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Title: Why Marry?
Author: Williams, Jesse Lynch, 1871-1929
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Why Marry?" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



WHY MARRY?



  [Illustration: _From a photograph by White Studio._

      HELEN: You're about the most conceited man I ever knew.
      ERNEST: How can I help it, when you admire me so?  [_Page_ 94.
  ]



  WHY MARRY?

  (Originally published under the title
  "And So They Were Married")

  BY
  JESSE LYNCH WILLIAMS

  [Illustration]

  ILLUSTRATED


  [Illustration: Banner Play Bureau
  111 Ellis Street
  San Francisco, California]


  PUBLISHED BY
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



  COPYRIGHT, 1914, 1918, BY
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

  _Published October, 1914_

  _New and revised edition published April, 1918_
  _Reprinted September, 1918; February, 1919_


  [All rights strictly reserved--including amateur acting rights.]


  [Illustration]



  TO
  HARRIET AND JAMES LEES LAIDLAW



WHY MARRY?


A Comedy in Three Acts

    1917, under the direction of Roi Cooper Megrue.

    The scene is a week-end at a country house not far away; the time,
    Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, and Sunday evening.


THE PEOPLE AT THE HOUSE (As You Meet Them)

  JEAN, the host's younger sister, who has been brought
    up to be married and nothing else                       LOTUS ROBB

  REX, an unmarried neighbor, who has not been brought
    up to be anything but rich                             HAROLD WEST

  LUCY, the hostess, who is trying her best to be "just
    an old-fashioned wife" in a new-fashioned home,   BEATRICE BECKLEY

  UNCLE EVERETT, a Judge, who belongs to the older
    generation and yet understands the new--and
    believes in divorce                                 NAT C. GOODWIN

  COUSIN THEODORE, a clergyman and yet a human being,
    who believes in everything--except divorce,         ERNEST LAWFORD

  JOHN, who owns the house and almost every one in
    it--and does not believe in divorce                  EDMUND BREESE

  HELEN, the host's other sister, whom every one wants
    to marry, but who doesn't want to marry any one,   ESTELLE WINWOOD

  ERNEST, a scientist, who believes in neither divorce
    nor marriage but makes a great discovery              SHELLEY HULL
                                 (By arrangement with George C. Tyler)

  THE BUTLER                                            RICHARD PITMAN

  THE FOOTMAN                                           WALTER GOODSON



ADVANCE NOTICE BY THE AUTHOR


One afternoon shortly before the New York "opening" of this comedy a
most estimable lady sat down to make me a cup of tea.

"Now, do tell me, what is your play about?" she inquired with
commendable enthusiasm. For, being a true woman, she had early achieved
the becoming habit of letting members of the superior sex talk about
themselves.

"'Why Marry?'" said I, "tells the truth about marriage."

"Oh, why," she expostulated, "why write unpleasant plays?"

"But it is not 'unpleasant.'"

"Then it isn't true!" she exclaimed. "That is, I mean--I mean--did you
say cream or lemon?"

And in the pause which accompanied the pouring of the cream I detected
the look of one realizing too late that it is always better to think
before speaking.

This little incident, it seemed to me, epitomizes charmingly the
attitude of "our nicest people" toward our fundamental institution. The
truth about marriage must be unpleasant. Therefore, tell us something
we know isn't true. It will be so much nicer for our young people.

It is to be feared, however, that young people who go to see "Why
Marry?" in the hope of being shocked do not get their money's worth. I
have heard of but two persons who have been scandalized by this play,
and they were both old people. One was a woman in the country who had
not seen it, but had read the title, and so wrote several indignant
letters about it. The other was an elderly bachelor of the type which
finds useful occupation in decorating club windows like geraniums. He
took his niece to see it, and, deciding at the end of Act II that the
play was going to be unpleasant in Act III, took her home at once. The
next afternoon she appeared at the matinée with a whole bevy of her own
generation and saw the rest of the play. I asked her later if it had
shocked any of them.

"Oh, no," she replied, "we are too young to be shocked."

That little incident also struck me as socially significant. There never
were two generations inhabiting the same globe simultaneously with such
widely separated points of view.

       *       *       *       *       *

For several years after this play was first published no theatrical
manager on Broadway would produce it. I don't blame them, I want to
thank them for it. I doubt if this sort of thing could have appealed to
many theatre-goers then, especially as my young lovers are trying to be
good, not bad. "Self-expression" and "the right to happiness" do not
enter into their plans. The causes of their courageous and, of course,
mistaken decision are unselfish and social motives, however futile and
antisocial the results would have been had not their desperate
determination been thwarted.... When this play was first published most
people were not thinking along these lines. Such ideas were considered
radical then. They will soon be old-fashioned--even on the stage.

Kind and discriminating as the critics have been in regard to this
comedy (a discriminating critic being, of course, one who praises your
play), few of them have seen the point which I thought I was making
emphatically clear, namely, that we can't cure social defects by
individual treatment. Not only the lovers, but all the characters in
this play are trying to do right according to their lights. There is no
villain in this piece. At least the villain remains "off stage." Perhaps
that is why so few see him. You are the villain, you and I and the rest
of society. We are responsible for the rules and regulations of the
marriage game. Instead of having fun with human nature, I tried to go
higher up and have fun with human institutions.

I say "tried," because apparently I did not succeed. The joke is on me.
Still, I can get some amusement out of it: for a great many people seem
to like this play who would be indignant if they knew what they were
really applauding. They think they are merely enjoying "satire on human
nature." Now, it is a curious fact that you can always curse human
nature with impunity; can malign it, revile it, boot it up and down the
decalogue, and you will be warmly praised. "How true to life!" you are
told. "I know some one just like that." (It is always some one else, of
course.) But dare lay hands on the Existing Order--and you'll find
you've laid your hands on a hornet's nest.

You see, most people do not want anything changed--except possibly the
Law of Change. They do not object to finding fault with mankind because
"you can't change human nature," as they are fond of telling you with an
interesting air of originality. But laws, customs, and ideals can be
changed, can be improved. Therefore they cry: "Hands off! How dare you!"
Man made human institutions, therefore we reverence them. Whereas human
nature was merely made by God. So we don't think so much of it. We are
prejudiced, like all creators, in favor of our own creations. After all,
there is excellent precedent for such complacency. Even God, we are
informed, pronounced his work "all very good" and rested on the seventh
day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pretty nearly everything in the play as acted is in the book as
published; but by no means all that is in the book could possibly be
enacted on the stage in two hours and a half. One scene, a breakfast
scene between John and his wife, has been amplified for acting, but all
the other scenes as printed here have been shortened for stage purposes
and one or two cut out entirely.

The "set" was changed to represent the loggia, instead of the terrace,
of John's "little farm." Outdoor scenes are not supposed to be good for
comedy. Walls, or a suggestion of them, produce a better psychological
effect for the purpose, besides making it possible to speak in quieter,
more intimate tones than when the voice spills out into the wings and up
into the paint loft.

Near the end of the play a number of relatives, rich and poor, are
supposed to arrive for dinner and for influencing by their presence the
recalcitrant couple. That is the way it is printed and that is how it
was acted during the first few weeks of the Chicago run. But though the
family may have its place in the book, it proved to be an awful nuisance
on the stage. No matter how well these minor parts might be acted (or
dressed), their sudden irruption during the last and most important
moments of the performance distracted the audience's attention from the
principal characters and the main issue. It was not clear who was who.
Programmes fluttered; perplexity was observed.... So we decided that the
family must be destroyed. It is always a perplexing problem to devise a
substitute for the family.

                                               JESSE LYNCH WILLIAMS.



ILLUSTRATIONS


  HELEN: You're about the most conceited man I ever knew.
  ERNEST: How can I help it, when you admire me so?       _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE
  ALL: Then why, _why_ do you want a divorce?
  JUDGE: Because, damn it, I don't like her                           30


  JUDGE: You poor little pessimists! Human nature
  to-day is better than it ever was, but our most
  important institution is worse--the most sacred
  relationship in life has become a jest in the
  market-place                                                       204


  JUDGE: We thought we believed in trial marriage.
  Nothing of the sort--trial separation! What
  marriage put asunder divorce has joined together                   230



ACT I


"And So They Were Married"



ACT I


    _Up from the fragrant garden comes a girl, running. She takes the
    broad terrace steps two at a stride, laughing, breathless, fleet
    as a fawn, sweet as a rose. She is hotly pursued by a boy,
    handsome, ardent, attractively selfish, and just now blindly
    determined to catch the pretty creature before she gains the
    protecting shelter of home. She is determined to let him but not
    to let him know it.... There, she might have darted in through the
    open door, but it is such a cold, formal entrance; she pretends to
    be exhausted, dodges behind a stone tea-table, and, turning, faces
    him, each panting and laughing excitedly; she alluring and
    defiant, he merry and dominant._

    _She is twenty-five and he is a year or two older, but they are
    both children; in other words, unmarried._


REX

Think I'll let you say that to me?


JEAN

[_making a face at him_]

Think I'm afraid of you!


REX

Take it back, I tell you.


JEAN

I won't.


REX

I'll make you.


JEAN

[_with a dance step_]

Think so, do you?


REX

I warn you.


JEAN

Booh-woo!

    [_He makes a feint to the right, then dashes to the left and
    catches her._


REX

[_triumphantly_]

Now!... You would, would you?


JEAN

[_struggling_]

Let me go.


REX

I couldn't think of it.


JEAN

[_seizes his hands to free herself--can't_]

You're so strong--it isn't fair.


REX

You're so sweet--it isn't fair.

    [_Smiling down at her struggles, rejoicing in his strength, her
    weakness, he gently draws her near._


JEAN

[_knows what is coming_]

No, Rex.


REX

Yes.


JEAN

You mustn't.


REX

But I will.

    [_He laughs and kisses her lightly on the cheek. Therefore
    she struggles furiously. Therefore he does it again. And
    again. Suddenly he enfolds her completely and kisses her
    passionately--cheeks, mouth, eyes--until she gasps in
    alarm. Laughter has gone from them now._


JEAN

Oh, please!... some one will come.


REX

[_with the intoxication of such moments_]

I don't care who comes--I love you.


JEAN

No ... let me go.


REX

Not till you kiss me, Jean. [_JEAN hesitates, brushes his cheek lightly
with her lips, and in pretty confusion tries to escape._] Not till you
say you love me, Jean. [_Eyes hidden in his coat, she bobs her head. He
laughs and loves it._] Say it!


JEAN

I--er--do.


REX

Do _what_?... _Say_ it!...

    [_She cannot. He swings her about, bringing her face close to his._


JEAN

I love you, Rex. Are you sure you love me?


REX

Am I sure! You irresistible little--

    [_Begins to kiss her. Masculine triumph._


JEAN

And want to marry me, Rex?


REX

[_stops--startled--had not thought of that_]

Why--er--of course. What did you suppose!

    [_Drops his eyes, sobered._


JEAN

[_feminine triumph_]

And me "a penniless orphing"?


REX

[_fascinated by the way she says it, he laughs. Then, his honor
touched_]

Why, what kind of a man do you take me for!

    [_And wants her lips again._


JEAN

[_giving herself to him, head sinks upon his shoulder_]

Then, oh, Rex, love me and be nice to me and--and take me away from all
this!

    [_She covers her face with her hands and sobs. He pats her
    tenderly, with a manly look on his face._

    _LUCY comes up from the garden. She is dressed in white with a
    garden hat, a garden basket filled with flowers in one hand, long
    scissors in the other. She is JOHN'S wife, the mistress of the
    house, sister-in-law to JEAN; conspicuously a "sweet" woman,
    affectedly so, a contrast with JEAN'S more modern, less delicate
    charm. JEAN is frank and brave, LUCY indirect and timid, pretty
    but fading, forty but fighting it._


JEAN

[_laughing_]

It's all right, Lucy--we're engaged!


LUCY

Well, I should hope so!

    [_Shoots a look at JEAN, "So?"_


REX

[_recovering himself_]

I have often tried to thank you and good old John for letting me come
over here so much, but now! How can I _ever_ thank you? See-what-I-mean?


LUCY

I'll tell you how. Behave yourself after you are married to John's
little sister.


JEAN

Rex, have you had a fearful past? How fascinating!


REX

I'm going to have a glorious future, all right.


JEAN

Not unless you do as I tell you. Going to obey me, Rex?


REX

You bet I am.


JEAN

Then begin now. Go!... Get out! [_She pushes REX, laughing and
protesting, toward the garden._] I want to tell Lucy how nice you are.
Run along over to the golf club, and by and by--if you _are_ a good
boy--you can take me out in your new car. [_REX kisses the hand on his
arm and leaves, laughing._] My dear, he has five cars! Thank you so
much.

    [_Alone, they throw off the mask worn before men._


LUCY

Now, deary, tell me all about it. How did it happen?


JEAN

Oh, I simply followed your advice.


LUCY

Picked a quarrel with him?


JEAN

[_laughing_]

Yes. I pretended to believe in woman suffrage!


LUCY

Good! They hate that.


JEAN

I told him all men were bullying brutes!


LUCY

They are! And then you ran away?


JEAN

Of course.


LUCY

And he after you?


JEAN

Of course.


LUCY

And you let him catch you?


JEAN

Of cour--well ... he caught me.

    [_They both laugh._


LUCY

I can guess the rest.


JEAN

Why, it didn't take five minutes.


LUCY

And now it's to last through all eternity.... Isn't love wonderful?


JEAN

Um-hum. Wonderful.

    [_They begin to cull out the flowers._


LUCY

But you do love him, dear, don't you?


JEAN

[_arranging flowers_]

I did then. I don't now. Why is that, Lucy?


LUCY

Oh, but you will learn to love him. [_Jean shrugs, drops flowers, and
turns away._] Now, now! no worrying--it brings wrinkles! [_Patting
Jean's shoulder._] Rex is just the sort to give the woman he adores
everything in the world.


JEAN

[_wriggling out of LUCY'S embrace_]

I am not the woman he adores.


LUCY

Why, Jean! He's engaged to you.


JEAN

But he's in love with my sister. You know that as well as I do.


LUCY

[_uncomfortably_]

Oh, well, he was once, but not now. Men admire these independent women,
but they don't marry them. Nobody wants to marry a sexless freak with a
scientific degree.


JEAN

Oh, what's the use, Lucy? He's still wild about Helen, and she still
laughs at him. So you and John have trotted out the little sister. Why
not be honest about it.


LUCY

Well, I may be old-fashioned, but I don't think it's nice to talk this
way when you're just engaged.


JEAN

Here comes your "sexless freak"--not with a degree, either.


LUCY

[_following JEAN'S gaze_]

With a man!


JEAN

[_smiling_]

With _my_ man.

    [_HELEN, with REX bending toward her eagerly, appears. She is a
    beautiful woman of twenty-nine, tall, strong, glorious--plenty of
    old-fashioned charm, despite her new-fashioned ideas. She is
    dressed in a tennis costume and is swinging a racquet._


REX

But they told me you were going to stay abroad all winter.


HELEN

My work, Rex--I had to get back to work.


REX

Work!... You are too good to work.


JEAN

[_amused, not jealous_]

Is this your high-powered car, Rex? Have you learned to run it yet?


REX

[_startled_]

But ... well ... you see, I met Helen on the way. See-what-I-mean?


JEAN

[_laughing_]

Oh, we see.


REX

But I hadn't seen her for so long. I thought--[_Looks from HELEN to
JEAN_] ... wait, I'll get the car.

    [_He hurries off._


LUCY

[_to JEAN_]

Why couldn't she have stayed abroad!


JEAN

Helen, don't talk about your work before Lucy--it shocks her.


HELEN

Oh, very well; make it my 'career'!


JEAN

[_arm around HELEN_]

Sssh!--that's worse.


LUCY

Helen, dear, I deem it my duty to tell you that you are being talked
about.


HELEN

Lucy, dear, do you always find your true happiness in duty?


LUCY

Well, if you think you are going back to that horrid place again ...
after what happened that night? John won't hear of it.


HELEN

If the Baker Institute of Medical Experiment is not a respectable place
you should make John resign as trustee.

    [_She laughs it off._


LUCY

John is trustee of--oh, nearly everything. That makes it all the worse.
It isn't as if you had to work.


HELEN

Oh, but John is so rich now, his credit can stand it. And you oughtn't
to mind! Why, some of our most fashionable families now contain freaks
like me. It's becoming quite smart, just as in former days one of the
sons would go into the Church or the navy.


LUCY

Well, of course, I am old-fashioned, but going down-town every day with
the men,--it seems so unwomanly.


HELEN

But wasn't I womanly for years? Instead of going down-town and working
with highbrows, I stayed up-town and played with lowbrows--until I was
bored to death.


LUCY

[_sighs_]

Yes, that's what comes of going to college, leaving the home, getting
these new ideas. All the same, Helen, the men, really nice men, don't
like it.


HELEN

Well, you see, I don't like really nice men, so that makes it agreeable
all around.


LUCY

If it were only art or music or something feminine, but that awful
laboratory! How can a lady poison poor, innocent little monkeys?


HELEN

If I were a lady I'd _dine_ with monkeys.... Do you know what the word
means, Lucy? In Anglo-Saxon times "lady" meant "one who gives loaves";
now, one who _takes_ a loaf.


LUCY

Very clever, my dear, but some day you'll be sorry. No man, Helen, likes
a woman to have independent views.


JEAN

Helen can afford to have independent views; she has an independent
income--she earns it.


LUCY

Independent income! Her salary wouldn't pay for your hats.


JEAN

All the same, I wish I had gone to college; I wish I had learned a
profession.


LUCY

What have these New Women accomplished? Just one thing: they are
destroying chivalry!


HELEN

Not entirely, Lucy, not entirely. For instance, I am the best assistant
Ernest Hamilton has, but the worst paid; the others are all men. Hurray
for chivalry!


LUCY

Well, I'm just an old-fashioned wife. Woman's sphere is the home. My
husband says so.


HELEN

But suppose you haven't any husband! What can a spinster do in the home?


LUCY

_Stay_ in it--till she gets one! That's what the old-fashioned spinster
used to do.


HELEN

The old-fashioned spinster used to spin.


LUCY

At any rate, the old-fashioned spinster did not stay out of her home all
night and get herself compromised, talked about, sent abroad! Or, if she
did, she knew enough to remain abroad until the gossip blew over.

    [_Lucy turns to leave._


HELEN

[_mischievously_]

Ah, that wonderful night! [_LUCY turns back, amazed._] The night we
discovered the Hamilton antitoxin, the night that made the Baker
Institute famous! And, just think, I had a hand in it, Lucy, a hand in
the unwomanly work of saving children's lives! But, of course, an
old-fashioned spinster would have blushed and said: "Excuse me, Doctor
Hamilton, but we must now let a year's work go to waste because you are
a man and I am a woman, and it's dark outdoors!" ... That's the way to
preserve true chivalry.


LUCY

You think we can't see through all this? Science--fiddlesticks! The
good-looking young scientist--that's why you couldn't stay abroad. We
see it, John sees it, and now every one will see it. Then how will you
feel?


HELEN

Ernest _is_ rather good-looking, isn't he?


LUCY

Do you think your brother will let you marry a mere scientist!... Oh,
well, Doctor Hamilton is in love with his work--fortunately.... Besides,
he's a thoroughbred; he wouldn't even look at a girl who throws herself
at his head.


HELEN

So I needn't try any longer? Too bad.


LUCY

[_losing her temper and going_]

Oh, you New Women are quite superior, aren't you?... Thank heavens,
little Jean didn't elbow _her_ way into men's affairs; she had no
unwomanly ambitions for a career! But she is engaged to Rex Baker!


HELEN

Jean, is this true?


LUCY

[_triumphantly_]

_Marriage_ is woman's only true career.


HELEN

Jean! You can't, you won't, you mustn't marry Rex!


LUCY

[_flouncing out_]

"She who will not when she may," my dear!


JEAN

[_avoiding HELEN'S eyes_]

Lucy hears John coming--he'd take her head off if she weren't there to
meet him. [_HELEN only looks at her._] He bullies and browbeats her
worse than ever. I can't stand it here much longer. It's getting on my
nerves.


HELEN

Jean! You care for Rex no more than I do.


JEAN

[_still evasive_]

John's bringing out Uncle Everett and Cousin Theodore. My dear, the
whole family is up in the air about you.


HELEN

Oh, I can take care of myself, but you!... Jean, you're not the sort to
marry Rex or any other man, unless you simply can't live without him.


JEAN

[_after a little pause_]

Well ... how can I live without him--without some man? You can support
yourself. I can't.


HELEN

But you wouldn't live on a man you didn't really love!


