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Title: Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays
Author: Various
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 "Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays" ***

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  FIFTY CONTEMPORARY
  ONE-ACT PLAYS

  SELECTED AND EDITED

  BY

  FRANK SHAY

  AND

  PIERRE LOVING


  CINCINNATI
  STEWART & KIDD COMPANY
  PUBLISHERS



  COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
  STEWART & KIDD COMPANY
  _All rights reserved_
  COPYRIGHT IN ENGLAND



INTRODUCTION


Tradition in the sphere of books is relentlessly imperious and will not
be denied. The present anthology of one-act plays, in defiance of a keen
reluctance on the part of the editors, is condemned at birth to the
heritage of a title; for this practice, as is well known, has been the
unchallenged punctilio of book-making and book-editing from time
immemorial. And yet if the truth be told, the editors have found
precisely this to be by far the most embarrassing of the various tasks
that have arisen in connection with the project. In the selection of a
title, the immediate problem was of course to avoid, so far as possible,
the slightest pretense or assumption of categorical standards of choice
or even the merest intimation that there existed somewhere, attainable
or unattainable, an ideal norm according to which one-act plays could be
faultlessly assessed and pigeon-holed.

In point of fact, so many tolerably good one-act plays are being written
and acted nowadays, that the editors early concluded that the business
of editing a volume of fifty one-act pieces implies, so to speak,
inviting the devil or the spirit that denies to the feast. Thus all
manner of obstinate ribaldries and mischief began to infest our path of
progress.

If it were only a naïve question of adjudging a golden apple to one of
three lovely women, earthly or divine, the matter would have proved
comparatively simple; but the question was more complex: it offered the
public a meager book which could never hope to compress within itself
the core and quiddity of about a thousand plays, or more, which the
editors were privileged to examine from the first moment when they
launched upon their task eight months ago, to this. Moreover it
frequently happened that when the editors had flattered themselves on
having picked a sure winner, the sure winner forthwith got out of hand
and no persuasive cajolings availed to allure it back. In other words,
not a few plays which the editors sought to include in the book were
found unavailable by reason of previous copyrights. In several cases the
copyright had passed entirely out of the control of the author or his
accredited representative.

On the whole, however, both authors and those commissioned to act for
them have responded most sympathetically to the project and have
rendered valuable assistance and support, without which, let me hasten
to add, the present collection would not have been possible.

The reader will observe that plays by American authors predominate over
those of any other single country, and the reason for this is fairly
obvious. American plays, besides being most readily available to the
anthologist, are beginning to reflect the renascence that is gradually
taking place in the American theater. There is growing up in this
country a younger generation of dramatists, which is achieving its most
notable work outside the beaten path of popular recognition, in small
dramatic juntos and in the little theaters. In the main, the form they
employ as being most suitable to their needs, is that offered by the
concise scaffold of the one-act play. These efforts, we hold, deserve a
wider audience.

On the other hand, a mere scrutiny of the table of contents will reveal
that the editors have included a number of foreign plays heretofore not
accessible to English-speaking readers. This aspect of the task, the
effort of pioneer exploration, has indeed been by far the most pleasant,
and most pleasant, too, has proved the discovery of several new American
writers who have produced original work. Of the foreign writers, such
men as Wied and Speenhof, for example, are practically if not totally
unknown to American readers, and they, as well as a handful of others,
are in the opinion of the editors worthy of an American following.

As concerns the procedure or technic of choice, it goes without saying,
surely, that if a congruous method exists at all, it merely embodies a
certain permissible viewpoint. This viewpoint will probably find
unqualified favor with but a handful of readers; others it will frankly
outrage to the extent of their casting it out, lock, stock and barrel.
But this is to be looked for in an undertaking of this caliber in which
individual bias, after all, plays so leading a part. And titling the
volume came to be an arduous process only in virtue of the
afore-mentioned viewpoint, cherished but shadowily defined, or to be
exact, in virtue of the despair which succeeded upon each persistent
attempt to capture what remained perennially elusive. Unfortunately it
still remains elusive. If then a rationalization is demanded by the
reader--a privilege none will question his right to exercise--he will, I
am afraid, have to content himself with something as vague and fantastic
as the following:

Imagine a playhouse, perfectly equipped, plastic and infinitely
adaptable. Invite Arthur Hopkins, John Williams, Winthrop Ames, Sam Hume
and George Cram Cook to manage it; let them run riot on the stage. Clear
the wings and the front of the house of all routineers. Fill the seats
at each performance with the usual gallery-haunters of the New York
theaters. Do not overlook the hosts of experimental playhouse
directors--unleash them in the backyard area with a _kammerspielhaus_ to
toy with at pleasure. Let the personnel of the play-reading committee
consist of such men as Ludwig Lewisohn, Barrett H. Clark, George Jean
Nathan and Francis Hackett. The result will take care of itself. This,
in brief, is the theatrical ménage for which, in the main, the plays
included in this volume were written.

Is this a hair-brained or a frivolous notion? It may be. But, please
note, it expresses, no matter how limpingly, some approach to a
viewpoint. At all events it is the only touchstone applied by the
editors in their choice of fifty contemporary one-act plays.

                                                      PIERRE LOVING.

New York City, Sept., 1920.



CONTENTS


  AUSTRIA:                                                          PAGE
    VON HOFMANNSTHAL (HUGO)    _Madonna Dianora_                       1
    SCHNITZLER (ARTHUR)        _Literature_                           13

  BELGIUM:
    MAETERLINCK (MAURICE)      _The Intruder_                         27

  BOLIVIA:
    MORE (FEDERICO)            _Interlude_                            39

  FRANCE:
    ANCEY (GEORGE)             _Monsieur Lamblin_                     45
    DE PORTO-RICHE (GEORGES)   _Françoise' Luck_                      53

  GERMANY:
    ETTLINGER (KARL)           _Altruism_                             67
    WEDEKIND (FRANK)           _The Tenor_                            77

  GREAT BRITAIN:
    BENNETT (ARNOLD)           _A Good Woman_                         89
    CALDERON (GEORGE)          _The Little Stone House_               99
    CANNAN (GILBERT)           _Mary's Wedding_                      111
    CROCKER (BOSWORTH)         _The Baby Carriage_                   119
    DOWSON (ERNEST)            _The Pierrot of the Minute_           133
    ELLIS (MRS. HAVELOCK)      _The Subjection of Kezia_             145
    HANKIN (ST. JOHN)          _The Constant Lover_                  155

  INDIA:
    MUKERJI (DHAN GOPAL)       _The Judgment of Indra_               165

  IRELAND:
    GREGORY (LADY)             _The Workhouse Ward_                  173

  HOLLAND:
    SPEENHOFF (J. H.)          _Louise_                              181

  HUNGARY:
    BIRO (LAJOS)               _The Grandmother_                     191

  ITALY:
    GIACOSA (GIUSEPPE)         _The Rights of the Soul_              201

  RUSSIA:
    ANDREYEV (LEONID)          _Love of One's Neighbor_              213
    TCHEKOFF (ANTON)           _The Boor_                            227

  SPAIN:
    BENEVENTE (JACINTO)        _His Widow's Husband_                 237
    QUINTEROS (THE)            _A Sunny Morning_                     253

  SWEDEN:
    STRINDBERG (AUGUST)        _The Creditor_                        261
    WIED (GUSTAV)              _Autumn Fires_                        289

  UNITED STATES:
    BEACH (LEWIS)              _Brothers_                            303
    COWAN (SADA)               _In the Morgue_                       313
    CRONYN (GEORGE W.)         _A Death in Fever Flat_               319
    DAVIES (MARY CAROLYN)      _The Slave with Two Faces_            329
    DAY (FREDERIC L.)          _The Slump_                           337
    FLANNER (HILDEGARDE)       _Mansions_                            349
    GLASPELL (SUSAN)           _Trifles_                             361
    GERSTENBERG (ALICE)        _The Pot Boiler_                      371
    HELBURN (THERESA)          _Enter the Hero_                      383
    HUDSON (HOLLAND)           _The Shepherd in the Distance_        395
    KEMP (HARRY)               _Boccaccio's Untold Tale_             407
    LANGNER (LAWRENCE)         _Another Way Out_                     419
    MILLAY (EDNA ST. VINCENT)  _Aria Da Capo_                        431
    MOELLER (PHILIP)           _Helena's Husband_                    443
    MACMILLAN (MARY)           _The Shadowed Star_                   455
    O'NEILL (EUGENE G.)        _Ile_                                 465
    STEVENS (THOMAS WOOD)      _The Nursery Maid of Heaven_          477
    STEVENS (WALLACE)          _Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise_     493
    TOMPKINS (FRANK G.)        _Sham_                                501
    WALKER (STUART)            _The Medicine Show_                   511
    WELLMAN (RITA)             _For All Time_                        517
    WILDE (PERCIVAL)           _The Finger of God_                   529

  YIDDISH:
    ASCH (SHOLOM)              _Night_                               537
    PINSKI (DAVID)             _Forgotten Souls_                     545

  BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                       553



MADONNA DIANORA

  A PLAY IN VERSE

  BY HUGO VON HOFMANNSTHAL
  Translated from the German by Harriet Betty Boas.


  Copyright, 1916, by Richard S. Badger.
  Toronto: The Copp Clark Co., Limited.
  Copyright, 1920, The Four Seas Co., Boston.



MADONNA DIANORA

  A PLAY IN VERSE BY HUGO VON HOFMANNSTHAL

  LA DEMENTE: _"Conosci la storia di Madonna Dianor?"_

  IL MEDICO:  _"Vagamente. Non ricordo piu."...
              Sogno d'un mattino di primavera._


    [SCENE: _The garden of a somber Lombardian Palace. To the right
    the wall of a house, which is at an angle with the moderately high
    garden wall that encloses it. The lower portion of the house is
    built of rough granite, above which rests a strip of plain marble
    forming a sill, which, under each window, is adorned with a lion's
    head in repose. Two windows are visible, each one having a small
    angular balcony with a stone railing, spaced sufficiently to show
    the feet of those standing there. Both windows are curtained to
    the floor. The garden is a mere lawn with a few scattered fruit
    trees. The corner of the garden between the wall and the house is
    crowded with high box wood bushes. A leafy grapevine, trained over
    stunted chestnut trees, forms an arbor which completely fills the
    left side of the stage; only this entrance is visible. The arbor
    slants irregularly to the left rear. Behind the rear wall there
    may be seen (by the gallery spectator) a narrow path beyond which
    is the neighbor's garden wall--no house is visible. In the
    neighbor's garden and as far as the eye can reach, the tops of the
    trees are illuminated by the evening glow of a brilliant sunset._]


DIANORA [_at the window_].

  A harvester I see, and not the last,
  No, not the last, descending from the hill.
  There are three more, and there, and there!
  Have you no end, you never-ending day?
  How have I dragged the hours away from you,
  Torn them to shreds and cast them in the flood,
  As I do now with these poor tattered blooms!
  How have I coaxed each minute of this day.
  Each bracelet, and each earring was clasped on,
  Ta'en off again, then once more tried, until
  'Twas thrown aside, exchanged, and others brought--
  I slowly dripped the fountain, drop on drop
  All through my tresses, dried them languidly;
  With quiet, measured step, out in the sun
  I walked me to and fro--oh! to and fro!
  But 'twas still damp--the path is narrow there.
  I looked among the bushes, for the birds,--
  Less than a zephyr's breath I bent them back,
  Those swaying branches, sat 'neath rustling trees,
  And felt on cheeks and hands in waiting woe
  The little flickerings of warm sunshine.
  I closed my eyes, and almost thought soft lips
  Gently caressing, strayed my clammy brow.
  Sometimes hours come when this duplicity,
  All this concealment, seems so fruitless, and
  I cannot bear it. I can only gaze
  With eyes of steel far up into the sky
  Where flocks of wild geese float, or bend me low
  O'er some mad, rushing plunging waterfall
  That tears my weakling shadow with its flow,--
  I will be patient--why, I must, I am!--
  Madonna--I will climb the steepest mount
  And on my knees will count me every stone
  With this, my rosary, if only now,
  Oh, soon,--this day will sink into the night.
  It is so long! I have its measured tread
  With these same beads been scanning o'er and o'er.
  And now I talk so fev'rishly, instead
  Of counting all the leaves upon that tree.
  Oh! I have finished much too soon again.
  See! See the yeoman, calling to his dog.
  The shadows do upon his garden fall,
  For him the night has come, but brings no joy;
  He fears it, locks his door and is alone.--
  See where the maidens wander to the well.
  I know the manner in which each of them
  Will fill her bucket--that one's prettiest.
  Why does the stranger at the cross roads stay?
  Distant's his goal, I warrant. He unwinds
  And folds again the cloth about his feet.
  What an existence! Draw the thorns, yes, draw
  Them quickly out. You must speed. We all
  Must hurry on, the restless day must down
  And with it take this bright and scarlet glow
  That's lingering in radiance on my cheeks.
  All that is troubling us cast far away,
  Fling wide the thorn into the field
  Where waters flow and sheaves of brilliant flow'rs
  Are bending, glowing, yearning towards the night.--
  I draw my rings from off my fingers, and
  They're happy as the naked children are
  Who scamper quickly to the brook to bathe.--
  Now all the girls have gone--
  Only one maiden's left. Oh, what lovely hair!
  I wonder if she knows its beauty's power?
  Perhaps she's vain--but vanity, thou art
  A plaything only for the empty years.
  When once she has arrived where I am now,
  She'll love her hair, she'll let it clasp her close,
  Enwrap her round and whisper to her low,
  Like echoing harpstrings throbbing with the touch
  Of fev'rish fingers straying in the dark.

    [_She loosens her hair and lets it fall to the left and to the
    right in front of her._]

  What, would you close to me? Down, down with you.--
  I bid you greet him. When the dusk has come,
  And when his hands hold fast the ladder there
  A-sudden he will feel, instead the leaves,
  The cool, firm leaves, a gently spraying rain,
  A rain that falls at eve from golden clouds.

    [_She lets her hair fall over the balustrade._]

  You are so long, and yet you barely reach
  A third the distance; hardly are your ends
  Touching the cold, white marble lion's nose.

    [_She laughs and rises._]

  Ah! there's a spider! No, I will not fling
  You off; I lay my hand once more
  Upon this spot, so you may find again
  The road you wish to speed so quickly on.
  How I have changed! I am bewitched indeed!
  In former days, I could not touch the fruit
  Within a basket, if upon its edge
  A spider had been seen. Now in my hand
  It runs.--Intoxication makes me glad!
  Why, I could walk along the very edge
  Of narrow walls, and would not totter--no!--
  Could I but fall into the waters deep!
  In their cool velvet arms I would be well,
  Sliding in grottoes of bright sapphire hues
  Playing with wondrous beings of the deep
  All golden finned, with eyes benignly sad.
  Yes, if I were immured in the chestnut woods
  Within some ruined walls, my soul were free.
  For there the forest's animals would come
  And tiny birds. The little weasels would
  Brush up against and touch my naked toes
  With their soft snouts and lashes of bright eyes
  While in the moss I lay and ate wild fruit.--
  What's rustling? 'Tis the little porcupine
  Of that first night. What, are you there again,
  Stepped from the dark? Art going on the hunt?
  Oh! If my hunter would but come to me!

    [_Looking up._]

  Now have the shadows vanished! Gone are all
  Those of the pines and those of the dolls,
  The ones that played about the little huts,
  The large ones from the vineyards and the one
  Upon the figtree at the crossroads--gone
  As though the quiet earth had sucked them in!
  The night has really come! The lamp
  Is placed upon the table, closely press
  The sheep together--close within the fold.
  Within the darkest corners of the eaves
  Where the dustvine-leaves meet, goblins do crouch,
  And on the heights from out the clearing step
  The blessed saints to gaze where churches stand
  Well pleased at seeing chapels manifold.
  Now, sweetest plaything, you may also come,
  Finer than spider's web, stronger than steel.

    [_She fastens one end of the silk ladder to an iron hook on the
    floor in the balcony._]

  Let me now play that it were highest time
  And dip you deep down, down into my well,
  To bring this parched one a sparkling draught.

    [_She pulls the ladder up again._]

  Night, night has come! And yet how long might be,
  Endlessly long, the time until he comes.

    [_She wrings her hands._]

  Might be!

    [_With shining eyes._]

  But must not--yet, it might--

    [_She puts up her hair. During this time the nurse has stepped to
    the front window and waters the red flowers there._]

DIANORA [_much frightened_]. Who's there, who's there! Oh, nurse, nurse,
is it you? I've ne'er before seen you in here so late. Has ought
occurred?--

NURSE. Why nothing, gracious one. Do you not see, I quite forgot my
flowers--they've not been watered. On my way from church I suddenly
remembered, quickly came.

DIANORA. Yes, give the flowers water. But how strange you look, your
cheeks are feverish, your eyes are shining--

NURSE [_does not answer_].

DIANORA. Who preached? Tell me, was it that monk, the one--

NURSE [_curtly_]. Yes, gracious one.

DIANORA. The one from Spain, is it not?

NURSE [_does not answer--pause_].

DIANORA [_following her own train of thoughts_]. Can you recall the kind
of child I was?

NURSE. Proud, gracious one, a proud child, very proud.

DIANORA [_very softly_]. How singular! Humanity's so sweet!--What?--

NURSE. I said no word, my gracious Lady, none--

DIANORA. Yes, yes, whom does the Spanish monk resemble?

NURSE. He is different from the others.

DIANORA. No--his appearance! Does he resemble my husband?

NURSE. No, gracious one.

DIANORA. My brother-in-law?

NURSE. No.

DIANORA. Ser Antonio Melzi?

NURSE. No.

DIANORA. Messer Galeazza Swardi?

NURSE. No.

DIANORA. Messer Palla degli Albizzi?

NURSE. His voice is a little like Messer Palla's--yes--I said to my son
yesterday, that his voice reminded me a little of Messer Palla's voice.

DIANORA. The voice--

NURSE. But his eyes are like Messer Guido Schio, the nephew of our
gracious lord.

DIANORA [_is silent_].

NURSE. I met him on the stairs yesterday--he stopped--

DIANORA [_suddenly flaring up_]. Messer Palla?

NURSE. No! Our gracious lord. He ordered me to make some ointment. His
wound is not yet entirely healed.

DIANORA. Oh, yes! The horse's bite--did he show it to you?

NURSE. Yes--the back of the hand is quite healed, but on the palm
there's a small dark spot, a curious spot, such as I've never seen in a
wound--

DIANORA. What horse did it, I wonder?

NURSE. The big roan, gracious Lady.

DIANORA. Yes, yes, I remember. It was on the day of Francesco
Chieregati's wedding. [_She laughs loudly._]

NURSE [_looks at her_].

DIANORA. I was thinking of something else. He told about it at table--he
wore his arm in a sling. How was it, do you remember?

NURSE. What, gracious one?

DIANORA. With the horse--

NURSE. Don't you remember, gracious one?

DIANORA. He spoke about it at table. But I could not hear it. Messer
Palla degli Albizzi sat next to me, and was so merry, and everybody
laughed, so I could not hear just what my husband said.

NURSE. When our gracious lord came to the stall, the roan put back his
ears, foamed with rage and suddenly snapped at the master's hand.

DIANORA. And then?

NURSE. Then the master hit the roan behind the ears with his fist so
that the big, strong horse staggered back as though it were a dog--

DIANORA [_is silent, looks dreamily down_].

NURSE. Oh, our gracious lord is strong! He is the strongest gentleman of
all the nobility the country 'round, and the cleverest.

DIANORA. Yes, indeed. [_Attentively now._] Who?

NURSE. Our master.

DIANORA. Ah! our master. [_Smiles._]--and his voice is so beautiful, and
that is why everybody loves to listen to him in the large, dark church.

NURSE. Listen to whom, gracious one?

DIANORA. To the Spanish monk, to whom else?

NURSE. No, my Lady, it isn't because of his voice that people listen to
him.

DIANORA [_is again not listening_].

NURSE. Gracious one--my Lady--is it true--what people say about the
envoy?

DIANORA. What envoy?

NURSE. The envoy whom the people of Como sent to our master.

DIANORA. What are people saying?

NURSE. They say a shepherd saw it.

DIANORA. What did he see?

NURSE. Our gracious lord was angry at the envoy--would not accept the
letter that the people of Como had written him. Then he took it
anyhow--the letter--read part of it, tore it into bits and held the
pieces before the envoy's mouth and demanded that he swallow them. But
the envoy went backwards, like a crab, and made stary eyes just like a
crab, and everybody laughed, especially Signor Silvio, the master's
brother. Then the master sent for the envoy's mule and had it brought to
the gates. When the envoy was too slow in mounting, the master whistled
for the dogs. The envoy left with his two yeomen. Our master went
hunting with seven men and all the dogs. Towards evening, however, they
say that our gracious lord, and the envoy met at the bridge over the
Adda, there where Verese begins--our master and the envoy met. And the
shepherd was passing and drove his sheep next to the bridge into a
wheat-field--so that the horses would not kill them. And the shepherd
heard our master cry, "There's the one who wouldn't eat, perhaps he'd
like to drink." So four of our men seized the two yeomen, two others
took the envoy, each one took hold of a leg, lifted him from the
saddle--threw him screaming like a madman and struggling fiercely, over
the parapet--he tore out a piece of the sleeve of one, together with the
flesh. The Adda has very steep banks at that place--the river was dark
and swollen from all the snow on the mountains. The envoy did not appear
again, said the shepherd.

    [_Nurse stops, looks questioningly at Dianora._]

DIANORA [_anxiously_]. I do not know.

    [_She shakes off the worried expression, her face assumes the
    dreamy, inwardly happy expression._]

DIANORA. Tell me something about his preaching--the Spaniard's
preaching.

NURSE. I don't know how to express it, gracious one.

DIANORA. Just say a little. Does he preach of so many things?

NURSE. No, almost always about one thing.

DIANORA. What?

NURSE. Of resignation to the Lord's will.

DIANORA [_looks at her and nods_].

NURSE. Gracious one, you must understand, that is all.

DIANORA. What do you mean by--all----

NURSE [_while speaking, she is occupied with the flowers_]. He says that
all of life is in that--there's nothing else. He says everything is
inevitable and that's the greatest joy--to realize that everything is
inevitable--that is good, and there is no other good. The sun must glow,
and stone must be on the dumb earth and every living creature must give
utterance to its voice--whether he will or no--we must----

DIANORA [_is thinking--like a child_].

NURSE [_goes from window--pause_].

DIANORA.

  As though 'twere mirrored in a placid pool
  Self-prisoned lies the world asleep, adream--
  The ivy's tendrils clamber through the dusk
  Closely embracing thousandfold the wall.
  An arbor vitae towers. At its feet
  The quiet waters mirror what they see.
  And from this window, on this balustrade
  Of cool and heavy stones, I bend me o'er
  Stretching my arms so they may touch the ground.
  I feel as though I were a dual being
  Gazing within me at my other self.

    [_Pause._]

  Methinks such thoughts crowd in upon the soul
  When grim, inexorable death is near.

    [_She shudders and crosses herself._]

NURSE [_has returned several times to the window; in one hand she
carries scissors with which she clips the dry branches from the
plants_].

DIANORA [_startled_]. What? Good night, nurse, farewell. I'm dizzy,
faint.

NURSE [_goes off_].

DIANORA [_with a great effort_]. Nurse! Nurse!

NURSE [_comes back_].

DIANORA. If the Spanish monk preaches to-morrow, I'll go with you.

NURSE. Yes, to-morrow, my Lady, if the Lord spare us.

DIANORA [_laughs_]. Certainly,--if the Lord spare us. Good night.

    [_A long pause._]

DIANORA.

  His voice is all he has, the strange monk,
  Yet people flock, hang on his words like bees
  Upon the dark sweet blossoms, and they say
  "This man is not like others--he
  Does shake our souls, his voice melts into space,
  Floats down to us, and penetrates our being--
  We are all like children when we hear his voice."--
  Oh, if a judge could have his lofty brow,
  Who would not kneel upon the steps to read
  Each sentence from his clear and shining brow.
  How sweet to kneel upon the honest step
  And know one's fate were safe within that hand,
  Within those kingly, good and noble hands.

       *       *       *       *       *

  And oh, his merriment! How exquisite!
  To see such people merry is a joy,
  --He took me by the hand and drew me on.
  My blood ran magic, backward stretched my hand.
  The laughing throng upon it closely hung
  A sinuous chain, we flew along arbored walks
  Down through a deep and steep and narrow path
  Cool as a well, and bordered very close
  With cypresses that lived a century--
  Then down the brightest slope.
  Up to my knees the wild, warm flowers kissed
  Where we were running like a breeze in May.
  Then he released me, and along he leapt
  Upon the marble stairs between cascades;
  Astride he sat upon the dolphin's back
  And held himself up on the arms of fauns,
  Upon the dripping Triton's shoulders stood
  Mounting always; high, higher still he clomb,
  The wildest, handsomest of all the gods!--
  Beneath his feet the waters bubbled forth,
  They sparkled, foamed, and showered the air with spray,
  Falling on me. The waves' tumultuous din
  Drowned out, engulfed the entire world,
  Beneath his feet the waters bubbled forth,
  They sparkled, foamed and showered their spray on me.

    [_Pause--footsteps are heard in the distance._]

DIANORA. Sh! Footsteps! No, it is so much too soon--And yet--and
yet--[_long waiting_] they come.

    [_Pause._]

  They do not come--
  Oh, no, they do not come--They're shuffling steps,
  They shuffle down the vineyard--now they reel--
  There are the steps! A drunkard, verily!
  Stay in the street, intoxicated one.
  What would you do within our garden gates?--
  No moon shines here to-night--were there a moon
  I were not here--no, no, I were not here.
  The little stars are flick'ring restlessly,
  They cannot light the way for a drunken one,
  But one not drunken from a musty wine.
  His footsteps are as light as wind on grass
  And surer than the tread of the young lion.

    [_Pause._]

  These hours are martyrdom! No, no, no, no,
  They're not--no, they are beautiful and good,
  And lovely and so sweet! He comes, he comes;
  A long, long way already he has walked--
  The last tall tree down there has seen him come---
  It could--if that dark strip of woodland boughs
  Did not obscure the road--and 'twere not dark--

    [_Pause._]

  He comes--as certainly as I do now
  Upon this hook bend this frail ladder--comes.
  As surely as I now do let it down
  In rustling murmur in the leaves enmeshed,
  As certainly as it now swaying hangs,
  Quivering softly as I bend me low,
  Myself aquiver with a greater thrill--

    [_She remains for a long time bent over the balustrade. Suddenly
    she seems to hear the curtain between her balcony and the room
    thrown back. She turns her head and her features are distorted in
    deathly fear and terror. Messer Braccio stands silently in the
    door. He wears a simple, dark green robe, carries no weapons--his
    shoes are low. He is very tall and strong. His face resembles the
    portraits of aristocrats and captains of mercenaries. He has an
    extremely large forehead and small dark eyes, closely cropped,
    curly black hair and a small beard that covers his cheeks and
    chin._]

DIANORA [_wants to speak, but is unable to utter a sound_].

MESSER BRACCIO [_beckons to her to pull up the ladder_].

DIANORA [_does so like an automaton and drops the bundle, as in a
trance, at her feet_].

BRACCIO [_looks at her quietly, reaches with his right hand to his left
hip, also with his left hand; notices that he has no dagger. He moves
his lips impatiently, glances toward the garden, then over his
shoulders. He lifts his right hand for a moment and examines his palm,
then walks firmly and quickly back into the room_].

DIANORA [_looks after him incessantly; she cannot take her eyes away
from him. As the curtain closes behind his retreating form, she passes
her fingers excitedly over her face and through her hair, then folds her
hands and murmurs a prayer, her lips wildly convulsed. Then she throws
her arms backwards and folds them above the stone pillar, in a gesture
that indicates a desperate resolve and a triumphant expectancy_].

BRACCIO [_steps into the doorway again, carrying an armchair, which he
places in the opening of the door. He seats himself on it, facing his
wife. His face does not change. From time to time he raises his right
hand mechanically and examines the little wound upon his palm_].

BRACCIO [_his tone is cold, rather disdainful. He points with his foot
and eyes to the ladder_]. Who?

DIANORA [_raises her shoulders, and drops them slowly_].

BRACCIO. I know!

DIANORA [_raises her shoulders and drops them slowly. Her teeth are
clenched_].

BRACCIO [_moves his hand, barely glances at his wife, and looks again
into the garden_]. Palla degli Albizzi!

DIANORA [_between her teeth_]. How ugly the most beautiful name becomes
when uttered by unseemly tongue.

BRACCIO [_looks at her as though he were about to speak, but remains
silent. Pause_].

BRACCIO. How old are you?

DIANORA [_does not answer_].

BRACCIO. Fifteen and five. You are twenty years old.

DIANORA [_does not answer. Pause_].

DIANORA [_almost screaming_]. My father's name was Bartholomeno
Colleone--you can let me say the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary, and
then kill me, but not let me stand here like a fettered beast.

BRACCIO [_looks at her as though surprised; does not answer--glances at
his hand_].

DIANORA [_strokes back her hair slowly, folds her elbows over her
breast, stares at him, then drops her arms, seems to divine his plan.
Her voice is completely changed and is like a string that is stretched
to the breaking-point_].

  One of my women I desire, who will--

    [_She stops; her voice seems to give out._]

  First braid my hair--'tis tangled, disarranged.

BRACCIO. You often help yourself without a maid.

DIANORA [_presses her lips together, says nothing, smoothes her hair at
the temples, folds her hands_].

  I have no children. My mother I saw once--
  I saw her once, just before she died.
  My father led me and my sister to
  A vaulted, high, severe and gloomy room.
  The suff'rer I saw not; her hand alone
  Hung like a greeting to me--that I kissed.
  About my father I remember this.
  He wore an armor of green burnished gold
  With darker clasps--two always helped him mount
  Upon his horse, for he was very old--
  I hardly knew Medea. Not much joy,
  Had she, my sister. Thin of hair,
  Her forehead and her temples older seemed,
  Much older, than her mouth and her hands to me--
  She always held a flower in her hand.--
  O Lord, have mercy unto these sweet souls
  As unto mine, and bid them welcome me,
  Greeting me kindly when I come to Thee.
  I cannot kneel--there is no space to kneel.

BRACCIO [_rises, pushes the chair into the room to make space for her.
She does not notice him_].

DIANORA.

  There's more--I must remember--Bergamo,
  Where I was born--the house in Feltre where
  The uncles and the cousins were....
  Then they put me upon a gallant steed
  Caparisoned most splendidly--they rode,
  Cousins and many others by my side.
  And so I came here, from whence I now go....

    [_She has leaned back and looked up at the glittering stars upon
    the black sky--she shudders_].

  I wanted something else--

    [_She searches her memory._]

  In Bergamo where I was taught to walk
  Upon the path that brought me here, I was
  Often--most frequently through pride,--and now
  I am contrite and would go to confession
  For all those errors, and some graver ones;--
  When I [_She ponders._]--three days after Saint Magdalen
  Was riding homeward from the chase with him.
  This man, here, who's my husband--others too--
  Upon the bridge an old lame beggar lay.
  I knew that he was old and ill and sore
  And there was something in his tired eyes
  Reminded me of my dead father--but
  Nevertheless--only because the one
  Riding beside me touched my horse's bridle,
  I did not pull aside, but let the dust
  My horse kicked up, blind, choke that poor old man.
  Yes, so close I rode that with his hands
  He had to lift aside his injured leg.
  This I remember, this I now regret.

BRACCIO. The one beside you held your horse's bridle? [_He looks at
her._]

DIANORA [_answers his look, understands him, says trenchantly_]:

  Yes! Then as often since--as often since--
  And yet how rarely after all!
  How meager is all joy--a shallow stream
  In which you're forced to kneel, that it may reach
  Up to your shoulders--

BRACCIO.

  Of my servants who,--of all your women,
  Who knew of these things?

DIANORA [_is silent_].

BRACCIO [_makes a disdainful gesture_].

DIANORA.

  Falsely, quite falsely, you interpret now
  My silence. How can I tell you who might know?--
  But if you think that I am one of those
  Who hides behind her hireling's her joy,
  You know me ill. Now note--note and take heed.
  Once may a woman be--yes, once she may
  Be as I was for twelve weeks--once she may be
  If she had found no need of veil before,
  All veiled, protected by her own great pride
  As by a shield--she once may rend that veil,
  Feel her cheeks crimson, burning in the sun.
  Horrible she, who twice could such a thing!
  I'm not of these--that surely you must know.
  Who knew?--Who guessed? I never hid my thoughts?
  Your brother must have known--just as you knew,
  Your brother just as you. Ask him, ask him!

    [_Her voice is strange, almost childlike, yet exalted._]

  That day--'twas in July, Saint Magdalen
  Francesco Chieregati's wedding day--
  That nasty thing upon your hand came then,
  Came on that day. Well, I remember too
  We dined out in the arbor--near the lake,
  And he sat next to me, while opposite
  Your brother sat. Then passing me the fruit,
  Palla did hold the heavy gold dish
  Of luscious peaches so that I might take.
  My eyes were fastened on his hands--I longed
  To humbly kiss his hands, there,--before all.
  Your brother--he's malicious and no fool--
  Caught this my glance, and must have guessed my thought.
  He paled with anger.--Sudden came a dog,
  A tall dark greyhound brushed his slender head
  Against my hand--the left one by my side,--
  Your stupid brother kicked in furious rage
  With all his might, the dog--only because
  He could not with a shining dagger pierce
  Me and my lover. I but looked at him.
  Caressed and stroked the dog, and had to laugh

    [_She laughs immoderately and shrilly in a way that threatens to
    be a scream, or to break into tears at any moment._]

BRACCIO [_seems to listen_].

DIANORA [_also listens. Her face expresses horrible tension. Soon she
cannot bear it, begins to speak again almost deliriously_].

  Why whosoever saw me walk would know!
  Walked I not differently? Did not I ride
  Ecstatically? I could look at you
  And at your brother and this gloomy house
  And feel as light as air, floating in space.
  The myriad trees seemed all to come to me
  Filled with the sunlight dancing toward me,
  All paths were open in the azure air--
  Those sunlit paths were all the roads to him.
  To start with fright was sweet--he might appear
  From any corner, any bush or tree--

    [_Her language becomes incoherent from terror, because she sees
    that Braccio has drawn the curtains behind him close. Her eyes are
    unnaturally wide open--her lips drawn more constantly._]

BRACCIO [_in a tone that the actor must find for himself, not loud, not
low, not strong, nor yet weak, but penetrating_].

  If I, your husband, had not at this hour
  Come to your chamber to fetch me a salve,
  An ointment for my wounded hand--
  What would--
  What had you done, intended, meant to do?

DIANORA [_looks at him, as though distraught, does not understand his
latest question. Her right hand presses her forehead--with the left she
shakes the ladder before his face, lets it fall at his feet, one end
remains tied, shrieks_].

  What had I done? What had I done, you ask?
  Why, waited thus--I would have waited--

    [_She sways her open arms before him like one intoxicated, throws
    herself around, with the upper part of her body over the
    balustrade, stretches her arms towards the ground--her hair falls
    over them._]

BRACCIO [_with a hurried gesture tears off a piece of his sleeve and
winds it around his right hand. With the sureness of a wild animal on
the hunt, he grasps the ladder that is lying there, like a thin, dark
rope, with both hands, makes a loop, throws it over his wife's head and
pulls her body towards him._]


  [_During this time the curtain falls._]



LITERATURE

  A COMEDY

  BY ARTHUR SCHNITZLER
  TRANSLATED BY PIERRE LOVING.


  Copyright, 1917, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
  All rights reserved.


  PERSONS

    MARGARET.
    CLEMENT.
    GILBERT.


  LITERATURE is reprinted from "Comedies of Words" by Arthur Schnitzler,
  by permission of Messrs. Stewart & Kidd Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.



LITERATURE

A COMEDY BY ARTHUR SCHNITZLER


    [SCENE: _Moderately well, but quite inexpensively furnished
    apartments occupied by Margaret. A small fireplace, a table, a
    small escritoire, a settee, a wardrobe cabinet, two windows in the
    back, entrances left and right._

    _As the curtain rises, Clement, dressed in a modish,
    tarnished-gray sack suit, is discovered reclining in a fauteuil
    near the fireplace. He is smoking a cigarette and perusing a
    newspaper. Margaret is standing at the window. She walks back and
    forth, finally goes up directly behind Clement, and playfully
    musses his hair. Evidently she has something troublesome on her
    mind._]


CLEM. [_reading, seizes her hand and kisses it_]. Horner's certain about
his pick and doubly certain about mine; Waterloo five to one; Barometer
twenty-one to one; Busserl seven to one; Attila sixteen to one.

MARG. Sixteen to one!

CLEM. Lord Byron one and one-half to one--that's us, my dear.

MARG. I know.

CLEM. Besides, it's sixteen weeks yet to the Handicap.

MARG. Evidently he looks upon it as a clean "runaway."

CLEM. Not quite--but where did you pick up your turf-lingo, Brava?

MARG. Oh, I used this kind of talk before I knew you. Is it settled that
you are to ride Lord Byron yourself?

CLEM. How absurd to ask! You forget, it's the Damenpreis Handicap. Whom
else could I get to ride him? And if Horner thought for a moment that I
wasn't going to ride him, he'd never put up one and a half to one. You
may stake all you've got on that.

MARG. I'm well aware of that. You are _so_ handsome when you mount a
horse--honest and truly, too sweet for anything! I shall never forget
that day in Munich, when I first made your acquaintance--

CLEM. Please do not remind me of it. I had rotten luck that day. But you
can believe me, Windy would never have won if it weren't for the ten
lengths he gained at the start. But this time--never! You know, of
course, it is decided; we leave town the same day.

MARG. Same evening, you mean.

CLEM. If you will--but why?

MARG. Because it's been arranged we're to be married in the morning,
hasn't it?

CLEM. Quite so.

MARG. I am so happy. [_Embraces him._] Now, where shall we spend our
honeymoon?

CLEM. I take it we're agreed. Aren't we? On the estate.

MARG. Oh, of course, later. Aren't we going to take in the Riviera, as a
preliminary tidbit?

CLEM. AS for that, it all depends on the Handicap. If we win--

MARG. Surest thing!

CLEM. And besides, in April the Riviera's not at all good _ton_.

MARG. Is that your reason?

CLEM. Of course it is, my love. In your former way of life, there were
so few opportunities for your getting a clear idea of fashion--Pardon
me, but whatever there was, you must admit, really had its origin in the
comic journals.

MARG. Clem, please!

CLEM. Well, well. We'll see. [_Continues reading._] Badegast fifteen to
one--

MARG. Badegast? There isn't a ghost of a show for him!

CLEM. Where did you get that information?

MARG. Szigrati himself gave me a tip.

CLEM. Where--and when?

MARG. Oh, this morning in the Fredenau, while you were talking with
Milner.

CLEM. Now, look here; Szigrati isn't fit company for you.

MARG. Jealous?

CLEM. Not at all. Moreover, let it be understood that from now on I
shall introduce you everywhere as my fiancée. [_Margaret kisses him._]

CLEM. Now, what did Szigrati say?

MARG. That he's not going to enter Badegast in the Handicap at all.

CLEM. Well, don't you believe everything Szigrati is likely to say. He's
circulating the rumor that Badegast will not be entered so that the odds
may be bigger.

MARG. Nonsense! That's too much like an investment.

CLEM. So you don't believe there is such a thing as investment in this
game? For a great many it's all a commercial enterprise. Do you think
that a fellow of Szigrati's ilk cares a fig for sport? He might just as
well speculate on the market, and wouldn't realize the difference.
Anyway, as far as Badegast is concerned, one hundred to one wouldn't be
too much to put up against him.

MARG. Really? I found him in first-rate fettle this morning.

CLEM. Then you saw Badegast, too?

MARG. Certainly. Didn't Butters put him through his paces, right behind
Busserl?

CLEM. But Butters isn't riding for Szigrati. He was only a stableboy.
Badegast can be in as fine fettle as he chooses--it's all the same to
me. He's nothing but a blind. Some day, Margaret, with the aid of your
exceptional talent, you will be able to distinguish the veritable
somebodies from the shams. Really, it's remarkable with what proficiency
you have, so to speak, insinuated yourself into all these things. You go
beyond my expectations.

MARG. [_chagrined_]. Pray, why do I go beyond your expectations? All
this, as you know, is not so new to me. At our house we entertained very
good people--Count Libowski and people of that sort--and at my
husband's--

CLEM. Quite so. No question about that. As a matter of principle, you
realize, I've no grudge against the cotton industry.

MARG. Even if my husband happened to be the owner of a cotton mill, that
didn't have to effect my personal outlook on life, did it? I always
sought culture in my own way. Now, don't let's talk of that period of my
life. It's dead and buried, thank heaven!

CLEM. Yes. But there's another period which lies nearer.

MARG. I know. But why mention it?

CLEM. Well, I simply mean that you couldn't possibly have heard much
about sportsmanship from your friends in Munich--at least, as far as I
am able to judge.

MARG. I do hope you will stop tormenting me about those friends in whose
company you first made my acquaintance.

CLEM. Tormenting you? Nonsense! Only it's incomprehensible to me how you
ever got amongst those people.

MARG. You speak of them as if they were a gang of criminals.

CLEM. Dearest, I'd stake my honor on it, some of them looked the very
picture of pickpockets. Tell me, how did you manage to do it? I can't
understand how you, with your refined taste--let alone your purity and
the scent you used--could have tolerated their society. How could you
have sat at the same table with them?

MARG. [_laughing_]. Didn't you do the same?

CLEM. Next to them--not with them. And for your sake--merely for your
sake, as you know. To do them justice, however, I will admit that many
bettered upon closer acquaintance. There were some interesting people
among them. You mustn't for a moment believe, dearest, that I hold
myself superior to those who happen to be shabbily dressed. That's
nothing against them. But there was something in their conduct, in their
manners, which was positively revolting.

MARG. It wasn't quite so bad.

CLEM. Don't take offense, dear. I said there were some interesting
people among them. But that a lady should feel at ease in their company,
for any length of time, I cannot and do not pretend to understand.

MARG. You forget, dear Clem, that in a sense I'm one of them--or was at
one time.

CLEM. Now, please! For my sake!

MARG. They were artists.

CLEM. Thank goodness, we've returned to the old theme.

MARG. Yes, because it hurts me to think you always lose sight of that
fact.

CLEM. Lose sight of that fact! Nonsense! You know what pained me in your
writings--things entirely personal.

MARG. Let me tell you, Clem, there are women who, in my situation, would
have done worse than write poetry.

CLEM. But what sort of poetry! What sort of poetry! [_Takes a slender
volume from the mantel-shelf._] That's what repels me. I assure you,
every time I see this book lying here; every time I think of it, I blush
with shame that it was you who wrote it.

MARG. That's why you fail to understand-- Now, don't take offense. If
you did understand, you'd be quite perfect, and that, obviously, is
impossible. Why does it repel you? You know I didn't live through all
the experiences I write about.

CLEM. I hope not.

MARG. The poems are only visions.

CLEM. That's just it. That's what makes me ask: How can a lady indulge
in visions of that character? [_Reads._] "Abandoned on thy breast and
suckled by thy lips" [_shaking his head_]. How can a lady write such
stuff--how can a lady have such stuff printed? That's what I simply
cannot make out. Everybody who reads will inevitably conjure up the
person of the authoress, and the particular breast mentioned, and the
particular abandonment hinted at.

MARG. But, I'm telling you, no such breast ever existed.

CLEM. I can't bring myself to imagine that it did. That's lucky for both
of us, Margaret. But where did these visions originate? These glowing
passion-poems could not have been inspired by your first husband.
Besides, he could never appreciate you, as you yourself always say.

MARG. Certainly not. That's why I brought suit for divorce. You know the
story. I just couldn't bear living with a man who had no other interest
in life than eating and drinking and cotton.

CLEM. I dare say. But that was three years ago. These poems were written
later.

MARG. Quite so. But consider the position in which I found myself--

CLEM. What do you mean? You didn't have to endure any privation? In this
respect you must admit your husband acted very decently toward you. You
were not under the necessity of earning your own living. And suppose the
publishers did pay you one hundred gulden for a poem--surely they don't
pay more than that--still, you were not bound to write a book of this
sort.

MARG. I did not refer to position in a material sense. It was the state
of my soul. Have you a notion how--when you came to know me--things were
considerably improved. I had in many ways found myself again. But in the
beginning! I was so friendless, so crushed! I tried my hand at
everything; I painted, I gave English lessons in the pension where I
lived. Just think of it! A divorcee, having nobody--

CLEM. Why didn't you stay in Vienna?

MARG. Because I couldn't get along with my family. No one appreciated
me. Oh, what people! Did any one of them realize that a woman of my type
asks more of life than a husband, pretty dresses and social position? My
God! If I had had a child, probably everything would have ended
differently--and maybe not. I'm not quite lacking in accomplishments,
you know. Are you still prepared to complain? Was it not for the best
that I went to Munich? Would I have made your acquaintance else?

CLEM. You didn't go there with that object in view.

MARG. I wanted to be free spiritually, I mean. I wanted to prove to
myself whether I could succeed through my own efforts. And, admit,
didn't it look as if I was jolly well going to? I had made some headway
on the road to fame.

CLEM. H'm!

MARG. But you were dearer to me than fame.

CLEM [_good-naturedly_]. And surer.

MARG. I didn't give it a thought. I suppose it's because I loved you
from the very start. For in my dreams, I always conjured up a man of
your likeness. I always seemed to realize that it could only be a man
like you who would make me happy. Blood--is no empty thing. Nothing
whatever can weigh in the balance with that. You see, that's why I can't
resist the belief--

CLEM. What?

MARG. Oh, sometimes I think I must have blue blood in my veins, too.

CLEM. How so?

MARG. It's not improbable?

CLEM. I'm afraid I don't understand.

MARG. But I told you that members of the nobility were entertained at
our house--

CLEM. Well, and if they were?

MARG. Who knows--

CLEM. Margaret, you're positively shocking. How can you hint at such a
thing!

MARG. I can never say what I think in your presence! That's your only
shortcoming--otherwise you would be quite perfect. [_She smiles up to
him._] You've won my heart completely. That very first evening, when you
walked into the café with Wangenheim, I had an immediate presentiment:
this is he! You came among that group, like a soul from another world.

CLEM. I hope so. And I thank heaven that somehow you didn't seem to be
altogether one of them, either. No. Whenever I call to mind that
junto--the Russian girl, for instance, who because of her close-cropped
hair gave the appearance of a student--except that she did not wear a
cap--

MARG. Baranzewitsch is a very gifted painter.

CLEM. No doubt. You pointed her out to me one day in the picture
gallery. She was standing on a ladder at the time, copying. And then the
fellow with the Polish name--

MARG. [_beginning_]. Zrkd--

CLEM. Spare yourself the pains. You don't have to use it now any more.
He read something at the café while I was there, without putting himself
out the least bit.

MARG. He's a man of extraordinary talent. I'll vouch for it.

CLEM. Oh, no doubt. Everybody is talented at the café. And then that
yokel, that insufferable--

MARG. Who?

CLEM. You know whom I mean. That fellow who persisted in making tactless
observations about the aristocracy.

MARG. Gilbert. You must mean Gilbert.

CLEM. Yes. Of course. I don't feel called upon to make a brief for my
class. Profligates crop up everywhere, even among writers, I understand.
But, don't you know it was very bad taste on his part while one of us
was present?

MARG. That's just like him.

CLEM. I had to hold myself in check not to knock him down.

MARG. In spite of that, he was quite interesting. And, then, you mustn't
forget he was raving jealous of you.

CLEM. I thought I noticed that, too. [_Pause._]

MARG. Good heavens, they were all jealous of you. Naturally enough--you
were so unlike them. They all paid court to me because I wouldn't
discriminate in favor of any one of them. You certainly must have
noticed that, eh? Why are you laughing?

CLEM. Comical--is no word for it! If some one had prophesied to me that
I was going to marry a regular frequenter of the Café Maxmillian--I
fancied the two young painters most. They'd have made an incomparable
vaudeville team. Do you know, they resembled each other so much and
owned everything they possessed in common--and, if I'm not mistaken, the
Russian on the ladder along with the rest.

MARG. I didn't bother myself with such things.

CLEM. And, then, both must have been Jews?

MARG. Why so?

CLEM. Oh, simply because they always jested in such a way. And their
enunciation.

MARG. You may spare your anti-Semitic remarks.

CLEM. Now, sweetheart, don't be touchy. I know that your blood is not
untainted, and I have nothing whatever against the Jews. I once had a
tutor in Greek who was a Jew. Upon my word! He was a capital fellow. One
meets all sorts and conditions of people. I don't in the least regret
having made the acquaintance of your associates in Munich. It's all the
weave of our life experience. But I can't help thinking that I must
have appeared to you like a hero come to rescue you in the nick of time.

MARG. Yes, so you did. My Clem! Clem! [_Embraces him._]

CLEM. What are you laughing at?

MARG. Something's just occurred to me.

CLEM. What?

MARG. "Abandoned on thy breast and--"

CLEM. [_vexed_]. Please! Must you always shatter my illusions?

MARG. Tell me truly, Clem, wouldn't you be proud if your fiancée, your
wife, were to become a great, a famous writer?

CLEM. I have already told you. I am rooted in my decision. And I promise
you that if you begin scribbling or publishing poems in which you paint
your passion for me, and sing to the world the progress of our
love--it's all up with our wedding, and off I go.

MARG. You threaten--you, who have had a dozen well-known affairs.

CLEM. My dear, well-known or not, I didn't tell anybody. I didn't bring
out a book whenever a woman abandoned herself on my breast, so that any
Tom, Dick or Harry could buy it for a gulden and a half. There's the
rub. I know there are people who thrive by it, but, as for me, I find it
extremely coarse. It's more degrading to me than if you were to pose as
a Greek goddess in flesh-colored tights at Ronacher's. A Greek statue
like that doesn't say "Mew." But a writer who makes copy of everything
goes beyond the merely humorous.

MARG. [_nervously_]. Dearest, you forget that the poet does not always
tell the truth.

CLEM. And suppose he only vaporizes. Does that make it any better?

MARG. It isn't called vaporizing; it's "_distillation_."

CLEM. What sort of an expression is that?

MARG. We disclose things we never experience, things we dreamed--plainly
invented.

CLEM. Don't say "we" any more, Margaret. Thank goodness, that is past.

MARG. Who knows?

CLEM. What?

MARG. [_tenderly_]. Clement, I must tell you all.

CLEM. What is it?

MARG. It is not past; I haven't given up my writing.

CLEM. Why?

MARG. I'm still going on with my writing, or, rather, I've finished
writing another book. Yes, the impulse is stronger than most people
realize. I really believe I should have gone to pieces if it hadn't been
for my writing.

CLEM. What have you written now?

MARG. A novel. The weight was too heavy to be borne. It might have
dragged me down--down. Until to-day, I tried to hide it from you, but it
had to come out at last. Künigel is immensely taken with it.

CLEM. Who's Künigel?

MARG. My publisher.

CLEM. Then it's been read already.

MARG. Yes, and lots more will read it. Clement, you will have cause to
be proud, believe me.

CLEM. You're mistaken, my dear. I think--but, tell me, what's it about?

MARG. I can't tell you right off. The novel contains the greatest part,
so to speak, and all that can be said of the greatest part.

CLEM. My compliments!

MARG. That's why I'm going to promise you never to pick up a pen any
more. I don't need to.

CLEM. Margaret, do you love me?

MARG. What a question! You and you only. Though I have seen a great
deal, though I have gadded about a great deal, I have experienced
comparatively little. I have waited all my life for your coming.

CLEM. Well, let me have the book.

MARG. Why--why? What do you mean?

CLEM. I grant you, there was some excuse in your having written it; but
it doesn't follow that it's got to be read. Let me have it, and we'll
throw it into the fire.

MARG. Clem!

CLEM. I make that request. I have a right to make it.

MARG. Impossible! It simply--

CLEM. Why? If I wish it; if I tell you our whole future depends on it.
Do you understand? Is it still impossible?

MARG. But, Clement, the novel has already been printed.

CLEM. What! Printed?

MARG. Yes. In a few days it will be on sale on all the book-stalls.

CLEM. Margaret, you did all that without a word to me--?

MARG. I couldn't do otherwise. When once you see it, you will forgive
me. More than that, you will be proud.

CLEM. My dear, this has progressed beyond a joke.

MARG. Clement!

CLEM. Adieu, Margaret.

MARG. Clement, what does this mean? You are leaving?

CLEM. As you see.

MARG. When are you coming back again?

CLEM. I can't say just now. Adieu.

MARG. Clement! [_Tries to hold him back._]

CLEM. Please. [_Goes out._]

MARG. [_alone_]. Clement! What does this mean? He's left me for good.
What shall I do? Clement! Is everything between us at an end? No. It
can't be. Clement! I'll go after him. [_She looks for her hat. The
doorbell rings._] Ah, he's coming back. He only wanted to frighten me.
Oh, my Clement! [_Goes to the door. Gilbert enters._]

GIL. [_to the maid_]. I told you so. Madame's at home. How do you do,
Margaret?

MARG. [_astonished_]. You?

GIL. It's I--I. Amandus Gilbert.

MARG. I'm so surprised.

GIL. So I see. There's no cause for it. I merely thought I'd stop over.
I'm on my way to Italy. I came to offer you my latest book for auld lang
syne. [_Hands her the book. As she does not take it, he places it on the
table._]

MARG. It's very good of you. Thanks!

GIL. You have a certain proprietorship in that book. So you are living
here?

MARG. Yes, but--

GIL. Opposite the stadium, I see. As far as furnished rooms go, it's
passable enough. But these family portraits on the walls would drive me
crazy.

MARG. My housekeeper's the widow of a general.

GIL. Oh, you needn't apologize.

MARG. Apologize! Really, the idea never occurred to me.

GIL. It's wonderful to hark back to it now.

MARG. To what?

GIL. Why shouldn't I say it? To the small room in Steinsdorf street,
with its balcony abutting over the Isar. Do you remember, Margaret?

MARG. Suppose we drop the familiar.

GIL. As you please--as you please. [_Pause, then suddenly._] You acted
shamefully, Margaret.

MARG. What do you mean?

GIL. Would you much rather that I beat around the bush? I can find no
other word, to my regret. And it was so uncalled for, too.
Straightforwardness would have done just as nicely. It was quite
unnecessary to run away from Munich under cover of a foggy night.

MARG. It wasn't night and it wasn't foggy. I left in the morning on the
eight-thirty train, in open daylight.

GIL. At all events, you might have said good-by to me before leaving,
eh? [_Sits._]

MARG. I expect the Baron back any minute.

GIL. What difference does that make? Of course, you didn't tell him that
you lay in my arms once and worshiped me. I'm just an old acquaintance
from Munich. And there's no harm in an old acquaintance calling to see
you?

MARG. Anybody but you.

GIL. Why? Why do you persist in misunderstanding me? I assure you, I
come _only_ as an old acquaintance. Everything else is dead and buried,
long dead and buried. Here. See for yourself. [_Indicates the book._]

MARG. What's that?

GIL. My latest novel.

MARG. Have you taken to writing novels?

GIL. Certainly.

MARG. Since when have you learned the trick?

GIL. What do you mean?

MARG. Heavens, can't I remember? Thumb-nail sketches were your
specialty, observation of daily events.

GIL. [_excitedly_]. My specialty? My specialty is life itself. I write
what suits me. I do not allow myself to be circumscribed. I don't see
who's to prevent my writing a novel.

MARG. But the opinion of an authority was--

GIL. Pray, who's an authority?

MARG. I call to mind, for instance, an article by Neumann in the
"Algemeine"--

GIL. [_angrily_]. Neumann's a blamed idiot! I boxed his ears for him
once.

MARG. You--

GIL. In effigy-- But you were quite as much wrought up about the
business as I at that time. We were perfectly agreed that Neumann was a
blamed idiot. "How can such a numbskull dare"--these were your very
words--"to set bounds to your genius? How can he dare to stifle your
next work still, so to speak, in the womb?" You said that! And to-day
you quote that literary hawker.

MARG. Please do not shout. My housekeeper--

GIL. I don't propose to bother myself about the widows of defunct
generals when every nerve in my body is a-tingle.

MARG. What did I say? I can't account for your touchiness.

GIL. Touchiness! You call me touchy? You! Who used to be seized with a
violent fit of trembling every time some insignificant booby or some
trumpery sheet happened to utter an unfavorable word of criticism.

MARG. I don't remember one word of unfavorable criticism against me.

GIL. H'm! I dare say you may be right. Critics are always chivalrous
toward beautiful women.

MARG. Chivalrous? Do you think my poems were praised out of chivalry?
What about your own estimate--

GIL. Mine? I'm not going to retract so much as one little word. I simply
want to remind you that you composed your sheaf of lovely poems while we
were living together.

MARG. And you actually consider yourself worthy of them?

GIL. Would you have written them if it weren't for me? They are
addressed to me.

MARG. Never!

GIL. What! Do you mean to deny that they are addressed to me? This is
monstrous!

MARG. No. They are not addressed to you.

GIL. I am dumbfounded. I shall remind you of the situations in which
some of your loveliest verses had birth?

MARG. They were inscribed to an Ideal--[_Gilbert points to
himself_]--whose representative on earth you happened to be.

GIL. Ha! This is precious. Where did you get that? Do you know what the
French would say in a case like that? "C'est de la littérature!"

MARG. [_mimicking him_]. Ce n'est pas de la littérature! Now, that's the
truth, the honest truth! Or do you really fancy that by the "slim boy" I
meant you? Or that the curls I hymned belonged to you? At that time you
were fat and your hair was never curly. [_Runs her fingers through his
hair. Gilbert seizes the opportunity to capture her hand and kiss it._]
What an idea!

GIL. At that time you pictured it so; or, at all events, that is what
you called it. To be sure, a poet is forced to take every sort of
license for the sake of the rhythm. Didn't I once apostrophise you in a
sonnet as "my canny lass"? In point of fact, you were neither--no, I
don't want to be unfair--you were canny, shamefully canny, perversely
canny. And it suited you perfectly. Well, I suppose I really oughtn't to
wonder at you. You were at all times a snob. And, by Jove! you've
attained your end. You have decoyed your blue-blooded boy with his
well-manicured hands and his unmanicured brain, your matchless horseman,
fencer, marksman, tennis player, heart-trifler--Marlitt could not have
invented him more revolting than he actually is. Yes, what more can you
wish? Whether he will satisfy you--who are acquainted with something
nobler--is, of course, another question. I can only say that, in my
view, you are degenerate in love.

MARG. That must have struck you on the train.

GIL. Not at all. It struck me this very moment.

MARG. Make a note of it then; it's an apt phrase.

GIL. I've another quite as apt. Formerly you were a woman; now you're a
"sweet thing." Yes, that's it. What attracted you to a man of that
type? Passion--frank and filthy passion--

MARG. Stop! You have a motive--

GIL. My dear, I still lay claim to the possession of a soul.

MARG. Except now and then.

GIL. Please don't try to disparage our former relations. It's no use.
They are the noblest experiences you've ever had.

MARG. Heavens, when I think that I endured this twaddle for one whole
year I--

GIL. Endure? You were intoxicated with joy. Don't try to be ungrateful.
I'm not. Admitting that you behaved never so execrably at the end, yet I
can't bring myself to look upon it with bitterness. It had to come just
that way.

MARG. Indeed!

GIL. I owe you an explanation. This: at the moment when you were
beginning to drift away from me, when homesickness for the stables
gripped you--_la nostalgie de l'écurie_--at that moment I was done with
you.

MARG. Impossible.

GIL. You failed to notice the least sign in your characteristic way. I
was done with you. To be plain, I didn't need you any longer. What you
had to give you gave me. Your uses were fulfilled. In the depths of your
soul you knew, unconsciously you knew--

MARG. Please don't get so hot.

GIL. [_unruffled_]. That our day was over. Our relations had served
their purpose. I don't regret having loved you.

MARG. I do!

GIL. Capital! This measly outburst must reveal to a person of any
insight just one thing: the essential line of difference between the
artist and the dilettante. To you, Margaret, our _liaison_ means nothing
more than the memory of a few abandoned nights, a few heart-to-heart
talks in the winding ways of the English gardens. But _I_ have made it
over into a work of art.

MARG. So have I!

GIL. Eh? What do you mean?

MARG. I have done what you have done. I, too, have written a novel in
which our relations are depicted. I, too, have embalmed our love--or
what we thought was our love--for all time.

GIL. If I were you, I wouldn't talk of "for all time" before the
appearance of the second edition.

MARG. Your writing a novel and my writing a novel are two different
things.

GIL. Maybe.

MARG. You are a free man. You don't have to steal your hours devoted to
artistic labor. And your future doesn't depend on the throw.

GIL. And you?

MARG. That's what I've done. Only a half hour ago Clement left me
because I confessed to him that I had written a novel.

GIL. Left you--for good?

MARG. I don't know. But it isn't unlikely. He went away in a fit of
anger. What he'll decide to do I can't say.

