,
for I also count Miss Murdock a friend, and when two friends of a
friend have the pleasure of meeting, I dare say that's a pretty good
foundation for them to become friends too.

JOHN. Possibly. Whatever my opinion may have been of you, Mr.
Brockton, before you arrived, now I have seen you--and I'm a man who
forms his conclusions right off the bat--I don't mind telling you that
you've agreeably surprised me. That's just a first impression, but
they run kind o' strong with me.

WILL. Well, young man, I size up a fellow in pretty short order, and
all things being equal, I think you'll do.

LAURA. [_Radiantly._] Shall I get the tea?

JOHN. Tea!

LAURA. Yes, tea. You know it must be tea--nothing stronger.

[_Crosses to door._

JOHN. [_Looking at_ WILL _rather comically._] How strong are you for
that tea, Mr. Brockton?

WILL. I'll pass; it's your deal, Mr. Madison.

JOHN. Mine! No, deal me out this hand.

LAURA. I don't think you're at all pleasant, but I'll tell you one
thing--it's tea this deal or no game.

[_Crosses up stage to seat, picks up magazine, turns pages._

WILL. No game then [_Crosses to door._], and I'm going to help Mrs.
Williams; maybe she's lost nearly seven dollars by this time, and I'm
an awful dub when it comes to bridge. [_Exit._

LAURA. [_Tossing magazine on to seat, crosses quickly to_ JOHN,
_throws her arms around his neck in the most loving manner._] John!

_As the Act progresses the shadows cross the Pass, and golden light
streams across the lower hills and tops the snow-clad peaks. It
becomes darker and darker, the lights fade to beautiful opalescent
hues, until, when the curtain falls on the act, with_ JOHN _and_ WILL
_on the scene, it is pitch dark, a faint glow coming out of the door.
Nothing else can be seen but the glow of the ash on the end of
each man's cigar as he puffs it in silent meditation on their

JOHN. Well, dear?

LAURA. Are you going to be cross with me?

JOHN. Why?

LAURA. Because he came?

JOHN. Brockton?


JOHN. You didn't know, did you?

LAURA. Yes, I did.

JOHN. That he was coming?

LAURA. He wired me when he reached Kansas City.

JOHN. Does he know?

LAURA. About us?

JOHN. Yes.

LAURA. I've told him.

JOHN. When?

LAURA. To-day.

JOHN. Here?


JOHN. With what result?

LAURA. I think it hurt him.

JOHN. Naturally.

LAURA. More than I had any idea it would.

JOHN. I'm sorry. [_Sits in armchair_.

LAURA. He cautioned me to be very careful and to be sure I knew my

JOHN. That was right.

LAURA _gets a cushion in each hand off seat; crosses down to left of
armchair, throws one cushion on ground, then the other on top of
it, and kneels beside his chair. Piano in house playing a Chopin

LAURA. John.

JOHN. Yes.

LAURA. We've been very happy all summer.

JOHN. Very.

LAURA. [_Rises, sits on left arm of chair, her arm over back_.] And
this thing has gradually been growing on us?

JOHN. That's true.

LAURA. I didn't think that, when I came out here to Denver to play in
a little stock company, it was going to bring me all this happiness,
but it has, hasn't it?

JOHN. Yes.

LAURA. [_Changing her position, sits on his lap, arms around his
neck_.] And now the season's over and there is nothing to keep me in
Colorado, and I've got to go back to New York to work.

JOHN. I know; I've been awake all night thinking about it.

LAURA. Well?

JOHN. Well?

LAURA. What are we going to do?

JOHN. Why, you've got to go, I suppose.

LAURA. Is it good-bye?

JOHN. For a while, I suppose--it's good-bye.

LAURA. What do you mean by a while?

[LAURA _turns_ JOHN'S _face to her, looks at him searchingly_.

JOHN. Until [_Piano plays crescendo, then softens down_.] I get money
enough together, and am making enough to support you, then come and
take you out of the show business and make you Mrs. Madison.

LAURA _tightens her arm around his neck, her cheek goes close to his
own, and all the wealth of affection the woman is capable of at times
is shown. She seems more like a dainty little kitten purring close to
its master. Her whole thought and idea seem to be centred on the man
whom she professes to love._

LAURA. John, that is what I want above everything else.

JOHN. But, Laura, we must come to some distinct understanding before
we start to make our plans. We're not children.

LAURA. No, we're not.

JOHN. Now in the first place [LAURA _rises, crosses to centre._] we'll
discuss you, and in the second place we'll discuss me. We'll keep
nothing from each other [LAURA _picks up cushions, places them on
seat._], and we'll start out on this campaign [LAURA _turns back to
centre, facing audience._] of decency and honour, fully understanding
its responsibilities, without a chance of a come-back on either side.

LAURA. [_Becoming very serious._] You mean that we should tell each
other all about each other, so, no matter what's ever said about us by
other people, we'll know it first?

JOHN. [_Rising._] That's precisely what I'm trying to get at.

LAURA. Well, John, there are so many things I don't want to speak of
even to you. It isn't easy for a woman to go back and dig up a lot
of ugly memories and try to excuse them. [_Crosses to front of table,
picks up magazine, places it on table_.

JOHN. I've known everything from the first; how you came to San
Francisco as a kid and got into the show business, and how you went
wrong, and then how you married, still a kid, and how your husband
didn't treat you exactly right, and then how, in a fit of drunkenness,
he came home and shot himself. [LAURA _buries her head in her hands,
making exclamations of horror._ JOHN _crosses to her as if sorry for
hurting her; touches her on shoulder._] But that's all past now, and
we can forget that. And I know how you were up against it after that,
how tough it was for you to get along. Then finally how you've lived,
and--and that you and this man Brockton have been--well--never mind.
I've known it all for months, and I've watched you. Now, Laura, the
habit of life is a hard thing to get away from. You've lived in this
way for a long time. If I ask you to be my wife you'll have to give it
up; you'll have to go back to New York and struggle on your own hook
until I get enough to come for you. I don't know how long that will
be, but it _will_ be. Do you love me enough to stick out for the right

LAURA _crosses to him, puts her arms around him, kisses him once very
affectionately, looks at him very earnestly_.

LAURA. Yes. I think this is my one great chance. I do love you and I
want to do just what you said.

JOHN. I think you will. I'm going to make the same promise. Your life,
dear girl, has been an angel's compared with mine. I've drank whiskey,
played bank, and raised hell ever since the time I could develop
a thirst; and ever since I've been able to earn my own living I've
abused every natural gift God gave me. The women I've associated with
aren't good enough to touch the hem of your skirt, but they liked
me, and [JOHN _crosses to armchair, turns up stage, then faces her_.]
well--I must have liked them. My life hasn't been exactly loose, it's
been all in pieces. I've never done anything dishonest. I've always
gone wrong just for the fun of it, until I met you. [_Crosses to
her, takes her in his arms_.] Somehow then I began to feel that I was
making an awful waste of myself.

LAURA. John!

JOHN. Some lovers place a woman on a pedestal and say, "She never has
made a mistake." [_Taking her by each arm he playfully shakes her_.]
Well, we don't need any pedestals. I just know you never will make a

LAURA. [_Kissing him_.] John, I'll never make you take those words
back. [_Arms around his neck_.

JOHN. That goes double. You're going to cut out the cabs and cafés,
and I'm going to cut out the whiskey and all-night sessions [LAURA
_releases him; he backs slightly away_.]; and you're going to be
somebody and I'm going to be somebody, and if my hunch is worth the
powder to blow it up, we're going to show folks things they never
thought were in us. Come on now, kiss me.

_She kisses him; tears are in her eyes. He looks into her face with a
quaint smile_.

JOHN. You're on, ain't you, dear?

LAURA. Yes, I'm on.

JOHN. Then [_Points toward door with his left arm over her shoulder_.]
call him.

LAURA. Brockton?

JOHN. Yes, and tell him you go back to New York without any travelling
companion this season.


JOHN. Sure.

LAURA. You want to hear me tell him?

JOHN. [_With a smile_.] We're partners, aren't we? I ought to be in on
any important transaction like that, but it's just as you say.

LAURA. I think it would be right you should. I'll call him now.

JOHN. All right. [_Crossing to stairway_. LAURA _crosses to door;
twilight is becoming very much more pronounced_.

LAURA. [_At door_.] Mr. Brockton! Oh, Mr. Brockton!

WILL. [_Off stage_.] Yes.

LAURA. Can you spare a moment to come out here?

WILL. Just a moment.

LAURA. You must come now.

WILL. All right. [_She waits for him and after a reasonable interval
he appears at door_.] Laura, it's a shame to lure me away from that
mad speculation in there. I thought I might make my fare back to New
York if I played until next summer. What's up?

LAURA. Mr. Madison wants to talk to you, or rather I do, and I want
him to listen.

WILL. [_His manner changing to one of cold, stolid calculation_.] Very
well. [_Comes down off step of house_.

LAURA. Will.

WILL. Yes?

LAURA. I'm going home day after to-morrow on the Overland Limited.

WILL. I know.

LAURA. It's awfully kind of you to come out here, but under the
circumstances I'd rather you'd take an earlier or a later train.

WILL. And may I ask what circumstances you refer to?

LAURA. Mr. Madison and I are going to be married. [_Pause_.] He [Will
_looks inquiringly at_ JOHN.] knows of your former friendship for me,
and he has the idea that it must end.

WILL. Then the Riverside Drive proposition, with Burgess's show thrown
in, is declared off, eh?

LAURA. Yes; everything is absolutely declared off.

WILL. Can't even be friends any more, eh?

JOHN _crosses, and, taking_ LAURA'S _arm, passes her over to seat; his
back is partly to audience_.

JOHN. You could hardly expect Miss Murdock to be friendly with you
under the circumstances. You could hardly expect me to [LAURA _puts
scarf across her shoulders_.] sanction any such friendship.

WILL. I think I understand your position, young man, and I perfectly
agree with you, that is--if your plans come out successfully.

JOHN. Thank you.

LAURA. Then everything is settled [_Crossing in front of_ JOHN
_and facing_ WILL, _back to audience_.] just the way it ought to
be--frankly and aboveboard?

WILL. Why, I guess so. If I was perfectly confident that this new
arrangement was going to result happily for you both, I think it would
be great, only I'm somewhat doubtful, for when people become serious
and then fail, I know how hard those things hit, having _been_ hit
once myself.

JOHN. So you think we're making a wrong move and there isn't a chance
of success!

WILL. No, I don't make any such gloomy prophecy. If you make Laura a
good husband, and she makes you a good wife, and together you win
out, I'll be mighty glad. As far as I am concerned I shall absolutely
forget every thought of Laura's friendship for me.

LAURA. I thought you'd be just that way.

[_Crosses to_ WILL, _shakes hands_.

WILL. [_Rising_.] And now I must be off. [_Takes her by both hands
and shakes them_.] Good-bye, girlie! Madison, good luck. [_Crosses to_
JOHN. _Shakes_ JOHN'S _hands; looks into his eyes_.] I think you've
got the stuff in you to succeed if your foot don't slip.

JOHN. What do you mean by my foot slipping, Mr. Brockton?

WILL. You want me to tell you?

JOHN. I sure do.

WILL. [_Turns to Laura_.] Laura, run into the house and see if
Mrs. Williams has won another quarter. [LAURA _sinks fearfully into
chair_.] Madison and I are going to smoke a cigar and have a friendly
chat, and when we get through I think we'll both be better off.

LAURA. You are sure that everything will be all right?

WILL. Sure.

LAURA _looks at_ JOHN _for assurance, and exits; he nods

WILL. Have a cigar?

[SERVANT _places lamp on table inside house_.

JOHN. No, I'll smoke my own.

[_Crosses down right; sits in armchair_.

WILL. What is your business? [_Crosses up to seat centre; sits_.

JOHN. What's yours?

WILL. I'm a broker.

JOHN. I'm a reporter, so I've got something on you.

WILL. What kind?

JOHN. General utility, dramatic critic on Sunday nights.

WILL. Pay you well?

JOHN. [_Turns, looking at_ WILL.] That's pretty fresh. What's the

WILL. I'm interested. I'm a plain man, Mr. Madison, and I do business
in a plain way. Now, if I ask you a few questions and discuss this
matter with you in a frank way, don't get it in your head that I'm
jealous or sore, but simply I don't want either of you people to make
a move that's going to cost you a lot of pain and trouble. If you want
me to talk sense to you, all right. If you don't we'll drop it now.
What's the answer?

JOHN. I'll take a chance, but before you start I want to tell you that
the class of people that you belong to I have no use for--they don't
speak my language. You are what they call a manipulator of stocks;
that means that you're living on the weaknesses of other people, and
it almost means that you get your daily bread, yes, and your cake and
your wine, too, from the production of others. You're a "gambler
under cover." Show me a man who's dealing bank, and he's free and
aboveboard. You can figure the percentage against you, and then, if
you buck the tiger and get stung, you do it with your eyes open. With
your financiers the game is crooked twelve months of the year, and,
from a business point of view, I think you are a crook. Now I guess we
understand each other. If you've got anything to say, why, spill it.

WILL _rises, comes down toward_ JOHN, _showing anger in his tones_.

WILL. We are not talking business now, but women. How much money do
you earn?

[_Crosses to chair left of table; gets it_.

JOHN. Understand I don't think it is any of your damn business, but
I'm going through with you on this proposition, just to see how the
land lays. But take my tip, you be mighty careful how you speak about
the girl if you're not looking for trouble.

WILL. All right, but how much did you say you made?

[_Crosses over to centre of stage, carrying chair; sits_.

JOHN. Thirty dollars a week.

WILL. Do you know how much Laura could make if she just took a job on
her own merits?

JOHN. As I don't intend to share in her salary, I never took the
trouble to inquire.

WILL. She'd get about forty dollars.

JOHN. That laps me ten.

WILL. How are you going to support her? Her cabs cost more than your
salary, and she pays her week's salary for an every-day walking-hat.
She's always had a maid; her simplest gown flirts with a
hundred-dollar note; her manicurist and her hair-dresser will eat up
as much as you pay for your board. She never walks when it's stormy,
and every afternoon there's her ride in the park. She dines at the
best places in New York, and one meal costs her more than you make in
a day. Do you imagine for a moment that she's going to sacrifice these
luxuries for any great length of time?

JOHN. I intend to give them to her.

WILL. On thirty dollars a week?

JOHN. I propose to go out and make a lot of money.

WILL. How?

JOHN. I haven't decided yet, but you can bet your sweet life that if I
ever try and make up my mind that it's got to be, it's got to be.

WILL. Never have made it, have you?

JOHN. I have never tried.

WILL. Then how do you know you can?

JOHN. Well, I'm honest and energetic. If you can get great wealth the
way you go along, I don't see why I can't earn a little.

WILL. There's where you make a mistake. Money-getting doesn't always
come with brilliancy. I know a lot of fellows in New York who can
paint a great picture, write a good play, and, when it comes to
oratory, they've got me lashed to a pole; but they're always in debt.
They never get anything for what they do. In other words, young man,
they are like a sky-rocket without a stick,--plenty of brilliancy, but
no direction, and they blow up and fizzle all over the ground.

JOHN. That's New York. I'm in Colorado, and I guess you know there is
a difference.

WILL. I hope you'll make your money, because I tell you frankly
that's the only way you can hold this girl. She's full of heroics now,
self-sacrifice, and all the things that go to make up the third act of
a play, but the minute she comes to darn her stockings, wash out her
own handkerchiefs and dry them on the window, and send out for a pail
of coffee and a sandwich for lunch, take it from me it will go Blah!
[_Rises, crosses to front of table with chair, places it with back to
him, braces his back on it, facing_ JOHN.] You're in Colorado writing
her letters once a day with no checks in them. That may be all right
for some girl who hasn't tasted the joy of easy living, full of the
good things of life, but one who for ten years has been doing very
well in the way these women do is not going to let up for any great
length of time. So take my advice if you want to hold her. Get that
money quick, and don't be so damned particular how you get it either.

JOHN'S _patience is evidently severely tried. He approaches_ WILL,
_who remains impassive_.

JOHN. Of course you know you've got the best of me.

WILL. How?

JOHN. We're guests.

WILL. No one's listening.

JOHN. 'Tisn't that. If it was anywhere but here, if there was any way
to avoid all the nasty scandal, I'd come a shootin' for you, and you
know it.

WILL. Gun-fighter, eh?

JOHN. Perhaps. Let me tell you this. I don't know how you make your
money, but I know what you do with it. You buy yourself a small circle
of sycophants; you pay them well for feeding your vanity; and then you
pose,--pose with a certain frank admission of vice and degradation.
And those who aren't quite as brazen as you call it manhood. Manhood?
[_Crossing slowly to armchair, sits._] Why, you don't know what the
word means. It's the attitude of a pup and a cur.

WILL. [_Angrily_.] Wait a minute [_Crosses to_ JOHN.], young man, or

JOHN _rises quickly. Both men stand confronting each other for a
moment with fists clenched. They are on the very verge of a personal
encounter. Both seem to realize that they have gone too far_.

JOHN. You'll what?

WILL. Lose my temper and make a damn fool of myself. That's something
I've not done for--let me see--why, it must be nearly twenty
years--oh, yes, fully that.

[_He smiles_; JOHN _relaxes and takes one step back_.

JOHN. Possibly it's been about that length of time since you were
human, eh?

WILL. Possibly--but you see, Mr. Madison, after all, you're at fault.

JOHN. Yes?

WILL. Yes, the very first thing you did was to lose your temper. Now
people who always lose their temper will never make a lot of money,
and you admit that that is a great necessity--I mean now--to you.

JOHN. I can't stand for the brutal way you talk. [_Crosses up to seat,
picks up newspaper, slams it down angrily on seat, and sits with elbow
on balustrade_.

WILL. But you have got to stand it. The truth is never gentle.
[_Crosses up and sits left of_ JOHN.] Most conditions in life are
unpleasant, and, if you want to meet them squarely, you have got to
realize the unpleasant point of view. That's the only way you can
fight them and win.

JOHN [_Turns to_ WILL.] Still, I believe Laura means what she says,
in spite of all you say and the disagreeable logic of it. I think she
loves me. If she should ever want to go back to the old way of getting
along, I think she'd tell me so. So you see, Brockton, all your talk
is wasted, and we'll drop the subject.

[_Crosses down and sits in armchair_.

WILL. And if she should ever go back and come to me, I am going to
insist that she let you know all about it. It'll be hard enough to
lose her, caring for her the way you do, but it would hurt a lot more
to be double-crossed.

JOHN. [_Sarcastically_.] That's very kind. Thanks!

WILL. Don't get sore. It's common sense and it goes, does it not?

JOHN. [_Turns to_ WILL.] Just what goes?

WILL. If she leaves you first, you are to tell me, and if she comes to
me I'll make her let you know just when and why.

JOHN _is leaning on arm, facing_ WILL; _his hand shoots out in a
gesture of warning to_ WILL.

JOHN. Look out!

WILL. I said common sense.

JOHN. All right.

WILL. Agreed? [_A pause_.

JOHN. You're on.