JEAN

Why not? Lucy does; most wives live on men they don't really love. To
stop doing so and get divorced is wrong, you know.


HELEN

Jean, Jean, poor little Jean!


JEAN

Well, I'd rather have domestic unhappiness of my own than watch other
people's all my life.


HELEN

I don't like to hurt you, dear, but--[_Takes JEAN'S face and raises
it._] How about that nice boy at the Harvard Law School?


JEAN

Don't! [_Controls herself, then, in a low voice_] Bob is _still_ at the
Law School, Helen.


HELEN

Can't you wait, dear?


JEAN

He never asked me to, Helen.


HELEN

He would, if you let him.


JEAN

It wouldn't be fair. It takes so long to get started. Everything costs
so much. Why, nowadays, men in the professions, unless they have private
means, can't marry until nearly _forty_. When Bob is forty I'll be
forty, Helen.


HELEN

Ah, but when a girl really cares!


JEAN

Helen, do _you_ know?


HELEN

Never mind about me--you!


JEAN

Oh, we'll get over it, I suppose.... People do! Some day, perhaps,
he'll smile and say: "Just think, I once loved _that_ fat old thing!"
[_Suddenly changes to sobbing._] Helen! when Rex caught me and kissed
me I shut my eyes and tried to think it was Bob.


HELEN

[_takes JEAN in her arms_]

You can't keep on thinking so, dear.


JEAN

But that isn't the worst! When he held me fast and I couldn't get away,
I began ... to forget Bob ... to forget everything ... [_Breaks off,
overcome with shame._] But not now, not now! It's not the same thing at
all. [_Buries face in HELEN'S breast and sobs it out._] Oh, I feel like
the devil, dear.... And all this time he doesn't really want me--he
wants you, you! I trapped him into it; I trapped him!


HELEN

And I know Rex--he's a good sport; he'll stick to it, if you do,
dear--only you won't! You've caught him by playing on his worst--don't
hold him by playing on his best!


JEAN

But what shall I do? I'm nearly twenty-six. I've got to escape from home
in some way.


HELEN

But what a way!

    [_REX returns._


REX

Ready, Jean? [_To HELEN._] Lucy and John and your Cousin Theodore are in
there having a fine, old-fashioned family fight with the judge.


HELEN

With Uncle Everett? What about?


REX

They shut up when they saw me. All I heard was the parson--"Marriage is
a social institution." Grand old row, though. [_A BUTLER and FOOTMAN
appear, wheeling a tea-wagon._] Looks as if they were coming out here.


HELEN

Then I am going in. [_Detaining JEAN._] You will follow my advice?


JEAN

[_apart to HELEN_]

Oh, I don't know. Soon or late I must follow the only profession I have
learned.

    [_JEAN leaves with REX. HELEN watches them, sighs, and goes in.
    The SERVANTS arrange the tea-table and go into the house._

    _LUCY comes out, followed by her husband, JOHN, and the JUDGE, who
    is UNCLE EVERETT, and COUSIN THEODORE._

    _JOHN, the masterful type of successful American business man;
    well set up, close-cropped mustache, inclined to baldness; keen
    eye, vibrant voice, quick movements, quick decisions, quick
    temper._

    _UNCLE EVERETT is a genial satirist with a cynical tolerance of
    the ways of the world, which he understands, laughs at, and rather
    likes._

    _COUSIN THEODORE, a care-worn rector, who, though he buttons his
    collar behind, likes those who don't; a noble soul,
    self-sacrificing and sanctified, but he does not obtrude his
    profession upon others--never talks shop unless asked to do so,
    and prides himself upon not being a bigot._

    _They are continuing an earnest discussion, with the intimate
    manner of friendly members of the same family. JOHN, LUCY, and
    THEODORE deeply concerned; UNCLE EVERETT detached and amused._


THEODORE

But, Uncle Everett, hasn't Aunt Julia always been a good wife to you?


JUDGE

Quite so, quite so, a good wife, Theodore, a good wife.


LUCY

And a _devoted_ mother to your children, Uncle Everett?


JUDGE

Devoted, Lucy, devoted.


JOHN

She has always obeyed you, Uncle Everett.


JUDGE

Yes, John--a true, old-fashioned woman.


THEODORE

She has been a great help to me in the parish work, Uncle Everett.


JUDGE

An earnest worker in the vineyard, Theodore--in fact, I might say, a
model female.


ALL

Then why, _why_ do you want a divorce?


JUDGE

Because, damn it, I don't like her!


LUCY

But think of poor Aunt Julia!


JUDGE

But, damn it, she doesn't like _me_.


THEODORE

[_wagging head sadly_]

Ah, yes, I suppose there has been fault on both sides.


JUDGE

Not at all! No fault on either side.... Both patterns of Christian
fortitude to the end! We still are. Just listen to this telegram.


LUCY

[_puzzled_]

From Aunt Julia?


    [Illustration: _From a photograph by White Studio._

        ALL: Then why, _why_ do you want a divorce?
        JUDGE: Because, damn it, I don't like her.]


JUDGE

Yes from Aunt Julia in Reno. Not used to travelling without me; knew I'd
worry. Thoughtful of her, wasn't it? [_Puts on glasses._] A night
letter. Much cheaper; your Aunt Julia was always a frugal wife. Besides,
she never could keep within ten words. [_Reads._] "Arrived safely.
Charming rooms with plenty of air and sunlight. Our case docketed for
March 15th. Wish you were here to see the women in Divorcee
Row--overdressed and underbred." Rather neat, eh? "Overdressed and
underbred." "I should love to hear _your_ comments on the various
types." Now, isn't that sweet of her? Well, you know, I always _could_
make her laugh--except when I made her cry. "Write soon. With love.
Julia." Now [_folds telegram_], isn't that a nice message? From a wife
suing for divorce? You happily married people couldn't beat that.

    [_Pats telegram and pockets it tenderly._


JOHN

[_like a practical business man_]

But if there's no other woman, no other man--what's it all about?


JUDGE

She likes her beefsteak well done; I like mine underdone. She likes one
window open--about so much [_indicates four inches_]; I like all the
windows open wide! She likes to stay at home; I like to travel. She
loves the opera and hates the theatre; I love the theatre and hate the
opera.


THEODORE

Stop! aren't you willing to make a few little sacrifices for each other?
Haven't you character enough for that?


JUDGE

We've been making sacrifices for twenty-five years, a quarter of a
century! Character enough to last us now.... Why, I remember the first
dinner we had together after we were pronounced man and wife, with a
full choral service and a great many expensive flowers--quite a smart
wedding, Lucy, for those simple days. "Darling," I asked my blushing
bride, "do you like tutti-frutti ice-cream?" "I adore it, dearest," she
murmured. I hated it, but nobly sacrificed myself and gave her
tutti-frutti and gained character every evening of our honeymoon! Then
when we got back and began our "new life" together in our "little home,"
my darling gave _me_ tutti-frutti and indigestion _once a week_ until I
nearly died!


LUCY

But why didn't you tell her?


JUDGE

I did; I did. Got chronic dyspepsia and struck! "_You_ may adore this
stuff, _darling_," I said, "but I hate it." "So do I, dearest," says
she. "Then why in thunder have you had it all these years,
_sweetheart_?" "For your sake, _beloved_!" And that tells the whole
story of our married life. We have nothing in common but a love of
divorce and a mutual abhorrence of tutti-frutti. "Two souls with but a
single thought, two hearts that beat as one!" It has been the dream of
our lives to get apart, and each has nobly refrained for the other's
sake. And all in vain!


JOHN

Bah! All a cloak to hide his real motive. And he knows it!


JUDGE

[_after a painful pause_]

I may as well confess. [_Looks around to see if overheard. Whispers._]
For over twenty years I--I have broken my marriage vow! [_LUCY drops her
eyes. THEODORE aghast. JOHN wags head._] So has your Aunt Julia!


THEODORE

No! not that!


JUDGE

Well, we solemnly promised to love each other until death did us part.
We have broken that sacred vow! I don't love _her_; she doesn't love
_me_--not in the least!


JOHN

Rot! A matured, middle-aged man, a distinguished member of the
bar--break up his home for that? Damned rot!


JUDGE

Right again, John. That's not why I'm breaking up my home. I prefer my
club. What does the modern home amount to? Merely a place to leave your
wife.


LUCY

Of course, it doesn't matter about the poor little wife left at home.


JUDGE

Wrong, Lucy, it does matter. That's why I _stayed_ at home and was bored
to death with her prattle about clothes and the opera, instead of dining
at the club with my intellectual equals, picking up business there,
getting rich like John, supplying her with _more_ clothes and a whole
_box_ at the opera, like yours, Lucy.


LUCY

[_shoots a glance at her husband_]

Oh, that's the way you men _always_ talk. It never occurs to you that
business, business, _business_ is _just_ as much of a bore to us!


JUDGE

Wrong again! It did occur to _me_--hence the divorce! She couldn't stand
seeing _me_ bored; I couldn't stand seeing _her_ bored. Once we could
deceive each other; but now--too well acquainted; our happy home--a
hollow mockery!


THEODORE

You ought to be ashamed! I love my home!


JOHN

So do I.

    [_He glances sternly at LUCY._


LUCY

[_nervously_]

So do I.


JUDGE

All right. Stick to it, if you love it. Only, don't claim credit for
doing what you enjoy. I stuck to my home for a quarter of a century and
disliked it the whole time. At last I'm free to say so. Just think of
it, Lucy, free to utter those things about marriage we all know are true
but don't dare say! Free to be honest, John! No longer a hypocrite, no
longer a liar! A soul set free, Theodore--two souls, in fact. "Two souls
with but a single thought----"


THEODORE

Stop! You have _children_ to consider, not merely your own selfish
happiness!


LUCY

Yes, think of Tom and little Julia!


JUDGE

We did ... for a quarter of a century--sacrificed everything to them,
even our self-respect; but now--what's the use? We are childless now.
Tom and Julia have both left us for "little homes" of their own to love.


THEODORE

Ah, but don't you want them to have the old home to come back to?


JUDGE

"No place like home" for children, eh? You're right--can't have too much
of it. Most children only have _one_ home. Ours will have _two_! When
they get bored with one they can try the other.


THEODORE

But, seriously, Uncle Everett--"Whom God hath joined together!"


LUCY

[_clasping JOHN'S arm_]

Yes, Uncle Everett, marriages are made in heaven.


JUDGE

I see; quite so; but your Aunt Julia and I were joined together by a
pink parasol made in Paris.


JOHN

What rot! Stop your fooling and speak the truth, man.


JUDGE

Just what I'm doing--that's why you think I'm fooling. A very pretty
parasol--but it wasn't made in heaven. You see, God made poor, dear
Julia pale, but on that fatal day, twenty-five years ago, the pink
parasol, not God, made her rosy and irresistible. I did the rest--with
the aid of a clergyman, whom I tipped even more liberally than the
waiter who served us tutti-frutti. Blame _me_ for it, blame her, the
parasol, the parson, but do not, my dear Theodore, blame the Deity for
our own mistakes. It's so blasphemous.

    [_A pause. LUCY takes place at the tea-table to serve tea._


LUCY

And to think we invited _you_, of all people, here to-day of all days!
[_To JOHN._] We mustn't let Rex know. The Bakers don't believe in
divorce.


JOHN

What's this? You don't mean that Jean----?


LUCY

Yes! Just in time--before he knew Helen was back.


JOHN

[_jumps up_]

She's landed him! She's landed him! We're marrying into the Baker
family! The Baker family! [_Shaking hands right and left._] Why, she'll
have more money than any of us!... Well, well! We'll all have to stand
around before little Jean now!... My, my! Lucy, you're a wonder! Those
pearls--I'll buy them; they're yours! Hurray for Lucy!

    [_Kisses_ LUCY.


LUCY

[_feeling her importance_]

Now, if I could only get _Helen_ out of this awful mess and safely
married to some nice man!


JUDGE

[_sipping his tea_]

Meaning one having money?


THEODORE

The Hamiltons are an older family than the Bakers, Lucy, older than our
own.


JUDGE

Meaning they _once_ had money.


JOHN

[_still pacing to and fro_]

Waste a beauty on a bacteriologist? A crime!


THEODORE

See here, John, Ernest Hamilton is the biggest thing you've got in the
Baker Institute! One of the loveliest fellows in the world, too, and if
you expect me--why did you ask us here, anyway?


JUDGE

Far as I can make out, we're here to help one of John's sisters marry a
man she doesn't love and prevent the other from marrying the man she
does.


JOHN

Oh, look here: I've nothing against young Hamilton.... I _like_
him--proud of all he's done for the institute. Why, Mr. Baker is tickled
to death about the Hamilton antitoxin. But, Theodore, this is a
practical world. Your scientific friend gets just two thousand dollars a
year!... Lucy, send for Helen.

    [_LUCY goes obediently._


JUDGE

Well, why not give the young man a raise?


JOHN

Oh, that's not a bad salary for scientists, college professors, and that
sort of thing. Why, even the head of the institute himself gets less
than the superintendent of my mills. No future in science.


JUDGE

Perfectly practical, Theodore. The superintendent of John's mills saves
the company thousands of dollars. These bacteriologists merely save the
nation thousands of babies. All our laws, written and unwritten, value
private property above human life. I'm a distinguished jurist and I
always render my decisions accordingly. I'd be reversed by the United
States Supreme Court if I didn't. We're all rewarded in inverse ratio to
our usefulness to society, Theodore. That's why "practical men" think
changes are "dangerous."


JOHN

Muck-raker!


JUDGE

It's all on a sliding scale, John. For keeping up the cost of living you
and old man Baker get ... [_Stretches arms out full length._] Heaven
only knows how much. For saving the Constitution I get ... a good deal.
[_Hands three feet apart._] For saving in wages and operating expenses
your superintendent gets so much. [_Hands two feet apart._] For saving
human life Ernest Hamilton gets that. [_Hands six inches apart._] For
saving immortal souls Theodore gets--[_Holds up two forefingers an inch
apart._] Now, if any one came along and saved the world----


THEODORE

[_interrupts_]

They crucified Him.


JOHN

Muck-raker, muck-raker.


LUCY

[_returning_]

Tried my best, John, but Helen says she prefers to talk with you alone
some time.


JOHN

[_furious_]

She "prefers"? See here! Am I master in my own house or not?


JUDGE

But Helen is a guest in it now. No longer under your control, John.
She's the New Woman.


THEODORE

John, _you_ can't stop that girl's marrying Ernest, if she wants to;
he's head over heels in love with her.


LUCY

What! We thought he was in love with his work!


THEODORE

He thinks there's no hope for him, poor boy.


LUCY

[_to JOHN_]

And she is mad about him!


JOHN

[_to LUCY_]

And he is on the way out here now!


THEODORE

What! He's coming to see her?


JOHN

No, no, thinks she's still in Paris--so she was when I invited him, damn
it--but something had to be done and done delicately. That's why I
invited you two.


JUDGE

[_bursts out laughing_]

Beautiful! These lovers haven't met for a month, and to-night there's a
moon!


THEODORE

[_also laughs_]

You may as well give in, John. It's the simplest solution.


LUCY

[_timidly_]

Yes, John, she's nearly thirty, and think how she treats all the _nice_
men.


JOHN

Who's doing this? You go tell Helen ... that her Uncle Everett wants to
see her!

    [_Lucy shrugs, starts reluctantly, and lingers listening._


THEODORE

Now, uncle, you have more influence over her than any of us--don't let
her know about ... Aunt Julia. Helen thinks the world of you.


JUDGE

Of course not, never let the rising generation suspect the truth about
marriage--if you want 'em to marry.


THEODORE

There are other truths than unpleasant truths, Uncle Everett, other
marriages than unhappy marriages.


JUDGE

Want me to tell her the truth about your marriage?


LUCY

[_at the door_]

Why uncle! Even _you_ must admit that Theodore and Mary are happy.

    [_JOHN is too much surprised to notice LUCY'S presence._


JUDGE

Happy? What's that got to do with it? Marriage is a social institution.
Theodore said so.... Every time a boy kisses a girl she should first
inquire: "A sacrifice for society?" And if he says, "I want to gain
character, sweetheart," then--"Darling, do your duty!" and he'll do it.


LUCY

Well, Theodore has certainly done _his_ duty by society--six children!


JUDGE

Then society hasn't done its duty by Theodore--only one salary!


JOHN

The more credit to him! He and Mary have sacrificed everything to their
children and the Church--even health!


THEODORE

We don't need your pity! We don't want your praise! Poverty, suffering,
even separation, have only drawn us closer together. We love each other
through it all! Why, in the last letter the doctor let her write she
said, she said--[_Suddenly overcome with emotion, turns abruptly._] If
you'll excuse me, Lucy ... Sanitarium ... the telephone.

    [_THEODORE goes into the house._


JUDGE

Not praise or pity but something more substantial and, by George, I'll
get it for them!

    [_Turns to JOHN, who interrupts._


JOHN

See the example _he_ sets to society--I honor him for it.


JUDGE

Fine! but that doesn't seem to restore Mary's radiant health, Theodore's
brilliant youth.


LUCY

Ah, but they have their _children_--think how they adore those beautiful
children!


JUDGE

No, don't think how they adore them, think how they _rear_ those
beautiful children--in the streets; one little daughter dead from
contagion; one son going to the devil from other things picked up in the
street! If marriage is a social institution, look at it socially. Why, a
marriage like mine is worth a dozen like theirs--to Society. Look at my
well-launched children; look at my useful career, as a jackal to Big
Business; look at my now perfectly contented spouse!


LUCY

But if you are divorced!


JUDGE

Is the object of marriage merely to stay married?


LUCY

But character, think of the character they have gained.


JUDGE

Oh, is it to gain character at the expense of helpless offspring?
Society doesn't gain by that--it loses, Lucy, it loses.... But simply
because, God bless 'em, "they love each other through it all," you
sentimental standpatters believe in lying about it, do you?


JOHN

[_bored, whips out pocket check-book and fountain pen_]

Oh, talk, talk, talk! Money talks for _me_.... But they're both so
confoundedly proud!


JUDGE

Go on, write that check! [_JOHN writes._] They must sacrifice their
pride, John. Nothing else left to sacrifice, I'm afraid.


JOHN

Well, you get this to them somehow.

    [_Hands check to JUDGE._


JUDGE

Aha! Talk did it.... Five thousand? Generous John!


JOHN

[_impatiently_]

Never mind about me. _That_ problem is all settled; now about Helen....
Lucy! I thought I told you----

    [_LUCY, in a guilty hurry, escapes into the house._


JUDGE

John, charity never settles problems; it perpetuates them. You can't
cure social defects by individual treatment.


JOHN

[_more impatiently_]

Does talk settle anything?


JUDGE

Everything. We may even settle the marriage problem if we talk
_honestly_. [_THEODORE returns from telephoning to the sanitarium._]
Theodore, it's all right! John honestly believes in setting an example
to society! Crazy to have his sisters go and do likewise!


THEODORE

Splendid, John! I knew you'd see it--an ideal match.


JUDGE

[_overriding JOHN_]

Right, Theodore, ideal. This scientific suitor will shower everything
upon her John honors and admires: A host of servants--I mean sacrifices;
carriages and motors--I mean character and morals; just what her brother
advocates in Sunday-school--for others. An ideal marriage.


JOHN

[_hands in pockets_]

You think you're awfully funny, don't you? Humph! I do more for the
Church, for education, art, science than all the rest of the family
combined. Incidentally, I'm not divorced.... But this is a practical
world, Theodore, I've got to protect my own.


LUCY

[_returning_]

Helen will be here in a minute.


JOHN

[_suddenly getting an idea_]

Ah! I have it! I know how to keep them apart!


THEODORE

Be careful, John--these two love each other.


JUDGE

Yes, young people still fall in love. Whether we make it hard or easy
for them--they _will_ do it. But, mark my words, unless we _reform
marriage_, there is going to be a sympathetic _strike_ against it--as
there is already against having children. Instead of making it harder to
get apart, we've got to make it easier to stay together. Otherwise the
ancient bluff will soon be called!


LUCY

Sssh! Here she comes.


THEODORE

_Please_ don't talk this way before her.


JUDGE

All right, I'm not divorced yet,... still in the conspiracy of silence.

    [_HELEN appears at the door. A sudden silence._


HELEN

[_kissing THEODORE and JUDGE affectionately_]

I'm _so_ sorry to hear about dear Mary. [_To JUDGE._] But why didn't
Aunt Julia come? Is she ill, too?

    [_Slight panic in the family party._


JUDGE

She's gone to Re-Re-Rio Janeiro--I mean to Santa Barbara--wants a
complete change--The Rest Cure. [_To THEODORE apart._] Lie number one.