GIL. So he objects to your writing, does he? He can't bear to see his
mistress put her intelligence to some use. Capital! And he represents
the blood of the country! H'm! And you, you're not ashamed to give
yourself up to the arms of an idiot of this sort, whom you once--

MARG. Don't you speak of him like that. You don't know him.

GIL. Ah!

MARG. You don't know why he objects to my writing. Purely out of love.
He feels that if I go on I will be living in a world entirely apart from
him. He blushes at the thought that I should make copy of the most
sacred feelings of my soul for unknown people to read. It is his wish
that I belong to him only, and that is why he dashed out--no, not dashed
out--for Clement doesn't belong to the class that dashes out.

GIL. Your observation is well taken. In any case, he went away. We will
not undertake to discuss the _tempo_ of his going forth. And he went
away because he could not bear to see you surrender yourself to the
creative impulse.

MARG. Ah, if he could only understand that! But, of course, that can
never be! I could be the best, the faithfulest, the noblest woman in the
world if the right man only existed.

GIL. At all events, you admit he is not the right man.

MARG. I never said that!

GIL. But you ought to realize that he's fettering you, undoing you
utterly, seeking through egotism, to destroy your inalienable self.
Look back for a moment at the Margaret you were; at the freedom that was
yours while you loved me. Think of the younger set who gathered about me
and who belonged no whit less to you? Do you never long for those days?
Do you never call to mind the small room with its balcony--Beneath us
plunged the Isar--[_He seizes her hand and presses her near._]

MARG. Ah!

GIL. All's not beyond recall. It need not be the Isar, need it? I have
something to propose to you, Margaret. Tell him, when he returns, that
you still have some important matters to arrange at Munich, and spend
the time with me. Margaret, you are so lovely! We shall be happy again
as then. Do you remember [_very near her_] "Abandoned on thy breast
and--"

MARG. [_retreating brusquely from him_]. Go, go away. No, no. Please go
away. I don't love you any more.

GIL. Oh, h'm--indeed! Oh, in that case I beg your pardon. [_Pause._]
Adieu, Margaret.

MARG. Adieu.

GIL. Won't you present me with a copy of your novel as a parting gift,
as I have done?

MARG. It hasn't come out yet. It won't be on sale before next week.

GIL. Pardon my inquisitiveness, what kind of a story is it?

MARG. The story of my life. So veiled, to be sure, that I am in no
danger of being recognized.

GIL. I see. How did you manage to do it?

MARG. Very simple. For one thing, the heroine is not a writer but a
painter.

GIL. Very clever.

MARG. Her first husband is not a cotton manufacturer, but a big
financier, and, of course, it wouldn't do to deceive him with a tenor--

GIL. Ha! Ha!

MARG. What strikes you so funny?

GIL. So you deceived him with a tenor? I didn't know that.

MARG. Whoever said so?

GIL. Why, you yourself, just now.

MARG. How so? I say the heroine of the book deceives her husband with a
baritone.

GIL. Bass would have been more sublime, mezzo-soprano more piquant.

MARG. Then she doesn't go to Munich, but to Dresden; and there, has an
affair with a sculptor.

GIL. That's me--veiled.

MARG. Very much veiled, I rather fear. The sculptor, as it happens, is
young, handsome and a genius. In spite of that she leaves him.

GIL. For--

MARG. Guess?

GIL. A jockey, I fancy.

MARG. Wretch!

GIL. A count, a prince of the empire?

MARG. Wrong. An archduke.

GIL. I must say you have spared no costs.

MARG. Yes, an archduke, who gave up the court for her sake, married her
and emigrated with her to the Canary Islands.

GIL. The Canary Islands! Splendid! And then--

MARG. With the disembarkation--

GIL. In Canaryland.

MARG. The story ends.

GIL. Good. I'm very much interested, especially in the veiling.

MARG. You yourself wouldn't recognize me were it not for--

GIL. What?

MARG. The third chapter from the end, where our correspondence is
published entire.

GIL. What?

MARG. Yes, all the letters you sent me and those I sent you are included
in the novel.

GIL. I see, but may I ask where you got those you sent me? I thought I
had them.

MARG. I know. But, you see, I had the habit of always making a rough
draft.

GIL. A rough draft?

MARG. Yes.

GIL. A rough draft? Those letters which seemed to have been dashed off
in such tremendous haste. "Just one word, dearest, before I go to bed.
My eyelids are heavy--" and when your eyelids were closed you wrote the
whole thing over again.

MARG. Are you piqued about it?

GIL. I might have expected as much. I ought to be glad, however, that
they weren't bought from a professional love-letter writer. Oh, how
everything begins to crumble! The whole past is nothing but a heap of
ruins. She made a rough draft of her letters!

MARG. Be content. Maybe my letters will be all that will remain immortal
of your memory.

GIL. And along with them will remain the fatal story.

MARG. Why?

GIL. [_indicating his book_]. Because they also appear in my book.

MARG. In _where_?

GIL. In my novel.

MARG. What?

GIL. Our letters--yours and mine.

MARG. Where did you get your own? I've got them in my possession. Ah, so
you, too, made a rough draft?

GIL. Nothing of the kind! I only copied them before mailing. I didn't
want to lose them. There are some in my book which you didn't even get.
They were, in my opinion, too beautiful for you. You wouldn't have
understood them at all.

MARG. Merciful heavens! If this is so--[_turning the leaves of Gilbert's
book_]. Yes, yes, it is so. Why, it's just like telling the world that
we two--Merciful heavens! [_Feverishly turning the leaves._] Is the
letter you sent me the morning after the first night also--

GIL. Surely. That was brilliant.

MARG. This is horrible. Why, this is going to create a European
sensation. And Clement--My God; I'm beginning to hope that he will not
come back. I am ruined! And you along with me. Wherever you are, he'll
be sure to find you and blow your brains out like a mad dog.

GIL. [_pocketing his book_]. Insipid comparison!

MARG. How did you hit upon such an insane idea? To publish the
correspondence of a woman whom, in all sincerity, you professed to have
loved! Oh, you're no gentleman.

GIL. Quite charming. Haven't you done the same?

MARG. I'm a woman.

GIL. Do you take refuge in that now?

MARG. Oh, it's true. I have nothing to reproach you with. We were made
for one another. Yes, Clement was right. We're worse than those women
who appear in flesh-colored tights. Our most sacred feelings, our
pangs--everything--we make copy of everything. Pfui! #Pfui!# It's
sickening. We two belong to one another. Clement would only be doing
what is right if he drove me away. [_Suddenly._] Come, Amandus.

GIL. What is it?

MARG. I accept your proposal.

GIL. What proposal?

MARG. I'm going to cut it with you. [_Looks for her hat and cloak._]

GIL. Eh? What do you mean?

MARG. [_very much excited; puts her hat on tightly_]. Everything can be
as it was. You've said it. It needn't be the Isar--well, I'm ready.

GIL. Sheer madness! Cut it--what's the meaning of this? Didn't you
yourself say a minute ago that he'd find me anywhere. If you're with me,
he'll have no difficulty in finding you, too. Wouldn't it be better if
each--

MARG. Wretch! Now you want to leave me in a lurch! Why, only a few
minutes ago you were on your knees before me. Have you no conscience?

GIL. What's the use? I am a sick, nervous man, suffering from
hypochondria. [_Margaret at the window utters a cry._]

GIL. What's up? What will the general's widow think?

MARG. It's he. He's coming back.

GIL. Well, then--

MARG. What? You intend to go?

GIL. I didn't come here to pay the baron a visit.

MARG. He'll encounter you on the stairs. That would be worse. Stay. I
refuse to be sacrificed alone.

GIL. Now, don't lose your senses. Why do you tremble like that? It's
quite absurd to believe that he's already gone through both novels. Calm
yourself. Remove your hat. Off with your cloak. [_Assists her._] If he
catches you in this frame of mind he can't help but suspect.

MARG. It's all the same to me. Better now than later. I can't bear
waiting and waiting for the horrible event. I'm going to tell him
everything right away.

GIL. Everything?

MARG. Yes. And while you are still here. If I make a clean breast of
everything now maybe he'll forgive me.

GIL. And me--what about me? I have a higher mission in the world, I
think, than to suffer myself to be shot down like a mad dog by a jealous
baron. [_The bell rings._]

MARG. It's he! It's he.

GIL. Understand, you're not to breathe a word.

MARG. I've made up my mind.

GIL. Indeed, have a care. For, if you do, I shall sell my hide at a good
price. I shall hurl such naked truths at him that he'll swear no baron
heard the like of them.

CLEM. [_entering, somewhat surprised, but quite cool and courteous_].
Oh, Mr. Gilbert! Am I right?

GIL. The very same, Baron. I'm traveling south, and I couldn't repress
the desire to pay my respects to madame.

CLEM. Ah, indeed. [_Pause._] Pardon me, it seems I've interrupted your
conversation. Pray, don't let me disturb you.

GIL. What were we talking about just now?

CLEM. Perhaps I can assist your memory. In Munich, if I recall
correctly, you always talked about your books.

GIL. Quite so. As a matter of fact, I was speaking about my new novel.

CLEM. Pray, continue. Nowadays, I find that I, too, can talk literature.
Eh, Margaret? Is it naturalistic? Symbolic? Autobiographical? Or--let me
see--is it distilled?

GIL. Oh, in a certain sense we all write about our life-experiences.

CLEM. H'm. That's good to know.

GIL. Yes, if you're painting the character of Nero, in my opinion it's
absolutely necessary that you should have set fire to Rome--

CLEM. Naturally.

GIL. From what source should a writer derive his inspiration if not from
himself? Where should he go for his models if not to the life which is
nearest to him? [_Margaret becomes more and more uneasy._]

CLEM. Isn't it a pity, though, that the models are so rarely consulted?
But I must say, if I were a woman, I'd think twice before I'd let such
people know anything--[_Sharply._] In decent society, sir, that's the
same as compromising a woman!

GIL. I don't know whether I belong to decent society or not, but, in my
humble opinion, it's the same as ennobling a woman.

CLEM. Indeed.

GIL. The essential thing is, does it really hit the mark! In a higher
sense, what does it matter if the public does know that a woman was
happy in this bed or that?

CLEM. Mr. Gilbert, allow me to remind you that you are speaking in the
presence of a lady.

GIL. I'm speaking in the presence of a comrade, Baron, who, perhaps,
shares my views in these matters.

CLEM. Oh!

MARG. Clement! [_Throws herself at his feet._] Clement.

CLEM. [_staggered_]. But--Margaret.

MARG. Your forgiveness, Clement!

CLEM. But, Margaret. [_To Gilbert._] It's very painful to me, Mr.
Gilbert. Now, get up, Margaret. Get up, everything's all right;
everything's arranged. Yes, yes. You have but to call up Künigel. I have
already arranged everything with him. We are going to put it out for
sale. Is that suitable to you?

GIL. What are you going to put out for sale, if I may be so bold as to
ask? The novel madame has written?

CLEM. Ah, so you know already. At all events, Mr. Gilbert, it seems that
your _camaraderie_ is not required any further.

GIL. Yes. There's really nothing left for me but to beg to be excused.
I'm sorry.

CLEM. I very much regret, Mr. Gilbert, that you had to witness a scene
which might almost be called domestic.

GIL. Oh, I do not wish to intrude any further.

GIL. Madame--Baron, may I offer you a copy of my book as a token that
all ill-feeling between us has vanished? As a feeble sign of my
sympathy, Baron?

CLEM. You're very good, Mr. Gilbert. I must, however, tell you that this
is going to be the last, or the one before the last, that I ever intend
to read.

GIL. The one before the last?

CLEM. Yes.

MARG. And what's the last going to be?

CLEM. Yours, my love. [_Draws an advanced copy from his pocket._] I
wheedled an advance copy from Künigel to bring to you, or, rather, to
both of us. [_Margaret and Gilbert exchange scared glances._]

MARG. How good of you! [_Taking the book._] Yes, it's mine.

CLEM. We will read it together.

MARG. No, Clement, no. I cannot accept so much kindness. [_She throws
the book into the fireplace._] I don't want to hear of this sort of
thing any more.

GIL. [_very joyful_]. But, dear madame--

CLEM. [_going toward the fireplace_]. Margaret, what have you done?

MARG. [_in front of the fireplace, throwing her arms about Clement_].
Now, do you believe that I love you!

GIL. [_most gleeful_]. It appears that I'm entirely _de trop_ here. Dear
Madame--Baron--[_To himself._] Pity, though, I can't stay for the last
chapter. [_Goes out._]


  [_Curtain._]



THE INTRUDER

  A PLAY

  BY MAURICE MAETERLINCK


  CHARACTERS

    THE GRANDFATHER [_blind_].
    THE FATHER.
    THE THREE DAUGHTERS.
    THE UNCLE.
    THE SERVANT.


  The present translation of THE INTRUDER is the anonymous version
  published by Mr. Heinemann in 1892, the editor having, however,
  made some slight alterations in order to bring it into conformity
  with the current French text. The particular edition used for this
  purpose was the 1911 (twenty-third) reprint of Vol. I of M.
  Maeterlinck's "Théâtre."
                                                          A. L. G.


  Reprinted from "A Miracle of St. Antony and Five Other Plays" in the
  Modern Library, by permission of Messrs. Boni & Liveright, Inc.



THE INTRUDER

A PLAY BY MAURICE MAETERLINCK


    [_A sombre room in an old Château. A door on the right, a door
    on the left, and a small concealed door in a corner. At the back,
    stained-glass windows, in which green is the dominant color, and
    a glass door giving on to a terrace. A big Dutch clock in one
    corner. A lighted lamp._]


THE THREE DAUGHTERS. Come here, grandfather. Sit down under the lamp.

THE GRANDFATHER. There does not seem to me to be much light here.

THE FATHER. Shall we go out on the terrace, or stay in this room?

THE UNCLE. Would it not be better to stay here? It has rained the whole
week, and the nights are damp and cold.

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. But the stars are shining.

THE UNCLE. Oh the stars--that's nothing.

THE GRANDFATHER. We had better stay here. One never knows what may
happen.

THE FATHER. There is no longer any cause for anxiety. The danger is
over, and she is saved....

THE GRANDFATHER. I believe she is not doing so well....

THE FATHER. Why do you say that?

THE GRANDFATHER. I have heard her voice.

THE FATHER. But since the doctors assure us we may be easy....

THE UNCLE. You know quite well that your father-in-law likes to alarm us
needlessly.

THE GRANDFATHER. I don't see things as you do.

THE UNCLE. You ought to rely on us, then, who can see. She looked very
well this afternoon. She is sleeping quietly now; and we are not going
to mar, needlessly, the first pleasant evening that chance has put in
our way.... It seems to me we have a perfect right to peace, and even to
laugh a little, this evening, without fear.

THE FATHER. That's true; this is the first time I have felt at home with
my family since this terrible confinement.

THE UNCLE. When once illness has come into a house, it is as though a
stranger had forced himself into the family circle.

THE FATHER. And then you understand, too, that you can count on no one
outside the family.

THE UNCLE. You are quite right.

THE GRANDFATHER. Why couldn't I see my poor daughter to-day?

THE UNCLE. You know quite well--the doctor forbade it.

THE GRANDFATHER. I do not know what to think....

THE UNCLE. It is useless to worry.

THE GRANDFATHER [_pointing to the door on the left_]. She cannot hear
us?

THE FATHER. We will not talk too loud; besides, the door is very thick,
and the Sister of Mercy is with her, and she is sure to warn us if we
are making too much noise.

THE GRANDFATHER [_pointing to the door on the right_]. He cannot hear
us?

THE FATHER. No, no.

THE GRANDFATHER. He is asleep?

THE FATHER. I suppose so.

THE GRANDFATHER. Some one had better go and see.

THE UNCLE. The little one would cause _me_ more anxiety than your wife.
It is now several weeks since he was born, and he has scarcely stirred.
He has not cried once all the time! He is like a wax doll.

THE GRANDFATHER. I think he will be deaf--dumb too, perhaps--the usual
result of a marriage between cousins.... [_A reproving silence._]

THE FATHER. I could almost wish him ill for the suffering he has caused
his mother.

THE UNCLE. Do be reasonable; it is not the poor little thing's fault. He
is quite alone in the room?

THE FATHER. Yes; the doctor does not wish him to stay in his mother's
room any longer.

THE UNCLE. But the nurse is with him?

THE FATHER. No; she has gone to rest a little; she has well deserved it
these last few days. Ursula, just go and see if he is asleep.

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. Yes, father. [_The Three Sisters get up, and go
into the room on the right, hand in hand._]

THE FATHER. When will your sister come?

THE UNCLE. I think she will come about nine.

THE FATHER. It is past nine. I hope she will come this evening, my wife
is so anxious to see her.

THE UNCLE. She is sure to come. This will be the first time she has been
here?

THE FATHER. She has never been in the house.

THE UNCLE. It is very difficult for her to leave her convent.

THE FATHER. Will she be alone?

THE UNCLE. I expect one of the nuns will come with her. They are not
allowed to go out alone.

THE FATHER. But she is the Superior.

THE UNCLE. The rule is the same for all.

THE GRANDFATHER. Do you not feel anxious?

THE UNCLE. Why should we feel anxious? What's the good of harping on
that? There is nothing more to fear.

THE GRANDFATHER. Your sister is older than you?

THE UNCLE. She is the eldest.

THE GRANDFATHER. I do not know what ails me; I feel uneasy. I wish your
sister were here.

THE UNCLE. She will come; she promised to.

THE GRANDFATHER. Ah, if this evening were only over!

    [_The three daughters come in again._]

THE FATHER. He is asleep?

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. Yes, father; he is sleeping soundly.

THE UNCLE. What shall we do while we are waiting?

THE GRANDFATHER. Waiting for what?

THE UNCLE. Waiting for our sister.

THE FATHER. You see nothing coming, Ursula?

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER [_at the window_]. Nothing, father.

THE FATHER. Not in the avenue? Can you see the avenue?

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, father; it is moonlight, and I can see the avenue as
far as the cypress wood.

THE GRANDFATHER. And you do not see any one?

THE DAUGHTER. No one, grandfather.

THE UNCLE. What sort of a night is it?

THE DAUGHTER. Very fine. Do you hear the nightingales?

THE UNCLE. Yes, yes.

THE DAUGHTER. A little wind is rising in the avenue.

THE GRANDFATHER. A little wind in the avenue?

THE DAUGHTER. Yes; the trees are trembling a little.

THE UNCLE. I am surprised that my sister is not here yet.

THE GRANDFATHER. I cannot hear the nightingales any longer.

THE DAUGHTER. I think some one has come into the garden, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. Who is it?

THE DAUGHTER. I do not know; I can see no one.

THE UNCLE. Because there is no one there.

THE DAUGHTER. There must be some one in the garden; the nightingales
have suddenly ceased singing.

THE GRANDFATHER. But I do not hear any one coming.

THE DAUGHTER. Some one must be passing by the pond, because the swans
are ruffled.

ANOTHER DAUGHTER. All the fishes in the pond are diving suddenly.

THE FATHER. You cannot see any one.

THE DAUGHTER. No one, father.

THE FATHER. But the pond lies in the moonlight....

THE DAUGHTER. Yes; I can see that the swans are ruffled.

THE UNCLE. I am sure it is my sister who is scaring them. She must have
come in by the little gate.

THE FATHER. I cannot understand why the dogs do not bark.

THE DAUGHTER. I can see the watchdog right at the back of his kennel.
The swans are crossing to the other bank!...

THE UNCLE. They are afraid of my sister. I will go and see. [_He
calls._] Sister! sister! Is that you?... There is no one there.

THE DAUGHTER. I am sure that some one has come into the garden. You will
see.

THE UNCLE. But she would answer me!

THE GRANDFATHER. Are not the nightingales beginning to sing again,
Ursula?

THE DAUGHTER. I cannot hear one anywhere.

THE GRANDFATHER. But there is no noise.

THE FATHER. There is a silence of the grave.

THE GRANDFATHER. It must be a stranger that is frightening them, for if
it were one of the family they would not be silent.

THE UNCLE. How much longer are you going to discuss these nightingales?

THE GRANDFATHER. Are all the windows open, Ursula?

THE DAUGHTER. The glass door is open, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. It seems to me that the cold is penetrating into the
room.

THE DAUGHTER. There is a little wind in the garden, grandfather, and the
rose-leaves are falling.

THE FATHER. Well, shut the door. It is late.

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, father.... I cannot shut the door.

THE TWO OTHER DAUGHTERS. We cannot shut the door.

THE GRANDFATHER. Why, what is the matter with the door, my children?

THE UNCLE. You need not say that in such an extraordinary voice. I will
go and help them.

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. We cannot manage to shut it quite.

THE UNCLE. It is because of the damp. Let us all push together. There
must be something in the way.

THE FATHER. The carpenter will set it right to-morrow.

THE GRANDFATHER. Is the carpenter coming to-morrow.

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather; he is coming to do some work in the
cellar.

THE GRANDFATHER. He will make a noise in the house.

THE DAUGHTER. I will tell him to work quietly.

    [_Suddenly the sound of a scythe being sharpened is heard outside._]

THE GRANDFATHER [_with a shudder_]. Oh!

THE UNCLE. What is that?

THE DAUGHTER. I don't quite know; I think it is the gardener. I cannot
quite see; he is in the shadow of the house.

THE FATHER. It is the gardener going to mow.

THE UNCLE. He mows by night?

THE FATHER. Is not to-morrow Sunday?--Yes.--I noticed that the grass was
very long round the house.

THE GRANDFATHER. It seems to me that his scythe makes as much noise....

THE DAUGHTER. He is mowing near the house.

THE GRANDFATHER. Can you see him, Ursula?

THE DAUGHTER. No, grandfather. He is standing in the dark.

THE GRANDFATHER. I am afraid he will wake my daughter.

THE UNCLE. We can scarcely hear him.

THE GRANDFATHER. It sounds as if he were mowing inside the house.

THE UNCLE. The invalid will not hear it; there is no danger.

THE FATHER. It seems to me that the lamp is not burning well this
evening.

THE UNCLE. It wants filling.

THE FATHER. I saw it filled this morning. It has burnt badly since the
window was shut.

THE UNCLE. I fancy the chimney is dirty.

THE FATHER. It will burn better presently.

THE DAUGHTER. Grandfather is asleep. He has not slept for three nights.

THE FATHER. He has been so much worried.

THE UNCLE. He always worries too much. At times he will not listen to
reason.

THE FATHER. It is quite excusable at his age.

THE UNCLE. God knows what we shall be like at his age!

THE FATHER. He is nearly eighty.

THE UNCLE. Then he has a right to be strange.

THE FATHER. He is like all blind people.

THE UNCLE. They think too much.

THE FATHER. They have too much time to spare.

THE UNCLE. They have nothing else to do.

THE FATHER. And, besides, they have no distractions.

THE UNCLE. That must be terrible.

THE FATHER. Apparently one gets used to it.

THE UNCLE. I cannot imagine it.

THE FATHER. They are certainly to be pitied.

THE UNCLE. Not to know where one is, not to know where one has come
from, not to know whither one is going, not to be able to distinguish
midday from midnight, or summer from winter--and always darkness,
darkness! I would rather not live. Is it absolutely incurable?

THE FATHER. Apparently so.

THE UNCLE. But he is not absolutely blind?

THE FATHER. He can perceive a strong light.

THE UNCLE. Let us take care of our poor eyes.

THE FATHER. He often has strange ideas.

THE UNCLE. At times he is not at all amusing.

THE FATHER. He says absolutely everything he thinks.

THE UNCLE. But he was not always like this?

THE FATHER. No; once he was as rational as we are; he never said
anything extraordinary. I am afraid Ursula encourages him a little too
much; she answers all his questions....

THE UNCLE. It would be better not to answer them. It's a mistaken
kindness to him.

    [_Ten o'clock strikes._]

THE GRANDFATHER [_waking up_]. Am I facing the glass door?

THE DAUGHTER. You have had a nice sleep, grandfather?

THE GRANDFATHER. Am I facing the glass door?

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. There is nobody at the glass door?

THE DAUGHTER. No, grandfather; I do not see any one.

THE GRANDFATHER. I thought some one was waiting. No one has come?

THE DAUGHTER. No one, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER [_to the Uncle and Father_]. And your sister has not
come?

THE UNCLE. It is too late; she will not come now. It is not nice of her.

THE FATHER. I'm beginning to be anxious about her. [_A noise, as of some
one coming into the house._]

THE UNCLE. She is here! Did you hear?

THE FATHER. Yes; some one has come in at the basement.

THE UNCLE. It must be our sister. I recognized her step.

THE GRANDFATHER. I heard slow footsteps.

THE FATHER. She came in very quietly.

THE UNCLE. She knows there is an invalid.

THE GRANDFATHER. I hear nothing now.

THE UNCLE. She will come up directly; they will tell her we are here.

THE FATHER. I am glad she has come.

THE UNCLE. I was sure she would come this evening.

THE GRANDFATHER. She is a very long time coming up.

THE UNCLE. It must be she.

THE FATHER. We are not expecting any other visitors.

THE GRANDFATHER. I cannot hear any noise in the basement.

THE FATHER. I will call the servant. We shall know how things stand.
[_He pulls a bell-rope._]

THE GRANDFATHER. I can hear a noise on the stairs already.

THE FATHER. It is the servant coming up.

THE GRANDFATHER. To me it sounds as if she were not alone.

THE FATHER. She is coming up slowly....

THE GRANDFATHER. I hear your sister's step!

THE FATHER. I can only hear the servant.

THE GRANDFATHER. It is your sister! It is your sister! [_There is a
knock at the little door._]

THE UNCLE. She is knocking at the door of the back stairs.

THE FATHER. I will go and open it myself. [_He opens the little door
partly; the Servant remains outside in the opening._] Where are you?

THE SERVANT. Here, sir.

THE GRANDFATHER. Your sister is at the door?

THE UNCLE. I can only see the servant.

THE FATHER. It is only the servant. [_To the Servant._] Who was that,
that came into the house?

THE SERVANT. Came into the house?

THE FATHER. Yes; some one came in just now?

THE SERVANT. No one came in, sir.

THE GRANDFATHER. Who is it sighing like that?

THE UNCLE. It is the servant; she is out of breath.

THE GRANDFATHER. Is she crying?

THE UNCLE. No; why should she be crying?

THE FATHER [_to the Servant_]. No one came in just now?

THE SERVANT. No, sir.

THE FATHER. But we heard some one open the door!

THE SERVANT. It was I shutting the door.

THE FATHER. It was open?

THE SERVANT. Yes, sir.

THE FATHER. Why was it open at this time of night?

THE SERVANT. I do not know, sir. I had shut it myself.

THE FATHER. Then who was it that opened it?

THE SERVANT. I do not know, sir. Some one must have gone out after me,
sir....

THE FATHER. You must be careful.--Don't push the door; you know what a
noise it makes!

THE SERVANT. But, sir, I am not touching the door.

THE FATHER. But you are. You are pushing as if you were trying to get
into the room.

THE SERVANT. But, sir, I am three yards away from the door.

THE FATHER. Don't talk so loud....

THE GRANDFATHER. Are they putting out the light?

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. No, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. It seems to me it has grown pitch dark all at once.

THE FATHER [_to the Servant_]. You can go down again now; but do not
make so much noise on the stairs.

THE SERVANT. I did not make any noise on the stairs.

THE FATHER. I tell you that you did make a noise. Go down quietly; you
will wake your mistress. And if any one comes now, say that we are not
at home.

THE UNCLE. Yes; say that we are not at home.

THE GRANDFATHER [_shuddering_]. You must not say that!

THE FATHER. ... Except to my sister and the doctor.

THE UNCLE. When will the doctor come?

THE FATHER. He will not be able to come before midnight. [_He shuts the
door. A clock is heard striking eleven._]

THE GRANDFATHER. She has come in?

THE FATHER. Who?

THE GRANDFATHER. The servant.

THE FATHER. No, she has gone downstairs.

THE GRANDFATHER. I thought that she was sitting at the table.

THE UNCLE. The servant?

THE GRANDFATHER. Yes.

THE UNCLE. That would complete one's happiness!

THE GRANDFATHER. No one has come into the room?

THE FATHER. No; no one has come in.

THE GRANDFATHER. And your sister is not here?

THE UNCLE. Our sister has not come.

THE GRANDFATHER. You want to deceive me.

THE UNCLE. Deceive you?

THE GRANDFATHER. Ursula, tell me the truth, for the love of God!

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. Grandfather! Grandfather! what is the matter with
you?

THE GRANDFATHER. Something has happened! I am sure my daughter is
worse!...

THE UNCLE. Are you dreaming?

THE GRANDFATHER. You do not want to tell me!... I can see quite well
there is something....

THE UNCLE. In that case you can see better than we can.

THE GRANDFATHER. Ursula, tell me the truth!

THE DAUGHTER. But we have told you the truth, grandfather!

THE GRANDFATHER. You do not speak in your ordinary voice.

THE FATHER. That is because you frighten her.

THE GRANDFATHER. Your voice is changed, too.

THE FATHER. You are going mad! [_He and the Uncle make signs to each
other to signify the Grandfather has lost his reason._]

THE GRANDFATHER. I can hear quite well that you are afraid.

THE FATHER. But what should we be afraid of?

THE GRANDFATHER. Why do you want to deceive me?

THE UNCLE. Who is thinking of deceiving you?

THE GRANDFATHER. Why have you put out the light?

THE UNCLE. But the light has not been put out; there is as much light as
there was before.

THE DAUGHTER. It seems to me that the lamp has gone down.

THE FATHER. I see as well now as ever.

THE GRANDFATHER. I have millstones on my eyes! Tell me, girls, what is
going on here! Tell me, for the love of God, you who can see! I am here,
all alone, in darkness without end! I do not know who seats himself
beside me! I do not know what is happening a yard from me!... Why were
you talking under your breath just now?

THE FATHER. No one was talking under his breath.

THE GRANDFATHER. You did talk in a low voice at the door.

THE FATHER. You heard all I said.

THE GRANDFATHER. You brought some one into the room!...

THE FATHER. But I tell you no one has come in!

THE GRANDFATHER. Is it your sister or a priest?--You should not try to
deceive me.--Ursula, who was it that came in?

THE DAUGHTER. No one, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. You must not try to deceive me; I know what I
know.--How many of us are there here?

THE DAUGHTER. There are six of us round the table, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. You are all round the table?

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. You are there, Paul?

THE FATHER. Yes.

THE GRANDFATHER. You are there, Oliver?

THE UNCLE. Yes, of course I am here, in my usual place. That's not
alarming, is it?

THE GRANDFATHER. You are there, Geneviève?

ONE OF THE DAUGHTERS. Yes, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. You are there, Gertrude?

ANOTHER DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. You are here, Ursula?

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather; next to you.

THE GRANDFATHER. And who is that sitting there?

THE DAUGHTER. Where do you mean, grandfather?--There is no one.

THE GRANDFATHER. There, there--in the midst of us!

THE DAUGHTER. But there is no one, grandfather!

THE FATHER. We tell you there is no one!

THE GRANDFATHER. But you cannot see--any of you!

THE UNCLE. Pshaw! You are joking.

THE GRANDFATHER. I do not feel inclined for joking, I can assure you.

THE UNCLE. Then believe those who can see.

THE GRANDFATHER [_undecidedly_]. I thought there was some one.... I
believe I shall not live long....

THE UNCLE. Why should we deceive you? What use would there be in that?

THE FATHER. It would be our duty to tell you the truth....

THE UNCLE. What would be the good of deceiving each other?

THE FATHER. You could not live in error long.

THE GRANDFATHER [_trying to rise_]. I should like to pierce this
darkness!...

THE FATHER. Where do you want to go?

THE GRANDFATHER. Over there....

THE FATHER. Don't be so anxious.

THE UNCLE. You are strange this evening.

THE GRANDFATHER. It is all of you who seem to me to be strange!

THE FATHER. Do you want anything?

THE GRANDFATHER. I do not know what ails me.

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. Grandfather! grandfather! What do you want,
grandfather?

THE GRANDFATHER. Give me your little hands, my children.

THE THREE DAUGHTERS. Yes, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. Why are you all three trembling, girls?

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. We are scarcely trembling at all, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. I fancy you are all three pale.

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. It is late, grandfather, and we are tired.

THE FATHER. You must go to bed, and grandfather himself would do well to
take a little rest.

THE GRANDFATHER. I could not sleep to-night!

THE UNCLE. We will wait for the doctor.

THE GRANDFATHER. Prepare for the truth.

THE UNCLE. But there is no truth!

THE GRANDFATHER. Then I do not know what there is!

THE UNCLE. I tell you there is nothing at all!

THE GRANDFATHER. I wish I could see my poor daughter!

THE FATHER. But you know quite well it is impossible; she must not be
awakened unnecessarily.

THE UNCLE. You will see her to-morrow.

THE GRANDFATHER. There is no sound in her room.

THE UNCLE. I should be uneasy if I heard any sound.

THE GRANDFATHER. It is a very long time since I saw my daughter!... I
took her hands yesterday evening, but I could not see her!... I do not
know what has become of her.... I do not know how she is.... I do not
know what her face is like now.... She must have changed these weeks!...
I felt the little bones of her cheeks under my hands.... There is
nothing but the darkness between her and me, and the rest of you!... I
cannot go on living like this ... this is not living.... You sit there,
all of you, looking with open eyes at my dead eyes, and not one of you
has pity on me!... I do not know what ails me.... No one tells me what
ought to be told me.... And everything is terrifying when one's dreams
dwell upon it.... But why are you not speaking?

THE UNCLE. What should we say, since you will not believe us?

THE GRANDFATHER. You are afraid of betraying yourselves!

THE FATHER. Come now, be rational!

THE GRANDFATHER. You have been hiding something from me for a long
time!... Something has happened in the house.... But I am beginning to
understand now.... You have been deceiving me too long!--You fancy that
I shall never know anything?--There are moments when I am less blind
than you, you know!... Do you think I have not heard you whispering--for
days and days--as if you were in the house of some one who had been
hanged--I dare not say what I know this evening.... But I shall know the
truth!... I shall wait for you to tell me the truth; but I have known it
for a long time, in spite of you!--And now, I feel that you are all
paler than the dead!

THE THREE DAUGHTERS. Grandfather! grandfather! What is the matter,
grandfather?

THE GRANDFATHER. It is not you that I am speaking of, girls. No; it is
not you that I am speaking of.... I know quite well you would tell me
the truth--if they were not by!... And besides, I feel sure that they
are deceiving you as well.... You will see, children--you will see!...
Do not I hear you all sobbing?

THE FATHER. Is my wife really so ill?

THE GRANDFATHER. It is no good trying to deceive me any longer; it is
too late now, and I know the truth better than you!...

THE UNCLE. But _we_ are not blind; we are not.

THE FATHER. Would you like to go into your daughter's room? This
misunderstanding must be put an end to.--Would you?

THE GRANDFATHER [_becoming suddenly undecided_]. No, no, not now--not
yet.

THE UNCLE. You see, you are not reasonable.

THE GRANDFATHER. One never knows how much a man has been unable to
express in his life!... Who made that noise?

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. It is the lamp flickering, grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. It seems to me to be very unsteady--very!

THE DAUGHTER. It is the cold wind troubling it....

THE UNCLE. There is no cold wind, the windows are shut.

THE DAUGHTER. I think it is going out.

THE FATHER. There is no more oil.

THE DAUGHTER. It has gone right out.

THE FATHER. We cannot stay like this in the dark.

THE UNCLE. Why not?--I am quite accustomed to it.

THE FATHER. There is a light in my wife's room.

THE UNCLE. We will take it from there presently, when the doctor has
been.

THE FATHER. Well, we can see enough here; there is the light from
outside.

THE GRANDFATHER. Is it light outside?

THE FATHER. Lighter than here.

THE UNCLE. For my part, I would as soon talk in the dark.

THE FATHER. So would I. [_Silence._]

THE GRANDFATHER. It seems to me the clock makes a great deal of
noise....

THE ELDEST DAUGHTER. That is because we are not talking any more,
grandfather.

THE GRANDFATHER. But why are you all silent?

THE UNCLE. What do you want us to talk about?--You are really very
peculiar to-night.

THE GRANDFATHER. Is it very dark in this room?

THE UNCLE. There is not much light. [_Silence._]

THE GRANDFATHER. I do not feel well, Ursula; open the window a little.

THE FATHER. Yes, child; open the window a little. I begin to feel the
want of air myself. [_The girl opens the window._]

THE UNCLE. I really believe we have stayed shut up too long.

THE GRANDFATHER. Is the window open?

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather; it is wide open.

THE GRANDFATHER. One would not have thought it was open; there was not a
sound outside.

THE DAUGHTER. No, grandfather; there is not the slightest sound.

THE FATHER. The silence is extraordinary!

THE DAUGHTER. One could hear an angel tread!

THE UNCLE. That is why I do not like the country.

THE GRANDFATHER. I wish I could hear some sound. What o'clock is it,
Ursula?

THE DAUGHTER. It will soon be midnight, grandfather. [_Here the Uncle
begins to pace up and down the room._]

THE GRANDFATHER. Who is that walking round us like that?

THE UNCLE. Only I! only I! Do not be frightened! I want to walk about a
little. [_Silence._]--But I am going to sit down again;--I cannot see
where I am going. [_Silence._]

THE GRANDFATHER. I wish I were out of this place.

THE DAUGHTER. Where would you like to go, grandfather?

THE GRANDFATHER. I do not know where--into another room, no matter
where! no matter where!

THE FATHER. Where could we go?

THE UNCLE. It is too late to go anywhere else. [_Silence. They are
sitting, motionless, round the table._]

THE GRANDFATHER. What is that I hear, Ursula?

THE DAUGHTER. Nothing, grandfather; it is the leaves falling.--Yes, it
is the leaves falling on the terrace.

THE GRANDFATHER. Go and shut the window, Ursula.

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, grandfather. [_She shuts the window, comes back, and
sits down._]

THE GRANDFATHER. I am cold. [_Silence. The Three Sisters kiss each
other._] What is that I hear now?

THE FATHER. It is the three sisters kissing each other.

THE UNCLE. It seems to me they are very pale this evening. [_Silence._]

THE GRANDFATHER. What is that I hear now, Ursula?

THE DAUGHTER. Nothing, grandfather; it is the clasping of my hands.
[_Silence._]

THE GRANDFATHER. And that?...

THE DAUGHTER. I do not know, grandfather ... perhaps my sisters are
trembling a little?...

THE GRANDFATHER. I am afraid, too, my children. [_Here a ray of
moonlight penetrates through a corner of the stained glass, and throws
strange gleams here and there in the room. A clock strikes midnight; at
the last stroke there is a very vague sound, as of some one rising in
haste._]

THE GRANDFATHER [_shuddering with peculiar horror_]. Who is that who got
up?

THE UNCLE. No one got up!

THE FATHER. I did not get up!

THE THREE DAUGHTERS. Nor I!--Nor I!--Nor I!

THE GRANDFATHER. Some one got up from the table!

THE UNCLE. Light the lamp!... [_Cries of terror are suddenly heard from
the child's room, on the right; these cries continue, with gradations of
horror, until the end of the scene._]

THE FATHER. Listen to the child!

THE UNCLE. He has never cried before!

THE FATHER. Let us go and see him!

THE UNCLE. The light! The light! [_At this moment, quick and heavy steps
are heard in the room on the left.--Then a deathly silence.--They listen
in mute terror, until the door of the room opens slowly; the light from
it is cast into the room where they are sitting, and the Sister of Mercy
appears on the threshold, in her black garments, and bows as she makes
the sign of the cross, to announce the death of the wife. They
understand, and, after a moment of hesitation and fright, silently enter
the chamber of death, while the Uncle politely steps aside on the
threshold to let the three girls pass. The blind man, left alone, gets
up, agitated, and feels his way round the table in the darkness._]

THE GRANDFATHER. Where are you going?--Where are you going?--The girls
have left me all alone!


  [_Curtain._]



INTERLUDE

  BY FEDERICO MORE
  TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH BY AUDREY ALDEN.


  Copyright, 1920, by Stewart & Kidd Company. All rights reserved.


  PERSONS

    THE MARQUISE.
    THE POET.


  Application for permission to produce INTERLUDE must be addressed to
  Pierre Loving, in care of Messrs. Stewart & Kidd Co., Cincinnati,
  Ohio.



INTERLUDE

BY FEDERICO MORE


  _Scene:_ A Salon.


MARQUISE [_entering_].

  It is chic yet full of peril to be a marquise, betrothed
  And on the brim of nineteen, with two whole years'
  Devotion at the convent behind her. Well may the man
  I am to marry place his faith in me.
  And yet, I am obsessed with the sweet indecision
  Of having met a poet who will shrive me in verse,
  Drape my life with the vigor of his youth
  Yet never kiss me.

POET [_entering_].

  I was looking for you, madame.

MARQUISE.

  Well, here I am.

POET.

  Does the dance tire you or the music displease?

MARQUISE.

  It has never before displeased me, and yet--now--

POET.

                          In a life
  Happy as yours, joy is reborn,
  Your moods are versatile, and charming, marquise....
  Bad humor de luxe ... perhaps mere caprice....

MARQUISE.

  Perhaps mere caprice ... perhaps; but I am prey
  To something more profound, something warmer....

POET.

              Have I not told you
  That in happy lives such as your high-placed life
  There is nothing of ennui, nothing to lead astray,
  Nothing to spur you on, nothing to unfold,
  Nor any dim wraith stalking by your side?

MARQUISE.

  Ah, you have uttered my thought. I feel as though a ghost walked with
  me.

POET.

        And I could almost swear
  You do not feel your grief molded as the phantom wills.

MARQUISE.

  I do feel it. There is a spell,
  An echo from afar.

POET.

      Nerves ... the dance ... fatigue!
  Too many perfumes ... too many mirrors....

MARQUISE.

  And the lack of a voice I love.

POET.

  Oh do not be romantic. Don't distort life.
  Romance has always proved an evil scourge.

MARQUISE.

  But you, a poet ... are not you romantic?

POET.

  I? Never.

MARQUISE.

  Then how do you write your verse?

POET.

                    I make poems
  The way your seamstresses make your dresses.

MARQUISE.

  With a pattern and a measure?

POET.

  With a pattern and a measure.

MARQUISE.

  Impossible! Poets give tongue to truth sublime.

POET.

  Pardon, marquise, but it is folly
  To think that poems are something more than needles
  On which to thread the truth.

MARQUISE.

  Truly, are they no more than that?

POET.

  Ephemeral and vain, in this age
  Poetry is woven of agile thought.

MARQUISE.

  What of the sort that weeps and yearns most woe-begone?
  Poignancy that is the ending of a poem?

POET.

                          All that
  Is reached with the noble aid of a consonant
  As great love is reached with a kiss.

MARQUISE.

  And what of the void in which my soul is lost
  Since no one, poet ... no one cries his need for me....

POET.

  Do not say that, marquise. I can assure you....

MARQUISE.

  That I am a motif for a handful of consonants?

POET.

  Nonsense! I swear it by your clear eyes....

MARQUISE.

  Comparable, I suppose, in verse to two clear diamonds....

POET.

  You scoff, but love is very serious....

MARQUISE.

  Love serious, poet? A betrothal, it may be, is serious,
  Arranged by grave-faced parents with stately rites;
  Yawns are serious and so is repletion.

POET.

  But tell me, whence comes this deep cynicism?

MARQUISE.

  Oh, do not take it ill. I say it but in jest,
  Merely because I like to laugh at the abyss,
  What do you think, poet?

POET.

          Well, marquise, I must confess
  That I am capable of feeling various loves.

MARQUISE.

  Then you were born for various women.

POET.

  No, I was born for various sorrows.

MARQUISE.

  Or, by the same token, for various pleasures.

POET.

  Sheer vanity! Women always presume
  That their mere earthly presence gives men pleasure.

MARQUISE.

              You are clear-witted
  And a pattern of such good common-sense.
  Who would believe
  That a poet, dabbler in every sort of folly,
  May turn discreet when mysterious love beckons?

POET.

  Mysterious love? Marquise, that is not so.... Love has abandons
  Irrestrainable.

MARQUISE.

          And shame restrains them.

POET.

  But what has shame to do with poetry?
  It has no worth, it is a social value,
  Value of a marquise, par excellence.

MARQUISE.

  None the less, shame is a resigned and subtle justice,
  The justice of women, poet.

POET.

          Which is no justice at all.

MARQUISE.

  Poet, the stones you throw
  In your defeat, will fall upon your head.

POET.

  That is my destiny. Your rising sun
  Can never know the splendor of my sun that sets.

MARQUISE.

  The fault is nowise mine....

POET.

  True.... I am insane
  And a madman is insane, marquise, although he reason.

MARQUISE.

  Oh, reason, poet. I would convince you
  That even a marquise may be sincere.

POET.

  And I, my lady, I would fain believe it.

MARQUISE.

  Believe it then, I beg of you.

POET.

                  But there is this:
  A marquise might also lose her head.

MARQUISE.

  True she might lose her head ... but for a rhyme?

POET.

  Which, no matter how true, will always be a lie.

    [_Pause._]

MARQUISE.

  But why did you protest against my skepticism?

POET.

  I riddled your words, but protested for myself.

MARQUISE.

  So vain a reason, and so selfish?

POET.

  A prideful reason.... I stand aghast before the abyss.

MARQUISE.

  I see that all your love has been in verse.

POET.

            No, marquise, but life
  Cradles crude truths which the poet disdains.

MARQUISE.

  And amiable truths which passion passes by.

POET.

  But about which the dreamer's world revolves.

MARQUISE.

  I do not dream, I wish....

POET.

          I know well what I wish....

MARQUISE.

  Well then, we wish that it should not be merely a consonant.

POET.

  No, rather that it should be poetry.

MARQUISE.

  Suppose that it were so, would it content you?

POET.

  It is enough for me, and yet I fear
  That this pale poetry, untried, unlived,
  Can have no driving urge.

MARQUISE.

  Why then should we refuse to live it?

POET.

  I shall tell you. It is not in high-born taste
  To trifle with a heart.
  The love of a marquise is the problematic
  Love of elegance and froth,
  And like other love a sort of mathematic
  Love of addition, subtraction and division.
  It is not rude passion, fierce, emphatic,
  Song and orchestral counterpoint of life.
  It is what the world would name platonic,
  Love without fire, without virility,
  With nothing of creation, nothing tonic,
  One-step love, love of society.
  And I will have none of this love sardonic,
  None of its desperate futility.

MARQUISE.

  I do not fear you though you are a poet,
  And I say things to you, no other ears would endure.
  You were not born, poor anchorite,
  To say to a woman: "Be mine."
  And such is your secret vanity,
  You are a servile vassal of your own Utopia.
  You pretend to transform women
  Into laurel branches meaningless,
  And with your cynic's blare
  You thread upon the needle of your pride
  Dregs from the utter depths of the abyss.

POET.

  Marquise, a poet's love has led you astray.

MARQUISE.

  Oh, don't be vain and fanciful. I swear
  That in my placid life, happiness brings no joy.
  What I longed for was a love, profound and mature,
  The profound love of a poet come to being,
  And not the incongruities of adolescence in verse....
  The radiant synthesis of a pungent existence
  And not the disloyalties of a dispersed dream.
  What woman has not dreamed of loving a poet
  Who would be conqueror and conquered all in one?
  What woman has not wished to be humble and forgiving
  With the man who sings the great passions he has known?
  We need you poets.... We are tormented by the desire
  Of a harmonious life, filled with deep sound,
  With the vigor and strength of wine poured out
  Into bowls of truths, deep with the depth of death.
  We crave no water, lymphatic, pure,
  In glasses of wind, frail as life.
  Better the vintage of the rich
  Served in vile glasses of gold. And if the mind be coarse,
  Perchance the hands will glitter with many stones.
  And if I may not have a fragrant and well-ordered nest
  Filled with clear rhythm and little blond heads,
  Then let me have my palace where luxurious pleasure
  Lends to love of earth, grief and deep dismay.
  Why do you not love living, poets? Why is it,
  The dullard who nor loves nor lives poaches your kisses?

POET.

  I do not comprehend, marquise. Why love living,
  If that is to live loving? We know that life and love
  Are wings forever fledging out
  In a bird neither swan nor hawk.
  I am resigned to my unequal destiny, for I know
  That my two eyes cannot perceive the same color.
  For even when there is calm, anxiety arises
  And then, I am not master, not even of my pain.
  I would be your friend, but there are obstacles,
  Captious dynamics, that put a check upon my words.
  I yield to the dumb pride of my huge torment,
  The song without words, the sonorous silence,
  And I do not desire any one to penetrate
  The garden wherein flowers the mystery I adore.

MARQUISE.

  Conserve your mysteries, poet; they will have no heirs.

POET.

  Death is the heir of everything impenetrable.

MARQUISE.

  But only during life do the words of the sphinx
  Possess a meaning for our ears.

POET.

  I am terror-stricken by the sphinx.

MARQUISE.

  Coward! The sun blinds him who cannot hearken to the sphinx.

    [_Sounds of music in the distance._]

POET.

  Does not the music tempt you?

MARQUISE.

            It does, and I feel sure
  My lover must be waiting. Will you come with me?

POET.

  No, thanks. I shall remain and think of what has died.

MARQUISE.

  May you have the protection of my defunct illusion.

    [_She goes out._]


  [_Curtain._]



MONSIEUR LAMBLIN

  A COMEDY

  BY GEORGE ANCEY
  TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY BARRETT H. CLARK.


  CHARACTERS

    LAMBLIN.
    MARTHE.
    MADAME BAIL.
    MADAME COGÉ.
    SERVANT.


  First published in the _Stratford Journal_, March, 1917. Reprinted by
  permission of Mr. Barrett H. Clark.



MONSIEUR LAMBLIN

A COMEDY BY GEORGE ANCEY

Translated from the French by Barrett H. Clark.


    [_A stylish drawing-room. There are doors at the back, and on each
    side. Down-stage to the right is a window; near it, but protected
    by a screen, is a large arm-chair near a sewing-table. Down-stage
    opposite is a fire-place, on each side of which, facing it, are a
    sofa and another large arm-chair; next the sofa is a small table,
    and next to it, in turn, a stool and two chairs. This part of the
    stage should be so arranged as to make a little cozy-corner. The
    set is completed by various and sundry lamps, vases with flowers,
    and the like._

    _As the curtain rises, the servant enters to Lamblin, Marthe and
    Madame Bail, bringing coffee and cigarettes, which he lays on the
    small table._]


LAMBLIN [_settling comfortably into his chair_]. Ah, how comfortable it
is! Mm--! [_To Marthe._] Serve us our coffee, my child, serve us our
coffee.

MARTHE [_sadly_]. Yes, yes.

LAMBLIN [_aside_]. Always something going round and round in that little
head of hers! Needn't worry about it--nothing serious.--Well,
Mother-in-law, what do you say to the laces, eh?

MADAME BAIL. Delicious! It must have cost a small fortune! You have
twenty yards there!

LAMBLIN. Five thousand francs! Five thousand francs! [_To Marthe._] Yes,
madame, your husband was particularly generous. He insists upon making
his wife the most beautiful of women and giving her everything her heart
desires. Has he succeeded?

MARTHE. Thank you. I've really never seen such lovely malines. Madame
Pertuis ordered some lately and they're not nearly so beautiful as
these.

LAMBLIN. I'm glad to hear it. Well, aren't you going to kiss your
husband--for his trouble? [_She kisses him._] Good! There, now.

MADAME BAIL [_to Lamblin_]. You spoil her!

LAMBLIN [_to Marthe_]. Do I spoil you?

MARTHE. Yes, yes, of course.

LAMBLIN. That's right. Everybody happy? That's all we can ask, isn't
that so, Mamma Bail? Take care, I warn you! If you continue to look at
me that way I'm likely to become dangerous!

MADAME BAIL. Silly man.

LAMBLIN. Ha!

MADAME BAIL [_to Marthe_]. Laugh, why don't you?

MARTHE. I do.

LAMBLIN [_bringing his wife to him and putting her upon his knee_]. No,
no, but you don't laugh enough, little one. Now, to punish you, I'm
going to give you another kiss. [_He kisses her._]

MARTHE. Oh! Your beard pricks so! Now, take your coffee, or it'll get
cold, and then you'll scold Julie again. [_A pause._]

LAMBLIN. It looks like pleasant weather to-morrow!

MADAME BAIL. What made you think of that?

LAMBLIN. The particles of sugar have all collected at the bottom of my
cup. [_He drinks his coffee._]

MADAME BAIL. As a matter of fact, I hope the weather will be nice.

LAMBLIN. Do you have to go out?

MADAME BAIL. I must go to Argentuil.

LAMBLIN. Now, my dear mother-in-law, what are you going to do at
Argentuil? I have an idea that there must be some old general there--?

MADAME BAIL [_ironically_]. Exactly! How would you like it if--?

LAMBLIN. Don't joke about such things!

MADAME BAIL. You needn't worry! Catch me marrying again!

LAMBLIN [_timidly_]. There is a great deal to be said for the happiness
of married life.

MADAME BAIL. For the men!

LAMBLIN. For every one. Is not the hearth a refuge, a sacred spot, where
both man and woman find sweet rest after a day's work? Deny it, Mother.
Here we are, the three of us, each doing what he likes to do, in our
comfortable little home, talking together happily. The mind is at rest,
and the heart quiet. Six years of family life have brought us security
in our affection, and rendered us kind and indulgent toward one another.
It is ineffably sweet, and brings tears to the eyes. [_He starts to take
a sip of cognac._]

MARTHE [_preventing him_]. Especially when one is a little--lit up!

MADAME BAIL. Marthe, that's not at all nice of you!

LAMBLIN [_to Madame Bail_]. Ah, you're the only one who understands me,
Mother! Now, little one, you're going to give me a cigar, one of those
on the table.

MARTHE [_giving him a cigar_]. Lazy! He can't even stretch his arm out!

LAMBLIN. You see, I prefer to have my little wife serve me and be nice
to me.

MADAME BAIL [_looking at them both_]. Shall I go?

LAMBLIN. Why should you?

MADAME BAIL. Well--because--

LAMBLIN [_understanding_]. Oh! No, no, stay with us and tell us stories.
The little one is moody and severe, I don't dare risk putting my arm
around her. Her religion forbids her--expanding!

MADAME BAIL. Then you don't think I'll be in the way?

LAMBLIN. You, Mother! I tell you, the day I took it into my head to
bring you here to live with us, I was an extremely clever man. It's most
convenient to have you here. Men of business like me haven't the time to
spend all their leisure moments with their wives. Very often, after a
day's work at the office, I'm not at liberty to spend the evening at
home: I must return to the office, you know.

MARTHE. As you did yesterday!

LAMBLIN. As I did yesterday. And when I take it into my head to stroll
along the boulevard--

MADAME BAIL. Or elsewhere!

LAMBLIN. You insist on your little joke, Mother. If, I say, I take it
into my head to go out, there's the little one all alone. You came here
to live with us, and now my conscious is easy: I leave my little wife in
good hands. I need not worry. There were a thousand liberties I never
indulged in before you came. Now I take them without the slightest
scruple.

MADAME BAIL. How kind of you!

LAMBLIN. Don't you think so, little one?

MARTHE. I believe that Mamma did exactly the right thing.

LAMBLIN. You see, I want people to be happy. It is not enough that I
should be: every one must be who is about me. I can't abide selfish
people.

MADAME BAIL. You're right!

LAMBLIN. And it's so easy not to be! [_A pause._] There is only one
thing worrying me now: I brought a whole package of papers with me from
the office, which I must sign.

MARTHE. How is business now?

LAMBLIN. Not very good.

MARTHE. Did M. Pacot reimburse you?

MADAME BAIL. Yes, did he?

LAMBLIN. It's been pretty hard these past three days, but I am
reimbursed, and that's all I ask. Now I'm going to sign my papers. It
won't take me more than a quarter of an hour. I'll find you here when I
come back, shan't I? [_To Marthe._] And the little one will leave me my
cognac, eh? See you soon.

MADAME BAIL. Yes, see you soon.

LAMBLIN [_to Marthe_]. You'll let me have my cognac?

MARTHE. No! It's ridiculous! It'll make you ill. [_Lamblin goes out._]

MADAME BAIL. There's a good boy!

MARTHE. You always stand up for him. The world is full of "good boys" of
his sort. "Good boys"! They're all selfish!

MADAME BAIL. Don't get so excited!

MARTHE. I'm not in the least excited. I'm as calm now as I was excited a
year ago when I learned of Alfred's affair.

MADAME BAIL. I understand.

MARTHE. No, you don't understand.

MADAME BAIL. You didn't behave at all reasonably, as you ought to have
done long since. You still have absurd romantic ideas. You're not at all
reasonable.

MARTHE [_very much put out_]. Well, if I still have those absurd ideas,
if I rebel at times, if, as you say, I'm unreasonable, whom does it harm
but me alone? What do you expect? The bare idea of sharing him is
repulsive to me. Think of it a moment--how perfectly abominable it all
is! Why, we are practically accomplices! I thought we were going to
discuss it with him just now! It will happen, I know!

MADAME BAIL. What do you intend to do about it? You keep on saying the
same thing. I'm an experienced woman. Why don't you take my word, and be
a philosopher, the way all women are, the way I've had to be more than
once? If you think for one moment that your own father--! Well, we won't
say anything about him.

MARTHE. Philosopher, philosopher! A nice way to put it! In what way is
that Mathilde Cogé, who is his mistress, better than I? I'd like to know
that!

MADAME BAIL. In any event, he might have done much worse. She is a
widow, a woman of the world, and she isn't ruining him. I know her
slightly; I've seen her at Madame Parent's. She just seems a little mad,
and not in the least spiteful!

MARTHE [_raging_]. Ah!

MADAME BAIL. But what are you going to do about it?

MARTHE. It would be best to separate.

MADAME BAIL. Why didn't you think of that sooner? You know very well
you'd be sorry the moment you'd done it.

MARTHE. Don't you think that would be best for us all? What am I doing
here? What hopes have I for the future? Merely to complete the happiness
of Monsieur, who deigns to see in me an agreeable nurse, who
occasionally likes to rest by my side after his escapades elsewhere!
Thank you so much! I might just as well go!

MADAME BAIL. That would be madness. You wouldn't be so foolish as to do
it.

MARTHE. Yes--I know--society would blame me!

MADAME BAIL. That's the first point. We should submit to everything
rather than do as some others do and fly in the face of convention. We
belong to society.

MARTHE. In that case I should at least have peace.

MADAME BAIL. Peace! Nothing of the sort, my dear. You know very well,
you would have regrets.

MARTHE [_ironically_]. What regrets?

MADAME BAIL. God knows! Perhaps, though you don't know it, you still
love him, in some hidden corner of your heart. You may pity him. You can
go a long way with that feeling. Perhaps you have same vague
hope--[_Marthe is about to speak._] Well, we won't say any more about
that. And then you are religious, you have a big forgiving soul. Aren't
these sufficient reasons for waiting? You may regret it. Believe me, my
dear child. [_Marthe stands silent, and Madame Bail changes her attitude
and tone of voice._] Now, you must admit, you haven't so much to
complain of. Your husband is far from the worst; indeed, he's one of the
best. What would you do if you were in Madame Ponceau's position? Her
husband spends all their money and stays away for two and three months
at a time. He goes away, is not seen anywhere, and when he returns, he
has the most terrible scenes with poor Marie, and even beats her! Now,
Alfred is very good to you, pays you all sorts of attentions, he comes
home three evenings a week, gives you all sorts of presents. And these
laces! He never bothers you or abuses you. See how nice he was just a
few minutes ago, simple and natural! He was lovely, and said the
pleasantest imaginable things.

MARTHE [_bitterly_]. He flattered you!

MADAME BAIL. That isn't the reason!

MARTHE. That you say nice things about him? Nonsense! He pleases and
amuses you. You don't want me to apply for a separation because you want
him near you, and because you are afraid of what people will say. Be
frank and admit it.

MADAME BAIL. Marthe, that's not at all nice of you.

MARTHE. It's the truth.

MADAME BAIL. No, no, nothing of the sort.

MARTHE. Another thing that grates on me in this life we are leading is
to see the way my mother takes her son-in-law's part against me. You
find excuses for him on every occasion; and your one fear seems to be
that he should hear some random word that will wound him; and the proof
is that he never interrupts one of our conversations--which are always
on the same subject--but that you don't fail to make desperate signs to
me to keep still!

MADAME BAIL. What an idea! [_Marthe is about to reply, when Madame Bail
perceives Lamblin reëntering, and signs to Martha to say nothing more._]
It's he! [_Marthe shrugs her shoulders._]

    [_Enter Lamblin._]

LAMBLIN [_joyfully_]. There, that's done. One hundred and two
signatures. Kiss me, little one. In less than an hour I've earned a
thousand francs for us. Isn't that splendid?

    [_Enter a servant._]

SERVANT. Monsieur?

LAMBLIN. What is it?

SERVANT [_embarrassed_]. Some one--from the office--who wishes to speak
with Monsieur.

LAMBLIN. From the office? At this time?

SERVANT. Yes, Monsieur.

LAMBLIN. Say that I am with my family, and that I am not receiving any
one.

SERVANT. That is what I said, but the--person--insists.

LAMBLIN. How annoying!