_By this time the stage is black and all that can be seen is the glow
of the two cigars. Piano in the next room is heard_. JOHN _crosses
slowly and deliberately to door, looks in, throws cigar away over the
terrace, exits into house, closes doors, and, as_ WILL _is seated on
terrace, puffing cigar, the red coal of which is alone visible, a slow



SCENE. _Six months have elapsed. The furnished room of_ LAURA MURDOCK,
_second story back of an ordinary, cheap theatrical lodging-house in
the theatre district of New York. The house is evidently of a type of
the old-fashioned brown-stone front, with high ceilings, dingy walls,
and long, rather insecure windows. The woodwork is depressingly dark.
The ceiling is cracked, the paper is old and spotted and in places
loose. There is a door leading to the hallway. There is a large
old-fashioned wardrobe in which are hung a few old clothes, most
of them a good deal worn and shabby, showing that the owner_--LAURA
MURDOCK--_has had a rather hard time of it since leaving Colorado
in the first act. The doors of this wardrobe must be equipped with
springs so they will open outward, and also furnished with wires so
they can be controlled from the back. This is absolutely necessary,
owing to "business" which is done during the progress of the act. The
drawer in the bottom of the wardrobe is open at rise. This is filled
with a lot of rumpled, tissue-paper and other rubbish. An old pair of
shoes is seen at the upper end of the wardrobe on the floor. There is
an armchair over which is thrown an ordinary kimono, and on top of
the wardrobe are a number of magazines and old books, and an unused
parasol wrapped up in tissue paper._

_The dresser, which is upstage, against the wall, is in keeping with
the general meanness, and its adornment consists of old postcards
stuck in between the mirror and its frame, with some well-worn veils
and ribbons hung on the side. On the dresser is a pincushion, a bottle
of cheap perfume, purple in colour and nearly empty; a common crockery
match-holder, containing matches, which must be practicable; a
handkerchief-box, powder-box and puff, rouge-box and rouge paw,
hand mirror, small alcohol curling-iron heater, which must also be
practicable, as it is used in the "business" of the act; scissors,
curling-tongs, hair comb and brush, and a small cheap picture of_ JOHN
MADISON; _a small work-box containing a thimble and thread,--and stuck
in the pincushion are a couple of needles, threaded. Directly to the
left of the bureau, with the door to the outside closet intervening,
is a broken-down washstand, on which is a basin half full of water, a
bottle of tooth-powder, tooth brushes and holder, soap and soap-dish,
and other cheap toilet articles, and a small drinking-glass. Hung on
the corner of the washstand is a soiled towel. Hung on the rack across
the top of the washstand one can see a pair of stockings. On the floor
in front of the washstand is a pitcher half full of water; also a
large waste-water jar of the cheapest type._

_Below the washstand, and with the head against the wall, is a
three-quarter old wooden bed, also showing the general decay of the
entire room. Tacked on the head of this bed is a large photo of_ JOHN
MADISON, _with a small bow of dainty blue ribbon at the top, covering
the tack. Under the photo are arranged half a dozen cheap, artificial
violets, in pitiful recognition of the girl's love for her absent

_Under the mattress at the head of the bed is a heavy cardboard box,
about thirty inches long, seven inches wide and four inches deep,
containing about one hundred and twenty-five letters and eighty
telegrams, tied in about eight bundles with dainty ribbon. One bundle
must contain all practical letters of several closely written pages
each, each letter having been opened. They must be written upon
business paper and envelopes, such as are used in newspaper offices
and by business men._

_Under the pillow at the head of the bed is carelessly thrown a
woman's night-dress. On the bed is an old book, open, with face
downward, and beside it is an apple which some one has been nibbling.
Across the foot of the bed is a soiled quilt, untidily folded. The
pillows are hollow in the centre, as if having been used lately. At
the foot of the bed is a small table, with soiled and ink-stained
cover, upon which are a cheap pitcher, containing some withered
carnations, and a desk-pad, with paper, pen, ink, and envelopes
scattered around._

_Against the wall below the bed is an old mantel-piece and fireplace
with iron grate, such as are used in houses of this type. On the
mantel-piece are photos of actors and actresses, an old mantel clock
in the centre, in front of which is a box of cheap peppermint candy in
large pieces, and a plate with two apples upon it; some cheap pieces
of bric-à-brac and a little vase containing joss-sticks, such as one
might burn to improve the atmosphere of these dingy, damp houses.
Below the mantel-piece is a thirty-six inch theatre trunk, with
theatre labels on it, in the tray of which are articles of clothing,
a small box of thread, and a bundle of eight pawn tickets. Behind the
trunk is a large cardboard box. Hanging from the ceiling directly
over the table is a single arm gas-jet, from which is hung a turkey
wish-bone. On the jet is a little wire arrangement to hold small
articles for heating. Beside the table is a chair. Under the bed are a
pair of bedroom slippers and a box. Between the bed and the mantel
is a small tabourette on which are a book and a candle-stick with
the candle half burned. On the floor in front of the door is a
slipper,--also another in front of the dresser,--as if they had been
thrown carelessly down. On the wardrobe door, on the down-stage side,
is tacked another photo of_ JOHN MADISON.

_In an alcove off left is a table on which is a small oil stove, two
cups, saucers and plates, a box of matches, tin coffee-box, and a
small Japanese teapot. On a projection outside the window is a pint
milk bottle, half filled with milk, and an empty benzine bottle, which
is labelled. Both are covered with snow._

_The backing shows a street snow-covered. In arranging the properties
it must be remembered that in the wardrobe is a box of Uneeda
biscuits, with one end torn open. There is a door down right, opening
inward, leading into the hallway. The window is at back, running from
floor nearly to the ceiling. This window does not rise, but opens in
the manner of the French or door window._

_On the outside of the window covering the same is an iron guard such
as is used in New York on the lower back windows. The rods running up
and down are about four inches apart. There is a projection outside
the window such as would be formed by a storm door in the basement;
running the full length of the window and about thirty inches wide,
raised about a foot from the floor in front and about nine inches in
the back, there is opening inward a door at left back, leading into
a small alcove, as has been mentioned before. The door is half glass,
the glass part being the upper half, and is ajar when the curtain
rises. A projection at fireplace such as would be made for a chimney
is in the wall which runs from left centre diagonally to left first

AT RISE _the stage is empty. After a pause_ LAURA _enters, passes the
dresser, places umbrella at the right, end of it against wall, crosses
to back of armchair, removes gloves, lays them over back of chair,
takes off coat and hat, hangs hat on end of wardrobe, and puts coat
inside; notices old slipper in front of dresser and one on the extreme
right, and with impatience picks them up and puts them in the
wardrobe drawer. Then crosses to dresser, gets needle and thread off
pincushion, and mends small rip in glove, after which she puts gloves
in top drawer of dresser, crosses to extreme end of dresser, and gets
handkerchief out of box, takes up bottle containing purple perfume,
holds it up so she can see there is only a small quantity left,
sprinkles a drop on handkerchief carefully, so as not to use too much,
looks at bottle again to see how much is left, places it on dresser;
goes to up-stage side of bed, kneels on head of the bed and looks
lovingly at photo of_ JOHN MADISON, _and finally pulls up the
mattress, takes out box of letters, and opens it. She then sits down
in Oriental fashion, with her feet under her, selects a bundle of
letters, unties the ribbon, and takes out a letter such as has been
hereinbefore described, glances it over, puts it down in her lap, and
again takes a long look at the picture of_ JOHN MADISON. ANNIE _is
heard coming upstairs_. LAURA _looks quickly towards the door, puts
the letters back in box, and hurriedly places box under mattress, and
replaces pillow_. ANNIE _knocks on door_. LAURA _rises and crosses to

LAURA. Come in.

ANNIE, _a chocolate-colored negress, enters. She is slovenly in
appearance, but must not in any way denote the "mammy." She is the
type one encounters in cheap theatrical lodging-houses. She has a
letter in her hand,--also a clean towel folded,--and approaches_

LAURA. Hello, Annie.

ANNIE. Heah's yo' mail, Miss Laura.

LAURA. [_Taking letter._] Thank you!

[_She looks at the address and does not open it._

ANNIE. One like dat comes every mornin', don't it? Used to all be
postmahked Denver. Must 'a' moved. [_Trying to look over_ LAURA'S
_shoulder_; LAURA _turns and sees her_; ANNIE _looks away._] Where is
dat place called Goldfield, Miss Laura?

LAURA. In Nevada.

ANNIE. In _Nevada_?

LAURA. Yes, Nevada.

ANNIE. [_Draws her jacket closer around her as if chilly._] Must
be mighty smaht to write yuh every day. De pos'man brings it 'leven
o'clock mos' always, sometimes twelve, and again sometimes tehn; but
it comes every day, don't it?

LAURA. I know.

ANNIE. [_Crosses to right of armchair, brushes it off and makes an
effort to read letter, leaning across chair._] Guess must be from yo'
husban', ain't it?

LAURA. No, I haven't any.

ANNIE. [_Crossing to centre triumphantly._] Dat's what Ah tole Mis'
Farley when she was down talkin' about you dis morning. She said if he
all was yo' husband he might do somethin' to help you out. Ah told her
Ah didn't think you had any husban'. Den she says you ought to have
one, you're so pretty.

LAURA. Oh, Annie!

ANNIE. [_Sees door open; goes and bangs it shut._] Der ain't a decent
door in dis old house. Mis' Farley said yo' might have mos' any man
you [_Hangs clean towel on washstand._] wanted just for de askin', but
Ah said yuh [_Takes newspaper and books off bed, and places them on
table._] was too particular about the man yo' 'd want. Den she did a
heap o' talking.

LAURA. About what? [_Places letter open on table, looks at hem of
skirt, discovers a rip, rises, crosses up to dresser, gets needle,
crosses down to trunk; opens and takes thimble out; closes lid of
tray, sits on it, and sews skirt during scene._

ANNIE. [_At bed, fussing around, folds nightgown and places it under
pillow._] Well, you know, Mis' Farley she's been havin' so much
trouble wid her roomers. Yestuhday dat young lady on de second flo'
front, she lef'. She's goin' wiv some troupe on the road. She owed her
room for three weeks and jus' had to leave her trunk. [_Crosses and
fusses over table._] My! how Mis' Farley did scold her. Mis' Farley
let on she could have paid dat money if she wanted to, but somehow Ah
guess she couldn't--

[_Reads letter on table._

LAURA. [_Sees her, angrily exclaims._] Annie!

ANNIE. [_In confusion, brushing off table._]--for if she could she
wouldn't have left her trunk, would she, Miss Laura?

[_Crosses to armchair, and picks up kimono off back._

LAURA. No, I suppose not. What did Mrs. Farley say about me?

ANNIE. Oh! nothin' much. [_Crosses left and stands._

LAURA. Well, what?

ANNIE. She kinder say somethin' 'bout yo' being three weeks behind in
yo' room rent, and she said she t'ought it was 'bout time yuh handed
her somethin', seein' as how yuh must o' had some stylish friends when
yuh come here.

LAURA. Who, for instance?

ANNIE. Ah don't know. Mis' Farley said some of 'em might slip yo'
enough jest to help yuh out. [_Pause._] Ain't yo' got nobody to take
care of you at all, Miss Laura?

[_Hangs kimono over back of armchair._

LAURA. No! No one.

ANNIE. Dat's too bad.


ANNIE. [_Crossing again._] Mis' Farley says yuh wouldn't have no
trouble at all gettin' any man to take care of yuh if yuh wanted to.

LAURA. [_With sorrowful shudder._] Please [_Doors of wardrobe open
very slowly._] don't, Annie.

ANNIE. Dere's a gemman [_Playing with corner of tablecloth._] dat
calls on one of de ladies from the Hippodrome, in de big front room
downstairs. He's mighty nice, and he's been askin' 'bout you.

LAURA. [_Exasperated._] Oh, shut up!

ANNIE. [_Sees doors of wardrobe have swung open; she crosses, slams
them shut, turns to_ LAURA.] Mis' Farley says--[_Doors have swung open
again; they hit her in the back. She turns and bangs them to with all
her strength_.] Damn dat door! [_Crosses to washstand, grabs basin
which is half full of water, empties same into waste-jar, puts basin
on washstand, and wipes it out with soiled towel_.] Mis' Farley says
if she don't get someone in the house dat has reg'lar money soon,
she'll have to shut up and go to the po'house.

LAURA. I'm sorry; I'll try again to-day. [_Rises, crosses up to
mantel, gets desk-pad, &c., crosses to right of table, sits_.

ANNIE. [_Crosses to back of bed, wiping basin with towel_.] Ain't yo'
got any job at all?


ANNIE. When yuh come here yuh had lots of money and yo' was mighty
good to me. You know Mr. Weston?

LAURA. Jim Weston?

ANNIE. Yassum, Mr. Weston what goes ahead o' shows and lives on the
top floor back; he says nobody's got jobs now. Dey're so many actors
and actoresses out o' work. Mis' Farley says she don't know how she's
goin' to live. She said you'd been mighty nice up until three weeks
ago, but yuh ain't got much left, have you, Miss Laura?

LAURA. [_Rising and going to the bureau_.] No. It's all gone.

ANNIE. Mah sakes! All dem rings and things? You ain't done sold them?
[_Sinks on bed_.

LAURA. They're pawned. What did Mrs. Farley say she was going to do?

ANNIE. Guess maybe Ah'd better not tell.

[_Crosses to door hurriedly, carrying soiled towel_.

LAURA. Please do. [_Crosses to chair, left side_.

ANNIE. Yuh been so good to me, Miss Laura. Never was nobody in dis
house what give me so much, and Ah ain't been gettin' much lately. And
when Mis' Farley said yuh must either pay yo' rent or she would ask
yuh for your room, Ah jest set right down on de back kitchen stairs
and cried. Besides, Mis' Farley don't like me very well since you've
ben havin' yo' breakfasts and dinners brought up here.

LAURA. Why not? [_Takes kimono of chair-back, crosses up to dresser,
puts kimono in drawer, takes out purse_.

ANNIE. She has a rule in dis house dat nobody can use huh chiny or
fo'ks or spoons who ain't boa'ding heah, and de odder day when yuh
asked me to bring up a knife and fo'k she ketched me coming upstairs,
and she says, "Where yuh goin' wid all dose things, Annie?" Ah said,
"Ah'm just goin' up to Miss Laura's room with dat knife and fo'k." Ah
said, "Ah'm goin' up for nothin' at all, Mis' Farley, she jest wants
to look at them, Ah guess." She said, "She wants to eat huh dinner wid
'em, Ah guess." Ah got real mad, and Ah told her if she'd give me mah
pay Ah'd brush right out o' here; dat's what Ah'd do, Ah'd brush right
out o' here. [_Violently shaking out towel_.

LAURA. I'm sorry, Annie, if I've caused you any trouble. Never mind,
I'll be able to pay the rent to-morrow or next day anyway. [_She
fumbles in purse, takes out a quarter, and turns to_ ANNIE.] Here!

ANNIE. No, ma'am, Ah don' want dat.

[_Making a show of reluctance_.

LAURA. Please take it.

ANNIE. No, ma'am, Ah don' want it. You need dat. Dat's breakfast money
for yuh, Miss Laura.

LAURA. Please take it, Annie. I might just as well get rid of this as
anything else.

ANNIE. [_Takes it rather reluctantly_.] Yuh always was so good, Miss
Laura. Sho' yuh don' want dis?

LAURA. Sure.

ANNIE. Sho' yo' goin' to get planty mo'?

LAURA. Sure.

MRS. FARLEY'S VOICE. [_Downstairs_.] Annie! Annie!

ANNIE. [_Going to door, opens it_.] Dat's Mis' Farley. [_To_ MRS.
FARLEY.] Yassum, Mis' Farley.

SAME VOICE. Is Miss Murdock up there?

ANNIE. Yassum, Mis' Farley, yassum!

MRS. FARLEY. Anything doin'?


MRS. FARLEY. Anything doin'?

ANNIE. [_At door_.] Ah--Ah--hain't asked, Missy Farley.

MRS. FARLEY. Then do it.

LAURA. [_Coming to the rescue at the door. To_ ANNIE.] I'll answer
her. [_Out of door to_ MRS. FARLEY.] What is it, Mrs. Farley?

MRS. FARLEY. [_Her voice softened_.] Did ye have any luck this
morning, dearie?

LAURA. No; but I promise you faithfully to help you out this afternoon
or to-morrow.

MRS. FARLEY. Sure? Are you certain?

LAURA. Absolutely.

MRS. FARLEY. Well, I must say these people expect me to keep--[_Door

LAURA _quietly closes the door, and_ MRS. FARLEY'S _rather strident
voice is heard indistinctly_. LAURA _sighs and walks toward table;
sits_. ANNIE _looks after her, and then slowly opens the door_.

ANNIE. Yo' sho' dere ain't nothin' I can do fo' yuh, Miss Laura?

LAURA. Nothing.

ANNIE _exits_. LAURA _sits down and looks at letter, opening it. It
consists of several pages closely written. She reads some of them
hurriedly, skims through the rest, and then turns to the last page
without reading; glances at it; lays it on table; rises_.

LAURA. Hope, just nothing but hope.

_She crosses to bed, falls face down upon it, burying her face in her
hands. Her despondency is palpable. As she lies there a hurdy-gurdy
in the street starts to play a popular air. This arouses her and she
rises, crosses to wardrobe, takes out box of crackers, opens window,
gets bottle of milk off sill outside, places them on table, gets glass
off washstand, at the same time humming the tune of the hurdy-gurdy,
when a knock comes; she crosses quickly to dresser; powders her nose.
The knock is timidly repeated_.

LAURA. [_Without turning, and in a rather tired tone of voice_.] Come

JIM WESTON, _a rather shabby theatrical advance-agent of the old
school, enters timidly, halting at the door and holding the knob in
his hand. He is a man of about forty years old, dressed in an ordinary
manner, of medium height, and in fact has the appearance of a once
prosperous clerk who has been in hard luck. His relations with_
LAURA _are those of pure friendship. They both live in the same
lodging-place, and, both having been out of employment, they have
naturally become acquainted_.

JIM. Can I come in?

LAURA. [_Without turning_.] Hello, Jim Weston. [_He closes door and
enters_.] Any luck?

JIM. Lots of it.

LAURA. That's good. Tell me.

JIM. It's bad luck. Guess you don't want to hear.

LAURA. I'm sorry. Where have you been?

JIM. I kind o' felt around up at Burgess's office. I thought I might
get a job there, but he put me off until to-morrow. Somehow those
fellows always do business to-morrow.

[_Hurdy-gurdy dies out_.

LAURA. Yes, and there's always to-day to look after.

JIM. I'm ready to give up. I've tramped Broadway for nine weeks until
every piece of flagstone gives me the laugh when it sees my feet
coming. Got a letter from the missis this morning. The kids got to
have some clothes, there's measles in the town, and mumps in the next
village. I've just got to raise some money or get some work, or the
first thing you'll know I'll be hanging around Central Park on a dark
night with a club.

LAURA. I know just how you feel. Sit down, Jim. [JIM _crosses and
sits in chair right of table_.] It's pretty tough for me [_Offers_ JIM
_glass of milk; he refuses; takes crackers_.], but it must be a whole
lot worse for you with a wife and kids.

JIM. Oh, if a man's alone he can generally get along--turn his hand to
anything; but a woman--

LAURA. Worse, you think?

JIM. I was just thinking about you and what Burgess said?

LAURA. What was that?

[_Crosses to bed; sits on up-stage side, sipping milk_.

JIM. You know Burgess and I used to be in the circus business
together. He took care of the grafters when I was boss canvas man. I
never could see any good in shaking down the rubes for all the money
they had and then taking part of it. He used to run the privilege car,
you know.

LAURA. Privilege car?