    [_Another silence. LUCY makes tea for HELEN._


HELEN

[_taking the cup_]

Well, go on!


THEODORE

Go on with what?


HELEN

[_stirring tea_]

Your discussion of marriage.


LUCY

How did you know?


HELEN

Oh, it's in the air. Everybody's talking about it nowadays.

    [_She sips tea, and the others look conscious._


THEODORE

My dear, marriage is woman's only true career.


HELEN

[_raising her shield of flippancy_]

So Lucy tells me, Cousin Theodore. But a woman cannot pursue her career,
she must be pursued by it; otherwise she is unwomanly.


JUDGE

Ahem. As we passed through the library a while ago, I think I saw your
little sister being pursued by her career.


HELEN

Yes, uncle, but Jean is a true woman. I'm only a New Woman.


JUDGE

All the same, you'll be an old woman some day--if you don't watch out.


HELEN

Ah, yes, my life's a failure. I haven't trapped a man into a contract to
support me.


LUCY

[_picks up knitting bag and does her best to look like "just an
old-fashioned wife"_]

You ought to be ashamed! Making marriage so mercenary. Helen, dear,
haven't you New Women any sentiment?


HELEN

Enough sentiment not to make a mercenary marriage, Lucy, dear.


JUDGE

Ahem! And what kind of a marriage do you expect to make?


HELEN

Not any, thank you, uncle.


JUDGE

What! You don't believe in holy matrimony?


HELEN

Only as a last extremity, uncle, like unholy divorce.


JUDGE

[_jumps_]

What do _you_ know about that?


HELEN

I know all about it! [_Others jump._] I have been reading up on the
subject.

    [_All relax, relieved, but now gather about the young woman._


THEODORE                                       }
                                               }
Come now, simply because many young people     }
rush into marriage without thinking--          }
                                               }
                                               }
LUCY                                           } [_Together_]
                                               }
Simply because these New Women--               }
                                               }
                                               }
JOHN                                           }
                                               }
Simply because one marriage in a               }
thousand ends in divorce--                     }


HELEN

Wait!... One in a thousand? Dear me, what an idealist you are, John! In
America, one marriage in every eleven now ends in divorce. And yet you
wonder why I hesitate.


JOHN

One in eleven--rot! [_To JUDGE._] All this muck-raking should be
suppressed by the Government. "One in eleven!" Bah!


HELEN

[_demurely_]

The Government's own statistics, John.

    [_They all turn to the JUDGE for denial, but he nods confirmation,
    with a complacent smile, murmuring: "Two souls with but a single
    thought."_


LUCY

[_sweetly knitting_]

Well, I may be old-fashioned, but it seems to _me_ that nice girls
shouldn't _think_ of such things.... Their husbands will tell them all
they ought to know about marriage--after they're married.


HELEN

Ah, I see. Nice girls mustn't think until after they rush in, but they
mustn't rush in until after they think. You married people make it all
so simple for us.


JUDGE

Right! The way to cure all evil is for nice people to close their minds
and mouths to it. It's "unpleasant" for a pure mind, and it "leaves a
bad taste in the mouth." So there you are, my dear.


JOHN

[_coming in strong_]

Oh, talk, talk, talk! I've had enough. See here, young lady, I offered
to pay all your expenses abroad for a year. You didn't seem to
appreciate it--well, the trustees of the institute are now to give
Doctor Hamilton a year abroad. How do you like that?

    [_All turn and look at HELEN._


HELEN

Splendid! Just what he needs! Doctor Metchnikoff told me in Paris that
America always kills its big men with routine. When do we start?

    [_She tries to look very businesslike._


JOHN

[_springing to his feet_]

"We!" Do you think _you_ are going?


HELEN

Of course! I'm his assistant--quite indispensable to him.... [_To all._]
Oh, well, if you don't believe me, ask him!


JOHN

[_pacing to and fro_]

What next! Paris! Alone, with a man!--Here's where I call a halt!


HELEN

But if my work calls me, I don't really see what you have to say about
it, John.


JOHN

Better not defy me, Helen.

    [_He scowls._


HELEN

Better not bully me, John.

    [_She smiles._


JOHN

I am your brother.


HELEN

But not my owner! [_Then, instead of defiance, she turns with animated
interest to the others._] You know, all women used to be owned by men.
Formerly they ruled us by physical force--now by financial force.... But
at last they are to lose even _that_ hold upon us--poor dears!

    [_Pats JOHN'S shoulder playfully._


JOHN

[_amused, but serious_]

That's all right in theory, but this is a practical world. My pull got
you into the institute; my pull can get you out. You give up this wild
idea or give up your job!


HELEN

[_delighted_]

What did I tell you? Financial force! They still try it, you see. [_To
JOHN._] What if I refused to give up either, John?


JOHN

[_emphatic_]

Then as a trustee of the institute I ask for your resignation--right
here and now! [_Turns away._] I guess _that_ will hold her at home a
while.


HELEN

I simply _must_ go to Paris now. I've nothing else to do!


JOHN

[_with a confident smile_]

You will, eh? Who'll pay your expenses this time?


HELEN

[_matter of fact_]

Doctor Hamilton.


LUCY

Helen! please! You oughtn't to say such things even in joke.


HELEN

He'll take me along as his private secretary, if I ask him.

    [_A pause. The others look at one another helplessly._


JUDGE

John, she's got you. You might as well quit.


JOHN

Nonsense. I have just begun. You'll see.


THEODORE

If you're so independent, my dear, why don't you marry your scientist
and be done with it?


HELEN

[_resents the intrusion but hides her feelings_]

Can you keep a secret? [_They all seem to think they can and gather
near._] He has never asked me!

    [_The family seems annoyed._


LUCY

[_with match-making ardor_]

No wonder, dear, he has never seen you except in that awful apron. But
those stunning dinner gowns John bought you in Paris! My dear, in
evening dress you are quite irresistible!


JUDGE

[_apart to THEODORE_]

Irresistible? Pink parasols. What a system!


HELEN

But you see, I don't _want_ him to ask me. I've had all I could do to
keep him from it.

    [_The family seems perplexed._


JOHN

She's got _some_ sense left.


LUCY

But suppose he did ask you, dear?


HELEN

Why, I'd simply refer the matter to John, of course. If John said, "Love
him," I'd love him; if John said, "Don't love him," I'd turn it off like
electric light.

    [_The family is becoming exasperated._


LUCY

[_insinuating_]

Oh, you can't deceive us. We know how much you admire him, Helen.


HELEN

Oh, no you don't! [_The family is amazed._] Not even he does. Did you
ever hear how he risked his life in battle down in Cuba? Why, he's a
perfect hero of romance!


JOHN

[_mutters_]

Never even saw a war--mollycoddle germ killer!


HELEN

Not in the war with Spain--the war against yellow fever, John.... No
drums to make him brave, no correspondents to make him famous--he merely
rolled up his sleeve and let an innocent-looking mosquito bite him. Then
took notes on his symptoms till he became delirious.... He happened to
be among those who recovered.

    [_The family is impressed._


THEODORE

Old-fashioned maidens used to marry their heroes, Helen.


HELEN

[_arising, briskly_]

But this new-fashioned hero gets only two thousand dollars a year,
Theodore.

    [_She turns to escape._


JOHN

[_nodding_]

I told you she had sense.


THEODORE

Helen! You selfish, too? Why, Mary and I married on half that, didn't
we, John?

    [_He looks around. The family looks away._


HELEN

[_with unintended emphasis_]

Doctor Hamilton needs every cent of that enormous salary--books, travel,
scientific conferences--all the advantages he simply must have if he's
to keep at the top and do his best work for the world. The most selfish
thing a girl can do is to marry a poor man.

    [_With that she hurries up the steps._


THEODORE

[_following her_]

All the same, deep down under it all, she has a true woman's yearning
for a home to care for and a mate to love. [_She is silently crying._]
Why, Helen, dear, what's the matter?


HELEN

[_hiding her emotion_]

Oh, why can't they let me _alone_! They make what ought to be the
holiest and most beautiful thing in life the most horrible and
dishonest. They make me hate marriage--hate it!

    [_Unseen by HELEN, the BUTLER steps out._


THEODORE

[_patting her shoulder_]

Just you wait till the right one comes along.


BUTLER

[_to LUCY_]

Doctor Hamilton has come, ma'am.


HELEN

[_with an old-fashioned gasp_]

Good heavens!

    [_And runs to the family._


LUCY

Show Doctor Hamilton out.

    [_The BUTLER goes._


HELEN

A plot to entrap him! [_Running to and fro wildly._] But it's no use!
I'm going ... until he's gone!

    [_HELEN runs into the garden._


JUDGE

Fighting hard, poor child.


THEODORE

But what'll we do?


JUDGE

Don't worry--she can't stay away--the sweet thing!


JOHN

Now listen, we must all jolly him up--he'll be shy in these
surroundings.


JUDGE

Going to surrender, John?


JOHN

What I am going to do requires finesse.


LUCY

[_in a flutter, seeing HAMILTON approach_]

Oh, dear! how does one talk to highbrows?


JUDGE

Talk to him about himself! Highbrows, lowbrows, all men love it.

    [_ERNEST HAMILTON, discoverer of the Hamilton antitoxin, is a
    fine-looking fellow of about thirty-five, without the spectacles
    or absent-mindedness somehow expected of scientific genius. He
    talks little but very rapidly and sees everything. It does not
    occur to him to be shy or embarrassed "in these surroundings"--not
    because he is habituated to so much luxury, on three thousand a
    year, nor because he despises it; he likes it; but he likes other
    things even more. That is why he works for two thousand a year,
    instead of working for fat, fashionable fees in private practice._

    _JOHN meets his distinguished guest at the door--effusively, yet
    with that smiling condescension which wealthy trustees sometimes
    show to "scientists, college professors, and that sort of thing."_


JOHN

Ah, Doctor Hamilton! Delighted to see you on my little farm at last. Out
here I'm just a plain, old-fashioned farmer.

    [_ERNEST glances about at the magnificence and smiles
    imperceptibly. He makes no audible replies to the glad welcome,
    but bows urbanely, master of himself and the situation._


LUCY

Doctor Hamilton! So good of you to come.


THEODORE

How are you, Ernest? Glad to see you.


LUCY

I don't think you've met our uncle, Judge Grey.


JUDGE

[_humorously adopting their manner_]

Charmed! I've heard so much about you!--from my niece.


LUCY

[_to ERNEST'S rescue, like a tactful hostess_]

A cup of tea, Doctor Hamilton?


ERNEST

[_unperturbed by the reference to HELEN_]

Thanks.


JOHN

[_while LUCY makes tea. Trustee manner_]

I have often desired to express my admiration of your heroism in the war
against yellow fever in er--ah--_Cuba_, when you let an innocent-looking
mosquito bite you----


LUCY

[_nodding and poising sugar-tongs_]

And then took notes on your symptoms till you became delirious!


ERNEST

No sugar, thanks.

    [_He looks from one to another with considerable interest._


JUDGE

No drums to make you famous, no war correspondents to make you brave--I
mean the other way round.


ERNEST

[_to LUCY poising cream pitcher_]

No cream, please.


JOHN

Senator Root says this one triumph alone saves _twenty million dollars
a year_ to the business interests of the United States! I call that true
patriotism.


ERNEST

[_with a nod of assent to LUCY_]

Lemon.


THEODORE

[_with sincerity_]

General Wood says it saves more _human lives_ a year than were lost in
the whole Spanish War! I call it service.


JUDGE

Colonel Goethals says the Panama Canal could not have been built if it
hadn't been for you self-sacrificing scientists. Not only that, but you
have abolished forever from the United States a scourge which for more
than a century had through periodic outbreaks spread terror,
devastation, and death.

    [_A pause._


ERNEST

[_bored, but trying to hide it_]

The ones who deserve your praise are the four who died to prove that
theory.... [_He smiles._] Of course, you all know their names.... [_He
looks at JOHN, who looks at JUDGE, who looks at LUCY, who looks at
THEODORE. He takes up his cup._] Delicious tea.


THEODORE

Ah, but they didn't do it for fame, for money--that's the beauty of the
sacrifice.


ERNEST

[_with a smile_]

Quite so.... That's what Congress told us when we suggested a pension
for the widow of the first victim.


ALL

What! Did Congress refuse the pension?


ERNEST

[_finishes his tea_]

They finally voted the sum of seventeen dollars a month for the widow
and no less than two dollars a month extra for each of his children....


LUCY

Is that all?


ERNEST

No.... We pestered Congress to death until, a few years ago, they
replaced the pension with an annuity of one hundred and twenty-five
dollars a month--though some of them said it was a very bad precedent to
establish. [_Returns cup to LUCY._] No more, thanks, delicious.

    [_And turns to admire the wide-sweeping view of the farm, hands in
    pockets._


JOHN

[_after a pause_]

Well, I think our scientists might well be called philanthropists.


ERNEST

Hardly! You see, every one _knows_ the names of philanthropists....
Better let it go at "scientists."


JUDGE

He's right. Philanthropists don't give their lives, they give their
names--have 'em carved in stone over their institutes and libraries.

    [_JOHN approaches and joins his guest._


ERNEST

Charming little farm you have here.


JOHN

Doctor Hamilton, America kills its big men with routine. You are too
valuable to the nation to lose--the trustees think you need a year
abroad.


ERNEST

That's strange, I came out here to suggest that very thing.... Somebody
has been saying kind things about me in Paris. Just had a letter from
the great Metchnikoff--wants me to come over and work in the Pasteur!
Chance of a lifetime!... You didn't have to jolly me up to consent to
that!


JOHN

[_pacing terrace with his guest, arm in arm_]

By the by, my sister is rather keen on science.


ERNEST

Best assistant I ever had. You can pile an awful lot of routine on a
woman. The female of the species is more faithful than the male....
She's over there already. We can get right to work.


JOHN

She'll be back before you start.


ERNEST

[_stops short_]

I didn't know that.... Well, what is it?

    [_JOHN hesitates, turns to the family, all watching with breathless
    interest._


THEODORE

Don't you see, old chap, under the circumstances it would hardly do for
her to go back to Paris with you.


ERNEST

Why not?


LUCY

You're a man.


ERNEST

[_smiling_]

You mean I'm dangerous?


LUCY

But she's a woman.


JUDGE

They mean _she's_ dangerous.


JOHN

My dear fellow, we are going to ask you quite frankly to decline to take
her.


ERNEST

[_looks about at the circle of anxious faces. He wont let them read
him_]

So that's it, eh?... But it's the chance of a lifetime for her, too. She
needs it more than I do. She's had so little chance to do original work.


JOHN

But she's a woman.


ERNEST

Just what has that to do with it?


JOHN

Everything. We have the highest respect for you, Doctor Hamilton, but
also ... one must respect the opinions of the world, you know.


ERNEST

[_thinks it over_]

That's right. One must. I forgot to think of that.... It's curious, but
when working with women of ability one learns to respect them so much
that one quite loses the habit of insulting them. Too bad how new
conditions spoil fine old customs.... Suppose you let her go and let me
stay. I can find plenty to do here, I fancy.


JOHN

I fear it would offend our generous benefactor, Mr. Baker. He has set
his heart on your going abroad, meeting other big men, getting new ideas
for our great humanitarian work. [_The family exchange glances while
JOHN lies on._] Besides, my sister would only go to accommodate you. She
particularly desires to stay here this winter. That's why she is
returning so soon, you see.


ERNEST

[_believes it_]

Oh, I see.... I'm sure I have no desire to _drag_ her over with me....
[_Smiles at himself._] I rather thought the opportunity to continue our
experiments together ... but that's all right.


JOHN

Then it's all settled--you agree to go alone?


ERNEST

[_a slight pause_]

Yes, alone. It's quite settled.


JOHN

How soon could you start?


ERNEST

[_absently_]

How soon? Why, just as soon as I get some one to run my department.


JOHN

Could my sister run it?


ERNEST

[_smiles_]

Could she run it? It can't run without her! She's as systematic as [_to
LUCY_]--as a good housekeeper.


JOHN

[_with a satisfied look at the others_]

Then _that's_ all fixed! She'll stay when I tell her that you want her
to. Could you arrange to start at once?


ERNEST

[_hesitates_]

By leaving here to-night, I could.


JOHN

[_with a triumphant look at the family_]

Then I'll telephone for your passage--I have a pull with all the
steamship lines. [_Going._] Of course I hate to cut short your week-end,
but I don't want to spoil any scientific careers.

    [_JOHN hurries in to telephone. ERNEST starts too, as if to stop
    him but restrains the impulse. He stands alone by the door gazing
    out over the landscape while LUCY, THEODORE, and the JUDGE discuss
    him in low tones by the tea-table._


LUCY

Can't you see, you stupid men! He's crazy about her--but thinks there's
no hope.


THEODORE

When she finds he's leaving for a year ... she'll change her mind about
marriage!

    [_ERNEST comes back to earth and to the house-party._


JUDGE

[_to ERNEST, joining them_]

Ahem! We were just discussing the marriage danger--I mean the marriage
problem.


ERNEST

[_with a smile_]

Go right on--don't mind me.


THEODORE

[_old-friend manner_]

See here! When are _you_ ever going to marry?


ERNEST

[_modern bachelor's laugh_]

When am I ever going to get more than two thousand a year?


THEODORE

Bah! what has money got to do with it! Just you wait till the right one
comes along.

    [_HELEN comes along, stealing up the steps from the garden on
    tiptoe with the grave, absorbed look of a hunter stalking game.
    She catches sight of the man she wants and stops short, as
    motionless as if frozen. But not so! Her lovely hands were
    poised; one of them now goes to her bosom and presses there.
    There is nothing icy about this New Woman now._


ERNEST

[_as unconscious of danger as a mountain-lion on an inaccessible height,
smiles easily at his sentimental old friend THEODORE_]

How do you know "the right one" hasn't come already?

    [_THEODORE catches sight of HELEN. She shakes her head in silent
    pleading, taps a finger on her lips, and in a panic flees
    noiselessly across toward the door._


THEODORE

[_suppressing a laugh_]

Then don't let her go by!

    [_HELEN stops at the door and makes a face at THEODORE._


ERNEST

[_affecting indifference_]

Oh, I couldn't stop her, even if I wanted to.


THEODORE

[_turning to wink at HELEN_]

How do you know? Did you ever ask her?


ERNEST

To marry me? Oh, no! She hasn't any money.


THEODORE

[_HELEN is dumfounded_]

Money! You wouldn't marry for money!

    [_HELEN draws near to hear the answer._


ERNEST

You don't suppose I'd marry a woman who hadn't any? Most selfish thing
a poor man can do.

    [_HELEN is interested._


THEODORE

Oh, fiddlesticks! You modern young people--


ERNEST

[_interrupts_]

Make her a sort of superior servant in an inferior home--not that girl!

    [_HELEN is pleased._


THEODORE

Feministic nonsense! The old-fashioned womanly woman----


ERNEST

Sentimental twaddle! What makes it more "womanly" to do menial work
_for_ men than intellectual work with them?

    [_HELEN delighted, applauds noiselessly._


THEODORE

All the same, I'll bet you wouldn't let a little thing like that stand
in your way if you really cared for a woman enough to marry her.


ERNEST

[_benign and secure_]

But, as it happens, I don't. Nothing could induce me to marry.

    [_HELEN raises her chin, her eyes glitter dangerously._


THEODORE

So you are going to run away to Europe like a coward?


ERNEST

[_smiles patronizingly_]

Theodore, you are such an incorrigible idealist! I have nothing to be
afraid of--I simply do not care to _marry_!


HELEN

That's just what _I_ said!

    [_All turn and behold HELEN._


ERNEST

My heavens!

    [_He steps back like a coward._


HELEN

But I agree with you perfectly. [_She holds out her hand to him._] I was
so afraid you believed in marriage.

    [_He rushes to her eagerly._


JUDGE

[_as the lovers shake hands_]

You wronged him. Apologize.


ERNEST

Why--why--all this time, I thought _you_ had the usual attitude.


JUDGE

Wronged _her_. Both apologize.


HELEN

Why didn't you ever tell me you had such enlightened views?


ERNEST

Why didn't you ever tell me?


JUDGE

Each understands the other now. Everything lovely!


HELEN

Think of the discussions we might have had!


JUDGE

Not too late yet. Julia and I had discussions for a quarter of a
century.


HELEN

Don't think I had any hand in this. [_Laughs._] I was going to warn you,
but now--it is unnecessary now.


ERNEST

Warn me? What do you mean?


HELEN

Can't you see? It was all a plot! [_LUCY draws near noiselessly._] A
plot to entrap you in marriage! They had about given me up as a bad
job. _You_ were my last hope. They were going to throw me at your head.
[_Louder but without turning._] Weren't you, Lucy dear?