MADAME BAIL. See him, dear, Marthe and I will go out and you may see him
here. No one will disturb you.

MARTHE. Yes, it's best to see him! [_They make ready to go out; pick up
their work, and so on._]

LAMBLIN [_to the servant_]. Tell him to come in. [_The servant goes
out._]

MARTHE [_to Madame Bail, as she points after the servant_]. Did you
notice? Adolphe was very embarrassed!

MADAME BAIL. Now what are you going to worry about?

MARTHE. I tell you, I saw it! [_The women go out._]

LAMBLIN. This is too much! Not a moment of peace!

    [_Enter Madame Cogé._]

You?

MADAME COGÉ. What do you think of my trick?

LAMBLIN. Detestable as well as dangerous.

MADAME COGÉ. Come, come. I wanted to go to the _Bouffes_, and I wanted
you to go with me. It's nine o'clock, but we'll be in time for the
principal play.

LAMBLIN. No, no, no, impossible. And what do you mean by falling upon me
this way without warning! My dear Mathilde, what were you thinking
about?

MADAME COGÉ. I decided this morning. You were so nice yesterday!

LAMBLIN. You must go at once! What if some one found you here?

MADAME COGÉ. Your wife? Quick, then, we must be going. Take your hat,
say good-by. I'll wait for you downstairs. I have a cab. [_A pause._]

LAMBLIN. I tell you, it's out of the question. Go alone. I have a
headache--I've smoked too much.

MADAME COGÉ. You refuse? And I was looking forward so--!

LAMBLIN. Now, listen to me, my dear: I have told you once for all, I'm
not a rounder. I like everything well regulated. I have my own little
habits, and I don't like something to come along and upset everything.
I'm very much of a family man, I've often impressed that fact upon you,
and I'm astonished, perfectly astonished, that you don't take that into
account.

MADAME COGÉ [_in a high voice_]. You make me tired. So there.

LAMBLIN. Don't scream so! I tell you, I wouldn't go out to-night for
anything under the sun. Yesterday, Heaven knows, I was only too happy to
be with you: we enjoyed ourselves; it was most pleasant. As for this
evening--no: to-morrow. We decided on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and a
Sunday from time to time. I have no wish to alter that schedule. I'm
regulated like a cuckoo clock. You don't seem to believe that. I strike
when I'm intended to strike.

MADAME COGÉ. That is as much as to say that you like me three days a
week, and the rest of the time I mean as little to you as the Grand
Turk! That's a queer kind of love!

LAMBLIN. Not at all. I think of you very often, and if you were to
disappear, I should miss you a great deal. Only it's a long way between
that and disturbing my equilibrium.

MADAME COGÉ. And I suppose you love your wife?

LAMBLIN. Are you jealous?

MADAME COGÉ. I am, and I have reason to be be....

LAMBLIN. How childish of you! You know very well that you are the only
woman, only--

MADAME COGÉ. Ah, there is an "only"!

LAMBLIN. Yes,--only, just because I love you is no reason why I should
feel no affection for her, and that you should treat her as you do! She
is so devoted!

MADAME COGÉ. What is there so extraordinary about her?

LAMBLIN [_becoming excited_]. She does for me what others would not
do--you for instance! She has a steady affection for me; I keep it for
my bad moments; her action doesn't turn in every wind. You should see
her, so resigned, so anxious to do everything for my comfort and
convenience! She's worried when I have a headache, she runs for my
slippers when I come home in wet weather--from your house! [_Deeply
moved._] You see that cognac there? That was the second glass I poured
out for myself this evening; the moment I started to drink it her little
hand stretched forth and took it from me, because she said I would make
myself ill! [_He starts to weep._] You know, I poured it out just in
order that she should prevent my drinking it. These things stir the
heart! [_A pause._] Now you must go.

MADAME COGÉ. No, no. I love you, and I--

LAMBLIN. You are selfish. And you know I can't stand selfish people. You
want to deprive me of a quiet evening in the bosom of my family.

MADAME COGÉ. I want you to love me, and me alone. I want you to leave
your home if need be.

LAMBLIN. Yes, and if I were to fall sick--which might happen, though I
have a strong constitution, thank God!--I know you. You're the best
woman in the world, but that doesn't prevent your being a little
superficial!

MADAME COGÉ. Superficial!

LAMBLIN. Yes, you are, and you can't deny it! Your dropping in on me,
like a bolt from the blue, proves it conclusively. And when you once
begin chattering about yourself, about your dresses, oh, my! You never
stop. You can't be serious, your conversation is not the sort that
pleases a man, flatters and amuses him.

MADAME COGÉ. Oh!

LAMBLIN. You never talk about _him_! One night I remember, I was a
little sick and you sent me home. _There_ they made tea for me. The cook
was already in bed, and Marthe didn't hesitate an instant to go to the
kitchen and soil her hands!

MADAME COGÉ. When was that? When was that?

LAMBLIN. For God's sake, don't scream so! Not more than two weeks ago.

MADAME COGÉ. You didn't say what was the matter with you, that's all.

LAMBLIN. I complained enough, Heaven knows. [_A pause._]

MADAME COGÉ. Then you won't come?

LAMBLIN. No.

MADAME COGÉ [_resolutely_]. Very well, then, farewell.

LAMBLIN. Now, you mustn't get angry. [_He puts his arm round her
waist_]. You know I can't do without you. You are always my dear little
Mathilde, my darling little girl. Aren't you? Do you remember yesterday,
eh? You know I love you--deeply?

MADAME COGÉ. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and from time to time on
Sundays. Thanks! [_She starts to go._]

LAMBLIN. Mathilde!

MADAME COGÉ. Good evening. [_Returning to him._] Do you want me to tell
you something? Though I may be superficial, _you_ are a selfish egotist,
and you find your happiness in the tears and suffering of those who love
you! Good-by! [_She starts to go again._]

LAMBLIN. Mathilde, Mathilde, dear! To-morrow?

MADAME COGÉ [_returning_]. Do you want me to tell you something else?
When a man is married and wants to have a mistress, he would do much
better and act more uprightly to leave his wife!

LAMBLIN [_simply_]. Why?

MADAME COGÉ. Why?--Good evening! [_She goes out._]

LAMBLIN. Mathilde, Mathilde! Did I make her angry? Oh, she'll forget it
all in a quarter of an hour. My, what a headache! [_Catching sight of
Marthe, who enters from the right._] Marthe! She looks furious! She saw
Mathilde go out! What luck!

MARTHE [_furiously_]. Who was that who just left?

LAMBLIN. Why--

MARTHE. Who was that who just left? Answer me!

LAMBLIN. It was--

MARTHE. Madame Cogé, wasn't it? Don't lie, I saw her! What can you be
thinking of? To bring your mistress here! I don't know what's prevented
my going away before, and leaving you to your debauchery! This is the
end--understand? I've had enough. You're going to live alone from now
on. [_He starts to speak._] Alone. Good-by, monsieur!

LAMBLIN [_moved_]. Marthe! [_She dashes out. Lamblin goes to the door
through which Marthe has gone._] Marthe, Marthe, little one! Tell me
that you forgive me. [_Coming down-stage._] It's all up! Good Lord!

    [_Enter Madame Bail._]

LAMBLIN [_goes to her, nearly in tears_]. Oh, Mother, all is lost!

MADAME BAIL. No, no, you great child! I know everything, and I promise
it will be all right.

LAMBLIN. No, no, I tell you. Marthe told me she wanted to leave me.

MADAME BAIL. Now, don't carry on that way. I don't want to see you cry.

LAMBLIN. But how can I be calm when my whole future is ruined?

MADAME BAIL. Nothing of the sort. Don't you think I know my own
daughter? She is too well educated, she has too much common sense, to
leave you.

LAMBLIN [_a little consoled_]. You think so? Oh, if that were only true!

MADAME BAIL. But it is true! She's crying now; her tears will ease her,
and make her change her mind.

LAMBLIN. Yes, yes, let her cry, let her cry all she wants to!

MADAME BAIL. I tell you she is yours; she loves you.

LAMBLIN [_brightening_]. Is that true? [_Madame Bail nods._] How happy I
am! [_A pause. His attitude changes._] But there's one thing that
troubles me.

MADAME BAIL. What?

LAMBLIN [_embarrassed_]. No, nothing.

MADAME BAIL. Confide in me. Tell me. [_A pause._]

LAMBLIN. Well, that lady who came here this evening--I'm afraid I was a
little short with her. I think I offended her. I practically showed her
the door.

MADAME BAIL. Don't worry about that. Perhaps you weren't so rude as you
thought you were.

LAMBLIN. No, I'm sure. I know very well that--

MADAME BAIL. You mustn't worry and get all excited--

LAMBLIN. Do you know anything about it?

MADAME BAIL. No, nothing, only--as I rather suspected what was going on
in here--and was afraid--of a quarrel--I met her as she was going out,
and I--spoke to her.

LAMBLIN [_taking her hands--joyfully_]. I thank you! [_They are both
embarrassed for a moment, then sit down._] Ah, good. Well, and Marthe?

MADAME BAIL [_pointing to Marthe who enters_]. There she is. What did I
tell you? [_Marthe enters without saying a word. She brings her work,
Madame Bail takes up hers, and sits next her. A pause. Madame Bail
speaks to Marthe._] What a pretty design! Where did you find the
pattern?

MARTHE. I just picked it up at the store.

MADAME BAIL. It's charming. I must get one like it.

LAMBLIN [_ill at ease_]. May I see it, little one? [_Marthe unrolls the
embroidery for him and shows it._] Oh, it's perfectly lovely! We men
would be hard put to it to make anything half as beautiful! [_He laughs
awkwardly, and pours out some cognac, in full sight of Marthe._]

MARTHE [_quickly_]. That's ridiculous, Alfred. [_Then she says slowly,
as she lowers her eyes._] You'll make yourself ill!

LAMBLIN [_in perfect contentment_]. How charming she is!


  [_Curtain._]



FRANÇOISE' LUCK

  A COMEDY

  BY GEORGES DE PORTO-RICHE
  (La Chance de Françoise.)
  TRANSLATED BY BARRETT H. CLARK.


  Copyright, 1917, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
  All rights reserved.


  PERSONS REPRESENTED

    MARCEL DESROCHES.
    GUÉRIN.
    JEAN.
    FRANÇOISE.
    MADELEINE.

  SCENE: _Auteuil_.
  TIME: _Present_.

  Presented for the first time December 10,1888, in Paris, at the
  Théâtre Libre.


  FRANÇOISE' LUCK is reprinted from "Four Plays of the Free Theatre,"
  translated by Barrett H. Clark by permission of Messrs. Stewart & Kidd
  Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.



FRANÇOISE' LUCK

A COMEDY BY GEORGES DE PORTO-RICHE


    [_A studio. At the back is a door opening upon a garden; doors to
    the right and left; likewise a small inconspicuous door to the
    left. There are a few pictures on easels. The table is littered
    with papers, books, weapons, bric-a-brac. Chairs and sofas. It is
    eleven o'clock in the morning._]


FRANÇOISE [_a small, frail woman, with a melancholy look, at times
rather mocking. As the curtain rises she is alone. She raises and lowers
the window-blind from time to time_]. A little more! There! Oh, the
sunlight! How blinding! [_Glancing at the studio with satisfaction._]
How neat everything is! [_In attempting to take something from the
table, she knocks some papers to the floor._] Well! [_Seeing a letter,
among the papers she is picking up._] A letter! From Monsieur
Guérin--[_Reading._] "My dear friend, why do you persist in keeping
silence? You say very little of the imprudent woman who has dared to
become the companion of the handsome Marcel! Do you recompense her for
her confidence in you, for her courage? You are not at all like other
men: your frivolity, if you will permit the term, your--" [_Interrupting
herself._] He writes the word! [_Continuing._] "Your cynicism makes me
tremble for you. Absent for a year! How much friendship gone to waste!
Why were we thrust apart the moment you were married? Why did my wife's
health make sunlight an absolute necessity for her? We are now leaving
Rome; in a month I'll drop in on you at Auteuil--" [_Interrupting
herself again._] Very soon!

    [_Marcel appears at the back._]

"I am very impatient to see you, and Very anxious to see Madame
Desroches. I wonder whether she will take to me? I hope she will. Take
care, you villain, I shall cross-question her carefully, and if I find
the slightest shadow upon her happiness, her friend-to-be will be an
angry man." [_She stops reading and says to herself, sadly._] A
friend--I should like that!

MARCEL [_carelessly dressed. He is of the type that appeals to women_].
Ah, inquisitive, you read my letters?

FRANÇOISE. Oh, it's an old one--

MARCEL [_chaffing her_]. From Guérin?

FRANÇOISE. I found it there, when I was putting the studio in order.

MARCEL [_tenderly_]. The little romantic child is looking for a friend?

FRANÇOISE. I have so much to tell, so much about my recent happiness!

MARCEL. Am I not that friend?

FRANÇOISE. You are the man I love. Should I consult with you, where your
happiness is concerned?

MARCEL. Too deep for me! [_Yawning._] Oh, I'm tired!

FRANÇOISE. Did you come in late last night?

MARCEL. Three o'clock.

FRANÇOISE. You were very quiet, you naughty man!

MARCEL. Were you jealous?

FRANÇOISE. The idea! I am morally certain that you love no one except
your wife.

MARCEL [_sadly_]. It's true, I love no one except my wife.

FRANÇOISE [_chaffing him in turn_]. Poor Marcel!

MARCEL. I was bored to death at that supper; I can't imagine why.--They
all tell me I'm getting stout.

FRANÇOISE. That's no reason why you shouldn't please.

MARCEL. God is very unjust.

FRANÇOISE. So they say!

MARCEL [_stretching out on a sofa_]. Excuse my appearance, won't you,
Françoise? [_Making himself comfortable._] I can't keep my eyes open
any longer nowadays. The days of my youth--Why, I was--[_He stops._]

FRANÇOISE. You were just the right age for marriage.

MARCEL [_as if to banish the idea_]. Oh! [_A pause._] I'm sure you will
get along well with Guérin. Yours are kindred spirits--you're alike--not
in looks, however.

FRANÇOISE. Morally, you mean?

MARCEL. Yes, The comparison flatters him.

FRANÇOISE. He's like this, then; sentimental, a good friend, and a man
of honor. Yes, I think I shall get along nicely with him.

MARCEL. What a sympathetic nature you have! You've never seen him, and
you know him already.

FRANÇOISE. How long has he been married?

MARCEL. He was born married!

FRANÇOISE. Tell me.

MARCEL. Ten years, I think.

FRANÇOISE. He's happy.

MARCEL. Very.

FRANÇOISE. What sort of woman is she?

MARCEL. Lively.

FRANÇOISE. Though virtuous?

MARCEL. So they say.

FRANÇOISE. Then Madame Guérin and the handsome Martel--eh?

MARCEL. A friend's wife?

FRANÇOISE. It's very tempting--[_Marcel seems to take this with
ill-humor; he is about to put on his hat._] Are you going out?

MARCEL. I lunch at the club.

FRANÇOISE. Very well.

MARCEL. I'm--a little nervous; I need a breath of air.

FRANÇOISE. Paris air!

MARCEL. Precisely.

FRANÇOISE. And your work?

MARCEL. I'm not in the mood.

FRANÇOISE. It's only ten days before the Salon: you'll never be ready.

MARCEL. What chance have I, with my talent?

FRANÇOISE. You have a great deal of talent--it's recognized everywhere.

MARCEL. I did have.

    [_A pause._]

FRANÇOISE. Will you be home for dinner?

MARCEL [_tenderly_]. Of course! And don't allow any black suspicion to
get the better of you: I'm not lunching with anybody!

FRANÇOISE. I suspect you!

MARCEL [_gratefully_]. 'Til later, then! [_A pause. Frankly._] Of
course, I don't always go where I tell you I'm going. Why should I worry
you? But if you think I--do what I ought not to do, you are mistaken.
I'm no longer a bachelor, you know.

FRANÇOISE. Just a trifle, aren't you?

MARCEL. No jealousy, dear! The day of adventures is dead and buried.
Thirty-five mortal years, a scarcity of hair, a noticeable
rotundity--and married! Opportunities are fewer now!

FRANÇOISE [_playfully_]. Don't lose courage, your luck may return. A
minute would suffice.

MARCEL [_mournfully_]. I don't dare hope.

FRANÇOISE. Married! It was never your destiny to be a proprietor, you
are doomed to be a tenant.

MARCEL [_as he is about to leave, sees a letter on the table_]. Oh, a
letter, and you said nothing to me about it!

FRANÇOISE. I didn't see it. Jean must have brought it while you were
asleep.

MARCEL. From Passy! I know that hand! [_Aside, with surprise._] Madame
Guérin--Madeleine! Well! [_Reading._] "My dear friend I lunch to-day
with my aunt Madame de Monglat, at La Muette--as I used to. Come and see
me before noon, I have serious things to discuss with you." [_He stops
reading; aside, much pleased._] A rendezvous! And after three years!
Poor Guérin! No! It wouldn't be decent now! No!

FRANÇOISE [_aside_]. He seems to be waking up!

MARCEL [_aside_]. They must have returned! Françoise was right--a minute
would suffice! The dear girl!

FRANÇOISE. No bad news?

MARCEL [_in spite of himself_]. On the contrary!

FRANÇOISE. Oh!

MARCEL [_embarrassed_]. It's from that American woman who saw my picture
the other day--at Goupil's, you remember? She insists that I give it to
her for ten thousand francs. I really think I'll let her have it.
Nowadays you never can tell--

FRANÇOISE. I think you would be very wise to sell.

MARCEL [_handing her the letter_]. Don't you believe me?

FRANÇOISE. Absolutely.

    [_Marcel puts the letter in his pocket. A pause._]

MARCEL [_hesitating before he leaves; aside_]. She's a darling; a
perfect little darling.

FRANÇOISE. Then you're not going out?

MARCEL [_surprised_]. Do you want to send me away?

FRANÇOISE. If you're going out to lunch, you had better hurry--the train
leaves in a few minutes.

MARCEL [_suddenly affectionate_]. How can I hurry when you are so
charming? You're adorable this morning!

FRANÇOISE. D'you think so?

    [_A pause._]

MARCEL [_aside_]. Curious, but every time I have a rendezvous, she is
like that!

FRANÇOISE. Good-by, then; I've had enough of you! If you stay you'll
upset all my plans. I'd quite made up my mind to be melancholy and
lonely. It's impossible to be either gay or sad with you! Run along!

MARCEL [_taking off his hat, which he had put on some moments before_].
I tell you this is my house, and this my studio. Your house is there by
the garden.

FRANÇOISE. Yes, it's only there that you are my husband.

MARCEL. Oh! [_Reproachfully, and with tenderness._] Tell me, Françoise,
why don't you ever want to go out with me?

FRANÇOISE. You know I don't like society.

MARCEL. I'm seen so much alone!

FRANÇOISE. So much the better for you; you will be taken for a bachelor!

MARCEL. One might think the way you talk, that husband and wife ought
never to live together.

FRANÇOISE. Perhaps I'd see you oftener if we weren't married!

MARCEL. Isn't it a pleasure to you, Madame, to be in the arms of your
husband?

FRANÇOISE. Isn't it likewise a pleasure to be able to say, "He is free,
I am not his wife, he is not my husband; I am not his duty, a millstone
around his neck; I am his avocation, his love? If he leaves me, I know
he is tired of me, but if he comes back, then I know he loves me"?

MARCEL. Françoise, you are an extremist!

FRANÇOISE. You think so?

MARCEL. You are.

FRANÇOISE. Well?

MARCEL. I know your philosophy is nothing but love. [_A pause._] You cry
sometimes, don't you? When I'm not here?

FRANÇOISE. Just a little.

MARCEL. I make you very unhappy! When you are sad, don't conceal it from
me, Françoise; one of your tears would make me do anything in the world
for you.

FRANÇOISE. One, yes! But, many?

MARCEL. Don't make fun of me: I am serious. If I told you that my
affection for you is as great as yours, I--

FRANÇOISE. You would be lying.

MARCEL. Perhaps! But I think I adore you! Every time I leave you, I feel
so lonely; I wander about like a lost soul! I think something must be
happening to you. And when I come home at midnight, and open the door, I
feel an exquisite sensation--Is that love? You ought to know--you are an
adept!

FRANÇOISE. Perhaps.

MARCEL [_unthinkingly_]. You know, Françoise, one can never be sure of
one's self.

FRANÇOISE. Of course!

MARCEL. No one can say, "I love to-day, and I shall love to-morrow." You
or any one else.

FRANÇOISE [_offended_]. I?

MARCEL. How can you tell, whether in fifteen years--?

FRANÇOISE. Oh, I'm a little child--I'm different from the others: I
shall always love the same man all his life. But go on, you were saying?

MARCEL. Nothing. I want you to be happy, in spite of everything, no
matter what may happen--no matter what I may do.

FRANÇOISE. Even if you should deceive me?

MARCEL [_tenderly_]. Deceive you? Never! I care nothing about other
women! You are my happiness--not a mere pastime.

FRANÇOISE. Alas!

MARCEL. Why alas?

FRANÇOISE. Because it is easier to do without happiness than pleasure.

MARCEL [_tenderly_]. Oh, you are all that is highest and best in my
life. I prefer you to everything else! Let a woman come between us, and
she shall have me to deal with! Call it selfishness, if you will, or
egotism--but your peace of mind is an absolute necessity to me!

FRANÇOISE. You need not prepare me for the future, you bad boy: I
resigned myself to "possibilities" some time ago. I'm inexperienced and
young in years, but I'm older than you.

MARCEL. Shall I tell you something? I never deserved you!

FRANÇOISE. That's true.

MARCEL. When I think how happy you might have made some good and worthy
man, and that--

FRANÇOISE. Who then would have made me happy?

MARCEL. You are not happy now.

FRANÇOISE. I didn't marry for happiness; I married in order to have you.

MARCEL. I'm a fool! It would be nice, wouldn't it, if I were an
unfaithful husband!

FRANÇOISE. I'm sure you will never be that.

MARCEL. Do you really think so?

FRANÇOISE. I am positive. What would be the use in deceiving me? I
should be so unhappy, and you wouldn't be a bit happier.

MARCEL. You are right.

FRANÇOISE. No, you will not deceive me. To begin with, I have great
luck.

MARCEL [_gayly_]. Of course, you have; you don't know how much!

FRANÇOISE [_coquettishly_]. Tell me!

MARCEL. What a child you are!

MARCEL. I should think so! Sometimes I imagine that my happiness does
not lie altogether in those sparkling eyes of yours and I try to fall in
love with another woman; I fall in deeper and deeper for a week or two,
and think I am terribly infatuated. But just as I am about to take the
fatal leap, I fail: Françoise' luck, you see! At bottom, I'm a
commencer; I can't imagine what it is that saves me--and you. Sometimes
_she_ has done something to displease me, sometimes a divine word from
your lips--and a mere nothing, something quite insignificant! For
instance, Wednesday, I missed the train, and came back and had dinner
with you. You see, Françoise' luck!

FRANÇOISE. Then you're not going out to-day, are you?

MARCEL. Nor to-morrow; the whole day is yours. We'll close the door.

FRANÇOISE. Aren't you happy?

MARCEL [_kissing her behind the ear_]. Hurry up, you lazy child!

FRANÇOISE. I'm not pretty, but I have my good points.

MARCEL. Not pretty?

FRANÇOISE. No, but I deserve to be.

    [_Madeleine appears at the back._]

MADELEINE. I beg your pardon!

    [_Françoise gives an exclamation of surprise and escapes through
    the door to the right without looking again at the visitor._]

MARCEL [_surprised_]. Madeleine!

    [_A pause._]

MADELEINE [_stylishly dressed. With an air of bravura_]. So this is the
way you deceive me!

MARCEL [_gayly_]. My dear, if you think that during these three years--

MADELEINE. I beg your pardon for interrupting your little _tête-à-tête_,
Marcel, but your door was open, and there was no servant to announce me.

MARCEL. You know you are always welcome here.

MADELEINE. Your wife is very attractive.

MARCEL. Isn't she? Shall I introduce you?

MADELEINE. Later--I've come to see _you_.

MARCEL. I must confess your visit is a little surprising.

MADELEINE. Especially after my sending that note this morning. I thought
I should prefer not to trouble you.

MARCEL [_uncertain_]. Ah!

MADELEINE. Yes.

MARCEL. Well?

MADELEINE. Well, no!

MARCEL. I'm sorry. [_Kissing her hand._] Glad to see you, at any rate.

MADELEINE. Same studio as always, eh?

MARCEL. You are still as charming as ever.

MADELEINE. You are as handsome as ever.

MARCEL. I can say no less for you.

MADELEINE. I'm only twenty-eight.

MARCEL. But your husband is fifty: that keeps you young. How long have
you been back?

MADELEINE. A week.

MARCEL. And I haven't seen Guérin yet!

MADELEINE. There's no hurry.

MARCEL. What's the matter?

MADELEINE. He's a bit worried: you know how jealous he is! Well,
yesterday, when I was out, he went through all my private papers--

MARCEL. Naturally he came across some letters.

MADELEINE. _The_ letters, my dear!

MARCEL. Mine?

MADELEINE. Yes. [_Gesture from Marcel._] Old letters.

MARCEL. You kept them?

MADELEINE. From a celebrity? Of course!

MARCEL. The devil!

MADELEINE. Ungrateful!

MARCEL. I beg your pardon.

MADELEINE. You can imagine my explanation following the discovery. My
dear Marcel, there's going to be a divorce.

MARCEL. A--! A divorce?

MADELEINE. Don't feel too sorry for me. After all, I shall be free and
almost happy.

MARCEL. What resignation!

MADELEINE. Only--

MARCEL. Only what?

MADELEINE. He is going to send you his seconds.

MARCEL [_gayly_]. A duel? To-day? You're not serious?

MADELEINE. I think he wants to kill you.

MARCEL. But that affair was three years ago! Why, to begin with, he
hasn't the right!

MADELEINE. Because it was so long ago?

MARCEL. Three years is three years.

MADELEINE. You're right: _now_ you are not in love with his wife: you
love your own. Time has changed everything. Now your own happiness is
all-sufficient. I can easily understand your indignation against my
husband.

MARCEL. Oh, I--

MADELEINE. My husband is slow, but he's sure, isn't he?

MARCEL. You're cruel, Madeleine.

MADELEINE. If it's ancient history for you, it's only too recent for
him!

MARCEL. Let's not speak about him!

MADELEINE. But he ought to be a very interesting topic of conversation
just now!

MARCEL. I hadn't foreseen his feeling so keenly.

MADELEINE. You must tell him how sorry you are when you see him.

MARCEL. At the duel?

MADELEINE. Elsewhere!

MARCEL. Where? Here, in my house?

MADELEINE. My dear, he may want to tell you how he feels.

    [_A pause._]

MARCEL [_aside, troubled_]. The devil! And Françoise? [_Another pause._]
Oh, a duel! Well, I ought to risk my life for you; you have done the
same thing for me many times.

MADELEINE. Oh, I was not so careful as you were then.

MARCEL. You are not telling me everything, Madeleine. What put it into
your husband's head to look through your papers?

MADELEINE. Ah!

MARCEL. Well, evidently _I_ couldn't have excited his jealousy. For a
long time he has had no reason to suspect me! Were they my letters he
was looking for?

MADELEINE. That is my affair!

MARCEL. Then I am expiating for some one else?

MADELEINE. I'm afraid so.

MARCEL. Perfect!

MADELEINE. Forgive me!

MARCEL [_reproachfully_]. So you are deceiving him?

MADELEINE. You are a perfect friend to-day!

MARCEL. Then you really have a lover?

MADELEINE. A second lover! That would be disgraceful, wouldn't it?

MARCEL. The first step always brings the worst consequences.

MADELEINE. What are you smiling at?

MARCEL. Oh, the happiness of others! Well, let's have no bitterness.

MADELEINE. No, you might feel remorse!

MARCEL. Oh, Madeleine, why am I not the guilty one this time? You are
always so beautiful!

MADELEINE. Your fault! You should have kept what you had!

MARCEL. I thought you were tired of me.

MADELEINE. You will never know what I suffered; I cried like an
abandoned shopgirl!

MARCEL. Not for long, though?

MADELEINE. Three months. When I think I once loved you so much, and here
I am before you so calm and indifferent! You look like anybody else now.
How funny, how disgusting life is! You meet some one, do no end of
foolish and wicked and mean things in order to belong to him, and the
day comes when you don't know one another. Each takes his turn! I think
it would have been better--[_Gesture from Marcel._] Yes--I ought to try
to forget everything.

MARCEL. That's all buried in the past! Wasn't it worth the trouble, and
the suffering we have to undergo now?

MADELEINE. You, too! You have to recall--!

MARCEL. I'm sorry, but I didn't begin this conversation.

MADELEINE. Never mind! It's all over, let's say no more about it!

MARCEL. No, please! Let's--curse me, Madeleine say anything you like
about me: I deserve it all!

MADELEINE. Stop! Behave yourself, married man! What if your wife heard
you!

MARCEL. She? Dear child! She is much too afraid of what I might say to
listen.

MADELEINE. Dear child! You cynic! I'll wager you have not been a model
husband since your marriage!

MARCEL. You are mistaken this time, my dear.

MADELEINE. You are lying!

MARCEL. Seriously; and I'm more surprised than you at the fact--but it's
true.

MADELEINE. Poor Marcel!

MARCEL. I do suffer!

MADELEINE. Then you are a faithful husband?

MARCEL. I am frivolous and--compromising--that is all.

MADELEINE. It's rather funny: you seem somehow to be ready to belong to
some one!

MARCEL. Madeleine, you are the first who has come near tempting me.

MADELEINE. Is it possible?

MARCEL. I feel myself weakening.

MADELEINE. Thank you so much for thinking of me, dear; I appreciate it,
but for the time being, I'll--consider.

MARCEL. Have you made up your mind?

MADELEINE. We shall see later; I'll think it over--perhaps! Yet, I
rather doubt if--. You haven't been nice to me to-day, your open honest
face hasn't pleased me at all. You're so carelessly dressed! I don't
think you're interesting any more. No, I hardly think so!

MARCEL. But, Madeleine--

MADELEINE. Don't call me Madeleine.

MARCEL. Madame Guérin! Madame Guérin! if I told you how much your note
meant to me! How excited I was! I trembled when I read it!

MADELEINE. I'll warrant you read it before your wife?

MARCEL. It was so charming of you!

MADELEINE. How depraved you are!

MARCEL. How well you know me!

MADELEINE. Fool!

MARCEL. I adore you!

MADELEINE. That's merely a notion of yours! You imagine, since you
haven't seen me for so long--I've just come back from a long trip!

MARCEL. Don't shake my faith in you!

MADELEINE. Think of your duties, my dear; don't forget--

MARCEL. My children? I have none.

MADELEINE. Your wife.

MARCEL [_in desperation_]. You always speak of her!

MADELEINE. Love her, my friend, and if my husband doesn't kill you
to-morrow, continue to love her in peace and quiet. You are made for a
virtuous life now--any one can see that. I flatter you when I consider
you a libertine. You've been spoiled by too much happiness, that's the
trouble with you!

MARCEL [_trying to kiss her_]. Madeleine, if you only--!

MADELEINE [_evading him_]. Are you out of your wits?

MARCEL. Forgive me: I haven't quite forgotten! Well, if I am killed it
will be for a good reason.

MADELEINE. Poor dear!

MARCEL. It will! This duel is going to compromise you fearfully. Come
now, every one will accuse you to-morrow; what difference does it make
to you?

MADELEINE. I'm not in the mood!

MARCEL. Now _you_ are lying!

MADELEINE. I don't love you.

MARCEL. Nonsense! You're sulking!

MADELEINE. How childish! Don't touch me! You want me to be unfaithful to
everybody! Never! [_Changing._] Yet--! No; it would be too foolish!
Good-by.

MARCEL [_kissing her as she tries to pass him_]. Not before--

MADELEINE. Oh, you've mussed my hat; how awkward of you! [_Trying to
escape from Marcel's embrace._] Let me go!

MARCEL [_jokingly_]. Let you go? In a few days!

MADELEINE. Good-by. My husband may come any moment.

MARCEL. Are you afraid?

MADELEINE. Yes, I'm afraid he might forgive me!

MARCEL. One minute more!

MADELEINE. No! I have just time. I'm going away this evening--

MARCEL. Going away?

MADELEINE. To London.

MARCEL. With--_him_, the other?

MADELEINE. I hope so.

MARCEL. Who knows? He may be waiting for you this moment at Madame de
Montglat's, your aunt's--

MADELEINE. They are playing cards together.

MARCEL. The way we are! What a family!

MADELEINE. Impudent!

MARCEL. That's why you came.

MADELEINE [_about to leave_]. Shall I go out through the models' door,
as I used to?

MARCEL. If I were still a bachelor you wouldn't leave me this way! You
would miss your train this evening, I'll tell you that!

MADELEINE. You may very well look at that long sofa! No, no, my dear:
not to-day, thanks!

MARCEL. In an hour, then, at Madame de Montglat's!

MADELEINE. Take care, or I'll make you meet your successor!

MARCEL. Then I can see whether you are still a woman of taste.

MADELEINE. Ah, men are very--I'll say the word after I leave. [_She goes
out through the little door._]

MARCEL [_alone_]. "Men are very--!" If we were, the women would have a
very stupid time of it!

    [_He is about to follow Madeleine._]

    [_Enter Françoise._]

FRANÇOISE. Who was that stylish looking woman who just left, Marcel?

MARCEL [_embarrassed_]. Madame Jackson, my American friend.

FRANÇOISE. Well?

MARCEL. My picture? Sold!

FRANÇOISE. Ten thousand? Splendid! Don't you think so? You don't seem
very happy!

MARCEL. The idea!

    [_He picks up his hat._]

FRANÇOISE [_jealously_]. Are you going to leave me?

MARCEL. I am just going to Goupil's and tell him.

FRANÇOISE. Then I'll have to lunch all by myself! [_Marcel stops an
instant before the mirror._] You look lovely.

MARCEL [_turning round_]. I--

FRANÇOISE. Oh, you'll succeed!

    [_A pause._]

MARCEL [_enchanted, in spite of himself_]. What can you be thinking of!
[_Aside._] What if she were after all my happiness? [_Reproachfully._]
Now, Françoise--

FRANÇOISE. I was only joking.

MARCEL [_ready to leave_]. No moping, remember? I can't have that!

FRANÇOISE. I know!

MARCEL [_tenderly. He stands at the threshold. Aside_]. Poor child! Well
I may fail!

    [_He goes out, left._]

FRANÇOISE [_sadly_]. Where is he going? Probably to a rendezvous. Oh, if
he is! Will my luck fail me to-day? Soon he'll come back again, so well
satisfied with himself! I talk to him so much about my resignation, I
wonder whether he believes in it? Why must I be tormented this way
forever?

    [_Enter Jean, with a visiting-card._]

JEAN. Is Monsieur here?

FRANÇOISE. Let me see!

    [_She takes the card._]

JEAN. The gentleman is waiting, Madame.

FRANÇOISE. Ask him to come in. Quick, now!

    [_Jean goes out._]

    [_Enter Guérin, at the back. As he sees Françoise he hesitates
    before coming to her._]

FRANÇOISE [_cordially_]. Come in, Monsieur. I have never seen you, but I
already know you very well.

GUÉRIN [_a large, strong man, with grayish hair_]. Thank you, Madame. I
thought I should find Monsieur Desroches at home. If you will excuse
me--

FRANÇOISE. I beg you!

GUÉRIN. I fear I am intruding: it's so early.

FRANÇOISE. You intruding in Marcel's home?

GUÉRIN. Madame--

FRANÇOISE. My husband will return soon, Monsieur.

GUÉRIN [_brightening_]. Good!

FRANÇOISE. Will you wait for him here in the studio?

GUÉRIN [_advancing_]. Really, Madame, it would be most ungrateful of me
to refuse your kindness.

FRANÇOISE. Here are magazines and newspapers--I shall ask to be excused.
[_As she is about to leave._] It was rather difficult to make you stay!

GUÉRIN. Forgive me, Madame. [_Aside ironically._] Too bad! She's
decidedly charming!

    [_Having gone up-stage, Françoise suddenly returns._]

FRANÇOISE. It seems a little strange to you, Monsieur--doesn't it?--to
see a woman in this bachelor studio--quite at home?

GUÉRIN. Why, Madame--

FRANÇOISE. Before leaving you--which I shall do in a moment--you must
know that there is one woman who is very glad to know you have returned
to Paris!

GUÉRIN. We just arrived this week.

FRANÇOISE. Good!

GUÉRIN [_ironically_]. It's so long since I've seen Marcel.

FRANÇOISE. Three years.

GUÉRIN. So many things have happened since!

FRANÇOISE. You find him a married man, for one thing--

GUÉRIN. Happily married!

FRANÇOISE. Yes, happily!

GUÉRIN. Dear old Marcel! I'll be so glad to see him!

FRANÇOISE. I see you haven't forgotten my husband, Monsieur. Thank you!

GUÉRIN. How can I help admiring so stout and loyal a heart as his!

FRANÇOISE. You'll have to like me, too!

GUÉRIN. I already do.

FRANÇOISE. Really? Then you believe everything you write?

GUÉRIN. Yes, Madame.

FRANÇOISE. Take care! This morning I was re-reading one of your letters,
in which you promised me your heartiest support. [_Offering him her
hand._] Then we're friends, are we not?

GUÉRIN [_after hesitating, takes her hand_]. Good friends, Madame!

FRANÇOISE. Word of honor?

GUÉRIN. Word of honor!

FRANÇOISE [_sitting_]. Then I'll stay. Sit down, and let's talk.
[_Guérin is uncertain._] We have so much to say to each other! Let's
talk about you first.

GUÉRIN [_forced to sit down_]. About me? But I--

FRANÇOISE. Yes, about you.

GUÉRIN [_quickly_]. No, about _your_ happiness, your welfare.

FRANÇOISE. About my great happiness!

GUÉRIN [_ironically_]. Let us speak about your--existence--with which
you are so content. I must know all the happiness of this house!

FRANÇOISE. Happy people never have anything to say.

GUÉRIN. You never have troubles, I presume?

FRANÇOISE. None, so far.

GUÉRIN. But what might happen? To-day you are living peacefully with
Marcel, a man whose marriage was, it seems, strongly opposed. Life owes
you no more than it has already given you.

FRANÇOISE. My happiness is complete. I had never imagined that a man's
goodness could make a woman so happy!

GUÉRIN. Goodness?

FRANÇOISE. Of course!

GUÉRIN. Love, you mean Madame!

FRANÇOISE. Oh, Marcel's love for me--!

GUÉRIN. Something lacking?

FRANÇOISE. No!

GUÉRIN [_interested_]. Tell me. Am I not your friend?

FRANÇOISE. Seriously, Monsieur, you know him very well: how could he be
in love with me? Is it even possible? He allows one to love him, and I
ask nothing more.

GUÉRIN. Nothing?

FRANÇOISE. Only to be allowed to continue. [_Gesture from Guérin._] I am
not like other women. I don't ask for rights; but I do demand
tenderness, and consideration. He is free, I am not--I'll admit that.
But I don't mind, I only hope that we may continue as we are!

GUÉRIN. Have you some presentiment, Madame?

FRANÇOISE. I am afraid, Monsieur. My happiness is not of the proud,
demonstrative variety, it is a kind of happiness that is continually
trembling for its safety. If I told you--

GUÉRIN. Do tell me!

FRANÇOISE. Later! How I pity any one who loves and has to suffer for it!

GUÉRIN [_surprised_]. You--!

FRANÇOISE. I am not on the side of the jealous, of the betrayed--

GUÉRIN [_aside, sympathetically_]. Poor little woman! [_With great
sincerity._] Then you are not sure of him?

FRANÇOISE [_more and more excited_]. He is Marcel! Admit for a moment
that he loves me to-day--I want so to believe it! To-morrow will he love
me? Does he himself know whether he will love me then? Isn't he at the
mercy of a whim, a passing fancy--of the weather, or the appearance of
the first woman he happens to meet? I am only twenty, and I am not
always as careful as I might be. Happiness is so difficult!

GUÉRIN. Yes, it is. [_To himself._] It is! [_To Françoise._] Perhaps you
are conscientious, too sincere?

FRANÇOISE. I feel that; yes, I think I am, but every time I try to hide
my affection from him, he becomes indifferent, almost mean--as if he
were glad to be relieved of a duty--of being good!

GUÉRIN. So it's come to that!

FRANÇOISE. You see, Marcel can't get used to the idea that his other
life is over, dead and buried, that he's married for good--that he must
do as others do. I do my best and tell him, but my very presence only
reminds him of his duties as a husband. For instance [_interrupting
herself_]. Here I am telling you all this--

GUÉRIN. Oh!--Please.

FRANÇOISE [_bitterly_]. He likes to go out alone at night, without me.
He knows me well enough to understand that his being away makes me very
unhappy, and as a matter of form, of common courtesy, he asks me to go
with him. I try to reason and convince myself that he doesn't mean what
he says, but I can't help feeling sincerely happy when once in a while I
do accept his invitation. But the moment we leave the house I realize my
mistake. Then he pretends to be in high spirits, but I know all the time
he is acting a part; and when we come home again he lets drop without
fail some hint about having lost his liberty; he says he took me out in
a moment of weakness, that he really wanted to be alone.

GUÉRIN [_interrupting_]. And when he does go out alone?

FRANÇOISE. Then I am most unhappy; I'm in torment for hours and hours. I
wonder where he can be, and then I'm afraid he won't come back at all.
When the door opens, when I hear him come in, I'm so happy I pay no
attention to what he tells me. But I made a solemn vow never to show the
least sign of jealousy. My face is always tranquil, and what I say to
him never betrays what I feel. I never knowingly betray myself, but his
taking way, his tenderness, soon make me confess every fear; then he
turns round and, using my own confession as a weapon, shows me how wrong
I am to be afraid and suspicious. And when sometimes I say nothing to
him, even when he tries to make me confess, he punishes me most severely
by telling me stories of his affairs, narrow escapes, and all his
temptations. He once told me about an old mistress of his, whom he had
just seen, a very clever woman, who was never jealous! Or else he comes
in so late that I must be glad, for if he came in later, it would have
been all night! He tells me he had some splendid opportunity, and had to
give it up! A thousand things like that! He seems to delight in making
me suspect and doubt him!

GUÉRIN. Poor little woman!

FRANÇOISE. That's my life; as for my happiness, it exists from day to
day. [_With determination._] If I only had the right to be unhappy! But
I must always smile, I must be happy, not only in his presence, but to
the very depths of my soul! So that he may deceive me without the least
remorse! It is his pleasure!

    [_She bursts into tears._]

GUÉRIN [_rising_]. The selfish brute!

FRANÇOISE. Isn't my suffering a reproach to him?

GUÉRIN. I pity you, Madame, and I think I understand you better than any
one else. I have trouble not unlike your own; perhaps greater, troubles
for which there is no consolation.

FRANÇOISE. If you understand me, Monsieur, advise me! I need you!

GUÉRIN [_startled back into reality_]. Me, help you? I? [_Aside._] No!

FRANÇOISE. You spoke of your friendship. The time has come, prove that
it is genuine!

GUÉRIN. Madame, why did I ever see you? Why did I listen to you?

FRANÇOISE. What have you to regret?

GUÉRIN. Nothing, Madame, nothing.

FRANÇOISE. Explain yourself, Monsieur. You--you make me afraid!

GUÉRIN [_trying to calm her suspicions_]. Don't cry like that! There is
no reason why you should behave that way! Your husband doesn't love you
as he ought, but he does love you. You are jealous, that's what's
troubling you. But for that matter, why should he deceive you? That
would be too unjust.

FRANÇOISE [_excited_]. Too unjust! You are right, Monsieur! No matter
how cynical, how blasé a man may be, isn't it his duty, his sacred duty,
to say to himself, "I have found a good and true woman in this world of
deceptions; she is a woman who adores me, who is only too ready to
invent any excuse for me! She bears my name and honors it; no matter
what I do, she is always true, of that I am positive. I am always
foremost in her thoughts, and I shall be her only love." When a man can
say all that, Monsieur, isn't that real, true happiness?

GUÉRIN [_sobbing_]. Yes--that is happiness!

FRANÇOISE. You are crying! [_A pause._]

GUÉRIN. My wife--deceived me!

FRANÇOISE. Oh! [_A pause._] Marcel--

GUÉRIN. Your happiness is in no danger! Yesterday I found some old
letters, in a desk--old letters--that was all! You weren't his wife at
the time. It's ancient history.

FRANÇOISE [_aside_]. Who knows?

GUÉRIN. Forgive me, Madame; your troubles remind me of my own. When you
told of the happiness you still have to give, I couldn't help thinking
of what I had lost!

FRANÇOISE. So you have come to fight a duel with my husband?

GUÉRIN. Madame--

FRANÇOISE. You are going to fight him? Answer me.

GUÉRIN. My life is a wreck now--I must--

FRANÇOISE. I don't ask you to forget; Monsieur--

GUÉRIN. Don't you think I have a right?

FRANÇOISE. Stop!

GUÉRIN. I shall not try to kill him. You love him too much! I couldn't
do it now. In striking him I should be injuring you, and you don't
deserve to suffer; you have betrayed no one. The happiness you have just
taught me to know is as sacred and inviolable as my honor, my
unhappiness. I shall not seek revenge.

FRANÇOISE [_gratefully_]. Oh, Monsieur.

GUÉRIN. I am willing he should live, because he is so dear, so necessary
to you. Keep him. If he wants to spoil your happiness, his be the blame!
I shall not do it. It would be sacrilege. Good-by, Madame, good-by.

    [_Guérin goes out, back, Françoise falls into a chair, sobbing._]

    [_Enter Marcel by the little door._]

MARCEL [_aside, with a melancholy air_]. Refused to see me!

FRANÇOISE [_distinctly_]. Oh, it's you!

MARCEL [_good-humoredly_]. Yes, it's I. [_A pause. He goes toward her._]
You have been crying! Have you seen Guérin? He's been here!

FRANÇOISE. Marcel!

MARCEL. Did he dare tell you!

FRANÇOISE. You won't see any more of him.

MARCEL [_astounded_]. He's not going to fight?

FRANÇOISE. He refuses.

MARCEL. Thank you!

FRANÇOISE. I took good care of your dignity, you may be sure of that.
Here we were together; I told him the story of my life during the last
year--how I loved you--and then he broke down. When I learned the truth,
he said he would go away for my happiness' sake.

MARCEL. I was a coward to deceive that man! Is this a final sentence
that you pass on me?

FRANÇOISE. Marcel!

MARCEL. Both of you are big! You have big hearts. I admire you both more
than I can say.

FRANÇOISE [_incredulously_]. Where are you going? To get him to fight
with you?

MARCEL [_returning to her; angrily_]. How can I, now? After what you
have done, it would be absurd. Why the devil did you have to mix
yourself up in something that doesn't concern you? I was only looking
for a chance to fight that duel!

FRANÇOISE. Looking for a chance?

MARCEL. Oh, I--

FRANÇOISE. Why?

MARCEL [_between his teeth_]. That's my affair! Everybody has his
enemies--his insults to avenge. It was a very good thing that gentleman
didn't happen across my path!

FRANÇOISE. How dare you recall what he has been generous enough to
forget?

MARCEL. How do you know that I haven't a special reason for fighting
this duel? A legitimate reason, that must be concealed from you?

FRANÇOISE. You are mistaken, dear: I guess that reason perfectly.

MARCEL. Really?

FRANÇOISE. I know it.

MARCEL [_bursting forth_]. Oh! Good! You haven't always been so
frightfully profound.

FRANÇOISE. Yes, I have, and your irony only proves that I have not been
so much mistaken in what I felt by intuition.

MARCEL. Ah, marriage.

FRANÇOISE. Ah, duty!

MARCEL. I love Madame Guérin, don't I?

FRANÇOISE. I don't say that.

MARCEL. You think it.

FRANÇOISE. And if I do? Would it be a crime to think it? You once loved
her--perhaps you have seen her again, recently? Do I know where you go?
You never tell me.

MARCEL. I tell you too much!

FRANÇOISE. I think you do.

MARCEL. You're jealous!

FRANÇOISE. Common, if you like. Come, you must admit, Marcel, Madame
Guérin is in some way responsible for your excitement now?

MARCEL. Very well then, I love her, I adore her! Are you satisfied?

FRANÇOISE. You should have told me that first, my dear; I should never
have tried to keep you away from her.

    [_She breaks into tears._]

MARCEL. She's crying! Good, there's liberty for you!

FRANÇOISE [_bitterly_]. Liberty? I did not suffer when I promised you
your liberty.

MARCEL. That was your "resignation."

FRANÇOISE. You knew life, I did not. You ought never to have accepted
it!

MARCEL. You're like all the rest!

FRANÇOISE [_more excited_]. Doesn't unhappiness level us all?

MARCEL. I see it does!

FRANÇOISE. What can you ask for, then? So long as you have no great
happiness like mine you are ready enough to make any sacrifice, but when
once you have it, you never resign yourself to losing it.

MARCEL. That's just the difficulty.

FRANÇOISE. Be a little patient, dear: I have not yet reached that state
of cynicism and subtlety which you seem to want in your wife--I thought
I came near to your ideal once! Perhaps there's some hope for me yet: I
have promised myself to do my best to satisfy your ideal.

MARCEL [_moved_]. I don't ask that.

FRANÇOISE. You are right, I am very foolish to try to struggle. What is
the good? It will suffice when I have lost the dearest creature on
earth--through my foolishness, my blunders!

MARCEL. The dearest creature?

FRANÇOISE. I can't help it if he seems so to me!

MARCEL [_disarmed_]. You--you're trying to appeal to my vanity!

FRANÇOISE. I am hardly in the mood for joking.

MARCEL [_tenderly, as he kneels at her feet_]. But you make me say
things like that--I don't know what! I am not bad--really bad! No, I
have not deceived you! I love you, and only you! You! You know that,
Françoise! Ask--ask any woman! All women!

    [_A pause._]

FRANÇOISE [_smiling through her tears_]. Best of husbands! You're not
going out then? You'll stay?

MARCEL [_in Françoise's arms_]. Can I go now, now that I'm here? You are
so pretty that I--

FRANÇOISE. Not when I'm in trouble.

MARCEL. Don't cry!

FRANÇOISE. I forgive you!

MARCEL. Wait, I haven't confessed everything.

FRANÇOISE. Not another word!

MARCEL. I want to be sincere.

FRANÇOISE. I prefer you to lie to me!

MARCEL. First, read this note--the one I received this morning.

FRANÇOISE [_surprised_]. From Madame Guérin?

MARCEL. You saw her not long ago. Yes, she calmly told me--

FRANÇOISE. That her husband had found some letters!

MARCEL. And that she was about to leave for England with her lover.

FRANÇOISE. Then she is quite consoled?

MARCEL. Perfectly.

FRANÇOISE. Poor Marcel! And you went to see her and try to prevent her
going away with him?

MARCEL. My foolishness was well punished. She wouldn't receive me.

FRANÇOISE. Then I am the only one left who loves you? How happy I am!

MARCEL. I'll kill that love some day with my ridiculous philandering!

FRANÇOISE [_gravely_]. I defy you!

MARCEL [_playfully_]. Then I no longer have the right to provoke
Monsieur Guérin? Now?

FRANÇOISE [_gayly_]. You are growing old, Lovelace, his wife has
deceived you!

MARCEL [_lovingly_]. Françoise' luck! [_Sadly._] Married!


  [_Curtain._]



ALTRUISM

  A SATIRE

  BY KARL ETTLINGER
  TRANSLATED BY BENJAMIN F. GLAZER.


  Copyright, 1920, by Benjamin F. Glazer.
  All rights reserved.


  The first performance of ALTRUISM was given by The Stage Society of
  Philadelphia at the Little Theatre, Philadelphia, on January 28, 1916,
  with the following cast:

    A BEGGAR              _Henry C. Sheppard_
    A WAITER              _E. Ryland Carter_
    A YOUNG MAN           _William H. McClure_
    A COCOTTE             _Sylvia Loeb._
    A PARISIAN            _Edward B. Latimer_
    HIS WIFE              _Florence Bernstein_
    THEIR CHILD           _Jean Massey_
    AN ARTIST             _Theron J. Bamberger_
    AN AMERICAN           _William J. Holt_
    A GENTLEMAN           _Caspar W. Briggs_
    ANOTHER GENTLEMAN     _Norris W. Corey_
    A PICKPOCKET          _Walter E. Endy_
    A GENDARME            _William H. Russell_
    ANOTHER GENDARME      _Frederick Cowperthwaite_
    A WORKINGMAN          _Walter D. Dalsimer_
    A FLOWER GIRL         _Katherine Kennedy_
    A PASSING LADY        _C. Warren Briggs_
    A BYSTANDER           _Charles E. Sommer_
    AN OLD LADY           _Paulyne Brinkman_
    A GRISETTE            _Florence M. Lyman_

  [TIME: _The present_. PLACE: A Parisian Café by the Seine.]

  Produced under the direction of Benjamin F. Glazer. Scene designed by
  H. Devitt Welsh. Costumes designed by Martha G. Speiser.


  CHARACTERS

    A BEGGAR
    A TOWNSMAN
    A TOWNSWOMAN
    THEIR SEVEN-YEAR-OLD SON
    AN ARTIST
    AN AMERICAN
    A COCOTTE
    A WAITER
    A WORKINGMAN
    A YOUNG MAN
    TWO OFFICERS
    THE CROWD

  PLACE: _Paris_.
  TIME: _Present_.
  _On the banks of the Seine._


  The play was later produced by the Washington Square Players, at the
  Comedy Theatre, New York City. The professional and amateur stage
  rights are reserved by the translator, Mr. Benjamin F. Glazer,
  Editorial Department, _The Press_, Philadelphia, Pa., to whom all
  requests for permission to produce the play should be made.



ALTRUISM

A SATIRE BY KARL ETTLINGER


    [_In the background the end of a pier. On a post hangs a rope and
    a life buoy. Close by the Beggar is sitting on the floor. At right
    a street café; two tables stand under the open sky on the street.
    At one of the tables sits the Waiter, reading a newspaper. At the
    other sits the Cocotte and the blond Young Man. At left on a
    public bench sits the Artist. He has a sketch book and pencil with
    which he is drawing the Cocotte, who has noticed it and is
    flirting with him._]


    [_Lady xes from Left to Right._]

    [_Man xes from Right to Left._]

BEGGAR [_sings_]:

  Kind sir, have pity while you can,
    Remember the old beggar man
      The poor beggar man.

WAITER [_sitting at table, R. C., looks up from his newspaper_]. Shut
up!

BEGGAR. Don't get fresh! I was once a _head_ waiter!

WAITER. That must have been a fine place.

BEGGAR. It was too. I traveled all around the world as a waiter. I saw
better days before I became a beggar.

YOUNG MAN [_at table Left, fondly to the Cocotte_]. Indeed if I were a
millionaire--my word of honor I would buy you an automobile. Nothing
would be too dear for you.

COCOTTE [_at table Left_]. My darling Kangaroo. How liberal you are. I
am sure I am your first love.

YOUNG MAN. Yes--you are--that is if I don't count the cook who has been
at our house for five years--yes, on my word of honor.

    [_He finishes in pantomime._]

BEGGAR [_to Waiter_]: Yes, yes, one goes down. Life is a tight rope
dance--before you look around you've lost your balance, and are lying in
the dirt.

WAITER [_laying aside the paper_]. You ought to go to work. That would
do you more good than talking.

BEGGAR. I've tried working too. But work for our kind is the surest way
to remain poor. And, do you know, begging is no pleasure either. To get
the money centime by centime and no rest from the police--well, well, if
I'm born into this world again I will become a government official.

    [_A man passes. Enter lady from Left. Stops lady Center. Sings and
    holds out his hat._]

  The rich man in his banquet hall,
    Has everything I long for!
  The poor man gets the scraps that fall;
    That's what I sing this song for.
  Kind sir, have pity while you can--

    [_Man exit Left._]

Do you see? he doesn't give me anything! (Social enlightenment ends with
the lower classes. That is where need is greatest and the police are
thickest.)

YOUNG MAN [_to the_ COCOTTE]. I would buy you a flying machine too, but
you shouldn't fly alone in it--Ah, to soar with you a thousand meters
above the earth--and far and wide nothing--only you and our love--

COCOTTE. What a wonderful boy you are.

    [_She flirts with the Artist._]

BEGGAR. How often have I wanted to commit suicide. But why should I
gratify my fellow man by doing that?--suicide is the one sin I can see
nothing funny in. I always say to myself, so long as there's a jail one
can never starve.

WAITER. You have no dignity.

BEGGAR. No. My dignity was taken away from me ten years ago by the law.
But I'm not so sure I want it back.

WAITER [_in disgust_]. I ought to call the cops and have them drive you
away from here.

BEGGAR [_confidentially_]. You wouldn't do that. Only yesterday I paid
my colleagues 20 francs for this place. [_Searches in his pockets._]
Here is a receipt. I won't go away from here unless the police carry me
away in their arms. The police seem to be the only people who make a
fuss over me these days. [_Laughs._]

WAITER. Disgusting old beggar. Why on earth such people--[_The rest is
lost in his teeth._]

    [_The Townsman, the Townswoman, and their child enter. The
    Townsman carries the child on his shoulder and is perspiring from
    the exertion._]

    [_Waiter X to Right of Table. Beggar goes up stage Center._]

TOWNSWOMAN [_center Left with boy; sighs_]. That is all I have to say,
just let me come to that. Just let me come to it. On the spot I'll get a
divorce.

TOWNSMAN [_following her_]. Give me your word of honor on it.

TOWNSMAN. Now I know what they mean when they say that all men were
polygamists.

TOWNSMAN. Calm yourself, old woman. It's all theoretical that married
women are good cooks and married men are polygamists.

BEGGAR.

  The rich man in his banquet hall
    Has everything I long for!
  The poor....

TOWNSMAN. Let him banquet in peace.

    [_They sit at the table from which the Waiter has just risen._]

CHILD. I want to give the poor man something. Papa! Money! Papa! Money!

TOWNSMAN [_kisses child_]. A heart of gold has my little Phillip. A
disposition like butter. He gets that from me.

TOWNSMAN. What? Asking for money or the oleo margerine disposition?

CHILD. When I give the poor man something he makes a funny face and I
have to laugh. Papa, money!

TOWNSMAN. Since I've been married I make all kinds of faces, but no one
gives me anything. [_Searches in his pocket book._] Too bad, I've
nothing smaller than a centime piece.

TOWNSMAN. Of course, you'd rather bring up our Phillip to have a heart
of stone. Children should be taught to love people. They must be brought
up in that way--to have regard and respect for the most unfortunate
fellow beings--How that woman is perfumed. Women like that shouldn't be
permitted in the city.

YOUNG MAN [_to the Cocotte_]. I would buy you two beautiful air ships, a
half moon for week days and a star for Sundays. All my millions I would
lay at your feet. [_Raising his hand._] Waiter--another glass of water,
please.

COCOTTE. I'd like to kiss you, my little wild horse.

    [_Waiter dusts table, Right Center. Flirts with the Artist._]

    [_Child, Man and Wife sit at table Right Center._]

WAITER [_to the Townsman_]. What can I bring you?

TOWNSMAN. For the child, a glass of milk, but be sure it's well cooked.
[_To the Child._] A little glass of good ninni for my darling, a glass
of ninni from the big moo cow.

TOWNSMAN [_mocking her_]. And for me a glass of red wine--a little glass
of good red wine for the big moo-ox.

TOWNSWOMAN [_angry_]. That's just like you. Begrudge a glass of milk to
your own child--naturally--so long as you have your cigar and your
wine--

TOWNSMAN. My dear, I hereby give little Phillip permission to drink
three cows dry. And of my next week's wages, you may buy him a whole
herd of cows.

CHILD. I want chocolate! Chocolate, mama!

TOWNSMAN. You shall have it. As much as you want. Wouldn't you perhaps
like to have a glass of champagne, little Phillip, and a Henry Clay
cigar and a salad made of a big moo-chicken?

YOUNG MAN [_getting up, x to Center. Jumps up and runs to the Artist_].
Sir! Sir! This is unheard of. You've been drawing this lady all the
time. She is a respectable lady, do you understand? For all you know she
may be my wife.

ARTIST [_phlegmatically_]. More than that--for all I know she may be
your mother.

YOUNG MAN [_stammering_]. My dear sir--I must call you to account--what
do you mean by--

ARTIST. Why are you so excited? Isn't it a good likeness?

YOUNG MAN [_confused_]. Of course, it's a good likeness, that is--I ask
you, sir, how dare you to draw a picture of my bride?

TOWNSMAN. These young people are quarreling. You always bring me to
places like this. We can never go out together but there's a scandal.

COCOTTE [_who has drawn near and is examining the drawing_]. I like
that. I'd like to own the drawing.

ARTIST. My dear lady, if it would give you any pleasure....

COCOTTE. I couldn't think of taking it. [_To the boy._] Buy me the
picture. Sweetheart, will you buy it for me?

YOUNG MAN. I don't think much of it. You are far, far prettier.