JIM. Had charge of all the pickpockets,--dips we called
'em--sure-thing gamblers, and the like. Made him rich. I kept sort o'
on the level and I'm broke. Guess it don't pay to be honest--

LAURA. [_Turns to him and in a significant voice_:] You don't really
think that?

JIM. No, maybe not. Ever since I married the missis and the first kid
come, we figured the only good money was the kind folks worked for and
earned; but when you can't get hold of that, it's tough.

LAURA. I know.

JIM. Burgess don't seem to be losing sleep over the tricks he's
turned. He's happy and prosperous, but I guess he ain't any better now
than he was then.

LAURA. Maybe not. I've been trying to get an engagement from him.
There are half a dozen parts in his new attractions that I could do,
but he has never absolutely said "no," but yet somehow he's never said

JIM. He spoke about you.

LAURA. In what way? [_Rising, stands behind_ JIM'S _chair._

JIM. I gave him my address and he seen it was yours, too. Asked if I
lived in the same place.

LAURA. Was that all?

JIM. Wanted to know how you was getting on. I let him know you needed
work, but I didn't tip my hand you was flat broke. He said something
about you being a damned fool.

LAURA. [_Suddenly and interested._] How? [_She crosses._

JIM. Well, Johnny Ensworth--you know he used to do the fights on the
_Evening Journal_; now he's press-agent for Burgess; nice fellow and
way on the inside--he told me where you were in wrong.

LAURA. What have I done? [_Sits in armchair._

JIM. Burgess don't put up the money for any of them musical
comedies--he just trails. Of course he's got a lot of influence, and
he's always Johnny-on-the-Spot to turn any dirty trick that they
want. There are four or five rich men in town who are there with the
bank-roll, providing he engages women who ain't so very particular
about the location of their residence, and who don't hear a curfew
ring at 11:30 every night.

LAURA. And he thinks I am too particular?

JIM. That's what was slipped me. Seems that one of the richest men
that is in on Mr. Burgess's address-book is a fellow named Brockton
from downtown some place. He's got more money than the Shoe and
Leather National Bank. He likes to play show business.

LAURA. [_Rises quickly._] Oh! [_Crosses to wardrobe, gets hat; crosses
to dresser, gets scissors with intention of curling feathers._

JIM. I thought you knew him. I thought it was just as well to tell you
where he and Burgess stand. They're pals.

LAURA. [_Coming over to_ JIM _and with emphasis crosses to down-stage
side of bed; puts hat and scissors on bed._] I don't want you to talk
about him or any of them. I just want you to know that I'm trying to
do everything in my power to go through this season without any more
trouble. I've pawned everything I've got; I've cut every friend I
knew. But where am I going to end? That's what I want to know--where
am I going to end? [_To bed and sits_.] Every place I look for a
position something interferes. It's almost as if I were blacklisted.
I know I could get jobs all right if I wanted to pay the price, but I
won't. I just want to tell you, I won't. No!

[_Rises, crosses to mantel, rests elbow._

JIM. That's the way to talk. [_Rises._] I don't know you very well,
but I've watched you close. I'm just a common, ordinary showman who
never had much money, and I'm going out o' date. I've spent most of
my time with nigger-minstrel shows and circuses, but I've been on the
square. That's why I'm broke. [_Rather sadly._] Once I thought
the missis would have to go back and do her acrobatic act, but she
couldn't do that, she's grown so damn fat. [_Crosses to_ LAURA.] Just
you don't mind. It'll all come out right.

LAURA. It's an awful tough game, isn't it?

JIM. [_During this speech_ LAURA _gets cup, pours milk back into
bottle, closes biscuit-box, puts milk on shed outside, and biscuits
into wardrobe, cup in alcove._] It's hell forty ways from the Jack.
It's tough for me, but for a pretty woman with a lot o' rich fools
jumping out o' their automobiles and hanging around stage doors,
it must be something awful. I ain't blaming the women. They say
"self-preservation is the first law of nature," and I guess that's
right; but sometimes when the show is over and I see them fellows with
their hair plastered back, smoking cigarettes in a [LAURA _crosses
to chair right of table and leans over back._] holder long enough to
reach from here to Harlem, and a bank-roll that would bust my pocket
and turn my head, I feel as if I'd like to get a gun and go a-shooting
around this old town.


JIM. Yes, I do--you bet.

LAURA. That wouldn't pay, would it?

JIM. No, they're not worth the job of sitting on that throne in Sing
Sing, and I'm too poor to go to Matteawan. But all them fellows under
nineteen and over fifty-nine ain't much use to themselves or anyone

LAURA. [_Rather meditatively._] Perhaps all of them are not so bad.

JIM. [_Sits on bed._] Yes, they are,--angels and all. Last season I
had one of them shows where a rich fellow backed it on account of a
girl. We lost money and he lost his girl; then we got stuck in
Texas. I telegraphed: "Must have a thousand, or can't move." He just
answered: "Don't move." We didn't.

LAURA. But that was business.

JIM. Bad business. It took a year for some of them folks to get back
to Broadway. Some of the girls never did, and I guess never will.

LAURA. Maybe they're better off, Jim. [_Sits right of table._

JIM. Couldn't be worse. They're still in Texas. [_To himself._] Wish I
knew how to do something else, being a plumber or a walking delegate;
they always have jobs.

LAURA. Well, I wish I could do something else too, but I can't, and
we've got to make the best of it.

JIM. I guess so. I'll see you this evening. I hope you'll have good
news by that time. [_Starts to exit, about to open door; then retreats
a step, with hand on door-knob, crosses and in a voice meant to be
kindly_] If you'd like to go to the theatre to-night, and take some
other woman in the house, maybe I can get a couple of tickets for some
of the shows. I know a lot of fellows who are working.

LAURA. No, thanks. I haven't anything to wear to the theatre, and I

JIM. [_With a smile crosses to_ LAURA, _puts arm around her._] Now you
just cheer up! Something's sure to turn up. It always has for me, and
I'm a lot older than you, both in years and in this business. There's
always a break in hard luck sometime--that's sure.

LAURA. [_Smiling through her tears._] I hope so. But things are
looking pretty hopeless now, aren't they?

JIM. I'll go down and give Mrs. F. a line o' talk and try to square
you for a couple of days more anyway. But I guess she's laying pretty
close to the cushion herself, poor woman.

LAURA. Annie says a lot of people owe her.

JIM. Well, you can't pay what you haven't got. And even if money was
growing on trees, it's winter now. [JIM _goes towards door._] I'm off.
Maybe to-day is lucky day. So long!

LAURA. Good-bye.

JIM. Keep your nerve. [_Exit_

LAURA. I will. [_She sits for a moment in deep thought, picks up the
letter received, as if to read it, and then throws it down in anger.
She buries her head in hands_.] I can't stand it--I just simply can't
stand it.

MRS. FARLEY'S VOICE. [_Off stage_.] Miss Murdock--Miss Murdock.

LAURA. [_Brushing away tears, rises, goes to door, and opens it_.]
What is it?

SAME VOICE. There's a lady down here to see you.

ELFIE'S VOICE. [_Off stage_.] Hello, dearie, can I come up?

LAURA. Is that you, Elfie?

ELFIE. Yes; shall I come up?

LAURA. Why, certainly.

_She waits at the door for a moment, and_ ELFIE ST. CLAIR _appears.
She is gorgeously gowned in the rather extreme style affected by the
usual New York woman who is cared for by a gentleman of wealth and
who has not gone through the formality of matrimonial alliance. Her
conduct is always exaggerated and her attitude vigorous. Her gown is
of the latest design, and in every detail of dress she shows evidence
of most extravagant expenditure. She carries a hand-bag of gold,
upon which are attached such trifles as a gold cigarette-case, a gold
powder-box, pencils, and the like_. ELFIE _throws her arms around_
LAURA, _and both exchange kisses_.

ELFIE. Laura, you old dear [_Crossing to table_.], I've just found out
where you've been hiding, and came around to see you.

LAURA. [_Who is much brightened by_ ELFIE'S _appearance_.] Elfie,
you're looking bully. How are you, dear?

ELFIE. Fine.

LAURA. Come in and sit down. I haven't much to offer, but--

ELFIE. Oh, never mind. It's such a grand day outside, and I've come
around in my car to take you out. [_Sits right of table_.] You know
I've got a new one, and it can go some.

LAURA. [_Sits on arm of chair_.] I am sorry, but I can't go out this
afternoon, Elfie.

ELFIE. What's the matter?

LAURA. You see I'm staying home a good deal nowadays. I haven't been
feeling very well and I don't go out much.

ELFIE. I should think not. I haven't seen you in Rector's or Martin's
since you come back from Denver. Got a glimpse of you one day trailing
up Broadway, but couldn't get to you--you dived into some office or
other. [_For the first time she surveys the room, rises, looks around
critically, crossing to mantel_.] Gee! Whatever made you come into a
dump like this? It's the limit.

LAURA. [_Crossing and standing back of the table_.] Oh, I know it
isn't pleasant, but it's my home, and after all--a home's a home.

ELFIE. Looks more like a prison. [_Takes candy from mantel; spits it
out on floor_.] Makes me think of the old days of Child's sinkers and
a hall bedroom.

LAURA. It's comfortable. [_Leaning hands on table_.

ELFIE. Not! [_Sits on bed, trying bed with comedy effect_. Say, is
this here for an effect, or do you sleep on it?

LAURA. I sleep on it.

ELFIE. No wonder you look tired. Say, listen, dearie. What else is the
matter with you anyway?

LAURA. Nothing.

ELFIE. Yes, there is. What happened between you and Brockton?
[_Notices faded flowers in vase on table; takes them out, tosses them
into fireplace, replaces them with gardenias which she wears_.] He's
not broke, because I saw him the other day.

LAURA. Where?

ELFIE. In the park. Asked me out to luncheon, but I couldn't go. You
know, dearie, I've got to be so careful. Jerry's so awful jealous--the
old fool.

LAURA. Do you see much of Jerry nowadays, Elfie?

ELFIE. Not any more than I can help and be nice. He gets on my nerves.
Of course, I've heard about your quitting Brockton.

LAURA. Then why do you ask?

[_Crosses around chair right of table; stands_.

ELFIE. Just wanted to hear from your own dear lips what the trouble
was. Now tell me all about it. Can I smoke here?

[_Takes cigarette-case up, opens it, selecting cigarette_.

LAURA. Surely. [_Gets matches off bureau, puts them on table_.

ELFIE. Have one? [_Offers case_.

LAURA. No, thank you.

[_Sits in chair right of table, facing_ ELFIE.

ELFIE. H'm-m, h'm-m, hah! [_Lights cigarette_.] Now go ahead. Tell me
all the scandal. I'm just crazy to know.

LAURA. There's nothing to tell. I haven't been able to find work, that
is all, and I'm short of money. You can't live in hotels, you know,
with cabs and all that sort of thing, when you're not working.

ELFIE. Yes, you can. I haven't worked in a year.

LAURA. But you don't understand, dear. I--I--Well, you know I--well,
you know--I can't say what I want.

ELFIE. Oh, yes, you can. You can say anything to me--everybody else
does. We've been pals. I know you got along a little faster in the
business than I did. The chorus was my limit, and you went into the
legitimate thing. But we got our living just the same way. I didn't
suppose there was any secret between you and me about that.

LAURA. I know there wasn't then, Elfie, but I tell you I'm different
now. I don't want to do that sort of thing, and I've been very
unlucky. This has been a terribly hard season for me. I simply haven't
been able to get an engagement.

ELFIE. Well, you can't get on this way. Won't [_Pauses, knocking ashes
off cigarette to cover hesitation_.] Brockton help you out?

LAURA. What's the use of talking to you [_Rises and crosses to
fireplace_.], Elfie; you don't understand.

ELFIE. [_Puffing deliberately on cigarette and crossing her legs in
almost a masculine attitude_.] No? Why don't I understand?

LAURA. Because you can't; you've never felt as I have.

ELFIE. How do you know?

LAURA. [_Turning impatiently_.] Oh, what's the use of explaining?

ELFIE. You know, Laura, I'm not much on giving advice, but you make me
sick. I thought you'd grown wise. A young girl just butting into this
business might possibly make a fool of herself, but you ought to be on
to the game and make the best of it.

LAURA. [_Going over to her angrily_.] If you came up here, Elfie, to
talk that sort of stuff to me, please don't. I was West this summer.
I met someone, a real man, who did me a whole lot of good,--a man who
opened my eyes to a different way of going along--a man who--Oh, well,
what's the use? You don't know--you don't know. [_Sits on bed_.

ELFIE. [_Throws cigarette into fireplace_.] I don't know, don't I? I
don't know, I suppose, that when I came to this town from up state,--a
little burg named Oswego,--and joined a chorus, that I didn't fall in
love with just such a man. I suppose I don't know that then I was
the best-looking girl in New York, and everybody talked about me? I
suppose I don't know that there were men, all ages and with all kinds
of money, ready to give me anything for the mere privilege of taking
me out to supper? And I didn't do it, did I? For three years I stuck
by this good man who was to lead me in a good way toward a good life.
And all the time I was getting older, never quite so pretty one day
as I had been the day before. I never knew then what it was to be
tinkered with by hair-dressers and manicures or a hundred and one of
those other people who make you look good. I didn't have to have them
then. [_Rises, crosses to right of table, facing_ LAURA.] Well, you
know, Laura, what happened.

LAURA. Wasn't it partly your fault, Elfie?

ELFIE. [_Speaking across table angrily._] Was it my fault that time
made me older and I took on a lot of flesh? Was it my fault that the
work and the life took out the colour, and left the make-up? Was it my
fault that other pretty young girls came along, just as I'd come, and
were chased after, just as I was? Was it my fault the cabs weren't
waiting any more and people didn't talk about how pretty I was? And
was it my fault when he finally had me alone, and just because no one
else wanted me, he got tired and threw me flat--cold flat [_Brings
hand down on table._]--and I'd been on the dead level with him! [_With
almost a sob, crosses up to bureau, powders nose, comes down back of
table._] It almost broke my heart. Then I made up my mind to get
even and get all I could out of the game. Jerry came along. He was a
has-been and I was on the road to be. He wanted to be good to me, and
I let him. That's all.

LAURA. Still, I don't see how you can live that way.

[_Lies on bed._

ELFIE. Well, you did, and you didn't kick.

LAURA. Yes, but things are different with me now. You'd be the same
way if you were in my place.

ELFIE. No. I've had all the romance I want, and I'll stake you to all
your love affairs. [_Crosses back of bed, touches picture over bed._]
I am out to gather in as much coin as I can in my own way, so when the
old rainy day comes along I'll have a little change to buy myself an

LAURA. [_Rising and angrily crossing to armchair._] What did you come
here for? Why can't you leave me alone when I'm trying to get along?

ELFIE. Because I want to help you.

LAURA. [_During speech crosses to up-stage side of bed, angrily tosses
quilt to floor and sits on bed in tears._] You can't help me. I'm all
right--I tell you I am. What do you care anyway?

ELFIE. [_Sits on bed, crosses down stage to lower left side of bed,
sits facing_ LAURA.] But I do care. I know how you feel with an old
cat for a landlady and living up here on a side street with a lot of
cheap burlesque people. Why, the room's cold [LAURA _rises, crosses
to window._], and there's no hot water, and you're beginning to look
shabby. You haven't got a job--chances are you won't have one. What
does [_Indicating picture on bed with thumb._] this fellow out there
do for you? Send you long letters of condolences? That's what I used
to get. When I wanted to buy a new pair of shoes or a silk petticoat,
he told me how much he loved me; so I had the other ones re-soled and
turned the old petticoat. And look at you, you're beginning to show
it. [_She surveys her carefully._] I do believe there are lines coming
in your face [LAURA _crosses to dresser quickly, picks up hand mirror,
and looks at herself._], and you hide in the house because you've
nothing new to wear.

LAURA. [_Puts down mirror, crossing down to back of bed._] But I've
got what you haven't got. I may have to hide my clothes, but I don't
have to hide my face. And you with that man--he's old enough to be
your father--a toddling dote hanging on your apron-strings. I don't
see how you dare show your face to a decent woman.

ELFIE. [_Rises._] You don't!--but you did once and I never caught you
hanging your head. You say he's old. I know he's old, but he's good to
me. He's making what's left of my life pleasant. You think I like him.
I don't,--sometimes I hate him,--but he understands; and you can bet
your life his check is in my mail every Saturday night or there's a
new lock on the door Sunday morning. [_Crossing to fireplace._

LAURA. How can you say such things to me?

ELFIE. [_Crosses to left end of table._] Because I want you to be
square with yourself. You've lost all that precious virtue women gab
about. When you've got the name, I say get the game.

LAURA. You can go now, Elfie, and don't come back.

ELFIE. [_Gathering up muff, &c._] All right, if that's the way you
want it to be, I'm sorry. [_A knock on the door._

LAURA. [_Controlling herself after a moment's hesitation._] Come in.

ANNIE _enters with a note, crosses, and hands it to_ LAURA.

ANNIE. Mis' Farley sent dis, Miss Laura.

[LAURA _takes the note and reads it. She is palpably annoyed_.

LAURA. There's no answer.

ANNIE. She tol' me not to leave until Ah got an answah.

LAURA. You must ask her to wait.

ANNIE. She wants an answah.

LAURA. Tell her I'll be right down--that it will be all right.

ANNIE. But, Miss Laura, she tol' me to get an answah.

[_Exit reluctantly_.

LAURA. [_Half to herself and half to_ ELFIE.] She's taking advantage
of your being here. [_Standing near door_.


LAURA. She wants money--three weeks' room-rent. I presume she thought
you'd give it to me.

ELFIE. Huh! [_Moves to left_.

LAURA. [_Crossing to table_.] Elfie, I've been a little cross; I
didn't mean it.

ELFIE. Well?

LAURA. Could--could you lend me thirty-five dollars until I get to



ELFIE. Lend _you_ thirty-five dollars?

LAURA. Yes; you've got plenty of money to spare.

ELFIE. Well, you certainly have got a nerve.

LAURA. You might give it to me. I haven't a dollar in the world, and
you pretend to be such a friend to me!

ELFIE. [_Turning and angrily speaking across table_.] So that's the
kind of woman you are, eh? A moment ago you were going to kick me out
of the place because I wasn't decent enough to associate with you.
You know how I live. You know how I get my money--the same way you got
most of yours. And now that you've got this spasm of goodness I'm not
fit to be in your room; but you'll take my money to pay your debts.
You'll let me go out and do this sort of thing for your benefit, while
you try to play the grand lady. I've got your number now, Laura. Where
in hell is your virtue anyway? You can go to the devil--rich, poor, or
any other way. I'm off! ELFIE _rushes toward door; for a moment_ LAURA
_stands speechless, then bursts into hysterics_.

LAURA. Elfie! Elfie! Don't go now! Don't leave me now! [ELFIE
_hesitates with hand on door-knob_.] I can't stand it. I can't be
alone. Don't go, please; don't go.

LAURA _falls into_ ELFIE'S _arms, sobbing. In a moment_ ELFIE'S _whole
demeanour changes and she melts into the tenderest womanly sympathy,
trying her best to express herself in her crude way_.

ELFIE. There, old girl, don't cry, don't cry. You just sit down here
and let me put my arms around you. [ELFIE _leads_ LAURA _over to
armchair, places muff, &c., in chair, and sits_ LAURA _down in chair_.
ELFIE _sits on right arm of chair with her left arm behind_ LAURA;
_hugs_ LAURA _to her_. LAURA _in tears and sobbing during scene_.]
I'm awful sorry--on the level, I am. I shouldn't have said it. I know
that. But I've got feelings too, even if folks don't give me credit
for it.