LUCY

[_caught listening, turns abruptly to the others_]

These New Women are utterly shameless.


HELEN

[_to ERNEST_]

These old-fashioned women are utterly shameless. After a decent
interval, they will all with one accord make excuses to leave us here
alone, so that I can--[_she comes nearer_] ensnare you! [_ERNEST laughs
nervously._] Lucy is going to say--[_imitates LUCY'S sweet tones_]: "If
you'll excuse me, I always take forty winks before dressing." Dressing
is the hardest work Lucy has to do. Cousin Theodore will find that he
_must_ write to his wife, and Uncle Everett will feel a yearning for the
billiard room. [_ERNEST is nodding and chuckling._] They're hanging on
longer than usual to-day, and I simply must have a talk with you.


ERNEST

Our shop-talk would scandalize 'em!


HELEN

Wait, I'll get rid of them!

    [_She sits and begins to make tea._


ERNEST

I've had my tea, thanks.


HELEN

Stupid! Sit down. [_Indicates a chair close to hers. He takes it
cautiously._] We'll have a little fun with them in a minute.

    [_She is busy now making tea._


THEODORE

[_to LUCY and the JUDGE apart_]

You may be right, Uncle Everett, but upon my word it is the strangest
courtship I ever witnessed.


LUCY

They ought to be spanked.


JUDGE

Don't worry, old Mother Nature will attend to that.


LUCY

Well, I may be old-fashioned, but----


JUDGE

[_interrupting_]

But this is merely a new fashion, my dear Lucy. Nature her ancient
custom holds, let science say what it will.


HELEN

[_handing cup to ERNEST with a glance at the others_]

Now, then, be attentive to me. [_He leans toward her rather shyly,
abashed by her nearness. She makes eyes at him reproachfully._] Oh,
can't you be more attentive than that? [_She acts like a coquette and he
looks into her beautiful eyes and while he is doing so she says with a
fascinating drawl_] Now tell me a-all about anterior poliomyelitis!


ERNEST

[_suddenly taken aback, he laughs_]

Nothing doing since you left.

    [_And bends close to explain._


LUCY

If you'll excuse me, Doctor Hamilton, I always take forty winks before
dressing. We dine at eight.

    [_Going, she signals to the others. ERNEST and HELEN exchange
    smiles._


THEODORE

[_laughing, to LUCY_]

Ss't! Don't tell John what's going on! Keep him busy telephoning. [_LUCY
nods excitedly and almost runs to obey the Church._] Helen, if you and
Ernest will excuse me, I really must write to Mary.

    [_Their shoulders are close together and they seem too absorbed
    to reply. THEODORE smiles down upon them and signals the JUDGE to
    come along. The JUDGE, however, shakes his head but waves THEODORE
    into the house. Uncle Everett looks at the lovers with quizzical
    interest. He draws near and eavesdrops shamelessly._


HELEN

You oughtn't to have dropped the polio experiments.


ERNEST

You oughtn't to have dropped me--right in the _midst_ of the
experiments. Those agar plates you were incubating dried up and
spoiled. You played the very devil with my data.


JUDGE

God bless my soul! what are we coming to?


HELEN

[_without turning_]

It's perfectly proper for your little ears, uncle, only you can't
understand a word of it. Won't _any_ one play billiards with you?


JUDGE

But I'm fascinated. It's so idyllic. Makes me feel young again.


HELEN

[_to ERNEST_]

Oh, you have plenty of men assistants who can estimate antitoxin units.


ERNEST

Men assistants lose interest. They are all so confoundedly ambitious to
do original work. Why is it women can stand day after day of monotonous
detail better than men?


HELEN

Because men always made them tend the home!


JUDGE

Ah, nothing like a good old-fashioned love scene--in the scientific
spirit.


HELEN

Uncle, dear! _Can't_ you see that he is paying me wonderful compliments?
Haven't you any tact? Go and play Canfield in the library.


JUDGE

[_lighting cigar_]

Very well, I'll leave you to your own devices--and may God, _your_ God,
have mercy on your scientific souls.


HELEN

[_with sudden animation and camaraderie, thinking they are alone_]

Now I must tell you what Doctor Metchnikoff said about you and your
future!


JUDGE

Sst! [_HELEN and ERNEST turn._] My children--[_Pause--raises his
hand._] Don't forget the scientific spirit!

    [_The JUDGE saunters off into the garden, smoking._


ERNEST

How did you ever meet Metchnikoff?


HELEN

[_chaffing_]

I had worked under Hamilton! They _all_ wanted to meet me.


ERNEST

[_with an unmistakable look_]

U'm ... was that why? [_Fleeing danger._] Didn't you let them know your
part in that discovery? Why, if it hadn't been for you, I should never
have stumbled upon the thing at all.


HELEN

Oh, I know my place too well for that! Talk about _artistic_
temperament, you scientists are worse than prima donnas.


ERNEST

[_takes printers' proofs out of pocket, hands them to her in silence_]

Some proofs of a monograph I was correcting on the train. Mind
hammering those loose sentences of mine into decent English? You can
write--I can't.


HELEN

[_reading innocently_]

"Recent Experiments in Anterior Poliomyelitis by Ernest Hamilton, M.D.,
Ph.D., and Helen"--what! why, you've put _my_ name with yours!

    [_Much excited and delighted._


ERNEST

Well, if you object--like a prima donna----

    [_Takes out pencil to mark on proof._


HELEN

[_snatching proofs away_]

Object? Why, this makes my reputation in the scientific world.


ERNEST

Well, didn't you make mine?


HELEN

[_still glowing with pride, but touched by his unexpected generosity_]

You can't imagine what this means to me. It's so hard for a woman to get
any recognition. Most men have but one use for us. If we get interested
in anything but _them_ it is "unwomanly"--they call it "a fad." But
they've _got_ to take me seriously now. My name with Ernest Hamilton's!

    [_Points to her name and swaggers back and forth._


ERNEST

[_bantering_]

But then, you see, you are a very exceptional woman. Why, you have a
mind like a man.


HELEN

Like a man? [_Coming close to him, tempting him._] If you had a mind
like a woman you would know better than to say that to me!

    [_Re-enter JUDGE from garden. He smiles and glances at them. The
    lovers keep quiet as he crosses to the door. Then they look at
    each other and smile. JUDGE has gone into the house. It is nearly
    dark. The moon is rising._


ERNEST

[_raises eyebrows_]

They all take for granted that I want to make love to you.

    [_Smiles but avoids her eyes._


HELEN

[_avoids his_]

Well, you took for granted that I wanted you to!... You are about the
most conceited man I ever knew.


ERNEST

How can I help it when you admire me so?


HELEN

I? Admire you?


ERNEST

You're always telling me what great things I'm going to do--stimulating
me, pushing me along. Why, after you left, everything went slump. Tell
me, why did you leave? Was I rude to you? Did I hurt your feelings?


HELEN

Not in the least. It was entirely out of respect for _your_ feelings.


ERNEST

_My_ feelings? [_Laughing._] Oh, I see. You got it into your head that
_I_ wanted to marry _you_!


HELEN

Men sometimes do.


ERNEST

[_looks away_]

I suppose they do.


HELEN

It's been known to happen.


ERNEST

Talk about conceit! Well, you needn't be afraid! I'll never ask you to
marry _me_.


HELEN

[_turns and looks at him a moment_]

You can't imagine what a weight this takes off my mind.

    [_She looks away and sighs._


ERNEST

[_enthusiastically_]

Yes! I feel as if a veil between us had been lifted.

    [_He looks away and sighs too. Some one begins "Tristan and
    Isolde" on the piano within. The moon is up._


HELEN

[_after a pause_]

Suppose we talk about--our work.


ERNEST

Yes! Our work. Let's drop the other subject. Look at the moon!

    [_Music and the moonlight flooding them._


HELEN

Seriously, you promise never to _mention_ the subject again?

    [_She keeps her eyes averted._


ERNEST

I promise.

    [_He keeps his eyes averted._


HELEN

[_turning to him with a sudden change to girlish enthusiasm_]

Then I'll go to Paris with you!


ERNEST

[_recoils_]

What's that?


HELEN

Why, Doctor Metchnikoff--he promised me he would invite you.


ERNEST

Yes, but--


HELEN

Don't miss the chance of a lifetime!


ERNEST

No, but you--_you_ can't come!


HELEN

[_simply_]

If you need me I can, and you just said----


ERNEST

But you mustn't come to Paris with me!


HELEN

Don't you want me with you?


ERNEST

You are to stay at home and run the department for me.


HELEN

[_stepping back_]

Don't you want me with you?


ERNEST

[_stepping forward, with his heart in voice_]

Do I _want_ you! [_Stops._] But I am a man--you are a woman.


HELEN

What of it? Are you one of those small men who care what people say? No!
That's not your reason! [_She sees that it is not._] What is it? You
must tell me.


ERNEST

[_hesitates_]

It's only for your sake.


HELEN

[_with feeling_]

Think of all I've done for _your_ sake. You wouldn't be going yourself
but for me! I was the one to see you needed it, I proposed it to
Metchnikoff--I urged him--_made_ him ask you--for _your sake_! And now
am I to be left at home like a child because you don't care to be
embarrassed with me?


ERNEST

Oh, please! This is so unfair. But I simply can't take you now.


HELEN

[_with growing scorn_]

Oh! You are all alike. You pile work upon me until I nearly drop, you
play upon my interest, my sympathy--you get all you can out of me--my
youth, my strength, my best! And then, just as I, too, have a chance to
arrive in my profession, you, of all men, throw me over! I hate men. I
hate you!


ERNEST

And I love you!

    [_They stare at each other in silence, the moonlight flooding
    HELEN'S face, the music coming clear._


HELEN

[_in an awed whisper, stepping back slowly_]

I've done it! I've done it! I _knew_ I'd do it!


ERNEST

No. I did it. Forgive me. I had to do it.


HELEN

Oh, and this spoils everything!


ERNEST

[_comes closer_]

No! It glorifies everything! [_He breaks loose._] I have loved you from
the first day you came and looked up at me for orders. I didn't want you
there; I didn't want any woman there. I tried to tire you out with
overwork but couldn't. I tried to drive you out by rudeness, but you
stayed. And that made me love you more. Oh, I love you! I love you! I
love you!


HELEN

Don't; oh, don't love me!


ERNEST

[_still closer_]

Why, I never knew there could be women like you. I thought women were
merely something to be wanted and worshipped, petted and patronized. But
now--why, I love everything about you: your wonderful, brave eyes that
face the naked facts of life and are not ashamed; those beautiful hands
that toiled so long, so well, so close to mine and not afraid, not
afraid!


HELEN

You mustn't! I _am_ afraid now! I made you say it. [_Smiling and
crying._] I have always wanted to make you say it. I have always
sworn you shouldn't.


ERNEST

[_pained_]

Because you cannot care enough?


HELEN

Enough?... Too much.


ERNEST

[_overwhelmed_]

You--love--me!

    [_He takes her in his arms, a silent embrace with only the bland
    blasé moon looking on._


HELEN

It is because I love you that I didn't want you to say it--only I did.
It is because I love you that I went abroad--to stay, only I couldn't! I
couldn't stay away! [_She holds his face in her hands._] Oh, do you know
how I love you? No!... you're only a _man_!


ERNEST

[_kissing her rapturously_]

Every day there in the laboratory, when you in your apron--that dear
apron which I stole from your locker when you left me--when you asked
for orders--did you know that I wanted to say: "Love me"! Every day when
you took up your work, did you never guess that I wanted to take you up
in my arms?


HELEN

[_smiling up into his face_]

Why didn't you?


ERNEST

Thank God I didn't! For while we worked there together I came to know
you as few men ever know the women they desire. Woman can be more than
sex, as man is more than sex. And all this makes man and woman not less
but more _overwhelmingly_ desirable and necessary to each other, and
makes both things last--not for a few years, but forever!

    [_Sound of voices approaching from the garden. The lovers
    separate. It is JEAN and REX, REX laughing, JEAN dodging until
    caught and kissed._


JEAN

No, no--it's time to dress.... Be good, Rex--don't!

    [_Without seeing HELEN and ERNEST, they disappear into the house.
    HELEN is suddenly changed, as if awakened from a spell of
    enchantment._


HELEN

What have we done! This is all moonlight and madness. To-morrow comes
the clear light of day.


ERNEST

Ah, but we'll love each other to-morrow!


HELEN

But we cannot marry--then or any other to-morrow.


ERNEST

Can't? What nonsense!


HELEN

[_shaking her head and restraining him_]

I have slaved for you all these months--not because I wanted to win you
from your work but to help you in it. And now--after all--shall I
destroy you? No! No!


ERNEST

I _love_ you--you love _me_--nothing else matters.


HELEN

Everything else matters. I'm not a little débutante to be persuaded that
I am needed because I am wanted! I haven't _played_ with you; I have
_worked_ with you, and I _know_! Think of Theodore! Think of Lucy! And
now poor little Jean. Marry you? Never!


ERNEST

You mean your career?


HELEN

[_with supreme scorn_]

_My_ career? No! yours--always yours!


ERNEST

[_with the same scorn and a snap of the fingers_]

Then _that_ for my career. I'll go back into private practice and make a
million.


HELEN

That's just what I said you'd do. Just what you must not do! Your work
is needed by the world.


ERNEST

[_wooing_]

You are my world and I need you.... But there is no love without
marriage, no marriage without money.... We can take it or leave it. Can
we leave it? No! I can't--you can't! Come! [_She steps back slowly._]
Why should we sacrifice the best! Come!


HELEN

So _this_ is what marriage means! Then I _cannot_ marry you, Ernest!


ERNEST

You cannot do without me, Helen! [_Holds out his arms._] Come! You have
been in my arms once. You and I can never forget that now. We can never
go back now. It's all--or nothing now. Come! [_She is struggling against
her passion. He stands still, with arms held out._] I shall not woo you
against your will, but you are coming to me! Because, by all the powers
of earth and heaven, you are mine and I am yours! Come!

    [_Like a homing pigeon she darts into his arms with a gasp of joy.
    A rapturous embrace in silence with the moonlight streaming down
    upon them. The music has stopped._

    _JOHN, dressed for dinner, strolls out upon the terrace. He stops
    abruptly upon discovering them. The lovers are too absorbed to be
    aware of his presence._



ACT II


    _It is the next morning, Sunday._

    _It appears that at JOHN'S country place they have breakfast at
    small tables out upon the broad, shaded terrace overlooking the
    glorious view of his little farm._

    _ERNEST and THEODORE, the scientist and the clergyman, are
    breakfasting together. The others are either breakfasting in their
    rooms or are not yet down, it being Sunday._

    _The man of God is enjoying his material blessings heartily. Also
    he seems to be enjoying his view of the man of science, who eats
    little and says less._


THEODORE

[_with coffee-cup poised_]

What's the matter with your appetite this morning, Ernest? [_ERNEST,
gazing up at one of the second-story windows, does not hear. The door
opens. He starts. Then, seeing it's only a servant with food, he
sighs._] Expecting something? The codfish balls? Well, here they are.
[_ERNEST refuses the proffered codfish balls, scowls, brings out cigar
case, lights cigar, looks at watch, and fidgets._] Oh, I know--you're
crazy to go with me--to church! [_ERNEST doesn't hear. Creates a cloud
of smoke._] Their regular rector is ill. So I agreed to take the service
this morning.... Always the way when off for a rest ... isn't it? [_No
answer. THEODORE gets up, walks around the table, and shouts in ERNEST'S
face._] Isn't it?


ERNEST

[_startled_]

I beg your pardon?


THEODORE

[_laughs, ERNEST wondering what's the joke_]

Oh, you're hopeless! [_Going._] I can't stand people who talk so much at
breakfast.


ERNEST

[_suddenly wakes up_]

Wait a minute. Sit down. Have a cigar. Let's talk about God. [_THEODORE
stops smiling._] But I mean it. I'd like to have a religion myself.


THEODORE

I had an idea you took no stock in religion.

    [_Takes the cigar. ERNEST holds a match for him._


ERNEST

[_enthusiastically_]

Just what I thought, until ... well, I've made a discovery, a great
discovery!


THEODORE

A scientific discovery?


ERNEST

[_with a wave of the hand_]

It makes all science look like a ... mere machine.


THEODORE

Well, if you feel so strongly about it ... better come to church after
all!


ERNEST

I'm not talking about the Church--I'm talking about _religion_.


THEODORE

You're not talking about religion; you're talking about--love.


ERNEST

[_quietly_]

Certainly; the same thing, isn't it? I'm talking about the divine fire
that glorifies life and perpetuates it--the one eternal thing we mortals
share with God.... If _that_ isn't religious, what is? [_THEODORE smiles
indulgently._] Tell me, Theodore--you know I wasn't allowed to go to
church when young, and since then I've always worked on the holy Sabbath
day, like yourself--does the Church still let innocent human beings
think there's something inherently wrong about sex? [_THEODORE drops his
eyes. ERNEST disgusted with him._] I see! Good people should drop their
eyes even at the mention of the word.


THEODORE

Sex is a necessary evil, I admit, but----


ERNEST

[_laughs_]

Evil! The God-given impulse which accounts for you sitting there, for me
sitting here? The splendid instinct which writes our poetry, builds our
civilizations, founds our churches--the very heart and soul of life is
evil. Really, Theodore, I don't know much about religion, but that
strikes me as blasphemy against the Creator.


THEODORE

Very scientific, my boy, very modern; but the Church believed in
marriage before Science was born.


ERNEST

As a compromise with evil?


THEODORE

As a sacrament of religion--and so do you!


ERNEST

Good! Then why practise and preach marriage as a sacrament of property?
"Who giveth this woman to be married to this man--" Women are still
goods and chattels to be given or sold, are they?


THEODORE

Oh, nonsense!


ERNEST

Then why keep on making them promise to "serve and obey"? Why marry them
with a ring--the link of the ancient chain? [_He smiles._] In the days
of physical force it was made of iron--now of gold. But it's still a
chain, isn't it?


THEODORE

Symbols, my dear fellow, not to be taken in a literal
sense--time-honored and beautiful symbols.


ERNEST

But why insult a woman you respect--even symbolically?


THEODORE

[_with a laugh_]

Oh, you scientists!


ERNEST

[_joining in the laugh_]

We try to find the truth--and you try to hide it, eh? Well, there's one
thing we have in common, anyway--one faith I'll never doubt again; I
believe in Heaven now. I always shall.


THEODORE

Do you mind telling me why, my boy?


ERNEST

Not in the least. I've been there. [_JOHN comes out to breakfast. He is
scowling._] Good morning; could you spare me five minutes?


JOHN

[_ringing bell_]

Haven't had breakfast yet.


ERNEST

After breakfast?


JOHN

I've an appointment with young Baker.


ERNEST

[_smiles_]

I'll wait my turn.


JOHN

Going to be pretty busy to-day--you, too, I suppose, if you're sailing
to-morrow.


ERNEST

I can postpone sailing. This is more important.


JOHN

I should hate to see _anything_ interfere with your career.

    [_LUCY also arrives for breakfast. She "always pours her husband's
    coffee."_


ERNEST

I appreciate your interest, but I'll look out for my "career." [_To
LUCY._] Could you tell me when your sister will be down?


JOHN

[_overriding LUCY_]

My sister is ill and won't be down at all ... until _after_ you _leave_.

    [_LUCY pretends not to hear. THEODORE walks away._


ERNEST

[_aroused, but calm_]

I don't believe you quite understand. It is a matter of indifference to
me whether we have a talk or not. Entirely out of courtesy to you that I
suggest it.


JOHN

Don't inconvenience yourself on my account.


ERNEST

[_shrugs shoulders and turns to THEODORE_]

Wait, I think I'll sit in church till train time.


THEODORE

[_smoothing it over_]

Come along. I'm going to preach about marriage!

    [_THEODORE starts off._


ERNEST

[_going, turns to LUCY_]

Thanks for your kindness. Will you ask the valet to pack my things,
please? I'll call for them on the way to the station. [_To JOHN._] Do
you understand? I have no favors to ask of you. You don't own your
sister--she owns herself.

    [_The scientist goes to church._


JOHN

[_with a loud laugh, turns to LUCY_]

Rather impertinent for a two-thousand-dollar man, I think. [_Resumes
breakfast, picks up newspaper. LUCY says nothing, attending to his
wants solicitously._] Bah! what does this highbrow know about the power
men of my sort can use ... when we have to? [_LUCY cringes dutifully in
silence. JOHN, paper in one hand, brusquely passes cup to LUCY with
other._] Helen got her own way about college, about work, about living
in her own apartment--but if she thinks she can put _this_ across!
Humph! These modern women must learn their place. [_LUCY, smiling
timidly, returns cup. JOHN takes it without thanks, busied in
newspapers. A look of resentment creeps over LUCY'S pretty face, now
that he can't see her._] Ah! I've got something up my sleeve for that
young woman. [_LUCY says nothing, looks of contempt while he reads._]
Well, why don't you say something?