COCOTTE. You won't refuse me this one little request. How much do you
ask for the picture?

ARTIST. I hadn't thought of selling it--but because it is such a good
likeness of you, ten francs. But you must promise that in return you
will sit for me again--[_With emphasis._] perhaps at my studio.
To-morrow at noon?

COCOTTE. Gladly! Very gladly! [_The young man pays for the sketch._]
Would you care to sit down and have something with us?

ARTIST. If your fiancé doesn't object?

YOUNG MAN [_coldly_]. Charmed! [_The three sit._]

THE CHILD. The chocolate is no good. I want some moo milk.

TOWNSMAN. In a minute, I'll take my moo stick and tan your moo hide.

AMERICAN. [_Enters leading a dog on a leash._] [_From Left x Center._]

BEGGAR [_sings_].

  The rich man his banquet hall
    Has everything I long for,
  The poor man gets the crumbs that fall,
    That's what I sing this song for.
  Kind sir, have pity while you can,
  Remember the old beggar man,
  The poor beggar man.

AMERICAN. [_Has listened to the entire song impassively._] Are you
through? Waiter, put a muzzle on this man. [_x to Table Right._]

TOWNSWOMAN. That is what I call an elegant man. I have always wanted you
to have a suit made like that. Ask him where he got it and what it cost.

TOWNSMAN. I couldn't ask an utter stranger what his clothes cost.

TOWNSWOMAN. Of course not, but if it was a woman you would have been
over there long ago.

CHILD. Mama, the bow-wow dog is biting me.

TOWNSMAN. My dear sir, your dog is biting my son.

AMERICAN. You're mistaken, madame. My dog has been carefully trained to
eat none other than boiled meat.

ARTIST [_to the Young Man_]. Pardon me for asking--but is the lady your
wife or your fiancé?

AMERICAN [_sits, puts his legs on the two extra chairs_]. Waiter!
Garçon! Bring me a quart of Cliquot, and bring my dog a menu card.

    [_At the word "Cliquot" the Cocotte looks up and begins to flirt
    with the American._]

CHILD. The bow-wow dog is making faces at me.

TOWNSMAN. Look here, sir, your dog is certainly about to bite my child.

AMERICAN [_lights his pipe_]. How much does your child cost?

TOWNSMAN. Cost! My child! Did you ever hear of such a thing? I want you
to understand that my child p--

AMERICAN. Waiter! Tell this woman not to shout so!--How much does your
child cost?

TOWNSMAN. My child costs--nothing! Do you understand?

AMERICAN. Well, your child costs nothing--my dog costs eight dollars.
Think that over--is your son a thoroughbred? My dog is of the purest
breed--think that over--if your son hurts my dog I'll hold you
responsible. Think that over. [_Fills his glass._]

COCOTTE. What do you think that man to be, little mouse?

YOUNG MAN. A full blooded American.

ARTIST. I should say he's a German who has spent two weeks in New York.

TOWNSMAN. Aristide, are you going to sit there and permit your
defenseless wife to be insulted like that?

TOWNSMAN. As long as you have your tongue, my dear, you are not
defenseless.

TOWNSWOMAN. It is your business to talk to him. [_Kisses the Child._]
My poor little Phillip! Your father is no man.

TOWNSMAN. I was before I got married. [_Crosses to the American._] Sir,
my name is Aristide Beaurepard.

AMERICAN. Is that my fault?

TOWNSMAN. I am the father of a family.

AMERICAN. I am very sorry for you, indeed.

TOWNSMAN. I have a wife and children--

AMERICAN. You have only yourself to blame.

TOWNSMAN. Your dog--

AMERICAN. I have no desire to discuss dogs with you. I don't believe you
know anything about thoroughbred dogs. Waiter, sit this man down in his
place.

TOWNSMAN. This is I must say, this is--

WAITER. Monsieur, you must not make a racket around you. This is a first
class establishment. A real prince once dined here, I would have you
understand. Come on now, if you please. [_Leads Townsman back to his
seat._]

TOWNSMAN [_sits unwillingly_]. Not a centime tip will that fellow get
from me. Not a centime.

AMERICAN. Waiter, Waiter, bring my dog a portion of liver, and not too
fat. And a roast potato.

BEGGAR. [_Coming down C._] [_Jumps up, cries out wildly._] I can't stand
any more. For eight days I have not had a warm morsel of food in my
stomach. I am not a human being any more. I'll kill myself. [_Runs to
the edge of the dock and jumps overboard._] [_The splash of the water is
heard. The Townswoman and the Waiter call "help, help!" Whereupon, from
every side a crowd collects so that the entire background is filled with
people staring into the water._]

TOWNSWOMAN. For God's sake he has thrown himself into the Seine. Oh,
God! Oh, God!

OMNES. He's in the river!

AMERICAN. [_At table Right._] What a noisy place this is.

    [_Townsman at center throws off his coat and is unbuttoning his
    vest when his wife seizes him._]

TOWNSWOMAN. [_Center._] [_Whimpering._] Aristide, remember you have a
wife and children.

TOWNSMAN. That is why I want to do it.

TOWNSWOMAN. Aristide, I'll jump in after you--as true as I live I'll
jump in after you.

TOWNSMAN. [_Slowly puts his coat on again._] Then I won't do it. [_Goes
with her into the crowd._]

A VOICE. Get the life buoy. [_Willing hands try to unloosen the life
buoy, but it sticks._]

ANOTHER VOICE. Let that life buoy alone. Don't you see the sign "Do not
touch"?

A MAN. The buoy is no good. It will not work.

ANOTHER MAN. Of course not. It's city property.

COCOTTE [_shuddering_]. I can't look at it. [_Comes back to her table._]

A WOMAN. Look! He's come up! Over there!

CHILD. I can't see.

TOWNSWOMAN. My little heart of gold [_to her husband_]. Why don't you
lift him up? Don't you hear that the child can't see? [_Townsman takes
the child on his shoulder._]

YOUNG MAN [_coming back to table_]. These people are utterly heartless.
It is revolting.

AMERICAN [_loudly_]. I'll bet twenty dollars he drowns. Who'll take the
bet? Twenty dollars.

YOUNG MAN. Are you a man or a beast?

AMERICAN. Young man, better shut your mouth. [_Fills his glass._]

YOUNG MAN. Does no one hear know the meaning of Altruism?

ARTIST. Altruism! Ha, ha! [_Laughs scornfully._] Love of one's neighbor.
God preserve mankind from Altruism!

COCOTTE. What do you mean? You are not in earnest?

ARTIST. In dead earnest. [_Some one in the crowd brings a boat hook and
reaches down into the river._]

AMERICAN. I'll bet twenty-five dollars that he doesn't drown--thirty
dollars! [_Disgustedly, seeing that no one takes him up._] Tightwads!

ARTIST. Life is like that. One man's success is another man's failure.
He who sacrifices himself for an idea is a hero. He who sacrifices
himself for a fellow man is a fool.

YOUNG MAN [_theatrically_]. No, it is the highest, the noblest of
instincts. That is why my heart bleeds when I see all these people stand
indifferently by while a fellow man is drowning. No one jumps in after
him--

AMERICAN. Jump in yourself, young man, jump in yourself.

YOUNG MAN [_center_]. It is different with me, I am with a lady--it
wouldn't be right.

AMERICAN. Nobody will bet. This is a hell of a bunch. They ought to see
one of our nigger lynchings. [_Strokes the dog._] Poor Molly! She is so
nervous. Things like this get her all excited.

    [_Two Policemen enter._]

FIRST POLICEMAN. Look at the mob. Something is liable to happen there.

SECOND POLICEMAN. Isn't it forbidden for such a mob to gather on the
dock?

FIRST POLICEMAN. Sure, it's against the law. Why shouldn't it be?

SECOND POLICEMAN [_shaking their heads_]. This is no place for us.
[_Exit Left._]

ARTIST [_to the Young Man_]. Does it begin to dawn on you that true love
of one's neighbor would not only be monotonous but unbearable as well.

YOUNG MAN. Out there a man is drowning--and you stand there moralizing.

ARTIST. Why not? We read a dozen suicides every day. [_x to Chair
Left._] Yet we go home and eat our dinner with undiminished relish. Why
then sentimentalize over a drowning beggar? I wouldn't rescue a man who
had fallen into the water much less one who had jumped in.

YOUNG MAN [_passionately_]. Sir--I despise you! [_Goes into the crowd._]

    [_A man has succeeded in prying up the life buoy, now he throws it
    into the water with the warning cry "Look out."_]

ARTIST. Love of one's neighbor is a mask. A mask that people wear to
hide from themselves their real faces.

AMERICAN [_x to Artist Left_]. No, I don't agree with you. I am strong
for love of one's neighbor. Indeed, the Bible tells us to love our
neighbor as ourselves. Oh, I am very strong for it. I go to Church on
Sundays in the U. S. A. I never touch a drop--in the U. S. A.

VOICE. The life buoy is sinking.

ANOTHER VOICE. That's why they call it a _life buoy_. [_Laughter._]

COCOTTE [_sympathetically_]. How interestingly you talk. I love
Americans.

AMERICAN. We have two kinds of neighborly love back home. Neighborly
love that makes for entertaining and dancing, and neighborly love that
you read about next day in the newspapers.

OMNES [_Workingman who has just entered._] [_Right._] What's the matter
here? [_Elbows his way through the crowd._] Make way there! Let me
through! [_Throws off coat, tightens his belt, spits in his hand and
jumps into the water._] [_Great excitement._]

YOUNG MAN [_center_]. [_Ecstatically._] A hero! A hero!

AMERICAN [_loudly but indifferently_]. I'll bet sixty dollars that both
of them drown!--Seventy! Seventy-five! [_Contemptuously._] I can't get a
bet around here. I'm going back to America.

    [_The Artist goes into the crowd._]

COCOTTE [_at table Left, alone with American_]. Going back so soon?

AMERICAN. As soon as I have seen Paris. Wouldn't you like to show me the
town? I'll meet you to-morrow at four in front of the Opera House.

COCOTTE. I'll be there. I like Americans.

THE MOB [_cheering_]. He's got him! Hurrah! [_The pole is
outstretched._]

AMERICAN. I'd like to know how much longer that waiter means to keep my
dog waiting for her order of liver. [_x to table Right._]

YOUNG MAN [_comes down to table, joyfully_]. He is saved; thank God he
is saved. Weren't you sorry at all when that poor wretch jumped into the
river?

AMERICAN. Young man, is it my river?

THE MOB [_cheering again_]. Hurrah! [_Great excitement._]

    [_The Workingman and the Beggar are dragged dripping out of the
    water. They help the Beggar to a chair._]

WORKINGMAN [_center_]. [_Shaking himself._] That was no easy job.

A WOMAN [_left, center_]. Take care what you are doing. You are wetting
my whole dress.

BEGGAR. [_Left._] [_Whimpering._] Oh!--Oh!--Oh!--

YOUNG MAN [_left_]. [_Shaking the Workingman's hand._] You are a noble
fellow. I saw how brave you were.

WORKINGMAN [_business like_]. Did you? Then give me your name and
address.

YOUNG MAN [_gives him a card_]. Jules Leboeof, Rue d'Hauteville.

WORKINGMAN. Who else saw it?

BEGGAR. Oh! Oh! Oh!

WORKINGMAN. Shut your mouth. Your turn comes next. Who else saw me save
him?

TOWNSMAN. [_R. C._] Aristide Beaurepard, Rue de Lagny, a14.

TOWNSMAN. Must you mix in everything? This is nothing to you. Do you
want to get in trouble? You didn't see a thing. Why you just want to get
in trouble? You didn't see a thing. Why you just this moment came. What
do you want the address for, eh?

WORKINGMAN. Do you think I am taking cold baths for my health? I want to
get a medal for life saving.

A MAN. You have a chance to get an award from the Carnegie fund for life
saving.

WORKINGMAN. Don't I know it. I read all about it in "Humanitie"
yesterday. Do you think I'd have jumped in the water otherwise?

    [_A crowd has collected around the Beggar._]

BEGGAR. O God! O God! I'm soaking wet.

AMERICAN [_cold bloodedly._] Isn't that surprising?

BEGGAR. I am freezing. I am freezing to death.

COCOTTE. Waiter, bring him a glass of brandy and charge it to me.
[_Waiter exit Right._]

CHILD [_whimpering_]. I am freezing too, Mama, I'm cold.

TOWNSWOMAN. My poor little Phillip. [_To her husband._] You never think
of bringing a coat for the child. There, my darling, you shall have a
cup of hot coffee right away.

CHILD. Coffee is pfui. I want brandy!

TOWNSMAN [_sternly_]. Brandy is not for children. You'll drink coffee.

TOWNSWOMAN. Who says brandy is not for children? You get the most
foolish ideas in your head. Hush, hush, my baby, you shall have some
brandy.

AMERICAN. They ought to offer a medal for the murder of certain kinds of
wives.

BEGGAR. Oh! [_Whimpering._] Oh, what a life I lead! What a life!

A MAN [_feeding sugar to the dog_].

BEGGAR. I wish I were dead. Why did they pull me out? I want to die.
What does life mean to me? What joy is there in life for me?

ARTIST. There will be less joy for you in death. [_Laughter._]

BEGGAR. If I were only young. If I only had my two strong arms again. I
never dreamed I would come to this. I never would have believed
it--Forty years ago I was a workingman, yes, forty years until an
accident--

WORKINGMAN. Were you a Union man, brother?

BEGGAR. Certainly--certainly. [_Guardedly._] That is, I wasn't exactly a
Union man but--

WORKINGMAN. What! Not a Union man. [_Rushes at him._]

TOWNSMAN. What do you want to do to that poor man?

WORKINGMAN. Throw him back in the river. [_He is held back._]

BEGGAR. Forty years I worked at the machine--and now I have nothing to
show for it but diseased lungs.

TOWNSWOMAN [_decisively_]. Aristide, we are going home. Tuberculosis is
contagious.

WORKINGMAN. That's capital for you. The capitalist sucks the workingman
dry and then turns him out on the streets to starve. But we, the people,
shall have our day. When first the uprising of the masses--

AMERICAN. Oh, don't make a speech.

BEGGAR [_whining_]. And my military medal is gone. I must have lost it
in the water. You can still see the saber wound on my arm.

YOUNG MAN. Thus the Fatherland repays its valiant sons.

BEGGAR. Nobody knows what I suffered for France. Twenty years I served
in the foreign legion.

AMERICAN. This fellow ought to be celebrating his two hundredth birthday
soon.

BEGGAR. O God--my poor wife--my poor children--the youngest is just four
months old--

COCOTTE. Poor soul, here are two francs for you. [_Other people take out
their purses._]

BEGGAR. God bless you mademoiselle. [_Holds out his hat for the other
alms._]

    [_During the excitement the Beggar passes through the crowd
    begging and singing._]

BEGGAR.

  The rich man in his banquet hall,
    Has everything I long for.
  The poor man gets the crumbs that fall,
  That's what I sing this song for.
    Help a poor man, sir.

AMERICAN [_cries out in sudden alarm._] My dog! My Molly! She has jumped
into the river! [_The crowd is still and listening to him._] She will
drown! [_Runs to the edge of the dock._] There she is--swimming. Oh, my
Molly! She cost me eighty dollars. [_Desperately._] A hundred dollars to
the man that saves my dog. A hundred dollars.

A MAN. Do you mean that?

AMERICAN [_deaf to everything but his anxiety_]. A hundred dollars.
Here, I'll put it up with the Waiter--a hundred dollars for my poor dog.

VOICES IN THE CROWD. A hundred dollars! Five hundred francs!

    [_The Crowd moves, pushing and gesticulating to the water's edge.
    One by one they jump into the Seine with a great splashing. Only
    the American, the Young Man, the Cocotte and the Beggar remain._]

AMERICAN. My poor Molly! She loved me like a son! Where is that pole?
[_Gets pole and thrusts with it in the water._]

A VOICE. Hey! Oh! My head!

AMERICAN [_beside himself_]. There--over there--the poor dog never had a
swimming lesson. [_Sees the Young Man._] What are you standing there
for? You with your precious neighborly love! A hundred and fifty dollars
for my dog! Jump in! Here is a deposit. [_Pushes money in his hand._]

YOUNG MAN [_makes ready to jump, but stops at the edge and turns
around_]. No! For a dog? Never!

AMERICAN. It was a thoroughbred dog. Jump! I'll give you two
hundred--I'll take you back to the U. S. A. with me--I'll pay for your
musical education--anything--if you save my dog.

YOUNG MAN. Will you really pay for my musical education if I save your
dog?

AMERICAN [_on knees by wall_]. Every instrument there is--piano,
piccolo, cornet, bass drum--only jump!--jump!

YOUNG MAN [_upon wall throws a farewell kiss to the Cocotte, takes a
heroic posture_]. With God! [_Makes a perfect dive into the river._]

AMERICAN [_at the end of the dock, brokenly_]. Poor Molly! [_Dries his
eyes with handkerchief._] I'll endow a home for poor Parisians if she is
brought back to me alive. [_To the Cocotte._] Oh, dear lady, I don't
know whether I shall be able to meet you to-morrow at the Avenue de
l'Opera. I have had a bereavement. [_Comes down to the pavement._] I
must telephone to the lifeguard station. [_Exits into the café._] Poor
Molly! All the insurance I carried on her is three thousand dollars.
[_Exit with Artist into café, Right._] [_There is a brief pause._]

BEGGAR [_angrily_]. Damn his heart; the dog tender! I hope he drowns
himself. Just as I was doing the best business in weeks that damn dog
had to spoil everything. The scabby beast.

COCOTTE. How often have I asked you not to use those vulgar expressions.

BEGGAR. What! Is that how a daughter should speak to her father? You
shameless wench! I'll teach you. I'll be lame again hereafter. For when
I am lame I carry a stick and a stick is a good thing to have in your
hand to teach a daughter respect. Ten francs; you know for the picture.
[_While he speaks he is taking off his coat and vest, showing a cork
life belt beneath._] That suicide trick is getting played out
anyhow--hardly 50 francs--and I had to pay 20 for the place. Come my
daughter, we will go home. [_Calls._] Waiter--Waiter!

COCOTTE. He doesn't hear you, papa--Waiter if you don't come at once we
shall go without paying. [_The Waiter enters with hat wet._]

BEGGAR [_slips him a gold piece_]. Waiter, call a taxicab.

    [_The Waiter takes the coin with a respectful bow, blows his taxi
    whistle. As the answering whistle of the taxicab and the honk of
    the horn are heard the Beggar and Cocotte exit ceremoniously and
    the curtain falls._


  [_Curtain._]



THE TENOR

  A COMEDY

  BY FRANK WEDEKIND
  TRANSLATED BY ANDRÉ TRIDON.


  Copyright, 1913, by André Tridon.
  All rights reserved.


  CHARACTERS

    GERARDO [_Wagnerian tenor, thirty-six years old_].
    HELEN MAROVA [_a beautiful dark-haired woman of twenty-five_].
    PROFESSOR DUHRING [_sixty, the typical "misunderstood genius"_].
    MISS ISABEL COEHURNE [_a blonde English girl of sixteen_].
    MULLER [_hotel manager_].
    A VALET.
    A BELL BOY.
    AN UNKNOWN WOMAN.

  TIME: _The present_.
  PLACE: _A city in Austria_.


  THE TENOR was first produced in America by the Washington Square
  Players. Applications for permission to perform THE TENOR must be
  addressed to André Tridon, 121 Madison Avenue, New York.



THE TENOR

A COMEDY BY FRANK WEDEKIND


    [SCENE: _A large hotel room. There are doors at the right and in
    the center, and at the left a window with heavy portières. Behind
    a grand piano at the right stands a Japanese screen which conceals
    the fireplace. There are several large trunks, open; bunches of
    flowers are all over the room; many bouquets are piled up on the
    piano._]


VALET [_entering from the adjoining room carrying an armful of clothes
which he proceeds to pack in one of the trunks. There is a knock at the
door_]. Come in.

BELL BOY. There is a lady who wants to know if the Maestro is in.

VALET. He isn't in. [_Exit Bell Boy. The Valet goes into the adjoining
room and returns with another armful of clothes. There is another knock
at the door. He puts the clothes on a chair and goes to the door._]
What's this again? [_He opens the door and some one hands him several
large bunches of flowers, which he places carefully on the piano; then
he goes back to his packing. There is another knock. He opens the door
and takes a handful of letters. He glances at the addresses and reads
aloud:_ "Mister Gerardo. Monsieur Gerardo. Gerardo Esquire. Signor
Gerardo." [_He drops the letters on a tray and resumes his packing._]

    [_Enter Gerardo._]

GERARDO. Haven't you finished packing yet? How much longer will it take
you?

VALET. I'll be through in a minute, sir.

GERARDO. Hurry! I still have things to do. Let me see. [_He reaches for
something in a trunk._] God Almighty! Don't you know how to fold a pair
of trousers? [_Taking the trousers out._] This is what you call packing!
Look here! You still have something to learn from me, after all. You
take the trousers like this.... You lock this up here.... Then you take
hold of these buttons. Watch these buttons here, that's the important
thing. Then--you pull them straight.... There.... There.... Then you
fold them here.... See.... Now these trousers would keep their shape for
a hundred years.

VALET [_respectfully, with downcast eyes_]. You must have been a tailor
once, sir.

GERARDO. What! Well, not exactly.... [_He gives the trousers to the
Valet._] Pack those up, but be quick about it. Now about that train. You
are sure this is the last one we can take?

VALET. It is the only one that gets you there in time, sir. The next
train does not reach Brussels until ten o'clock.

GERARDO. Well, then, we must catch this one. I will just have time to go
over the second act. Unless I go over that.... Now don't let anybody....
I am out to everybody.

VALET. All right, sir. There are some letters for you, sir.

GERARDO. I have seen them.

VALET. And flowers!

GERARDO. Yes. all right. [_He takes the letters from the tray and throws
them on a chair before the piano. Then he opens the letters, glances
over them with beaming eyes, crumples them up and throws them under the
chair._] Remember! I am out to everybody.

VALET. I know, sir. [_He locks the trunks._]

GERARDO. To everybody.

VALET. You needn't worry, sir. [_Giving him the trunk keys._] Here are
the keys, sir.

GERARDO [_pocketing the keys_]. To everybody!

VALET. The trunks will be taken down at once. [_He goes out._]

GERARDO [_looking at his watch_]. Forty minutes. [_He pulls the score of
"Tristan" from underneath the flowers on the piano and walks up and down
humming._] "_Isolde! Geliebte! Bist du mein? Hab' ich dich wieder? Darf
ich dich fassen?_" [_He clears his throat, strikes a chord on the piano
and starts again._] "_Isolde! Geliebte! Bist du mein? Hab' ich dich
wieder?..._" [_He clears his throat._] The air is dead here. [_He
sings._] "_Isolde! Geliebte...._" It's oppressive here. Let's have a
little fresh air. [_He goes to the window at the left and fumbles for
the curtain cord._] Where is the thing? On the other side! Here! [_He
pulls the cord and throws his head back with an annoyed expression when
he sees Miss Coeurne._]

MISS COEURNE [_in three-quarter length skirt, her blonde hair down her
back, holding a bunch of red roses; she speaks with an English accent
and looks straight at Gerardo_]. Oh, please don't send me away.

GERARDO. What else can I do? God knows, I haven't asked you to come
here. Do not take it badly, dear young lady, but I have to sing
to-morrow night in Brussels. I must confess, I hoped I would have this
half-hour to myself. I had just given positive orders not to let any
one, whoever it might be, come up to my rooms.

MISS COEURNE [_coming down stage_]. Don't send me away. I heard you
yesterday in "Tannhäuser," and I was just bringing you these roses,
and--

GERARDO. And--and what?

MISS COEURNE. And myself.... I don't know whether you understand me.

GERARDO [_holding the back of a chair; he hesitates, then shakes his
head._] Who are you?

MISS COEURNE. My name is Miss Coeurne.

GERARDO. Yes.... Well?

MISS COEURNE. I am very silly.

GERARDO. I know. Come here, my dear girl. [_He sits down in an armchair
and she stands before him._] Let's have a good earnest talk, such as you
have never had in your life--and seem to need. An artist like
myself--don't misunderstand me; you are--how old are you?

MISS COEURNE. Twenty-two.

GERARDO. You are sixteen or perhaps seventeen. You make yourself a
little older so as to appear more--tempting. Well? Yes, you are very
silly. It is really none of my business, as an artist, to cure you of
your silliness.... Don't take this badly.... Now then! Why are you
staring away like this?

MISS COEURNE. I said I was very silly, because I thought you Germans
liked that in a young girl.

GERARDO. I am not a German, but just the same....

MISS COEURNE. What! I am not as silly as all that.

GERARDO. Now look here, my dear girl--you have your tennis court, your
skating club; you have your riding class, your dances; you have all a
young girl can wish for. What on earth made you come to me?

MISS COEURNE. Because all those things are awful, and they bore me to
death.

GERARDO. I will not dispute that. Personally, I must tell you, I know
life from an entirely different side. But, my child, I am a man; I am
thirty-six. The time will come when you, too, will claim a fuller
existence. Wait another two years and there will be some one for you,
and then you won't need to--hide yourself behind curtains, in my room,
in the room of a man who--never asked you, and whom you don't know any
better than--the whole continent of Europe knows him--in order to look
at life from his--wonderful point of view. [_Miss Coeurne sighs
deeply._] Now then.... Many thanks from the bottom of my heart for your
roses. [_He presses her hand._] Will this do for to-day?

MISS COEURNE. I had never in all my life thought of a man, until I saw
you on the stage last night in "Tannhäuser." And I promise you--

GERARDO. Oh, don't promise me anything, my child. What good could your
promise do me? The burden of it would all fall upon you. You see, I am
talking to you as lovingly as the most loving father could. Be thankful
to God that with your recklessness you haven't fallen into the hands of
another artist. [_He presses her hand again._] Let this be a lesson to
you and never try it again.

MISS COEURNE [_holding her handkerchief to her face but shedding no
tears_]. Am I so homely?

GERARDO. Homely! Not homely, but young and indiscreet. [_He rises
nervously, goes to the right, comes back, puts his arm around her waist
and takes her hand._] Listen to me, child. You are not homely because I
have to be a singer, because I have to be an artist. Don't misunderstand
me, but I can't see why I should simply, because I am an artist, have to
assure you that I appreciate your youthful freshness and beauty. It is a
question of time. Two hundred, maybe three hundred, nice, lovely girls
of your age saw me last night in the rôle of Tannhäuser. Now if every
one of those girls made the same demands upon me which you are
making--what would become of my singing? What would become of my voice?
What would become of my art?

    [_Miss Coeurne sinks into a seat, covers her face and weeps._]

GERARDO [_leaning over the back of her chair, in a friendly tone_]. It
is a crime for you, child, to weep over the fact that you are still so
young. Your whole life is ahead of you. Is it my fault if you fell in
love with me? They all do. That is what I am for. Now won't you be a
good girl and let me, for the few minutes I have left, prepare myself
for to-morrow's appearance?

MISS COEURNE [_rising and drying her tears_]. I can't believe that any
other girl would have acted the way I have.

GERARDO [_leading her to the door_]. No, dear child.

MISS COEURNE [_with sobs in her voice_]. At least, not if--

GERARDO. If my valet had stood before the door.

MISS COEURNE. If--

GERARDO. If the girl had been as beautiful and youthfully fresh as you.

MISS COEURNE. If--

GERARDO. If she had heard me only once in "Tannhäuser."

MISS COEURNE [_indignant_]. If she were as respectable as I am!

GERARDO [_pointing to the piano_]. Before saying good-by to me, child,
have a look at all those flowers. May this be a warning to you in case
you feel tempted again to fall in love with a singer. See how fresh they
all are. And I have to let them wither, dry up, or I give them to the
porter. And look at those letters. [_He takes a handful of them from a
tray._] I don't know any of those women. Don't worry; I leave them all
to their fate. What else could I do? But I'll wager with you that every
one of your lovely young friends sent in her little note.

MISS COEURNE. Well, I promise not to do it again, not to hide myself
behind your curtains. But don't send me away.

GERARDO. My time, my time, dear child. If I were not on the point of
taking a train! I have already told you, I am very sorry for you. But my
train leaves in twenty-five minutes. What do you expect?

MISS COEURNE. A kiss.

GERARDO [_stiffening up_]. From me?

MISS COEURNE. Yes.

GERARDO [_holding her around the waist and looking very serious_]. You
rob Art of its dignity, my child. I do not wish to appear an unfeeling
brute, and I am going to give you my picture. Give me your word that
after that you will leave me.

MISS COEURNE. Yes.

GERARDO. Good. [_He sits at the table and autographs one of his
pictures._] You should try to become interested in the operas themselves
instead of the men who sing them. You would probably derive much greater
enjoyment.

MISS COEURNE [_to herself_]. I am too young yet.

GERARDO. Sacrifice yourself to music. [_He comes down stage and gives
her the picture._] Don't see in me a famous tenor but a mere tool in the
hands of a noble master. Look at all the married women among your
acquaintances. All Wagnerians. Study Wagner's works; learn to understand
his _leit motifs_. That will save you from further foolishness.

MISS COEURNE. I thank you.

    [_Gerardo leads her out and rings the bell. He takes up his piano
    score again. There is a knock at the door._]

VALET [_coming in out of breath_]. Yes, sir.

GERARDO. Are you standing at the door?

VALET. Not just now, sir.

GERARDO. Of course not! Be sure not to let anybody come up here.

VALET. There were three ladies who asked for you, sir.

GERARDO. Don't you dare to let any one of them come up, whatever she may
tell you.

VALET. And then here are some more letters.

GERARDO. Oh, all right. [_The Valet places the letters on a tray._] And
don't you dare to let any one come up.

VALET [_at the door_]. No, sir.

GERARDO. Even if she offers to settle a fortune upon you.

VALET. No, sir. [_He goes out._]

GERARDO [_singing_]. _"Isolde! Geliebte! Bist du...."_ Well, if women
don't get tired of me--Only the world is so full of them; and I am only
one man. Every one has his burden to carry. [_He strikes a chord on the
piano._]

    [_Prof. Duhring, dressed all in black, with a long white beard, a
    red hooked nose, gold spectacles, Prince Albert coat and silk hat,
    an opera score under his arm, enters without knocking._]

GERARDO. What do you want?

DUHRING. Maestro--I--I--have--an opera.

GERARDO. How did you get in?

DUHRING. I have been watching for two hours for a chance to run up the
stairs unnoticed.

GERARDO. But, my dear good man, I have no time.

DUHRING. Oh, I will not play the whole opera for you.

GERARDO. I haven't the time. My train leaves in forty minutes.

DUHRING. You haven't the time! What should I say? You are thirty and
successful. You have your whole life to live yet. Just listen to your
part in my opera. You promised to listen to it when you came to this
city.

GERARDO. What is the use? I am not a free agent--

DUHRING. Please! Please! Please! Maestro! I stand before you an old man,
ready to fall on my knees before you; an old man who has never cared for
anything in the world but his art. For fifty years I have been a willing
victim to the tyranny of art--

GERARDO [_interrupting him_]. Yes, I understand; I understand, but--

DUHRING [_excitedly_]. No, you don't understand. You could not
understand. How could you, the favorite of fortune, you understand what
fifty years of bootless work means? But I will try to make you
understand it. You see, I am too old to take my own life. People who do
that do it at twenty-five, and I let the time pass by. I must now drag
along to the end of my days. Please, sir, please don't let these moments
pass in vain for me, even if you have to lose a day thereby, a week
even. This is in your own interest. A week ago, when you first came for
your special appearances, you promised to let me play my opera for you.
I have come here every day since; either you had a rehearsal or a woman
caller. And now you are on the point of going away. You have only to say
one word: I will sing the part of Hermann--and they will produce my
opera. You will then thank God for my insistance.... Of course you sing
Siegfried, you sing Florestan--but you have no rôle like Hermann in your
repertoire, no rôle better suited to your middle register.

    [_Gerardo leans against the mantelpiece; while drumming on the top
    with his right hand, he discovers something behind the screen; he
    suddenly stretches out his arm and pulls out a woman in a gray
    gown, whom he leads out of the room through the middle door; after
    closing the door, he turns to Duhring._]

GERARDO. Oh, are you still there?

DUHRING [_undisturbed_]. This opera is good; it is dramatic; it is a
financial success. I can show you letters from Liszt, from Wagner, from
Rubinstein, in which they consider me as a superior man. And why hasn't
any opera ever been produced? Because I am not crying wares on the
market-place. And then you know our directors: they will revive ten dead
men before they give a live man a chance. Their walls are well guarded.
At thirty you are in. At sixty I am still out. One word from you and I
shall be in, too. This is why I have come, and [_raising his voice_] if
you are not an unfeeling brute, if success has not killed in you the
last spark of artistic sympathy, you will not refuse to hear my work.

GERARDO. I will give you an answer in a week. I will go over your opera.
Let me have it.

DUHRING. No, I am too old, Maestro. In a week, in what you call a week,
I shall be dead and buried. In a week--that is what they all say; and
then they keep it for years.

GERARDO. I am very sorry but--

DUHRING. To-morrow perhaps you will be on your knees before me; you will
boast of knowing me ... and to-day, in your sordid lust for gold, you
cannot even spare the half-hour which would mean the breaking of my
fetters.

GERARDO. No, really, I have only thirty-five minutes left, and unless I
go over a few passages.... You know I sing Tristan in Brussels to-morrow
night. [_He pulls out his watch._] I haven't even half an hour....

DUHRING. Half an hour.... Oh, then, let me play to you your big aria at
the end of the first act. [_He attempts to sit down on the piano bench.
Gerardo restrains him._]

GERARDO. Now, frankly, my dear sir.... I am a singer; I am not a critic.
If you wish to have your opera produced, address yourself to those
gentlemen who are paid to know what is good and what is not. People
scorn and ignore my opinions in such matters as completely as they
appreciate and admire my singing.

DUHRING. My dear Maestro, you may take it from me that I myself attach
no importance whatever to your judgment. What do I care about your
opinions? I know you tenors; I would like to play my score for you so
that you could say: "I would like to sing the rôle of Hermann."

GERARDO. If you only knew how many things I would like to do and which I
have to renounce, and how many things I must do for which I do not care
in the least! Half a million a year does not repay me for the many joys
of life which I must sacrifice for the sake of my profession. I am not a
free man. But you were a free man all your life. Why didn't you go to
the market-place and cry your wares?

DUHRING. Oh, the vulgarity of it.... I have tried it a hundred times. I
am a composer, Maestro, and nothing more.

GERARDO. By which you mean that you have exhausted all your strength in
the writing of your operas and kept none of it to secure their
production.

DUHRING. That is true.

GERARDO. The composers I know reverse the process. They get their operas
written somehow and then spend all their strength in an effort to get
them produced.

DUHRING. That is the type of artist I despise.

GERARDO. Well, I despise the type of man that wastes his life in useless
endeavor. What have you done in those fifty years of struggle, for
yourself or for the world? Fifty years of useless struggle! That should
convince the worst blockhead of the impracticability of his dreams. What
have you done with your life? You have wasted it shamefully. If I had
wasted my life as you have wasted yours--of course I am only speaking
for myself--I don't think I should have the courage to look any one in
the face.

DUHRING. I am not doing it for myself; I am doing it for my art.

GERARDO [_scornfully_]. Art, my dear man! Let me tell you that art is
quite different from what the papers tell us it is.

DUHRING. To me it is the highest thing in the world.

GERARDO. You may believe that, but nobody else does. We artists are
merely a luxury for the use of the _bourgeoisie_. When I stand there on
the stage I feel absolutely certain that not one solitary human being in
the audience takes the slightest interest in what we, the artists, are
doing. If they did, how could they listen to "Die Walküre," for
instance? Why, it is an indecent story which could not be mentioned
anywhere in polite society. And yet, when I sing Siegmund, the most
puritanical mothers bring their fourteen-year-old daughters to hear me.
This, you see, is the meaning of whatever you call art. This is what you
have sacrificed fifty years of your life to. Find out how many people
came to hear me sing and how many came to gape at me as they would at
the Emperor of China if he should turn up here to-morrow. Do you know
what the artistic wants of the public consist in? To applaud, to send
flowers, to have a subject for conversation, to see and be seen. They
pay me half a million, but then I make business for hundreds of cabbies,
writers, dressmakers, restaurant keepers. It keeps money circulating; it
keeps blood running. It gets girls engaged, spinsters married, wives
tempted, old cronies supplied with gossip; a woman loses her pocketbook
in the crowd, a fellow becomes insane during the performance. Doctors,
lawyers made.... [_He coughs._] And with this I must sing Tristan in
Brussels to-morrow night! I tell you all this, not out of vanity, but to
cure you of your delusions. The measure of a man's worth is the world's
opinion of him, not the inner belief which one finally adopts after
brooding over it for years. Don't imagine that you are a misunderstood
genius. There are no misunderstood geniuses.

DUHRING. Let me just play to you the first scene of th second act. A
park landscape as in the painting, "Embarkation for the Isle of
Cythera."

GERARDO. I repeat to you I have no time. And furthermore, since Wagner's
death the need for new operas has never been felt by any one. If you
come with new music, you set against yourself all the music schools, the
artists, the public. If you want to succeed just steal enough out of
Wagner's works to make up a whole opera. Why should I cudgel my brains
with your new music when I have cudgeled them cruelly with the old?

DUHRING [_holding out his trembling hand_]. I am afraid I am too old to
learn how to steal. Unless one begins very young, one can never learn
it.

GERARDO. Don't feel hurt. My dear sir--if I could.... The thought of how
you have to struggle.... I happen to have received some five hundred
marks more than my fee....

DUHRING [_turning to the door_]. Don't! Please don't! Do not say that. I
did not try to show you my opera in order to work a touch. No, I think
too much of this child of my brain.... No, Maestro.

    [_He goes out through the center door._]

GERARDO [_following him to the door_]. I beg your pardon.... Pleased to
have met you.

    [_He closes the door and sinks into an armchair. A voice is heard
    outside: "I will not let that man step in my way." Helen rushes
    into the room followed by the Valet. She is an unusually beautiful
    young woman in street dress._]

HELEN. That man stood there to prevent me from seeing you!

GERARDO. Helen!

HELEN. You knew that I would come to see you.

VALET [_rubbing his cheek_]. I did all I could, sir, but this lady
actually--

HELEN. Yes, I slapped his face.

GERARDO. Helen!

HELEN. Should I have let him insult me?

GERARDO [_to the Valet_]. Please leave us.

    [_The Valet goes out._]

HELEN [_placing her muff on a chair_]. I can no longer live without
you. Either you take me with you or I will kill myself.

GERARDO. Helen!

HELEN. Yes, kill myself. A day like yesterday, without even seeing
you--no, I could not live through that again. I am not strong enough. I
beseech you, Oscar, take me with you.

GERARDO. I couldn't.

HELEN. You could if you wanted to. You can't leave me without killing
me. These are not mere words. This isn't a threat. It is a fact: I will
die if I can no longer have you. You must take me with you--it is your
duty--if only for a short time.

GERARDO. I give you my word of honor, Helen, I can't--I give you my
word.

HELEN. You must, Oscar. Whether you can or not, you must bear the
consequences of your acts. I love life, but to me life and you are one
and the same thing. Take me with you, Oscar, if you don't want to have
my blood on your hands.

GERARDO. Do you remember what I said to you the first day we were
together here?

HELEN. I remember, but what good does that do me?

GERARDO. I said that there couldn't be any question of love between us.

HELEN. I can't help that. I didn't know you then. I never knew what a
man could be to me until I met you. You know very well that it would
come to this, otherwise you wouldn't have obliged me to promise not to
make you a parting scene.

GERARDO. I simply cannot take you with me.

HELEN. Oh, God! I knew you would say that! I knew it when I came here.
That's what you say to every woman. And I am just one of a hundred. I
know it. But, Oscar, I am lovesick; I am dying of love. This is your
work, and you can save me without any sacrifice on your part, without
assuming any burden. Why can't you do it?

GERARDO [_very slowly_]. Because my contract forbids me to marry or to
travel in the company of a woman.

HELEN [_disturbed_]. What can prevent you?

GERARDO. My contract.

HELEN. You cannot....

GERARDO. I cannot marry until my contract expires.

HELEN. And you cannot....

GERARDO. I cannot travel in the company of a woman.

HELEN. That is incredible. And whom in the world should it concern?

GERARDO. My manager.

HELEN. Your manager! What business is it of his?

GERARDO. It is precisely his business.

HELEN. Is it perhaps because it might--affect your voice?

GERARDO. Yes.

HELEN. That is preposterous. Does it affect your voice?

    [_Gerardo chuckles._]

HELEN. Does your manager believe that nonsense?

GERARDO. No, he doesn't.

HELEN. This is beyond me. I can't understand how a decent man could sign
such a contract.

GERARDO. I am an artist first and a man next.

HELEN. Yes, that's what you are--a great artist--an eminent artist.
Can't you understand how much I must love you? You are the first man
whose superiority I have felt and whom I desired to please, and you
despise me for it. I have bitten my lips many a time not to let you
suspect how much you meant to me; I was so afraid I might bore you.
Yesterday, however, put me in a state of mind which no woman can endure.
If I didn't love you so insanely, Oscar, you would think more of me.
That is the terrible thing about you--that you must scorn a woman who
thinks the world of you.

GERARDO. Helen!

HELEN. Your contract! Don't use your contract as a weapon to murder me
with. Let me go with you, Oscar. You will see if your manager ever
mentions a breach of contract. He would not do such a thing. I know men.
And if he says a word, it will be time then for me to die.

GERARDO. We have no right to do that, Helen. You are just as little free
to follow me, as I am to shoulder such a responsibility. I don't belong
to myself; I belong to my art.

HELEN. Oh, leave your art alone. What do I care about your art? Has God
created a man like you to make a puppet of himself every night? You
should be ashamed of it instead of boasting of it. You see, I overlooked
the fact that you were merely an artist. What wouldn't I overlook for a
god like you? Even if you were a convict, Oscar, my feelings would be
the same. I would lie in the dust at your feet and beg for your pity. I
would face death as I am facing it now.

GERARDO [_laughing_]. Facing death, Helen! Women who are endowed with
your gifts for enjoying life don't make away with themselves. You know
even better than I do the value of life.

HELEN [_dreamily_]. Oscar, I didn't say that I would shoot myself. When
did I say that? Where would I find the courage to do that? I only said
that I will die, if you don't take me with you. I will die as I would of
an illness, for I only live when I am with you. I can live without my
home, without my children, but not without you, Oscar. I cannot live
without you.

GERARDO. Helen, if you don't calm yourself.... You put me in an awful
position.... I have only ten minutes left.... I can't explain in court
that your excitement made me break my contract.... I can only give you
ten minutes.... If you don't calm yourself in that time.... I can't
leave you alone in this condition. Think all you have at stake!

HELEN. As though I had anything else at stake!

GERARDO. You can lose your position in society.

HELEN. I can lose you!

GERARDO. And your family?

HELEN. I care for no one but you.

GERARDO. But I cannot be yours.

HELEN. Then I have nothing to lose but my life.

GERARDO. Your children!

HELEN. Who has taken me from them, Oscar? Who has taken me from my
children?

GERARDO. Did I make any advances to you?

HELEN [_passionately_]. No, no. I have thrown myself at you, and would
throw myself at you again. Neither my husband nor my children could keep
me back. When I die, at least I will have lived; thanks to you, Oscar! I
thank you, Oscar, for revealing me to myself. I thank you for that.

GERARDO. Helen, calm yourself and listen to me.

HELEN. Yes, yes, for ten minutes.

GERARDO. Listen to me. [_Both sit down on the divan._]

HELEN [_staring at him_]. Yes, I thank you for it.

GERARDO. Helen!

HELEN. I don't even ask you to love me. Let me only breathe the air you
breathe.

GERARDO[_trying to be calm_]. Helen--a man of my type cannot be swayed
by any of the bourgeois ideas. I have known society women in every
country of the world. Some made parting scenes to me, but at least they
all knew what they owed to their position. This is the first time in my
life that I have witnessed such an outburst of passion.... Helen, the
temptation comes to me daily to step with some woman into an idyllic
Arcadia. But every human being has his duties; you have your duties as I
have mine, and the call of duty is the highest thing in the world....

HELEN. I know better than you do what the highest duty is.

GERARDO. What, then? Your love for me? That's what they all say.
Whatever a woman has set her heart on winning is to her good; whatever
crosses her plans is evil. It is the fault of our playwrights. To draw
full houses they set the world upside down, and when a woman abandons
her children and her family to follow her instincts they call that--oh,
broad-mindedness. I personally wouldn't mind living the way turtle doves
live. But since I am a part of this world I must obey my duty first.
Then whenever the opportunity arises I quaff of the cup of joy. Whoever
refuses to do his duty has no right to make any demands upon another
fellow being.

HELEN [_staring absent-mindedly_]. That does not bring the dead back to
life.

GERARDO [_nervously_]. Helen, I will give you back your life. I will
give you back what you have sacrificed for me. For God's sake take it.
What does it come to, after all? Helen, how can a woman lower herself to
that point? Where is your pride? What am I in the eyes of the world? A
man who makes a puppet of himself every night! Helen, are you going to
kill yourself for a man whom hundreds of women loved before you, whom
hundreds of women will love after you without letting their feelings
disturb their life one second? Will you, by shedding your warm red
blood, make yourself ridiculous before God and the world?

HELEN [_looking away from him_]. I know I am asking a good deal,
but--what else can I do?

GERARDO. Helen, you said I should bear the consequences of my acts. Will
you reproach for not refusing to receive you when you first came here,
ostensibly to ask me to try your voice? What can a man do in such a
case? You are the beauty of this town. Either I would be known as the
bear among artists who denies himself to all women callers, or I might
have received you and pretended that I didn't understand what you meant
and then pass for a fool. Or the very first day I might have talked to
you as frankly as I am talking now. Dangerous business. You would have
called me a conceited idiot. Tell me, Helen--what else could I do?

HELEN [_staring at him with, imploring eyes, shuddering and making an
effort to speak_]. O God! O God! Oscar, what would you say if to-morrow
I should go and be as happy with another man as I have been with you?
Oscar--what would you say?

GERARDO [_after a silence_]. Nothing. [_He looks at his watch._] Helen--

HELEN. Oscar! [_She kneels before him._] For the last time, I implore
you.... You don't know what you are doing.... It isn't your fault--but
don't let me die.... Save me--save me!

GERARDO [_raising her up_]. Helen, I am not such a wonderful man. How
many men have you known? The more men you come to know, the lower all
men will fall in your estimation. When you know men better you will not
take your life for any one of them. You will not think any more of them
than I do of women.

HELEN. I am not like you in that respect.

GERARDO. I speak earnestly, Helen. We don't fall in love with one person
or another; we fall in love with our type, which we find everywhere in
the world if we only look sharply enough.

HELEN. And when we meet our type, are we sure then of being loved again?

GERARDO [_angrily_]. You have no right to complain of your husband. Was
any girl ever compelled to marry against her will? That is all rot. It
is only the women who have sold themselves for certain material
advantages and then try to dodge their obligations who try to make us
believe that nonsense.

HELEN [_smiling_]. They break their contracts.

GERARDO [_pounding his chest_]. When I sell myself, at least I am honest
about it.

HELEN. Isn't love honest?

GERARDO. No! Love is a beastly bourgeois virtue. Love is the last refuge
of the mollycoddle, of the coward. In my world every man has his actual
value, and when two human beings make up a pact they know exactly what
to expect from each other. Love has nothing to do with it, either.

HELEN. Won't you lead me into your world, then?

GERARDO. Helen, will you compromise the happiness of your life and the
happiness of your dear ones for just a few days' pleasure?

HELEN. No.

GERARDO [_much relieved_]. Will you promise me to go home quietly now?

HELEN. Yes.

GERARDO. And will you promise me that you will not die....

HELEN. Yes.

GERARDO. You promise me that?

HELEN. Yes.

GERARDO. And you promise me to fulfill your duties as mother and--as
wife?

HELEN. Yes.

GERARDO. Helen!

HELEN. Yes. What else do you want? I will promise anything.

GERARDO. And now may I go away in peace?

HELEN [_rising_]. Yes.

GERARDO. A last kiss?

HELEN. Yes, yes, yes. [_They kiss passionately._]

GERARDO. In a year I am booked again to sing here, Helen.

HELEN. In a year! Oh, I am glad!

GERARDO [_tenderly_]. Helen!

    [_Helen presses his hand, takes a revolver out of her muff, shoots
    herself and falls._]

GERARDO. Helen! [_He totters and collapses in an armchair._]

BELL BOY [_rushing in_]. My God! Mr. Gerardo! [_Gerardo remains
motionless; the Bell Boy rushes toward Helen._]

GERARDO [_jumping up, running to the door and colliding with the manager
of the hotel_]. Send for the police! I must be arrested! If I went away
now I should be a brute, and if I stay I break my contract. I still have
[_looking at his watch_] one minute and ten seconds.

MANAGER. Fred, run and get a policeman.

BELL BOY. All right, sir.

MANAGER. Be quick about it. [_To Gerardo._] Don't take it too hard, sir.
Those things happen once in a while.

GERARDO [_kneeling before Helen's body and taking her hand_]. Helen!...
She still lives--she still lives! If I am arrested I am not wilfully
breaking my contract.... And my trunks? Is the carriage at the door?

MANAGER. It has been waiting twenty minutes, Mr. Gerardo. [_He opens the
door for the porter, who takes down one of the trunks._]

GERARDO [_bending over her_]. Helen! [_To himself._] Well, after all....
[_To Muller._] Have you called a doctor?

MANAGER. Yes, we had the doctor called at once. He will be here at any
minute.

GERARDO [_holding her under the arms_]. Helen! Don't you know me any
more? Helen! The doctor will be here right away, Helen. This is your
Oscar.

BELL BOY [_appearing in the door at the center_]. Can't find any
policeman, sir.

GERARDO [_letting Helen's body drop back_]. Well, if I can't get
arrested, that settles it. I must catch that train and sing in Brussels
to-morrow night. [_He takes up his score and runs out through the center
door, bumping against several chairs._]


  [_Curtain._]



A GOOD WOMAN

  A FARCE

  BY ARNOLD BENNETT


  CHARACTERS

    JAMES BRETT [_a Clerk in the War Office_, 33].
    GERALD O'MARA [_a Civil Engineer_, 24].
    ROSAMUND FIFE [_a Spinster and a Lecturer on Cookery_, 28].


  Reprinted from "Polite Farces," published by George H. Doran Company,
  by special arrangement with Mr. Arnold Bennett.



A GOOD WOMAN

A FARCE BY ARNOLD BENNETT


    [SCENE: _Rosamund's Flat; the drawing-room. The apartment is
    plainly furnished. There is a screen in the corner of the room
    furthest from the door. It is 9 A. M. Rosamund is seated alone at
    a table. She wears a neat travelling-dress, with a plain straw
    hat. Her gloves lie on a chair. A small portable desk full of
    papers is open before her. She gazes straight in front of her,
    smiling vaguely. With a start she recovers from her daydreams, and
    rushing to the looking-glass, inspects her features therein. Then
    she looks at her watch._]


ROSAMUND. Three hours yet! I'm a fool [_with decision. She sits down
again, and idly picks up a paper out of the desk. The door opens,
unceremoniously but quietly, and James enters. The two stare at each
other, James wearing a conciliatory smile_].

ROSAMUND. You appalling creature!

JAMES. I couldn't help it, I simply couldn't help it.

ROSAMUND. Do you know this is the very height and summit of indelicacy?

JAMES. I was obliged to come.

ROSAMUND. If I had any relations--

JAMES. Which you haven't.

ROSAMUND. I say _if_ I had any relations--

JAMES. I say _which_ you haven't.

ROSAMUND. Never mind, it is a safe rule for unattached women always to
behave as if they had relations, especially female relations whether
they have any or not. My remark is, that if I had any relations they
would be absolutely scandalized by this atrocious conduct of yours.

JAMES. What have I done?

ROSAMUND. Can you ask? Here are you, and here am I. We are to be married
to-day at twelve o'clock. The ceremony has not taken place, and yet you
are found on my premises. You must surely be aware that on the day of
the wedding the parties--yes, the "parties," that is the word--should on
no account see each other till they see each other in church.

JAMES. But since we are to be married at a registry office, does the
rule apply?

ROSAMUND. Undoubtedly.

JAMES. Then I must apologize. My excuse is that I am not up in these
minute details of circumspection; you see I have been married so seldom.

ROSAMUND. Evidently. [_A pause, during which James at last ventures to
approach the middle of the room._] Now you must go back home, and we'll
pretend we haven't seen each other.

JAMES. Never, Rosamund! That would be acting a lie. And I couldn't dream
of getting married with a lie on my lips. It would be so unusual. No; we
have sinned, or rather I have sinned, on this occasion. I will continue
to sin--openly, brazenly. Come here, my dove. A bird in the hand is
worth two under a bushel. [_He assumes an attitude of entreaty, and,
leaving her chair, Rosamund goes towards him. They exchange an ardent
kiss._]

ROSAMUND [_quietly submissive_]. I'm awfully busy, you know, Jim.

JAMES. I will assist you in your little duties, dearest, and then I will
accompany you to the sacred ed--to the registry office. Now, what were
you doing? [_She sits down, and he puts a chair for himself close beside
her._]

ROSAMUND. You are singularly unlike yourself this morning, dearest.

JAMES. Nervous tension, my angel. I should have deemed it impossible
that an _employé_ of the War Office could experience the marvelous and
exquisite sensations now agitating my heart. But tell me, what are you
doing with these papers?

ROSAMUND. Well, I was just going to look through them and see if they
contained anything of a remarkable or valuable nature. You see, I hadn't
anything to occupy myself with.

JAMES. Was 'oo bored, waiting for the timey-pimey to come?

ROSAMUND [_hands caressing_]. 'Iss, little pet was bored, she was. Was
Mr. Pet lonely this morning? Couldn't he keep away from his little
cooky-lecturer? He should see his little cooky-lecturer.

JAMES. And that reminds me, hadn't we better lunch in the train instead
of at Willis's? That will give us more time?

ROSAMUND. Horrid greedy piggywiggy! Perhaps he will be satisfied if Mrs.
Pet agrees to lunch both at Willis's and in the train?

JAMES. Yes. Only piggywiggy doesn't want to trespass on Mrs. Pet's good
nature. Let piggywiggy look at the papers. [_He takes up a paper from
the desk._]

ROSAMUND [_a little seriously_]. No, Jimmy. I don't think we'll go
through them. Perhaps it wouldn't be wise. Just let's destroy them.
[_Takes papers from his hand and drops them in desk._]

JAMES [_sternly_]. When you have been the wife of a War Office clerk for
a week you will know that papers ought never to be destroyed. Now I come
to think, it is not only my right but my duty to examine this secret
_dossier_. Who knows--[_Takes up at random another document, which
proves to be a postcard. Reads._] "Shall come to-morrow night. Thine,
Gerald."

ROSAMUND [_after a startled shriek of consternation_]. There! There!
You've done it, first time! [_She begins to think, with knitted brows._]

JAMES. Does this highly suspicious postcard point to some--some episode
in your past of which you have deemed it advisable to keep me in
ignorance? If so, I seek not to inquire. I forgive you--I take you,
Rosamund, as you are!

ROSAMUND [_reflective, not heeding his remark_]. I had absolutely
forgotten the whole affair, absolutely. [_Smiles a little. Aside._]
Suppose he should come! [_To James._] Jim, I think I had better tell you
all about Gerald. It will interest you. Besides, there is no knowing
what may happen.

JAMES. As I have said, I seek not to inquire. [_Stiffly._] Nor do I
imagine that this matter, probably some childish entanglement, would
interest me.

ROSAMUND. Oh, wouldn't it! Jim, don't be absurd. You know perfectly well
you are dying to hear.

JAMES. Very well, save my life, then, at the least expense of words. To
begin with, who is this Gerald--"thine," thine own Gerald?

ROSAMUND. Don't you remember Gerald O'Mara? You met him at the Stokes's,
I feel sure. You know--the young engineer.

JAMES. Oh! _That_ ass!

ROSAMUND. He isn't an ass. He's a very clever boy.

JAMES. For the sake of argument and dispatch, agreed! Went out to Cyprus
or somewhere, didn't he, to build a bridge, or make a dock, or dig a
well, or something of that kind?

ROSAMUND [_nodding_]. Now, listen, I'll tell you all about it. [_Settles
herself for a long narration._] Four years ago poor, dear Gerald was
madly in love with me. He was twenty and I was twenty-four. Keep calm--I
felt like his aunt. Don't forget I was awfully pretty in those days.
Well, he was so tremendously in love that in order to keep him from
destroying himself--of course, I knew he was going out to Cyprus--I sort
of pretended to be sympathetic. I simply _had_ to; Irishmen are so
passionate. And he was very nice. And I barely knew you then. Well, the
time approached for him to leave for Cyprus, and two days before the
ship sailed he sent me that very postcard that by pure chance you picked
up.

JAMES. He should have written a letter.

ROSAMUND. Oh! I expect he couldn't wait. He was so impulsive. Well, on
the night before he left England he came here and proposed to me. I
remember I was awfully tired and queer. I had been giving a lecture in
the afternoon on "How to Pickle Pork," and the practical demonstration
had been rather smelly. However, the proposal braced me up. It was the
first I had had--that year. Well, I was so sorry for him that I
couldn't say "No" outright. It would have been too brutal. He might have
killed himself on the spot, and spoilt this carpet, which, by the way,
was new then. So I said, "Look here, Gerald--"

JAMES. You called him "Gerald"?

ROSAMUND. _Rather!_ "Look here, Gerald," I said; "you are going to
Cyprus for four years. If your feeling towards me is what you think it
is, come back to me at the end of those four years, and I will then give
you an answer." Of course I felt absolutely sure that in the intervening
period he would fall in and out of love half a dozen times at least.

JAMES. Of course, half a dozen times at least; probably seven. What did
he say in reply?

ROSAMUND. He agreed with all the seriousness in the world. "On this day
four years hence," he said, standing just there [_pointing_], "I will
return for your answer. And in the meantime I will live only for you."
That was what he said--his very words.

JAMES. And a most touching speech, too! And then?

ROSAMUND. We shook hands, and he tore himself away, stifling a sob.
Don't forget, he was a boy.

JAMES. Have the four years expired?

ROSAMUND. What is the date of that postcard? Let me see it. [_Snatches
it, and smiles at the handwriting pensively._] July 4th--four years ago.

JAMES. Then it's over. He's not coming. To-day is July 5th.

ROSAMUND. But yesterday was Sunday. He wouldn't come on Sunday. He was
always very particular and nice.

JAMES. Do you mean to imply that you think he will come to-day and
demand from you an affirmative? A moment ago you gave me to understand
that in your opinion he would have--er--other affairs to attend to.

ROSAMUND. Yes. I did think so at the time. But now--now I have a kind of
idea that he may come, that after all he may have remained faithful. You
know I was maddeningly pretty then, and he had my photograph.

JAMES. Tell me, have you corresponded?

ROSAMUND. No, I expressly forbade it.

JAMES. Ah!

ROSAMUND. But still, I have a premonition he may come.

JAMES [_assuming a pugnacious pose_]. If he does, I will attend to him.

ROSAMUND. Gerald was a terrible fighter. [_A resounding knock is heard
at the door. Both start violently, and look at each other in silence.
Rosamund goes to the door and opens it._]

ROSAMUND [_with an unsteady laugh of relief_]. Only the postman with a
letter. [_She returns to her seat._] No, I don't expect he will come,
really. [_Puts letter idly on table. Another knock still louder. Renewed
start._]

ROSAMUND. Now that _is_ he, I'm positive. He always knocked like that.
Just fancy. After four years! Jim, just take the chair behind that
screen for a bit. I _must_ hide you.

JAMES. No, thanks! The screen dodge is a trifle _too_ frayed at the
edges.

ROSAMUND. Only for a minute. It would be _such_ fun.

JAMES. No, thanks. [_Another knock._]

ROSAMUND [_with forced sweetness_]. Oh, very well, then....

JAMES. Oh, well, of course, if you take it in that way--[_He proceeds to
a chair behind screen, which does not, however, hide him from the
audience._]

ROSAMUND [_smiles his reward_]. I'll explain it all right. [_Loudly._]
Come in! [_Enter Gerald O'Mara._]

GERALD. So you are in! [_Hastens across room to shake hands._]

ROSAMUND. Oh, yes, I am in. Gerald, how are you? I must say you look
tolerably well. [_They sit down._]

GERALD. Oh, I'm pretty fit, thanks. Had the most amazing time in spite
of the climate. And you? Rosie, you haven't changed a little bit. How's
the cookery trade getting along? Are you still showing people how to
concoct French dinners out of old bones and a sardine tin?

ROSAMUND. Certainly. Only I can do it without the bones now. You see,
the science has progressed while you've been stagnating in Cyprus.

GERALD. Stagnating is the word. You wouldn't believe that climate!

ROSAMUND. What! Not had nice weather? What a shame! I thought it was
tremendously sunshiny in Cyprus.