LAURA. I know, Elfie. I've gone through about all I can stand.

ELFIE. Well, I should say you have--and more than I would. Anyway a
good cry never hurts any woman. I have one myself, sometimes--under

LAURA. [_More seriously, recovering herself_.] Perhaps what you said
was true.

ELFIE. We won't talk about it.

[_Wiping_ LAURA'S _eyes and kissing her_.

LAURA. [_With persistence_.] But perhaps it was true, and, Elfie--


LAURA. I think I've stood this just as long as I can. Every day is a
living horror.

ELFIE. [_Looking around room_.] It's the limit.

LAURA. I've got to have money to pay the rent. I've pawned everything
I have, except the clothes on my back.

ELFIE. I'll give you all the money you need, dearie. Great heavens,
don't worry about that. Don't you care if I got sore and--and lost my

LAURA. No; I can't let you do that. [_Rises; crosses to table_.] You
may have been mad,--awfully mad,--but what you said was the truth. I
can't take your money. [_Sits right of table_.

ELFIE. Oh, forget that. [_Rises, crosses to centre_.

LAURA. Maybe--maybe if he knew all about it--the suffering--he
wouldn't blame me.

ELFIE. Who--the good man who wanted to lead you to the good life
without even a bread-basket for an advance-agent? Huh!

LAURA. Still he doesn't know how desperately poor I am.

ELFIE. He knows you're out of work, don't he?

LAURA. [_Turning to_ ELFIE.] Not exactly. I've let him think that I'm
getting along all right.

ELFIE. Then you're a chump. Hasn't he sent you anything?

LAURA. He hasn't anything to send.

ELFIE. Well, what does he think you're going to live on?--asphalt
croquettes with conversation sauce?

LAURA. I don't know--I don't know. [_Sobbing_.

ELFIE. [_Crosses to_ LAURA, _puts arms around her_.] Don't be foolish,
dearie. You know there is somebody waiting for you--somebody who'll be
good to you and get you out of this mess.

LAURA. You mean Will Brockton? [_Looking up_.


LAURA. Do you know where he is?


LAURA. Well?

ELFIE. You won't get sore again if I tell you, will you?

LAURA. No--why? [_Rises_.

ELFIE. He's downstairs--waiting in the car. I promised to tell him
what you said.

LAURA. Then it was all planned, and--and--

ELFIE. Now, dearie, I knew you were up against it, and I wanted to
bring you two together. He's got half of the Burgess shows, and if
you'll only see him everything will be fixed.

LAURA. When does he want to see me?


LAURA. Here?

ELFIE. Yes. Shall I tell him to come up?

LAURA. [_After a long pause, crossing around to bed, down-stage
side_.] Yes.

ELFIE. [_Suddenly becomes animated_.] Now you're a sensible dear. I'll
bet he's half frozen down there. [_Goes to door_.] I'll send him up.
Look at you, Laura, you're a sight. [_Crosses to_ LAURA, _takes her
by hand, leads her up to washstand, takes towel and wipes_ LAURA'S
_eyes_.] It'll never do to have him see you looking like this; come
over here and let me fix your eyes. Now, Laura, I want you to promise
me you won't do any more crying. [_Leads_ LAURA _over to dresser,
takes powder-puff and powders_ LAURA'S _face_.] Come over here and let
me powder your nose. Now when he comes up you tell him he has got to
blow us all off to a dinner to-night at Martin's, seven-thirty. Let me
look at you. Now you're all right. [_After daubing_ LAURA'S _face with
the rouge paw_, ELFIE _takes_ LAURA'S _face in her hands and kisses
her_.] Make it strong now, seven-thirty, don't forget. I'll be there.
[_Crosses to armchair, gathers up muff, &c_.] So long.


_After_ ELFIE'S _exit_ LAURA _crosses slowly to wardrobe, pulls off
picture of_ JOHN; _crosses to dresser, takes picture of_ JOHN _from
there; carries both pictures over to bed; kneels on bed, pulls down
picture at head of bed; places all three pictures under pillow_. WILL
_is heard coming upstairs, and knocks_.

LAURA. Come in.

WILL _enters. His dress is that of a man of business, the time being
about February. He is well groomed and brings with him the impression
of easy luxury_.

WILL. [_As he enters_.] Hello, Laura.

_There is an obvious embarrassment on the part of each of them. She
rises, goes to him and extends her hand_.

LAURA. I'm--I'm glad to see you, Will.

WILL. Thank you.

LAURA. Won't you sit down?

WILL. [_Regaining his ease of manner_.] Thank you again.

[_Puts hat and cane at end of wardrobe; removes overcoat and places it
on back of armchair; sits in armchair_.

LAURA. [_Sits right of table_.] It's rather cold out, isn't it?

WILL. Just a bit sharp.

LAURA. You came with Elfie in the car?

WILL. She picked me up at Martin's; we lunched there.

LAURA. By appointment?

WILL. I'd asked her.

LAURA. Well?

WILL. Well, Laura.

LAURA. She told you?

WILL. Not a great deal. What do you want to tell me?

LAURA. [_Very simply, and avoiding his glance_.] Will, I'm ready to
come back.

WILL. [_With an effort concealing his sense of triumph and
satisfaction. Rises, crosses to_ LAURA.] I'm mighty glad of that,
Laura. I've missed you like the very devil.

LAURA. Do we--do we have to talk it over much?

[_Crosses to left of table in front of bed_.

WILL. Not at all unless you want to. I understand--in fact, I always

LAURA. [_Wearily_.] Yes, I guess you always did. I didn't.

[_Crosses and sits right of table_.

WILL. It will be just the same as it was before, you know.


WILL. I didn't think it was possible for me to miss anyone the way I
have you. I've been lonely.

LAURA. That's nice in you to say that.

WILL. You'll have to move out of here right away. [_Crossing to back
of table, surveying room_.] This place is enough to give one the
colly-wabbles. If you'll be ready to-morrow I'll send my man over to
help you take care of the luggage.

LAURA. To-morrow will be all right, thank you.

WILL. And you'll need some money in the meantime. I'll leave this

[_He takes a roll of bills and places it on the bureau_.

LAURA. You seem to have come prepared. Did Elfie and you plan this all

WILL. Not planned--just hoped. I think you'd better go to some nice
hotel now. Later we can arrange.

[_Sits on up-stage side of bed_.

LAURA. Will, we'll always be frank. I said I was ready to go. It's up
to you--when and where.

WILL. The hotel scheme is the best, but, Laura--


WILL. You're quite sure this is in earnest. You don't want to change?
You've time enough now.

LAURA. I've quite made up my mind. It's final.

WILL. If you want to work, Burgess has a nice part for you. I'll
telephone and arrange if you say so.

LAURA. Thanks. Say I'll see him in the morning.

WILL. And, Laura, you know when we were in Denver, and--

LAURA. [_Rises hurriedly; crosses right_.] Please, please, don't speak
of it.

WILL. I'm sorry, but I've got to. I told [_Rises, and crosses to
left_.] Madison [LAURA _turns her head_.]--pardon me, but I must do
this--that if this time ever came I'd have you write him the truth.
Before we go any further I'd like you to do that now.

LAURA. Say good-bye? [_Turns to_ WILL.

WILL. Just that.

LAURA. I wouldn't know how to begin. It will hurt him awfully deeply.

WILL. It'll be worse if you don't. He'll like you for telling him. It
would be honest, and that is what he expects.

LAURA. Must I--now?

WILL. I think you should.

LAURA. [_Goes to table and sits down_.] How shall I begin, Will?

WILL. [_Standing back of table_.] You mean you don't know what to say?


WILL. Then I'll dictate.

LAURA. I'll do just as you say. You're the one to tell me now.

WILL. Address it the way you want to. [_She complies_.] I'm going to
be pretty brutal. In the long run I think that is best, don't you?

LAURA. It's up to you.

WILL. Ready?

LAURA. Begin.

WILL. [_Dictating_.] "All I have to say can be expressed in one word,
'good-bye.' I shall not tell you where I've gone, but remind you
of what Brockton told you the last time he saw you. He is here now
[_Pause_.], dictating this letter. What I am doing is voluntary--my
own suggestion. Don't grieve. Be happy and successful. I do not love

[_She puts pen down; looks at him_.

LAURA. Will--please.

WILL. It has got to go just that way--"I do not love you." Sign
it "Laura." [_She does it_.] Fold it, put it in an envelope--seal
it--address it. Now shall I mail it?

LAURA. No. If you don't mind I'd sooner. It's a sort of a last--last

WILL. [_Crosses to armchair; gets coat, puts it on_.] All right.
You're a little upset now, and I'm going. We are all to dine at
Martin's to-night at seven-thirty. There'll be a party. Of course
you'll come. [_Gets hat and cane_.

LAURA. I don't think I can. You see--

WILL. I know. I guess there's enough there [_Indicating money_.] for
your immediate needs. Later you can straighten things up. Shall I send
the car?

LAURA. Yes, please.

WILL. Good. It will be the first happy evening I've had in a long,
long time. You'll be ready?

[_Approaches and bends over her as if to caress her_.

LAURA. [_Shrinking away_.] Please don't. Remember we don't dine until

WILL. All right. [_Exit_.

_For a moment_ LAURA _sits silent, and then angrily rises, crosses
up to dresser, gets alcohol lamp, crosses to table with lamp, lights
same, and starts back to dresser. Knock at door_.

LAURA. Come in. [ANNIE _enters, and stops_.] That you, Annie?

ANNIE. Yassum.

LAURA. Mrs. Farley wants her rent. There is some money. [_Tosses money
on to table_.] Take it to her.

ANNIE _goes to the table, examines the roll of bills and is palpably

ANNIE. Dey ain't nothin' heah, Miss Laura, but five great big one
hunderd dollah bills.

LAURA. Take two. And look in that upper drawer. You'll find some pawn
tickets there. [ANNIE _complies_.

ANNIE. Yassum. [_Aside_.] Dat's real money--dem's yellow-backs sure.

LAURA. Take the two top ones and go get my lace gown and one of
the hats. The ticket is for a hundred and ten dollars. Keep ten for
yourself, and hurry.

ANNIE. [_Aside_.] Ten for myself--I never see so much money. [_To_
LAURA, _her astonishment nearly overcoming her_.] Yassum, Miss Laura,
yassum. [_She goes toward door, and then turns to_ LAURA.] Ah'm so
mighty glad yo' out all yo' trouble, Miss Laura. I says to Mis' Farley

LAURA. [_Snapping her off_.] Don't--don't. Go do as I tell you and
mind your business. [ANNIE _turns sullenly and walks toward the door.
At that moment_ LAURA _sees the letter, which she has thrown on the
table_.] Wait a minute. I want you to mail a letter. [_By this time
her hair is half down, hanging loosely over her shoulders. Her waist
is open at the throat, collar off, and she has the appearance of a
woman's untidiness when she is at that particular stage of her toilet.
Hands letter to_ ANNIE, _but snatches it away as_ ANNIE _turns to
go. She glances at the letter long and wistfully, and her nerve fails
her_.] Never mind.

ANNIE _exits. Slowly_ LAURA _puts the letter over the flame of the
alcohol lamp and it ignites. As it burns she holds it in her fingers,
and when half consumed throws it into waste-jar, sits on side of bed
watching letter burn, then lies down across bed on her elbows, her
chin in her hands, facing audience. As the last flicker is seen the
curtain slowly descends_.



SCENE. _Two months have elapsed. The scene is at_ BROCKTON'S
_apartment in a hotel such as is not over particular concerning
the relations of its tenants. There are a number of these hotels
throughout the theatre district of New York, and, as a rule, one will
find them usually of the same type. The room in which this scene is
placed is that of the general living-room in one of the handsomest
apartments in the building. The prevailing colour is green, and there
is nothing particularly gaudy about the general furnishings. They
are in good taste, but without the variety of arrangement and
ornamentation which would naturally obtain in a room occupied by
people a bit more particular concerning their surroundings. Down stage
is a table about three feet square which can be used not only as a
general centre-table, but also for service while the occupants are
eating. There is a breakfast service on this table, and also a tray
and stand behind it. There is a chair at either side of the table,
and at right coming up stage, the room turns at a sharp angle of
thirty-five degrees, and this space is largely taken up by a large
doorway. This is equipped with sliding-doors and hung with green
portières, which are handsome and in harmony with the general scheme
of the furnishings of the room. This entrance is to the sleeping-room
of the apartments_.

_At the back of the stage is a large window or alcove. The window
is on the ordinary plan, and the view through it shows the back of
another building of New York, presumably a hotel of about the same
character. Green portières are also hung on the windows. Down left
is the entrance to the corridor of the hotel, and this must be
so arranged that it works with a latch-key and opens upon a small
hallway, which separates the apartment from the main hallway. This is
necessary as the action calls for the slamming of a door, and later
the opening of the direct and intimate door of the apartment with
a latch-key. Left of centre is a sofa, and there is a general
arrangement of chairs without over-crowding the apartment. Just below,
where the right portière is hung, is a long, full-length mirror, such
as women dress by. Against wall is a lady's fancy dresser._

_To the immediate left of the sliding-doors, which go into the
sleeping-apartment, is a lady's small writing-desk, with a drawer on
the right-hand side, in which is a pearl-handled 32-calibre revolver.
The front of the desk is open at rise. On top of the desk is a desk
lamp and a large box of candy; inside the desk is writing material,
&c. In pigeon-hole left there is a small photo and frame, which_ ANNIE
_places on the table when she removes the breakfast set. In front of
centre window in alcove is a small table on which is a parlour lamp,
and some newspapers, including the "New York Sun." On the floor
running between the desk and table is a large fur rug. In front of the
table is a small gilt chair; in front of desk there is also a small
gilt chair; there is a pianola piano, on top of which is a bundle of
music-rolls. In place, ready to play, is a roll of a negro tune called
"Bon-Bon Buddie, My Chocolate Drop." On top of the piano, in
addition to the music-rolls, are a fancy lamp, a large basket of
chrysanthemums, and two photos in frames, at the upper corner.
Standing on the floor is a large piano lamp. On the sofa are cushions,
and thrown over its back is a lady's opera-coat. On the sofa are also
a fan and some small dinner favours._

_On the dresser are a lady's silver toilet set, including powder
boxes, rouge boxes, manicuring implements, and a small plush black cat
that might have been a favour at some time. Two little dolls hang
on the side of the glass of the dresser, which also might have been
favours. These are used later in the action, and are necessary._

AT RISE. _When the curtain rises on this scene it is noticeable that
the occupants of the room must have returned rather late at night,
after having dined, not wisely, but too well. In the alcove is a man's
dress-coat and vest thrown on the cushions in a most careless manner;
a silk hat badly rumpled is near it. Over the top of sofa is an
opera-cloak, and hung on the mirror is a huge hat, of the evening
type, such as women would pay handsomely for. A pair of gloves is
thrown on top of the pier-glass. The curtains in the bay-window are
half drawn, and the light shades are half drawn down the windows, so
that when the curtain goes up the place is in a rather dim light.
On the table are the remains of a breakfast, which is served in a
box-like tray such as is used in hotels._ LAURA _is discovered sitting
at right of table, her hair a bit untidy. She has on a very expensive
negligée gown._ WILL, _in a business suit, is at the other side of the
table, and both have evidently just about concluded their breakfast
and are reading the newspapers while they sip their coffee._ LAURA
_is intent in the scanning of her "Morning Telegraph," while_ WILL _is
deep in the market reports of the "Journal of Commerce," and in each
instance these things must be made apparent._ WILL _throws down the
paper rather impatiently._

WILL. Have you seen the _Sun_, Laura?


WILL. Where is it?

LAURA. I don't know.

WILL. [_In a loud voice._] Annie, Annie! [_A pause._] Annie! [_In an
undertone, half directed to_ LAURA.] Where the devil is that nigger?

LAURA. Why, I suppose she's at breakfast.

WILL. Well, she ought to be here.

LAURA. Did it ever occur to you that she has got to eat just the same
as you have?

WILL. She's your servant, isn't she?

LAURA. My maid.

WILL. Well, what have you got her for,--to eat or to wait on you?

LAURA. Don't be so cross. What do you want?

WILL. I want the _Sun_.

[BROCKTON _pours out one half glass of water from bottle._

LAURA. I will get it for you.

_Rather wearily she gets up and goes to the table, where there are
other morning papers; she takes the "Sun," hands it to him, goes back
to her seat, re-opens the "Morning Telegraph." There is a pause._
ANNIE _enters from the sleeping-room._

ANNIE. Do yuh want me, suh?

WILL. Yes, I did want you, but don't now. When I'm at home I have a
man to look after me, and I get what I want.

LAURA. For heaven's sake, Will, have a little patience. If you like
your man so well, you had better live at home, but don't come around
here with a grouch and bulldoze everybody.

WILL. Don't think for a moment that there's much to come around here
for. Annie, this room's stuffy.

ANNIE. Yassuh.

WILL. Draw those portières. Let those curtains up. [ANNIE _lets up
curtain._] Let's have a little light. Take away these clothes and hide
them. Don't you know that a man doesn't want to see the next morning
anything to remind him of the night before. Make the place look a
little respectable.

_In the meantime_ ANNIE _scurries around, picking up the coat and
vest, opera-cloak, &c., as rapidly as possible, and throwing them over
her arm without any idea of order. It is very apparent that she is
rather fearful of the anger of_ WILL _while he is in this mood._

WILL. [_Looking at her._] Be careful. You're not taking the wash off
the line.

ANNIE. Yassuh. [_Exit in confusion._

LAURA. [_Laying down paper and looking at_ WILL.] Well, I must say
you're rather amiable this morning.

WILL. I feel like hell.

LAURA. Market unsatisfactory?

WILL. No; head too big. [_He lights a cigar; as he takes a puff he
makes an awful face._] Tastes like punk. [_Puts cigar into cup._

LAURA. You drank a lot.

WILL. We'll have to cut out those parties. I can't do those things any
more. I'm not as young as I was, and in the morning it makes me sick.
How do you feel?

LAURA. A little tired, that's all. [_Rises, and crosses to bureau._

WILL. You didn't touch anything?


WILL. I guess you're on the safe side. It was a great old party,
though, wasn't it?

LAURA. Did you think so?

WILL. Oh, for that sort of a blow-out. Not too rough, but just a
little easy. I like them at night and I hate them in the morning. [_He
picks up the paper and commences to glance it over in a casual manner,
not interrupting his conversation._] Were you bored?

LAURA. Yes; always at things like that.

WILL. Well, you don't have to go.

LAURA. You asked me.

WILL. Still, you could say no. [LAURA _picks up paper, puts it on
table and crosses back to bureau._

LAURA. But you asked me.

WILL. What did you go for if you didn't want to?

LAURA. _You_ wanted me to.

WILL. I don't quite get you.

LAURA. Well, Will, you have all my time when I'm not in the theatre,
and you can do with it just what you please. You pay for it. I'm
working for you.

WILL. Is that all I've got,--just your time?

LAURA. [_Wearily._] That and the rest. [LAURA _crosses up to desk,
gets "part," crosses to sofa, turning pages of "part."_] I guess you
know. [_Crosses to sofa and sits._

WILL. [_Looking at her curiously._] Down in the mouth, eh? I'm sorry.