LUCY

[_startled_]

I thought you didn't like me to talk at breakfast, dear.


JOHN

Think I like you to sit there like a mummy? [_No reply._] Haven't you
_any_thing to say? [_Apparently not._] You never have any more, nothing
interesting.... Does it ever occur to you that I'd like to be
diverted?... No!


LUCY

Yes.... Would you mind very much if ... if I left you, John?


JOHN

Left me? When--where--how long?


LUCY

[_gathering courage_]

Now--any place--entirely.


JOHN

[_bursts out laughing_]

What suddenly put _this_ notion in your head?


LUCY

I'm sorry--John, but I've had it--oh, for years. I never dared ask you
till now.


JOHN

[_still glancing over paper_]

Like to leave me, would you?... You have no grounds for divorce, my
dear.


LUCY

But _you_ will have--after I leave you.


JOHN

[_yawns_]

You have no lover to leave with.


LUCY

[_daintily_]

But couldn't I just desert you--without anything horrid?


JOHN

[_reads_]

No money to desert with.


LUCY

[_springs up_--_at bay_]

You won't let me escape decently when I tell you I don't want to stay?
When I tell you I can't stand being under your roof any longer? When I
tell you I'm sick of this life?


JOHN

[_gets up calmly_]

But, you see, I can stand it. I want you to stay. I'm not sick of it.
You belong to me.


LUCY

[_shrinking away as he approaches_]

Don't touch me! Every time you come near me I have to nerve myself to
stand it.


JOHN

What's got into you? Don't I give you everything money can buy? My God,
if I only gave you something to worry about; if I ran after other women
like old man Baker----


LUCY

If you only would!--Then you'd let _me_ alone. To me you are repulsive.


JOHN

[_taking hold of her_]

Lucy! You are my wife.


LUCY

[_looking him straight in the eye_]

But you don't respect me, and I--I hate you--oh, how I hate you!


JOHN

[_holds her fast_]

I am your husband, your lawful husband.


LUCY

[_stops struggling_]

Yes, this is lawful--but, oh, what laws you men have made for women!

    [_The JUDGE comes out, carrying a telegram._


JUDGE

Rather early in the day for conjugal embraces, if you should ask me.
[_JOHN and LUCY separate._] Makes me quite sentimental and homesick.

    [_JUDGE raises telegram and kisses it._


LUCY

[_calming herself_]

From Aunt Julia again? Do you get telegrams every day from Reno?


JUDGE

No, but she caught cold. Went to the theatre last night and caught a
cold. So she wired me--naturally; got the habit of telling me her
troubles, can't break it, even in Reno.


JOHN

I thought she hated the theatre!


JUDGE

So she does, but I'm fond of it; she went for my sake. She's got the
habit of sacrificing herself for me. Just as hard to break good habits
as bad.


JOHN

True women enjoy sacrificing themselves.


JUDGE

Yes, that's what we tell them. Well, we ought to know. We make 'em do
it. [_Brings out a fountain pen and sits abruptly._] That's what I'll
tell her. I can hear her laugh. You know her laugh.


LUCY

[_rings for a servant_]

A telegraph blank?


JUDGE

[_with a humorous expression he brings a whole pad of telegraph blanks
out of another pocket_]

Carry them with me nowadays. [_Begins to write._] Wish I hadn't sold my
Western Union, John.


JOHN

I don't believe you want that divorce very much.


JUDGE

It doesn't matter what _I_ want--what she wants is the point. You must
give the woman you marry tutti-frutti, divorces--everything.... Why,
I've got the habit myself, and God knows I don't enjoy sacrifice--I'm a
man! The superior sex!


JOHN

I don't believe you appreciate that wife of yours.


JUDGE

[_between the words he's writing_]

Don't I? It isn't every wife that'd travel away out to Reno--you know
how she hates travelling--and go to a theatre--and catch a cold--and get
a divorce--all for the sake of an uncongenial husband. [_Suddenly
getting an idea, strikes table._] I know what gave her a cold. She
raised all the windows in her bedroom--for _my_ sake!--I always kept
them down for _her_ sake. I'll have to scold her. [_Bends to his writing
again._] Poor little thing! She doesn't know how to take care of herself
without me. I doubt if she ever will.

    [_Looks over telegram. A SERVANT comes, takes telegram, and goes._


JOHN

Uncle Everett, I want your advice.


JUDGE

John! do _you_ want a divorce?


JOHN

No, we are not that sort, are we, Lucy? [_No answer._] Are we, dear?


LUCY

[_after a pause_]

No, we are not that sort!


JOHN

We believe in the sanctity of the home, the holiness of marriage.


LUCY

Yes, we believe in--"the holiness of marriage!"

    [_Turns away, covering her face with her hands and shuddering._


JOHN

Lucy, tell Helen and Jean to come here. [_LUCY goes._] Well, young Baker
spoke to me about Jean last night. I told him I'd think it over and give
him my decision this morning.


JUDGE

That's right. Mustn't seem too anxious, John. When the properly
qualified male offers one of our dependent females a chance at woman's
only true career, of course it's up to us to look disappointed.


JOHN

But I didn't bring up the little matter you spoke of.


JUDGE

About that chorus girl?... Afraid of scaring him off?


JOHN

Not at all, but--well, it's all over and it's all fixed. No scandal, no
blackmail.


JUDGE

Hum! By the way, got anything on Hamilton?


JOHN

I don't believe in saints myself.


JUDGE

I see.... Good thing, for Jean Rex isn't a saint. I suppose you'd break
off the match.

    [_REX, in riding clothes, comes out. JOHN salutes him warmly. The
    JUDGE is reading the paper._


REX

[_not eagerly_]

Well?


JOHN

Well, of course, you realize that you're asking a great deal of me, Rex,
but--[_Offers hand to REX warmly._] Be good to her, my boy, be good to
her.


REX

[_shaking hands, forced warmth_]

Thanks awfully. See-what-I-mean? [_To JUDGE._] Congratulate me, Judge;
I'm the happiest of men.


JUDGE

[_looking up from newspaper_]

So I see. Don't let it worry you.

    [_JEAN, in riding costume, comes from the house._


JOHN

[_signalling JUDGE to leave_]

If Helen asks for me, I'm in the garden.


JUDGE

If any telegrams come for me, I'm writing to _my wife_!

    [_JEAN and REX alone, they look at each other, not very loverlike._


JEAN

[_impulsively_]

You weren't in love with me yesterday. You aren't now. You would get out
of it if you honorably could. But you honorably _can't_! So you have
spoken to John; you are going to see it through, because you're a good
sport.... I admire you for that, Rex, too much to hold you to it. You
are released.


REX

[_amazed_]

Why--why--you--you don't suppose I want to be released?


JEAN

Well, I do!... Yesterday I let you propose to me when I cared for some
one else. That's not fair to you, to me, to him!


REX

[_in a sudden fury_]

Who is he? What do you mean by this? Why didn't you tell me?


JEAN

I am telling you now. What have you ever told me about yourself?


REX

[_blinking_]

You had no right to play fast and loose with me.


JEAN

I'm making the only amends I can. You are free, I tell you.


REX

I don't want to be free! He can't have you! You are mine! If you think
you can make me stop loving you----


JEAN

[_interrupting_]

Love, Rex? Only jealousy. You've never been in love with me--you've
always been in love with Helen. But you couldn't get her, so you took
me. Isn't that true, Rex?


REX

[_after an uncomfortable pause_]

I'll be honest with you, too. Yesterday I wasn't really very serious. I
felt like a brute afterward. You tried your best to prevent what
happened and ran away from me. But now----


JEAN

Don't you know why I ran away? To make you follow. I made you catch me.
I made you kiss me. Then you realized that we had been thrown together
constantly--deliberately thrown together, if you care to know it--and,
well, that's how many marriages are made. But I shan't marry on such
terms. It's indecent!


REX

[_another pause_]

I never thought a _woman_ could be capable of such honesty!... Oh, what
a bully sport you are! You aren't like the rest that have been shoved at
me. Why, I can respect you. You are the one for me.

    [_He tries to take her._


JEAN

[_restraining him with dignity_]

I am sorry, Rex, but I am not for you.


REX

Jean! without you ... don't you see--I'll go straight to the devil!


JEAN

That old, cowardly dodge? Any man who has no more backbone than
that--why, I wouldn't marry you if you were the last man in the world.


REX

[_frantic to possess what he cannot have_]

You won't, eh? We'll see about that. I want you now as I never wanted
anything in my life, and I'll win you from him yet. You'll see!

    [_HELEN now appears._


HELEN

Oh, I beg your pardon. Lucy said John was out here.


JEAN

I'll call him.

    [_She runs down into the garden._


REX

I'll call him.

    [_He runs after JEAN. HELEN helplessly watches them go, sighs,
    standing by the garden steps until JOHN ascends. He looks at HELEN
    a moment, wondering how to begin. She looks so capable and
    unafraid of him._


JOHN

If you hadn't gone to college, you could have done what Jean is doing.


HELEN

[_with a shrug and a smile_]

But how proud you must be, John, to have a sister who isn't compelled to
marry one man while in love with another. _Now_, aren't you glad I went
to college?

    [_She laughs good-naturedly at him._


JOHN

Humph! If you think I'd let a sister of mine marry one of old man
Baker's two-thousand-dollar employees----


HELEN

Why, John, didn't Ernest tell you? Doctor Hawksbee has offered him a
partnership. Just think of that!


JOHN

What! Going back into private practice?


HELEN

But it's such a fashionable practice. Hawksbee's made a million at it.


JOHN

But the institute needs Hamilton.


HELEN

Ah, but we need the money!


JOHN

[_disconcerted_]

So you are going to spoil a noble career, are you? That's selfish. I
didn't think it of you. There are thousands of successful physicians,
but there is only one Ernest Hamilton.


HELEN

[_laughs_]

Oh, don't worry, John, he has promised me to keep his
two-thousand-dollar job.


JOHN

Ah, I'm glad. You must let nothing interfere with his great humanitarian
work. Think what it means to the lives of little children! Think what it
means to the future of the race! Why, every one says his greatest
usefulness has hardly begun!


HELEN

Oh, I know all that, I've thought of all that.


JOHN

Now, such men should be kept free from cares and anxiety. What was it
you said yesterday? "He needs every cent of his salary for books,
travel, all the advantages he simply must have for efficiency." To marry
a poor man--most selfish thing a girl could do!


HELEN

Yes, John, that's what I said yesterday.


JOHN

[_scoring_]

But that was before he asked you! [_HELEN smiles. He sneers._] Rather
pleased with yourself now, aren't you? "Just a woman after
all"--heroine of cheap magazine story! Sacrifices career for love!...
All very pretty and romantic, my dear--but how about the man you love!
Want to sacrifice his career, too?


HELEN

But I'm not going to sacrifice what you are pleased to call my
career.... Therefore he won't have to sacrifice his.


JOHN

What! going to keep on working? Will he let the woman he loves work!


HELEN

[_demure_]

Well, you see, he says I'm "too good" to loaf.


JOHN

Humph! who'll take care of your home when you're at work? Who'll take
care of your work when you're at home. Look at it practically. To
maintain such a home as he needs on such a salary as he has--why, it
would take all your time, all your energy. To keep him in his class
you'll have to drop out of your own, become a household drudge, a
servant.


HELEN

And if I am willing?


JOHN

Then where's your intellectual companionship? How'll you help his work?
Expense for him, disillusionment for both. If you're the woman you
pretend to be, you won't marry that man!


HELEN

[_strong_]

The world needs his work, but he needs mine, and we both need each
other.


JOHN

[_stronger_]

And marriage would only handicap his work, ruin yours, and put you
apart. You know that's true. You've seen it happen with others. You have
told me so yourself!


HELEN

Then that settles it! We must not, cannot, shall not marry. We have no
right to marry. I agree with all you say--it would not join us together;
it would put us asunder.


JOHN

And you'll give him up? Good! Good!


HELEN

Give him up? Never! The right to work, the right to love--those rights
are inalienable. No, we'll give up marriage but not each other.


JOHN

But--but--I don't understand.


HELEN

[_straight in his eyes_]

We need each other--in our work and in our life--and we're to have each
other--until life is ended and our work is done. Now, do you understand?


JOHN

[_recoiling_]

Are you in your right mind? Think what you're saying.


HELEN

I have thought all night, John. You have shown me how to say it.


JOHN

But, but--why, this is utterly unbelievable! Why I'm not even shocked.
Do you notice? I'm not even shocked? Because everything you have said,
everything you have done--it all proves that you are a good woman.


HELEN

If I were a bad woman, I'd inveigle him into marriage, John.


JOHN

Inveigle! Marriage! Are you crazy? ... Oh, this is all one of your
highbrow jokes!


HELEN

John, weren't you serious when you said marriage would destroy him?


JOHN

But this would destroy _you_!


HELEN

Well, even if that were so, which is more important to the world? Which
is more important to your "great humanitarian work"?


JOHN

Ah, very clever! A bluff to gain my consent to marrying him--a trick to
get his salary raised.


HELEN

[_with force_]

John, nothing you can do, nothing you can say, will ever gain my consent
to marrying him. I've not told you half my reasons.


JOHN

My God! my own sister! And did you, for one moment, dream that I would
consent to that!


HELEN

Not for one moment. I'm not asking your consent. I'm just telling you.


JOHN

[_after scrutinizing her_]

Ridiculous! If you really meant to run away with this fellow, would you
come and tell _me_, your own brother?


HELEN

Do you suppose I'd _run_ away without telling, even my own brother?


JOHN

[_looks at her a moment; she returns his gaze_]

Bah!--all pose and poppycock! [_He abruptly touches bell._] I'll soon
put a stop to this nonsense. [_Muttering._] Damnedest thing I ever heard
of.


HELEN

John, I understand exactly what I'm doing. You never will. But nothing
you can do can stop me now.


JOHN

We'll see about that. [_The BUTLER appears._] Ask the others to step out
here at once; all except Miss Jean and Mr. Baker, I don't want them. Is
Doctor Hamilton about?


BUTLER

No, sir, he went to church.


JOHN

All right. [_The BUTLER disappears._] To church! My God!

    [_HELEN pays no attention. She gazes straight out into the future,
    head high, eyes clear and wide open._


JOHN

First of all, when the others come out, I'm going to ask them to look
you in the face. Then you can make this statement to them, if you wish,
and--look them in the face.


HELEN

[_with quiet scorn_]

If I were being forced into such a marriage as poor little Jean's, I
would kill myself. But in the eyes of God, who made love, no matter how
I may appear in the eyes of man, who made marriage, I know that I am
doing right.

    [_LUCY comes out, followed by the JUDGE._


JOHN

[_not seeing them. He is loud_]

Say that to Uncle Everett and Cousin Theodore! Say that to my wife,
stand up and say that to the world, if you dare.


LUCY

[_to JUDGE_]

She has told him!


JOHN

[_wheeling about_]

What! did she tell you? Why didn't you come to me at once?


LUCY

[_tremulous_]

She said she wanted to tell you herself. I didn't think she'd dare!

    [_They all turn to look at HELEN. THEODORE comes back from church
    alone._


HELEN

It had to be announced, of course.


THEODORE

[_advancing, beaming_]

Announced? What is announced?

    [_All turn to him in a panic._


LUCY

[_hurriedly_]

Their engagement, Theodore!


JUDGE

[_overriding HELEN_]

Yes, John has given his consent at last--example to society.

    [_Prods JOHN._


JOHN

[_also overrides HELEN_]

Of course! One of the finest fellows in the world.


THEODORE

[_delighted_]

And withal he has a deep religious nature. Congratulations. My dear,
he'll make an ideal husband.

    [_Takes both HELEN'S hands, about to kiss her._


HELEN

[_can't help smiling_]

Thank you, cousin, but I don't want a husband.

    [_A sudden silence._


THEODORE

[_looks from one to the other_]

A lover's quarrel?--already!


JUDGE

[_enjoying it_]

No, Theodore, these lovers are in perfect accord. They both have
conscientious scruples against marriage.


JOHN

Conscientious!


JUDGE

So they are simply going to set up housekeeping without the mere
formality of a wedding ceremony.

    [_THEODORE drops HELEN'S hands._


HELEN

[_quietly_]

We are going to do nothing of the sort.


THEODORE

Uncle Everett!

    [_Takes her hands again._


HELEN

We are not going to set up housekeeping at all. He will keep his present
quarters and I mine.


JOHN

But they are going to belong to each other.


THEODORE

[_drops HELEN'S hands--aghast_]

I don't believe it.


JUDGE

[_apart to THEODORE_]

The strike against marriage. It was bound to come.


THEODORE

[_to JUDGE_]

But Church and State--[_indicates self and JUDGE_] must break this
strike.


HELEN

John is a practical man. He will prove to you that such a home as we
could afford would only be a stumbling-block to Ernest's usefulness, a
hollow sphere for mine. You can't fill it with mere happiness, Lucy, not
for long, not for long.


JUDGE

[_restrains THEODORE about to reply_]

Oh, let her get it all nicely talked out, then she'll take a nap and
wake up feeling better. [_Whispering._] We've driven her to this
ourselves, but she really doesn't mean a word of it. Come, dear child,
tell us all about this nightmare.


HELEN

[_smiles at the JUDGE_]

Why, think what would happen to an eager intellect like Ernest
Hamilton's if he had to come back to a narrow-minded apartment or a
dreary suburb every evening and eat morbid meals opposite a housewife
regaling him with the social ambitions of the other commuters. Ugh! It
has ruined enough brilliant men already. [_JUDGE restrains THEODORE and
others who want to interrupt._] Now at the University Club he dines, at
slight expense compared with keeping up a home, upon the best food in
the city with some of the best scientists in the country.... Marriage
would divorce him from all that, would transplant him from an atmosphere
of ideas into an atmosphere of worries. We should be forced into the
same deadly ruts as the rest of you, uncle. Do you want me to destroy a
great career, Theodore?


THEODORE

Do you want to be a blot upon that career?


HELEN

[_lightly_]

I'd rather be a blot than a blight, and that's what I'd be if I became
his bride. Ask John.


LUCY

Do you want to be disgraced, despised, ostracized!


HELEN

[_smiles at LUCY_]

A choice of evils, dear; of course, none of those costly well-kept wives
on your visiting list will call upon me. But instead of one day at home,
instead of making a tired husband work for me, I'll have all my days
free to work with him, like the old-fashioned woman you admire! Instead
of being an expense, I'll be a help to him; instead of being separated
by marriage and divergent interests, we'll be united by love and common
peril.... Isn't that the orthodox way to gain character, Theodore?


JOHN

Oh, this is all damned nonsense! Look here, you've either got to marry
this fellow now or else go away and never see him again; never, never!


HELEN

Just what I thought, John. I intended never to see him again. That was
why I let you send me abroad. But I'll never, never do it again.
[_Smiling like an engaged girl._] It was perfectly dreadful! Ernest
couldn't get along without me at all, poor old thing. And I, why, I
nearly died.


JOHN

Then you'll have to be married, that's all.


THE OTHERS

Why, of course you'll have to, that's all.


HELEN

[_nodding_]

Oh, I know just how you feel about it. I thought so, too, at first, but
I can't marry Ernest Hamilton. I love him.


THEODORE

But if you love him truly--marriage, my dear, brings together those who
love each other truly.


HELEN

But those who love each other truly don't need anything to bring them
together. The difficulty is to keep apart.

    [_A reminiscent shudder._


JOHN

That's all romantic rot! Every one feels that way at first.


HELEN

At first! Then the practical object of marriage is not to bring together
those who love each other, but to keep together those who do not? [_To
LUCY._] What a dreadful thing marriage must be!

    [_JUDGE chokes down a chuckle._


JUDGE

Ah, so you wish to be free to separate. Now we have it.


HELEN

To separate? What an idea! On the contrary, we wish to be free to keep
together! In the old days when they had interests in common marriage
used to make man and woman one, but now it puts them apart. Can't you
see it all about you? He goes down-town and works; she stays up-town and
plays. He belongs to the laboring class; she belongs to the leisure
class. At best, they seldom work at the same or similar trades. Legally
it may be a union, but socially it's a mésalliance--in the eyes of God
it's often worse.... No wonder that one in eleven ends in divorce. The
only way to avoid spiritual separation is to shun legal union like a
contagious disease. Modern marriage _is_ divorce. [_She turns to go,
defiantly._] I've found my work, I've found my mate, and so has he! What
more can any human being ask?