GERALD. Yes, that's just what it is, 97° in the shade when it doesn't
happen to be pouring with malarial rain. We started a little golf club
at Nicosia, and laid out a nine-hole course. But the balls used to melt.
So we had to alter the rules, keep the balls in an ice-box, and take a
fresh one at every hole. Think of that!

ROSAMUND. My poor boy! But I suppose there were compensations? You
referred to "an amazing time."

GERALD. Yes, there were compensations. And that reminds me, I want you
to come out and lunch with me at the Savoy. I've got something awfully
important to ask you. In fact, that's what I've come for.

ROSAMUND. Sorry I can't, Gerald. The fact is, I've got something awfully
important myself just about lunch time.

GERALD. Oh, yours can wait. Look here, I've ordered the lunch. I made
sure you'd come. [_Rosamund shakes her head._] Why can't you? It's not
cooking, is it?

ROSAMUND. Only a goose.

GERALD. What goose?

ROSAMUND. Well--my own, and somebody else's. Listen, Gerald. Had you not
better ask me this awfully important question now? No time like the
present.

GERALD. I can always talk easier, especially on delicate topics, with a
pint of something handy. But if you positively won't come, I'll get it
off my chest now. The fact is, Rosie, I'm in love.

ROSAMUND. With whom?

GERALD. Ah! That's just what I want you to tell me.

ROSAMUND [_suddenly starting_]. Gerald! what is that dreadful thing
sticking out of your pocket, and pointing right at me?

GERALD. That? That's my revolver. Always carry them in Cyprus, you know.
Plenty of sport there.

ROSAMUND [_breathing again_]. Kindly take it out of your pocket and put
it on the table. Then if it does go off it will go off into something
less valuable than a cookery-lecturer.

GERALD [_laughingly obeying her_]. There. If anything happens it will
happen to the screen. Now, Rosie, I'm in love, and I desire that you
should tell me whom I'm in love with. There's a magnificent girl in
Cyprus, daughter of the Superintendent of Police--

ROSAMUND. Name?

GERALD. Evelyn. Age nineteen. I tell you I was absolutely gone on her.

ROSAMUND. Symptoms?

GERALD. Well--er--whenever her name was mentioned I blushed
terrifically. Of course, that was only one symptom.... Then I met a girl
on the home steamer--no father or mother. An orphan, you know, awfully
interesting.

ROSAMUND. Name?

GERALD. Madge. Nice name, isn't it? [_Rosamund nods._] I don't mind
telling you, I was considerably struck by her--still am, in fact.

ROSAMUND. Symptoms?

GERALD. Oh!... Let me see, I never think of her without turning
absolutely pale. I suppose it's what they call "pale with passion."
Notice it?

ROSAMUND [_somewhat coldly_]. It seems to me the situation amounts to
this. There are two girls. One is named Evelyn, and the thought of her
makes you blush. The other is named Madge, and the thought of her makes
you turn pale. You fancy yourself in love, and you wish me to decide for
you whether it is Madge or Evelyn who agitates your breast the more
deeply.

GERALD. That's not exactly the way to put it, Rosie. You take a fellow
up too soon. Of course I must tell you lots more yet. You should hear
Evelyn play the "Moonlight Sonata." It's the most marvelous thing....
And then Madge's eyes! The way that girl can look at a fellow.... I'm
telling you all these things, you know, Rosie, because I've always
looked up to you as an elder sister.

ROSAMUND [_after a pause, during which she gazes into his face_]. I
suppose it was in my character of your elder sister, that you put a
certain question to me four years ago last night?

GERALD [_staggered; pulls himself together for a great resolve; after a
long pause_]. Rosie! I never thought afterwards you'd take it seriously.
I forgot it all. I was only a boy then. [_Speaking quicker and
quicker._] But I see clearly now. I never _could_ withstand you. It's
all rot about Evelyn and Madge. It's you I'm in love with; and I never
guessed it! Rosie!... [_Rushes to her and impetuously flings his arms
around her neck._]

JAMES [_who, during the foregoing scene, has been full of uneasy
gestures; leaping with incredible swiftness from the shelter of the
screen_]. Sir!

ROSAMUND [_pushing Gerald quickly away_]. Gerald!

JAMES. May I inquire, sir, what is the precise significance of this
attitudinising? [_Gerald has scarcely yet abandoned his amorous pose,
but now does so quickly_]. Are we in the middle of a scene from "Romeo
and Juliet," or is this 9:30 A. M. in the nineteenth century? If Miss
Fife had played the "Moonlight Sonata" to you, or looked at you as Madge
does, there might perhaps have been some shadow of an excuse for your
extraordinary and infamous conduct. But since she has performed neither
of these feats of skill, I fail to grasp--I say I fail to grasp--er--

GERALD [_slowly recovering from an amazement which has rendered him
mute_]. Rosie, a man concealed in your apartment! But perhaps it is the
piano-tuner. I am willing to believe the best.

ROSAMUND. Let me introduce Mr. James Brett, my future husband. Jim, this
is Gerald.

JAMES. I have gathered as much. [_The men bow stiffly._]

ROSAMUND [_dreamily_]. Poor, poor Gerald! [_Her tone is full of feeling.
James is evidently deeply affected by it. He walks calmly and steadily
to the table and picks up the revolver._]

GERALD. Sir, that tool is mine.

JAMES. Sir, the fact remains that it is an engine of destruction, and
that I intend to use it. Rosamund, the tone in which you uttered those
three words, "Poor, poor Gerald!" convinces me, a keen observer of
symptoms, that I no longer possess your love. Without your love, life to
me is meaningless. I object to anything meaningless--even a word. I
shall therefore venture to deprive myself of life. Good-by! [_To
Gerald._] Sir, I may see you later. [_Raises the revolver to his
temples._]

ROSAMUND [_appealing to Gerald to interfere_]. Gerald.

GERALD. Mr. Brett, I repeat that that revolver is mine. It would be a
serious breach of good manners if you used it without my consent, a
social solecism of which I believe you, as a friend of Miss Fife's, to
be absolutely incapable. Still, as the instrument happens to be in your
hand, you may use it--but not on yourself. Have the goodness, sir, to
aim at me. I could not permit myself to stand in the way of another's
happiness, as I should do if I continued to exist. At the same time I
have conscientious objections to suicide. You will therefore do me a
service by aiming straight. Above all things, don't hit Miss Fife. I
merely mention it because I perceive that you are unaccustomed to the
use of firearms. [_Folds his arms._]

JAMES. Rosamund, _do_ you love me?

ROSAMUND. My Jim!

JAMES [_deeply moved_]. The possessive pronoun convinces me that you do.
[_Smiling blandly._] Sir, I will grant your most reasonable demand.
[_Aims at Gerald._]

ROSAMUND [_half shrieking_]. I don't love you if you shoot Gerald.

JAMES. But, my dear, this is irrational. He has asked me to shoot him,
and I have as good as promised to do so.

ROSAMUND [_entreating_]. James, in two hours we are to be married....
Think of the complications.

GERALD. Married! To-day! Then I withdraw my request.

JAMES. Yes; perhaps it will be as well. [_Lowers revolver._]

GERALD. I have never yet knowingly asked a friend, even an acquaintance,
to shoot me on his wedding-day, and I will not begin now. Moreover, now
I come to think of it, the revolver wasn't loaded. Mr. Brett, I
inadvertently put you in a ridiculous position. I apologize.

JAMES. I accept the apology. [_The general tension slackens. Both the
men begin to whistle gently, in the effort after unconcern._]

ROSAMUND. Jim, will you oblige me by putting that revolver down
somewhere. I know it isn't loaded; but so many people have been killed
by guns that weren't loaded that I should feel safer.... [_He puts it
down on the table._] Thank you!

JAMES [_picking up letter_]. By the way, here's that letter that came
just now. Aren't you going to open it? The writing seems to me to be
something like Lottie Dickinson's.

ROSAMUND [_taking the letter_]. It isn't Lottie's; it's her sister's.
[_Stares at envelope._] I know what it is. I _know_ what it is. Lottie
is ill, or dead, or something, and can't come and be a witness at the
wedding. I'm sure it's that. Now, if she's dead we can't _be_ married
to-day; it wouldn't be decent. And it's frightfully unlucky to have a
wedding postponed. Oh, but there isn't a black border on the envelope,
so she can't be _dead_. And yet perhaps it was so sudden they hadn't
time to buy mourning stationery! This is the result of your coming here
this morning. I felt sure something would happen. Didn't I tell you so?

JAMES. No, you didn't, my dear. But why don't you open the letter?

ROSAMUND. I am opening it as fast as I can. [_Reads it hurriedly._]
There! I said so! Lottie fell off her bicycle last night, and broke her
ankle--won't be able to stir for a fortnight--in great pain--hopes it
won't _inconvenience_ us!

JAMES. Inconvenience! I must say I regard it as very thoughtless of
Lottie to go bicycling the very night before our wedding. Where did she
fall off?

ROSAMUND. Sloane Street.

JAMES. That makes it positively criminal. She always falls off in Sloane
Street. She makes a regular practice of it. I have noticed it before.

ROSAMUND. Perhaps she did it on purpose.

JAMES. Not a doubt of it!

ROSAMUND. She doesn't want us to get married!

JAMES. I have sometimes suspected that she had a certain tenderness for
me. [_Endeavoring to look meek._]

ROSAMUND. The cat!

JAMES. By no means. Cats are never sympathetic. She is. Let us be just
before we are jealous.

ROSAMUND. Jealous! My dear James! Have you noticed how her skirts hang?

JAMES. Hang her skirts!

ROSAMUND. You wish to defend her?

JAMES. On the contrary; it was I who first accused her. [_Gerald, to
avoid the approaching storm, seeks the shelter of the screen, sits down,
and taking some paper from his pocket begins thoughtfully to write._]

ROSAMUND. My dear James, let me advise you to keep quite, quite calm.
You are a little bit upset.

JAMES. I am a perfect cucumber. But I can hear you breathing.

ROSAMUND. If you are a cucumber, you are a very indelicate cucumber. I'm
not breathing more than is necessary to sustain life.

JAMES. Yes, you are; and what's more you'll cry in a minute if you don't
take care. You're getting worked up.

ROSAMUND. No, I shan't. [_Sits down and cries._]

JAMES. What did I tell you? Now perhaps you will inform me what we are
quarreling about, because I haven't the least idea.

ROSAMUND [_through her sobs_]. I do think it's horrid of Lottie. We
can't be married with one witness. And I didn't want to be married at a
registry office at all.

JAMES. My pet, we can easily get another witness. As for the registry
office, it was yourself who proposed it, as a way out of a difficulty.
I'm High and you're Low--

ROSAMUND. I'm not Low; I'm Broad, or else Evangelical.

JAMES [_beginning calmly again_]. I'm High and you're Broad, and there
was a serious question about candles and a genuflexion, and so we
decided on the registry office, which, after all, is much cheaper.

ROSAMUND [_drying her tears, and putting on a saintly expression_].
Well, anyhow, James, we will consider our engagement at an end.

JAMES. This extraordinary tiff has lasted long enough, Rosie. Come and
be kissed.

ROSAMUND [_with increased saintliness_]. You mistake me, James. I am not
quarreling. I am not angry.

JAMES. Then you have ceased to love me?

ROSAMUND. I adore you passionately. But we can never marry. Do you not
perceive the warnings against such a course? First of all you come
here--drawn by some mysterious, sinister impulse--in breach of all
etiquette. That was a Sign.

JAMES. A sign of what?

ROSAMUND. Evil. Then you find that postcard, to remind me of a forgotten
episode.

JAMES. Damn the postcard! I wish I'd never picked it up.

ROSAMUND. Hush! Then comes this letter about Lottie.

JAMES. Damn that, too!

ROSAMUND [_sighs_]. Then Gerald arrives.

JAMES. Damn him, too! By the way, where is he?

GERALD [_coming out from behind the screen_]. Sir, if you want to
influence my future state by means of a blasphemous expletive, let me
beg you to do it when ladies are not present. There are certain prayers
which should only be uttered in the smoking-room. [_The two men stab
each other with their eyes._]

JAMES. I respectfully maintain, Mr. O'Mara, that you had no business to
call on my future wife within three hours of her wedding, and throw her
into such a condition of alarm and unrest that she doesn't know whether
she is going to get married or not.

GERALD. Sir! How in the name of Heaven was I to guess--

ROSAMUND [_rising, with an imperative gesture_]. Stop! Sit down, both.
James [_who hesitates_], this is the last request I shall ever make of
you. [_He sits_]. Let me speak. Long ago, from a mistaken motive of
kindness, I gave this poor boy [_pointing to Gerald_] to understand that
I loved him; that any rate I should love him in time. Supported by that
assurance, he existed for four years through the climatic terrors of a
distant isle. I, pampered with all the superfluities of civilization,
forgot this noble youth in his exile. I fell selfishly in love. I
promised to marry ... while he, with nothing to assuage the rigors--

JAMES. Pardon me, there was Evelyn's "Moonlight Sonata," not to mention
Madge's eyes.

ROSAMUND. You jest, James, but the jest is untimely. Has he not himself
said that these doubtless excellent young women were in fact nothing to
him, that it was _my_ image which he kept steadfastly in his heart?

GERALD. Ye--es, of course, Rosie.

ROSAMUND [_chiefly to James_]. The sight of this poor youth fills me
with sorrow and compunction and shame. For it reminds me that four years
ago I lied to him.

GERALD. It was awfully good of you, you know.

ROSAMUND. That is beside the point. At an earlier period of this unhappy
morning, James, you asseverated that you could not dream of getting
married with a lie on your lips. Neither can I. James, I love you to
madness. [_Takes his inert hand, shakes it, and drops it again._]
Good-by, James! Henceforth we shall be strangers. My duty is towards
Gerald.

GERALD. But if you love _him_?

ROSAMUND. With a good woman, conscience comes first, love second. In
time I shall learn to love _you_. I was always quick at lessons. Gerald,
take me. It is the only way by which I can purge my lips of the lie
uttered four years ago. [_Puts her hands on Gerald's shoulders._]

JAMES. In about three-quarters of an hour you will regret this, Rosamund
Fife.

ROSAMUND. One never regrets a good action.

GERALD. Oh! well! I say.... [_inarticulate with embarrassment_].

ROSAMUND [_after a pause_]. James, we are waiting.

JAMES. What for?

ROSAMUND. For you to go.

JAMES. Don't mind me. You forget that I am in the War Office, and
accustomed to surprising situations.

GERALD. Look here, Rosie. It's awfully good of you, and you're doing me
a frightfully kind turn; but I can't accept it, you know. It wouldn't
do. Kindness spoils my character.

JAMES. Yes, and think of the shock to the noble youth.

GERALD. I couldn't permit such a sacrifice.

ROSAMUND. To a good woman life should be one long sacrifice.

GERALD. Yes, that's all very well, and I tell you, Rosie, I'm awfully
obliged to you. Of course I'm desperately in love with you. That goes
without saying. But I also must sacrifice myself. The fact is ...
there's Madge....

ROSAMUND. Well?

GERALD. Well, you know what a place a steamer is, especially in calm,
warm weather. I'm afraid I've rather led her to expect.... The fact is,
while you and Mr. Brett were having your little discussion just now, I
employed the time in scribbling out a bit of a letter to her, and I
rather fancy that I've struck one or two deuced good ideas in the
proposal line. How's this for a novelty: "My dear Miss Madge, you cannot
fail to have noticed from my behavior in your presence that I admire you
tremendously?" Rather a neat beginning, eh?

ROSAMUND. But you said you loved me.

GERALD. Oh, well, so I do. You see I only state that I "admire" her. All
the same I feel I'm sort of bound to her, ... you see how I'm fixed. I
should much prefer, of course....

JAMES. To a good man life should be one long sacrifice.

GERALD. Exactly, sir.

ROSAMUND [_steadying herself and approaching James_]. Jim, my sacrifice
is over. It was a terrible ordeal, and nothing but a strict sense of
duty could have supported me through such a trying crisis. I am yours.
Lead me to the altar. I trust Gerald may be happy with this person named
Madge.

JAMES. The flame of your love has not faltered?

ROSAMUND. Ah, no!

JAMES. Well, if my own particular flame hadn't been fairly robust, the
recent draughts might have knocked it about a bit. You have no more
sacrifices in immediate view?... [_She looks at him in a certain
marvelous way, and he suddenly swoops down and kisses her._] To the
altar! March! Dash; we shall want another witness.

GERALD. Couldn't I serve?

ROSAMUND. You're sure it wouldn't be too much for your feelings?

GERALD. I should enjoy it.... I mean I shan't mind very much. Let us
therefore start. If we're too soon you can watch the process at work on
others, and learn how to comport yourselves. By the way, honeymoon?

JAMES. Paris. Charing Cross 1:30. Dine at Dover.

GERALD. Then you shall eat that lunch I have ordered at the Savoy.

ROSAMUND. Er--talking of lunch, as I'm hostess here, perhaps I should
ask you men if you'd like a drink.

JAMES AND GERALD [_looking hopefully at each other_]. Well, yes.

ROSAMUND. I have some beautiful lemonade.

JAMES AND GERALD [_still looking at each other, but with a different
expression_]. Oh, that will be delightful! [_Lemonade and glasses
produced._]

GERALD. I drink to the happy pair.

ROSAMUND [_a little sinister_]. And I--to Madge.

JAMES. And I--to a good woman--Mrs. Pet [_looking at her fixedly_]. All
men like a good woman, but she shouldn't be too good--it's a strain on
the system. [_General consumption of lemonade, the men bravely
swallowing it down, Rosamund rests her head on James's shoulder._]

ROSAMUND. It occurs to me, Gerald, you only ordered lunch for two at the
Savoy.

GERALD. Well, that's right. By that time you and James, if I may call
him so, will be one, and me makes two.


  [_Curtain._]



THE LITTLE STONE HOUSE

  A PLAY

  BY GEORGE CALDERON


  Copyright, 1913, by Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd.
  All rights reserved.


  THE LITTLE STONE HOUSE is founded on a story by the same author,
  published anonymously some years ago in _Temple Bar_.

  The agents for amateur rights in this play are Messrs. Samuel
  French, 28 West 38th Street, New York, and Joseph Williams, Ltd.,
  32 Great Portland Street, London, from whom a license to play it
  in public must be obtained.

  It was first performed for the Stage Society at the Aldwych
  Theatre, London, January 29, 1911, with the following cast:

    PRASKÓVYA, _a lodging-house keeper_      _Mrs. Saba Raleigh_
    VARVÁRA, _her servant_                   _Miss Eily Malyon_
    ASTÉRYI, _a lodger_                      _Mr. Franklin Dyall_
    FOMÁ, _a lodger_                         _Mr. Stephen T. Ewart_
    SPIRIDÓN, _a stonemason_                 _Mr. Leon M. Lion_
    A STRANGER                               _Mr. O. P. Heggie_
    A CORPORAL                               _Mr. E. Cresfan_

  Produced by MR. KENELM FOSS.

  SCENE: _Small provincial town in Russia._


  Reprinted by permission of, and special arrangement with, Messrs.
  Sidgwick and Jackson, Ltd., publishers of the English edition.



THE LITTLE STONE HOUSE

A PLAY BY GEORGE CALDERON


    [_Praskóvya's sitting-room. Street door in porch and a curtainless
    window at the back. It is night; the light of an oil-lamp in the
    street dimly shows snow-covered houses and falling snow. The room
    is plainly furnished: a bed, a curtain on a cord, some books,
    eikons on a shelf in the corner with a wick in a red glass bowl
    burning before them, paper flowers, and Easter eggs on strings. A
    photograph of a man of twenty hangs by the eikons. There are doors
    to kitchen and to the lodgers' rooms._

    _Varvára is discovered sitting by a lamp darning stockings._

    _There is an atmosphere of silence, solitude, and Russian
    monotony. The clock ticks. A man is seen passing in the street;
    his feet make no sound on the snowy ground. There is the sound of
    a concertina and a man who laughs in the distance out of doors.
    Then silence again._

    _Enter Astéryi, stout and lazy; gray hair thrown untidily back, a
    rough beard. He is in slippers and dirty dressing-gown, with a big
    case full of Russian cigarettes in his pocket._]


AST. Is Praskóvya Petróvna not at home?

VAR. [_rising_]. She is not at home, Astéryi Ivanovitch. She has gone to
Vespers at St. Pantaléimon's in the Marsh. It is the festival of the
translation of St. Pantaléimon's relics. [_Varvára sits again. Astéryi
walks to and fro smoking a cigarette._] Will you not have your game of
patience as usual?

AST. Without Praskóvya Petróvna?

VAR. She would be sorry if you missed your game because she was late.
You can play again when she returns; she likes to watch you.

AST. Very well.

    [_Varvára gets a pack of cards. Astéryi sits at a table at one
    side and plays._]

VAR. Shall I prepare the samovar?

AST. Not yet; I will wait. How greasy these cards are [_laying out a
patience_].

VAR. No wonder, Astéryi Ivanovitch. It is two years since you bought
this pack.

A VOICE [_without_]. Varvára! Varvára! There is no water in my jug.

AST. There is one of the lodgers calling you.

VAR. It is the schoolmaster.

AST. Better not keep him waiting; he is an angry man.

VAR. I will go. Excuse me, please.

    [_Exit Varvára. The clock ticks again. Astéryi pauses and
    meditates, then murmurs, "Oh, Hóspodi!" as if in surprise at being
    so terribly bored. The concertina plays a few notes. A knock at
    the street door._]

AST. Who's there? Come in, come in!

    [_Enter Spiridón, a man with a cringing, crafty manner, in a
    sheepskin coat with snow on it. He stands by the door, facing the
    eikon, crossing himself with large gestures and bowing very low
    towards it._]

SPIR. [_looking round_]. Good-day, sir, good-day. [_Crossing himself
again._] May the holy saints preserve all in this house.

AST. Ah! it's you, Spiridón?

SPIR. Yes, sir. It is Spiridón the stonemason.

AST. What brings you here, Spiridón?

SPIR. Is Praskóvya Petróvna not at home?

AST. No, she has gone to Vespers at St. Pantaléimon's in the Marsh.

SPIR. The service is late to-night.

AST. Yes.... You are a hard man, Spiridón.

SPIR. Me, sir!

AST. And you lose money by your hardness. Praskóvya Petróvna is a poor
woman. For years she has been saving up money to build a stone house
over the grave of her son in the Tróitski Cemetery. You say that you
will build it for 500 roubles, but you ask too much. By starving herself
and pinching in every way she has saved up 400 roubles at last, and if
you were a wise man you would accept it. For see, she is old; if she
starve herself to save up another 100 roubles she will be dead before
she has got it; her money will be sent back to her village or it will go
into the pocket of some official, and you will not have the tomb-house
to build at all.

SPIR. I have thought of all these things, Astéryi Ivanovitch, since you
last spoke to me about it. And I said to myself: Astéryi Ivanovitch is
perhaps right; it is not only Praskóvya Petróvna who is old; I myself am
old also, and may die before she has saved up money enough. But it is
very hard to work and be underpaid. Good Valdai stone is expensive and
hard to cut, and workmen nowadays ask for unholy wages. Still, I said to
myself, a tomb-house for her son--it is a God-fearing work: and I have
resolved to make the sacrifice. I have come to tell her I will consent
to build it for 400 roubles.

AST. You have done rightly. You are an honest man, and God and St.
Nicholas will perhaps save your soul.

    [_Enter Fomá in cap and great-coat from the door to the lodgers'
    rooms._]

FOMÁ. Good-evening, Astéryi Ivanovitch. Is Praskóvya not at home?

AST. No, she is at Vespers.

FOMÁ. I come in and find my stove smoking. [_Taking of his coat._] I
wished to ask her permission to sit here awhile to escape a headache.
Who is this? Ah, Spiridón. And by what miracle does Astéryi Ivanovitch
hope that God and St. Nicholas will save your soul?

AST. He has consented to build Praskóvya Petróvna the tomb-house over
Sasha's grave for 400 roubles instead of 500.

FOMÁ. That is good! She will be glad to hear the news, and shake hands
on the bargain, and christen the earnest-money with vodka.

SPIR. The earnest-money? Ah no, sir, there can be no earnest-money. The
whole sum of money must be paid at once. I am a poor man. I must pay the
quarryman for the stone; my workmen cannot live on air.

AST. If she has the money she will pay you.

FOMÁ. Well, if there is to be no earnest-money, at least we will have
the vodka. Vodka is always good.

AST. [_to Spiridón_]. Sit down and wait till she returns. She will not
be long.

SPIR. No, no; I will come again in an hour. I have to go to my
brother-in-law two streets away. [_Crossing himself before the eikons._]
I will come again as I return.

    [_The tap of drums in the street._]

AST. Why are they beating drums?

FOMÁ. It is a patrol passing.

SPIR. The soldiers are very watchful to-day.

FOMÁ. It is because the Empress comes this way to-morrow on her journey
to Smolensk.

SPIR. They have arrested many suspicious people. All those who have no
passports are being sent away to Siberia.

FOMÁ. Ah! poor creatures! [_A patrol of soldiers passes the window
quietly_].

SPIR. Why should you say "poor creatures"? If they were honest men they
would not be without passports. Good-evening.

FOMÁ. Wait till they have gone.

SPIR. We honest men have nothing to fear from them. Good-evening. I will
return again in an hour. [_Exit Spiridón._]

FOMÁ. How glad Praskóvya will be.

AST. Say nothing of this to any one. We will keep it as a surprise.

    [_Enter Varvára._]

FOMÁ. Varvára, my pretty child, fetch the bottle of vodka from my room.

VAR. Vodka in here? Praskóvya Petróvna will be angry.

FOMÁ. No, she will not be angry; she will be glad. [_Exit Varvára._] Do
you play patience here every night?

AST. Every night for more than twenty years.

FOMÁ. What is it called?

AST. It is called the Wolf!

FOMÁ. Does it ever come out?

AST. It has come out twice. The first time I found a purse in the street
which somebody had lost. The second time the man above me at the office
died, and I got his place.

FOMÁ. It brings good luck then?

AST. To me at least.

FOMÁ. How glad Praskóvya Petróvna will be!

    [_Enter Varvára with vodka bottle, which she sets on a table; no
    one drinks from it yet._]

VAR. Do you not want to drink tea?

FOMÁ. Very much, you rogue.

VAR. Then I will set the samovar for both of you in here. [_She gets out
tumblers, lemon and sugar._]

AST. I did wrong in moving the seven.

FOMÁ. Put it back then.

AST. It is too late. Once it has been moved, it must not be put back.

    [_Enter Praskóvya from the street hurriedly with a lantern._]

PRAS. [_crossing herself_]. Hóspodi Bózhe moy!

VAR. [_running to her, frightened_]. Have you seen him again?

PRAS. [_agitated_]. I do not know. There seemed to be men standing
everywhere in the shadows.... Good-evening, Fomá Ilyitch, good-evening,
Astéryi Ivanovitch.

    [_Varvára goes out, and brings in the samovar._]

FOMÁ. I have been making myself at home; my stove smoked.

PRAS. Sit down, sit down! What ceremony! Why should you not be here? And
vodka too? What is the vodka for?

AST. I will tell you when I have finished my patience. [_They all drink
tea._]

PRAS. So you are playing already.

AST. If it comes out, the good luck that it brings shall be for you!

PRAS. For me? [_They all watch Astéryi playing._] The knave goes on the
queen. [_A pause._]

FOMÁ. That is unfortunate.

VAR. You should not have moved the ten. [_A pause._]

AST. That will be better. [_A pause._]

PRAS. How brightly the eikon lamp burns before the portrait of my boy.

VAR. It does indeed.

PRAS. It is the new fire from the Candlemas taper.

FOMÁ. It is the new oil that makes it burn brightly.

PRAS. [_crossing herself_]. Nonsense! it is the new fire.

FOMÁ. Did ever one hear such stuff? She put out the lamp at Candlemas,
and lighted it anew from the taper which she brought home from the
midnight service, from the new fire struck by the priest with flint and
steel; and now she thinks that is the reason why it burns so brightly.

VAR. Is that not so then, Astéryi Ivanovitch?

AST. Oh, Fomá Ilyitch is a chemist; he can tell you what fire is made
of.

FOMÁ. So you have been all the way to St. Pantaléimon's in the Marsh?
Oh, piety, thy name is Praskóvya Petróvna! Not a person can hold the
most miserably little service in the remotest corner of the town but you
smell it out and go to it.

VAR. It is a Christian deed, Fomá Ilyitch.

AST. Now I can get at the ace.

VAR. [_to Praskóvya_]. I must get your supper. [_She gets a plate of
meat from a cupboard._]

FOMÁ. And on All Souls' Day she brought home holy water in a bottle and
sprinkled the rooms of all the lodgers. The schoolmaster was very angry.
You spotted the cover of his Greek Lexicon. He says it is a pagan
custom, come down to us from the ancient Scythians.

PRAS. I do not like to hear jokes about sacred things. One may provoke
Heaven to anger.

AST. Now I get all this row off.

FOMÁ. You are always afraid of offending Heaven.

PRAS. Of course I am. Think what I have at stake. For you it is only a
little thing. You have a life of your own on earth; I have none. I have
been as good as dead for twenty years, and the only thing that I desire
is to get safely to heaven to join my son who is there.

FOMÁ. We all wish to get to heaven.

PRAS. Not so much as I do. If I were in hell it is not the brimstone
that would matter; it would be to know that I should not see my son.
[_Fomá nods_].

AST. I believe it is coming out.

    [_They all concentrate their attention eagerly on the patience._]

VAR. The six and the seven go. Saints preserve us! and the eight. [_She
takes up a card to move it._]

AST. No, not that one; leave that.

VAR. Where did it come from?

AST. From here.

PRAS. No, from there.

VAR. It was from here.

AST. It is all the same.

FOMÁ. It will go.

PRAS. And the knave from off this row.

VAR. The Wolf is going out!

PRAS. It is seven years since it went out.

FOMÁ. Seven years?

AST. It is out!

PRAS. It is done!

VAR. [_clapping her hands_]. Hooray!

AST. [_elated_]. Some great good fortune is going to happen.

VAR. What can it be? [_A pause._]

PRAS. And what is the vodka for?

AST. The vodka?

PRAS. You promised to tell me when the patience was done.

AST. How much money have you saved up for the house on Sasha's tomb?

PRAS. Four hundred and six roubles and a few kopecks.

AST. And Spiridón asks for 500 roubles?

PRAS. Five hundred roubles.

AST. What if he should lower his price?

PRAS. He will not lower his price.

AST. What if he should say that he would take 450 roubles?

PRAS. Why, if I went without food for a year.... [_Laughing at
herself._] If one could but live without food!

AST. What if he should say that he would take 420 roubles?

PRAS. Astéryi Ivanovitch, you know the proverb--the elbow is near, but
you cannot bite it. I am old and feeble. I want it now, now, now. Shall
I outlive the bitter winter? A shelter to sit in and talk to my son. A
monument worthy of such a saint.

AST. Spiridón has been here.

PRAS. Spiridón has been here? What did he say? Tell me!

AST. He will build it for 400 roubles.

VAR. For 400 roubles!

AST. He will return soon to strike a bargain.

PRAS. Is it true?

AST. As true as that I wear the cross.

PRAS. Oh, all the holy saints be praised! Sláva Tebyé Hóspodi!
[_Kneeling before the eikons._] Oh, my darling Sasha, we will meet in a
fine house, you and I, face to face. [_She prostrates herself three
times before the eikons._]

VAR. Then this is the good luck.

AST. No, this cannot be what the cards told us; for this had happened
already before the Wolf came out.

VAR. Then there is something else to follow?

AST. Evidently.

VAR. What can it be?

AST. To-morrow perhaps we shall know.

PRAS. [_rising_]. And in a month I shall have my tomb-house finished,
for which I have been waiting twenty years! A little stone house safe
against the rain. [_Smiling and eager._] There will be a tile stove
which I can light: in the middle a stone table and two chairs--one for
me and one for my boy when he comes and sits with me, and....

VAR. [_at the window, shrieking_]. Ah! Heaven defend us!

PRAS. What is it?

VAR. The face! the face!

PRAS. The face again?

FOMÁ. What face?

VAR. The face looked in at the window!

AST. Whose face?

VAR. It is the man that we have seen watching us in the cemetery.

PRAS. [_crossing herself_]. Oh, Heaven preserve me from this man!

FOMÁ. [_opening the street door_]. There is nobody there.

AST. This is a false alarm.

FOMÁ. People who tire their eyes by staring at window-panes at night
often see faces looking in through them.

PRAS. Oh, Hóspodi!

AST. Spiridón will be returning soon. Have you the money ready?

PRAS. The money? Yes, yes! I will get it ready. It is not here. Come,
Varvára. [_They put on coats and shawls._]

AST. If it is in the bank we must wait till the daytime.

PRAS. My money in the bank? I am not so foolish. [_She lights the
lantern._] Get the spade, Varvára. [_Varvára goes out and fetches a
spade._] It is buried in the field, in a place that no one knows but
myself.

AST. Are you not afraid to go out?

PRAS. Afraid? No, I am not afraid.

FOMÁ. But your supper--you have not eaten your supper.

PRAS. How can I think of supper at such a moment?

FOMÁ. No supper? Oh, what a wonderful thing is a mother's love!

PRAS. [_to Astéryi and Fomá_]. Stay here till we return.

VAR. [_drawing back_]. I am afraid, Praskóvya Petróvna.

PRAS. Nonsense, there is nothing to fear.

FOMÁ. [_throwing his coat over his back_]. I will go with you to the
corner of the street.

AST. [_shuffling the cards_]. I must try one for myself.

FOMÁ. [_mockingly_]. What's the use? It will never come out.

AST. [_cheerfully_]. Oh, it never does to be discouraged.

    [_Exeunt Praskóvya, Varvára, and Fomá. Astéryi plays patience.
    Everything is silent and monotonous again. The clock ticks._]

FOMÁ. [_reënters, dancing and singing roguishly to the tune of the
Russian folksong, "Vo sadú li v vogoróde"_]:

  In the shade there walked a maid
    As fair as any flower,
  Picking posies all of roses
    For to deck her bower.

AST. Don't make such a noise.

FOMÁ. I can't help it. I'm gay. I have a sympathetic soul. I rejoice
with Praskóvya Petróvna. I think she is mad, but I rejoice with her.

AST. So do I; but I don't disturb others on that account.

FOMÁ. Come, old grumbler, have a mouthful of vodka.
[_Melodramatically._] A glass of wine with Cæsar Borgia! [_Singing._]

  As she went adown the bent
    She met a merry fellow,
  He was drest in all his best
    In red and blue and yellow.

So he was a saint, was he, that son of hers? Well, well, of what
advantage is that? Saints are not so easy to love as sinners. You and I
are not saints, are we, Astéryi Ivanovitch?

AST. I do not care to parade my halo in public.

FOMÁ. Oh, as for me, I keep mine in a box under the bed; it only
frightens people. Do you think he would have remained a saint all this
time if he had lived?

AST. Who can say?

FOMÁ. Nonsense! He would have become like the rest of us. Then why make
all this fuss about him? Why go on for twenty years sacrificing her own
life to a fantastic image?

AST. Why not, if it please her to do so?

FOMÁ. Say what you please, but all the same she is mad; yes, Praskóvya
is mad.

AST. We call every one mad who is faithful to their ideas. If people
think only of food and money and clothing we call them sane, but if they
have ideas beyond those things we call them mad. I envy Praskóvya.
Praskóvya has preserved in her old age what I myself have lost. I, too,
had ideas once, but I have been unfaithful to them; they have evaporated
and vanished.

FOMÁ. What ideas were these?

AST. Liberty! Political regeneration!

FOMÁ. Ah, yes; you were a sad revolutionary once, I have been told.

AST. I worshiped Liberty, as Praskóvya worships her Sasha. But I have
lived my ideals down in the dull routine of my foolish, aimless life as
an office hack, a clerk in the District Council, making copies that no
one will ever see of documents that no one ever wants to read....
Suddenly there comes the Revolution; there is fighting in the streets;
men raise the red flag; blood flows. I might go forth and strike a blow
for that Liberty which I loved twenty years ago. But no, I have become
indifferent. I do not care who wins, the Government or the
Revolutionaries; it is all the same to me.

FOMÁ. You are afraid. One gets timid as one gets older.

AST. Afraid? No. What have I to be afraid of? Death is surely not so
much worse than life? No, it is because my idea is dead and cannot be
made to live again, while Praskóvya, whose routine as a lodging-house
keeper is a hundred times duller than mine, is still faithful to her old
idea. Let us not call her mad; let us rather worship her as something
holy, for her fidelity to an idea in this wretched little town where
ideas are as rare as white ravens.

FOMÁ. She has no friends to love?

AST. She has never had any friends; she needed none.

FOMÁ. She has relatives, I suppose?

AST. None.

FOMÁ. What mystery explains this solitude?

AST. If there is a mystery it is easily guessed. It is an everyday
story; the story of a peasant woman betrayed and deserted by a nobleman.
She came with her child to this town; and instead of sinking, set
herself bravely to work, to win a living for the two of them. She was
young and strong then; her work prospered with her.

FOMÁ. And her son was worthy of her love?

AST. He was a fine boy--handsome and intelligent. By dint of the
fiercest economy she got him a nobleman's education; sent him to the
Gymnase, and thence, when he was eighteen, to the University of Moscow.
Praskóvya herself cannot read or write, but her boy ... the books on
that shelf are the prizes which he won. She thought him a pattern of all
the virtues.

FOMÁ. Aha! now we're coming to it! So he was a sinner after all?

AST. We are none of us perfect. His friends were ill-chosen. The
hard-earned money that Praskóvya thought was spent on University
expenses went on many other things--on drink, on women, and on gambling.
But he did one good thing--he hid it all safely from his mother. I
helped him in that. Together we kept her idea safe through a difficult
period. And before he was twenty it was all over--he was dead.

FOMÁ. Yes, he was murdered by some foreigner, I know.

AST. By Adámek, a Pole.

FOMÁ. And what was the motive of the crime?

AST. It was for money. By inquiries which I made after the trial I
ascertained that this Adámek was a bad character and an adventurer, who
used to entice students to his rooms to drink and gamble with him. Sasha
had become an intimate friend of his; and it was even said that they
were partners in cheating the rest. Anyhow, there is no doubt that at
one time or another they had won considerable sums at cards, and
disputed as to the ownership of them. The last thing that was heard of
them, they bought a sledge with two horses and set out saying they were
going to Tula. On the road Adámek murdered the unfortunate boy. The
facts were all clear and indisputable. There was no need to search into
the motives. The murderer fell straight into the hands of the police.
The District Inspector, coming silently along the road in his sledge,
suddenly saw before him the boy lying dead by the roadside, and the
murderer standing over him with the knife in his hand. He arrested him
at once; there was no possibility of denying it.

FOMÁ. And it was quite clear that his victim was Sasha?

AST. Quite clear. Adámek gave intimate details about him, such as only a
friend of his could have known, which put his identity beyond a doubt.
When the trial was over the body was sent in a coffin to Praskóvya
Petróvna, who buried it here in the Tróitski Cemetery.

FOMÁ. And the Pole?

AST. He was sent to penal servitude for life to the silver mines of
Siberia.

FOMÁ. So Praskóvya is even madder than I thought. Her religion is
founded on a myth. Her life is an absurd deception.

AST. No; she has created something out of nothing; that is all.

FOMÁ. In your place I should have told her the truth.

AST. No.

FOMÁ. Anything is better than a lie.

AST. There is no lie in it. Praskóvya's idea and Sasha's life are two
independent things. A statement of fact may be true or false; but an
idea need only be clear and definite. That is all that matters. [_There
is a tapping at the door; the latch is lifted, and the Stranger peeps
in._] Come in, come in!

    [_Enter the Stranger, ragged and degraded. He looks about the
    room, dazed by the light, and fixes his attention on Astéryi._]

Who are you? What do you want?

STRANGER. I came to speak to you.

AST. To speak to me?

FOMÁ. Take off your cap. Do you not see the eikons?

AST. What do you want with me?

STRANGER. Only a word, Astéryi Ivanovitch.

AST. How have you learnt my name?

FOMÁ. Do you know the man?

AST. No.

STRANGER. You do not know me?

AST. No.

STRANGER. Have you forgotten me, Astéryi Ivanovitch?

AST. [_almost speechless_]. Sasha!

FOMÁ. What is it? You look as if you had seen a ghost.

AST. A ghost? There are no such things as ghosts. Would that it were a
ghost. It is Sasha.

FOMÁ. Sasha?

AST. It is Praskóvya's son alive.

FOMÁ. Praskóvya's son?

SASHA. You remember me now, Astéryi Ivanovitch.

AST. How have you risen from the dead? How have you come back from the
grave--you who were dead and buried these twenty years and more?

SASHA. I have not risen from the dead. I have not come back from the
grave; but I have come a long, long journey.

AST. From where?

SASHA. From Siberia.

FOMÁ. From Siberia?

SASHA. From Siberia.

AST. What were you doing in Siberia?

SASHA. Do you not understand, Astéryi Ivanovitch? I am a criminal.

AST. Ah!

SASHA. A convict, a felon. I have escaped and come home.

AST. Of what crime have you been guilty?

SASHA. Do not ask me so many questions, but give me something to eat.

AST. But tell me this....

SASHA. There is food here. I smelt it as I came in. [_He eats the meat
with his fingers ravenously, like a wild beast._]

FOMÁ. It is your mother's supper.

SASHA. I do not care whose supper it is. I am ravenous. I have had
nothing to eat all day.

FOMÁ. Can this wild beast be Praskóvya's son?

SASHA. We are all wild beasts if we are kept from food. Ha! and vodka,
too! [_helping himself_].

AST. Are you a convict, a felon, Sasha? You who were dead? Then we have
been deceived for many years.

SASHA. Have you?

AST. Some other man was murdered twenty years ago. The murderer said
that it was you.

SASHA. Ah, he said that it was me, did he?

AST. Why did Adámek say that it was you?

SASHA. Can you not guess? Adámek murdered no one.

AST. He murdered no one? But he was condemned.

SASHA. He was never condemned.

AST. Never condemned? Then what became of him?

SASHA. He died.... Do you not understand? It was I who killed Adámek.

AST. You!

SASHA. We had quarreled. We were alone in a solitary place. I killed him
and stood looking down at him with the knife in my hand dripping scarlet
in the snow, frightened at the sudden silence and what I had done. And
while I thought I was alone, I turned and saw the police-officer with
his revolver leveled at my head. Then amid the confusion and black
horror that seized on me, a bright thought shot across my mind. Adámek
had no relatives, no friends; he was an outcast. Stained with his
flowing blood, I exchanged names with him; that's the old heroic custom
of blood-brotherhood, you know. I named myself Adámek; I named my victim
Sasha. Ingenious, wasn't it? I had romantic ideas in those days. Adámek
has been cursed for a murderer, and my memory has been honored.
Alexander Petróvitch has been a hero; my mother has wept for me. I have
seen her in the graveyard lamenting on my tomb; I have read my name on
the cross. I hardly know whether to laugh or to cry. Evidently she loves
me still.

AST. And you?

SASHA. Do I love her? No. There is no question of that. She is part of a
life that was ended too long ago. I have only myself to think of now.
What should I gain by loving her? Understand, I am an outlaw, an escaped
convict; a word can send me back to the mines. I must hide myself, the
patrols are everywhere.... Even here I am not safe. [_Locks the street
door._]

AST. Why have you returned? Why have you spoilt what you began so well?
Having resolved twenty years ago to vanish like a dead man....

SASHA. Ah! if they had killed me then I would have died willingly. But
after twenty years remorse goes, pity goes, everything goes; entombed in
the mines, but still alive.... I was worn out. I could bear it no
longer. Others were escaping, I escaped with them.

AST. This will break her heart. She has made an angel of you. The lamp
is always burning....

SASHA [_going to the eikon corner with a glass of vodka in his hand_].
Aha! Alexander Nevski, my patron saint. I drink to you, my friend: but I
cannot congratulate you on your work. As a guardian angel you have been
something of a failure. And what is this? [_taking a photograph_].
Myself! Who would have known this for my portrait? Look at the angel
child, with the soft cheeks and the pretty curly hair. How innocent and
good I looked! [_bringing it down_]. And even then I was deceiving my
mother. She never understood that a young man must live, he must live.
We are animals first; we have instincts that need something warmer,
something livelier, than the tame dull round of home. [_He throws down
the photograph; Fomá replaces it._] And even now I have no intention of
dying. Yet how am I to live? I cannot work; the mines have sucked out
all my strength. Has my mother any money?

AST. [_to Fomá_]. What can we do with him?

SASHA. Has my mother any money?

AST. Money? Of course not. Would she let lodgings if she had? Listen. I
am a poor man myself, but I will give you ten roubles and your railway
fare to go to St. Petersburg.

SASHA. St. Petersburg? And what shall I do there when I have spent the
ten roubles?

AST. [_shrugging his shoulders_]. How do I know? Live there, die there,
only stay away from here.

FOMÁ. What right have you to send him away? Why do you suppose that she
will not be glad to see him? Let her see her saint bedraggled, and love
him still--that is what true love means. You have regaled her with lies
all these years; but now it is no longer possible. [_A knocking at the
door._] She is at the door.

AST. [_to Sasha_]. Come with me. [_To Fomá._] He must go out by the
other way.

FOMÁ [_stopping them_]. No, I forbid it. It is the hand of God that has
led him here. Go and unlock the door. [_Astéryi shrugs his shoulders,
and goes to unlock the door._] [_To Sasha, hiding him._] Stand here a
moment till I have prepared your mother.

    [_Enter Praskóvya and Varvára, carrying a box._]

PRAS. Why is the door locked? Were you afraid without old Praskóvya to
protect you? Here is the money. Now let me count it. Have you two been
quarreling? There are fifty roubles in this bag, all in little pieces of
silver; it took me two years.

FOMÁ. How you must have denied yourself, Praskóvya, and all to build a
hut in a churchyard!

PRAS. On what better thing could money be spent?

FOMÁ. You are so much in love with your tomb-house, I believe that you
would be sorry if it turned out that your son was not dead, but alive.

PRAS. Why do you say such things? You know that I should be glad. Ah! if
I could but see him once again as he was then, and hold him in my arms!

FOMÁ. But he would not be the same now.

PRAS. If he were different, he would not be my son.

FOMÁ. What if all these years he had been an outcast, living in
degradation?

PRAS. Who has been eating here? Who has been drinking here? Something
has happened! Tell me what it is.

AST. Your son is not dead.

PRAS. Not dead? Why do you say it so sadly? No, it is not true. I do
not believe it. How can I be joyful at the news if you tell it so sadly?
If he is alive, where is he? Let me see him.

AST. He is here.

    [_Sasha comes forward._]

PRAS. No, no! Tell me that that is not him ... my son whom I have loved
all these years, my son that lies in the churchyard. [_To Sasha._] Don't
be cruel to me. Say that you are not my son; you cannot be my son.

SASHA. You know that I am your son.

PRAS. My son is dead; he was murdered. I buried his body in the Tróitski
Cemetery.

SASHA. But you see that I was not murdered. Touch me; feel me. I am
alive. I and Adámek fought; it was not Adámek that slew me, it was....

PRAS. No, no! I want to hear no more. You have come to torment me. Only
say what you want of me, anything, and I will do it, if you will leave
me in peace.

SASHA. I want food and clothing; I want shelter; I must have money.

PRAS. You will go if I give you money? Yes? Say that you will go, far,
far away, and never come back to tell lies.... But I have no money to
give; I am a poor woman.

SASHA. Come, what's all this?

PRAS. No, no! I need it; I can't spare it. What I have I have starved
myself to get. Two roubles, five roubles, even ten roubles I will give
you, if you will go far, far away....

FOMÁ. Before he can travel we must bribe some peasant to lend him his
passport.

PRAS. Has he no passport then?

FOMÁ. No.

    [_A knock. Enter Spiridón._]

SPIR. Peace be on this house. May the saints watch over all of you!
Astéryi Ivanovitch will have told you of my proposal.

PRAS. Yes, I have heard of it, Spiridón.

FOMÁ. Good-by, Spiridón; there is no work for you here. That is all
over.

PRAS. Why do you say that that is all over?

FOMÁ. There will be no tomb-house to build.

PRAS. No tomb-house? How dare you say so? He is laughing at us,
Spiridón. The tomb-house that we have planned together, with the table
in the middle, and the two chairs.... Do not listen to him, Spiridón. At
last I have money enough; let us count it together.

SASHA. Give me my share, mother!

PRAS. I have no money for you.

SASHA [_advancing_]. I must have money.

PRAS. You shall not touch it.

SASHA. I will not go unless you give me money.

PRAS. It is not mine. I have promised it all to Spiridón. Help me,
Astéryi Ivanovitch; he will drive me mad! Oh, what must I do? What must
I do? Is there no way, Varvára? [_Tap of drums without._] [_To Sasha._]
Go! go! go quickly, or worse will befall you.

SASHA. I will not go and starve while you have all this money.

PRAS. Ah! Since you will have it so.... It is you, not I! [_Running out
at the door and calling._] Patrol! Patrol!

FOMÁ. Stop her.

VAR. Oh, Hóspodi!

PRAS. Help! Help! Come here!

FOMÁ. What have you done? What have you done?

    [_Enter Corporal and Soldiers._]

PRAS. This man is a thief and a murderer. He is a convict escaped from
Siberia. He has no passport.

CORP. Is that true? Where is your passport?

SASHA. I have none.

CORP. We are looking for such men as you. Come!

SASHA. This woman is my mother.

CORP. That's her affair. You have no passport; that is enough for me.
You'll soon be back on the road to the North with the rest of them.

SASHA. Woman! woman! Have pity on your son.

CORP. Come along, lad, and leave the old woman in peace.

    [_Exit Sasha in custody._]

PRAS. The Lord help me!

    [_Praskóvya stumbles towards the eikons and sinks blindly before
    them._]

FOMÁ [_looking after Sasha_]. Poor devil!

ASTÉRYI. What's a man compared to an idea?

    [_Praskóvya rolls over, dead._]


  [_Curtain._]



MARY'S WEDDING

  A PLAY

  BY GILBERT CANNAN


  Copyright, 1913, by Sidgwick and Jackson.
  All rights reserved.


  MARY'S WEDDING was first produced at the Coronet Theatre, in
  May, 1912, with the following cast:

    MARY                       _Miss Irene Rooke_
    TOM                        _Mr. Herbert Lomas_
    ANN                        _Miss Mary Goulden_
    MRS. AIREY                 _Miss Muriel Pratt_
    BILL AIREY                 _Mr. Charles Bibby_
    TWO MAIDS.
    VILLAGERS AND OTHERS.

  SCENE: _The Davis's Cottage_.

  NOTE: There is no attempt made in the play to reproduce exactly
  the Westmoreland dialect, which would be unintelligible to ears
  coming new to it, but only to catch the rough music of it and the
  slow inflection of northern voices.

  Reprinted from "Four Plays," by permission of Mr. Gilbert Cannan.



MARY'S WEDDING

A PLAY BY GILBERT CANNAN


    [_The scene is the living-room in the Davis's cottage in the hill
    country. An old room low in the ceiling. Ann Davis is at the table
    in the center of the room untying a parcel. The door opens to
    admit Tom Davis, a sturdy quarryman dressed in his best and
    wearing a large nosegay._]


ANN. Well, 'ast seed un?

TOM. Ay, a seed un. 'Im and 'is ugly face--

ANN [_untying her parcel_].'Tis 'er dress come just in time an' no more
from the maker-up--

TOM. Ef she wouldna do it....

ANN. But 'tis such long years she's been a-waitin'.... 'Tis long years
since she bought t' dress.

TOM. An' 'tis long years she'll be a livin' wi' what she's been waitin'
for; 'tis long years she'll live to think ower it and watch the thing
she's taken for her man, an' long years that she'll find 'un feedin' on
'er, an' a dreary round she'll 'ave of et....

ANN. Three times she 'ave come to a month of weddin' an' three times 'e
'ave broke loose and gone down to the Mortal Man an' the woman that
keeps 'arf our men in drink.... 'Tis she is the wicked one, giving 'em
score an' score again 'till they owe more than they can ever pay with a
year's money.

TOM. 'Tis a fearful thing to drink....

ANN. So I telled 'er in the beginnin' of it all, knowin' what like of
man 'e was. An' so I telled 'er last night only.

TOM. She be set on it?

ANN. An', an' 'ere's t' pretty dress for 'er to be wedded in....

TOM. What did she say?

ANN. Twice she 'ave broke wi' 'im, and twice she 'ave said that ef 'e
never touched the drink fur six months she would go to be churched wi'
'im. She never 'ave looked at another man.

TOM. Ay, she be one o' they quiet ones that goes about their work an'
never 'as no romantical notions but love only the more for et. There've
been men come for 'er that are twice the man that Bill is, but she never
looks up from 'er work at 'em.

ANN. I think she must 'a' growed up lovin' Bill. 'Tis a set thing
surely.

TOM. An' when that woman 'ad 'im again an' 'ad 'im roaring drunk fur a
week, she never said owt but turned to 'er work agin an' set aside the
things she was makin' agin the weddin'....

ANN. What did 'e say to 'er?

TOM. Nowt. 'E be 'most as chary o' words as she. 'E've got the 'ouse an'
everything snug, and while 'e works 'e makes good money.

ANN. 'Twill not end, surely.

TOM. There was 'is father and two brothers all broken men by it.

    [_She hears Mary on the stairs, and they are silent._]

ANN. 'Ere's yer pretty dress, Mary.

MARY. Ay.... Thankye, Tom.

TOM. 'Twill be lovely for ye, my dear, an' grand. 'Tis a fine day fur
yer weddin', my dear....

MARY. I'll be sorry to go, Tom.

TOM. An' sorry we'll be to lose ye....

MARY. I'll put the dress on.

    [_She throws the frock over her arm and goes out with it._]

ANN. Another girl would 'a' wedded him years ago in the first
foolishness of it. But Mary, for all she says so little, 'as long, long
thoughts that never comes to the likes o' you and me.... Another girl,
when the day 'ad come at last, would 'a' been wild wi' the joy an' the
fear o' it.... But Mary, she's sat on the fells under the stars, an'
windin' among the sheep. D' ye mind the nights she's been out like an
old shepherd wi' t' sheep? D' ye mind the nights when she was but a lile
'un an' we found 'er out in the dawn sleepin' snug again the side o' a
fat ewe?

TOM. 'Tis not like a weddin' day for 'er.... If she'd 'ad a new dress,
now--

ANN. I said to 'er would she like a new dress; but she would have only
the old 'un cut an' shaped to be in the fashion.... Et 'as been a
strange coortin', an' 'twill be a strange life for 'em both, I'm
thinkin', for there seems no gladness in 'er, nor never was, for she
never was foolish an' she never was young; but she was always like there
was a great weight on 'er, so as she must be about the world alone, but
always she 'ave turned to the little things an' the weak, an' always she
'ad some poor sick beast for tendin' or another woman's babe to 'old to
'er breast, an' I think sometimes that 'tis only because Bill is a poor
sick beast wi' a poor sick soul that she be so set on 'im.

TOM. 'E be a sodden beast wi' never a soul to be saved or damned--

ANN. 'Cept for the drink, 'e've been a good son to 'is old mother when
the others 'ud 'a' left 'er to rot i' the ditch, an' 'e was the on'y one
as 'ud raise a finger again his father when the owd man, God rest him,
was on to 'er like a madman. Drunk or sober 'e always was on 'is
mother's side.

TOM. 'Twas a fearful 'ouse that.

ANN. 'Twas wonderful that for all they did to 'er, that wild old man wi'
'is wild young sons, she outlived 'em all, but never a one could she
save from the curse that was on them, an', sober, they was the likeliest
men 'n Troutbeck....

TOM. 'Tis when the rain comes and t' clouds come low an' black on the
fells and the cold damp eats into a man's bones that the fearful
thoughts come to 'im that must be drowned or 'im go mad--an' only the
foreigners like me or them as 'as foreign blood new in 'em can 'old out
again it; 'tis the curse o' livin' too long between two lines o' 'ills.

ANN. An' what that owd woman could never do, d'ye think our Mary'll do
it? 'Im a Troutbeck man an' she a Troutbeck girl?

TOM. She've 'eld to 'er bargain an' brought 'im to it.

ANN. There's things that a maid can do that a wife cannot an' that's
truth, an' shame it is to the men. [_Comes a knock at the door._]
'Tisn't time for t' weddin' folk.

    [_Tom goes to the window._]

TOM. Gorm. 'Tis Mrs. Airey.

ANN. T' owd woman. She that 'as not been further than 'er garden-gate
these ten years?

    [_She goes to the door, opens it to admit Mrs. Airey, an old gaunt
    woman just beginning to be bent with age._]

MRS. A. Good day to you, Tom Davis.

TOM. Good day to you, Mrs. Airey.

MRS. A. Good day to you, Ann Davis.

ANN. Good day to you, Mrs. Airey. Will ye sit down?

    [_She dusts a chair and Mrs. Airey sits by the fireside. She sits
    silent for a long while. Tom and Ann look uneasily at her and at
    each other._]

MRS. A. So 'tis all ready for Bill's wedding.

TOM. Ay. 'Tis a fine day, an' the folks bid, and the sharry-bang got for
to drive to Coniston, all the party of us. Will ye be coming, Mrs.
Airey?

MRS. A. I'll not. [_Mrs. Airey sits silent again for long._] Is Mary in
the 'ouse?

ANN. She be upstairs puttin' on 'er weddin' dress.

MRS. A. 'Tis the sad day of 'er life.... They're a rotten lot an' who
should know et better than me? Bill's the best of 'em, but Bill's
rotten.... Six months is not enough, nor six years nor sixty, not while
'er stays in Troutbeck rememberin' all that 'as been an' all the trouble
that was in the 'ouse along o' it, and so I've come for to say it.

ANN. She growed up lovin' Bill, and 'tis a set thing. She've waited long
years. 'Tis done now, an' what they make for theirselves they make, an'
'tis not for us to go speirin' for the trouble they may make for
theirselves, but only to pray that it may pass them by....

MRS. A. But 'tis certain.... Six months is not enough, nor six years,
nor sixty--

ANN. And are ye come for to tell Mary this...?

MRS. A. This and much more....

TOM. And what 'ave ye said to Bill?

MRS. A. Nowt. There never was a son would give 'eed to 'is mother....
'Tisn't for 'im I'm thinkin', but for t' children that she's bear 'im. I
'oped, and went on 'opin' till there was no 'ope left in me, and I lived
to curse the day that each one of my sons was born. John and Peter are
dead an' left no child behind, and it were better for Bill also to leave
no child behind. There's a day and 'alf a day o' peace and content for a
woman with such a man, and there's long, long years of thinkin' on the
peace and content that's gone. There's long, long years of watching the
child that you've borne and suckled turn rotten, an' I say that t'
birth-pangs are nowt to t' pangs that ye 'ave from the childer of such a
man as Bill or Bill's father.... She's a strong girl an' a good girl;
but there's this that is stronger than 'er.

    [_Mary comes again, very pretty in her blue dress. She is at once
    sensible of the strangeness in Tom and Ann. She stands looking
    from one to the other. Mrs. Airey sits gazing into the fire._]

MARY. Why, mother ... 'tis kind of you to come on this morning.

MRS. A. Ay, 'tis kind of me. [_Ann steals away upstairs and Tom, taking
the lead from her, goes out into the road._] Come 'ere, my pretty.

    [_Mary goes and stands by her._]

MARY. The sun is shining and the bees all out and busy to gather in the
honey.

MRS. A. 'Tis the bees as is t' wise people to work away in t' dark when
t' sun is hidden, and to work away in t' sun when 'tis bright and light.
'Tis the bees as is t' wise people that takes their men an' kills 'em
for the 'arm that they may do, and it's us that's the foolish ones to
make soft the way of our men an' let them strut before us and lie; and
'tis us that's the foolish ones ever to give a thought to their needs
that give never a one to ours.

MARY. 'Tis us that's t' glorious ones to 'elp them that is so weak, and
'tis us that's the brave and the kind ones to let them 'ave the 'ole
world to play with when they will give never a thought to us that gives
it t' 'em.

MRS. A. My pretty, my pretty, there's never a one of us can 'elp a man
that thinks 'isself a man an' strong, poor fool, an' there's never a one
of us can 'elp a man that's got a curse on 'im and is rotten through to
t' bone, an' not one day can you be a 'elp to such a man as this....

MARY. There's not one day that I will not try, and not one day that I
will not fight to win 'im back....

MRS. A. The life of a woman is a sorrowful thing....

MARY. For all its sorrow, 'tis a greater thing than t' life of a man ...
an' so I'll live it....

MRS. A. Now you're strong and you're young.--'Ope's with ye still and
life all before ye--and so I thought when my day came, and so I did.
There was a day and 'alf a day of peace and content, and there was long,
long years of thinking on the peace and content that are gone.... Four
men all gone the same road, and me left looking down the way that they
are gone and seeing it all black as the pit.... I be a poor old woman
now with never a creature to come near me in kindness, an' I was such a
poor old woman before ever the 'alf of life was gone, an' so you'll be
if you take my son for your man. He's the best of my sons, but I curse
the day that ever he was born....