LAURA. No, only if you want me to be frank, I'm a little tired. You
may not believe it, but I work awfully hard over at the theatre.
Burgess will tell you that. I know I'm not so very good as an actress,
but I try to be. [LAURA _lies down on sofa._] I'd like to succeed,
myself. They're very patient with me. Of course they've got to
be,--that's another thing you're paying for, but I don't seem to get
along except this way.

WILL. Oh, don't get sentimental. If you're going to bring up that sort
of talk, Laura, do it sometime when I haven't got a hang-over, and
then don't forget talk never does count for much.

LAURA _crosses up to mirror, picks up hat from box, puts it on, looks
in mirror. She turns around and looks at him steadfastly for a minute.
During this entire scene, from the time the curtain rises, she must in
a way indicate a premonition of an approaching catastrophe, a feeling,
vague but nevertheless palpable, that something is going to happen.
She must hold this before her audience so that she can show to them,
without showing to him, the disgust she feels._ LAURA _has tasted
of the privations of self-sacrifice during her struggle, and she has
weakly surrendered and is unable to go back, but that brief period of
self-abnegation has shown to her most clearly the rottenness of the
other sort of living. There are enough sentimentality and emotion in
her character to make it impossible for her to accept this manner of
existence as_ ELFIE _does. Hers is not a nature of careless candour,
but of dreamy ideals and better living, warped, handicapped,
disillusioned, and destroyed by a weakness that finds its principal
force in vanity._ WILL _resumes his newspaper in a more attentive way.
The girl looks at him and expresses in pantomime, by the slightest
gesture or shrug of the shoulders, her growing distaste for him and
his way of living. In the meantime_ WILL _is reading the paper rather
carefully. He stops suddenly and then looks at his watch._

LAURA. What time is it?

WILL. After ten.


WILL _at this moment particularly reads some part of the paper, turns
to her with a keen glance of suspicion and inquiry, and then for a
very short moment evidently settles in his mind a cross-examination.
He has read in this paper a despatch from Chicago, which speaks
of_ JOHN MADISON _having arrived there as a representative of a big
Western mining syndicate which is going to open large operations in
the Nevada gold-fields, and representing_ MR. MADISON _as being on his
way to New York with sufficient capital to enlist more, and showing
him to be now a man of means. The attitude of_ LAURA _and the
coincidence of the despatch bring back to_ WILL _the scene in Denver,
and later in New York, and with that subtle intuition of the man of
the world he connects the two._

WILL. I don't suppose, Laura, that you'd be interested now in knowing
anything about that young fellow out in Colorado? What was his

LAURA. Do you know anything?

WILL. No, nothing particularly. I've been rather curious to know how
he came out. He was a pretty fresh young man and did an awful lot of
talking. I wonder how he's doing and how he's getting along. I don't
suppose by any chance you have ever heard from him?

LAURA. No, no; I've never heard. [_Crosses to bureau._

WILL. I presume he never replied to that letter you wrote?


WILL. It would be rather queer, eh, if this young fellow should
[_Looks at paper._] happen to come across a lot of money--not that I
think he ever could, but it would be funny, wouldn't it?

LAURA. Yes, yes; it would be unexpected. I hope he does. It might make
him happy.

WILL. Think he might take a trip East and see you act. You know you've
got quite a part now.

LAURA. [_Impatiently._] I wish you wouldn't discuss this. Why do you
mention it now? [_Crossing to right of table._] Is it because you were
drinking last night and lost your sense of delicacy? You once had some
consideration for me. What I've done I've done. I'm giving you all
that I can. Please, please, don't hurt me any more than you can help.
That's all I ask.

[_Crossing up to mirror. Crosses back to right of table; sits._

WILL. Well, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that, Laura. I guess I am feeling
a little bad to-day. Really, I don't want to hurt your feelings, my

_He gets up, goes to her, puts his hands on her shoulders, and his
cheek close to the back of her head. She bends forward and shudders
a little bit. It is very easy to see that the life she is leading is
becoming intolerable to her._

WILL. You know, dearie, I do a lot for you because you've always been
on the level with me. I'm sorry I hurt you, but there was too much
wine last night and I'm all upset. Forgive me.

LAURA, _in order to avoid his caresses, has leaned forward; her hands
are clasped between her knees, and she is looking straight outward
with a cold, impassive expression._ WILL _regards her silently for a
moment. Really in the man's heart there is an affection, and really
he wants to try to comfort her; but he seems to realize that she has
slipped away from the old environment and conditions, and that he
simply bought her back; that he hasn't any of her affection, even with
his money; that she evinces toward him none of the old camaraderie;
and it hurts him, as those things always hurt a selfish man, inclining
him to be brutal and inconsiderate._ WILL _crosses to centre, and
stands reading paper; bell rings; a pause and second bell._ WILL
_seizes upon this excuse to go up-stage and over towards the door._

WILL. [_After second bell._] Damn that bell.

_He continues on his way; he opens the door, leaves it open, and
passes on to the outer door, which he opens._ LAURA _remains immovable
and impassive, with the same cold, hard expression on her face. He
comes in, slamming the outer door with effect, which one must have at
this point of the play, because it is essential to a situation coming
later. Enters the room, closes the door, and holds in his hand a
telegram. Looks from newspaper to telegram._

WILL. A wire.

LAURA. For me?

WILL. Yes.

LAURA. From whom, I wonder. Perhaps Elfie with a luncheon engagement.

WILL. [_Handing telegram to her._] I don't know. Here.

_Pause; he faces her, looking at her. She opens it quickly. She reads
it and, as she does, gasps quickly with an exclamation of fear and
surprise. This is what the despatch says (it is dated at Buffalo and
addressed to_ LAURA): _"I will be in New York before noon. I'm coming
to marry you and I'm coming with a bank-roll. I wanted to keep it
secret and have a big surprise for you, but I can't hold it any
longer, because I feel just like a kid with a new top. Don't go out,
and be ready for the big matrimonial thing. All my love. John."_

WILL. No bad news, I hope?

LAURA. [_Walking up stage rather hurriedly._] No, no--not bad news.

WILL. I thought you were startled.

LAURA. No, not at all.

WILL. [_Looking at paper about where he had left off._] From Elfie?
[_Crosses to, and sits in armchair._

LAURA. No, just a friend.


_He makes himself rather comfortable in the chair, and_ LAURA _regards
him for a moment from up stage as if trying to figure out how to get
rid of him_.

LAURA. Won't you be rather late getting down town, Will?

WILL. Doesn't make any difference. I don't feel much like the office
now. Thought I might order the car and take a spin through the park.
The cold air will do me a lot of good. Like to go?

LAURA. No, not to-day. I thought your business was important; you said
so last night. [_Crosses to sofa, and stands_.

WILL. No hurry. Do you--er--want to get rid of me?

LAURA. Why should I?

WILL. Expecting someone?

LAURA. No--not exactly. [_Crosses up to window_.

WILL. If you don't mind, I'll stay here. [_Lets curtain fly up_.

LAURA. Just as you please. [_A pause. Crosses to piano; plays_.] Will?

WILL. Yes.

LAURA. How long does it take to come from Buffalo?

WILL. Depends on the train you take.

LAURA. About how long?

WILL. Between eight and ten hours, I think. Some one coming?

LAURA. Do you know anything about the trains?

WILL. Not much. Why don't you find out for yourself? Have Annie get
the time-table?

LAURA. I will. Annie! Annie!

[_Rises from piano_. ANNIE _appears at doorway_.

ANNIE. Yassum!

LAURA. Go ask one of the hall-boys to bring me a New York Central

ANNIE. Yassum!

_Crosses the stage and exits through door_. LAURA _sits on left arm of

WILL. Then you _do_ expect someone, eh?

LAURA. Only one of the girls who used to be in the same company with
me. But I'm not sure that she's coming here.

WILL. Then the wire was from her?


WILL. Did she say what train she was coming on?


WILL. Well, there are a lot of trains. About what time did you expect
her in?

LAURA. She didn't say.

WILL. Do I know her?

LAURA. I think not. I met her while I worked in 'Frisco.

WILL. Oh! [_Resumes his paper_.

ANNIE _reënters with a time-table and hands it to_ LAURA.

LAURA. Thanks; take those breakfast things away, Annie.

[_Sits on sofa_.

ANNIE _complies; takes them across stage, opens the door leading
to the corridor, exits_. LAURA _in the meantime is studying the

LAURA. I can't make this out.

WILL. Give it here; maybe I can help you.

LAURA _crosses to right of table, sits opposite_ WILL, _and hands him
the time-table. He takes it and handles it as if he were familiar with

WILL. Where is she coming from?

LAURA. The West; the telegram was from Buffalo. I suppose she was on
her way when she sent it.

WILL. There's a train comes in here at 9:30--that's the Twentieth
Century,--that doesn't carry passengers from Buffalo; then there's one
at 11:41; one at 1:49; another at 3:45; another at 5:40; and another
at 5:48--that's the Lake Shore Limited, a fast train; and all pass
through Buffalo. Did you think of meeting her?

LAURA. No. She'll come here when she arrives.

WILL. Knows where you live?

LAURA. She has the address.

WILL. Ever been to New York before?

LAURA. I think not.

WILL. [_Passing her the time-table_.] Well, that's the best I can do
for you.

LAURA. Thank you. [_Crosses and puts time-table in desk_.

WILL. [_Takes up the paper again_. LAURA _looks at clock_.] By George,
this is funny.

LAURA. What?

WILL. Speak of the devil, you know.


WILL. Your old friend Madison.

LAURA. [_Utters a slight exclamation and makes an effort to control
herself_.] What--what about him?

WILL. He's been in Chicago.

LAURA. How do you know?

WILL. Here's a despatch about him.

LAURA. [_Coming quickly over to him, looks over his shoulder_.]
What--where--what's it about?

WILL. Well, I'm damned if he hasn't done what he said he'd do--see!
[_Holds the paper so that she can see_. LAURA _takes paper_.] He's
been in Chicago, and is on his way to New York. He's struck it rich
in Nevada and is coming with a lot of money. Queer, isn't it? [LAURA
_puts paper on table_.] Did you know anything about it? [_Lights

LAURA. No, no; nothing at all. [_Crosses to bureau_.

WILL. Lucky for him, eh?

LAURA. Yes, yes; it's very nice.

WILL. Too bad he couldn't get this a little sooner, eh, Laura?

LAURA. Oh, I don't know--I don't think it's too bad. What makes you

WILL. Oh, nothing. I suppose he ought to be here to-day. Are you going
to see him if he looks you up?

LAURA. No, no; I don't want to see him. You know that, don't you, that
I don't want to see him? What makes you ask these questions? [_Crosses
to sofa and sits_.

WILL. Just thought you might meet him, that's all. Don't get sore
about it.

LAURA. I'm not.

_She holds the telegram crumpled in one hand_. WILL _lays down the
paper, and regards_ LAURA _curiously. She sees the expression on his
face and averts her head in order not to meet his eye_.

LAURA. What are you looking at me that way for?

WILL. I wasn't conscious that I was looking at you in any particular

LAURA. Oh, nothing. I guess I'm nervous, too.

[_Lies on sofa_.

WILL. I dare say you are. [_A pause_.

LAURA. Yes, I am. [WILL _crosses to_ LAURA.

WILL. You know I don't want to delve into a lot of past history at
this time, but I've got to talk to you for a moment.

LAURA. Why don't you do it some other time? I don't want to be talked
to now. [_Rises and crosses a little to left_.

WILL. But I've got to do it just the same.

LAURA. [_Trying to affect an attitude of resigned patience and
resignation_.] Well, what is it? [_Resuming seat on sofa_.

WILL. You've always been on the square with me, Laura. That's why I've
liked you a lot better than the other women.

LAURA. Are you going into all that again now, this morning? I thought
we understood each other.

WILL. So did I, but somehow I think that maybe we _don't_ quite
understand each other.

LAURA. In what way? [_Turns to_ WILL.

WILL. [_Looking her straight in the eye_.] That letter I dictated to
you the day that you came back to me, and left it for you to mail--did
you mail it?


WILL. You're quite sure?

LAURA. Yes, I'm quite sure. I wouldn't say so if I wasn't.

WILL. And you didn't know Madison was coming East until you read about
it in that newspaper?

LAURA. No--no, I didn't know.

WILL. Have you heard from him?

LAURA. No--no--I haven't heard from him. Don't talk to me about this
thing. Why can't you leave me alone? I'm miserable enough as it is.
[_Crossing to extreme right_.

WILL. [_Crossing to table_.] But I've got to talk to you. Laura,
you're lying to me.

LAURA. What! [_She makes a valiant effort to become angry_.

WILL. You're lying to me, and you've been lying to me, and I've
trusted you. Show me that telegram!


WILL. [_Going over towards her_.] Show me that telegram!

[LAURA _crosses up to doors leading into bedroom_.

LAURA. [_Tears telegram in half_.] You've no right to ask me.

WILL. Are you going to make me take it away [LAURA _crosses to
window_.] from you? I've [_Crosses to sofa_.] never laid my hands on
you yet.

LAURA. It's my business.

[_Crossing to left of sofa, around it on down-stage side_.

WILL. Yes, and it's mine.

_During scene. Backing away from_ WILL, _who is following her_, LAURA
_backs against bureau_. WILL _grabs her and attempts to take telegram
from her. She has put it in the front of her waist. She slowly draws
it out_.

WILL. That telegram's from Madison. Give it here!


WILL. I'm going to find out where I stand. Give me that telegram, or
I'll take it away from you.


WILL. Come on!

LAURA. I'll give it to you.

[_Takes telegram out of waist, and hands it to him_.

_He takes it slowly, looking her squarely in the eye_. WILL _crosses
to centre, and does not glance away while he slowly smoothes it out so
that it can be read; when he finally takes it in both hands to read it
she staggers back a step or two weakly_.

WILL. [_Reads the telegram aloud_.] "I will be in New York before
noon. I'm coming to marry you, and I'm coming with a bank-roll. I
wanted to keep it a secret and have a big surprise for you, but I
can't hold it any longer, because I feel just like a kid with a new
top. Don't go out, and be ready for the big matrimonial thing. All my
love. John." Then you knew?


WILL. But you didn't know he was coming until this arrived?


WILL. And you didn't mail the letter [_Tossing telegram on table_],
did you?


WILL. What did you do with it?

LAURA. I--I burned it.

WILL. Why?

[LAURA _is completely overcome and unable to answer_.

WILL. Why?

LAURA. I--I couldn't help it--I simply couldn't help it.

WILL. So you've been corresponding all this time.


WILL. And he doesn't know [_With a gesture around the room, indicating
the condition in which they live._] about us?


WILL. [_Taking a step towards her._] By God, I never beat a woman in
my life, but I feel as though I could wring your neck.

LAURA. Why don't you? You've done everything else. Why don't you?

WILL. Don't you know that I gave Madison my word that if you came back
to me I'd let him know? Don't you know that I like that young fellow,
and I wanted to protect him, and did everything I could to help
him? And do you know what you've done to me? You've made me out a
liar--you've made me lie to a man--a man--you understand. What are you
going to do now? Tell me--what are you going to do now? Don't stand
there as if you've lost your voice--how are you going to square me?

LAURA. I'm not thinking about squaring you. What am I going to do for

WILL. Not what _you_ are going to do for him--what am _I_ going to do
for him. Why, I couldn't have that young fellow think that I tricked
him into this thing for you or all the rest of the women of your kind
on earth. God! I might have known that you, and the others like you,
couldn't be square. [_The girl looks at him dumbly. He glances at his
watch, walks up stage, looks out of the window, comes down again, goes
to the table, and looks at her across it._] You've made a nice mess of
it, haven't you?

LAURA. [_Weakly._] There isn't any mess. Please go away. He'll be here
soon. Please let _me_ see him--please do that.

WILL. No, I'll wait. This time I'm going to tell him myself, and I
don't care how tough it is.

LAURA. [_Immediately regaining all her vitality._] No, you mustn't do
that. [_Crossing back of table to centre._] Oh, Will, I'm not offering
any excuse. I'm not saying anything, but I'm telling you the truth. I
couldn't give him up--I couldn't do it. I love him.

WILL. Huh. [_Grins; crosses to front of sofa._

LAURA. Don't you think so? I know you can't see what I see, but I do.
And why can't you go away? Why can't you leave me this? It's all I
ever had. He doesn't know. No one will ever tell him. I'll take him
away. It's the best for him--it's the best for me. Please go.

WILL. Why--do you think that I'm going to let you trip him the way you
tripped me? [_Crosses and sits in armchair._] No. I'm going to stay
right here until that young man arrives, and I'm going to tell him
that it wasn't my fault. You were to blame.

LAURA. Then you are going to let him know. You're not going to give me
a single, solitary chance?

WILL. I'll give you every chance that you deserve when he knows. Then
he can do as he pleases, but there must be no more deception, that's

[LAURA _crosses and kneels beside_ WILL'S _chair._

LAURA. Then you must let me tell him--[WILL _turns away
impatiently._]--yes, you must. If I didn't tell him before, I'll do it
now. You must go. If you ever had any regard for me--if you ever had
any affection--if you ever had any friendship, please let me do this
now. I want you to go--you can come back. Then you'll see--you'll
know--only I want to try to make him understand that--that maybe if I
am weak I'm not vicious. I want to let him know that I didn't want to
do it, but I couldn't help it. Just give me the chance to be as good
as I can be. [WILL _gives her a look._] Oh, I promise you, I will
tell him, and then--then I don't care what happens--only he must learn
everything from me--please--please--let me do this--it's the last
favour I shall ever--ever ask of you. Won't you?

[LAURA _breaks down and weeps._

WILL. [_Rising, looks at her a moment as if mentally debating the best
thing to do. Crosses in front of table; stands facing her with back
to audience._] All right, I won't be unkind. I'll be back early this
afternoon, and just remember, this is the time you'll have to go right
through to the end. Understand?

LAURA. Yes, I'll do it,--all of it. Won't you please go--now?

[_Crosses; sits in armchair._

WILL. All right. [_He exits into the bedroom and immediately enters
again with overcoat on his arm and hat in hand; he goes centre, and
turns._] I am sorry for you, Laura, but remember you've got to tell
the truth.

LAURA. [_Who is sitting in a chair looking straight in front of her
with a set expression._] Please go. [WILL _exits._

LAURA _sits in a chair in a state of almost stupefaction, holding this
attitude as long as possible._ ANNIE _enters, and in a characteristic
manner begins her task of tidying up the room;_ LAURA, _without
changing her attitude, and staring straight in front of her, her
elbows between her knees and her chin on her hands._

LAURA. Annie!

ANNIE. Yassum.

LAURA. Do you remember in the boarding-house--when we finally packed
up--what you did with everything?

ANNIE. Yassum.

LAURA. You remember that I used to keep a pistol?

ANNIE. Yo' all mean dat one yo' say dat gemman out West gave yuh once?


ANNIE. Yassum, Ah 'membuh it.

LAURA. Where is it now?

ANNIE. [_Crosses to writing-desk._] Last Ah saw of it was in dis heah
draw' in de writin'-desk. [_This speech takes her across to desk; she
opens the drawer, fumbles among a lot of old papers, letters, &c., and
finally produces a small thirty-two calibre, and gingerly crosses to_
LAURA.] Is dis it?

LAURA. [_Slowly turns around and looks at it._] Yes. Put it back. I
thought perhaps it was lost. [ANNIE _complies, when the bell rings._
LAURA _starts suddenly, involuntarily gathering her negligée gown
closer to her figure, and at once she is under a great stress of
emotion, and sways upon her feet to such an extent that she is obliged
to put one hand out on to the table to maintain her balance. When
she speaks, it is with a certain difficulty of articulation._]
See--who--that is--and let me know.