    [_The BUTLER appears._


BUTLER

[_to JOHN_]

Doctor Hamilton is outside in a taxicab, sir.


JOHN

Show him here at once!


BUTLER

He says he does not care to come in, sir, unless you are ready to talk
to him now.


JOHN

Well, of all the nerve! You bet I'm ready!

    [_Starts off. HELEN starts, too._


JUDGE

[_intercepting them calmly_]

Wait a minute--wait a minute. [_To SERVANT._] Ask Doctor Hamilton kindly
to wait in the library. [_The BUTLER goes._] Now, we're all a bit
overwrought. [_Soothes HELEN, pats her hand, puts arm about her,
gradually leads her back._] I still believe in you, Helen, I still
believe in him. [_To all._] It's simply that he's so deeply absorbed in
his great work for mankind that he doesn't realize what he is asking
Helen to do.


HELEN

[_quietly_]

So I told him ... when he asked me to marry him.


ALL

What! He _asked_ you to _marry_ him?


HELEN

Of course! _Implored_ me to marry him. [_She adds, smiling._] So
absorbed--not in mankind, but in me--that he "didn't realize what he
was asking me to do."


LUCY

[_utterly amazed_]

And you refused him! The man who loves you honorably?


HELEN

[_demurely_]

Of course! You don't suppose I'd take advantage of the poor fellow's
weakness. Women often do, I admit--even when not in love, sometimes....
Not because they're depraved but dependent.


JOHN

[_to all_]

And then he proposed this wicked substitute! Poisoned her innocent
mind--the bounder!


HELEN

But he did nothing of the sort.


JOHN

Oh, your own idea, was it?


HELEN

Of course!


JOHN

[_to all_]

And he is willing to take advantage of the poor child's ignorance--the
cad! [_To THEODORE._] "Deep religious nature," eh?


THEODORE

I can't believe it of him.


HELEN

He knows nothing about it yet. I haven't even seen him since I made my
decision.

    [_All exchange bewildered glances._


JOHN

[_apart to JUDGE_]

We've got to get him off to Paris. It's our only hope.


JUDGE

[_apart to JOHN_]

You can't stop her following. She's on the edge of the precipice--do you
want to shove her over? You are dealing with big people here and a big
passion.

    [_The BUTLER returns._


BUTLER

Doctor Hamilton asks to see Miss Helen while waiting.


JUDGE

[_calmly to BUTLER_]

Tell Doctor Hamilton that Miss Helen will see him here.

    [_The BUTLER leaves._


JOHN

Are you crazy! We've got to keep 'em apart--our one chance to save her.


JUDGE

No, bring them together. _That_ is our one chance. Come, we'll go down
into the garden and they'll have a nice little talk. Nothing like talk,
John, honest talk, to clear these marriage problems.

    [_Going._


JOHN

And let them elope? In that taxicab?--not on your life!

    [_Runs to and fro._


JUDGE

Come, John, girls never notify the family in advance when they plan
elopements. It's not done.


THEODORE

[_going_]

Uncle Everett is right. Ernest will bring her to her senses. He _has_ a
deep religious nature.

    [_JUDGE leads JOHN away to the garden._


LUCY

[_lingering--to HELEN_]

If you offer yourself on such terms to the man who loves you honorably,
he'll never look at you again.


THEODORE

[_leading LUCY off to garden_]

Don't worry! She won't.

    [_ERNEST rushes out to HELEN._


HELEN

Ernest!


ERNEST

At last! [_He takes her in his arms; she clings to him and gazes into
his eyes; a long embrace._] Tell me that you're all right again.


HELEN

[_smiling with love and trust_]

Except that you deserted me, dear, just when I needed you most. Ernest,
Ernest! never leave me again.


ERNEST

Deserted you? Why, your brother said you were ill.


HELEN

Ah, I see ... he was mistaken.


ERNEST

[_jubilant and boyish_]

But never mind now, I've got you at last, and I'll never, never let you
go. You've got to sail with me to-morrow. Together! Oh, think! Together.

    [_Another embrace._


HELEN

Are you _sure_ you love me?


ERNEST

[_laughs from sheer joy of her nearness_]

Am I sure? Ten million times more to-day than yesterday.


HELEN

Even so ... it is not, and can never be, as I love you.


ERNEST

[_with her hands in his, gayly_]

Then you can apologize.


HELEN

Apologize?


ERNEST

For saying, years and years ago--in other words, last night--that you
didn't think you'd marry me after all. [_She starts._] Why, what's the
matter? You're trembling like a leaf. You _are_ ill!


HELEN

No; oh, no.


ERNEST

[_tenderly_]

Still a few lingering doubts? I had hoped a good night's rest would put
those little prejudices to sleep forever.


HELEN

Sleep?

    [_She shakes her head, gazing at him soberly._


ERNEST

So you could not sleep? Neither could I; I was too happy to sleep. I was
afraid I'd miss some wondrous throbbing thought of your loveliness.
[_Takes her passive hand, puts a kiss in it, and closes it reverently
while she looks into his eyes without moving._] Do you know, I'm
disappointed in love. I always thought it meant soft sighs and pretty
speeches. It means an agony of longing, delicious agony, but, oh,
terrific. [_She says nothing._] Dear, dear girl, it may be easy for you,
but I can't stand much more of this.


HELEN

Nor I.


ERNEST

You must come to Paris with me or I'll stay home. All through the night
I had waking visions of our being parted. Just when we had found each
other at last. Some terrible impersonal monster stepped in between us
and said: "No. Now that you have had your glimpse of heaven--away! Ye
twain shall not enter here...." Silly, wasn't it? But I couldn't get the
horror of it out of my head.


HELEN

[_nodding_]

Do you know why, Ernest? Because it was in mine. It came from my thought
to yours. You and I are attuned like wireless instruments. Even in the
old blind days, there in the laboratory I used to read your mind. Shall
I tell you the name of the monster that would put us asunder?... Its
name is Marriage.


ERNEST

But I need you. You know that. And you need me. It's too late. We are
helpless now--in the clutch of forces more potent than our little
selves--forces that brought us into the world--forces that have made the
world. Whether you will or no, this beautiful binding power is sweeping
you and me together. And you must yield.


HELEN

[_reaching for his hand_]

Ah, my dear, could anything make it more beautiful, more binding than it
is now?


ERNEST

It is perfect. The one divine thing we share with God. The Church is
right in that respect. I used to look upon marriage as a mere contract.
It's a religious sacrament.


HELEN

Does the wedding ceremony make it sacred?


ERNEST

That mediæval incantation! No, love, which is given by God, not the
artificial form made by man.


HELEN

I knew it! I knew you'd see it--the mistake of all the ages. They've
tried to make love fit marriage. It can't be done. Marriage must be
changed to fit love. [_Impulsively._] Yes, I'll go to Paris with you.


ERNEST

[_about to take her in his arms_]

You darling!


HELEN

[_steps back_]

But not as your wife.


ERNEST

[_stops--perplexed_]

You mean ... without marriage?


HELEN

I mean without marriage.

    [_They look into each other's eyes._


ERNEST

A moment ago I thought I loved you as much as man could love woman. I
was mistaken in you--I was mistaken in myself. For now I love you as man
never loved before. You superb, you wonderful woman!


HELEN

[_holds out her hand to be shaken, not caressed_]

Then you agree?


ERNEST

[_kneels, kisses her hand, and arises_]

Of course not! You blessed girl, don't you suppose I understand? It's
all for my sake. Therefore for your sake--no.


HELEN

Then for my sake--for the sake of everything our love stands for!


ERNEST

[_laughing fondly_]

Do you think I'd let you do anything for anybody's sake you're sure,
later, to regret?


HELEN

Then don't ask me to marry you, Ernest. We'd both regret that later. It
would destroy the two things that have brought us together, love and
work.


ERNEST

Nonsense. Nothing could do that.... And besides, think of our poor
horrified families! Think of the world's view!


HELEN

Aren't we sacrificing enough for the world--money, comforts, even
children? Must we also sacrifice each other to the world? Must we be
hypocrites because others are? Must we, too, be cowards and take on the
protective coloring of our species?


ERNEST

Our ideas may be higher than society's, but society rewards and punishes
its members according to its own ideas, not ours.


HELEN

Do you want society's rewards? Do you fear society's punishment?


ERNEST

[_jubilantly enfolding her_]

With you in my arms, I want nothing from heaven, I fear nothing from
hell; but, my dear [_shrugs and comes down to earth with a smile and
releases her_], consider the price, consider the price.


HELEN

Aren't you willing to pay the price?


ERNEST

I? Yes! But it's the woman, always the woman, who pays.


HELEN

I am willing to pay.


ERNEST

I am not willing to let you.


HELEN

You'll have to be, dear. I shall go with you on my terms or not at all.


ERNEST

[_with decision_]

You will come with me as my wife or stay at home.


HELEN

[_gasping_]

Now? After all I've said, all I've done? Ernest: I've told the family! I
relied upon you. I took for granted--Ernest, you wouldn't--you couldn't
leave me behind now.


ERNEST

Thanks to you and what you've made of me, I must and will.


HELEN

Ernest!

    [_Opens her arms to him to take her._


ERNEST

[_about to enfold her--resists_]

No! If you love me enough for that [_points to her pleading hands_]--I
love you enough for this. [_He turns to go._] Come when you're ready to
marry me.


HELEN

[_shrill, excited, angered_]

Do you think this has been easy for me? Do you think I'll offer myself
again on any terms? Never!


ERNEST

You must marry me--and you will.


HELEN

You don't know me. Good-by!


ERNEST

Very well!

    [_ERNEST, afraid to stay, goes at once. She waits motionless until
    she hears the automobile carrying him away. She immediately turns
    from stone to tears, with a low wail. In utter despair, hands
    outstretched she sinks down upon a bench and buries her face in
    her hands._


HELEN

Oh, Ernest!... How could you?

    [_LUCY, THEODORE, JUDGE and JOHN all hurry back, all excited._


THEODORE

Did you see his horrified look?


LUCY

Fairly running away--revolted. Ah!

    [_Points at HELEN. HELEN arises, defiant, confident, calm._


JOHN

[_to HELEN_]

What did I tell you!


LUCY

You have thrown away the love of an honorable man.


THEODORE

Trampled upon the finest feelings of a deep nature.


JOHN

Let this be a lesson to you. You've lost your chance to marry, your
chance to work, and now, by heavens! you will cut out "independence" and
stay at home, _where women belong_, and live down this disgrace ... if
you can.


LUCY

With one excuse or another--he'll stay away. He'll never come back.


HELEN

[_clear and confident as if clairvoyant_]

He will! He is coming now.... He is crossing the hall.... He is passing
through the library.... He's here!

    [_But she doesn't turn. ERNEST reappears at the door and takes in
    the situation at a glance._


JOHN

[_still turned toward HELEN_]

He'll never look at you again, and I don't blame him! I'm a man; I know.
We don't respect women who sell out so cheap.


ERNEST

You lie! [_All turn, astounded. HELEN runs toward ERNEST with a cry of
joy. JOHN starts to block her. To JOHN._] Stop! You're not fit to touch
her. No man is.


JOHN

[_with a sarcastic laugh_]

Humph! I suppose that's why you ran away.


ERNEST

Yes. To protect her from myself.


JOHN

Then why come back?


ERNEST

To protect her from you! You cowards, you hypocrites! [_He rushes down
to HELEN, puts his strong arm about shoulder and whispers rapidly._]
Just as I started, something stopped me. In a flash I saw ... all this.


HELEN

[_clasping his arm with both hands_]

I made you come! I made you see!


JOHN

[_advances menacingly_]

By what right are you here in my home? By what right do you take my
sister in your arms?


ERNEST

By a right more ancient than man-made law! I have come to the cry of my
mate. I'm here to fight for the woman I love! [_Arm about HELEN, defies
the world. To all._] My trip to Paris is postponed. One week from to-day
gather all your family here, and in your home we'll make our declaration
to the world.


JOHN

In my home! Ha! Not if I know it.


JUDGE

[_restraining JOHN_]

Play for time, John--he'll bring her around.


JOHN

[_to ERNEST_]

Do you mean to marry her or not? Speak my language!

    [_ERNEST releases HELEN and steps across to JOHN._


ERNEST

_She_ decides that--not you.

    [_All turn to HELEN._


HELEN

Never!


JOHN

[_shaking off JUDGE. To HELEN._]

You'll go with this damned fanatic only over my dead body.


HELEN

[_high_]

And that will only cry aloud the thing you wish to hide from the world
you fear.

    [_Just now JEAN is seen slowly returning from the garden without
    REX. Her pretty head is bent and, busy with her own sad thoughts,
    she is startled by the following:_


ERNEST

There are laws to prevent marriage in some cases but none to enforce
marriage on women--unless they will it.


JOHN

[_beside himself with rage_]

Enforce! Do you think I'll ever _allow_ a sister of mine to marry a
libertine?


JEAN

[_thinks they are discussing her, and is outraged_]

But I'm not going to marry him! My engagement is broken.

    [_General consternation. Sobbing, JEAN runs into house._


JOHN

My God, what next? Lucy, don't let Rex get away! You know what he'll
do--and when he sobers up, it may be too late. [_To ERNEST._] As for
you, you snake, you get right out of here.


JUDGE

[_in the sudden silence_]

Now you've done it, John.


ERNEST

Oh, very well, this is your property.


HELEN

But _I_ am not! I go, too!

    [_She runs to ERNEST._


THEODORE

Don't commit this sin!


JOHN

Let her go! She's no sister of mine.


JUDGE

[_the only calm one_]

If she leaves this house now, it's all up.


JOHN

A woman who will give herself to a man without marriage is no sister of
mine.



HELEN

[_about to go, turns, leaning on ERNEST. To all_]

Give!... But if I _sold_ myself, as you are forcing poor little Jean to
do, to a libertine she does not love, who does not love her--that is not
sin! That is respectability! To urge and aid her to entrap a man into
marriage by playing the shameless tricks of the only trade men want
women to learn--that is holy matrimony. But to give yourself of your own
free will to the man you love and trust and can help, the man who loves
and needs and has won the right to have you--oh, if this is sin, then
let me live and die a sinner!

    [_She turns to ERNEST, gives him a look of complete love and
    trust, then bursts into tears upon his shoulder, his arms
    enfolding her protectingly._



ACT III


    _It is well along in the afternoon of the same busy day of rest.
    Most unaccountably--until the JUDGE accounts for it later--the
    terrace has been decked out with festoons and flowers since the
    excitement of the morning. Japanese lanterns have been hung,
    though it is not yet time to light them and though it is Sunday
    in a pious household._

    _Most incongruously and lugubriously, LUCY is pacing to and fro in
    silent concern._

    _THEODORE now comes out of the house, also looking harassed. Lucy
    turns to him inquiringly. He shakes his head sadly._


LUCY

No word from Uncle Everett?


THEODORE

No word. He must have reached town long ago, unless he had tire
trouble.... It's a bad sign, Lucy, a bad sign. He would surely telephone
us.


LUCY

Oh, if he _only_ hadn't missed their train!


THEODORE

[_hopelessly_]

Uncle Everett is the only one who could have brought them to their
senses.


LUCY

It may not be too late. He took our fastest car, our best chauffeur.


THEODORE

Detectives are to watch all the steamers to-morrow. John telephoned at
once.


LUCY

But to-morrow will be too late! And, oh! when it all comes out in the
newspapers! The ghastly head-lines--"well-known scientist, beautiful
daughter of a prominent family!" Oh! What will people say?

    [_JOHN, hurried and worried, rushes out shouting for LUCY._


JOHN

Any news? Any news? [_THEODORE and LUCY give him gestures of despair._]
Then it's too late. [_He, too, paces to and fro in fury. Then bracing
up._] Well, I found Rex, over at the Golf Club. Terribly cut up. But
listen; not a drink, not one!... Where's Jean? Got to see her at once.


THEODORE

Locked herself up in her room, John, crying her little heart out!


JOHN

Rex is a changed man, I tell you. We've got to patch it up, and we've
got to do it _quick_!


LUCY

But, John! When the Bakers hear about Helen ... Rex marry into our
family? Never! We're disgraced, John, disgraced!


JOHN

[_impatiently_]

But they're not _going_ to hear about Helen. No one knows, and no one
_will_. Helen has simply returned to Paris to complete her scientific
research. My press-agent--he's attending to all that.


THEODORE

But questions, gossip, rumor--it's bound to come out in time!


JOHN

In time; but meanwhile, if Jean marries Rex, the Bakers will _have_ to
stand for it. What's more, they'll make _other_ people stand for it.
Backed by the Bakers, no one will _dare_ turn us down.... Our position
in the world, my business relations with the old man--_everything hangs
on little Jean_ now. Tell her I've simply got to see her. [_LUCY
hesitates._] Hurry! Rex is coming over later. [_He catches sight of the
table, festoons, etc._] Heavens! What's all this tomfoolery?


LUCY

[_going_]

Uncle Everett's orders--he wouldn't stop to explain. He left word to
summon the whole family for dinner.

    [_LUCY goes._


JOHN

[_shrilly_]

The whole family!... To-day of all days!


THEODORE

John! You must not, shall not, force Jean to marry this man.


JOHN

[_unappreciated_]

Haven't I done everything for my sisters? Can't they even _marry_ for
_me_?


THEODORE

The man she loves or none at all.


JOHN

That cub at the law school? No money to keep a wife, no prospects of
any. His father's a college professor.


THEODORE

[_shaking head sadly_]

"No love without marriage, no marriage without--money!" Ernest
Hamilton's words this morning, when we walked to church.


JOHN

[_watching house expectantly_]

Survival of the fittest, Theodore, survival of the fittest.


THEODORE

The fittest for what?--for making money! the only kind of fitness
encouraged to survive, to reproduce its species.


JOHN

If the ability to make money is not the test of fitness, what is?


THEODORE

Then you are more fit than a hundred Hamiltons, are you? And Rex? How
fit is he? Rex never made a cent in his life.


JOHN

He's got it, all the same.... See here! Haven't I enough to worry me
without your butting in? Jean's got to marry _some_body, _some_time,
hasn't she?


THEODORE

But not Rex, not if I can prevent it.


JOHN

But you can't--you have nothing to do with it ... except to perform the
ceremony and get a big, fat fee for it.


THEODORE

I--marry Jean and Rex? Never!

    [_JEAN comes out. She is frightened and turns timidly to THEODORE
    for protection._


JOHN

Jean, don't detain Theodore. He has an important business letter to
write. [_THEODORE turns to JOHN indignantly._] Your wife's sanatorium
bills--better settle up before they dun you again.


THEODORE

With your money?

    [_Takes JOHN'S check out of pocket, about to tear it._


JOHN

[_catching THEODORE'S hand_]

For Mary's sake, for the children's--don't give way to selfish pride....
Want to kill your wife? Then take her out of the sanatorium. Want to
ruin your children? Then take them out of school!... Cash your check, I
tell you, and pay your debts!

    [_THEODORE glances at JEAN, at check. A struggle. At bay, he
    finally pockets check and dejectedly goes into the house._


JEAN

[_with a wet handkerchief in hand_]

Well? If I refuse to marry Rex?... Cut off my allowance or merely bully
me to death?


JOHN

[_kindly_]

Oh, come! You've filled your romantic little head full of novels. I
never force _any_body to do _any_thing. [_Suddenly breaks out._] My
heavens! what's the matter with all of you? I only want to give you and
Lucy and Helen and Theodore and the whole family the best of everything
in life! And what do I get for it? I'm a brutal husband, a bullying
brother, and a malefactor of wealth. Lord! I guess I have some rights,
even if I have got money!


JEAN

Rex has money, too. Should that give him the right to women? I, too,
have some rights--even though I _am_ a woman.


JOHN

Any woman who can't care enough for a Baker to marry him--Rex is the
sort who would do everything in the world for the woman he loves,
everything. All the Bakers are like that.


JEAN

But what would he do for the woman he no longer loves?


JOHN

He wasn't fool enough to tell you about that?


JEAN

About what?


JOHN

[_halting_]

Nothing--I thought--I tell you, Rex has reformed.


JEAN

You thought I meant his "past." I meant his future ... and my own.


JOHN

Well, if you expect to find a saint, you'll never get married at all.


JEAN

And if I never married at all?


JOHN

_Then_ what will you do?


JEAN

[_with a wail of despair_]

That's it--then what _should_ I do--what _could_ I do? Oh, it's so
unfair, so unfair to train girls only for this! What chance, what choice
have I? To live on the bounty of a disapproving brother or a man I do
not love! Oh, how I envy Helen! If I only had a chance, a decent chance!