MARY. There was never a man the like of Bill. If ye see 'un striding the
'ill, ye know 'tis a man by 'is strong, long stride; and if ye see 'un
leapin' an' screein' down th' 'ill, ye know 'tis a man; and if we see
'un in t' quarry, ye know 'tis a strong man....

MRS. A. An' if ye see 'un lyin' drunk i' the ditch, not roarin' drunk,
but rotten drunk, wi' 'is face fouled an' 'is clothes mucked, ye know
'tis the lowest creature of the world.

    [_Mary stands staring straight in front of her._]

MARY. Is it for this that ye come to me to-day?

MRS. A. Ay, for this: that ye may send 'un back to 'is rottenness, for
back to it 'e'll surely go when 'tis too late, an' you a poor old woman
like me, with never a creature to come near ye in kindness, before ever
the bloom 'as gone from your bonny cheeks, an' maybe childer that'll
grow up bonny an' then be blighted for all the tenderness ye give to
them; an' those days will be the worst of all--far worse than the day
when ye turn for good an' all into yourself from t' man that will give
ye nowt.... 'Tis truly the bees as is the wise people....

MARY. It's a weary waitin' that I've had, and better the day and 'alf a
day of peace and content with all the long years of thinking on it than
all the long, long years of my life to go on waitin' and waitin' for
what has passed me by, for if he be the rottenest, meanest man in t'
world that ever was made, there is no other that I can see or ever will.
It is no wild foolishness that I am doing: I never was like that; but
it's a thing that's growed wi' me an' is a part o' me--an' though every
day o' my life were set before me now so I could see to the very end,
an' every day sadder and blacker than the last, I'd not turn back. I
gave 'im the bargain, years back now, and three times e' 'as failed me;
but 'e sets store by me enough to do this for me a fourth time--'Twas
kind of ye to come....

MRS. A. You're strong an' you're young, but there's this that's stronger
than yourself--

MARY. Maybe, but 'twill not be for want o' fightin' wi' 't.

MRS. A. 'Twill steal on ye when you're weakest, an' come on ye in your
greatest need....

MARY. It 'as come to this day an' there is no goin' back. D' ye think
I've not seed t' soft, gentle things that are given to other women, an'
not envied them? D' ye think I've not seed 'em walkin' shut-eyed into
all sorts o' foolishness an' never askin' for the trewth o' it, an' not
envied 'em for doin' that? D' ye think I've not seed the girls I growed
wi' matin' lightly an' lightly weddin', an' not envied 'em for that,
they wi' a 'ouse an' babes an' me drudgin' away in t' farm, me wi' my
man to 'and an' only this agin 'im? D' ye think I've not been tore in
two wi' wantin' to close my eyes an' walk like others into it an' never
think what is to come? There's many an' many a night that I've sat there
under t' stars wi' t' three counties afore me an' t' sea, an' t' sheep
croppin', an' my own thoughts for all the comp'ny that I 'ad, an'
fightin' this way an' that for to take 'up an' let 'un be so rotten, as
ever 'e might be; an' there's many an' many a night when the thoughts
come so fast that they hurt me an' I lay pressed close to t' ground wi'
me 'ands clawin' at it an' me teeth bitin' into t' ground for to get
closer an' 'ide from myself; an' many a night when I sat there seein'
the man as t' brave lad 'e was when I seed 'un first leapin' down the
'ill, an' knowin' that nothin' in the world, nothin' that I could do to
'un or that 'e could do 'isself, would ever take that fro' me.... In all
my time o' my weary waitin' there 'as never been a soul that I told so
much to, an' God knows there never 'as been an' never will be a time
when I can tell as much to 'im....

MRS. A. My pretty, my pretty, 'tis a waste an' a wicked, wicked
waste....

MARY. 'Tis a day an' alf a day agin never a moment....

MRS. A. 'Tis that, and so 'tis wi' all o' us ... an' so 'twill be....
God bless ye, my dear....

    [_Ann comes down. Mary is looking out of the window._]

ANN. Ye forgot the ribbon for yer 'air, that I fetched 'specially fro'
t' town.

MARY. Why, yes. Will ye tie it, Ann?

    [_Ann ties the ribbon in her hair._]

MRS. A. Pretty, my dear, oh! pretty--

MARY. I'm to walk to t' church o' Tom's arm...?

ANN. An' I to Tom's left; wi' the bridesmaids be'ind, an' the rest a
followin'....

    [_Tom returns, followed by two girls bringing armfuls of flowers.
    With these they deck the room, and keep the choicest blooms for
    Mary. Ann and the three girls are busied with making Mary reach
    her most beautiful. Mrs. Airey goes. At intervals one villager and
    another comes to give greeting or to bring some small offering of
    food or some small article of clothing. Mary thanks them all with
    rare natural grace. They call her fine, and ejaculate remarks of
    admiration: "The purty bride...." "She's beautiful...." "'Tis a
    lucky lad, Bill Airey...." The church bell begins to ring.... All
    is prepared and all are ready.... Mary is given her gloves, which
    she draws on--when the door is thrown open and Bill Airey lunges
    against the lintel of the door and stands leering. He is just
    sober enough to know what he is at. He is near tears, poor
    wretch. He is not horribly drunk. He stands surveying the group
    and they him._]

BILL. I come--I come--I--c-come for to--to--to--show--to show myself....

    [_He turns in utter misery and goes. Mary plucks the flowers from
    her bosom and lets them fall to the ground; draws her gloves off
    her hands and lets them fall. The bell continues to ring._]


  [_Curtain._]



THE BABY CARRIAGE

  A PLAY

  BY BOSWORTH CROCKER


  Copyright, 1920, by Bosworth Crocker.
  All rights reserved.


  THE BABY CARRIAGE was originally produced by the Provincetown Players,
  New York, February 14, 1919, with the following cast:

    MRS. LEZINSKY       _Dorothy Miller._
    MRS. ROONEY         _Alice Dostetter._
    MR. ROSENBLOOM      _W. Clay Hill._
    SOLOMON LEZINSKY    _O. K. Liveright._

  PLACE: _The Lezinsky Tailor Shop_.
  TIME: _To-day_.


  Application for the right of performing THE BABY CARRIAGE must be made
  to Mr. Bosworth Crocker, in care of the Society of American Dramatists
  and Composers, 148 West 45th Street, New York, or The Authors' League,
  Union Square, New York.



THE BABY CARRIAGE

A PLAY BY BOSWORTH CROCKER


    [_THE SCENE is an ordinary tailor shop two steps down from the
    sidewalk. Mirror on one side. Equipment third rate. Mrs. Solomon
    Lezinsky, alone in the shop, is examining a torn pair of trousers
    as Mrs. Rooney comes in._]


MRS. LEZINSKY [_27 years old, medium height and weight, dark,
attractive. In a pleased voice with a slight Yiddish accent_]. Mrs.
Rooney!

MRS. ROONEY [_30 years old. A plump and pretty Irish woman_]. I only ran
in for a minute to bring you these. [_Holds up a pair of roller skates
and a picture book._] Eileen's out there in the carriage. [_Both women
look out at the baby-carriage in front of the window._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. Bring her in, Mrs. Rooney. Such a beautiful child--your
Eileen!

MRS. ROONEY. Can't stop--where's the kids?

MRS. LEZINSKY. The janitress takes them to the moving pictures with her
Izzy.

MRS. ROONEY. You wouldn't believe the things I've run across this day,
packing. [_Puts down the skates._] I'm thinking these skates'll fit one
of your lads. My Mickey--God rest his soul!--used to tear around great
on them.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Fine, Mrs. Rooney! [_Examines the skates._ But couldn't
you save them for Eileen?

MRS. ROONEY. Sure, she'd be long growing up to them and they be laying
by gathering the rust.

MRS. LEZINSKY. My David and Julius and Benny could die for joy with
these fine skates, I tell you, Mrs. Rooney.

MRS. ROONEY. Here's an old book [_hands Mrs. Lezinsky the book_], but
too good to throw away entirely.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_opens the book_]. Fine, Mrs. Rooney! Such a book with
pictures in it! My Benny's wild for picture books. Julius reads,
reads--always learning. Something wonderful, I tell you. Just like the
papa--my Solly ruins himself with his nose always stuck in the Torah.

MRS. ROONEY. The Toro? 'Tis a book I never heard tell of.

MRS. LEZINSKY. The law and the prophets--my Solly was meant to be a
rabbi once.

MRS. ROONEY. A rabbi?

MRS. LEZINSKY. You know what a rabbi is by us, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. Indeed, I know what a rabbi is, Mrs. Lezinsky--a rabbi is a
Jewish priest.

MRS. LEZINSKY. You don't hate the Jewish religion, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. Every one has a right to their own religion. Some of us are
born Jewish--like you, Mrs. Lezinsky, and some are born Catholics, like
me.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Catholics like you are fine, Mrs. Rooney. Such a good
neighbor! A good customer, too! Why should you move away now, Mrs.
Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. The air in the Bronx will be fine for Eileen. 'Tis a great
pity you couldn't be moving there, yourself. With the fresh air and the
cheap rent, 'twould be great for yourself and the boys--not to mention
the baby that's coming to you.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Thank God, that don't happen for a little while yet. But
in the hottest weather--maybe--some Septembers--even so late yet--ain't
it, Mrs. Rooney? Always trouble by us. Such expense, too. The agent
takes the rent to-day. With Solly's eyes so bad it's a blessing when we
can pay the rent even. And the gas bills! So much pants pressing! See?
They send us this already. [_Shows a paper._] A notice to pay right away
or they shut it off. Only ten days overdue. Would you believe it, Mrs.
Rooney? Maybe we catch up a little next month. It don't pay no longer,
this business. And soon now another mouth to feed, and still my Solly
sticks by his learning.

MRS. ROONEY. But he can't be a rabbi now, can he?

MRS. LEZINSKY. He can't be a rabbi now, no more, Mrs. Rooney, but such a
pious man--my Solly. He must be a poor tailor, but he never gives up his
learning--not for anything he gives that up. Learning's good for my
David and Julius and Benny soon, but it's bad for my Solly. It leaves
him no eyes for the business, Mrs. Rooney.

MRS. ROONEY. And are the poor eyes as bad as ever?

MRS. LEZINSKY. How should his eyes get better when he gives them no
chance? Always he should have an operation and the operation--it don't
help--maybe. [_Mrs. Rooney turns to the door._] Must you go so quick,
Mrs. Rooney? Now you move away, I never see you any more.

MRS. ROONEY. The subway runs in front of the house.

MRS. LEZINSKY. I tell you something, Mrs. Rooney: Solly couldn't keep
the shop open without me. Sometimes his eyes go back on him altogether.
And he should get an operation. But that costs something, I tell you,
Mrs. Rooney. The doctors get rich from that. It costs something, that
operation. And then, sometimes, may be it don't help.

MRS. ROONEY. 'Tis too bad, altogether. [_Looks at the baby-carriage._]
Wait a minute, Mrs. Lezinsky. [_Starts out._]

MRS. LEZINSKY [_as Mrs. Rooney goes_]. What is it, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY [_just outside the door, calls out_]. Something else--I
forgot. 'Tis out here in the carriage.

    [_Mrs. Lezinsky threads a needle and begins to sew buttons on a
    lady's coat. Mrs. Rooney comes back carrying a small square
    package wrapped in newspaper._]

MRS. ROONEY. Here's something. You'll like this, Mrs. Lezinsky. It
belongs to Eileen.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_looking out at the child in the carriage_]. Was her
collar stitched all right, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. It was that. Fits her coat perfect. See the new cap on her?
'Twas for her birthday I bought it. Three years old now. Getting that
big I can feel the weight of her.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Such a beautiful little girl, Mrs. Rooney! And such
stylish clothes you buy for her. My David should have a new suit from
his papa's right away now. Then we fix the old one over for Julius.
Maybe my Benny gets a little good out of that suit too, sometime. We
couldn't afford to buy new clothes. We should first get all the wear out
of the old ones. Yes, Mrs. Rooney. Anyhow, boys! It don't so much
matter. But girls! Girls is different. And such a beautiful little girl
like Eileen!

MRS. ROONEY. She'll be spoilt on me entirely--every one giving her her
own way. [_In a gush of mother-pride._] 'Tis the darling she is--anyhow.

MRS. LEZINSKY. O, Mrs. Rooney, I could wish to have one just like her, I
tell you, such a beautiful little girl just like her.

MRS. ROONEY. Maybe you will, Mrs. Lezinsky, maybe you will.

MRS. LEZINSKY. She sleeps nice in that baby-carriage.

MRS. ROONEY. 'Tis the last time she sleeps in it.

MRS. LEZINSKY. The last time, what?

MRS. ROONEY. Her pa'll be after buying me a go-cart for her now we're
moving. 'Tis destroying me--the hauling that up and down stairs.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Such a gorgeous baby-carriage--all fresh painted--white--

MRS. ROONEY. It's fine for them that likes it. As for me--I'm that tired
of dragging it, I'd rather be leaving it behind.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_her face aglow_]. What happens to that carriage, Mrs.
Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. I'll be selling it.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Who buys that carriage, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. More than one has their eye on it, but I'll get my price.
Mrs. Cohen has spoke for it.

MRS. LEZINSKY. How much you ask for that carriage, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. Sure, and I'd let it go for a $5 bill, Mrs. Lezinsky.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_her face falls_]. Maybe you get that $5 ... Mrs. Rooney.
Those Cohens make money by that stationery business.

MRS. ROONEY. And sure, the secondhand man would pay me as much.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_longingly_]. My David and Julius and Benny--they never
had such a baby-carriage--in all their lives they never rode in a
baby-carriage. My babies was pretty babies, too. And smart, Mrs. Rooney!
You wouldn't believe it. My Benny was the smartest of the lot. When he
was 18 months old, he puts two words together already.

MRS. ROONEY. He's a keener--that one. [_Unwraps the package._] I'm clean
forgetting the basket. [_Holds it out to Mrs. Lezinsky's delighted
gaze._] Now there you are--as good as new--Mrs. Lezinsky--and when you
do be sticking the safety pins into the cushion [_she points out the
cushion_] you can mind my Eileen. Some of the pinholes is rusty like,
but the pins'll cover it--that it was herself gave your baby its first
present.

MRS. LEZINSKY. O, Mrs. Rooney, such a beautiful basket! Such a
beautiful, stylish basket!

MRS. ROONEY. And here's a box for the powder. [_Opens a celluloid box
and takes out a powder puff._] And here's an old puff. Sure the puff
will do if you're not too particular.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_handling the things_]. Why should I be so particular? In
all their lives my David and Julius and Benny never had such a box and
puff, I tell you, Mrs. Rooney.

MRS. ROONEY [_points_]. Them little pockets is to stick things in.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Should you give away such a basket, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. What good is it but to clutter up the closet, knocking
about in my way.

MRS. LEZINSKY. My David and Julius and Benny, they never had such a
basket, but my cousin, Morris Schapiro's wife,--she had such a
basket--for her baby. All lined with pink it was.

MRS. ROONEY. Pink is for boys. I wanted a girl, having Mickey then.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Me, too, Mrs. Rooney. Three boys! Now it's time it should
be a little girl. Yes, Mrs. Rooney. A little girl like Eileen.

MRS. ROONEY. Sure, then, if you're going by the basket 'tis a little
girl you have coming to you. Blue's for girls.... A comb and a brush for
it--you can buy.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Combs and brushes! What should I do with combs and
brushes? My David and Julius and Benny are all born bald.

MRS. ROONEY. Sure, Eileen had the finest head of curls was ever seen on
a baby--little soft yellow curls--like the down on a bird.

MRS. LEZINSKY. If I should have a little girl--like your Eileen--my
David and Julius and Benny--they die for joy over their little sister, I
tell you, Mrs. Rooney. Yes, it should be a girl and I name her Eileen.
Such pretty names for girls: Eileen and Hazel and Gladys and Goldie.
Goldie's a pretty name, too. I like that name so much I call myself
Goldie when I go to school. Gietel's my Jewish name. Ugly? Yes, Mrs.
Rooney? Goldie's better--much better. But Eileen's the best of all.
Eileen's a gorgeous name. I name her Eileen, I do assure you. She should
have another name, too, for Solly. Zipporah, maybe--for her dead
grandmother.

MRS. ROONEY. Sure, Eileen has a second name: Bridget. 'Tis for my mother
in the old country. A saint's name. Her father chose it for her.
Bridget's a grand name--that--too.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Zipporah--that was Solly's mother.... But I call her
Eileen.

MRS. ROONEY. That's a grand compliment, Mrs. Lezinsky, and 'tis myself
would stand godmother for her should you be wanting me to.

MRS. LEZINSKY. I'm sorry, Mrs. Rooney, by our religion we don't have
such god-mothers.

MRS. ROONEY. I'll be running on now not to keep you from your work and
so much of it with your poor man and the drops in his sick eyes. Here!
[_She puts half a dollar into Mrs. Lezinsky's hand._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. For what?

MRS. ROONEY. For Mr. Lezinsky stitching the collar on Eileen's coat.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_trying to make Mrs. Rooney take it back_]. Mrs.
Rooney--if you wouldn't insult me--please--when you bring all these
lovely things.... [_Mrs. Rooney pushes the money away._] And so you sell
that fine baby-carriage.... That carriage holds my Benny, too, maybe?

MRS. ROONEY. Sure. Easy.

MRS. LEZINSKY. My David and Julius--they could wheel that carriage. The
little sister sleeps in it. And my Benny--he rides at the foot. $5 is
cheap for that elegant carriage when you should happen to have so much
money. I ask my Solly. Do me the favor, Mrs. Rooney--you should speak to
me first before you give it to Mrs. Cohen--yes?

MRS. ROONEY. Sure I will. I'll be leaving the carriage outside and carry
the child up. You and Mr. Lezinsky can be making up your minds. [_Mrs.
Rooney looks through the window at a man turning in from the street._]
Is it himself coming home?

MRS. LEZINSKY. Any time now, Mrs. Rooney, he comes from the doctor.

MRS. ROONEY. 'Tis not himself. 'Tis some customer.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_as the door opens_]. It's Mr. Rosenbloom.

MRS. ROONEY. See you later. [_Rushes out. Through the window Mrs.
Lezinsky watches her take the child out of the carriage._]

MRS. LEZINSKY [_sighs, turns to her customer_]. O, Mr. Rosenbloom! Glad
to see you, Mr. Rosenbloom. You well now, Mr. Rosenbloom?

MR. ROSENBLOOM. Able to get around once more, Mrs. Lezinsky.

MRS. LEZINSKY. I hope you keep that way. You got thinner with your
sickness. You lose your face, Mr. Rosenbloom. [_He hands her a coat and
a pair of trousers._] Why should you bother to bring them in? I could
send my David or Julius for them.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. Right on my way to the barber-shop. The coat's a little
loose now. [_Slips off his coat and puts on the other._] Across the
back. See?

MRS. LEZINSKY. He should take it in a little on the shoulders, Mr.
Rosenbloom?

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_considers_]. It wouldn't pay--so much alterations for
this particular suit.

MRS. LEZINSKY. It's a good suit, Mr. Rosenbloom.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. He should just shorten the sleeves. Those sleeves were
from the first a little too long.

    [_He slips the coat off. Mrs. Lezinsky measures coat sleeve
    against his bent arm._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. About how much, Mr. Rosenbloom? Say--an inch?

MR. ROSENBLOOM. An inch or an inch and a half--maybe.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_measures again_]. I think that makes them too short, Mr.
Rosenbloom. One inch is plenty.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. All right--one inch, then.

MRS. LEZINSKY. One inch.... All right, Mr. Rosenbloom--one inch.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. How soon will they be ready?

MRS. LEZINSKY. Maybe to-morrow. He lets all this other work
go--maybe--and sets to work on them right away when he gets back home.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. All right.

MRS. LEZINSKY. I send my David or Julius with them, Mr. Rosenbloom?

MR. ROSENBLOOM. I'll stop in the evening and try the coat on.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Maybe it wouldn't be ready to try on so soon--All right,
Mr. Rosenbloom, this evening you come in. [_She calls after him as he
goes out._] O, Mr. Rosenbloom! The pants? What should he do to the
pants?

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_from the doorway_]. Press them. [_He turns back._]
Press the--whole thing--suit.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Press them. Sure. Press the suit. A fine suit. Certainly
a fine piece of goods, Mr. Rosenbloom. Did my husband make it up for
you?

MR. ROSENBLOOM. Yes.

MRS. LEZINSKY. I thought so. Wears like iron, too, this goods. Yes, Mr.
Rosenbloom? With one eye my husband picks the best pieces of goods I
tell you, Mr. Rosenbloom.... He should shorten the sleeves one inch....
All right, he fixes it to your satisfaction, Mr. Rosenbloom--

MR. ROSENBLOOM. Yes, yes. [_Impatiently edges toward the door._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. This evening you come for them?

    [_He nods and hurries out._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. Five dollars! [_Drops everything and stands looking
dreamily through the shop window at the baby-carriage. She takes a roll
of money from her bosom and counts it. Shakes her head dispiritedly and
sighs. She makes an estimate of the money coming in from the work on
hand. Pointing to Mr. Rosenbloom's suit._] Two dollars for that--[_Turns
from the suit to a pair of torn trousers._] Half a dollar,
anyhow--[_Points to the lady's coat on which she has been sewing
buttons._] A dollar--maybe--[_Hears some one coming, thrusts the roll of
money back into her bosom._]

LEZINSKY [_comes in. Spare. Medium height. Pronounced Semitic type. He
wears glasses with very thick lenses._] Where are the children?

MRS. LEZINSKY. Mrs. Klein takes them to the moving pictures with her
Izzy.

LEZINSKY. Always to the moving pictures! The children go blind, too,
pretty soon.

MRS. LEZINSKY. The doctor didn't make your eyes no better, Solly?

LEZINSKY. How should he make them better when he says all the time:
"Don't use them." And all the time a man must keep right on working to
put bread in the mouths of his children. And soon, now, another one
comes--nebbich!

MRS. LEZINSKY. Maybe your eyes get much better now when our little
Eileen comes.

LEZINSKY. Better a boy, Goldie: that helps more in the business.

MRS. LEZINSKY. It's time our David and Julius and Benny should have a
little sister now. They like that. Such another little girl like Mrs.
Rooney's Eileen. When it is, maybe, a girl, we call her Eileen--like
Mrs. Rooney's Eileen. Such a gorgeous name--that Eileen! Yes, Solly?

LEZINSKY. Eileen! A Goy name! She should be Rebecca for your mother or
Zipporah for mine.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Sure. Zipporah, too, Solly--Eileen Zipporah! When there
should be sometime--another boy, Solly, then you name him what you like.
When it a little girl--Eileen. I dress her up stylish. Such beautiful
things they have in Gumpertz's window. And--Mrs. Rooney sells her
baby-carriage. [_Both look out at the carriage._] She gives it away.

LEZINSKY. She gives you a baby-carriage?

MRS. LEZINSKY. For five dollars she gives me that lovely carriage good
as new--all fresh painted white--and the little Eileen Zipporah sleeps
at the head and Benny rides at the foot by his little sister. So
elegant--Solly!

LEZINSKY. I put my eyes out to earn the bread and this woman--she should
buy a baby-carriage. Oi! Oi!

MRS. LEZINSKY [_points to carriage_]. Such a baby-carriage what Mrs.
Rooney has--it only happens to us once, Solly. Only five
one-dollars--all fresh painted white--just like new--and such a cover to
keep out the sun. She gets a little new go-cart for Eileen. Otherwise
she don't give up such an elegant carriage what cost her more money than
we could even see at one time except for rents and gas-bills. Five
dollars is cheap for that carriage. Five dollars is nothing for that
carriage I tell you, Solly. Nothing at all. She sells it now before she
moves to the Bronx this afternoon. Such a bargain we shouldn't lose,
Solly--even if we don't pay all the money right away down. Yes, Solly?
And Mrs. Rooney--she gives our David and Julius and Benny skates and a
picture book--and their little sister this fine basket. [_Shows him the
basket._] Yes, Solly. Shouldn't we make sure to buy this baby-carriage?
Only five dollars, Solly, this baby-carriage--

LEZINSKY. Baby-carriage! Baby-carriage! If I had so much money for
baby-carriages I hire me a cutter here. This way I go blind.

MRS. LEZINSKY. No, but by reading the Torah! And that way you lose good
custom, too. [_Wheedling him again._] Maybe you get good business and
hire you a cutter when the little Eileen comes. Five dollars! Does that
pay wages to a cutter? Yes, Solly? But it buys once a beautiful
baby-carriage, and David and Julius go wild to ride their little sister
in it--and Benny at the foot.

LEZINSKY [_waving his arms_]. I should have a cutter not to lose my
customers--and this woman--she would have a baby-carriage. I lose my
eyes, but she would have a baby-carriage.

MRS. LEZINSKY. But it costs only five dollars. What costs a cutter?

LEZINSKY. At Union wages! I might as well ask for the moon, Goldie. Oi!
Oi! Soon we all starve together.

MRS. LEZINSKY. You hire you a cheap hand here, Solly. He does pressing
and all the dirty work. He works and you boss him around. That looks
good to the customers. Yes, Solly? And I save up that five dollars soon
and give it back to you. Yes, Solly? Business goes better now already
when people come back from the country and everything picks up a little.
I help now and we spare that five dollars. Mr. Rosenbloom brings us a
little work. See? [_She points to the coat._] You should make the
sleeves shorter--one inch. Mr. Rosenbloom gets thinner by his sickness.
His clothes hang a little loose on him.

LEZINSKY [_looks at the trousers_]. And the pants?

MRS. LEZINSKY. Mr. Rosenbloom didn't lose his stomach by his sickness.
He only loses his face.

LEZINSKY. Such a _chutzpah_!

MRS. LEZINSKY. Yes, nothing makes Mr. Rosenbloom to lose his cheek,
ain't it, Solly? And plenty roast goose has he to fill up his stomach.
By us is no more roast goose nowadays.

LEZINSKY. We make up what we didn't get here maybe in the world to come,
Goldie _leben_.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Roast goose in the world to come! Such a business! Angels
shouldn't eat, Solly. I take my roast goose now--then I sure get it....
How much you charge Mr. Rosenbloom for this [_points to the suit_],
Solly?

LEZINSKY. One dollar and a half--maybe.

MRS. LEZINSKY. For such a job my cousin Morris Schapiro gets three
dollars and not too dear then. Everything goes 'way up and you stay 'way
behind. You should raise your prices. No wonder we shall all starve
together. It's not baby-carriages what ruin us. Did our David or Julius
or Benny ever have such a baby-carriage? No. But it is that you let the
customers steal your work.

LEZINSKY. All right--I charge two dollars.

MRS. LEZINSKY. What good should half a dollar do? Three dollars, Solly.

LEZINSKY. Two dollars. Three dollars swindles him.

MRS. LEZINSKY. All right--then two dollars. Fifty cents is fifty cents
anyhow. [_She goes up to him and presses her face against his._] Solly,
leben, shouldn't our David and Julius and Benny have a baby-carriage for
their little sister?

LEZINSKY. Baby-carriage--Oi! Peace, Goldie, my head aches.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_picking up the trousers_]. How much for these, Solly?

LEZINSKY. One dollar.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_derisively_]. One dollar you say! And for the lady's
coat?

LEZINSKY. A couple of dollars, anyway.

MRS. LEZINSKY. A couple of dollars anyway! And he thinks he does good
business when he charges a couple of dollars anyway. And for that, my
cousin, Morris Schapiro charges three dollars each. A couple of dollars!
Your children will be left without bread. [_He mutters phrases from the
Torah._] You hear me, Solly? [_He goes on with his prayers._] Prayers
are what he answers me. Soon you pray in the streets.

LEZINSKY. Woe is me! Woe is me!

MRS. LEZINSKY. Could he even answer me? Yes, if it was roast goose I was
asking for or black satin for a decent _Shabbos_ dress. But no!
[_Satirically._] Maybe you even get roast goose from your learning....
Yes--on account of your praying we all have to go a begging yet.

LEZINSKY. To-morrow is _Rosch Hoschana_, Gietel.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Does _Rosch Hoschana_ mean a roast goose by us? Does it
even mean a baby-carriage what costs five dollars?

LEZINSKY. Roast goose and baby-carriage! You have no pious thoughts....
Go away.... My head swims.

MRS. LEZINSKY. That comes by fasting. Don't you fast enough every day?

LEZINSKY. She comes now to roast goose again.

MRS. LEZINSKY. What should I care for roast goose? _Rosch Hoschana_
comes next year again. But the baby-carriage--it never comes again.

LEZINSKY. Baby-carriage! Baby-carriage! When you should fast and
pray....

MRS. LEZINSKY. What! Should I fast and give our David and Julius and
Benny a shadow--maybe--for a little sister?... But--yes--I fast, too ...
that--even--for such a baby carriage. O, Solly--that much we all do--for
our little Eileen.

LEZINSKY [_wearily, putting his hands to his eyes_]. All right. How much
money have you got there--Gietel?

MRS. LEZINSKY [_sweetly_]. Now call me Goldie, Solly, so I know you
ain't mad.

LEZINSKY. Yes, yes.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Goldie--say it--Solly leben--Go on--count it--Goldie.
[_She takes the money out and they count it together._]

MR. AND MRS. LEZINSKY [_together_]. One.... [_Counting out
another dollar bill_]--Two.... [_Counting out a third dollar
bill_]--Three.... [_Counting out a two-dollar bill_]--Five dollars....
[_Another two-dollar bill_]--Seven dollars.... [_A ten-dollar
bill_]--Seventeen.... [_Another ten-dollar bill_]--Twenty-seven....
[_The last ten-dollar bill_]--Thirty-seven.

LEZINSKY. Thirty-seven dollars in all--the rent and the gas!

MRS. LEZINSKY. And a little over, Solly, to pay on the baby carriage.

LEZINSKY. And to-morrow _Rosch Hoschana_. Shall we starve the children
on Rosch Hoschana?

MRS. LEZINSKY. They could go a little hungry once for their little
sister, Eileen.

LEZINSKY. Don't be too sure, Goldie, maybe another boy comes.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Well, even if--it needs the fresh air, too.

LEZINSKY [_firmly after a moment's thought_]. No, Goldie, it couldn't be
done. In the spring we buy a baby-carriage.

MRS. LEZINSKY. You think she waits till spring to sell that
baby-carriage? She sells it now before she moves away--now, this
afternoon, I tell you.

LEZINSKY. Well, we buy another carriage, then.

MRS. LEZINSKY. You don't find such a bargain again anytime. She gives it
away.

LEZINSKY. My eyes get much better soon--now--by the operation.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Operation! Operation! Always operations! And the baby
comes. No carriage for our David and Julius to wheel her in--with our
Benny at the foot--in the fresh air--and she dies on us in the heat next
summer--maybe--and David and Julius and Benny--they lose their little
sister.

LEZINSKY. Didn't David and Julius and Benny live without a
baby-carriage?

MRS. LEZINSKY. Yes, a mile to the park, maybe, and I carry them to the
fresh air. And a baby-carriage for her costs five dollars. What time
shall I have for that with all the extra work and my back broken? In
such a baby-carriage the little sister sleeps from morning to night--on
the sidewalk by the stoop; she gets fat and healthy from that
baby-carriage.

LEZINSKY. When I could pay for the operation, maybe--then--

MRS. LEZINSKY [_despairingly_]. Operations again--always operations!

LEZINSKY. Go away, Goldie, I must work.

MRS. LEZINSKY. I advise you not to have that operation now. He steals
your money and don't help your eyes. Get another doctor. But
baby-carriages like this ain't so plenty.

LEZINSKY. God of Israel, shall I go blind because you would have a
baby-carriage for our unborn son?

MRS. LEZINSKY. No, but by reading the Torah--and that way you lose good
customers, too--and she shall die in the heat because David and Julius
cannot push her in that baby-carriage.

LEZINSKY. Go away, Gietel, I have work to do. Maybe you could rip out
the sleeves from Mr. Rosenbloom's coat?

MRS. LEZINSKY. I do anything--anything you like, Solly, for that
baby-carriage.... Yes, I rip out the sleeves when I finish sewing on the
buttons.... I do anything--anything--so we get this baby carriage. We
never get another such carriage.

LEZINSKY. God of Israel, will she never hear me when I say: No!

MRS. LEZINSKY. Then--Mrs. Cohen--she gets that baby carriage--and every
day of my life I see it go past my window--and the little sister--she
goes without. [_She picks up Mr. Rosenbloom's coat, looks it over and
finds a small wallet in the breast pocket. Tucks the wallet into her
bosom. Fiercely, half-aloud, but to herself._] No! No! Mrs. Cohen
shouldn't get that baby-carriage--whatever happens--she shouldn't get
it. [_She crosses to the mirror, pulls the wallet from her bosom,
hurriedly counts the money in it, glances at her husband, then takes out
a five-dollar bill. She hears a noise outside and makes a move as though
to restore the money to the wallet, but at the sound of steps on the
stoop, she thrusts the loose bill into her bosom. As Mr. Rosenbloom
comes in she has only time to stick the wallet back into the coat. Picks
up the lady's coat and sews on buttons vigorously._]

MR. ROSENBLOOM. I left my wallet in that coat.

LEZINSKY [_with a motion of his head toward the coat_]. Goldie.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_sewing the buttons onto the lady's coat_]. In which
pocket, Mr. Rosenbloom?

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_crosses to coat_]. You don't begin work on it, yet?

MRS. LEZINSKY [_slowly puts her work aside_]. I rip the sleeves out so
soon I sew these buttons on, Mr. Rosenbloom.

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_looks in breast pocket, draws back in astonishment to
find the wallet gone._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. In which pocket, Mr. Rosenbloom?

MR. ROSENBLOOM. I keep it always in that breast pocket.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_taking the wallet from an outside pocket_]. Why--here it
is, Mr. Rosenbloom.

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_suspiciously_]. From which pocket does it come?

MRS. LEZINSKY [_points_]. Right here, Mr. Rosenbloom.

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_shakes his head_]. I don't see how it got in that
pocket.

MRS. LEZINSKY. We didn't touch that coat, Mr. Rosenbloom--except Solly
looks when I told him what he should do to it--ain't it, Solly?
Otherwise we didn't touch it.

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_opens the wallet_]. Funny! It couldn't walk out of one
pocket into another all by itself.

MRS. LEZINSKY. We didn't touch it, Mr. Rosenbloom.

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_begins to count the bills_]. Maybe some customer--

MRS. LEZINSKY. That may be--all kinds of customers, Mr. Rosenbloom--

LEZINSKY [_as Mr. Rosenbloom goes over the money for the second time._]
But it hangs here always in our sight. Who has been here, Goldie?

MR. ROSENBLOOM. There's a bill missing here.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_pretending great astonishment_]. Mr. Rosenbloom!

LEZINSKY [_with an accusing note in his tone, meant for her only_].
Gietel?

MRS. LEZINSKY. How should I know? [_To Mr. Rosenbloom._] Maybe you
didn't count it right. [_He counts it again._]

MR. ROSENBLOOM. No--it's short--$5.

LEZINSKY [_under his breath, looking strangely at his wife._] Mr.
Rosenbloom, however that happens--I make up that $5. Such a thing
shouldn't happen in my business. I make it up right away.
Gietel!--Gietel--give me the money.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_in a trembling voice_]. I didn't--

LEZINSKY [_checks her_]. I pay you from my own money, Mr. Rosenbloom....
Gietel! [_He puts out his hand for the money._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. All right, Solly.... [_Turns her back to Mr. Rosenbloom
and pulls the roll of money from her bosom, thrusting the loose bill
back. Solomon, standing over her, sees this bill and puts out his hand
for it._]

LEZINSKY [_in a tense undertone_]. All--Gietel--all!

    [_Reluctantly she draws the $5 bill from her bosom and, seizing a
    moment when Mr. Rosenbloom is recounting his money, she thrusts it
    quickly into her husband's hand._]

LEZINSKY [_he crosses to Mr. Rosenbloom and counts out the five dollars
from the bills in the roll._] One dollar--two dollars--three
dollars--and two is five dollars. [_Hands it to Mr. Rosenbloom._]

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_hesitates_]. You shouldn't be out that $5, Mr.
Lezinsky. Anyhow--pay me the difference when you charge for the suit.

LEZINSKY. No, Mr. Rosenbloom--if you take the money now, please.... I
couldn't rest--otherwise. In all my life--this--never--happened--before.

MR. ROSENBLOOM [_takes the money_]. Well, if you want it that way, Mr.
Lezinsky.... You have the suit ready this evening anyhow?

LEZINSKY. You get the suit this evening, Mr. Rosenbloom. I stop
everything else.... And I don't charge you anything for this work, Mr.
Rosenbloom.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. Of course, you charge. "Don't charge"! What kind of
business is that?

LEZINSKY. I make you a present, Mr. Rosenbloom--for your trouble.

MR. ROSENBLOOM. I pay you for these alterations, all right. [_He goes
out._]

LEZINSKY [_searches his wife's face, with ominous calm_]. Gietel!
Gietel!

MRS. LEZINSKY. You make presents, eh, Solly? Are you a rabbi or a poor
blind tailor--yes?

LEZINSKY [_bursts out_]. She makes a mock at me--this shameless one!

MRS. LEZINSKY. No, no, Solly--

LEZINSKY [_scathingly_]. Gietel!... [_His eyes never leave her face._]

MRS. LEZINSKY [_in a hushed voice_]. Why do you look at me like that,
Solly?

LEZINSKY. Blind as I am, I see too much, Gietel.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Listen, Solly--I tell you now--

LEZINSKY [_silences her with a wave of his hand._] What I get I
give--[_He takes the five-dollar bill from his pocket, smooths it out
and adds it to the roll._] I give my money. I give my eyes ... and this
woman--she sells me for a baby-carriage.

MRS. LEZINSKY. No, no, Solly, you shouldn't say such things before you
know--

LEZINSKY. Silence, woman! How should I not know? It is here in my
hand--the five-dollar bill--here in my hand. I have counted the money.
Thirty-seven dollars we had. I have given him back his five and
thirty-seven dollars remain. How is that, Gietel? What is the answer to
that?... She cheats the customer and she cheats me.... Rather should I
take my children by the hand and beg my bread from door to door.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Solly--Solly--I tell you--the baby-carriage--

LEZINSKY. Out of my sight, woman; I forbid you to come into this shop
again.

MRS. LEZINSKY. O, Solly _leben_, that couldn't be--

LEZINSKY. The mother of my children--she sins--for a baby-carriage.

MRS. LEZINSKY. Listen, Solly--I didn't mean to keep that money. As
there's a God of Israel I didn't mean to keep it. I should use it--just
this afternoon--to buy the baby-carriage--and when the customers pay
us--put the money back before he misses it.

LEZINSKY. Meshugge! So much money isn't coming to us. And why should you
use Mr. Rosenbloom's money? Why shouldn't you take it from the money you
had?

MRS. LEZINSKY. How could I use that money? Don't you pay the rent this
afternoon to the agent? And they shut off the gas when we don't settle:
by five o'clock they shut it off. And Mrs. Rooney moves away--[_Breaks
into sobbing._] and so--I thought I lose the baby-carriage.

LEZINSKY. Gietel--Gietel--you are a----. I can't speak the word,
Gietel--It sticks in my throat.

MRS. LEZINSKY. No, no, Solly, you shouldn't speak that word. If I took
it to keep it maybe. But--no. I couldn't do such a thing. Not for a
million baby-carriages could I do such a thing. Not for anything could I
keep what is not my own--I tell you, Solly.... [_Pleadingly._] But just
to keep it for a few hours, maybe? Why should a man with so much money
miss a little for a few hours? Then Mr. Rosenbloom--he comes back in. I
change my mind, but the door opens and it is too late already. Solly
leben, did I keep it back--the five dollars? I ask you, Solly? Didn't I
give it all into your hand? I ask you that, Solly?

LEZINSKY. Woe is me!--The mother of my children--and she takes what is
not her own!

MRS. LEZINSKY. So much money and not one dollar to pay Mrs. Rooney for
the baby-carriage! You see, Solly--always fine-dressed people
around--the mamas and the little children all dressed fine--with white
socks and white shoes. And our David--and our Julius--and our Benny,
even--what _must_ they wear? Old clothes! Yes. And to save the money
they should wear black stockings--and old shoes. Never no pretty things!
And it's all the time work--work--work and we never have nothing--no new
clothes--no pretty things--[_She breaks down completely._]

LEZINSKY. So our children grow up with the fear of God in their hearts--

MRS. LEZINSKY. What should little children know of all this pious
business when they must play alone on the stoop with Izzi Klein
together. For why? The Cohen children shouldn't play with our David and
Julius and Benny. They make a snout at them. The Cohens dress them up
stylish and they should play with Gentile children. They push my Benny
in the stomach when he eats an ice-cream cone, and they say--regular--to
my David and Julius: "Sheeny"--the same as if they wasn't Jewish,
too.... Just for once I wanted something lovely and stylish--like other
people have.... Then she asks--only five dollars for the
baby-carriage--and--[_Choking back a sob._] Mrs. Cohen--now, Mrs.
Cohen--she gets it. She gets it and I must want--and want. First
David--then Julius--then comes Benny--and now the little sister--and
never once a baby-carriage! [_Sobs._]

LEZINSKY. We should raise our children to be pious.

    [_There is the sound of trundling wheels. Mrs. Lezinsky looks out.
    The carriage is gone from the window._]

MRS. LEZINSKY [_as the door opens and Mrs. Rooney appears wheeling the
carriage in, low voices_]. Mrs. Rooney, Solly; she comes now to say
good-by. [_Mops her eyes, trys to put on a casual look._]

MRS. ROONEY. Now there you are, Mrs. Lezinsky, blanket and all.

    [_Lezinsky works feverishly without lifting his eyes._]

MRS. LEZINSKY [_low appealing voice_]. You should look at it once,
Solly. [_Lezinsky stops for a moment and lets his eyes rest on the
baby-carriage._] Ain't it a beautiful, stylish baby-carriage, Solly?

MRS. ROONEY. There it is now and I'll be running on for Mrs. Klein's
Anna's keeping Eileen and I have her to dress before her pa comes home.
He's getting off earlier for the moving.

MRS. LEZINSKY. The little Eileen! Why didn't you bring her along with
you, Mrs. Rooney?

MRS. ROONEY. She went to sleep on me or I would that.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_her eyes on her husband's face in mute appeal_]. O, Mrs.
Rooney--so little business and so much expense--and my Solly has an
operation for his sick eyes soon--it breaks my heart--but--Mrs. Cohen
[_Shaking voice._] _she_ gets this lovely baby carriage.

MRS. ROONEY [_taking in the situation_]. Mrs. Cohen--_she_ gets it! Does
she now? Not if my name's Rooney does Mrs. Cohen get it and she only
after offering to raise me a dollar to make sure of the baby-carriage,
knowing your sore need of the same. Am I a lady or not, Mr. Lezinsky?
'Tis that I want to know. "I'll give you six dollars for it," says she
to me. Says I to her: "Mrs. Cohen--when I spoke to you of that
baby-carriage," says I, "it clean slipped me mind that I promised the
same to Mrs. Lezinsky. I promised it to Mrs. Lezinsky long ago," says
I--and so I did, though I forget to make mention of it to you at the
time, Mrs. Lezinsky. So here it is and here it stays or my name's not
Rooney.

MRS. LEZINSKY. But so much money we haven't got now--not even for the
operation, Mrs. Rooney.... [_Soft pleading undertone to her husband._]
Only five dollars, Solly!... [_Sinking her voice still lower._]
Anyhow--I don't deserve no baby-carriage--maybe--[_Lezinsky makes no
sign._]

MRS. LEZINSKY. If we could possibly pay for that baby-carriage we keep
it, Mrs. Rooney--[_Turns back to her husband, voice shakes._] for our
Benny and the little sister--yes, Solly? [_She waits and watches him
with mute appeal, then, forcing herself to speak casually._] But it
couldn't be done, Mrs. Rooney--[_Bravely._] Solly should have every
dollar for that operation.

MRS. ROONEY. There now--no more about it! 'Tis your own from this day
out.... You can take your own time to be paying for it.... I'll be
wanting some work done anyhow--when the cold weather sets in.

MRS. LEZINSKY [_between tears and laughter_]. Solly!... Ain't it
wonderful? Mrs. Rooney--she trusts us--for this beautiful
baby-carriage!... O, Mrs. Rooney!

MRS. ROONEY. 'Tis little enough to be doing for my godchild that could
be was she born a Catholic now.

MRS. LEZINSKY. O, Mrs. Rooney, dear Mrs. Rooney! Solly, Solly, we should
have a baby-carriage at last! At last we should have a baby-carriage. O,
Solly, Solly, what a mitzvah! Yes, Solly? [_As Mrs. Rooney starts to
leave._] But your blanket--Mrs. Rooney--

MRS. ROONEY. I'll be throwing that in--for good luck.

MRS. LEZINSKY. It breaks my heart you move away, Mrs. Rooney.

MRS. ROONEY. See you soon. [_Opens the door; looks up the street as she
stands in the doorway._] Here's the kids coming.

MRS. LEZINSKY. My David and Julius and Benny, they could die for joy to
wheel their little sister in this baby-carriage.

MRS. ROONEY. Well, good luck--the both of you--and good-by! [_With a
sense of pride in the greater prosperity which the new address means to
her._] Three thousand and thirty-seven Jerome Avenue--don't forget!

MRS. LEZINSKY [_bending over the baby-carriage_]. Good-by, Mrs.
Rooney--next time you come, maybe you see her in the baby-carriage.
[_Soothing the blanket_]--the little Eileen! [_Turns to her husband as
the door closes._] Yes, Solly?

    [_They look at each other in silence for a moment.--She puts out
    her hands imploringly. His face softens; he lays his hand on her
    shoulder as the three little boys, David, Julius and Benny pass by
    the window. As they come into the shop_


  _the Curtain Falls._]



THE PIERROT OF THE MINUTE

  A DRAMATIC FANTASY

  BY ERNEST DOWSON


  CHARACTERS

    A MOON MAIDEN.
    PIERROT.



THE PIERROT OF THE MINUTE

A DRAMATIC FANTASY BY ERNEST DOWSON


    [SCENE: _A glade in the Parc du Petit Trianon. In the center a
    Doric temple with steps coming down the stage. On the left a
    little Cupid on a pedestal. Twilight._

    _Enter Pierrot with his hands full of lilies. He is burdened with
    a little basket. He stands gazing at the Temple and the Statue._]


PIERROT.

  My journey's end! This surely is the glade
  Which I was promised: I have well obeyed!
  A clue of lilies was I bid to find,
  Where the green alleys most obscurely wind;
  Where tall oaks darkliest canopy o'erhead,
  And moss and violet make the softest bed;
  Where the path ends, and leagues behind me lie
  The gleaming courts and gardens of Versailles;
  The lilies streamed before me, green and white;
  I gathered, following: they led me right,
  To the bright temple and the sacred grove:
  This is, in truth, the very shrine of Love!

    [_He gathers together his flowers and lays them at the foot of
    Cupid's statue; then he goes timidly up the first steps of the
    temple and stops._]

  It is so solitary, I grow afraid.
  Is there no priest here, no devoted maid?
  Is there no oracle, no voice to speak,
  Interpreting to me the word I seek?

    [_A very gentle music of lutes floats out from the temple. Pierrot
    starts back; he shows extreme surprise; then he returns to the
    foreground, and crouches down in rapt attention until the music
    ceases. His face grows puzzled and petulant._]

  Too soon! too soon! in that enchanting strain
  Days yet unlived, I almost lived again:
  It almost taught me that I most would know--
  Why am I here, and why am I Pierrot?

    [_Absently he picks up a lily which has fallen to the ground, and
    repeats._]

  Why came I here, and why am I Pierrot?
  That music and this silence both affright;
  Pierrot can never be a friend of night.
  I never felt my solitude before--
  Once safe at home, I will return no more.
  Yet the commandment of the scroll was plain;
  While the light lingers let me read again.

    [_He takes a scroll from his bosom and reads._]

  "He loves to-night who never loved before;
  Who ever loved, to-night shall love once more."
  I never loved! I know not what love is.
  I am so ignorant--but what is this?

    [_Reads._]

  "Who would adventure to encounter Love
  Must rest one night within this hallowed grove.
  Cast down thy lilies, which have led thee on,
  Before the tender feet of Cupidon."
  Thus much is done, the night remains to me.
  Well, Cupidon, be my security!
  Here is more writing, but too faint to read.

    [_He puzzles for a moment, then casts the scroll down._]

  Hence, vain old parchment. I have learnt thy rede!

    [_He looks round uneasily, starts at his shadow; then discovers
    his basket with glee. He takes out a flask of wine, pours it into
    a glass, and drinks._]

  Courage _mon Ami_! I shall never miss
  Society with such a friend as this.
  How merrily the rosy bubbles pass,
  Across the amber crystal of the glass.
  I had forgotten you. Methinks this quest
  Can wake no sweeter echo in my breast.

    [_Looks round at the statue, and starts._]

  Nay, little god! forgive. I did but jest.

    [_He fills another glass, and pours it upon the statue._]

  This libation, Cupid, take,
    With the lilies at thy feet;
  Cherish Pierrot for their sake,
    Send him visions strange and sweet,
  While he slumbers at thy feet.
    Only love kiss him awake!
      _Only love kiss him awake!_

    [_Slowly falls the darkness, soft music plays, while Pierrot
    gathers together fern and foliage into a rough couch at the foot
    of the steps which lead to the Temple d'Amour. Then he lies down
    upon it, having made his prayer. It is night. He speaks softly._]

  Music, more music, far away and faint:
  It is an echo of mine heart's complaint.
  Why should I be so musical and sad?
  I wonder why I used to be so glad?
  In single glee I chased blue butterflies,
  Half butterfly myself, but not so wise,
  For they were twain, and I was only one.
  Ah me! how pitiful to be alone.
  My brown birds told me much, but in mine ear
  They never whispered this--I learned it here:
  The soft wood sounds, the rustling in the breeze,
  Are but the stealthy kisses of the trees.
  Each flower and fern in this enchanted wood
  Leans to her fellow, and is understood;
  The eglantine, in loftier station set,
  Stoops down to woo the maidly violet.
  In gracile pairs the very lilies grow:
  None is companionless except Pierrot.
  Music, more music! how its echoes steal
  Upon my senses with unlooked for weal.
  Tired am I, tired, and far from this lone glade
  Seems mine old joy in rout and masquerade.
  Sleep cometh over me, now will I prove,
  By Cupid's grace, what is this thing called love.

    [_Sleeps._]

    [_There is more music of lutes for an interval, during which a
    bright radiance, white and cold, streams from the temple upon the
    face of Pierrot. Presently a Moon Maiden steps out of the temple;
    she descends and stands over the sleeper._]

THE LADY.

      Who is this mortal
        Who ventures to-night
      To woo an immortal?
        Cold, cold the moon's light,
      For sleep at this portal,
        Bold lover of night.
      Fair is the mortal
        In soft, silken white,
      Who seeks an immortal.
        Ah, lover of night,
      Be warned at the portal,
        And save thee in flight!

    [_She stoops over him; Pierrot stirs in his sleep._]

PIERROT [_murmuring_].

  Forget not, Cupid. Teach me all thy lore:
  "_He loves to-night who never loved before._"

THE LADY.

  Unwitting boy! when, be it soon or late,
  What Pierrot ever has escaped his fate?
  What if I warned him! He might yet evade,
  Through the long windings of this verdant glade;
  Seek his companions in the blither way,
  Which, else, must be as lost as yesterday.
  So might he still pass some unheeding hours
  In the sweet company of birds and flowers.
  How fair he is, with red lips formed for joy,
  As softly curved as those of Venus' boy.
  Methinks his eyes, beneath their silver sheaves,
  Rest tranquilly like lilies under leaves.
  Arrayed in innocence, what touch of grace
  Reveals the scion of a courtly race?
  Well, I will warn him, though, I fear, too late--
  What Pierrot ever has escaped his fate?
  But, see, he stirs, new knowledge fires his brain,
  And cupid's vision bids him wake again.
  Dione's Daughter! but how fair he is,
  Would it be wrong to rouse him with a kiss?

    [_She stoops down and kisses him, then withdraws into the shadow._]

PIERROT [_rubbing his eyes_].

  Celestial messenger! remain, remain;
  Or, if a vision, visit me again!
  What is this light, and whither am I come
  To sleep beneath the stars so far from home?

    [_Rises slowly to his feet._]

  Stay, I remember this is Venus' Grove,
  And I am hither come to encounter--

THE LADY [_coming forward, but veiled_].

                                Love!

PIERROT [_in ecstasy, throwing himself at her feet_].

  Then have I ventured and encountered Love?

THE LADY.

  Not yet, rash boy! and, if thou wouldst be wise,
  Return unknowing; he is safe who flies.

PIERROT.

  Never, sweet lady, will I leave this place
  Until I see the wonder of thy face.
  Goddess or Naiad! lady of this Grove,
  Made mortal for a night to teach me love,
  Unveil thyself, although thy beauty be
  Too luminous for my mortality.

THE LADY [_unveiling_].

  Then, foolish boy, receive at length thy will:
  Now knowest thou the greatness of thine ill.

PIERROT.

  Now have I lost my heart, and gained my goal.

THE LADY.

  Didst thou not read the warning on the scroll?

    [_Picks up the parchment._]

PIERROT.

  I read it all, as on this quest I fared,
  Save where it was illegible and hard.

THE LADY.

  Alack! poor scholar, wast thou never taught
  A little knowledge serveth less than naught?
  Hadst thou perused--but, stay, I will explain
  What was the writing which thou didst disdain.

    [_Reads._]

  "_Au Petit Trianon_, at night's full noon,
  Mortal, beware the kisses of the moon!
  Whoso seeks her she gathers like a flower--
  He gives a life, and only gains an hour."

PIERROT [_laughing recklessly_].

  Bear me away to thine enchanted bower,
  All of my life I venture for an hour.

THE LADY.

  Take up thy destiny of short delight;
  I am thy lady for a summer's night,
  Lift up your viols, maidens of my train,
  And work such havoc on this mortal's brain
  That for a moment he may touch and know
  Immortal things, and be full Pierrot,
  White music, Nymphs! Violet and Eglantine!
  To stir his tired veins like magic wine,
  What visitants across his spirit glance,
  Lying on lilies, while he watch me dance?
  Watch, and forget all weary things on earth,
  All memories and cares, all joy and mirth,
  While my dance woos him, light and rhythmical,
  And weaves his heart into my coronal.
  Music, more music for his soul's delight:
  Love is his lady for a summer's night.

    [_Pierrot reclines, and gazes at her while she dances. The dance
    finished, she beckons to him: he rises dreamily, and stands at her
    side._]

PIERROT.

  Whence came, dear Queen, such magic melody?

THE LADY.

  Pan made it long ago in Arcady.

PIERROT.

  I heard it long ago, I know not where,
  As I knew thee, or ever I came here.
  But I forgot all things--my name and race,
  All that I ever knew except thy face.
  Who art thou, lady? Breathe a name to me,
  That I may tell it like a rosary.
  Thou, whom I sought, dear Dryad of the trees,
  How art thou designate--art thou Heart's-Ease?

THE LADY.

  Waste not the night in idle questioning,
  Since Love departs at dawn's awakening.

PIERROT.

  Nay, thou art right; what recks thy name or state,
  Since thou art lovely and passionate.
  Play out thy will on me: I am thy lyre.

THE LADY.

  I am to each the face of his desire.

PIERROT.

  I am not Pierrot, but Venus' dove,
  Who craves a refuge on the breast of love.

THE LADY.

  What wouldst thou of the maiden of the moon?
  Until the cock crow I may grant thy boon.

PIERROT.

  Then, sweet Moon Maiden, in some magic car,
  Wrought wondrously of many a homeless star--
  Such must attend thy journeys through the skies,--
  Drawn by a team of milk-white butterflies,
  Whom, with soft voice and music of thy maids,
  Thou urgest gently through the heavenly glades;
  Mount me beside thee, bear me far away
  From the low regions of the solar day;
  Over the rainbow, up into the moon,
  Where is thy palace and thine opal throne;
  There on thy bosom--

THE LADY.

              Too ambitious boy!
  I did but promise thee one hour of joy.
  This tour thou plannest, with a heart so light,
  Could hardly be completed in a night.
  Hast thou no craving less remote than this?

PIERROT.

  Would it be impudent to beg a kiss?

THE LADY.

  I say not that: yet prithee have a care!
  Often audacity has proved a snare.
  How wan and pale do moon-kissed roses grow--
  Does thou not fear my kisses, Pierrot?

PIERROT.

  As one who faints upon the Libyan plain
  Fears the oasis which brings life again!

THE LADY.

  Where far away green palm trees seem to stand
  May be a mirage of the wreathing sand.

PIERROT.

  Nay, dear enchantress, I consider naught,
  Save mine own ignorance, which would be taught.

THE LADY.

  Dost thou persist?

PIERROT.

              I do entreat this boon!

    [_She bends forward, their lips meet: she withdraws with a
    petulant shiver. She utters a peal of clear laughter._]

THE LADY.

  Why art thou pale, fond lover of the moon?

PIERROT.

  Cold are thy lips, more cold than I can tell;
  Yet would I hang on them, thine icicle!
  Cold is thy kiss, more cold than I could dream
  Arctus sits, watching the Boreal stream:
  But with its frost such sweetness did conspire
  That all my veins are filled with running fire;
  Never I knew that life contained such bliss
  As the divine completeness of a kiss.

THE LADY.

  Apt scholar! so love's lesson has been taught,
  Warning, as usual, has gone for naught.

PIERROT.

  Had all my schooling been of this soft kind,
  To play the truant I were less inclined.
  Teach me again! I am a sorry dunce--
  I never knew a task by conning once.

THE LADY.

  Then come with me! below this pleasant shrine
  Of Venus we will presently recline,
  Until birds' twitter beckon me away
  To my own home, beyond the milky-way.
  I will instruct thee, for I deem as yet
  Of Love thou knowest but the alphabet.

PIERROT.

  In its sweet grammar I shall grow most wise,
  If all its rules be written in thine eyes.

    [_The Lady sits upon a step of the temple, and Pierrot leans upon
    his elbow at her feet, regarding her._]

  Sweet contemplation! how my senses yearn to be thy scholar always,
    always learn.
  Hold not so high from me thy radiant mouth,
  Fragrant with all the spices of the South;
  Nor turn, O sweet! thy golden face away,
  For with it goes the light of all my day.
  Let me peruse it, till I know by rote
  Each line of it, like music, note by note;
  Raise thy long lashes, Lady; smile again:
  These studies profit me.

    [_Takes her hand._]

THE LADY.

                Refrain, refrain!

PIERROT [_with passion_].

  I am but studious, so do not stir;
  Thou art my star, I thine astronomer!
  Geometry was founded on thy lip.

    [_Kisses her hand._]

THE LADY.

  This attitude becomes not scholarship!
  Thy zeal I praise; but, prithee, not so fast,
  Nor leave the rudiments until the last,
  Science applied is good, but 'twere a schism
  To study such before the catechism.
  Bear thee more modestly, while I submit
  Some easy problems to confirm thy wit.

PIERROT.

  In all humility my mind I pit
  Against her problems which would test my wit.

THE LADY [_questioning him from a little book bound deliciously in
vellum_].

          What is Love?
      Is it folly,
      Is it mirth, or melancholy?
          Joys above,
      Are there many, or not any?
          What is love?

PIERROT [_answering in a very humble attitude of scholarship_].

          If you please,
      A most sweet folly!
      Full of mirth and melancholy:
          Both of these!
      In its sadness worth all gladness,
          If you please!

THE LADY.

          Prithee where,
      Goes Love a-hiding?
      Is he long in his abiding
          Anywhere?
      Can you bind him when you find him;
          Prithee, where?

PIERROT.

          With spring days
      Love comes and dallies:
      Upon the mountains, through the valleys
          Lie Love's ways.
      Then he leaves you and deceives you
          In spring days.

THE LADY.

  Thine answers please me: 'tis thy turn to ask.
  To meet thy questioning be now my task.

PIERROT.

      Since I know thee, dear Immortal,
      Is my heart become a blossom,
      To be worn upon thy bosom.
      When thou turn me from this portal,
      Whither shall I, hapless mortal,
      Seek love out and win again
      Heart of me that thou retain?

THE LADY.

      In and out the woods and valleys,
      Circling, soaring like a swallow,
      Love shall flee and thou shalt follow:
      Though he stops awhile and dallies,
      Never shalt thou stay his malice!
      Moon-kissed mortals seek in vain
      To possess their hearts again!

PIERROT.

      Tell me, Lady, shall I never
      Rid me of this grievous burden!
      Follow Love and find his guerdon
      In no maiden whatsoever?
      Wilt thou hold my heart forever?
      Rather would I thine forget,
      In some earthly Pierrette!

THE LADY.

      Thus thy fate, what'er thy will is!
      Moon-struck child, go seek my traces
      Vainly in all mortal faces!
      In and out among the lilies,
      Court each rural Amaryllis:
      Seek the signet of Love's hand
      In each courtly Corisande!

PIERROT.

  Now, verily, sweet maid, of school I tire;
  These answers are not such as I desire.