ANNIE. [_Turning._] Yassum. [_Crosses, opens the first door, and
afterwards opens the second door._

ELFIE'S VOICE. [_Off stage._] Hello, Annie,--folks home?

ANNIE. Yassum, she's in.

LAURA _immediately evinces her tremendous relief, and_ ELFIE, _without
waiting for a reply, has shoved_ ANNIE _aside and enters,_ ANNIE
_following and closing the door._ ELFIE _is beautifully gowned in
a morning dress with an overabundance of fur trimmings and all the
furbelows that would accompany the extravagant raiment generally
affected by a woman of that type._ ELFIE _approaching effusively._

ELFIE. Hello, dearie.

LAURA. Hello, Elfie.

LAURA _crosses and sits on sofa._ ELFIE _puts muff, &c., on table._

ELFIE. It's a bully day out. [_Crossing to bureau, looking in
mirror._] I've been shopping all morning long; just blew myself
until I'm broke, that's all. My goodness, don't you ever get dressed?
Listen. [_Crosses left of table to centre._] Talk about cinches. I
copped out a gown, all ready made, and fits me like the paper on the
wall, for $37.80. Looks like it might have cost $200. Anyway I had
them charge $200 on the bill, and I kept the change. There are two or
three more down town there, and I want you to go down and look them
over. Models, you know, being sold out. I don't blame you for not
getting up earlier. [_She sits at the table, not noticing_ LAURA.]
That was some party last night. I know you didn't drink a great deal,
but gee! what an awful tide Will had on. How do you feel? [_Looks at
her critically._] What's the matter, are you sick? You look all in.
What you want to do is this--put on your duds and go out for an hour.
It's a perfectly grand day out. My Gaud! how the sun does shine! Clear
and cold. [_A pause._] Well, much obliged for the conversation. Don't
I get a "Good-morning," or a "How-dy-do," or a something of that sort?

LAURA. I'm tired, Elfie, and blue--terribly blue.

ELFIE. [_Rises; crosses to_ LAURA.] Well now, you just brace up and
cut out all that emotional stuff. I came down to take you for a drive.
You'd like it; just through the park. Will you go?

LAURA. [_Going up stage._] Not this morning, dear; I'm expecting

ELFIE. A man?

LAURA. [_Finding it almost impossible to suppress a smile._] No, a

ELFIE. Same thing. Do I know him?

LAURA. You've heard of him. [_At desk, looking at clock._

ELFIE. Well, don't be so mysterious. Who is he?

LAURA. What is your time, Elfie?

ELFIE. [_Looks at her watch._] Five minutes past eleven.

LAURA. Oh, I'm slow. I didn't know it was so late. Just excuse me,
won't you, while I get some clothes on. He may be here any moment.

[_She goes up stage towards portières._


LAURA. I'll tell you when I get dressed. Make yourself at home, won't
you, dear?

ELFIE. I'd sooner hear. What is the scandal anyway?

LAURA. [_As she goes out._] I'll tell you in a moment. Just as soon as
Annie gets through with me. [_Exit._

ELFIE. [_Gets candy-box off desk, crosses, sits on arm of sofa,
selecting candy. In a louder voice._] Do you know, Laura, I think I'll
go back on the stage.

LAURA. [_Off stage._] Yes?

ELFIE. Yes, I'm afraid I'll have to. I think I need a sort of a boost
to my popularity.

LAURA. How a boost, Elfie?

ELFIE. I think Jerry is getting cold feet. He's seeing a little too
much of me [_Places candy-box on sofa._] nowadays.

LAURA. What makes you think that?

ELFIE. I think he is getting a relapse of that front-row habit.
There's no use in talking, Laura, it's a great thing for a girl's
credit when a man like Jerry can take two or three friends to the
theatre, and when you make your entrance delicately point to you with
his forefinger and say, "The third one from the front on the left
belongs to muh." The old fool's hanging around some of these musical
comedies lately, and I'm getting a little nervous every time rent day

LAURA. Oh, I guess you'll get along all right, Elfie.

ELFIE. [_With serene self-satisfaction._] Oh, that's a cinch [_Rises;
crosses to table, looking in dresser mirror at herself, and giving her
hat and hair little touches._], but I like to leave well enough alone,
and if I had to make a change right now it would require a whole lot
of thought and attention, to say nothing of the inconvenience, and I'm
so nicely settled in my flat. [_She sees the pianola._] Say, dearie,
when did you get the piano-player? I got one of them phonographs
[_Crosses to pianola, tries the levers, &c._], but this has got that
beat a city block. How does it work? What did it cost?

LAURA. I don't know.

ELFIE. Well, Jerry's got to stake me to one of these. [_Looks over
the rolls on top. Mumbles to herself._] "Tannhauser, William Tell,
Chopin." [_Then louder._] Listen, dear. Ain't you got anything else
except all this high-brow stuff?

LAURA. What do you want?

ELFIE. Oh, something with a regular tune to it [_Looks at empty box on
pianola._]. Oh, here's one; just watch me tear this off. [_The roll
is the tune of "Bon-Bon Buddie, My Chocolate Drop." She starts to play
and moves the lever marked "Swell" wide open, increases the tempo, and
is pumping with all the delight and enthusiasm of a child._] Ain't it

LAURA. Gracious, Elfie, don't play so loud. What's the matter?

ELFIE. I shoved over that thing marked "Swell." [_Stops and turns.
Rises; crosses to centre and stands._] I sure will have to speak to
Jerry about this. I'm stuck on that swell thing. Hurry up. [LAURA
_appears._] Gee! you look pale. [_And then in a tone of sympathy:_]
I'll just bet you and Will have had a fight, and he always gets the
best of you, doesn't he, dearie? [LAURA _crosses to dresser, and
busies herself._] Listen. Don't you think you can ever get him
trained? I almost threw Jerry down the stairs the other night and he
came right back with a lot of American beauties and a check. I told
him if he didn't look out I'd throw him down-stairs every night. He's
getting too damned independent and it's got me nervous. Oh, dear, I
s'pose I will have to go back on the stage. [_Sits in armchair._

LAURA. In the chorus?

ELFIE. Well, I should say not. I'm going to give up my musical career.
Charlie Burgess is putting on a new play, and he says he has a part
in it for me if I want to go back. It isn't much, but very
important,--sort of a pantomime part. A lot of people talk about me,
and just at the right time I walk across the stage and make an awful
hit. I told Jerry that if I went [LAURA _crosses to sofa, picks up
candy-box, puts it upon desk, gets telegram from table, crosses to
centre._] on he'd have to come across with one of those Irish crochet
lace gowns. He fell for it. Do you know, dearie, I think he'd sell out
his business just to have me back on the stage for a couple of weeks,
just to give box-parties every night for my _en_-trance and _ex_-its.

LAURA. [_Seriously._] Elfie! [LAURA _takes_ ELFIE _by the hand, and
leads her over to sofa._ LAURA _sits,_ ELFIE _standing._

ELFIE. Yes, dear.

LAURA. Come over here and sit down.

ELFIE. What's up?

LAURA. Do you know what I'm going to ask of you?

ELFIE. If it's a touch, you'll have to wait until next week. [_Sits
opposite_ LAURA.

LAURA. No: just a little advice.

ELFIE. [_With a smile._] Well, that's cheap, and Lord knows you need
it. What's happened?

LAURA _takes the crumpled and torn telegram that_ WILL _has left on
the table and hands it to_ ELFIE. _The latter puts the two pieces
together, reads it very carefully, looks up at_ LAURA _about middle of
telegram, and lays it down._

ELFIE. Well?

LAURA. Will suspected. There was something in the paper about Mr.
Madison--the telegram came--then we had a row.

ELFIE. Serious?

LAURA. Yes. Do you remember what I told you about that letter--the one
Will made me write--I mean to John--telling him what I had done?

ELFIE. Yes, you burned it.

LAURA. I tried to lie to Will--he wouldn't have it that way. He seemed
to know. He was furious.

ELFIE. Did he hit you?

LAURA. No; he made me admit that John didn't know, and then he said
he'd stay here and tell himself that I'd made him lie, and then he
said something about liking the other man and wanting to save him.

ELFIE. Save--shucks! He's jealous.

LAURA. I told him if he'd only go I'd--tell John myself when he came,
and now you see I'm waiting--and I've got to tell--and--and I don't
know how to begin--and--and I thought you could help me--you seem so
sort of resourceful, and it means--it means so much to me. If John
turned on me now I couldn't go back to Will, and, Elfie,--I don't
think I'd care to--stay here any more.

ELFIE. What! [_In an awestruck tone, taking_ LAURA _in her arms
impulsively._] Dearie, get that nonsense out of your head and be
sensible. I'd just like to see any two men who could make me think
about--well--what you seem to have in your mind.

LAURA. But I don't know; don't you see, Elfie, I don't know. If I
don't tell him, Will will come back and he'll tell him, and I know
John and maybe--Elfie, do you know, I think John would kill him.

ELFIE. Well, don't you think anything about that. Now let's get
[_Rises, crosses to armchair, draws it over a little, sits on left
arm._] down to cases, and we haven't much time. Business is business,
and love is love. You're long on love and I'm long on business, and
between the two of us we ought to straighten this thing out. Now,
evidently John is coming on here to marry you.


ELFIE. And you love him?


ELFIE. And as far as you know the moment that he comes in here it's
quick to the Justice and a big matrimonial thing.

LAURA. Yes, but you see how impossible it is--

ELFIE. I don't see anything impossible. From all you've said to me
about this fellow there is only one thing to do.

LAURA. One thing?

ELFIE. Yes--get married quick. You say he has the money and you have
the love, and you're sick of Brockton, and you want to switch and do
it in the decent, respectable, conventional way, and he's going to
take you away. Haven't you got sense enough to know that, once you're
married to Mr. Madison, Will Brockton wouldn't dare go to him, and if
he did Madison wouldn't believe him? A man will believe a whole lot
about his girl, but nothing about his wife.

LAURA. [_Turns and looks at her. There is a long pause._] Elfie
[_Rises; crosses to right of table._]--I--I don't think I could do
like that to John. I don't think--I could deceive him.

ELFIE. You make me sick. The thing to do is to lie to all men.
[_Rises; pushes chair to table._]--they all lie to you. Protect
yourself. You seem to think that your happiness depends on this. Now
do it. Listen. [_Touches_ LAURA _to make her sit down;_ LAURA _sits
right of table;_ ELFIE _sits on right arm of chair left of table,
with elbows on table._] Don't you realize that you and me, and all the
girls that are shoved into this life, are practically the common prey
of any man who happens to come along? Don't you know that they've got
about as much consideration for us as they have for any pet animal
around the house, and the only way that we've got it on the animal is
that we've got brains? This is a game, Laura, _not a sentiment_. Do
you suppose this Madison [LAURA _turns to_ ELFIE.]--now don't get
sore--hasn't turned these tricks himself before he met you, and I'll
gamble he's done it since! A man's natural trade is a heartbreaking
business. Don't tell me about women breaking men's hearts. The only
thing they can ever break is their bank roll. And besides, this is
not Will's business; he has no right to interfere. You've been with
him--yes, and he's been nice to you; but I don't think that he's given
you any the best of it. Now if you want to leave and go your own way
and marry any Tom, Dick, or Harry that you want, it's nobody's affair
but yours.

LAURA. But you don't understand--it's John. I can't lie to him.

ELFIE. Well, that's too bad about you. I used to have that truthful
habit myself, and the best I ever got was the worst of it. All this
talk about love and loyalty and constancy is fine and dandy in a book,
but when a girl has to look out for herself, take it from me, whenever
you've got that trump card up your sleeve just play it and rake in the
pot. [_Takes_ LAURA'S _hand affectionately._] You know, dearie, you're
just about the only one in the world I love.

LAURA. Elfie!

ELFIE. Since I broke away from the folks up state and they've heard
things, there ain't any more letters coming to me with an Oswego
postmark. Ma's gone, and the rest don't care. You're all I've got in
the world, Laura, and what I'm asking you to do is because I want to
see you happy. I was afraid this thing was coming off, and the thing
to do now is to grab your happiness, no matter how you get it nor
where it comes from. There ain't a whole lot of joy in this world for
you and me and the others we know, and what little you get you've got
to take when you're young, because, when those gray hairs begin to
come, and the make-up isn't going to hide the wrinkles, unless you're
well fixed, it's going to be hell. You know what a fellow doesn't know
doesn't hurt him, and he'll love you just the same and you'll love
him. As for Brockton, let him get another girl; there're plenty
'round. Why, if this chance came to me I'd tie a can to Jerry so quick
that you could hear it rattle all the way down Broadway. [_Rises,
crosses back of table to_ LAURA, _leans over back of chair, and puts
arms around her neck very tenderly._] Dearie, promise me that you
won't be a damn fool.

[_The bell rings; both start._

LAURA. [_Rises._] Maybe that's John.

[ELFIE _brushes a tear quickly from her eye._

ELFIE. Oh! And you'll promise me, Laura?

LAURA. I'll try. [ANNIE _enters up stage from the adjoining room and
crosses to the door._] If that's Mr. Madison, Annie, tell him to come

LAURA _stands near the table, almost rigid. Instinctively_ ELFIE _goes
to the mirror and re-arranges her gown and hair as_ ANNIE _exits._
ELFIE _turns to_ LAURA.

ELFIE. If I think he's the fellow when I see him, watch me and I'll
tip you the wink.

[_Kisses_ LAURA; _up stage puts on coat._

_She goes up stage to centre;_ LAURA _remains in her position. The
doors are heard to open, and in a moment_ JOHN _enters. He is
dressed very neatly in a business suit, and his face is tanned and
weather-beaten. After he enters, he stands still for a moment. The
emotion that both he and_ LAURA _go through is such that each is
trying to control it,_ LAURA _from the agony of her position, and_
JOHN _from the mere hurt of his affection. He sees_ ELFIE _and forces
a smile._

JOHN. [_Quietly._] Hello, Laura! I'm on time.

LAURA _smiles, quickly crosses the stage, and holds out her hand._

LAURA. Oh, John, I'm so glad--so glad to see you. [_They hold this
position for a moment, looking into each other's eyes._ ELFIE _moves
so as to take_ JOHN _in from head to toe and is obviously very much
pleased with his appearance. She coughs slightly._ LAURA _takes a step
back with a smile._] Oh, pardon me, John--one of my dearest friends,
Miss Sinclair; she's heard a lot about you.

ELFIE, _with a slight gush, in her most captivating manner, goes
over and holds out her gloved hand laden with bracelets, and with her
sweetest smile crosses to centre._

ELFIE. How do you do?

MADISON. I'm glad to meet you, I'm sure.

ELFIE. [_Still holding_ JOHN'S _hand._] Yes, I'm sure you
are--particularly just at this time. [_To_ LAURA.] You know that old
stuff about two's company and three [LAURA _smiles._] is a crowd.
Here's where I vamoose. [_Crosses to door._

LAURA. [_As_ ELFIE _goes toward door._] Don't hurry, dear.

ELFIE. [_With a grin._] No, I suppose not; just fall down stairs
and get out of the way, that's all. [_Crosses to_ JOHN.] Anyway, Mr.
Madison, I'm awfully glad to have met you, and I want to congratulate
you. They tell me you're rich.

JOHN. Oh, no; not rich.

ELFIE. Well, I don't believe you--anyway I'm going. Ta-ta, dearie.
Good-bye, Mr. Madison.

JOHN. Good-bye.

[JOHN _crosses up to back of sofa; removes coat, puts it on sofa._

ELFIE. [_Goes to the door, opens it and turns._ JOHN'S _back is partly
toward her and she gives a long wink at_ LAURA, _snapping fingers to
attract_ LAURA'S _attention._] I must say, Laura, that when it comes
to picking live ones, you certainly can go some.

[_After this remark both turn toward her and both smile._


_After_ ELFIE _exits,_ JOHN _turns to_ LAURA _with a pleasant smile,
and jerks his head towards the door where_ ELFIE _has gone out._

JOHN. I bet she's a character.

LAURA. She's a dear.

JOHN. I can see that all right. [_Crossing to centre._

LAURA. She's been a very great friend to me.

JOHN. That's good, but don't I get a "how-dy-do," or a handshake, or a
little kiss? You know I've come a long way.

LAURA _goes to him and places herself in his arms; he kisses her
affectionately. During all this scene between them the tenderness of
the man is very apparent. As she releases herself from his embrace he
takes her face in his hands and holds it up towards his._

JOHN. I'm not much on the love-making business, Laura, but I never
thought I'd be as happy as I am now. [JOHN _and_ LAURA _cross to
centre._ LAURA _kneels in armchair with back to audience,_ JOHN
_stands left of her._] I've been counting mile-posts ever since I left
Chicago, and it seemed like as if I had to go 'round the world before
I got here.

LAURA. You never told me about your good fortune. If you hadn't
telegraphed I wouldn't even have known you were coming.

JOHN. I didn't want you to. I'd made up my mind to sort of drop in
here and give you a great big surprise,--a happy one, I knew,--but the
papers made such a fuss in Chicago that I thought you might have read
about it--did you?


JOHN. Gee! fixed up kind o' scrumptious, ain't you? [_Crosses in front
of sofa, around behind it, surveying rooms._] Maybe you've been almost
as prosperous as I have.

LAURA. You can get a lot of gilt and cushions in New York at half
price, and besides, I've got a pretty good part now.

JOHN. Of course I know that, but I didn't think it would make you
quite so comfortable. Great, ain't it?


JOHN. [_Standing beside her chair, with a smile._] Well, are you

LAURA. For what, dear? [_Looking up at him._

JOHN. You know what I said in the telegram?

LAURA. Yes. [_Leans her head affectionately on his shoulder._

JOHN. Well, I meant it.

LAURA. I know.

JOHN. I've got to get back [JOHN _looks around; crosses behind table
to chair right of table, and sits facing her across it._], Laura, just
as soon as ever I can. There's a lot of work to be done out in Nevada
and I stole away to come to New York. I want to take you back. Can you

LAURA. Yes--when?

JOHN. This afternoon. We'll take the eighteen-hour train to Chicago,
late this afternoon, and connect at Chicago with the Overland, and
I'll soon have you in a home. [_Pause._] And here's another secret.

LAURA. What, dear?

JOHN. I've got that home all bought and furnished, and while you
couldn't call it a Fifth Avenue residence, still it has got something
on any other one in town.

LAURA. But, John, you've been so mysterious. In all your letters you
haven't told me a single, solitary thing about your good luck.

JOHN. I've planned to take you out and show you all that.

LAURA. You should have told me,--I've been so anxious.

JOHN. I waited until it was a dead-sure thing. You know it's been
pretty tough sledding out there in the mining country, and it did look
as if I never would make a strike; but your spirit was with me and
luck was with me, and I knew if I could only hold out that something
would come my way. I had two pals, both of them miners,--they had the
knowledge and I had the luck,--and one day, clearing away a little
snow to build a fire, I poked my toe into the dirt, and there was
somethin' there, dearie, that looked suspicious. I called Jim,--that's
one of the men,--and in less time than it takes to tell you there were
three maniacs scratching away at old mother earth for all there was
in it. We staked our claims in two weeks, and I came to Reno to raise
enough money for me to come East. Now things are all fixed and it's
just a matter of time. [_Taking_ LAURA'S _hand._

LAURA. So you're very, very rich, dear?