JOHN

Any sensible girl would envy your chance. You'll never have another like
it. You'll never have another at all! Grab it, I tell you, grab it.
[_REX comes quietly, a determined look on his face, JOHN sees him._]
Now, think, before too late, think hard. Think what it means to be an
old maid.

    [_And leaves them abruptly._


    [_JEAN stands alone, looking very pretty in girlish distress. REX
    gazes at her a moment and then with sudden passion he silently
    rushes over, seizes her in his arms, kisses her furiously._


JEAN

[_indignant, struggles, frees herself, and rubs her cheek_]

Ugh! How could you!


REX

Because I love you!


JEAN

Love! It isn't even respect now.


REX

Has that fellow ever kissed you?


JEAN

I have begged you never to refer to him again.


REX

He has! He has held you in his arms. He has kissed your lips, your
cheeks, your eyes!


JEAN

How many women have you held in your arms? Have I ever tried to find
out?


REX

Ah! You don't deny it, you can't.


JEAN

I can! _He_ respects me. I don't deserve it, but he does.


REX

Thank heavens! Oh, you don't know how this has tormented me, little
Jean. The thought of any other man's coming near you--why, I couldn't
have felt the same toward you again, I just couldn't.


JEAN

[_bites her lips--then deliberately_]

Well, then ... other men have come near me ... other men have kissed me,
Rex.


REX

[_getting wild again_]

What! When? Where?


JEAN

[_laughing cynically_]

Oh, in conservatories in town, John's camp in the North Woods, motor
rides in the country--once or twice out here on this very terrace, when
I've felt sentimental in the moonlight.


REX

[_recoiling_]

Oh! Jean! I never supposed _you_ were that sort!


JEAN

[_with distaste_]

Oh, I don't make a habit of it! I'm not _that_ sort. But ... well, this
isn't all I could tell you about myself, Rex.


REX

Don't!... Oh, what do you mean--quick.


JEAN

Oh, I've merely been handled, not hurt. Slightly shop-worn but as good
as new.


REX

[_after a pause, quietly_]

Jean, what makes you say such horribly honest things to me?


JEAN

Yesterday I did you a great unkindness, Rex. I deserve to suffer for
it.... You don't suppose I enjoy talking this way about myself?


REX

I never heard a girl--a nice girl--talk like this before.


JEAN

Naturally not. Usually "nice" girls hide it. It's an instinct in
women--to keep up their value.... Often I've had thoughts and feelings
which "nice" girls of your artificial ideal are supposed never to have
at all. Perfectly natural, too, especially girls of my sort. We have so
little to occupy our minds, except men! To have a useful, absorbing
occupation--it rubs off the bloom, lowers our price in the market, you
see.


REX

Oh, stop!... If you're not going to marry me, say so, but----


JEAN

But I am!... I am not going to be a dependent old maid. [_REX,
bewildered, only gazes at her._] But, first, I want you to know exactly
what you're getting for your money. That seems only businesslike.


REX

[_recoils_]

Would you only marry me for that?


JEAN

I told you I loved another man. Do you want me?


REX

[_with jealousy returning_]

Do I want you! He shan't have you.

    [_He comes close._


JEAN

Then take me.


REX

[_seizes her passionately_]

I'll make you love _me_! [_Kisses her triumphantly._] I'll bring a
different light into those cold eyes of yours. Wait until you're
married! Wait until you're awakened. I'll make you forget that man, all
other men. You are to be mine--all mine, all mine! [_During this embrace
JEAN is quite passive, holds up her cheek to be kissed, and when he
seeks her lips she shuts her eyes and gives him her lips. He suddenly
stops, chilled; holding her at arms length._] But I don't care to marry
an iceberg. Can't you love me a little? Haven't you any sentiment in
your cynical little soul ... you irresistible darling!


JEAN

In my soul? Yes! It's only my body I'm selling, you know.

    [_Then deliberately--clearly without passion--throws her arms
    about his neck, clinging close and kissing him repeatedly until
    REX responds._


REX

Look out, here comes the parson.

    [_THEODORE comes out of the house._


JEAN

Oh, Theodore! Rex and I have come to an understanding.... Will you
solemnize our blessed union?


THEODORE

Not unless you truly love each other. Marriage is sacred.


JEAN

[_rapidly_]

A large church wedding--that will make it sacred. A full choral
service--many expensive flowers--all the smartest people invited--that
always makes the union of two souls sacred.


THEODORE

Those who truly love--their friends should witness the solemn rite,
but----


JEAN

[_interrupts. To REX_]

And my wedding gown will be white satin with a point-lace veil caught up
with orange-blossoms and a diamond tiara--"the gift of the groom"--that
ought to make it solemn.


THEODORE

The white veil is the symbol of purity, Jean.


JEAN

[_rattling on wildly_]

Of purity, Rex, do you hear? Whenever you see a bride in the white
symbol of purity she is pure--that proves it. That makes it all so
beautiful! so sacred! so holy! holy! holy!

    [_Hysterically turns and runs into the house as JOHN comes out._


THEODORE

[_following_]

Jean, you must not, you shall not--[_JOHN blocks THEODORE. REX runs in
after JEAN. To JOHN._] John, I warn you! I'll prevent this marriage.
I'll tell every clergyman in the diocese. I'll inform the bishop
himself. This marriage would be a sacrilege.


JOHN

You dare threaten me--after all I've done for you!


THEODORE

Your five thousand was a loan--not a bribe--every cent of it will be
returned.


JOHN

You can't return it. I wouldn't let you if you could. Come, it's all in
the family. [_THEODORE shakes his head._] You know that beautiful Gothic
chapel old man Baker is building on his estate? He likes you. I'll tell
him you're just the man he's looking for--safe and sane--no socialistic
tendencies.


THEODORE

Don't trouble yourself--he offered me the place this morning.


JOHN

You didn't refuse it!


THEODORE

I did--this morning. But since my last talk with you I've reconsidered,
I've telephoned my acceptance.


JOHN

[_genuinely glad_]

Bully! Great! Why, now you're fixed for life. "Only one kind of fitness
encouraged," eh?... Right always triumphs in the end. Never lose your
faith again, Theodore.


THEODORE

Right? That whited sepulchre! his mill hands dying like flies, his
private life a public scandal!


JOHN

[_with a cynical grin_]

Then why accept his tainted money?


THEODORE

[_from his soul_]

To keep my wife alive. To keep my children out of the streets. To keep
myself out of deeper debt to you. That's why I accept it--that's why
many a man sells his soul to the devil.... If I had only myself to
consider--why, to me a little thing like death would be a blessed
luxury. But I, why, John, I cannot afford--even to die. I must
compromise and live--live for those dependent on me.... Your five
thousand will be returned with interest, but your little sister will
not be married to a man she does not want.


JOHN

But Rex wants _her_ and money talks in this world, louder than the
Church. Refuse to marry Baker's son and how long will you keep Baker's
chapel?... Think it over, Theodore, think it over.

    [_Suddenly the JUDGE in motor garments covered with dust comes out
    panting, followed by LUCY calling._


LUCY

Uncle Everett! Uncle Everett!


JUDGE

John! Oh, John!


JOHN

Where is she!


THEODORE

You were too late!


JUDGE

Wait! Give me time to get my breath.

    [_Fans himself with his cap and mops brow._


JOHN

My detective--didn't he meet their train?

    [_JUDGE nods yes._


LUCY

But they saw him first?

    [_JUDGE shakes head no._


THEODORE

Didn't he follow them?

    [_JUDGE nods yes._


JOHN

Where'd they go? Where are they? Speak, man, speak!


JUDGE

[_raises cap and handkerchief_]

Now, just give me a chance and I'll tell the whole story.... The
detective was waiting at the station. He saw them step out of the
train. He followed them to the cab-stand. He watched them get into a
taxi--jumped into another himself--and away they went, pursued by the
detective and blissfully ignorant of his existence.... Even now they
don't know they were being watched--or else ... well, they might have
taken another course.


LUCY

Quick! Tell us the worst.


JUDGE

[_hesitates_]

Well ... they drove straight to Helen's apartment.


LUCY

And you were too late. I thought so.


JOHN

But my detective?


JUDGE

He followed and reported to me when I reached town.


LUCY

Reported what? Tell us all.


JUDGE

First he saw Ernest help Helen out of the taxi--very tenderly, like
this. Little they realized then how every detail was to be reported to
you now!


JOHN

Go on! Go on!


JUDGE

Then the detective saw Ernest deliberately----


LUCY

Yes, go on.


JUDGE

Deliberately lift his hat like this, say "good afternoon" just like
that, and drive on to his own apartment a mile away.

    [_There is a sudden silence; the others waiting the JUDGE now sits
    down._


LUCY

Oh, is that all?


THEODORE

Why, it's exactly as if they were engaged!


JUDGE

No, Theodore, not _exactly_ as if engaged.


JOHN

You're keeping something back from us! Speak!


JUDGE

[_gets up from chair_]

Must I tell you? It's rather delicate.... Well, he didn't even step into
the vestibule to kiss her good-by.

    [_All look at each other._


JOHN

But where are they now? Quick!


LUCY

They met later! I knew it.


JUDGE

Yes, it's true. They are alone together at this very moment.


ALL

Where! Where?


JUDGE

[_pointing to house_]

There.


JOHN

What! What are they doing here?


JUDGE

[_resumes fanning_]

Discussing the marriage problem. [_General rejoicing and relief._] Sssh!
Not so loud, you might interrupt them.


JOHN

[_nodding knowingly_]

Cold feet! Knew he'd lose his job.


LUCY

The disgrace. She couldn't face it.


THEODORE

No, conscience. A deep religious nature.

    [_They all think it over a moment, each sure of his own diagnosis._


JOHN

[_turning to JUDGE with amusement_]

So! Decided the soul-mate theory wouldn't work in practice, eh?


THEODORE _and_ LUCY

And they agree to marry?


JUDGE

[_stops fanning_]

Marry? My, no! Nothing like that. They think less of marriage than ever
now! Helen is using woman's sweet indirect influence on Ernest in there
at this moment!

    [_All start toward the house impulsively, but on second thoughts
    they all stop._


JOHN

Then how on earth did you get them back!


JUDGE

[_lighting cigar_]

Oh, perfectly simple, I promised Helen you'd apologize to Ernest;
promised Ernest you'd apologize to Helen. [_To LUCY._] Promised both
you'd arrange a nice little family party for 'em. They bear no grudge.
They're too happy.


LUCY

[_horrified. Indicates table_]

The family party--for _them_? Horrors!


JUDGE

[_tossing away match_]

Yes, here in your happy home. [_The others turn on the JUDGE
indignantly._] Well, don't jump on _me_. I tell you they positively
decline to elope until after they tell the whole damn family.
Considerate of them, I say. You don't deserve it, if you ask me.


JOHN

[_incredulous_]

Tell the whole ... see here, are they crazy? Are _you_ crazy? Do you
think _I'm_ crazy?

    [_Impetuously turns toward the house, a man of action._


JUDGE

[_stopping JOHN_]

Wait!... You've already done your best to destroy your sister--but
you've utterly failed. They have done nothing wrong--_as yet_. Why, they
are the finest, truest, noblest pair of lovers I ever met! Now, aren't
they, Theodore?


THEODORE

I can't say that I call Helen's ideas of marriage "noble," exactly!


JUDGE

[_grandiloquent_]

She is willing to sacrifice even marriage for his career. Isn't that
noble? And he! willing to sacrifice even his career for marriage. Both
noble, if you ask me.


JOHN

[_loud_]

Noble tommy-rot!--a pair of pig-headed, highbrow fools! They don't have
to sacrifice anything for anybody. Can't they work together just as well
married as unmarried?


JUDGE

[_slyly_]

That's what I said to her, but you had already convinced her that it was
impractical. Work and marriage--"combine the two, and you'll fail at
both"--your own warning, John.


JOHN

[_angry_]

B'r'r--you think you're very funny, don't you! But that's my sister in
there, planning to be that fellow's mistress--right here in my own
house! Anything funny about that!


JUDGE

[_stepping aside_]

All right, go put a stop to it then! [_JOHN starts toward house._] It's
your own house--turn her out again. [_JOHN stops short._] What are you
going to do about it, John? [_JOHN has no answer._] Drive little Jean
into marriage with a man she does not love--she is an old-fashioned
girl. But your other sister--you can't make her marry even the man she
does love, unless she sees fit. She is the New Woman! Society can no
longer force females into wedlock--so it is forcing them out ... by the
thousands! Approve of it? Of course not. But what good will our
disapproval do? They will only laugh at you. The strike is on. Few of
the strikers will let you see it. Few of the strikers have Helen's
courage. But, believe it or not, the strike will spread. It cannot be
crushed by law or force. Unless society wakes up and reforms its rules
and regulations of marriage, marriage is doomed.... What are you going
to do about it? [_Silence._] I thought so--nothing. Call them bad women
and let it go at that. Blame it all on human nature, made by God, and
leave untouched our human institutions, made by man. You poor little
pessimists! human nature to-day is better than it ever was, but our most
important institution is worse--the most sacred relationship in life has
become a jest in the market-place.... You funny little cowards, you're
afraid of life, afraid of love, afraid of truth. You worship lies, and
call it God!


JOHN

[_interrupts_]

All right, all right--but we can't change marriage overnight just to
suit Helen. What are _you_ going to do about it?


JUDGE

There's just one thing to do. Will you back me up in everything I say?


JOHN

[_acknowledging his own defeat_]

Anything--everything.


JUDGE

Then tell Helen she doesn't have to marry, that, with the best
intentions, the Church has made a muddle of monogamy.


  [Illustration: _From a photograph by White Studio._

    JUDGE: You poor little pessimists! Human nature to-day is better
    than it ever was, but our most important institution is worse--the
    most sacred relationship in life has become a jest in the
    market-place.]


THEODORE

Uncle Everett, I protest.


JUDGE

That we all admire their consecrated courage and advise their trying
this conscientious experiment.


JOHN

Not if I have anything to say about it!


JUDGE

But you haven't. Do please get that through your head.... Theodore,
they've talked enough, ask them to step out here and receive John's
blessing. [_Impatiently._] Go on--I'll fix John. [_THEODORE goes._] [_To
JOHN, who is about to burst forth._] Oh, see here, did you ever pull a
dog into the house against his will?... Let him alone and he'll follow
you in, wag his tail, and lick your hand.


JOHN

You mean, they'll come in, be respectable?


JUDGE

Admit that marriage has numerous drawbacks--and they'll see its
advantages. Deny it--and they'll see nothing but each other. Marriage
_is_ in a bad way, but it's the less of two evils. Marriage _must_
adjust itself to the New Woman--_but_ the New Woman must meanwhile
adjust herself to marriage. [_Briskly to LUCY._] Now, then, did you send
out that hurry call for the family this evening?


LUCY

Yes, they're on their way here now, but Uncle Everett, Doctor Hamilton
said, next week.


JUDGE

Yes, I know--it'll be a little surprise party for Helen.... Did you
order some music?


LUCY

Yes, the musicians are to be stationed in the library.


JUDGE

Excellent, excellent. [_Indicates tables and festoons._] All that junk
will help, too. A good Sunday supper this evening, Lucy; your best
champagne, John--gay spirits, family affection, warm approval, toasts to
the future. Why, all we'll have to do is--[_Breaks off._] Here they
come. Now follow my lead. They've done a lot of thinking since you saw
them last, but--make one misstep and it's all off.


LUCY

Be nice to her, John. It was just a girlish impulse.

    [_JOHN opens arms to receive HELEN._


JOHN

My sister! All is forgiven.


HELEN

[_stops short, her lip curls_]

_You_ forgive _me_?

    [_Before JOHN can reply, THEODORE and ERNEST follow, talking._


ERNEST

But I tell you he had a perfect right to put me off his property. The
thing I can't overlook--[_Sees JOHN and LUCY. Points finger at them
accusingly._] Theodore has told me what you thought.... Please don't
judge us by yourselves again--you licentious-minded married people!

    [_He shrugs his shoulders with fastidious disgust and turns his
    back upon them._


JOHN

[_gasping_]

Well, I'll be damned.


JUDGE

[_whispers_]

Stand for it--he's right.


THEODORE

But Ernest ... I'm bound to say when two people run away together----


ERNEST

Ah, Theodore! you, too? Are all married people alike? Did we want to
"run away" as you call it? Did we not ask for a week to think it over?
Did we not stipulate that in any case we must frankly face the family
first? But this person--what did he do? he ordered us off his property,
like trespassers! What could we do? Sit down in the road and wait a
week? Bah! we went home--you suspicious married people, you
hypocritical, unspeakable married people! [_JUDGE has difficulty in
restraining JOHN._] Why, I believe our good friend the Judge here is the
only decent-minded, properly married person on your property.


JOHN

[_bursting out_]

Decent-minded--why, he's div----

    [_LUCY stops him._


JUDGE

[_steps in_]

Dev-oted to his wife. Lucy is jealous of what I'm doing for my wife.
[_Controls laughter._] Now come, we must all just let bygones be
bygones. We know your intentions are honorable, your courage admirable;
and for whatever was amiss in word, deed, or thought, we all humbly
apologize--don't we, John? [_JOHN bows uncomfortably._] Lucy? Theodore?
And now I want you all to tell Ernest and Helen what you told me--that
their arguments against marriage are unanswerable, their logic
unimpeachable, and we no longer have the slightest intention or desire
to get them divorced by matrimony. [_JOHN, THEODORE, and LUCY look
dubious. JUDGE crosses over and pinches them. HELEN and ERNEST are
utterly bewildered._] Why, we wouldn't let a little thing like marriage
come between them for the world, would we, John? would we, Lucy? would
we, Theodore?


JOHN

[_with an effort_]

I agree with Uncle Everett entirely.


JUDGE

And you, Theodore?


THEODORE

[_in a low voice_]

Perfectly.


JUDGE

And you, Lucy?


LUCY

[_with a nervous glance at JOHN_]

Absolutely.


JUDGE

[_to the lovers_]

There. You see?

    [_ERNEST looks from one to the other in amazement._


HELEN

[_laughing_]

I don't believe a word of it!


JUDGE

Why not? why not?


HELEN

Very well, then invite the whole family here next Sunday!


JUDGE

They'll be here in an hour.

    [_Points to tables._


HELEN _and_ ERNEST

[_recoiling_]

In an hour!


JUDGE

Yes, you are to begin your new life together this evening! Isn't it
lovely?


HELEN

[_gasping_]

But that's so sudden. Why, we--we aren't ready.


THEODORE

Just as ready as you'll ever be.


JUDGE

Ernest's vacation begins to-morrow--your honeymoon.


HELEN

But, don't you see----


LUCY

Those new Paris clothes John gave you--your trousseau.


ERNEST

Well, but----


JUDGE

And this family gathering this evening, your--in a manner of
speaking--wedding party. [_Waving aside all the lovers' objections._]
Now, it's all fixed, let's go and dress for the--as it were--ceremony.


ERNEST

[_blocks the way. Serious_]

Wait! Did I ever say I would not marry this woman?

    [_All stop, turn, exchange glances._


JUDGE

[_apart_]

Ah! a broad-minded chap.


JOHN

[_with a wink at JUDGE_]

Ah! so you think you'd like to marry my sister after all?


ERNEST

Oh, you're an ass! What have I been doing for the past twenty-four
hours? Begging her to marry me. What have you been doing? Preventing it.
Why did I postpone sailing for a week? Why did I insist upon the family
party? [_Comes nearer to JOHN._] You're an idiot.


JUDGE

[_pinching JOHN_]

Stand for it, John. You've got to stand for it. Tell him you love him
like a brother ... in-law.


JOHN

[_controls himself_]

Well, I ... I--you have my consent, Doctor Hamilton, I'm sure.


ERNEST

_Your_ consent! What's that got to do with it? [_They all turn toward
HELEN. ERNEST steps between them._] Now wait!... This morning you tried
bullying. Did it work? This afternoon bluffing. Think _that_ will work?
[_Hand on HELEN'S shoulder._] You can't frighten her into marriage. I've
tried that myself. We've got to appeal to some higher motive than
self-interest or superstition with _this_ woman, racial motives,
unselfish motives. [_With force._] But don't talk to me about her being
"immoral." I won't stand for it. If you want her to marry, prove the
morality of marriage.


THEODORE

The "morality of marriage"! What next?


ERNEST

[_to THEODORE_]

That's what I said--the morality of _marriage_! This woman is not on
trial before you. Marriage is on trial before her, and thus far I'm
bound to say you've not made out a good case for it. But simply
_justify_ her marrying me, and--I give you my word--you can perform the
ceremony this very evening. No license is required in this State, you
know.