THE LADY.

  Why art thou sad?

PIERROT.

                    I dare not tell.

THE LADY [_caressingly_].

                          Come, say!

PIERROT.

  Is love all schooling, with no time to play?

THE LADY.

  Though all love's lessons be a holiday,
  Yet I will humor thee: what wouldst thou play?

PIERROT.

  What are the games that small moon-maids enjoy:
  Or is their time all spent in staid employ?

THE LADY.

  Sedate they are, yet games they much enjoy:
  They skip with stars, the rainbow is their toy.

PIERROT.

  That is too hard!

THE LADY.

        For mortal's play.

PIERROT.

                          What then?

THE LADY.

  Teach me some pastime from the world of men.

PIERROT.

  I have it, maiden.

THE LADY.

              Can it soon be taught?

PIERROT.

  A single game, I learnt it at the Court.

THE LADY.

          But, prithee, not so near.

PIERROT.

  That is essential, as will soon appear.
  Lay here thine hand, which cold night dews anoint,
  Washing its white--

THE LADY.

          Now is this to the point?

PIERROT.

  Prithee, forbear! Such is the game's design.

THE LADY.

  Here is my hand.

PIERROT.

              I cover it with mine.

THE LADY.

  What must I next?

    [_They play._]

PIERROT.

            Withdraw.

THE LADY.

                  It goes too fast.

    [_They continue playing, until Pierrot catches her hand._]

PIERROT [_laughing_].

  'Tis done. I win my forfeit at the last.

    [_He tries to embrace her. She escapes; he chases her round the
    stage; she eludes him._]

THE LADY.

  Thou art not quick enough. Who hopes to catch
  A moon-beam, must use twice as much dispatch.

PIERROT [_sitting down sulkily_].

  I grow aweary, and my heart is sore.
  Thou dost not love me; I will play no more.

    [_He buries his face in his hands. The Lady stands over him._]

THE LADY.

  What is this petulance?

PIERROT.

                'Tis quick to tell--
  Thou hast but mocked me.

THE LADY.

              Nay! I love thee well!

PIERROT.

  Repeat those words, for still within my breast
  A whisper warns me they are said in jest.

THE LADY.

  I jested not: at daybreak I must go,
  Yet loving thee far better than thou know.

PIERROT.

  Then, by this altar, and this sacred shrine,
  Take my sworn troth, and swear thee wholly mine!
  The gods have wedded mortals long ere this.

THE LADY.

  There was enough betrothal in my kiss.
  What need of further oaths?

PIERROT.

                That bound not thee!

THE LADY.

  Peace! since I tell thee that it may not be.
  But sit beside me whilst I soothe thy bale
  With some moon fancy or celestial tale.

PIERROT.

  Tell me of thee, and that dimy, happy place
  Where lies thine home, with maidens of thy race!

THE LADY [_seating herself_].

  Calm is it yonder, very calm; the air
  For mortals' breath is too refined and rare;
  Hard by a green lagoon our palace rears
  Its dome of agate through a myriad years.
  A hundred chambers its bright walls enthrone,
  Each one carved strangely from a precious stone.
  Within the fairest, clad in purity,
  Our mother dwelleth immemorially:
  Moon-calm, moon-pale, with moon stones on her gown,
  The floor she treads with little pearls is sown;
  She sits upon a throne of amethysts,
  And orders mortal fortunes as she lists;
  I, and my sisters, all around her stand,
  And, when she speaks, accomplish her demand.

PIERROT.

  Methought grim Clotho and her sisters twain
  With shriveled fingers spun this web of bane!

THE LADY.

  Theirs and my mother's realm is far apart;
  Hers is the lustrous kingdom of the heart,
  And dreamers all, and all who sing and love,
  Her power acknowledge, and her rule approve.

PIERROT.

  Me, even me, she hath led into this grove.

THE LADY.

  Yea, thou art one of hers! But, ere this night,
  Often I watched my sisters take their flight
  Down heaven's stairway of the clustered stars
  To gaze on mortals through their lattice bars;
  And some in sleep they woo with dreams of bliss
  Too shadowy to tell, and some they kiss.
  But all to whom they come, my sisters say,
  Forthwith forget all joyance of the day,
  Forget their laughter and forget their tears,
  And dream away with singing all their years--
  Moon-lovers always!

    [_She sighs._]

PIERROT.

            Why art sad, sweet Moon?

    [_Laughs._]

THE LADY.

  For this, my story, grant me now a boon.

PIERROT.

  I am thy servitor.

THE LADY.

                Would, then, I knew
  More of the earth, what men and women do.

PIERROT.

  I will explain.

THE LADY.

                Let brevity attend
  Thy wit, for night approaches to its end.

PIERROT.

  Once was I a page at Court, so trust in me:
  That's the first lesson of society.

THE LADY.

  Society?

PIERROT.

            I mean the very best
  Pardy! thou wouldst not hear about the rest.
  I know it not, but am a petit maître
  At rout and festival and bal champêtre.
  But since example be instruction's ease,
  Let's play the thing.--Now, Madame, if you please!

    [_He helps her to rise, and leads her forward: then he kisses her
    hand, bowing over it with a very courtly air._]

THE LADY.

  What am I, then?

PIERROT.

          A most divine Marquise!
  Perhaps that attitude hath too much ease.

    [_Passes her._]

  Ah, that is better! To complete the plan,
  Nothing is necessary save a fan.

THE LADY.

  Cool is the night, what needs it?

PIERROT.

                        Madame, pray
  Reflect, it is essential to our play.

THE LADY [_taking a lily_].

  Here is my fan!

PIERROT.

            So, use it with intent:
  The deadliest arm in beauty's armament!

THE LADY.

  What do we next?

PIERROT.

                We talk!

THE LADY.

                    But what about?

PIERROT.

  We quiz the company and praise the rout;
  Are polished, petulant, malicious, sly,
  Or what you will, so reputations die.
  Observe the Duchess in Venetian lace,
  With the red eminence.

THE LADY.

                      A pretty face!

PIERROT.

  For something tarter set thy wits to search--
  "She loves the churchman better than the church."

THE LADY.

  Her blush is charming; would it were her own!

PIERROT.

  Madame is merciless!

THE LADY.

                  Is that the tone?

PIERROT.

  The very tone: I swear thou lackest naught.
  Madame was evidently bred at Court.

THE LADY.

  Thou speakest glibly: 'tis not of thine age.

PIERROT.

  I listened much, as best becomes a page.

THE LADY.

  I like thy Court but little--

PIERROT.

                  Hush! the Queen!
  Bow, but not low--thou knowest what I mean.

THE LADY.

  Nay, that I know not!

PIERROT.

          Though she wears a crown,
  'Tis from La Pompadour one fears a frown.

THE LADY.

  Thou art a child: thy malice is a game.

PIERROT.

  A most sweet pastime--scandal is its name.

THE LADY.

  Enough, it wearies me.

PIERROT.

                Then, rare Marquise,
  Desert the crowd to wander through the trees.

    [_He bows low, and she curtsies; they move round the stage. When
    they pass before the Statue he seizes her hand and falls on his
    knee._]

THE LADY.

  What wouldst thou now?

PIERROT.

       Ah, prithee, what, save thee!

THE LADY.

  Was this included in thy comedy?

PIERROT.

  Ah, mock me not! In vain with quirk and jest
  I strive to quench the passion in my breast;
  In vain thy blandishments would make me play:
  Still I desire far more than I can say.
  My knowledge halts, ah, sweet, be piteous,
  Instruct me still, while time remains to us,
  Be what thou wist, Goddess, moon-maid, _Marquise_,
  So that I gather from thy lips heart's ease,
  Nay, I implore thee, think thee how time flies!

THE LADY.

  Hush! I beseech thee, even now night dies.

PIERROT.

  Night, day, are one to me for thy soft sake.

    [_He entreats her with imploring gestures, she hesitates: then
    puts her finger on her lip, hushing him._]

THE LADY.

  It is too late, for hark! the birds awake.

PIERROT.

  The birds awake! It is the voice of day!

THE LADY.

  Farewell, dear youth! They summon me away.

    [_The light changes, it grows daylight: and the music imitates the
    twitter of the birds. They stand gazing at the morning: then
    Pierrot sinks back upon his bed, he covers his face in his
    hands._]

THE LADY [_bending over him_].

  Music, my maids! His weary senses steep
  In soft untroubled and oblivious sleep,
  With Mandragore anoint his tired eyes,
  That they may open on mere memories,
  Then shall a vision seem his lost delight,
  With love, his lady for a summer night.
  Dream thou hast dreamt all this, when thou awake,
  Yet still be sorrowful, for a dream's sake.
  I leave thee, sleeper! Yea, I leave thee now,
  Yet take my legacy upon thy brow:
  Remember me, who was compassionate,
  And opened for thee once, the ivory gate.
  I come no more, thou shalt not see my face
  When I am gone to mine exalted place:
  Yet all thy days are mine, dreamer of dreams,
  All silvered over with the moon's pale beams:
  Go forth and seek in each fair face in vain,
  To find the image of thy love again.
  All maids are kind to thee, yet never one
  Shall hold thy truant heart till day be done.
  Whom once the moon has kissed, loves long and late,
  Yet never finds the maid to be his mate.
  Farewell, dear sleeper, follow out thy fate.

    [_The Moon Maiden withdraws: a song is sung from behind: it is
    full day._]


THE MOON MAIDEN'S SONG

      Sleep! Cast thy canopy
        Over this sleeper's brain,
      Dim grows his memory,
        When he awake again.

      Love stays a summer night,
        Till lights of morning come;
      Then takes her wingèd flight
        Back to her starry home.

      Sleep! Yet thy days are mine;
        Love's seal is over thee:
      Far though my ways from thine,
        Dim though thy memory.

      Love stays a summer night,
        Till lights of morning come;
      Then takes her wingèd flight
        Back to her starry home.

    [_When the song is finished, the curtain falls upon Pierrot
    sleeping._]


_EPILOGUE_

[_Spoken in the character of PIERROT_]

  _The sun is up, yet ere a body stirs,
  A word with you, sweet ladies and dear sirs,_

  [_Although on no account let any say
  That PIERROT finished Mr. Dowson's play_].

  _One night not long ago, at Baden Baden,--
  The birthday of the Duke,--his pleasure garden
  Was lighted gayly with_ feu d'artifice,
  _With candles, rockets, and a center-piece
  Above the conversation house, on high,
  Outlined in living fire against the sky,
  A glittering_ Pierrot, _radiant, white,
  Whose heart beat fast, who danced with sheer delight,
  Whose eyes were blue, whose lips were rosy red,
  Whose_ pompons _too were fire, while on his head
  He wore a little cap, and I am told
  That rockets covered him with showers of gold.
  "Take our applause, you well deserve to win it,"
  They cried: "Bravo! the_ Pierrot _of the minute!"_

  _What with applause and gold, one must confess
  That Pierrot had "arrived," achieved success,
  When, as it happened, presently, alas!
  A terrible disaster came to pass.
  His nose grew dim, the people gave a shout,
  His red lips paled, both his blue eyes went out.
  There rose a sullen sound of discontent,
  The golden shower of rockets was all spent;
  He left off dancing with a sudden jerk,
  For he was nothing but a firework.
  The garden darkened and the people in it
  Cried, "He is dead,--the_ Pierrot _of the minute!"_

  _With every artist it is even so;
  The artist, after all, is a_ Pierrot--
  _A_ Pierrot _of the minute, naïf, clever,
  But Art is back of him, She lives for ever!_

  _Then pardon my Moon Maid and me, because
  We craved the golden shower of your applause!
  Pray shrive us both for having tried to win it,
  And cry, "Bravo! The_ Pierrot _of the minute!"_



THE SUBJECTION OF KEZIA

  A PLAY

  BY MRS. HAVELOCK ELLIS


  Copyright, 1915, by Edith M. O. Ellis.
  As Author and Proprietor.
  All rights reserved.


  PERSONS IN THE PLAY.

    JOE PENGILLY.
    KEZIA [_Joe Pengilly's wife_].
    MATTHEW TREVASKIS [_a friend of the Pengillys_].

  THE SCENE _is laid in a Cornish village_.
  TIME: _The Present_.

  _The whole action of the play takes place between seven o'clock
  and nine o'clock on a Saturday evening._


  Reprinted from "Love in Danger" by permission of and special
  arrangements with, Houghton, Mifflin Company.

  The professional and amateur stage rights on this play are
  strictly reserved by the author, to whose dramatic agent, Miss
  Galbraith Welch, 101 Park Avenue, New York, applications for
  permission to produce it should be made.



THE SUBJECTION OF KEZIA

A PLAY BY MRS. HAVELOCK ELLIS


    [SCENE: _Interior of a cottage kitchen in a Cornish fishing
    village. The walls are distempered a pale blue; the ceiling wooden
    and beamed. Middle of back wall, a kitchen-range where fire is
    burning. At back R. is a door opening into an inner room. At back
    L. small cupboards. At side L. is a large kitchen-table laid for
    tea under a window facing sea. The floor is red brick. On
    mantelpiece, white china dogs, clock, copper candlesticks,
    tea-caddy, stirrups, and bits. On walls, family framed
    photographs, religious framed pictures. Below table is a door
    leading into street. Behind door, roller with hanging towel. Usual
    kitchen paraphernalia, chairs, pots and pans, etc. Cat basket with
    straw to R. of range. At back R. is a wooden settle with good
    upright sides. Joe Pengilly is wiping his face and hands, having
    just come in from the pump outside. He sighs and glances uneasily
    at Kezia, who has her back turned to him, and is frying mackerel
    at the stove. He rolls down his sleeves slowly and watches his
    wife uneasily. He is dressed as a laborer--corduroy trousers,
    hob-nailed boots, blue-and-white shirt, open throat. He takes down
    a sleeved waistcoat from a peg behind the door and puts it on. He
    is a slight man with thin light hair, gentle in manner, but with a
    strong keen face. Kezia is a little taller than Joe--slender and
    graceful, with a clean cotton dress fitting well to her figure; a
    clean apron, well-dressed and tidy hair; good-looking and
    energetic. Joe smiles to himself and crosses his arms and shuffles
    his feet as he looks towards Kezia. Kezia turns round suddenly and
    looks at him sideways, the cooking-fork in one hand and the handle
    of the frying-pan in the other. Joe sits down at table._]


KEZIA. Why didn't thee speak?

JOE. Nothin' to say, my dear.

KEZIA. Thee's not much company, for sure.

    [_Joe laughs and leans his arms on the table as he looks at Kezia;
    his face beams as he watches her landing the fish from the
    bubbling fat to a dish. She puts some on a plate in front of Joe,
    and pours out tea in a large cup. She suddenly looks at him as he
    begins picking off the tail of his mackerel with his fingers._]

KEZIA. Cain't thee answer?

JOE. To what?

KEZIA [_snappily_]. Why, to me, of course.

    [_Joe takes a long drink of tea and gazes at her over his cup._]

JOE. Thee'rt a great beauty, Kezia, sure enough!

    [_He puts the cup down and goes on picking his fish with the
    fingers of one hand, while the other holds bread and butter._]

KEZIA. There you are again; always either grumblin' or jeerin' at me.

JOE. I'm not doin' neither, woman. I'm tryin' for to make up for
thrawtin' of you this mornin' over they soaked crusties as I gave the
cat and ruined the nice clean floor.

KEZIA. Now [_angrily_], just when I were forgettin' all about it, of
course you must bring it all up again, and you're tryin' now [_pointing
at the fish_] all thee knows how, to make the tablecloth like a
dish-clout with thy great greasy fingers!

    [_Joe licks his fingers, one by one, and wipes them on his trousers,
    as he smiles into her cross face._]

KEZIA. Gracious! [_whimpering_] that's thee all over. Thee gives up one
dirty trick for another. I believe you only married me to clean and tidy
after you.

    [_Joe laughs heartily and looks up at her._]

JOE. Heart alive! I married you because you are the only woman I've ever
met in my life I could never weary of, not even if you tormented me
night and day. Love of 'e, my dear, seemly, makes a real fool of me most
of my time.

    [_His face becomes very grave, and Kezia's brow clears as she sits
    down and begins to eat._]

KEZIA. You was always one for pretty talk, Joe, but you're not a bit
what you were i' deeds lately.

    [_Joe hands his cup for more tea._]

JOE. 'Cause you snap me up so.

KEZIA. There you are again, tryin' to pick a quarrel.

    [_Joe pulls his chair away from the table and drags it nearer the
    grate. He takes his pipe from his pocket and blows into it._]

KEZIA. Now, Joe, you know I cain't abide that 'baccy smell: it gives me
a headache.

JOE. It gives me a headache to do without 'baccy.

    [_Joe polishes his pipe-bowl on his sleeve, puts the stem in his
    mouth, and takes out some shag. Kezia watches him as she removes
    the tea-things. Joe watches her out of the corner of his eye as he
    slowly fills his pipe._]

KEZIA. I'm fair wore out.

    [_Joe gets up, puts his pipe on the mantelpiece and his knife and
    shag in his pocket, and advances towards Kezia. He puts his hands
    on her shoulders and looks in her eyes._]

JOE. Kiss us, old girl!

KEZIA. Don't be so silly. I don't feel like it at all, and I want to be
with mother again.

JOE. And married only two years!

KEZIA. It seems like six to me.

JOE. What ails thee, lass?

KEZIA. Don't keep allus askin' questions and bein' so quarrelsome; I'm
mazed at the sight of 'e, sure enough. [_She folds the cloth, pokes the
fire, goes into the inner room, at back R., and comes in again with her
hat and shawl on and a basket in her hand. She looks at Joe, and wipes
her eyes._] You can sit there as long as you've a mind to, and smoke
insides black and blue. I'm going to market a bit, and then I shall go
into Blanch Sally and talk to she. She've got a bit of common sense.
It's just on eight o'clock, and I shan't be more nor an hour or so.

    [_Joe does not stir as Kezia goes out of the front door. Kezia
    looks back to see if he'll turn, but he does not move. He gazes
    into the fire with his hands clasped behind his head, and his
    chair tilted back._]

JOE. I'd as soon be a dog as a man, sure enough! They can sit by the
fire and be comfortable. [_He jumps up suddenly as he hears a knock at
the door._] Come in!

    [_The street door opens softly, and Matthew Trevaskis comes in
    very quietly. He is a stout, short man with bushy hair and a
    beard. He also is dressed as a laborer. He looks at Joe and gives
    a low whistle._]

MATTHEW. Hallo, mate!

JOE. Oh! you?

    [_Joe sits down again, points to another chair, and looks gloomily
    back into the fire._]

MATTHEW. Well, brother! Thee looks as if thee'd run out o' speerits and
'baccy both.

JOE. I'm moody, like a thing.

    [_Matthew laughs and draws his chair up close to Joe. He pulls
    down his waistcoat, and then puts his fingers in the arm-holes, as
    he contemplates Joe._]

MATTHEW. Got the hump, mate? Have 'e?

    [_Joe shakes his head dolefully from side to side and sighs._]

MATTHEW. Jaw, I suppose?

    [_Joe nods._]

MATTHEW. Thought so. I met the missus as I came along looking a bit
teasy. Women's the devil that way; it's in their breed and bone, like
fightin' in we. You began all wrong, like me, mate, and females always
takes advantage of honeymoon ways, and stamps on we if we don't take 'em
in hand at once.

    [_Joe sighs, crosses his legs and looks at his friend._]

JOE. Drat it all! I never began no different to what I am now. I cain't
make things up at all. I'm fairly mazed, never having had dealin's with
no female, except mother, who was mostly ill, and never in tantrums.

    [_Matthew rises, pokes Joe in the ribs and laughs._]

MATTHEW. Cheer up, brother, there's no bigger fool than a man as is sent
crazy with a woman.

JOE. Women is mazy things.

MATTHEW. There's allus 'baccy for to fortify us against them, thanks be.

    [_Matthew draws a little black clay pipe out of his waistcoat
    pocket and points to Joe's pipe on the mantelpiece as he sits
    down._]

JOE. Kezia 'ates 'baccy in the house.

MATTHEW. Smoke all the time then; it's the only way.

    [_Joe smiles and smoothes his thin straight hair._]

JOE. You allus forgets I'm bent on pleasin' of Kezia.

    [_Matthew stretches out his legs, and his face becomes calm and
    thoughtful. He speaks very deliberately._]

MATTHEW. The more thee tries to please women, mate, the more crotchety
they becomes. Within bounds I keep the peace in our place like a judge,
but she've learnt, Jane Ann have, that I'll put my foot down on any
out-of-the-way tantrums. Give them their heads and they'll soon have we
by the heels.

JOE. Sometimes I wonder if we give 'em their heads enough. Perhaps
they'd domineer less if we left 'em take their own grainy ways.

MATTHEW. You bet! If I gave in to Jane Ann entirely, where the devil do
'e think I should be at all?

    [_The two men laugh together and light their pipes and smoke hard._]

JOE. I've no notion.

MATTHEW. Well! I should be like a cat out in the rain, never certain
where to put my feet. As it is, as you do know, I cain't keep no dog for
fear of the mess its feet 'ud make on the floor; I cain't have a magpie
in a cage 'cause its seed 'ud 'appen fall on the table. I've got to walk
ginger like a rooster in wet grass for fear o' disturbin' the sand on
the clean floor, and I rubs my feet on the mat afore I goes in to my
meals enough to split it in half. I gives in to all things 'cause I was
took captive over them, in a manner of speaking, almost afore I'd
finished courting, and it takes years to understand women's fancies!
It's worse nor any book learnin', is understandin' women; and then, when
you think you've learnt 'em off by heart, any man 'ud fail under a first
standard examination on 'em. [_He gets up and shakes Joe by the
shoulder._] Listen to me, mate! Bein' a real pal to thee, Joe, I'm
warnin' of 'e now afore it's too late, for thee's only been wed two
years, and there's time to alter things yet.

    [_Joe suddenly gets up and goes to the door to see if it is
    fastened, and returns to face his friend. He takes off his
    long-sleeved waistcoat and throws it on a chair, after putting
    down his pipe._]

JOE. Matthey!

MATTHEW. Yes?

JOE. Don't you think it is too late even now?

MATTHEW. Fur what? It's no use speakin' i' riddles, man. Trust or no
trust--that's my plan. Thee's the only livin' man or woman, for the
matter of that, as I've blackened Jane Ann to, and if it'll ease thy
mind to tell what's worritin' of thee, you do know it's as safe as if
you'd dropt your secret into the mouth of a mine shaft.

JOE. Done! Give me a hearing and let's have finished with it.

    [_Matthew cleans out the bowl of his pipe and knocks the ashes out
    against the grate as he waits for his friend to begin. Joe stands
    first on one leg and then on the other and gives a long whistle._]

MATTHEW. Sling along. It won't get no easier wi' keeping.

    [_Joe wipes his forehead with a red handkerchief, which he takes
    out of his trouser pocket._]

JOE. Awkward kind o' work, pullin' your lawful wife to bits.

MATTHEW. It'll get easier as thee goes on, man. I'll help thee. What's
the row to-day?

JOE. Crusties.

    [_Matthew winks at Joe and lights his pipe again._]

MATTHEW. It's always some feeble thing like that as makes confusion in a
house. Jane Ann began just like that. Dirty boots in the best parlor was
my first offense, and it raised hell in our house for nigh on a whole
day.

JOE. Well, I never! It was just the same thing in a way with me. I
soaked the crusties in my tea this mornin' and threw 'em to the cat
under the table, and I suppose I must 'ave put my foot in 'em, for Kezia
went off like a thing gone mazy. She stormed and said--[_he sits down
and wipes his forehead again with his handkerchief as he pauses_]--as
she were a fool to take me, and all sorts, and then she cried fit to
kill herself, and when I spoke she told me to hold my noise, and when I
didn't speak she said I'd no feelin's, and was worse nor a stone. We
scarcely spoke at dinner-time. She said she wished she was dead, and
wanted her mother, and that, bein' a man, I was worse nor a devil; and
when I kept on eatin' she said she wondered the food didn't choke me,
and when I stopped eatin' she said I was never pleased wi' nothin' she'd
got ready for me. My head is sore with the clang of the teasy things she
drove into me, and I'm not good at replies, as you do know.

    [_Joe ends in a weary voice and pokes the fire listlessly. Matthew
    smokes hard and his eyes are on the ground._]

MATTHEW. Women be mysteries, and without little uns they'm worse nor
monsters. A child do often alter and soften 'em, but a childless woman
is as near a wolf as anything I do know.

    [_Joe's elbows sink on his knees and his hands support his
    woebegone face. When he next speaks he has a catch in his voice,
    and he speaks quickly._]

JOE. That's it, is it?

MATTHEW. Iss, mate! That's the mischief. Unless--[_he looks up suddenly
at Joe_]--perhaps she be goin' to surprise 'e by telling 'e she be going
to have a little one. That would account for her bein' teasy and moody.

    [_Joe laughs sorrowfully._]

JOE. Lor', I should be the first to know that, surely!

MATTHEW. Not a bit of it. Women loves secrets of that sort.

JOE. No; 'tain't that at all. I only wish it was, if what you say be
true of women.

MATTHEW. True enough, my son. I did the cutest day's work in my life
when I persuaded Jane Ann to take little Joe to help we. I watched the
two of 'em together and found he caught his tongueing, too, from she,
but it had a sort of nestle sound in it as if she were a-cuddlin' of
him. She've been gentler wi' me ever since Joe come back again after his
long bout at home.

    [_Joe scratches his head very thoughtfully; a pause, in which he
    seems to be thinking before speaking again._]

JOE. I don't know of no sister's child to take on for Kezia at all.
What's the next remedy, think you?

MATTHEW. A thrashin'.

    [_Joe jumps up and stares at Matthew._]

JOE. A what?

MATTHEW. Wallop her just once.

    [_Matthew looks on the ground and taps it with his foot, and he
    does not see that Joe is standing over him with his hands
    clenched._]

JOE. Shame on thee, mate! I feel more like strikin' thee nor a female.
I'm sorry I told thee, if thee can offer no more help than that. I'm not
much of a chap, but I've never struck a woman yet.

MATTHEW. Strike on principle, then.

    [_He still looks fixedly at the floor, and Joe stands glaring at
    him._]

JOE. How?

MATTHEW. Like the Almighty strikes when He've got a lesson for we to
learn, which we won't learn without strikes and tears. Nothin' is of no
avail to stop His chastisement if He do think it's goin' to work out His
plan for He and we, and that's what I'm wanting of you to do by your
wife for her sake more than for yours. Wives must learn to submit.
[_Harshly._] It's Divine Providence as 'ave ordered it, and women be
miserable, like ivy and trailers of all sorts, if they've no prop to
bear 'em up. Beat her once and it'll make a man of you and be a
life-long warnin' to she.

JOE. But I love her, man! [_Softly._] The very thought of hurting her
makes me creep.

    [_Joe shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head repeatedly._]

MATTHEW. Women likes bein' hurt. It's a real fondlin' to 'em at times.

    [_Joe sits down and folds his arms as he looks humbly at Matthew._]

JOE. Lor', I never heard that afore. How can you be sure of that at all?

MATTHEW. I've traveled, as you do knaw. I ain't been to Africa for
nothin', mate. I've seen a deal o' things, which if I'd happened on
afore I courted Jane Ann would have got me through the marriage
scrimmage wi' no tiles off of my roof. That's why I'm a warnin' of you
afore it's too late. Your woman be worth gettin' i' trim--[_with a
sigh_]--for she's--well--she's--

    [_Joe's eyes rest on his friend's face and his face suddenly
    lights up with a smile._]

JOE. She's the best sort of woman a man could 'ave for a sweetheart when
her moods is off, and it's only lately her 'ave altered so, and I expect
it's really all my fault.

MATTHEW. Certainly it is; you've never shown master yet, and you must
this very night.

JOE. [_Coughs nervously._] How?

MATTHEW. You must thrash her before it is too late. Have 'e a cane?

    [_Joe jumps up, twists round his necktie, undoes it, ties it
    again--marches up and down the little kitchen, and wheels round on
    Matthew._]

JOE. You'm a fair brute, Matthew Trevaskis.

MATTHEW. And you'm a coward, Joe Pengilly. [_Matthew clasps his hands
round his raised knee and nods at Joe, who sits._] I've given you golden
advice, and if only a pal had given it to me years ago I shouldn't be in
the place I'm in now, but be master of my own wife and my own
chimney-corner.

    [_Joe puts his hands in his pockets and tilts back his chair as he
    gazes up at the ceiling as if for inspiration._]

JOE. I cain't stomach the idea at all; it's like murderin' a baby,
somehow.

MATTHEW. Stuff! You needn't lay on too hard to make bruises nor nothin'.

    [_Joe goes pale and puts his head in his hands for a moment, and
    he almost whispers._]

JOE. Good Lord! Bruises! Why, man, she've got flesh like a flower!

    [_Matthew suddenly holds out his hand to Joe, who shakes it
    feebly._]

MATTHEW. I almost envies thee, mate. Why, thee's fair daft wi' love
still.

JOE. Of course I be! [_Sullenly._] She's more nor meat and drink to me;
allus have been since the first I took to she.

MATTHEW. All the more reason to beat her, and at once. [_Sternly._]
You'll lose her, sure enough, if you don't. It's the only chance for
thee now, and I do knaw I'm speaking gospel truth.

    [_A long pause, in which Joe meditates with a grave face. He
    suddenly snaps the fingers of his right hand as he says quickly._]

JOE. I'll do it. It'll nearly be the finish of me, but if you're certain
sure she'll love me more after it I'll shut my eyes and set my teeth
and--and--yes, upon my soul, I'll do it! She'm more to me than all the
world, and I'll save she and myself with her. But are you sure it will
do any good?

    [_Matthew wrings Joe's hands and then slaps him on the back._]

MATTHEW. I swear it, brother. [_Solemnly._] I've never once known it
fail.

JOE [_anxiously_]. Never once in all your travels?

    [_Matthew looks down._]

MATTHEW. Iss, mate, once, sure enough, but the woman had never cared
twopence for the man to start with. After it she left 'un altogether.

JOE [_with a groan_]. Oh! Good Lord!

MATTHEW. That was no fair start like a thing. See?

JOE. No, to be sure.

MATTHEW. Now! [_He strikes Joe's shoulder briskly._] Now for it!

    [_Joe twists round towards the door, and a miserable smile is on
    his lips._]

JOE. Well, what now?

    [_Matthew bends down to Joe's ear and whispers._]

MATTHEW. We must go and buy the cane.

JOE. Sakes!

MATTHEW. Bear up! It'll all be over by this time to-morrow night, and
that's a great stand by, isn't it?

JOE. I suppose it is. [_Gloomily._] Who'll be spokesman over the buyin'?

MATTHEW. Me, my son. How far will 'e go i' price?

    [_Joe shakes his head and looks wearily at Matthew._]

JOE. It's no odds to me, Matthey; I don't know and don't care!

MATTHEW. Will sixpence ruin 'e?

JOE. It's all ruin. I'm sweatin' like a bull with fear and shame, and
wish I was dead and buried.

    [_Matthew points to the door and the two men move slowly towards
    it._]

MATTHEW. It's just on nine o'clock. Kezia will be back afore we start if
we don't mind. Don't stop to think when you come back, but rush right in
and set at it at once, and she'll have time to come round before you
settle for the night. Bein' Saturday night, all the neighbors be mostly
i' town shoppin', and if there should be a scream I'll make up a yarn to
any one who comes near as 'll stop all gossip. I shan't be far off till
I reckon it's all over.

    [_Joe's teeth are set and his head down, and he gazes at the door
    and then at Matthew, irresolutely._]

MATTHEW. Thee deserves to lose her if thee be real chicken-hearted like
this 'ere.

    [_Joe makes a dart forward, unlatches the door, rushes out
    followed by Matthew._]

MATTHEW [_outside_]. Go round by the croft and then we shan't meet her
coming home.

    [_After a pause the door slowly opens and Kezia comes in. She has
    a basket in one hand and a string bag full of parcels in the
    other. She looks round, puts her parcels on the table and in the
    cupboards, pokes the fire, and then takes her basket in her hand
    again, looks at the clock and goes into the inner room. She comes
    back with her outdoor garments off and a loose dressing-jacket of
    white and blue linen over her arm. She goes to a drawer in the
    table and brings out a little comb and brush and stands
    thinking._]

KEZIA. I'll do my hair down here. He cain't be long, and it's cold
upstairs. Gone for tobacco, I suppose, and he'll want his tea when he
comes in.

    [_She puts the kettle on the fire. She undoes her hair,
    facing audience; shakes it about her shoulders, puts on her
    dressing-jacket and begins to brush and comb her hair before the
    fire, and near the settle she bends down and warms her hands,
    singing a lullaby as she does so. She then stands facing the
    fire, smiling to herself as she sings. So absorbed is she in her
    thoughts that she does not see the street-door open and the white,
    scared face of Joe appear. He puts his hands behind his back when
    he has softly shut the door, and tip-toes towards Kezia, who never
    sees him till he has sat down swiftly on the settle, the further
    corner to where she stands. His left hand, with the cane in it,
    is not visible to Kezia, as it is hidden by the end of the settle.
    Tying a large plait on one side of her head--the nearest to
    him--with pink ribbon, she suddenly turns round and sees him, and
    their eyes meet. She sits down by him. Kezia's face is very sweet
    and smiling as she tosses the plait over her shoulder._]

KEZIA. Seen a ghost, Joey, my dear, or is it Kezia come to her senses at
last, think you?

    [_Joe does not stir. He gazes at Kezia with a puzzled and tender
    expression._]

JOE. What's come to thee, lass?

KEZIA. Guess!

    [_Kezia clasps her hands behind her head and looks into Joe's face
    with a happy smile._]

JOE. Cain't at all.

KEZIA. Come close, sweetheart.

    [_She draws nearer to Joe, who does not move, and tries to keep
    the cane hidden. He suddenly draws her close to him with his right
    arm, and whispers._]

JOE. Kezia.

KEZIA [_softly_]. Joey, my dear! [_She nestles closer to him and puts
her head on his shoulder._] He'll be the dearest little thing a woman
ever bore.

    [_Joe laughs softly, kisses Kezia gently on the eyes, brow, and
    then month, and holds her closely to him._]

JOE. Heaven cain't be more desirable than this.

KEZIA. To think there'll be three of us soon. You see now why I've been
so teasy lately. Now I'll sing all day long so he'll be a happy boy.

    [_Joe does not move. He makes furtive attempts to hide the cane
    behind the settle, and moves a little as he continues to smile at
    Kezia._]

KEZIA. Thee'rt smiling, Joe! Thee and me 'ave both hungered for the same
thing. Did thee guess it at all, I wonder? I've kept it from thee a
while to make sure. But, lor'! my dear life! whatever be this that
you've got here? [_She pulls the long cane out of Joe's hands and holds
it in hers. They both look at it very solemnly for a few moments, and
Joe scratches his head sadly, unable to speak. She bursts into a merry
laugh and her lips tremble._] Eh! Joe! lad! [_softly._] Thee was always
unlike other chaps; that's why I do love thee so. Fancy thee guessing,
and going to buy him somethin' right away! [_She puts her face in her
hands and sobs and laughs together._] Oh! it brings it so near like.
Most men would have thought of a cradle or a rattle, but thee! Oh! my
dear! [_She throws her arms round his neck and kisses him on the
mouth._] Thee thought of the first beatin' we should be forced to give
him, for, of course, he'll be a lad of tremenjous spirit.

JOE [_suddenly, and snatching the cane from Kezia._] So he will. Both
his father and mother be folk of great spirit, and--the first time as he
dirts the tablecloth or frets his mother, I'll lay it on him as, thanks
be, I've never laid it on nobody yet.


  [_Curtain._]



THE CONSTANT LOVER

  A COMEDY OF YOUTH

  BY ST. JOHN HANKIN


  Copyright,
  All rights reserved.


  "_As of old when the world's heart was lighter._"


  THE CONSTANT LOVER was first produced at the Royalty Theatre,
  London, January 30, 1912, under the direction of Messrs. Vedrenne
  and Eadie, with the following cast:

    EVELYN RIVERS        _Miss Gladys Cooper._
    CECIL HARBURTON      _Mr. Dennis Eadie._


  Reprinted from "The Dramatic Works of St. John Hankin," by permission
  of, and by special arrangement with, Mr. Mitchell Kennerley.



THE CONSTANT LOVER

A COMEDY BY ST. JOHN HANKIN


    [_Before the curtain rises the orchestra will play the Woodland
    Music (cuckoo) from "Hansel and Gretel" and possibly some of the
    Grieg Pastoral Music from "Peer Gynt," or some Gabriél Fauré._

    SCENE: _A glade in a wood. About C. a great beech-tree, the
    branches of which overhang the stage, the brilliant sunlight
    filtering through them. The sky where it can be seen through the
    branches is a cloudless blue._

    _When the curtain rises Cecil Harburton is discovered sitting on
    the ground under the tree, leaning his back against its trunk and
    reading a book. He wears a straw hat and the lightest of gray
    flannel suits. The chattering of innumerable small birds is heard
    while the curtain is still down, and this grows louder as it
    rises, and we find ourselves in the wood. Presently a wood pigeon
    coos in the distance. Then a thrush begins to sing in the tree
    above Cecil's head and is answered by another. After a moment
    Cecil looks up._]


CECIL. By Jove, that's jolly! [_Listens for a moment, then returns to
his book._]

    [_Suddenly a cuckoo begins to call insistently. After a moment or
    two he looks up again._]

Cuckoo too! Bravo! [_Again he returns to his book._]

    [_A moment later enter Evelyn Rivers. She also wears the lightest
    of summer dresses, as it is a cloudless day in May. On her head is
    a shady straw hat. As she approaches the tree a twig snaps under
    her foot and Cecil looks up. He jumps to his feet, closing book,
    and advances to her, eagerly holding out his right hand, keeping
    the book in his left._]

[_Reproachfully._] Here you are at last!

EVELYN. At last?

CECIL. Yes. You're awfully late! [_Looks at watch._]

EVELYN. Am I?

CECIL. YOU know you are. I expected you at three.

EVELYN. Why? I never said I'd come at three. Indeed, I never said I'd
come at all.

CECIL. No.--But it's always been three.

EVELYN. Has it?

CECIL. And now it's half-past. I consider I've been cheated out of a
whole half-hour.

EVELYN. I couldn't help it. Mother kept me. She wanted the roses done in
the drawing-room.

CECIL. How stupid of Mrs. Rivers!

EVELYN. Mr. Harburton!

CECIL. What's the matter?

EVELYN. I don't think you _ought_ to call my mother stupid.

CECIL. Why not--if she is stupid? Most parents are stupid, by the way.
I've noticed it before. Mrs. Rivers ought to have thought of the roses
earlier. The morning is the proper time to gather roses. Didn't you tell
her that?

EVELYN. I'm afraid I couldn't very well. You see it was really I who
ought to have thought of the roses! I always do them. But this morning I
forgot.

CECIL. I see. [_Turning towards the tree._] Well, sit down now you are
here. Isn't it a glorious day?

EVELYN [_hesitating_]. I don't believe I ought to sit down.

CECIL [_turns to her_]. Why not? There's no particular virtue about
standing, is there? I hate standing. So let's sit down and be
comfortable.

    [_She sits, so does he. She sits on bank under tree, left of it.
    He sits below bank to right of tree._]

EVELYN. But _ought_ I to be sitting here with you? That's what I mean.
It's--not as if I really _knew_ you, is it?

CECIL. Not _know_ me? [_The chatter of birds dies away._]

EVELYN. Not properly--we've never even been introduced. We just met
quite by chance here in the wood.

CECIL. Yes. [_Ecstatically._] What a glorious chance!

EVELYN. Still, I'm sure mother wouldn't approve.

CECIL. And _you_ say Mrs. Rivers isn't stupid!

EVELYN [_laughing_]. I expect most people would agree with her. Most
people would say you oughtn't to have spoken to a girl you didn't know
like that.

CECIL. Oh, come, I only asked my way back to the inn.

EVELYN. There was no harm in asking your way, of course. But then we
began talking of other things. And then we sat down under this tree. And
we've sat under this tree every afternoon since. And that was a week
ago.

CECIL. Well, it's such an awfully jolly tree.

EVELYN. I don't know _what_ mother would say if she heard of it!

CECIL. Would it be something unpleasant?

EVELYN [_ruefully_]. I'm afraid it would.

CECIL. How fortunate you don't know it then.

EVELYN [_pondering_]. Still, if I really _oughtn't_ to be here.... Do
_you_ think I oughtn't to be here?

CECIL. I don't think I should go into that if I were you. Sensible
people think of what they want to do, not of what they _ought_ to do,
otherwise they get confused. And then of course they do the wrong thing.

EVELYN. But if I do what I oughtn't, I generally find I'm sorry for it
afterwards.

CECIL. Not half sorry as you would have been if you hadn't done it. In
this world the things one regrets are the things one hasn't done. For
instance, if I hadn't spoken to you a week ago here in the wood I should
have regretted it all my life.

EVELYN. Would you?

    [_He nods._]

Really and truly?

CECIL [_nods_]. Really and truly.

    [_He lays his hand on hers for a moment, she lets it rest there.
    Cuckoo calls loudly once or twice--she draws her hand away._]

EVELYN. There's the cuckoo.

    [_Cecil rises and sits up on bank R. of her, leaning against
    tree._]

CECIL. Yes. Isn't he jolly? Don't you love cuckoos?

EVELYN. They _are_ rather nice.

CECIL. Aren't they! And such clever beggars. Most birds are fools--like
most people. As soon as they're grown up they go and get married, and
then the rest of their lives are spent in bringing up herds of children
and wondering how on earth to pay their school-bills. Your cuckoo sees
the folly of all that. No school-bills for _her_! No nursing the baby!
She just flits from hedgerow to hedgerow flirting with other cuckoos.
And when she lays an egg she lays it in some one else's nest, which
saves all the trouble of housekeeping. Oh, a wise bird!

EVELYN [_pouting, looking away from him_]. I don't know that I _do_ like
cuckoos so much after all. They sound to me rather selfish.

CECIL. Yes. But so sensible! The duck's a wise bird too in her way.
[_She turns to him._] But _her_ way's different from the cuckoo's.
[_Matter-of-fact._] She always _treads_ on _her_ eggs.

EVELYN. Clumsy creature!

CECIL. Not a bit. She does it on purpose. You see, it's much less
trouble than _sitting_ on them. As soon as she's laid an egg she raises
one foot absent-mindedly and gives a warning quack. Whereupon the farmer
rushes up, takes it away, and puts it under some wretched hen, who has
to do the sitting for her. I call that genius!

EVELYN. Genius!

CECIL. Yes. Genius is the infinite capacity for making other people take
pains.

EVELYN. How can you say that?

CECIL. I didn't. Carlyle did.

EVELYN. I don't believe he said anything of the kind. And I don't
believe ducks are clever one bit. They don't look clever.

CECIL. That's part of their cleverness. In this world if one _is_ wise
one should look like a fool. It puts people off their guard. That's
what the duck does.

EVELYN. Well, I think ducks are horrid, and cuckoos, too. And I believe
most birds _like_ bringing up their chickens and feeding them and
looking after them.

CECIL. They do. That's the extraordinary part of it. They spend their
whole lives building nests and laying eggs and hatching them. And when
the chickens come out the father has to fuss round finding worms. And
the nest's abominably over-crowded and the babies are perpetually
squalling, and that drives the husband to the public house, and it's all
as uncomfortable as the Devil--

EVELYN. Mr. Harburton!

CECIL. Well, _I_ shouldn't like it. In fact, I call it fatuous.

[_Evelyn is leaning forward pondering this philosophy with a slightly
puckered brow--a slight pause_]. I say, _you_ don't look a bit
comfortable like that. Lean back against the tree. It's a first-rate
tree. That's why I chose it.

EVELYN [_tries and fails_]. I can't. My hat gets in the way.

CECIL. Take it off then.

EVELYN. I think I will. [_Does so._] That's better. [_Leans back
luxuriously against the trunk; puts her hat down on bank beside her._]

CECIL. Much better. [_Looks at her with frank admiration._] By Jove, you
_do_ look jolly without your hat!

EVELYN. Do I?

CECIL. Yes. Your hair's such a jolly color. I noticed it the first time
I saw you. You had your hat off then, you know. You were walking through
the wood fanning yourself with it. And directly I caught sight of you
the sun came out and simply flooded your hair with light. And there was
the loveliest pink flush on your cheeks, and your eyes were soft and
shining--

EVELYN [_troubled_]. Mr. Harburton, you mustn't say things to me like
that.

CECIL. Mustn't I? Why not? Don't you like being told you look jolly?

EVELYN [_naïvely_]. I do _like_ it, of course. But _ought_ you...?

CECIL [_groans_]. Oh, it's _that_ again.

EVELYN. I mean, it's not _right_ for men to say those things to girls.

CECIL. I don't see that--if they're true. You _are_ pretty and your eyes
_are_ soft and your cheeks--why, they're flushing at this moment!
[_Triumphant._] Why shouldn't I say it?

EVELYN. Please!... [_She stops, and her eyes fill with tears._]

CECIL [_much concerned_]. Miss Rivers, what's the matter? Why, I believe
you're crying!

EVELYN [_sniffing suspiciously_]. I'm ... not.

CECIL. You are, I can see the tears. Have I said anything to hurt you?
What is it? Tell me. [_Much concerned._]

EVELYN [_recovering herself by an effort_]. It's nothing, nothing
really. I'm all right now. Only you won't say things to me like that
again, will you? Promise. [_Taking out handkerchief._]

CECIL. I promise ... if you really wish it. And now dry your eyes and
let's be good children. That's what my nurse used to say when my sister
and I quarreled. Shall I dry them for you? [_Takes her handkerchief and
does so tenderly._]

EVELYN [_with a gulp_]. Thank you. [_Takes away handkerchief._] How
absurd you are! [_Puts it away._]

CECIL. Thank _you_!

    [_Evelyn moves down, sitting at bottom of bank, a little below
    him._]

EVELYN. Did you often quarrel with your sister?

CECIL. Perpetually. _And_ my brothers. Didn't you?

EVELYN. I never had any.

CECIL. Poor little kid. You must have been rather lonely.

EVELYN [_matter-of-fact_]. There was always Reggie.

CECIL. Reggie?

EVELYN. My cousin, Reggie Townsend. He lived with us when we were
children. His parents were in India.

CECIL [_matter-of-fact_]. So he used to quarrel with you instead.

EVELYN [_shocked_]. Oh no! We _never_ quarreled. At least, Reggie never
did. _I_ did sometimes.

CECIL. How dull! There's no good in quarreling if people won't quarrel
back.

EVELYN. I don't think there's any good in quarreling at all.

CECIL. Oh, yes, there is. There's the making it up again.

EVELYN. Was that why you used to quarrel with your sister?

CECIL. I expect so, though I didn't know it, of course--then. I used to
tease her awfully, I remember, and pull her hair. She had awfully jolly
hair. Like yours--oh! I forgot, I mustn't say that. Used you to pull
Reggie's hair?

EVELYN [_laughing_]. I'm afraid I did sometimes.

CECIL. I was sure of it. How long was he with you?

EVELYN. Till he went to Winchester. And of course he used to be with us
in the holidays after that. And he comes to us now whenever he can get
away for a few days. He's in his uncle's office in the city. He'll be a
partner some day.

CECIL. Poor chap!

EVELYN. _Poor_ chap! Mother says he's very _fortunate_.

CECIL. She would. Parents always think it very fortunate when young men
have to go to an office every day. I know mine do.

EVELYN. _Do_ you go to an office every day?

CECIL. No.

EVELYN [_with dignity_]. Then I don't think you can know much about it,
can you?

CECIL [_carelessly_]. I know too much. That's why I don't go.

EVELYN. What _do_ you do?

CECIL. I don't do anything. I'm at the Bar.

EVELYN. If you're at the Bar, why are you down here instead of up in
London working?

CECIL. Because if I were in London I might possibly get a brief. It's
not likely, but it's possible. And if I got a brief I should have to be
mugging in chambers, or wrangling in a stuffy court, instead of sitting
under a tree in the shade with you.

EVELYN. But _ought_ you to waste your time like that?

CECIL [_genuinely shocked_]. _Waste_ my time! To sit under a tree--a
really nice tree like this--talking to you. You can call that _wasting
time_!

EVELYN. Isn't it?

CECIL. No! To sit in a frowsy office adding up figures when the sky's
blue and the weather's heavenly, _that's_ wasting time. The only real
way in which one can waste time is not to enjoy it, to spend one's day
blinking at a ledger and never notice how beautiful the world is, and
how good it is to be alive. To be only making money when one might be
making love, _that_ is wasting time!

EVELYN. How earnestly you say that!

    [_Cecil leans forward--close to her._]

CECIL. Isn't it true?

EVELYN [_troubled_]. Perhaps it is. [_Looks away from him._]

CECIL. You know it is. Every one knows it. Only people won't admit it.
[_Leaning towards her and looking into her eyes._] You know it at this
moment.

EVELYN [_returning his gaze slowly_]. I think I do.

    [_For a long moment they look into each other's eyes. Then he
    takes her two hands, draws her slowly towards him and kisses her
    gently on the lips._]

CECIL. Ah! [_Sigh of satisfaction. He releases her hands and leans back
against the tree again._]

EVELYN [_sadly_]. Oh, Mr. Harburton, you _oughtn't_ to have done that!

CECIL. Why not?

EVELYN. Because.... [_Hesitates._] Because you _oughtn't_.... Because
men _oughtn't_ to kiss girls.

CECIL [_scandalized_]. Oughtn't to kiss girls! What nonsense! What on
earth were girls made for if not to be kissed?

EVELYN. I mean they _oughtn't_ ... unless.... [_Looking away._]

CECIL [_puzzled_]. Unless?

EVELYN [_looking down_]. Unless they _love_ them.

CECIL [_relieved_]. But I _do_ love you. Of course I love you. That's
why I kissed you.

    [_A thrush is heard calling in the distance._]

EVELYN. Really? [_Cecil nods. Evelyn sighs contentedly._] That makes it
all right then.

CECIL. I should think it did. And as it's all right I may kiss you
again, mayn't I?

EVELYN [_shyly_]. If you like.

CECIL. You darling! [_Takes her in his arms and kisses her long and
tenderly._] Lean your head on my shoulder, you'll find it awfully
comfortable. [_He leans back against the tree._] [_She does so._] There!
Is that all right?

EVELYN. Quite. [_Sigh of contentment._]

CECIL. How pretty your hair is! I always thought your hair lovely. And
it's as soft as silk. I always knew it would be like silk. [_Strokes
it._] Do you like me to stroke your hair?

EVELYN. Yes!

CECIL. Sensible girl! [_Pause; he laughs happily._] I say, what am I to
call you? Do you know, I don't even know your Christian name yet?

EVELYN. Don't you?

CECIL. No. You've never told me. What is it? Mine's Cecil.

EVELYN. Mine's Evelyn.

CECIL. Evelyn? Oh, I don't like Evelyn. It's rather a _stodgy_ sort of
name. I think I shall call you Eve. Does any one else call you Eve?

EVELYN. No.

CECIL. Then I shall certainly call you Eve. After the first woman man
ever loved. May I?

EVELYN. If you like--Cecil.

CECIL. That's settled then.

    [_He kisses her again. Pause of utter happiness, during which he
    settles her head more comfortably on his shoulder, and puts arm
    round her._]

Isn't it heavenly to be in love?

EVELYN. Heavenly!

CECIL. There's nothing like it in the whole world! Say so.

EVELYN. Love is the most beautiful thing in the whole world.

CECIL. Good girl! There's a reward for saying it right. [_Kisses her._]

    [_Pause of complete happiness for both._]

EVELYN [_meditatively_]. I'm afraid Reggie won't be pleased.

    [_The chatter of sparrows is heard._]

CECIL [_indifferently_]. Won't he?

EVELYN [_shakes her head_]. No. You see, Reggie's in love with me too.
He always has been in love with me, for years and years. [_Sighs._] Poor
Reggie!

CECIL. On the contrary. Happy Reggie!

EVELYN [_astonished_]. What _do_ you mean?

CECIL. To have been in love with you years and years. _I've_ only been
in love with you a week.... I've only known you a week.

EVELYN. I'm afraid Reggie didn't look at it like that.

CECIL [_nods_]. No brains.

EVELYN. You see, I always refused _him_.

CECIL. Exactly. And he always went on loving you. What more could the
silly fellow want?

EVELYN [_shyly, looking up at him_]. He _wanted_ me to accept him, I
suppose.

    [_The bird chatter dies away._]

CECIL. Ah!... Reggie ought to read Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn."... I
say, what jolly eyes you've got! I noticed them the moment we met here
in the wood. That was why I spoke to you.

EVELYN [_demurely_]. I thought it was to ask your way back to the inn.

CECIL. That was an excuse. I knew the way as well as you did. I'd only
just come from there. But when I saw you with the sunshine on your
pretty soft hair and lighting up your pretty soft eyes, I said I _must_
speak to her. And I did. Are you glad I spoke to you?

EVELYN. Yes.

CECIL. Glad and glad?

EVELYN. Yes.

CECIL. Good girl! [_Leans over and kisses her cheek._]

EVELYN [_sigh of contentment; sits up_]. And now we must go and tell
mother.

CECIL [_with a comic groan_]. Need we?

EVELYN [_brightly_]. Of course.

CECIL [_sigh_]. Well, if _you_ think so.

EVELYN [_laughing_]. You don't seem to look forward to it much.

CECIL. I don't. That's the part I always hate.

EVELYN. _Always?_ [_Starts forward and looks at him, puzzled._]

CECIL [_quite unconscious_]. Yes. The going to the parents and all that.
Parents really are the most preposterous people. They've no feeling for
_romance_ whatever. You meet a girl in a wood. It's May. The sun's
shining. There's not a cloud in the sky. She's adorably pretty. You fall
in love. Everything heavenly! Then--why, I can't imagine--she wants you
to tell her mother. Well, you do tell her mother. And her mother at once
begins to ask you what your profession is, and how much money you earn,
and how much money you have that you don't earn--and that spoils it all.

EVELYN [_bewildered_]. But I don't understand. You talk as if you had
actually done all this before.

CECIL. So I have. Lots of times.

EVELYN. Oh! [_Jumps up from the ground and faces him, her eyes flashing
with rage._]

CECIL. I say, don't get up. It's not time to go yet. It's only four. Sit
down again.

EVELYN [_struggling for words_]. Do you mean to say you've been in love
with girls before? _Other_ girls?

CECIL [_apparently genuinely astonished at the question_]. Of course I
have.

EVELYN. And been engaged to them?

CECIL. Not engaged. I've never been engaged so far. But I've been in
love over and over again.

    [_Evelyn stamps her foot with rage--turning away from him._]

My dear girl, what _is_ the matter? You look quite cross. [_Rises._]

EVELYN [_furious_]. And you're not even _ashamed_ of it?

CECIL [_roused to sit up by this question_]. Ashamed of it? Ashamed of
being in love? How can you say such a thing! Of course I'm not ashamed.
What's the good of being alive at all if one isn't to be in love? I'm
perpetually in love. In fact, I'm hardly ever out of love--with
somebody.

EVELYN [_still furious_]. Then if you're in love, why don't you get
engaged? A man has no business to make love to a girl and not be engaged
to her. It's not right.

CECIL [_reasoning with her_]. That's the parents' fault. I told you
parents were preposterous people. They won't allow me to get engaged.

EVELYN. Why not?

CECIL. Oh, for different reasons. They say I'm not _serious_ enough. Or
that I don't work enough. Or that I haven't got enough money. Or else
they simply say they "don't think I'm fitted to make their daughter
happy." Anyhow, they won't sanction an engagement. They all agree about
_that_. Your mother would be just the same.

    [_Impatient exclamation from Evelyn._]

I don't blame her. I don't say she's not right. I don't say they haven't
all been right. In fact, I believe they _have_ been right. I'm only
explaining how it is.

EVELYN [_savagely_]. I see how it is. You don't really want to be
married.

CECIL. Of course I don't _want_ to be married. Nobody does unless he's
perfectly idiotic. One wants to be in love. Being in love's splendid.
And I dare say being engaged isn't bad--though I've had no experience of
that so far. But being married must be simply hateful.

EVELYN [_boiling with rage_]. Nonsense! How can it be hateful to be
married if it's splendid to be in love?

    [_The cuckoo is heard._]

CECIL. Have you forgotten the cuckoo?

EVELYN. Oh!!!

CECIL. No ties, no responsibilities, no ghastly little villa with
children bellowing in the nursery. Just life in the open hedgerow. Life
and love. Happy cuckoo!

EVELYN [_furious_]. I think cuckoos detestable. They're mean, horrid,
_disgusting_ birds.

CECIL. No. No. I can't have you abusing cuckoos. They're particular
friends of mine. In fact, I'm a sort of cuckoo myself.

EVELYN [_turning on him_]. Oh, I hate you! I hate you! [_Stamps her
foot._]

CECIL [_with quiet conviction_]. You don't.

EVELYN. I do!

CECIL [_shaking his head_]. You don't. [_Quite gravely._] One never
really hates the people one has once loved.

    [_He looks into her eyes. For a moment or two she returns his gaze
    fiercely. Then her eyes fall and they fill with tears._]

EVELYN [_half crying_]. How horrid you are to say that!

CECIL. Why?

EVELYN. Because it's true, I suppose. Ah, I'm so unhappy! [_Begins to
cry._]

CECIL [_genuinely distressed_]. Eve! You're crying. You mustn't do that.
I can't bear seeing people cry. [_Lays hand on her shoulder._]

EVELYN [_shaking it off_]. Don't. I can't bear you to touch me. After
falling in love with one girl after another like that. When I thought
you were only in love with me.

CECIL. So I am only in love with you--now.

EVELYN [_tearfully_]. But I thought you'd never been in love with any
one else. And I let you call me Eve because you said she was the first
woman man ever loved.

CECIL. But I never said she was the only one, did I?
[_Argumentatively._] And one can't help being in love with people when
one _is_ in love, can one? I couldn't _help_ falling in love with you,
for instance, the moment I saw you. You looked simply splendid. It was
such a splendid day too. _Of course_ I fell in love with you.

EVELYN [_slightly appeased by his compliment, drying her eyes_]. But you
seem to fall in love with such a lot of people.

CECIL. I do. [_Mischievously._] But ought _you_ to throw stones at me?
After all, being in love with more than one person is no worse than
having more than one person in love with you. How about Reggie?

EVELYN. Reggie? [_The sparrows' chatter starts again._]

CECIL [_nods_]. Reggie's in love with you, isn't he? So am I. And both
at once too! I'm only in love with one person at a time.

EVELYN [_rebelliously_]. I can't help Reggie being in love with me.

CECIL. And I can't help _my_ being in love with you. That's just my
point. I knew you'd see it.

EVELYN. I don't see it at all. Reggie is quite different from you.
Reggie's love is true and constant....

CECIL. Well, I'm a _constant_ lover if you come to that.

EVELYN. You aren't. You know you aren't.

CECIL. Yes, I am. A constant lover is a lover who is constantly in love.

EVELYN. Only with the same person.

CECIL. It doesn't say so. It only says constant.

EVELYN [_half-laughing_]. How ridiculous you are! [_Turns away._]

CECIL [_sigh of relief_]. That's right. Now you're good-tempered again.

EVELYN. I'm not.

CECIL. What a story!

EVELYN. I'm not. I'm very, _very_ angry.

CECIL. That's impossible. You can't possibly be angry and laugh at the
same time, can you? No one can. And you _did_ laugh. You're doing it
now.

    [_She does so unwillingly._]

So don't let's quarrel any more. It's absurd to quarrel on such a fine
day, isn't it? Let's make it up, and be lovers again.

    [_The sparrows die away._]

EVELYN [_shaking her head_]. No.

CECIL. Please!

EVELYN [_shaking her head_]. No.

CECIL. Well, you're very foolish. Love isn't a thing to throw away. It's
too precious for that. Love is the most beautiful thing in the whole
world. You said so yourself not ten minutes ago.

EVELYN. I didn't. You said it. [_Looking down._]

CECIL. But you said it after me. [_Gently and gravely._] Eve, dear,
don't be silly. Let's be in love while we can. Youth is the time to be
in love, isn't it? Soon you and I will be dull and stupid and
middle-aged like all the other tedious people. And then it will be too
late. Youth passes so quickly. Don't let's waste a second of it. They
say the May-fly only lives for one day. He is born in the morning. All
the afternoon he flutters over the river in the sunshine, dodging the
trout and flirting with other May-flies. And at evening he dies. Think
of the poor May-fly who happens to be born on a wet day! The tragedy of
it!

EVELYN [_softly_]. Poor May-fly.

CECIL. There! You're sorry for the May-fly, you see. You're only angry
with me.

EVELYN. Because you're not a May-fly.

CECIL. Yes, I am. A sort of May-fly.

EVELYN [_with suspicion of tears in her voice_]. You aren't. How can you
be? Besides, you said you were a cuckoo just now.