JOHN. Oh, not rich [_Releasing her hand, he leans back in his
chair._], just heeled. I'm not going down to the Wall Street bargain
counter and buy the Union Pacific, or anything like that; but we won't
have to take the trip on tourists' tickets, and there's enough money
to make us comfortable all the rest of our lives.

LAURA. How hard you must have worked and suffered.

JOHN. Nobody else ever accused me of that, but I sure will have to
plead guilty to you. [_Rises; stands at upper side of table._] Why,
dear, since the day you came into my life, hell-raising took a sneak
out the back door and God poked His toe in the front, and ever since
then I think He's been coming a little closer to me. [_Crossing
over._] I used to be a fellow without much faith, and kidded everybody
who had it, and I used to say to those who prayed and believed, "You
may be right, but show me a message." You came along and you brought
that little document in your sweet face and your dear love. Laura, you
turned the trick for me, and I think I'm almost a regular man now.

LAURA _turns away in pain; the realization of all she is to_ JOHN
_weighs heavily upon her. She almost loses her nerve, and is on the
verge of not going through with her determination to get her happiness
at any price._

LAURA. John, please, don't. I'm not worth it.

[_Rises, crosses to right._

JOHN. [_With a light air._] Not worth it? Why, you're worth [_Crossing
behind table, stands behind_ LAURA.] that and a whole lot more. And
see how you've got on! Brockton told me you never could get along
in your profession, but I knew you could. [_Crosses back of_ LAURA,
_takes her by the shoulders, shakes her playfully._] I knew what you
had in you, and here you are. You see, if my foot hadn't slipped on
the right ground and kicked up pay-dirt, you'd been all right. You
succeeded and I succeeded, but I'm going to take you away; and after
a while, when things sort of smooth out, and it's all clear where the
money's [_Crosses to sofa and sits._] coming from, we're going to move
back here, and go to Europe, and just have a great time, like a couple
of good pals.

LAURA. [_Slowly crosses to_ JOHN.] But if I hadn't succeeded and if
things--things weren't just as they seem--would it make any difference
to you, John?

JOHN. Not the least in the world. [_He takes her in his arms and
kisses her, drawing her on to sofa beside him._] Now don't you get
blue. I should not have surprised you this way. It's taken you off
your feet. [_He looks at his watch, rises, crosses behind sofa, gets
overcoat._] But we've not any time to lose. How soon can you get

LAURA. [_Kneeling on sofa, leaning over back._] You mean to go?

JOHN. Nothing else.

LAURA. Take all my things?

JOHN. All your duds.

LAURA. Why, dear, I can get ready most any time.

JOHN. [_Looking off into bedroom._] That your maid?

LAURA. Yes,--Annie.

JOHN. Well, you and she can pack everything you want to take; the rest
can follow later. [_Puts coat on._] I planned it all out. There's
a couple of the boys working down town,--newspaper men on Park Row.
Telephoned them when I got in and they're waiting for me. I'll just
get down there as soon as I can. I won't be gone long.

LAURA. How long?

JOHN. I don't know just how long, but we'll make that train. I'll get
the license. We'll be married and we'll be off on our honeymoon this
afternoon. Can you do it?

LAURA _goes up to him, puts her hands in his, and they confront each

LAURA. Yes, dear, I could do anything for you.

_He takes her in his arms and kisses her again. Looks at her

JOHN. That's good. Hurry now. I won't be long. Good-bye.

LAURA. Hurry back, John.

JOHN. Yes. I won't be long. [_Exit._

LAURA. [_Stands for a moment looking after him; then she suddenly
recovers herself and walks rapidly over to the dresser, picks up large
jewel-case, takes doll that is hanging on dresser, puts them on her
left arm, takes black cat in her right hand and uses it in emphasizing
her words in talking to_ ANNIE. _Places them all on table._] Annie,
Annie, come here!

ANNIE. Yassum. [_She appears at the door._

LAURA. Annie, I'm going away, and I've got to hurry.

ANNIE. Goin' away?

LAURA. Yes. I want you to bring both my trunks out here,--I'll help
you,--and start to pack. We can't take everything.

[ANNIE _throws fur rug from across doorway into bedroom._], but bring
all the clothes out and we'll hurry as fast as we can. Come on.

_Exit_ LAURA _with_ ANNIE. _In a very short interval she re-appears,
and both are carrying a large trunk between them. They put it down,
pushing sofa back._

ANNIE. Look out for your toes, Miss Laura.

LAURA. I can take two.

ANNIE. Golly, such excitement. [_Crosses to table; pushes it over
further, also armchair._] Wheah yuh goin', Miss Laura?

LAURA. Never mind where I'm going. I haven't any time to waste now
talking. I'll tell you later. This is one time, Annie, that you've got
to move. Hurry up.

LAURA _pushes her in front of her. Exeunt the same way and re-appear
with a smaller trunk._

ANNIE. Look out fo' your dress, Miss Laura.

_These trunks are of the same type as those in Act II. When the trunks
are put down_ LAURA _opens one and commences to throw things out._
ANNIE _stands watching her._ LAURA _kneels in front of trunk, working
and humming "Bon-Bon Buddie."_

ANNIE. Ah nevah see you so happy, Miss Laura.

LAURA. I never was so happy. For heaven's sake, go get something.
Don't stand there looking at me. I want you to hurry.

ANNIE. I'll bring out all de fluffy ones first.

LAURA. Yes, everything. [ANNIE _enters with armful of dresses and
hat-box of tissue-paper; dumps tissue-paper on floor, puts dresses in

ANNIE. [_Goes out again. Outside._] You goin' to take dat opera-cloak?
[_Enters with more dresses, puts them on sofa, takes opera-cloak,
spreads it on top of dresses on trunk._] My, but dat's a beauty. I
jest love dat crushed rosey one. [_Exit._

LAURA. Annie, you put the best dresses on the foot of the bed and I'll
get them myself. You heard what I said?

ANNIE. [_Off stage._] Yassum.

ANNIE _hangs dresses across bed in alcove._ LAURA _continues busily
arranging the contents of the trunk, placing some garments here and
some there, as if she were sorting them out._ WILL _quietly enters and
stands at the door, looking at her. He holds this position as long as
possible, and when he speaks it is in a very quiet tone._

WILL. Going away?

LAURA. [_Starts, rises, and confronts him._] Yes.

WILL. In somewhat of a hurry, I should say.


WILL. What's the plan?

LAURA. I'm just going, that's all.

WILL. Madison been here?

LAURA. He's just left.

WILL. Of course you are going with him?


WILL. West?

LAURA. To Nevada.

WILL. Going--er--to get married?

LAURA. Yes, this afternoon.

WILL. So he didn't care then?

LAURA. What do you mean when you say "he didn't care"?

WILL. Of course you told him about the letter, and how it was burned
up, and all that sort of thing, didn't you?

LAURA. Why, yes.

WILL. And he said it didn't make any difference?

LAURA. He--he didn't say anything. We're just going to be married,
that's all.

WILL. Did you mention my name and say that we'd been rather
companionable for the last two months?

LAURA. I told him you'd been a very good friend to me.

_During this scene_ LAURA _answers_ WILL _with difficulty, and to
a man of the world it is quite apparent that she is not telling the
truth._ WILL _looks over toward her in an almost threatening way._

WILL. How soon do you expect him back?

[_Crossing to centre._

LAURA. Quite soon. I don't know just exactly how long he'll be.

WILL. And you mean to tell me that you kept your promise and told him
the truth? [_Crossing to trunk._

LAURA. I--I--[_Then with defiance._] What business have you got to ask
me that? What business have you got to interfere anyway? [_Crossing up
to bed in alcove, gets dresses off foot, and puts them on sofa._

WILL. [_Quietly._] Then you've lied again. You lied to him, and
you just tried to lie to me now. I must say, Laura, that you're not
particularly clever at it, although I don't doubt but that you've had
considerable practice.

_Gives her a searching look and slowly walks over to the chair at the
table and sits down, still holding his hat in his hand and without
removing his overcoat._ LAURA _sees_ BROCKTON _sitting, stops and
turns on him, laying dresses down._

LAURA. What are you going to do?

WILL. Sit down here and rest a few moments; maybe longer.

LAURA. You can't do that.

WILL. I don't see why not. This is my own place.

LAURA. But don't you see that he'll come back here soon and find you

WILL. That's just exactly what I want him to do.

LAURA. [_With suppressed emotion, almost on the verge of hysteria._]
I want to tell you this. If you do this thing you'll ruin my life.
You've done enough to it already. Now I want you to go. You've got to
go. I don't think you've got any right to come here now, in this way,
and take this happiness from me. I've given you everything I've got,
and now I want to live right and decent, and he wants me to, and we
love each other. Now, Will Brockton, it's come to this. You've got to
leave this place, do you hear? You've got to leave this place. Please
get out.

[_Crossing to trunk._

WILL. [_Rises and comes to her._] Do you think I'm going to let a
woman make a liar out of me? I'm going to stay right here. I like that
boy, and I'm not going to let you put him to the bad.

LAURA. I want you to go. [_Slams trunk lid down, crosses to dresser,
opens drawer to get stuff out._

WILL. And I tell you I won't go. I'm going to show you up. I'm going
to tell him the truth. It isn't you I care for--he's got to know.

LAURA. [_Slams drawer shut, loses her temper, and is almost tiger-like
in her anger._] You don't care for me?


LAURA. It isn't me you're thinking of?


LAURA. Who's the liar now?

WILL. Liar?

LAURA. Yes, liar. You are. You don't care for this man, and you know

WILL. You're foolish.

LAURA. Yes, I am foolish and I've been foolish all my life, but I'm
getting a little sense now. [_Kneels in armchair, facing_ WILL; _her
voice is shaky with anger and tears._] All my life, since the day you
first took me away, you've planned and planned and planned to keep me,
and to trick me and bring me down with you. When you came to me I was
happy. I didn't have much, just a little salary and some hard work.

WILL. But like all the rest you found that wouldn't keep you, didn't

LAURA. You say I'm bad, but who's made me so? Who took me out night
after night? Who showed me what these luxuries were? Who put me in the
habit of buying something I couldn't afford? You did.

WILL. Well, you liked it, didn't you?

LAURA. Who got me in debt, and then, when I wouldn't do what you
wanted me to, who had me discharged from the company, so I had no
means of living? Who followed me from one place to another? Who,
always entreating, tried to trap me into this life, and I didn't know
any better?

WILL. You didn't know any better?

LAURA. I knew it was wrong--yes; but you told me everybody in this
business did that sort of thing, and I was just as good as anyone
else. Finally you got me and you kept me. Then, when I went away to
Denver, and for the first time found a gleam of happiness, for the
first time in my life--

WILL. You're crazy.

LAURA. Yes, I am crazy. [_Rises angrily, crosses and sweeps
table-cover off table; crosses to dresser, knocks bottles, &c., off
upper end; turns, faces him, almost screaming._] You've made me crazy.
You followed me to Denver, and then when I got back you bribed me
again. You pulled me down, and you did the same old thing until this
happened. Now I want you to get out, you understand? I want you to get

WILL. Laura, you can't do this. [_Starts to sit on trunk._

LAURA. [_Screaming, crossing to_ WILL; _she attempts to push him._]
No, you won't; you won't stay here. You're not going to do this thing
again. I tell you I'm going to be happy. I tell you I'm going to be
married. [_He doesn't resist her very strongly. Her anger and her rage
are entirely new to him. He is surprised and cannot understand._] You
won't see him; I tell you, you won't tell him. You've got no business
to. I hate you. I've hated you for months. I hate the sight of your
face. I've wanted to go, and now I'm going. You've got to go, do you
hear? You've got to get out--get out. [_Pushes him again._

WILL. [_Throwing her off;_ LAURA _staggers to armchair, rises, crosses
left._] What the hell is the use of fussing with a woman.


LAURA. [_Hysterically._] I want to be happy, I'm going to be married,
I'm going to be happy.

[_Sinks down in exhausted state in front of trunk._



SCENE. _The same scene as Act III. It is about two o'clock in the

AT RISE. _When the curtain rises, there are two big trunks and one
small one up stage. These are marked in the usual theatrical fashion.
There are grips packed, umbrellas, and the usual paraphernalia that
accompanies a woman when she is making a permanent departure from
her place of living. All the bric-à-brac, &c., has been removed
from dresser. On down-stage end of dresser is a small alligator
bag containing night-dress, toilet articles, and bunch of keys.
The dresser drawers are some of them half open, and old pieces of
tissue-paper and ribbons are hanging out. The writing-desk has had all
materials removed and is open, showing scraps of torn-up letters, and
in one pigeon-hole is a New York Central time-table; between desk and
bay-window is a lady's hat-trunk containing huge picture hat. It is
closed. Behind table is a suit-case with which_ ANNIE _is working when
curtain rises. Under desk are two old millinery boxes, around which
are scattered old tissue-paper, a pair of old slippers, a woman's
shabby hat, old ribbon, &c. In front of window at end of pianola is
thrown a lot of old empty boxes, such as are used for stocking and
shirtwaist boxes. The picture-frame and basket of flowers have been
removed from pianola. The stool is on top of pianola, upside down.
There is an empty White Rock bottle, with glass turned over it,
standing between the legs of the stool. The big trunk is in front
of sofa, and packed, and it has a swing tray under which is packed a
fancy evening gown; the lid is down. On top of lid are an umbrella,
lady's travelling-coat, hat and gloves. On left end of sofa are a
large Gladstone bag, packed and fastened, a smaller trunk (thirty-four
inch), tray with lid. In tray are articles of wearing apparel. In
end of tray is revolver wrapped in tissue-paper. Trunk is closed, and
supposed to be locked. Tossed across left arm of armchair are couple
of violet cords. Down stage centre is a large piece of wide tan
ribbon. The room has the general appearance of having been stripped of
all personal belongings. There are old magazines and tissue-paper
all over the place. A bearskin rug is thrown up against table in low
window, the furniture is all on stage as used in Act III. At rise_
LAURA _is sitting on trunk with clock in hand._ ANNIE _is on floor
behind table, fastening suit-case._ LAURA _is pale and perturbed._

ANNIE. Ain't yuh goin' to let me come to yuh at all, Miss Laura?

LAURA. I don't know yet, Annie. I don't even know what the place is
like that we're going to. Mr. Madison hasn't said much. There hasn't
been time.

ANNIE. Why, Ah've done ma best for yuh, Miss Laura, yes, Ah have. Ah
jest been with yuh ev'ry moment of ma time, an' [_Places suit-case on
table; crosses to centre._] Ah worked for yuh an' Ah loved yuh, an' Ah
doan' wan' to be left 'ere all alone in dis town 'ere New York. [LAURA
_turns to door;_ ANNIE _stoops, grabs up ribbon, hides it behind her
back._] Ah ain't the kind of cullud lady knows many people. Can't yuh
take me along wid yuh, Miss Laura?--yuh all been so good to me.

LAURA. Why, I told you to [_Crosses to door, looks out, returns
disappointed._] stay here and get your things together [ANNIE _hides
ribbon in front of her waist._], and then Mr. Brockton will probably
want you to do something. Later, I think he'll have you pack up, just
as soon as he finds I'm gone. I've got the address that you gave me.
I'll let you know if you can come on.

ANNIE. [_Suddenly._] Ain't yuh goin' to give me anything at all jes'
to remembuh yuh by? Ah've been so honest--

LAURA. Honest?

ANNIE. Honest, Ah have.

LAURA. You've been about as honest as most coloured [_Crosses to
table; gets suit-case; crosses to sofa end puts suit-case on it._]
girls are who work for women in the position that I am in. You haven't
stolen enough to make me discharge you, but I've seen what you've
taken. [_Sits on end of sofa facing left._

ANNIE. Now, Miss Laura.

LAURA. Don't try to fool me. What you've got you're welcome to, but
for heaven's sake don't prate around here about loyalty and honesty.
I'm sick of it.

ANNIE. Ain't yuh goin' to give me no recommendation?

LAURA. [_Impatiently looking around the room._] What good would my
recommendation do? You can always go and get another position with
people who've lived the way I've lived, and my recommendation to the
other kind wouldn't amount to much.

ANNIE. [_Sits on trunk._] Ah can just see whah Ah'm goin',--back to
dat boa'din'-house in 38th Street fo' me. [_Crying._

LAURA. Now shut your noise. I don't want to hear any more. I've given
you twenty-five dollars for a present. I think that's enough.

[ANNIE _assumes a most aggrieved appearance._

ANNIE. Ah know, but twenty-five dollars ain't a home, and I'm [_Rises,
crosses to rubbish heap, picks up old slippers and hat, puts hat on
head as she goes out, looks into pier-glass._] losin' my home. Dat's
jest my luck--every time I save enough money to buy my weddin' clothes
to get married I lose my job.


LAURA. I wonder where John is. We'll never be able to make that train.
[_She crosses to window, then to desk, takes out time-table, crosses
to armchair and spreads time-table on back, studies it, crosses
impatiently to trunk, and sits nervously kicking her feet. After a few
seconds' pause the bell rings. She jumps up excitedly._] That must be
he,--Annie--go quick. [ANNIE _crosses and opens the door in the usual

JIM'S VOICE. [_Outside._] Is Miss Murdock in?

ANNIE. Yassuh, she's in.

LAURA _is up stage and turns to receive visitor._ JIM _enters. He is
nicely dressed in black and has an appearance of prosperity about him,
but in other respects he retains the old drollness of enunciation
and manner. He crosses to_ LAURA _in a cordial way and holds out his
hand._ ANNIE _crosses, after closing the door, and exits through the
portières into the sleeping-apartment._

JIM. How-dy-do, Miss Laura?

LAURA. Jim Western, I'm mighty glad to see you.

JIM. Looks like as if you were going to move?

LAURA. Yes, I am going to move, and a long ways, too. How well you're
looking,--as fit as a fiddle.

JIM. Yes; I am feelin' fine. Where yer goin'? Troupin'?

LAURA. No, indeed.

JIM. [_Surveying the baggage._] Thought not. What's comin' off now?
[_Takes off coat, puts coat and hat on trunk._

LAURA. [_Very simply._] I'm going to be married this afternoon.

JIM. Married?

LAURA. And then I'm going West.

JIM. [_Leaving the trunk, walking toward her and holding out his
hands._] Now I'm just glad to hear that. Ye know when I heard how--how
things was breakin' for ye--well, I ain't knockin' or anythin' like
that, but me and the missis have talked ye over a lot. I never did
think this feller was goin' to do the right thing by yer. Brockton
never looked to me like a fellow would marry anybody, but now that
he's goin' through just to make you a nice, respectable wife, I guess
everything must have happened for the best. [LAURA _averts her eyes.
Both sit on trunk,_ JIM _left of_ LAURA.] Y' see I wanted to thank you
for what you did a couple of weeks ago. Burgess wrote me a letter and
told me I could go ahead of one of his big shows if I wanted to come
back, and offering me considerable money. He mentioned your name, Miss
Laura, and I talked it over with the missis, and--well, I can tell ye
now when I couldn't if ye weren't to be hooked up--we decided that I
wouldn't take that job, comin' as it did from you [_Slowly._] and the
way I knew it was framed up.

LAURA. Why not?

JIM. [_Embarrassed._] Well, ye see, there are three kids and they're
all growing up, all of them in school, and the missis, she's just
about forgot show business and she's playing a star part in the
kitchen, juggling dishes and doing flip-flaps with pancakes; and we
figgered that as we'd always gone along kinder clean-like, it wouldn't
be good for the kids to take a job comin' from Brockton because

LAURA. I know. [_Rises; sits on left arm of chair._] You thought it
wasn't decent. Is that it?