    [_This creates a sensation._


JUDGE

Now, what could be fairer than that! [_To HELEN._] Do you agree to this?


HELEN

[_she nods_]

We agree in everything.


JUDGE

_Both_ broad-minded!


HELEN

[_quietly_]

I never said I did not believe in a legal wedding--[_others surprised_]
for those who can afford the luxury of children.... But for those who
have to take it out in working for other people's children all their
lives--a ceremony seems like a subterfuge. Without children I don't see
how any marriage is ever consummated--socially.


THEODORE

Ah, but this relationship--it's a sacred thing in itself.


HELEN

[_sincerely_]

I know it. I want to do right, Theodore, please believe that I do! But
the kind of marriage preached by the Church and practised by the
world--does that cherish the real sacredness of this relationship? Of
course, I can only judge from appearances, but so often marriage seems
to destroy the sacredness--yes, and also the usefulness--of this
relationship!


ERNEST

But, my dear girl----


HELEN

[_smiles_]

He thinks so, too. Only he has a quaint, mannish notion that he must
"protect me." [_To ERNEST, patting his arm._] Haven't you, dear!

    [_Again she has raised the shield of flippancy._


JUDGE

What did I tell you, Theodore? The old marriage doesn't fit the New
Woman. A self-supporting girl like Helen objects to obeying a mere
man--like Ernest.


HELEN

[_patting the JUDGE'S arm affectionately, too_]

Uncle Everett, you know nothing about it! You think you understand the
new generation. The only generation you understand is the one which
clamored for "Woman's Rights." [_To ERNEST._] I obey you already--every
day of my life, do I not, dear? [_Looking up into his face._] You're my
"boss," aren't you, Ernest? [_To JUDGE._] But I do object to contracting
by law for what is better done by love.


JUDGE

[_laughs fondly_]

But suppose the promise to obey were left out?


HELEN

But the contract to love--[_To THEODORE._] that's so much worse, it
seems to me. Obedience is a mere matter of will, is it not? But when a
man promises to love until death----


THEODORE

Are you so cold, so scientific, so _unsexed_, that you cannot trust the
man you love?


HELEN

Why, Theodore, if I didn't trust him I'd _marry_ him! Contracts are not
for those who trust--they're for those who don't.


LUCY

[_takes HELEN apart_]

Now, I may be old-fashioned, Helen, but I'm a married woman, and I know
men. You never can tell, my dear, you never can tell.


HELEN

Do you think I'd live with a man who did not love me? Do you think I'd
live _on_ a man I did not love? [_LUCY blinks._] Why, what kind of a
woman should I be then! The name wife--would that change it? Calling it
holy--would that hallow it?... Every woman, married or not, knows the
truth about this! In her soul woman has always known. But until to-day
has never dared to tell.


ERNEST

[_approaching HELEN_]

Oh, come now--those vows--they aren't intended in a literal sense. Ask
Theodore. Why, no sane person means half of that gibberish. "With all my
worldly goods I thee endow"--millions of men have said it--how many ever
did it? How many clergymen ever expect them to!... It's all a polite
fiction in beautiful, sonorous English.


HELEN

The most sacred relationship in life! Ernest, shall you and I enter it
unadvisedly, lightly, and with LIES on our lips?... Simply because
others do?


ERNEST

[_a little impatient_]

But the whole world stands for this. And the world won't stand for that.


HELEN

Is that reverently, soberly, and in the fear of God? No, cynically,
selfishly, and in the fear of man. I don't want to be obstinate, I don't
like to set myself up as "holier than thou," but, Ernest, unless we
begin honestly, we'll end dishonestly. Somehow marriage seems wicked to
me.


JUDGE

[_nudging THEODORE_]

How do you like that?


THEODORE

John is right--they've gone mad.


ERNEST

All the same, you've got to marry me--you've simply _got_ to.


HELEN

You are mistaken. I do _not_ have to marry _any one_. I can support
myself.


ERNEST

Then I'm disappointed in you.


HELEN

And I in you.


ERNEST

I thought you were sensible.


HELEN

I thought you were honest.


ERNEST

Honest! You accuse me of dishonesty?


HELEN

You don't believe in "half of that gibberish." Yet you are willing to
work the Church for our own worldly advantage! You are willing to
prostitute the most sacred thing in life!... If that is not dishonest,
what is!


ERNEST

And you are the woman I love and want to marry! In all my life I was
never accused of dishonesty before.


HELEN

You never tried to marry before. No one is honest about marriage.


ERNEST

I never shall try again. I'm going to Paris to-morrow and I'm going
alone.


HELEN

Then do it. Don't threaten it so often--do it.


ERNEST

I shall. And I'll never come back.


HELEN

Nobody asked you to.


ERNEST

Helen--for the last time--just for my sake--marry me.


HELEN

For the last time--no! no! NO!! I won't be a hypocrite even for your
sake.

    [_She turns away, he starts off, then stops, rushes over to her._


ERNEST

[_holds out arms_]

I can't. You know it. Without you I'm nothing.


HELEN

[_taking both his hands_]

Without you.... Oh, my dear, my dear.


ERNEST

Forgive me, forgive me.


HELEN

It was all my fault.


ERNEST

No, I was a brute. I'm not worthy of you.


HELEN

[_covering his lips with her hand_]

Sssh--I can't stand it--I was perfectly horrid to you. And you were
doing it all for my sake. [_Laughing and crying._] You dear old thing--I
knew it all the time.

    [_They seem about to embrace._


JUDGE

[_shaking with laughter_]

Was there ever in the world anything like it!... Well, children, see
here. He's willing to lie for your sake. She's willing to die for your
sake. Now, why not just split the difference and have a civil ceremony
for _our_ sake.


THEODORE

No, they will marry for a better reason. Think of the _sin_ of it! [_To
HELEN._] Have you no sense of sin?


JUDGE

If not, think of the humor of it! Have you no sense of humor?


HELEN

[_still drying eyes and smiling to JUDGE_]

Not a scrap. Neither has Ernest. Have you, dear?


ERNEST

I _hope_ not--judging from those who always say they have.


THEODORE

[_solemnly_]

Helen, look at Ernest--Ernest look at Helen. [_The lovers do so._] Look
into each other's very souls!... You know, you _must_ know, that in the
eyes of God this thing would be a sin, a heinous sin.

    [_The lovers gaze deep into each other's eyes in silence._


ERNEST

[_tremulous from the emotion he has just been through_]

The glory and the gladness I see in this woman's eyes a sin? Her trust
in me, my worship of her, our new-found belief in a future life, our
greater usefulness together in this--bah! don't talk to me about sin!
Such women cannot sin--they love.


JOHN

[_tired out_]

Oh, you can talk all night, but this is a practical world. How long
could you keep your job in the institute? Then how'll you live! Private
practice? No respectable home will let you inside the door.


ERNEST

I've seen the inside of respectable homes. I want no more. [_Taking from
his pocket a piece of paper._] This morning I came to ask for your
sister's hand in marriage. Your manners did not please me. So I cabled
over to Metchnikoff. [_Hands cablegram to JOHN._] His answer. Positions
await us both at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. That luxurious suite on
to-morrow's steamer still waits in my name.


THEODORE

Ernest! Stop! Think! This woman's soul is in your hands.

    [_ERNEST seems to hesitate. HELEN crosses to him. JUDGE seizes
    JOHN, whispers, and shoves him across._


JOHN

Doctor Hamilton! I apologize!... You're a man of the world. You know
what this means--she doesn't. She is in your power--for God's sake go to
Paris without her.

    [_JOHN tries to lead HELEN away from ERNEST. She shudders at
    JOHN'S masterful touch and clings to her lover._


ERNEST

And leave her here in _your_ power? Never again! You've forced her out
of her work--you'd force her into legalized prostitution, if you could,
like her innocent little sister. [_Snatches HELEN away from JOHN._] No,
married or not, she sails with me in the morning. That's final.

    [_The lovers turn away together._


JUDGE

Where are you going?


HELEN

To ask Marie to pack my trunk.


ERNEST

To telephone for a motor.


JUDGE

But you won't start until after the family party?


ERNEST

Of course not.

    [_In a sudden silence HELEN and ERNEST walk into the house,
    leaving the family in despair._


JUDGE

[_after a long sigh, to JOHN_]

I knew you'd bungle it, I knew it--but there's still a chance, just one
more card to play.

    [_The BUTLER comes out._


LUCY

Good heavens! Already?


BUTLER

Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby, Doctor and Mrs. Grey, and the Misses Grey.


LUCY

[_flurried_]

And we're not even dressed!


JUDGE

No matter. It's Sunday--many orthodox people ... why, Mr. Baker won't
even dine out on Sunday.

    [_Enter the persons announced. Greetings._ "How warm it is for
    September." ... "And how's the baby, Margaret?" _etc._

    _JOHN and JUDGE apart are planning excitedly. JEAN and REX come
    out, and finally HELEN, followed by ERNEST._


BUTLER

Dinner is served, ma'am.

    [_The SECOND MAN touches button. Japanese lanterns glow, silver
    shines, and all move toward the tables, a happy, united family._


LUCY

[_going-to-dinner manner as she leads the way_]

We can hardly go out formally because we're already out, you know. Aunt
Susan, will you sit over there on John's right? Doctor Hamilton by me?
Rex on the other side?


JOHN

Here, Helen. No, Jean, you are beside Rex, you know.


JUDGE

Until married, then you're separated.


LUCY

Cousin Charlie--that's it. [_All take their places._] Most extraordinary
weather for September, isn't it?


JUDGE

[_he slaps his cheek_]

Isn't it?


LUCY

[_shocked and hurt_]

That's the first mosquito I have ever known on our place.


JOHN

[_indignantly_]

We never have mosquitoes here. You must have been mistaken.

    [_The servants are passing in and out of house with courses. The
    BUTLER now brings a telegram to JUDGE._


JUDGE

From Julia! [_Tears it open eagerly, reads, and then shouts._] She's
coming back to me, she's coming back! Look at that, look at that!

    [_Jumps up and shows telegram to JOHN. Then taking it around to
    LUCY he sings to tune of "Merrily we roll along"_:

        Aunt Julia is coming back
        Coming back--coming back
        Aunt Julia is coming back
        Coming back from Reno.


HELEN

[_laughing_]

From Reno? That sounds like divorce, Uncle Everett.


JUDGE

Like divorce? Does that sound like divorce? [_Takes telegram from LUCY
and hands it to HELEN._] Read it aloud.


HELEN

[_reading_]

"Dear boy, I can't stand it, either. Come to me or I go to you."


JUDGE

[_sings during the reading_]

Coming back from Reno. [_Breaks off--to HELEN._] So you thought we
wanted a divorce, did you?


  [Illustration: _From a photograph by White Studio._

    JUDGE: We thought we believed in trial marriage. Nothing of the
    sort--trial separation! What marriage put asunder divorce has
    joined together.]


HELEN

I never dreamed of such a thing.


JUDGE

[_looks at her a moment, then in a burst_]

Well, _I_ did. The dream of my life--your Aunt Julia's, too. We thought
we believed in trial marriage, but we don't--we believe in trial
_separation_!


THEODORE

[_uncomfortably_]

They thought they didn't love each other, but they do, you see.


JUDGE

We don't, we don't, but we can't get along without each other ... got
the habit of having each other around and can't break it.... This
morning I telegraphed: "Are you doing this just for my sake?" She
replied, "Tutti-frutti." [_Sings._] Aunt Julia's coming back. Oh, I'm
too happy to eat. [_Singing, while others eat and drink_:

        Coming back, coming back,
        Aunt Julia is coming back
        Coming back from Reno.

And I don't care who knows it. The more the better for marriage. The
truth--give me more truth, give me more--champagne. [_BUTLER fills glass
as JUDGE raises it._] Here's to your Aunt Julia, the best wife--I ever
had. [_All rise, drink, laugh, and sit down._] And I'll never, never get
another.... You know I thought maybe I might. Oh, Everett, Everett, you
sly dog, you old idiot you!


JOHN

[_arises, clearing throat, tapping on glasses for silence_]

And now, speaking of divorce, I have an engagement to announce. [_Some
laughter but all quiet down. He smiles at JEAN._] Of course, you can't
guess whose. Friends, it is my privilege to announce the engagement of
my good friend Rex Baker to my dear sister Jean. [_Gentle applause and
congratulations. Music begins._] And so I will now ask all to arise and
drink to the health and prosperity of my little sister and my
brother-in-law to be! And my best wish is that they will be as happy as
my better half and me. [_All cheer and drink health standing._] Speech,
Rex!

    [_Some of them playfully try to put him on his feet._


REX

[_shaking his head and maintaining his seat_]

I can't make a speech. I'm too happy for words--See-what-I-mean?


HELEN

[_in a low, significant tone_]

Jean, aren't you going to say something?


JEAN

[_arises, all silent, she looks at LUCY, REX, JOHN_]

Words cannot describe my happiness, either.

    [_She resumes her seat, and all gather round to congratulate JEAN
    and REX._


JOHN

[_rapping for quiet_]

One moment, one moment. Another toast, another toast! [_Others quiet
down._] We have with us to-night one who, in honoring whom we honor
ourselves, one who with capital back of him would soon become the
greatest scientist in America! [_JUDGE leads applause_, "hear, hear!"
_etc. JOHN raises glass._] To the distinguished guest whom I am proud
to welcome to my humble board, to the noble humanitarian whom Mr. Baker
delights to honor, to the good friend whom we all admire and trust,
Doctor Ernest Hamilton!

    [_All applaud and about to drink health, JUDGE jumps up._


JUDGE

And to his fair collaborator! the brave woman who at this modern
warrior's side daily risks her life for others, handling death and
disease in those mighty but unsung battles for the common weal!
[_Applause._] A New Woman? No, friends, look behind the stupid names the
mob would cast, like stones to destroy, look and you will see your true
conservative--willing to appear radical in order to conserve woman's
work in the world! willing to appear ridiculous to right ancient wrongs!
willing even to appear _wrong_--for those she loves! Ah, the same
old-fashioned woman we all adore, in a form so new we blindly fail to
understand her glorious advent before our very eyes! To Helen, the
gracious embodiment of all that is sweetest, noblest, and best in
womanhood--to Helen! Our lovely Helen!


JOHN

[_up again at once_]

Family approval, social esteem, and an honored career--all this is
theirs for the asking! To-day to me they have confessed their
love--to-night to you I now announce ... their engagement! Long life and
happiness to Helen and Ernest!

    [_Great enthusiasm--even pounding on the table. ERNEST arises,
    looking surprised. JOHN signalling to rest of family to join in._


THE FAMILY

[_glasses raised, drowning out ERNEST_]

Long life and happiness, long life and happiness!


ERNEST

[_raises hand_]

Wait! Before you drink this toast.... [_The glasses stop midway. Sudden
silence._] Your congratulations we appreciate, your kind wishes we
desire--but not on false pretences. We are not engaged to be married.

    [_In the tense silence a shudder ripples the family joy._


REX

[_apart to JEAN_]

Gee! They had a scrap, too?


JOHN

[_up, nervously. ERNEST still standing_]

If I may interrupt.... He has financial reasons--I respect him for
it. But this very day the Baker Institute in recognition of Doctor
Hamilton's distinguished services to humanity has doubled his
salary--doubled it! It's all right now--it's all right.


REX

[_apart to JEAN_]

Four thousand, eh?... get a very decent touring car for that.


ERNEST

[_to all_]

That is very kind, but that is not the point. True, our mutual needs are
such that we cannot live nor work apart, but our convictions are such
that we cannot live and work _together_--in what you have the humor to
call "holy wedlock." Now, Helen, the motor is waiting.

    [_Sensation. Gasps of amazement and horror. Some jump up from
    table. A chair is upset. ERNEST holds HELEN'S wrap. General
    movement and murmurs._


JOHN

[_barring way_]

You leave this house only over my dead body.

    [_Others gather around lovers._


JUDGE

[_to all_]

Stand back!... Let him among you who has a purer ideal of love, a higher
conception of duty cast the first stone.

    [_All stop. Silenced._


THEODORE

But this man and this woman would destroy marriage!


JUDGE

[_standing beside lovers_]

No! Such as they will not destroy marriage--they will save it! They
restore the vital substance while we preserve the empty shell.
Everything they have said, everything they have done, proves it. The
promise to love--they could not help it--they took it--I heard them. The
instinct for secrecy--they felt it--we all do--but straightway they told
the next of kin. [_Points to JOHN._] Even when insulted and driven forth
from the tribe, they indignantly refused to be driven into each other's
arms until you of the same blood could hear them plight their troth!
Believe in marriage? Why, there never was, there never will be a more
perfect tribute to true marriage than from this fearless pair you now
accuse of seeking to destroy it! [_JOHN tries to interrupt, but the
JUDGE waves him down._] They have been not only honorable but
old-fashioned, save in the one orthodox detail of accepting the
authority constituted by society for its protection and for _theirs_.
[_To HELEN and ERNEST._] But now, I'm sure, before starting on their
wedding journey--another old-fashioned convention they believe in--that,
just to please us if not themselves, they will consent to be united in
the bonds of holy wedlock by Cousin Theodore who stands ready and
waiting with prayer-book in hand.

    [_Family subsides. Everybody happy. THEODORE steps up, opens
    prayer-book._


THEODORE

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God----"


HELEN

[_suddenly loud and clear_]

Theodore! are you going to marry Rex and Jean?


JOHN

[_impatiently_]

Of course, of course, Mr. Baker's chaplain.


ERNEST

[_recoiling_]

Theodore! You! Are you going to stand up and tell the world that God has
joined those two together--GOD?

    [_THEODORE looks at JOHN but does not deny it and says nothing._


HELEN

Then you will be blaspheming love--and God who made it. No, you shall
not marry us.


ERNEST

[_agreeing with HELEN_]

Some things are too sacred to be profaned.


THEODORE

[_overwhelmed_]

Profaned?... By the Church?


JOHN

Your love too sacred for the Church? The Church has a name for such
love! The world a name for such women!


ERNEST

[_about to strike JOHN, then shrugs_]

A rotten world! A kept Church! Come, let's get away from it all! Come!

    [_HELEN offers her hand in farewell to LUCY, but JOHN shields
    her from HELEN'S touch, then to JEAN. REX shields JEAN from
    contamination, but JEAN weeps._


JUDGE

[_barring the way. To ERNEST_]

Stop! You cannot! The very tie that binds you to this woman binds you to
us and to the whole world with hooks of steel! [_The lovers are still
going, JUDGE ascends steps, facing them._] For the last time! before too
late! ERNEST! You _know_ that in the eyes of God you _are_ taking this
woman to be your wife.


ERNEST

In the eyes of _God_, I _do_ take Helen to be my wife--but----


JUDGE

You, Helen! Speak, woman, speak!


HELEN

I take Ernest to be my husband in the eyes of God, but----


JUDGE

[_raises his hand augustly and in a voice of authority_]

Then, since you, Ernest, and you, Helen, have made this solemn
declaration before God and in the presence of witnesses, I, by the
authority vested in me by the laws of this State do now pronounce you
man and wife!

    [_MR. and MRS. HAMILTON look at each other bewildered. Meanwhile
    the silence has been pierced, first by a little hysterical scream
    from JEAN, then the others all wake up and crowd about the happy
    pair, congratulating them. The women who had snubbed HELEN before
    cover her with kisses, for now she is fit for their embraces._


JOHN

[_to THEODORE_]

Saved! Saved! Respectable at last, thank God. [_Raising his glass and
hammering for attention._] Here's to the bride and groom.

    [_ALL cheer, raise glasses, and drink._


ERNEST

[_when the noise dies down. As the others kiss HELEN_]

A moment ago you were a bad woman. Now [_to all_] behold! she is a good
woman. Marriage is wonderful.

    [_JOHN and LUCY run to JUDGE and shake hands._


JUDGE

[_to JOHN and LUCY, his wife_]

Yes, Respectability has triumphed this time, but let Society take
warning and beware! beware! beware!



CURTAIN

       *       *       *       *       *



BY JESSE LYNCH WILLIAMS


    PRINCETON STORIES (1895).

    THE ADVENTURES OF A FRESHMAN (1899).

    THE STOLEN STORY, AND OTHER NEWSPAPER STORIES (1899).

    NEW YORK SKETCHES (1902).

    THE DAY-DREAMER (1906). Being a novelization of the four-act
    comedy, "The Stolen Story."

    THE GIRL AND THE GAME, AND OTHER COLLEGE STORIES (1908).

    THE MARRIED LIFE OF THE FREDERIC CARROLLS (1910).

    REMATING TIME (1916).

    WHY MARRY? (1918). New edition of "And So They Were Married."


CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS





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