JIM. Oh, not exactly, only--well, you see I'm gettin' along pretty
[_Rises; crosses to_ LAURA.] good now. I got a little one-night-stand
theatre out in Ohio--manager of it, too. The town is called
Gallipolis. [_With a smile._

LAURA. Gallipolis?

JIM. Oh, that ain't a disease. It is the name of a town. Maybe you
don't know much about Gallipolis, or where it is.


JIM. Well, it looks just like it sounds. We got a little house, and
the old lady is happy, and I feel so good that I can even stand her
cookin'. Of course we ain't makin' much money, but I guess I'm gettin'
a little old-fashioned around theatres anyway. The fellows from
newspapers and colleges have got it on me. Last time I asked a man for
a job he asked me what I knew about the Greek drama, and when I told
him I didn't know the Greeks had a theatre in New York he slipped me
a laugh and told me to come in again on some rainy Tuesday. Then
Gallipolis showed on the map, and I beat it for the West. [JIM
_notices by this time the pain he has caused_ LAURA, _and is
embarrassed._] Sorry if I hurt ye--didn't mean to; and now that yer
goin' to be Mrs. Brockton, well, I take back all I said, and, while
I don't think I want to change my position, I wouldn't turn it down
for--for that other reason, that's all.

LAURA. [_With a tone of defiance in her voice._] But, Mr. Weston, I'm
not going to be Mrs. Brockton.

JIM. No? [_Crosses left a little._


JIM. Oh--oh--

LAURA. I'm going to marry another man, and a good man.

JIM. The hell you are!

[LAURA _rises and puts hand on_ JIM'S _shoulder._

LAURA. And it's going to be altogether different. I know what you
meant when you said about the missis and the kids, and that's what I
want--just a little home, just a little peace, just a little comfort,
and--and the man has come who's going to give it to me. You don't want
me to say any more, do you?

[_Crosses to door, opens it, and looks out; closes it and crosses to_

JIM. [_Emphatically, and with a tone of hearty approval._] No, I
don't, and now I'm just going to put my mit out and shake yours and
be real glad. I want to tell ye it's the only way to go along. I
ain't never been a rival to Rockefeller, nor I ain't never made Morgan
jealous, but since the day my old woman took her make-up off for the
last time, and walked out of that stage-door to give me a little help
and bring my kids into the world, I knew that was the way to go along;
and if you're goin' to take that road, by Jiminy, I'm glad of it, for
you sure do deserve it. I wish yer luck.

LAURA. Thank you.

JIM. I'm mighty glad you side-stepped Brockton. You're young [LAURA
_sits on trunk._], and you're pretty, and you're sweet, and if you've
got the right kind of a feller there ain't no reason on earth why you
shouldn't jest forgit the whole business and see nothin' but laughs
and a good time comin' to you, and the sun sort o' shinin' every
twenty-four hours in the day. You know the missis feels just as if she
knew you, after I told her about them hard times we had at Farley's
boarding-house, so I feel that it's paid me to come to New York
[_Picks up pin; puts it in lapel of coat._] even if I didn't book
anything but "East Lynne" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." [_Goes over to
her._] Now I'm goin'. Don't forget Gallipolis's [LAURA _helps him on
with his coat._] the name, and sometimes the mail does get there. I'd
be awful glad if you wrote the missis a little note tellin' us how
you're gettin' along, and if you ever have to ride on the Kanawha and
Michigan, just look out of the window when the train passes our town,
because that is about the best you'll get.


JIM. They only stop there on signal. And make up your mind that the
Weston family is with you forty ways from the Jack day and night.
Good-bye, and God bless you.

LAURA. Good-bye, Jim. I'm so glad to know you're happy, for it is good
to be happy. [_Kisses him._

JIM. You bet. [_Moves toward the door. She follows him after they have
shaken hands._] Never mind, I can get out all right. [_Opens the door,
and at the door:_] Good-bye again.

LAURA. [_Very softly._] Good-bye. [_Exit_ JIM _and closes the door.
She stands motionless until she hears the outer door slam._] I wonder
why he doesn't come. [_She goes up and looks out of the window and
turns down stage, crosses right, counting trunks; as she counts
suitcase on table, bell rings; she crosses hurriedly to trunk
centre._] Hurry, Annie, and see who that is.

ANNIE _enters, crosses, opens door, exits, and opens the outer door._

ANNIE'S VOICE. She's waitin' for yer, Mr. Madison.

LAURA _hurries down to the centre of stage._ JOHN _enters, hat in
hand and his overcoat on arm, followed by_ ANNIE. _He stops just as
he enters and looks at_ LAURA _long and searchingly._ LAURA
_instinctively feels that something has happened. She shudders and
remains firm._ ANNIE _crosses and exits. Closes doors._

LAURA. [_With a little effort._ JOHN _places hat and coat on trunk._]
Aren't you a little late, dear?

JOHN. I--I was detained down town a few minutes. I think that we can
carry out our plan all right.

LAURA. [_After a pause._] Has anything happened?

JOHN. I've made all the arrangements. The men will be here in a few
minutes for your trunks. [_Crosses to coat; feels in pocket._] I've
got the railroad tickets and everything else, but--

LAURA. But what, John?

_He goes over to her. She intuitively understands that she is about
to go through an ordeal. She seems to feel that_ JOHN _has become
acquainted with something which might interfere with their plan. He
looks at her long and searchingly. Evidently he too is much wrought
up, but when he speaks to her it is with a calm dignity and force
which show the character of the man._

JOHN. Laura.


JOHN. You know when I went down town I said I was going to call on two
or three of my friends in Park Row.

LAURA. I know.

JOHN. I told them who I was going to marry.

LAURA. Well?

JOHN. They said something about you and Brockton, and I found that
they'd said too much, but not quite enough.

LAURA. What did they say?

JOHN. Just that--too much and not quite enough. There's a minister
waiting for us over on Madison Avenue. You see, then you'll be my
wife. That's pretty serious business, and all I want now from you is
the truth.

LAURA. Well?

JOHN. Just tell me that what they said was just an echo of the
past--that it came from what had been going on before that wonderful
day out in Colorado. Tell me that you've been on the level. I don't
want their word, Laura--I just want yours.

LAURA _summons all her courage, looks up into his loving eyes, shrinks
a moment before his anxious face, and speaks as simply as she can._

LAURA. Yes, John, I have been on the level.

JOHN. [_Very tenderly._] I knew that, dear, I knew it. [_He takes her
in his arms and kisses her. She clings to him in pitiful helplessness.
His manner is changed to one of almost boyish happiness._] Well, now
everything's all ready, let's get on the job. We haven't a great deal
of time. Get your duds on.

LAURA. When do we go?

JOHN. Right away. The great idea is to get away.

LAURA. All right.

[_Gets hat off trunk, crosses to bureau, puts it on._

JOHN. Laura, you've got trunks enough, haven't you? One might think
we're moving a whole colony. [_Turns to her with a smile._] And, by
the way, to me you are a whole colony--anyway you're the only one I
ever wanted to settle with.

LAURA. That's good. [_Takes bag off bureau, crosses to trunk, gets
purse, coat, umbrella, as if ready to leave. She hurriedly gathers her
things together, adjusting her hat and the like, and almost to herself
in a low tone:_] I'm so excited. [_Continues preparations._] Come on.

_In the meantime_ JOHN _crosses by to get his hat and coat, and while
the preparations are about to be completed and_ LAURA _has said "Come
on," she is transfixed by the noise of the slamming of the outer door.
She stops as if she had been tremendously shocked, and a moment later
the rattling of a latch-key in the inner door also stops_ JOHN _from
going any further. His coat is half on._ LAURA _looks toward the door,
paralyzed with fright, and_ JOHN _looks at her with an expression of
great apprehension. Slowly the door opens, and_ BROCKTON _enters with
coat and hat on. As he turns to close the door after him,_ LAURA,
_pitifully and terribly afraid, retreats two or three steps, and
lays coat, bag, purse and umbrella down in armchair, standing dazed._
BROCKTON _enters leisurely, paying no attention to anyone, while_ JOHN
_becomes as rigid as a statue, and follows with his eyes every move_
BROCKTON _makes. The latter walks leisurely across the stage, and
afterwards into the rooms through the portières. There is a wait of
a second. No one moves._ BROCKTON _finally reënters with coat and hat
off, and throws back the portières in such a manner as to reveal the
bed and his intimate familiarity with the outer room. He goes down
stage in the same leisurely manner and sits in a chair opposite_ JOHN,
_crossing his legs._

WILL. Hello, Madison, when did you get in?

_Slowly_ JOHN _seems to recover himself. His right hand starts up
toward the lapel of his coat and slowly he pulls his Colt revolver
from the holster under his armpit. There is a deadly determination and
deliberation in every movement that he makes._ WILL _jumps to his feet
and looks at him. The revolver is uplifted in the air, as a Western
man handles a gun, so that when it is snapped down with a jerk the
deadly shot can be fired._ LAURA _is terror-stricken, but before
the shot is fired she takes a step forward and extends one hand in a
gesture of entreaty._

LAURA. [_In a husky voice that is almost a whisper._] Don't shoot.

_The gun remains uplifted for a moment._ JOHN _is evidently wavering
in his determination to kill. Slowly his whole frame relaxes. He
lowers the pistol in his hand in a manner which clearly indicates that
he is not going to shoot. He quietly puts it back in the holster, and_
WILL _is obviously relieved, although he stood his ground like a man._

JOHN. [_Slowly._] Thank you. You said that just in time.

[_A pause._

WILL. [_Recovering and in a light tone._] Well, you see, Madison, that
what I said when I was--

JOHN. [_Threateningly._] Look out, Brockton, I don't want to talk to
you. [_The men confront._

WILL. All right.

JOHN. [_To_ LAURA.] Now get that man out of here.

LAURA. John, I--

JOHN. Get him out. Get him out before I lose my temper or they'll take
him out without his help.

LAURA. [_To_ WILL.] Go--go. Please go.

WILL. [_Deliberately._] If that's the way you want it, I'm willing.

_Exit_ WILL _into the sleeping-apartment._ LAURA _and_ JOHN _stand
facing each other. He enters again with hat and coat on, and passes
over toward the door._ LAURA _and_ JOHN _do not move. When he gets
just a little to the left of the centre of the stage_ LAURA _steps
forward and stops him with her speech._

LAURA. Now before you go, and to you both, I want to tell you how I've
learned to despise him. John, I know you don't believe me, but it's
true--it's true. I don't love anyone in the world but just you. I
know you don't think that it can be explained--maybe there isn't any
explanation. I couldn't help it. I was so poor, and I had to live, and
he wouldn't let me work, and he's only let me live one way, and I
was hungry. Do you know what that means? I was hungry and didn't have
clothes to keep me warm, and I tried, oh, John, I tried so hard to do
the other thing,--the right thing,--but I couldn't.

JOHN. I--I know I couldn't help much, and perhaps I could have
forgiven you if you hadn't lied to me. That's what hurt. [_Turning to_
WILL _and approaching until he can look him in the eyes._] I expected
you to lie, you're that kind of a man. You left me with a shake of the
hand, and you gave me your word, and you didn't keep it. Why should
you keep it? Why should anything make any difference with you? Why,
you pup, you've no right to live in the same world with decent folks.
Now you make yourself scarce, or take it from me, I'll just kill you,
that's all.

WILL. I'll leave, Madison, but I'm not going to let you think that I
didn't do the right thing with you. She came to me voluntarily. She
said she wanted to come back. I told you that, when I was in Colorado,
and you didn't believe me, and I told you that when she did this sort
of thing I'd let you know. I dictated a letter to her to send to you,
and I left it sealed and stamped in her hands to mail. She didn't do
it. If there's been a lie, she told it. I didn't.

JOHN _turns to her. She hangs her head and averts her eyes in a mute
acknowledgment of guilt. The revelation hits_ JOHN _so hard that
he sinks on the trunk centre, his head fallen to his breast. He is
utterly limp and whipped. There is a moment's silence._

WILL. [_Crosses to_ JOHN.] You see! Why, my boy, whatever you think
of me or the life I lead, I wouldn't have had this come to you for
anything in the world. [JOHN _makes an impatient gesture._] No, I
wouldn't. My women don't mean a whole lot to me because I don't take
them seriously. I wish I had the faith and the youth to feel the way
you do. You're all in and broken up, but I wish I could be broken
up just once. I did what I thought was best for you because I didn't
think she could ever go through the way you wanted her to. I'm sorry
it's all turned out bad. [_Pause._] Good-bye.

_He looks at_ JOHN _for a moment as if he was going to speak._ JOHN
_remains motionless. The blow has hit him harder than he thought._
WILL _exits. The first door closes. In a moment the second door is
slammed._ JOHN _and_ LAURA _look at each other for a moment. He gives
her no chance to speak. The hurt in his heart and his accusation are
shown by his broken manner. A great grief has come into his life and
he doesn't quite understand it. He seems to be feeling around for
something to say, some way to get out. His head turns toward the door.
With a pitiful gesture of the hand he looks at her in all his sorrow._

JOHN. Well? [_Rises._

LAURA. John, I--[_Takes off hat and places it on table._

JOHN. I'd be careful what I said. Don't try to make excuses. I

LAURA. It's not excuses. I want to tell you what's in my heart, but I
can't; it won't speak, and you don't believe my voice.

JOHN. You'd better leave it unsaid.

LAURA. But I must tell. I can't let you go like this. [_She goes over
to him and makes a weak attempt to put her arms around him. He takes
her arms and puts them back to her side._] I love you. I--how can I
tell you--but I do, I do, and you won't believe me.

_He remains silent for a moment and then takes her by the hand, leads
her over to the chair and places her in it._

JOHN. I think you do as far as you are able; but, Laura, I guess you
don't know what a decent sentiment is. [_He gathers himself together.
His tone is very gentle and very firm, but it carries a tremendous
conviction, even with his grief ringing through his speech._] Laura,
you're not immoral, you're just unmoral, kind o' all out of shape, and
I'm afraid there isn't a particle of hope for you. When we met neither
of us had any reason to be proud, but I thought that you thought that
it was the chance of salvation which sometimes comes to a man and a
woman fixed as we were then. What had been had been. It was all in the
great to-be for us, and now, how you've kept your word! What little
that promise meant, when I thought you handed me a new lease of life!

LAURA. [_In a voice that is changed and metallic. She is literally
being nailed to the cross._] You're killing me--killing me.

JOHN. Don't make such a mistake. In a month you'll recover. There will
be days when you will think of me, just for a moment, and then it
will be all over. With you it is the easy way, and it always will be.
You'll go on and on until you're finally left a wreck, just the type
of the common woman. And you'll sink until you're down to the very
bed-rock of depravity. I pity you.

LAURA. [_Still in the same metallic tone of voice._] You'll never
leave me to do that. I'll kill myself.

JOHN. Perhaps that's the only thing left for you to do, but you'll not
do it. It's easier to live. [_Crosses, gets hat and coat, turns and
looks at her,_ LAURA _rising at the same time._

LAURA. John, I said I'd kill myself, and I mean it. If it's the only
thing to do, I'll do it, and I'll do it before your very eyes. [_She
crosses quickly, gets keys out of satchel, opens trunk, takes gun out
of trunk, stands facing_ JOHN--_waiting a moment._] You understand
that when your hand touches that door I'm going to shoot myself. I
will, so help me God!

JOHN. [_Stops and looks at her._] Kill yourself? [_Pause._] Before me?
[_Pause._] All right. [_Raising his voice._] Annie, Annie!

ANNIE. [_Enters._] Yes, sir.

JOHN. [LAURA _looks at_ JOHN _in bewilderment._] You see your mistress
there has a pistol in her hand?

ANNIE. [_Frightened._] Yassuh--

JOHN. She wants to kill herself. I just called you to witness that the
act is entirely voluntary on her part. Now, Laura, go ahead.

LAURA. [_Nearly collapsing, drops the pistol to the floor._] John,

JOHN. Annie, she's evidently changed her mind. You may go.

ANNIE. But, Miss Laura, Ah--

JOHN. [_Peremptorily._] You may go. [_Bewildered and not
understanding,_ ANNIE _exits through the portières. In that same
gentle tone, but carrying with it an almost frigid conviction._] You
didn't have the nerve. I knew you wouldn't. For a moment you thought
the only decent thing for you to do was to die, and yet you couldn't
go through. I am sorry for you,--more sorry than I can tell. [_He
takes a step towards the door._

LAURA. You're going--you're going?

JOHN. Yes.

LAURA. And--and--you never thought that perhaps I'm frail, and weak,
and a woman, and that now, maybe, I need your strength, and you might
give it to me, and it might be better. I want to lean on you,--lean
on you, John. I know I need someone. Aren't you going to let me? Won't
you give me another chance?

JOHN. I gave you your chance, Laura.

LAURA. [_Throws arms around his neck._] Give me another.

JOHN. But you leaned the wrong way. Good-bye.

[_He pulls away and goes out, slamming both doors._

LAURA. [_Screaming._] John--John--I--[_She sits on trunk, weeping in
loud and tearful manner; rises in a dazed fashion, starts to cross,
sees gun, utters loud cry of mingled despair and anger, grabs up gun,
crossing to bureau, opens up-stage drawer, throws gun in, slams drawer
shut, calling:_] Annie! Annie!

ANNIE. [_Appears through the portières._] Ain't yuh goin' away, Miss

LAURA. [_Suddenly arousing herself, and with a defiant voice._] No,
I'm not. I'm going to stay right here. [ANNIE _crosses and opens
trunk, takes out handsome dress, hangs it over back of armchair,
crosses up to hat-trunk, takes out hat._ LAURA _takes it from her,
crosses to trunk left, starts to unpack it._] Open these trunks, take
out those clothes, get me my prettiest dress. Hurry up. [_She goes
before the mirror._] Get my new hat, dress up my body and paint up my
face. It's all they've left of me. [_To herself._] They've taken my
soul away with them.

ANNIE. [_In a happy voice._] Yassum, yassum.

LAURA. [_Who is arranging her hair._] Doll me up, Annie.

ANNIE. Yuh goin' out, Miss Laura?

LAURA. Yes. I'm going to Rector's to make a hit, and to hell with the

_At this moment the hurdy-gurdy in the street, presumably immediately
under her window, begins to play the tune of "Bon-Bon Buddie, My
Chocolate Drop." There is something in this ragtime melody which
is particularly and peculiarly suggestive of the low life, the
criminality and prostitution that constitute the night excitement of
that section of New York City known as the Tenderloin. The tune,--its
association,--is like spreading before_ LAURA'S _eyes a panorama of
the inevitable depravity that awaits her. She is torn from every ideal
that she so weakly endeavoured to grasp, and is thrown into the
mire and slime at the very moment when her emancipation seems to be
assured. The woman, with her flashy dress in one arm and her equally
exaggerated type of picture hat in the other, is nearly prostrated
by the tune and the realization of the future as it is terrifically
conveyed to her. The negress, in the happiness of serving_ LAURA
_in her questionable career, picks up the melody and hums it as she
unpacks the finery that has been put away in the trunk._

LAURA. [_With infinite grief, resignation, and hopelessness._]
O God--O my God. [_She turns and totters toward the bedroom. The
hurdy-gurdy continues, with the negress accompanying it._



*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Easiest Way - Representative Plays by American Dramatists: 1856-1911" ***

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