CECIL. I suppose I'm a cuckoo-May-fly. For I _hate_ wet days. And if
you're going to cry again, it might just as well be wet, mightn't it? So
do dry your eyes like a good girl. Let me do it for you. [_Does it with
her handkerchief._]

    [_She laughs ruefully._]

There, that's better. And now we're going to be good children again,
aren't we?

CECIL [_holding out hand_]. And you'll kiss and be friends?

EVELYN. I'll be friends, of course. [_Sadly._] But you must never kiss
me again.

CECIL. What a shame! Why not?

EVELYN. Because you mustn't.

CECIL [_cheerfully_]. Well, you'll sit down again anyhow, won't you?
just to show we've made it up. [_Moves towards tree._]

EVELYN [_shakes head_]. No.

CECIL [_disappointed; turns_]. A.... Then you haven't really made it up.

EVELYN. Yes, I have. [_Picks up her hat._] But I must go now. Reggie's
coming down by the five o'clock train, and I want to be at the station
to meet him. [_Holds out hand._] Good-by, Mr. Harburton.

CECIL [_taking hand_]. Eve! You're going to accept Reggie! [_Pause._]

EVELYN [_half to herself_]. I wonder.

CECIL. And he'll have to tell your mother?

EVELYN. Of course.

CECIL [_drops her hand_]. Poor Reggie! So _his_ romance ends too!

EVELYN. It won't! If I marry Reggie I shall make him very happy.

CECIL. Very likely. Marriage may be happiness, but I'm hanged if it's
romance!

EVELYN. Oh! [_Exclamation of impatience._]

    [_She turns away and exits R._]

    [_Cecil watches her departure with a smile half-amused,
    half-pained, till she is long out of sight. Then with half a sigh
    turns back to his tree._]

CECIL [_re-seating himself_]. Poor Reggie! [_Re-opens his book and
settles himself to read again._]

    [_A cuckoo hoots loudly from a distant thicket and is answered by
    another. Cecil looks up from his book to listen as the curtain
    falls._]


  [_Curtain._]



THE JUDGMENT OF INDRA

  A PLAY
  BY DHAN GOPAL MUKERJI


  Copyright, 1920, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
  All rights reserved.


  The professional and amateur stage rights of this play are strictly
  reserved by the author, to whose dramatic representative, Frank Shay,
  in care Stewart & Kidd Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, applications for
  permission to produce it should be made.



THE JUDGMENT OF INDRA

A PLAY BY DHAN GOPAL MUKERJI


    [TIME: _The Fifteenth Century._]

    [PLACE: _A Monastery on one of the foothills of Himalaya._]

    [SCENE: _In the foreground is the outer court of a Monastery. In
    the center of the court is a sacred plant, growing out of a small
    altar of earth about two feet square. On the left of the court is
    a sheer precipice, adown which a flight of stone steps--only a few
    of which are visible--connects the Monastery with the village in
    the valley below._

    _To the right are the temple and the adobe walls and the roof of
    the monastery cells. There is a little space between the temple
    and the adobe walls, which is the passage leading to the inner
    recesses of the monastery. Several steps lead to the doors of the
    temple, which give on the court. In the distance, rear, are the
    snowy peaks of the Himalayas, glowing under the emerald sky of an
    Indian afternoon. To the left, the distances stretch into vast
    spaces of wooded hills. Long bars of light glimmer and die as the
    vast clouds, with edges of crimson, golden and silver, spread
    portentously over the hills and forest._

    _A roll of thunder in the distance, accompanies the rise of the
    curtain._]


SHANTA. [_He is reading a palm-leaf manuscript near the Sacred Plant. He
looks up at the sky._] It forbodes a calamity.

    [_Suddenly the Temple doors open. Shukra stands framed in the
    doorway. Seeing that Shanta is alone, Shukra walks down the steps
    toward him._]

SHUKRA. Are you able to make out the words?

SHANTA. Aye, Master.

SHUKRA. Where is Kanada?

SHANTA. He will be here presently. Listen, master: it sayeth: "Only a
hair's breadth divides the true from the false. Upon him who by thought,
word or deed confuses the two, will descend the Judgment of Indra."

SHUKRA. The thunder of Indra is just. It will strike the erring and the
unrighteous no matter where they hide themselves; in the heart of the
forest or in the silence of the cloisters, Indra's Judgment will descend
on them. Even the erring heart that knows not that it is erring will be
smitten and chastised by Indra. [_Thunder rumbles in the distance._]

SHANTA. Master, when you speak, you not only fill the heart with
ecstasy, but also the soul with the beauty of truth.

SHUKRA. To praise is good. But why praise me, who have yet to find God
and,--[_Shakes his head sadly._]

SHANTA. You will find Him soon; your time is nigh.

SHUKRA. I wish it were true.

SHANTA. Master, if there be anything that I can do for you. If I could
only lighten your burden a little,--

SHUKRA. Thou hast done that already. All the cares of the monastery thou
hast taken from me. Thou hast bound me to thee by bonds of gratitude
that can never break. [_Enter Kanada._] Ah, Kanada, how be it with you
to-day? [_Coming to him._]

KANADA. [_He is a lad of twenty and two._] By your blessing I am well
and at peace. Have you finished your meditation?

SHUKRA. [_Sadly._] Nine hours have I meditated, but--I shall say the
prayers now. [_Enters the temple and shuts the door._]

KANADA. He seems not to be himself.

SHANTA. When he is in meditation for a long time, he becomes another
being.

KANADA. There is sadness in his eyes.

SHANTA. How can he be sad,--he who has risen above joy and sorrow,
pleasure and pain, hate and love?

KANADA. Above love, too?

SHANTA. Yea, hate and love being opposite, are Maya, illusion!

KANADA. Yet we must love the world.

SHANTA. Yea, that we do to help the world.

KANADA. The Master is tender to the villagers even if they lead the
worldly life.

SHANTA. We be monks. We have broken all the ties of the world, even
those of family, so that we can bestow our thoughts, care and love upon
all the children of God. Our love is impartial. [_The thunder growls in
the distance._]

KANADA. Yea, that is the truth. Yet I think the Master loves thee more
than any other.

SHANTA. Nay, brother. He loves no one more than another. I have been
with him ten years; that makes him depend on me. But if the truth were
known,--he loves none. For he loves all. Indra, be my witness: the
Master loveth no one more than another.

KANADA. Ah, noble-souled Master! Yet I feel happy to think that he
loveth thee more than any.

SHANTA. He loves each living creature. He is not as the worldly ones who
love by comparison--this one more, the other less. Last night, as the
rain wailed without like a heart-broken woman, how his voice rose in
song of light and love! He is one of God's prophets, and a true singer
of His praise.

KANADA. I can hear him yet.

SHANTA. I will never forget the ineffable joy that glowed in his words.
Only he who has renounced all ties, can speak with such deep and undying
love. No anxiety--

KANADA. It was that of which I would speak to thee. Dost thou not see
sadness and anxiety in the Master's face?

SHANTA. He is deep in thought--naught else.

KANADA. Ever since that message was brought him the other day, he has
seemed heavy hearted. It was melancholy tidings.

SHANTA. Nay, that message had naught to do with him. [_Thunder growls.
The Temple doors open. Shukra comes out of the Temple and shuts the
doors behind him. Then he stands still in front of the Temple._]

SHUKRA. [_Calling._] Kanada.

KANADA. Yea, Master. [_He goes up to Shukra, who gives him some
directions. Kanada exits; Shukra stands looking at the sky._]

SHANTA. How wonderful a vision he is! As he stands at the threshold of
the temple he seems like a new God, another divinity come down to earth
to lead the righteous on to the realms celestial. Ah, Master, how
grateful am I to have thee as my teacher! I thank Brahma for giving thee
to me.

    [_Enter Kanada. Shukra then walks to Shanta, with Kanada following
    him._]

KANADA. Master, all is ready.

SHUKRA. Go ye to the village; ask them if all be well with them. When
the heavens are unkind--ah, if it rains another day all the crops will
be destroyed. What will they live on? No, no, it cannot be. Go ye both
down to them and take them my blessings: Tell them we will make another
offering to Indra to-night. It must not rain any more.

SHANTA. Bring out begging bowls, Kanada.

KANADA. Shall I bring the torches, too? [_Crossing._]

SHUKRA. The clouds may hide the moon; yea, the torches, too. [_Kanada
exits R._]

SHUKRA. Yea. [_Thunder growls above head._] The storm grows apace. I
hope thou wilt find shelter ere it breaks. [_A short silence._] The
world is growing darker and darker each day. Sin and Vice are gathering
around it like a vast coiling Serpent. We monks be the only ones that
can save it and set it free. Shanta, be steadfast; strengthen me. Help
me to bring the light to the world. Thou art not only my disciple, but
my friend and brother. [_He embraces Shanta._] Save me from the world.

KANADA. [_Entering._] Here be--[_Stops in surprise._]

SHUKRA. [_Releasing Shanta._] Come to me, Kanada. [_The latter does so,
Shukra putting an arm around Kanada's neck._] Little Brother--

KANADA. [_Radiantly._] Master--

SHUKRA. Be brave and free--free from the delusions of this world,
Sansara. Go yet to the village; take them our blessings! Hari be with
them all! May ye return hither safely. [_Thunder and lightning._] Ah,
Lord Indra!--Look, it is raining yonder. Go, hasten--

SHANTA. [_Taking a begging bowl and torch from Kanada._] Come!

SHUKRA. [_Putting his hands on their heads._] I bless ye both. May Indra
protect ye--[_the rest of his words are drowned by the lightning flash
and peal of thunder_].

    [_The two disciples intone_: "OM Shanti OM." _They go down the
    steps._]

SHUKRA. May this storm pass. OM Shiva. Shiva love you, my Shanta. For
ten long years he has been with me; he has greatly helped me in my
search after Him who is the only living Reality. To-day I am nearer
God--I stand at the threshold of realization. I seem to feel that it
will not be long before the Veil will be lifted and I shall press my
heart against the heart of the ultimate mystery--Who comes there?
[_Listens attentively_]. They cannot have gone and come back so soon.
Ha! another illusion! These days I am beset by endless illusions.
Perhaps that betokens the end of my search, as the gloom is always
thickest ere the dawn. Yea, after this will come the Light; I will see
God! [_Hears a noise; listens attentively._] Are they already returning?
[_Calling._] Shanta! [_He crosses and looks down. Thunder rolls very
loudly now. He does not heed that. Suddenly he recoils in agitation.
Footsteps are heard from below, rising higher and higher. Shukra rubs
his eyes to make sure that he has really seen something that is not an
illusion. He goes forward a few steps. The head of an old man rises into
view, Shukra is stupefied; walks backwards until his back touches the
Sacred plant. He stands still. The old man at last climbs the last step.
He has not noticed Shukra. He looks at the Himalayas in the rear. Then
his eyes travel over the monastery walls--Now suddenly they catch sight
of Shukra._]

SHUKRA. What seek ye here?

OLD MAN [_eyeing him carefully_]. Ah, Shukra! dost thou not recognize
thine aged father? [_He goes to Shukra with outstretched arms._]

SHUKRA. I have no father.

OLD MAN. But I am thy father. Did not my messenger come the other day?
[_Silence._] Did he lie to me? Dost thou not know thy mother is--

SHUKRA. Thy messenger came.

OLD MAN. Then come thou home at once. There is not time to be lost.
Come, my son, ere thy mother leaves this earth.

SHUKRA. I cannot go.

OLD MAN. Thou canst not go? Dost thou not know that thy mother is on her
death-bed?

SHUKRA. I have renounced the world. For twelve years I have had no
father, nor mother.

OLD MAN. Thou didst leave us, but we did not renounce thee. And now thou
shouldst come.

SHUKRA. I told thy messenger that I have no father nor mother,--I cannot
come.

OLD MAN. I heard it all. If you art born of us, thou canst not have a
heart of stone? Come, my son: I, thy father, implore thee.

SHUKRA. Nay, nay; God alone is my father.

OLD MAN. Hath it not been said in the scriptures that thy parents are
thy God? Thy father should be obeyed.

SHUKRA. That was said by one who had not seen the Truth, the Light.

OLD MAN. I command thee in the name of the Scriptures.

SHUKRA. God alone can command me.

OLD MAN. Vishnu protect me! Art thou dreaming, my child? Yonder lies thy
mother, fighting death,--

SHUKRA. I have heard it all.

OLD MAN. And yet thou wilt not go?

SHUKRA. Nay, father, I cannot go. The day I took the vow of a monk, that
day I cut the bond that binds me to you all. I must be free of all ties.
I must love none for myself that I may love all for God. Here I must
remain where God has placed me, until He calls me elsewhere.

OLD MAN. But thy mother lies, fighting with each breath. She wishes to
see thee.

SHUKRA. I cannot come.

OLD MAN. But thou must.

SHUKRA. I would if I could; but my life is in the hands of God.

OLD MAN [_mocking_]. God! Thy life belongs to God? Who gave thee life?
Not God, but she who lies there dying; what ingratitude! This, indeed,
is the age of darkness; sons are turning against their fathers,--and
killing their own mother.

SHUKRA [_quietly_]. I may not love one more than another; my steps, as
my heart, go whither God guides them.

OLD MAN [_mocking_]. Truth is thy witness?

SHUKRA. May Indra himself punish me if I love one more than another.
Hear me, Indra. [_The roll of thunder above._]

OLD MAN [_in desperation_]. Come, my son, in the name of thine own God I
pray to thee, come to thy mother. I kneel at thy feet and beg for this
boon. [_He does so._]

SHUKRA [_raising him to his feet. He puts his own head down on the old
man's feet._]

OLD MAN. Then thou comest? [_Shukra rises to his feet._]

SHUKRA [_hesitating_]. There is a law in the Sacred books that says an
ascetic should see the place of his birth every twelfth year.

OLD MAN. And it is twelve years now since thou didst renounce us! Ah!
blessed be the law.

SHUKRA. Yet, father, if I go, I go not in obedience to the law, but
since the desire to see my mother is uppermost in me, I who dreamt not
of the law hitherto--yea, now I hasten to abide by the law. Ah, what
mockery! It is not the letter of the law, but the spirit in us that
judges us sinners or saints. Now if I go with thee to obey the law, that
would be betraying the law.

OLD MAN. Betraying the law!

SHUKRA. Thought alone is the measure of our innocence. He who thinks
evil is a doer of evil indeed. Nay, nay, tempt me not with the law. I
must remain here. I must keep my vow. [_He looks up to heaven; it is
covered with enormous black clouds._]

OLD MAN. The law is not written in the heavens. It is inscribed in the
heart of man. Obey the dictates of thy heart.

SHUKRA. God alone shall be obeyed. I cannot betray His command. I, who
am an ascetic, must not yield to the desire to see my mother--Nay!
God--

OLD MAN. What manner of God is He that deprives a dying mother of her
son? Such a God never was known in Hindu life. No such God lives, nor
breathes. [_Thunder and lightning._]

SHUKRA. Erring Soul, do not blaspheme your creator. He is the God of
Truth--God of Love.

OLD MAN [_disdainfully_]. God of Love,-- How can He be God of Love if
He dries up the stream of thy heart and blinds thy reason as the clouds
blind the eyes of the Sun? Nay, thou liest. It is not the God of Love,
but the God of thine insane self--self-love that makes thee rob thy
mother of her only joy in life. I--yea, I will answer to God for thee.
If, by coming to see thy mother, thou sinnest, I ask God to make me pay
for thy sin. Come, obey thy father,--I will take the burden of thy sin,
if sin it be.

SHUKRA. Nay, each man pays for his sins as each man reaps the harvest of
his own good deeds. None can atone for another. Ah, God! cursed be the
hour when I was born. Cursed,--

OLD MAN [_angrily_]. Thou cursest thy birth?

SHUKRA. Yea, to be born in this world of woe is a curse indeed.

OLD MAN. Then curse thy tormented mind and thy desolate heart; curse
not,--

SHUKRA. Nay, I curse the hour that saw me come to this earth of delusion
and Maya. I do curse,--

OLD MAN. Thou dost dare curse the hour when thou wert born! Ah, vile
sinner! To curse the hour of thy birth when thy mother is dying! God be
my witness, he has incurred his father's wrath. Now,--no God can save
thee.

SHUKRA. Nay, nay,--

OLD MAN. Shukra. I, thy father, thy God in life, curse thee. Thou hast
deprived thy mother of her child, and her death of its solace. Thou hast
incurred the wrath of the Spirits of all thy departed ancestors.

SHUKRA [_cries out_]. Not thus; not thus. [_Thunder and lightning, the
whole sky is swept by the clouds._]

OLD MAN. Not thus? Thus alone shall it be. Cursed be thou at night;
cursed be thou by day; cursed be thou going; cursed be thou coming. Thou
art cursed by the spirit of the race, by the spirit of God. [_Continued
thunder and lightning._]

SHUKRA [_falling at his father's feet_]. I beseech thee, my father,--

OLD MAN [_shrinking away_]. Touch me not. [_Going left._] Cursed art
thou in Life and Death forever.

SHUKRA. God!--Father, go not thus.

OLD MAN. I am not thy father. [_Deafening and blinding thunder and
lightning._]

SHUKRA. Father--

OLD MAN [_going down the steps_]. Pollute not my hearing by calling me
thy father. May the judgment of Indra be upon thee! [_He totters down
out of sight, left, in anger and horror._]

SHUKRA. Father, hear, oh hear! [_The rain comes down in a deluge;
thunder and lightning. The rain blots everything out of sight. It pours
in deep, dark sheets, through which the chains and sheets of lightning
burn and run. After raining awhile, the sky clears. In the pale
moonlight, Shukra is seen crouching near the Sacred plant. He is wet and
disheveled. He slowly rises, swaying in exhaustion. Voices are heard
below._]

SHUKRA. Can it be that it is over? Has Indra judged me and found me free
of error? Yea, were I in error, the lightning would have struck me. I
lay there blinded by rain awaiting my death. It did not come. Yea, Indra
has judged! [_Noises below; he does not hear._] O, thou shadowy world, I
am free of thee at last. Free of love and loving, free of all bondage. I
have no earthly ties,--I lean on God alone. At last, I am bound to no
earthly being, not even--[_strange pause_]--not even,--Shanta. [_He
becomes conscious of the noise of approaching footsteps and the light of
the torches from below._] Who is that? [_He goes forward a few steps.
Enter Kanada, torch in hand._]

KANADA. Master, Master.

SHUKRA. Kanada, thou,--[_a pause, very brief but poignant_]. Why this
agitation? Shanta, where is Shanta?

KANADA. Shanta is--

SHUKRA [_seeing the other torches rising suddenly_]. Speak! Who comes
hither?

KANADA. They bring a dead man.

SHUKRA. Who is he? [_As a premonition of the truth comes over him._]
Where is Shanta?

KANADA [_blurts out_]. At the foot of the hill the lightning struck him.

SHUKRA [_with a terrible cry_]. Shanta,--my Shanta! [_Two men carrying
torches with one hand, and dragging something white with the other, come
up the steps. This vision silences Shukra. A pause follows. Another
torch is seen rising behind them._]

SHUKRA [_slowly_], Shanta,--gone. [_Pause again, looking into the starry
heavens._] This is the Judgment of Indra!


  [_Curtain._]



THE WORKHOUSE WARD

  A PLAY

  BY LADY GREGORY


  Copyright, 1909, by Lady Gregory.
  All rights reserved.


  PERSONS

    MICHAEL MISKELL     } [_Paupers_].
    MIKE MCINERNEY      }
    MRS. DONOHOE          [_a Countrywoman_].


  Reprinted from "Seven Short Plays," by Lady Gregory, published by
  G. P. Putnam's Sons, by permission of Lady Gregory and Messrs.
  G. P. Putnam's Sons.

  All acting rights, both professional and amateur, are reserved in
  the United States, Great Britain, and all countries of the Copyright
  Union, by the author. Performances forbidden and right of presentation
  reserved.

  Application for the right of performing this play or reading it in
  public should be made to Samuel French, 28 West 38th Street, New York
  City, or 26 South Hampton Street, Strand, London.



THE WORKHOUSE WARD

A PLAY BY LADY GREGORY


    [SCENE: _A ward in Cloon Workhouse. The two old men in their
    beds_.]


MICHAEL MISKELL. Isn't it a hard case, Mike McInerney, myself and
yourself to be left here in the bed, and it the feast day of Saint
Colman, and the rest of the ward attending on the Mass.

MIKE MCINERNEY. Is it sitting up by the hearth you are wishful to be,
Michael Miskell, with cold in the shoulders and with speckled shins? Let
you rise up so, and you well able to do it, not like myself that has
pains the same as tin-tacks within in my inside.

MICHAEL MISKELL. If you have pains within in your inside there is no one
can see it or know of it the way they can see my own knees that are
swelled up with the rheumatism, and my hands that are twisted in ridges
the same as an old cabbage stalk. It is easy to be talking about
soreness and about pains, and they maybe not to be in it at all.

MIKE MCINERNEY. To open me and to analyze me you would know what sort of
a pain and a soreness I have in my heart and in my chest. But I'm not
one like yourself to be cursing and praying and tormenting the time the
nuns are at hand, thinking to get a bigger share than myself of the
nourishment and of the milk.

MICHAEL MISKELL. That's the way you do be picking at me and faulting me.
I had a share and a good share in my early time, and it's well you know
that, and the both of us reared in Skehanagh.

MIKE MCINERNEY. You may say that, indeed, we are both of us reared in
Skehanagh. Little wonder you to have good nourishment the time we were
both rising, and you bringing away my rabbits out of the snare.

MICHAEL MISKELL. And you didn't bring away my own eels, I suppose, I was
after spearing in the Turlough? Selling them to the nuns in the convent
you did, and letting on they to be your own. For you were always a
cheater and a schemer, grabbing every earthly thing for your own profit.

MIKE MCINERNEY. And you were no grabber yourself, I suppose, till your
land and all you had grabbed wore away from you!

MICHAEL MISKELL. If I lost it itself, it was through the crosses I met
with and I going through the world. I never was a rambler and a
card-player like yourself, Mike McInerney, that ran through all and
lavished it unknown to your mother!

MIKE MCINERNEY. Lavished it, is it? And if I did was it you yourself led
me to lavish it or some other one? It is on my own floor I would be
to-day and in the face of my family, but for the misfortune I had to be
put with a bad next door neighbor that was yourself. What way did my
means go from me is it? Spending on fencing, spending on walls, making
up gates, putting up doors, that would keep your hens and your ducks
from coming in through starvation on my floor, and every four footed
beast you had from preying and trespassing on my oats and my mangolds
and my little lock of hay!

MICHAEL MISKELL. O to listen to you! And I striving to please you and to
be kind to you and to close my ears to the abuse you would be calling
and letting out of your mouth. To trespass on your crops is it? It's
little temptation there was for my poor beasts to ask to cross the
mering. My God Almighty! What had you but a little corner of a field!

MIKE MCINERNEY. And what do you say to my garden that your two pigs had
destroyed on me the year of the big tree being knocked, and they making
gaps in the wall.

MICHAEL MISKELL. Ah, there does be a great deal of gaps knocked in a
twelve-month. Why wouldn't they be knocked by the thunder, the same as
the tree, or some storm that came up from the west?

MIKE MCINERNEY. It was the west wind, I suppose, that devoured my green
cabbage? And that rooted up my Champion potatoes? And that ate the
gooseberries themselves from off the bush?

MICHAEL MISKELL. What are you saying? The two quietest pigs ever I had,
no way wicked and well ringed. They were not ten minutes in it. It would
be hard for them to eat strawberries in that time, let alone
gooseberries that's full of thorns.

MIKE MCINERNEY. They were not quiet, but very ravenous pigs you had that
time, as active as a fox they were, killing my young ducks. Once they
had blood tasted you couldn't stop them.

MICHAEL MISKELL. And what happened myself the fair day of Esserkelly,
the time I was passing your door? Two brazened dogs that rushed out and
took a piece of me. I never was the better of it or of the start I got,
but wasting from then till now!

MIKE MCINERNEY. Thinking you were a wild beast they did, that had made
his escape out of the traveling show, with the red eyes of you and the
ugly face of you, and the two crooked legs of you that wouldn't hardly
stop a pig in a gap. Sure any dog that had any life in it at all would
be roused and stirred seeing the like of you going the road!

MICHAEL MISKELL. I did well taking out a summons against you that time.
It is a great wonder you not to have been bound over through your
lifetime, but the laws of England is queer.

MIKE MCINERNEY. What ailed me that I did not summons yourself after you
stealing away the clutch of eggs I had in the barrel, and I away in
Ardrahan searching out a clocking hen.

MICHAEL MISKELL. To steal your eggs is it? Is that what you are saying
now? [_Holds up his hands._] The Lord is in heaven, and Peter and the
saints, and yourself that was in Ardrahan that day put a hand on them as
soon as myself! Isn't it a bad story for me to be wearing out my days
beside you the same as a spancelled goat. Chained I am and tethered I am
to a man that is ram-shacking his mind for lies!

MIKE MCINERNEY. If it is a bad story for you, Michael Miskell, it is a
worse story again for myself. A Miskell to be next and near me through
the whole of the four quarters of the year. I never heard there to be
any great name on the Miskells as there was on my own race and name.

MICHAEL MISKELL. You didn't, is it? Well, you could hear it if you had
but ears to hear it. Go across to Lisheen Crannagh and down to the sea
and to Newtown Lynch and the mills of Duras and you'll find a Miskell,
and as far as Dublin!

MIKE MCINERNEY. What signifies Crannagh and the mills of Duras? Look at
all my own generations that are buried at the Seven Churches. And how
many generations of the Miskells are buried in it? Answer me that!

MICHAEL MISKELL. I tell you but for the wheat that was to be sowed there
would be more side cars and more common cars at my father's funeral (God
rest his soul!) than at any funeral ever left your own door. And as to
my mother, she was a Cuffe from Claregalway, and it's she had the purer
blood!

MIKE MCINERNEY. And what do you say to the banshee? Isn't she apt to
have knowledge of the ancient race? Was ever she heard to screech or to
cry for the Miskells? Or for the Cuffes from Claregalway? She was not,
but for the six families, the Hyneses, the Foxes, the Faheys, the
Dooleys, the McInerneys. It is of the nature of the McInerneys she is I
am thinking, crying them the same as a king's children.

MICHAEL MISKELL. It is a pity the banshee not to be crying for yourself
at this minute, and giving you a warning to quit your lies and your chat
and your arguing and your contrary ways; for there is no one under the
rising sun could stand you. I tell you you are not behaving as in the
presence of the Lord.

MIKE MCINERNEY. Is it wishful for my death you are? Let it come and meet
me now and welcome so long as it will part me from yourself! And I say,
and I would kiss the book on it, I to have one request only to be
granted, and I leaving it in my will, it is what I would request, nine
furrows of the field, nine ridges of the hills, nine waves of the ocean
to be put between your grave and my own grave the time we will be laid
in the ground!

MICHAEL MISKELL. Amen to that! Nine ridges, is it? No, but let the whole
ridge of the world separate us till the Day of Judgment! I would not be
laid anear you at the Seven Churches, I to get Ireland without a divide!

MIKE MCINERNEY. And after that again! I'd sooner than ten pound in my
hand, I to know that my shadow and my ghost will not be knocking about
with your shadow and your ghost, and the both of us waiting our time.
I'd sooner be delayed in Purgatory! Now, have you anything to say?

MICHAEL MISKELL. I have everything to say, if I had but the time to say
it!

MIKE MCINERNEY. [_Sitting up._] Let me up out of this till I'll choke
you!

MICHAEL MISKELL. You scolding pauper you!

MIKE MCINERNEY. [_Shaking his fist at him._] Wait a while!

MICHAEL MISKELL. [_Shaking his fist._] Wait a while yourself!

    [_Mrs. Donohoe comes in with a parcel. She is a countrywoman with
    a frilled cap and a shawl. She stands still a minute. The two old
    men lie down and compose themselves._]

MRS. DONOHOE. They bade me come up here by the stair. I never was in
this place at all. I don't know am I right. Which now of the two of ye
is Mike McInerney?

MIKE MCINERNEY. Who is it is calling me by my name?

MRS. DONOHOE. Sure amn't I your sister, Honor McInerney that was, that
is now Honor Donohoe.

MIKE MCINERNEY. So you are, I believe. I didn't know you till you pushed
anear me. It is time indeed for you to come see me, and I in this place
five year or more. Thinking me to be no credit to you, I suppose, among
that tribe of the Donohoes. I wonder they to give you leave to come ask
am I living yet or dead?

MRS. DONOHOE. Ah, sure, I buried the whole string of them. Himself was
the last to go. [_Wipes her eyes._] The Lord be praised he got a fine
natural death. Sure we must go through our crosses. And he got a lovely
funeral; it would delight you to hear the priest reading the Mass. My
poor John Donohoe! A nice clean man, you couldn't but be fond of him.
Very severe on the tobacco he was, but he wouldn't touch the drink.

MIKE MCINERNEY. And is it in Curranroe you are living yet?

MRS. DONOHOE. It is so. He left all to myself. But it is a lonesome
thing the head of a house to have died!

MIKE MCINERNEY. I hope that he has left you a nice way of living?

MRS. DONOHOE. Fair enough, fair enough. A wide lovely house I have; a
few acres of grass land ... the grass does be very sweet that grows
among the stones. And as to the sea, there is something from it every
day of the year, a handful of periwinkles to make kitchen, or cockles
maybe. There is many a thing in the sea is not decent, but cockles is
fit to put before the Lord!

MIKE MCINERNEY. You have all that! And you without e'er a man in the
house?

MRS. DONOHOE. It is what I am thinking, yourself might come and keep me
company. It is no credit to me a brother of my own to be in this place
at all.

MIKE MCINERNEY. I'll go with you! Let me out of this! It is the name of
the McInerneys will be rising on every side!

MRS. DONOHOE. I don't know. I was ignorant of you being kept to the bed.

MIKE MCINERNEY. I am not kept to it, but maybe an odd time when there is
a colic rises up within me. My stomach always gets better the time there
is a change in the moon. I'd like well to draw anear you. My heavy
blessing on you, Honor Donohoe, for the hand you have held out to me
this day.

MRS. DONOHOE. Sure you could be keeping the fire in, and stirring the
pot with the bit of Indian meal for the hens, and milking the goat and
taking the tacklings off the donkey at the door; and maybe putting out
the cabbage plants in their time. For when the old man died the garden
died.

MIKE MCINERNEY. I could to be sure, and be cutting the potatoes for
seed. What luck could there be in a place and a man not to be in it? Is
that now a suit of clothes you have brought with you?

MRS. DONOHOE. It is so, the way you will be tasty coming in among the
neighbors at Curranroe.

MIKE MCINERNEY. My joy you are! It is well you earned me! Let me up out
of this! [_He sits up and spreads out the clothes and tries on coat._]
That now is a good frieze coat ... and a hat in the fashion.... [_He
puts on hat._]

MICHAEL MISKELL [_alarmed_]. And is it going out of this you are, Mike
McInerney?

MIKE MCINERNEY. Don't you hear I am going? To Curranroe I am going.
Going I am to a place where I will get every good thing!

MICHAEL MISKELL. And is it to leave me here after you you will?

MIKE MCINERNEY [_in a rising chant_]. Every good thing! The goat and the
kid are there, the sheep and the lamb are there, the cow does be running
and she coming to be milked! Plowing and seed sowing, blossom at
Christmas time, the cuckoo speaking through the dark days of the year!
Ah, what are you talking about? Wheat high in hedges, no talk about the
rent! Salmon in the rivers as plenty as hurf! Spending and getting and
nothing scarce! Sport and pleasure, and music on the strings! Age will
go from me and I will be young again. Geese and turkeys for the hundreds
and drink for the whole world!

MICHAEL MISKELL. Ah, Mike, is it truth you are saying, you to go from me
and to leave me with rude people and with townspeople, and with people
of every parish in the union, and they having no respect for me or no
wish for me at all!

MIKE MCINERNEY. Whist now and I'll leave you ... my pipe [_hands it
over_]; and I'll engage it is Honor Donohoe won't refuse to be sending
you a few ounces of tobacco an odd time, and neighbors coming to the
fair in November or in the month of May.

MICHAEL MISKELL. Ah, what signifies tobacco? All that I am craving is
the talk. There to be no one at all to say out to whatever thought might
be rising in my innate mind! To be lying here and no conversible person
in it would be the abomination of misery!

MIKE MCINERNEY. Look now, Honor.... It is what I often heard said, two
to be better than one.... Sure if you had an old trouser was full of
holes ... or a skirt ... wouldn't you put another in under it that might
be as tattered as itself, and the two of them together would make some
sort of a decent show?

MRS. DONOHOE. Ah, what are you saying? There is no holes in that suit I
brought you now, but as sound it is as the day I spun it for himself.

MIKE MCINERNEY. It is what I am thinking, Honor.... I do be weak an odd
time.... Any load I would carry, it preys upon my side ... and this man
does be weak an odd time with the swelling in his knees ... but the two
of us together it's not likely it is at the one time we would fail.
Bring the both of us with you, Honor, and the height of the castle of
luck on you, and the both of us together will make one good hardy man!

MRS. DONOHOE. I'd like my job! Is it queer in the head you are grown
asking me to bring in a stranger off the road?

MICHAEL MISKELL. I am not, ma'am, but an old neighbor I am. If I had
forecasted this asking I would have asked it myself. Michael Miskell I
am, that was in the next house to you in Skehanagh!

MRS. DONOHOE. For pity's sake! Michael Miskell is it? That's worse
again. Yourself and Mike that never left fighting and scolding and
attacking one another! Sparring at one another like two young pups you
were, and threatening one another after like two grown dogs!

MIKE MCINERNEY. All the quarreling was ever in the place it was myself
did it. Sure his anger rises fast and goes away like the wind. Bring him
out with myself now, Honor Donohoe, and God bless you.

MRS. DONOHOE. Well, then, I will not bring him out, and I will not bring
yourself out, and you not to learn better sense. Are you making yourself
ready to come?

MIKE MCINERNEY. I am thinking, maybe ... it is a mean thing for a man
that is shivering into seventy years to go changing from place to place.

MRS. DONOHOE. Well, take your luck or leave it. All I asked was to save
you from the hurt and the harm of the year.

MIKE MCINERNEY. Bring the both of us with you or I will not stir out of
this.

MRS. DONOHOE. Give me back my fine suit so [_begins gathering up the
clothes_], till I go look for a man of my own!

MIKE MCINERNEY. Let you go so, as you are so unnatural and so
disobliging, and look for some man of your own, God help him! For I will
not go with you at all!

MRS. DONOHOE. It is too much time I lost with you, and dark night
waiting to overtake me on the road. Let the two of you stop together,
and the back of my hand to you. It is I will leave you there the same as
God left the Jews!

    [_She goes out. The old men lie down and are silent for a moment._]

MICHAEL MISKELL. Maybe the house is not so wide as what she says.

MIKE MCINERNEY. Why wouldn't it be wide?

MICHAEL MISKELL. Ah, there does be a good deal of middling poor houses
down by the sea.

MIKE MCINERNEY. What would you know about wide houses? Whatever sort of
a house you had yourself it was too wide for the provision you had into
it.

MICHAEL MISKELL. Whatever provision I had in my house it was wholesome
provision and natural provision. Herself and her periwinkles!
Periwinkles is a hungry sort of food.

MIKE MCINERNEY. Stop your impudence and your chat or it will be the
worse for you. I'd bear with my own father and mother as long as any man
would, but if they'd vex me I would give them the length of a rope as
soon as another!

MICHAEL MISKELL. I would never ask at all to go eating periwinkles.

MIKE MCINERNEY [_sitting up_]. Have you any one to fight me?

MICHAEL MISKELL [_whimpering_]. I have not, only the Lord!

MIKE MCINERNEY. Let you leave putting insults on me so, and death
picking at you!

MICHAEL MISKELL. Sure I am saying nothing at all to displease you. It is
why I wouldn't go eating periwinkles, I'm in dread I might swallow the
pin.

MIKE MCINERNEY. Who in the world wide is asking you to eat them? You're
as tricky as a fish in the full tide!

MICHAEL MISKELL. Tricky is it! Oh, my curse and the curse of the four
and twenty men upon you!

MIKE MCINERNEY. That the worm may chew you from skin to marrow bone!
[_Seizes his pillow._]

MICHAEL MISKELL [_seizing his own pillow_]. I'll leave my death on you,
you scheming vagabone!

MIKE MCINERNEY. By cripes! I'll pull out your pin feathers! [_throwing
pillow_].

MICHAEL MISKELL [_throwing pillow_]. You tyrant! You big bully you!

MIKE MCINERNEY [_throwing pillow and seizing mug_]. Take this so, you
stabbing ruffian you!

    [_They throw all within their reach at one another, mugs, prayer
    books, pipes, etc._]


  [_Curtain._]



LOUISE

  A PLAY

  BY J. H. SPEENHOFF
  TRANSLATED FROM THE DUTCH BY A. V. C. P. HUIZINGA AND PIERRE LOVING.


  Acting rights reserved by Pierre Loving.
  All rights reserved.


  PERSONS

    LOUISE.
    VAN DER ELST [_Notary_].
    VENNEMA [_Louise's Father_].
    SOPHIE [_Serving Maid_].


  Applications for permissions to produce LOUISE must be addressed to
  Pierre Loving, 240 W. 4.



LOUISE

A PLAY BY J. H. SPEENHOFF


    [SCENE: _A large fashionably appointed room with few decorations
    on the walls. The latter are papered in yellow with large black
    lilies. To the right, a tall broad window with heavy brown
    curtains. To the left, an old gold harp with a little footstool.
    Behind, to the right, a door with brown portières, affording a
    view of a vestibule and banister. To the left, down front, a broad
    couch with black head cushions. Next to it the end of a heavy
    broad oaken table, with the side turned toward the couch. Behind,
    the back wall has an open chimney with carved wood and ornaments
    on it. Beside the chimney, on both sides, are two large
    comfortable chairs and two others by the table and window
    respectively. On the table are the remains of breakfast: fruit
    glasses and two empty champagne bottles_.

    _As the curtain rises Louise is discovered lying on the couch with
    her feet extended toward the audience. She lies quietly and gazes
    blankly in the distance. Closer scrutiny reveals that she is in
    the last stage of intoxication. On the whole, it is rather a
    lady-like inebriety and expresses itself now and again by way of a
    heavy sigh, looseness of limb, a languid flutter of the eyelids
    and a disposition to be humorous. It is about three in the
    afternoon. As for the tone of the room, there are a lot of
    yellows, blacks and browns; the light is quite subdued. Soon after
    the rise of the curtain, Louise begins slowly and dreamily to hum
    a melody. She stops for a while, gazes blankly around and starts
    humming again. Then she raises herself, crosses her arms on the
    tables and rests her head on them. Her hair is loosely
    arranged--or disarranged. Her dressing gown is black and white._

    _A bell is rung downstairs. Louise does not seem to hear it.
    Another ting-a-ling. You can hear the maid going downstairs. The
    door opens and shuts. Two pairs of feet are heard climbing the
    stairs. The maid parts the portières, shows Van der Elst in and
    points Louise out to him, meanwhile remaining discreetly behind
    the portières._

    _The truth is that Sophie is very much embarrassed. She looks as
    if she has been called away from her proper duties. She is a
    healthy maid, with tousled blond hair, cotton dress, blue apron,
    maid's cap and is in her stocking feet. She goes toward Louise,
    then stops confusedly at a little distance from her. She moves a
    chair needlessly, in timid embarrassment, and wipes her lips with
    her apron._]


SOPHIE. Here's a gentleman to see you--to see--you, madam.

    [_Louise doesn't hear._]

SOPHIE [_approaches the end of table_]. A gentleman has come--come to
see--you.

LOUISE [_raising herself on her elbows; with her head on her hands_].
What are you doing?

SOPHIE [_confusedly_]. I--madam? Why, nothing. But there's a gentleman
... you see....

LOUISE. A gentleman? Very well, you may go. [_She closes her eyes._]

SOPHIE. But ... but ... he wishes to speak to you. A gray-haired
gentleman. He is standing by the portières ... over there. [_Indicates
Van Elst._]

    [_Louise does not pay any attention to Sophie or Van Elst, but
    composes herself for another nap on the couch._]

SOPHIE. May he come in? [_A long pause._] May he...? [_Louise does not
answer. Sophie waits a bit, then she beckons Van Elst into the room._]
She won't answer, sir. Maybe you'd better come back in an hour or
so....

VAN ELST. Hm! No. That's impossible. [_Looks at Louise._] What's the
matter with madam? Is she asleep?

SOPHIE. No ... you see ... she is, you know....

VAN ELST [_approaching_]. What?

SOPHIE. She isn't well....

VAN ELST. Ah, not well?

SOPHIE. Yes, from.... [_Hesitates._]

VAN ELST [_spying the bottles on the table_]. Has madam consumed those?

SOPHIE. Yes, yes. It's awful. [_Pause._]

VAN ELST. Does this happen very often?

SOPHIE. Yes. Oh, yes, quite often.

VAN ELST. Indeed!

SOPHIE. Hadn't you better go until ... for a while?

VAN ELST. No, no. I shall....

SOPHIE. Very well, sir, you know best. [_Sophie goes out of the room on
tiptoe._]

    [_Now that Sophie is out of the room, one has an opportunity to
    scrutinize Van Elst more closely. He is a prosperous-looking
    country gentleman about fifty years old. He wears a shining
    tophat, white vest with a gold chain across his stomach,
    tight-fitting blue trousers, low shoes, white socks and a short
    blue coat. He is clean-shaven and when he removes his hat, one
    observes that his hair is close-cropped. His walking-stick,
    contrary to expectations, is light and slim. He takes a chair near
    the window, directly behind the harp, puts his hat, cane and
    gloves beside him on the floor and looks around. He glances at
    Louise, shakes his head solemnly, coughs, wipes his forehead, puts
    his handkerchief carefully away, coughs again, moves his chair and
    after some signs of nervousness, says_]:

VAN ELST. Miss ... may I have a word with you? [_Louise doesn't hear._]

VAN ELST [_with growing embarrassment_]. I ... I should like to speak to
you.

LOUISE [_a little wildly_]. Are you there?

VAN ELST [_taken aback_]. Yes ... no ... yes.... I.... Whom do you mean?

LOUISE. Come here beside me.

VAN ELST [_astonished_]. Certainly, but....

LOUISE [_sighing_]. Come ... come.

VAN ELST. Aren't you making a mistake? I'm not....

LOUISE [_raising herself halfway, left elbow on table, head on hand, the
other arm outstretched on the table. She looks unseeingly at him_].
Don't you want to?

VAN ELST. But I'm not ... how shall I put it? I've come to speak with
you very seriously.

LOUISE [_has seated herself in the middle of the couch. She extends her
arms with a smiling invitation_]. Don't you dare?

VAN ELST [_very considerably embarrassed by this time. He coughs and
mops his face_]. It isn't quite necessary. We can talk this way.

LOUISE [_smiling_]. I will come to you, you know. Ah, you don't
realize....

VAN ELST [_rising, disturbed_]. No. Please stay where you are. Don't
trouble yourself. I can hear you from where you are, and you can hear
me.

LOUISE [_ignores his words completely, gets up dizzily and gropes with
the aid of the table toward the chair. She leans on the arm of the chair
and looks at Van Elst. She points out the small chair_]. Come here.

VAN ELST [_after some deliberation, sits at her side_]. We had
better.... [_His voice dies in a mutter._]

LOUISE [_insistent_]. No. Here at my side. Sit close to me, then I'll be
able to hear you better.

VAN ELST [_pulling his chair closer_]. I don't see why....

LOUISE. Don't you think I'm very beautiful and wise?

VAN ELST. I have very serious things to discuss with you. Will you
listen to me? [_He assumes an important pose._]

LOUISE. Why do you take on such a severe tone? You must be more
gentle--very gentle.

VAN ELST. Hm! Very well. First let me tell you who I am. My name is Van
der Elst. I'm the new attorney back home, and I am a friend of your
father's.

LOUISE. Well?

VAN ELST. I think a lot of your father. As you know, Mr. Degudo was your
father's lawyer; but he's gone away and I've taken his place.

LOUISE. Why am I honored with these confidences?

VAN ELST. You ought to know who I am.

LOUISE. Well, what's your name?

VAN ELST [_angrily_]. I told you that my name is Van der Elst,
attorney-at-law.

LOUISE [_smiling vapidly_]. Have you any bonbons with you?

VAN ELST. What sort of a question is that, madam? You're not listening
to me. [_He gets up angrily, about to collect his effects prior to
leaving._]

LOUISE. Are you leaving me so soon? If I were you, I wouldn't leave.

    [_Van Elst walks back and forth in annoyance, muttering all the
    while._]

LOUISE. What are you muttering about? Come here and sit by my side. Last
week I received flowers from an old gentleman, an old gentleman. At
least that is what the girl said. He sent them for my shoulders, mind
you. You see, he had seen my shoulders. Please sit down. That's why he
sent me flowers--[_extending her hand_] and this ring came with them.
Look! [_Van der Elst has taken a seat. She thrusts her hand before his
face._] It's the thin one.

VAN ELST. Madam, I didn't come for this frivolity.

LOUISE. What would you give if you could kiss me?

    [_Van Elst coughs and fumbles with his handkerchief._]

LOUISE. Do you know what I suspect? I suspect that you are the old
gentleman in question.

VAN ELST [_getting up in high dudgeon_]. Madam, I consider that
accusation entirely improper, in view of the fact that I am a
respectable married man. I want you to know that I keep out of these
things. My reputation is above reproach. Do you intend to listen to me
or not?

LOUISE. Don't shout so.

VAN ELST. Do you talk this way always? You amaze me.

LOUISE [_smiling_]. I suspect you are the gentleman with the pretty
touch about my shoulders. Well, sit down. Is he gone? Are you gone?

VAN ELST [_stepping forwardly boldly_]. I am still here. This is
positively the last time I'll ask you to listen to me. I assure you, my
patience is nearly exhausted. Your father and mother, your family have
asked me to bring the following to your notice. Your present conduct has
caused a great scandal. You've left your family for a man who is too far
above you socially ever to make you his wife. Consequently, you have
become his mistress.

LOUISE. Eh?

VAN ELST. I'm not through yet. Your father and mother have requested me
to ask you to come back home. They await you with open arms.

LOUISE. Don't be silly. Sit down.

VAN ELST. Oh, it's useless.

LOUISE [_incoherently_]. Will you promise to tell me?

VAN ELST. I suppose I'll have to wait. [_He sits down in utter
despair._]

LOUISE [_goes up to him unsteadily, groping for the arm of the chair.
With a laugh_]. Tell me, which one was it. This shoulder or this one?
Ah, aren't you clever! You're the old gentleman, aren't you, you old
duck?

VAN ELST. A useless commission. Poor parents!

LOUISE. What's that? The joke's on me.

VAN ELST. Next she'll ask me to dance with her, I suppose.

LOUISE. Dance? No dancing. Don't get up. You needn't get up. I don't
mean it ... really, I don't.

    [_Louise sits in front of the harp and runs her fingers idly over
    the strings. Then slowly, she plays the same melody she hummed
    previously. She hums it again dreamily. The music grows softer and
    softer. She sighs, stops playing, her head drops to her hands and
    she falls limply to the floor._]

VAN ELST. Good God, what's this? It wasn't my fault. I suppose I was
cruel to her. [_Walks excitedly back and forth. Sophie enters._]

SOPHIE. What's the matter?

VAN ELST. Look at your mistress. I can't make out what's wrong with her.

SOPHIE. Oh, that's nothing. It happens every day. Just a fainting fit.

VAN ELST. What a life! What a life! Why don't you do something? She
can't be allowed to lie there that way.

SOPHIE. Just a minute. [_She seizes Louise by the waist and lifts her
from the floor. Van Elst assists her._]

SOPHIE. Nothing to worry about [_arranging Louise's clothes_]. Now you
lie here and you'll be quite all right in a very short while. She gets
that way quite frequently.

VAN ELST [_sinks into a chair_]. This is frightful.

SOPHIE [_confidentially_]. Madam drinks heavily in the afternoons and in
the evening, too, when the master is here. Yes, and then they sing
together and madam plays on that thing there. [_Points to the harp._]
It's very nice sometimes.

VAN ELST. Who is the master?

SOPHIE. I don't know, sir. But that's what I've been told to call him.

VAN ELST. Are they happy together? Or do they sometimes quarrel?

SOPHIE. I don't know. I don't think so, for he's very good and likes her
very much.

VAN ELST. Madam never weeps or is sad? I ask these questions for madam's
sake.

SOPHIE. Oh, yes, she weeps sometimes. But it's mostly when she hasn't
had a drink and feels out of sorts. But it's soon cured when I fetch the
wine.

VAN ELST. Then she occasionally thinks of her home. That may help us.

SOPHIE. May I suggest something, sir? [_She busies herself clearing off
the table._] If I were you, I should go away quietly.

VAN ELST. Go away?

SOPHIE. For madam can't bear men folks around her when she sobers up. If
I were you, I'd go away.

VAN ELST. No, I'll stay. If she's sober after a while, perhaps she'll be
able to talk to me coherently.

SOPHIE. You must know best. But I warn you, madam can't bear to have
anybody else with her.

VAN ELST. What! Do you think I came for that purpose?

SOPHIE. Of course. You're not trying to tell me that you came to read
the newspaper with her.

VAN ELST. You keep your mouth shut. I've come to ask madam to return to
her parents.

SOPHIE. Oh, that's it, is it? You're from the family. I see. Of course
... but she won't go with you.

LOUISE [_dreaming aloud_]. William, William! He's bolting. Help! Help!
Oh, the brown mare! Look! [_Sighs._]

SOPHIE. She's delirious again. She goes on like that a lot. She was in a
carriage with the master the other day, when the horse bolted. That's
what she always dreams about these days.

LOUISE. Ah, wait. I left my earrings at the doctor's. Mother, mother, I
love you so. [_She sighs heavily. A ring is heard below._]

VAN ELST. Ah, that's Mr. Vennema. Open the door for him. It's her
father.

SOPHIE. Ought I let him in? He mustn't see her in that condition.

VAN ELST. Please open the door.

SOPHIE. Oh, all right. [_She goes out._]

    [_Van der Elst listens._]

LOUISE. Hopla, hopla, hopla....

    [_Vennema and Sophie mount the stairs._]

SOPHIE [_to Vennema behind the portières_]. Come this way, sir. You may
come in.

    [_Vennema comes in hesitating and stops at the door. He is a
    kindly country parson type, wholly gray, with a gray beard and
    mustache. He is wearing an ecclesiastical hat, a black coat and
    black trousers. He gazes about anxiously and finally his eyes
    light on Van der Elst. Van der Elst beckons to Vennema and
    indicates Louise on the couch. Sophie goes out._]

VAN ELST. There she is.

VENNEMA. Is she ill?

VAN ELST. No, that isn't it. She's dreaming. She's very nervous. She was
quite agitated a moment ago.

VENNEMA. What did she say?

VAN ELST. She wouldn't listen to me. She insisted on speaking of other
things. As a matter of fact; she acted very queerly.

LOUISE. First prize ... splendid.

VENNEMA. What's the matter with her?

VAN ELST. I don't know. Nerves perhaps.

VENNEMA. Has she had a fainting spell?

VAN ELST. Don't worry about it. She'll be better in a little while.

VENNEMA [_noticing the bottles_]. Is she...?

VAN ELST. I don't know.

VENNEMA. Couldn't you tell? You may tell me.

VAN ELST. Yes; I think a little.

VENNEMA. That hurts. I never thought she would allow herself to get into
such a state. Has she been this way for a long time?

VAN ELST. About ten minutes, I should say. But she'll be quite all right
in a little while.

VENNEMA. I can't help being distressed over it. That she should have
descended to this!

VAN ELST. Do you know what the maid told me? She said that they are
happy together, and that he is truly in love with her.

VENNEMA. Yes. But why did he allow her to go this far?

VAN ELST. She won't see anybody.

VENNEMA. Not even me? Her father?

VAN ELST. Perhaps you.

VENNEMA. What do you think? Will she come home with us? Have you found
out?

VAN ELST. She didn't pay any attention to me. She didn't quite
understand my mission. I don't know. Perhaps you had better speak to
her.

LOUISE [_calling_]. I.... Oh.... Help! [_She sits up in the middle of
the couch, with her hands to her face. She droops and seems to fall
asleep in a sitting posture._]

VENNEMA. Is she...?

VAN ELST. Yes, she's coming to.

LOUISE [_wakes with a start_]. Bah! [_She looks around, does not
recognize Van der Elst and Vennema. Then, peering closer, she registers
surprise, sudden fright and finally anger. Van der Elst is about to
speak, but she interrupts him._]

LOUISE. Who are you? [_Coughs._] Who are you and what is your business
here? Go away.... Go away.

VAN ELST. Madam.... I....

VENNEMA. Let me speak. [_He goes toward Louise._] Louise ... it is I.
Don't you recognize me? [_After a pause._] Louise!

LOUISE [_after a pause_]. Father!

VENNEMA. Aren't you glad to see your father?

LOUISE [_in a low tone of voice_]. Oh, father.

VENNEMA. You are not ill, my child?

LOUISE. No. Why have you come?

VENNEMA. I wanted to speak to you.

LOUISE. Why did you come? Why?

VENNEMA [_seating himself beside Louise on the couch_]. Listen to me, my
dear.

LOUISE. Yes.

VENNEMA. I came to find out whether you are happy or not.

LOUISE. I don't know. Happy ... that's a strange word.

VENNEMA. Why strange? Are you happier here than--with us.

LOUISE [_leaning forward on her hands_]. Than with you? [_Looking up._]
I prefer to be here.

VENNEMA. Don't you miss us all, just the least little bit?

LOUISE. Sometimes, when I'm alone. All the same, I'd rather be here.

VENNEMA. Aren't you deluding yourself? Wasn't your life with us at home
better?

LOUISE. Better? What do you mean, better?

VENNEMA. You know what I mean. Don't you regret running off with ... him
... and spreading sorrow in our hearts?

LOUISE. I loved him. And then I yearned for freedom, for the pleasures
of life and travel. At home everything was so dull and monotonous. I
couldn't stand the smug people at home. Their life is one round of lying
and gossiping, of scolding and backbiting.

VENNEMA. But what of this sort of existence? You don't quite appreciate
the damage you have done. How you have stained the fair reputation of
your parents. I wonder whether that has ever occurred to you? You say
that you do not like the people who are our neighbors back home, but it
is these very people who make and unmake reputations. We must live with
them. Can't you realize that?

LOUISE. Father, I'm sorry, but I couldn't go back to them. The
commonplace tattlers with their humdrum, uneventful lives scarcely exist
for me.

VENNEMA. They don't exist for you, you say. But, remember, that they
despise you. They and their contempt do not reach you, but they reach
us.

LOUISE [_almost inaudibly_]. Yes.

VENNEMA. But your future? Have you thought of that? What will it be?
Wretchedness and contempt. When I came in and saw you stretched out in
that condition, I....

LOUISE. Father, I want to forget. I don't want to think of the past.

VENNEMA. In order not to think of the past, you resort to drink?

LOUISE. Sometimes it is hard to forget.

VENNEMA. Tell me, Louise: does he love you, and do you love him? And
even if this be true, will he continue to love you always? Won't the
time come when he will grow indifferent to you?

LOUISE [_getting up_]. Never ... never. Not he. You don't believe that
such a thing is impossible? He cannot forget me. I have given him
everything ... my love, myself ... all that is truly myself.

VENNEMA. Aren't you a little too optimistic?

LOUISE. Not when it concerns him. He knows what I have sacrificed. He
knows what I have given him. There is no room for doubt, father.

VENNEMA. Very well, we will not speak of it again. But how about us,
Louise? Don't you ever think of us? Don't you ever long to come back to
us, to the old home where you were born? Wouldn't you like to see it
again?

LOUISE [_sadly_]. Yes.

VENNEMA [_anxious and excited_]. Then come back with me. Come back to
us. You know my motive for coming. Won't you come back home with me?
Everything is in perfect readiness for you: your little room, the
flowers, the trees ... everything. Louise....

LOUISE. Father, that can never be. Never.

VENNEMA. Why not? We have arranged everything. Nothing will be lacking
for your welcome, your comfort.

LOUISE. Why should I bring misfortune to you? It would simply add to
your unhappiness. Isn't it better now that I am away from home? Later
on, perhaps.

VENNEMA. Later on? Did it ever occur to you that there may be no later
on? You may not find us then. We are getting old, your mother and I.

LOUISE. Don't, please!

VENNEMA. Come, Louise. Come. Think of the happiness.

LOUISE. How about the townfolks? Would they accept me again, do you
think?

VENNEMA. Don't think of them. Those who are sincerely friendly to us,
will continue to be so. The rest don't count. Ah, if we only could have
you back, my child!

LOUISE [_after a pause_]. Father, I cannot go back. Don't you see that
it is utterly impossible? I am changed now. And then I am not strong
enough. Life is so long and I cannot bear to face it alone.

VENNEMA. But you will have us. You belong to us, and your place, if you
have a place in the world, is with your mother and father. Your old home
is waiting for you with welcoming arms. Summer is coming and you know
how splendid the garden and the orchard are when the lilac trees are in
bloom. Do you remember the little tree you planted once? Doesn't your
heart yearn to see the little flowers that have sprouted on its
branches? Everything is just waiting for you to come home.

LOUISE [_dreamily_]. Everything....

VENNEMA. You will come, won't you?

LOUISE. I cannot. I simply cannot. It is your happiness that I am
thinking of. The intrusion of my life would spoil everything. Everybody
will blame you.

VENNEMA. My child, I have long ago put behind me what the world says.

LOUISE [_suddenly_]. And William? What about William? What about him
when I go back? No, I can't do it. I cannot leave him.

VENNEMA. What about your mother, Louise? She is waiting for you. She
will be at the window to-night, waiting and peering out. Your chair is
ready for you and she herself will open the door to greet you, to take
you to her heart again. Do you know, Louise, she has been getting very
gray of late. Come.

LOUISE. Mother isn't ill?

VENNEMA. Your mother wants to see you before she....

LOUISE [_rising to her feet_]. I ... I will do it.

VENNEMA. Thank you, my child. [_He embraces her_]. We shall go at once.

LOUISE. Ring for Sophie, please. Yes, we will go at once. [_Close to
him._] Mother is not seriously ill?

VENNEMA. I am sure, your return will be her cure.

VAN ELST [_who has listened attentively throughout the whole
conversation_]. Madam, permit me also to thank you for this resolve to
return home. You are going to make many hearts joyful because of your
decision.

LOUISE. I hope so.

SOPHIE [_enters_]. Is there anything you wish, madam?

LOUISE. Pack my traveling bag. Get my black hat and gray coat. I am
leaving at once.

SOPHIE. Very well, madam, but....

LOUISE. Lose no time about it. I'm in a hurry.

SOPHIE. A lady called to see, madam, and I told her you were engaged.

LOUISE. What did she want? Did she say?

SOPHIE. She said she would come back. She insisted on speaking with you.

LOUISE. Do you know the lady?

SOPHIE. Yes ... no. That is, I don't know. I believe I've seen her
before.

LOUISE. Didn't she say what her errand was?

SOPHIE. No, madam, but she said she would come back soon.

LOUISE. When she comes, show her into the drawing room.

SOPHIE. Yes, madam.

LOUISE. Have everything ready at once.

SOPHIE. Yes, madam. [_She goes out._]

LOUISE. You will excuse me. I must change my clothes. I shall put my old
ones on. You see, I kept them. Then I must write to him. I must tell him
why I am going away. [_She goes out by the side door._]

VENNEMA. I feel as if I have never been as happy as this before.

VAN ELST. It will help your wife to get well. She hasn't been very well
these last few weeks.

VENNEMA. Yes, I know it will do her heaps of good. I am quite happy.

VAN ELST. Don't excite your wife unnecessarily to-night. Any shock may
be too much for her.

VENNEMA. Yes, we will postpone our rejoicing until to-morrow. You must
come to-morrow, but alone. Bring your wife Sunday evening. The process
of acclamation will be slow, of course. There is a train about six, I
believe.

VAN ELST. Yes, at five forty-five. We have an hour yet.

VENNEMA. The sooner the better. She must have a change at first. I
thought it mightn't be a bad idea if we paid my brother a visit at
Frezier. It might do her a lot of good. Yes, I think what she needs is a
change of scene.

VAN ELST. If I were you I would stay home the first week.

VENNEMA. We'll attend to that later. It is terrible when you think of
the condition she was in when we arrived.

VAN ELST. The maid said that it happened quite often, too.

VENNEMA. What do you think he will do when he learns that she is gone?

VAN ELST. If he is anything of a man, if he is a man of honor, then he
will stay away. If not, there is the law. But I believe it can be
arranged although she loves him very much.

VENNEMA. Let's not speak of it any more. She will change slowly, and so
the past will be forgotten.

SOPHIE [_enters with a traveling bag_]. Oh, isn't Madam here?

VENNEMA. She will be back very shortly.

SOPHIE. Here's the bag. Everything is ready. [_Puts Louise's things on
the table._]

LOUISE [_enters very simply dressed with a letter in her hand_]. Here I
am. [_To Sophie._] Have you packed everything?

SOPHIE. Yes, everything is ready.

LOUISE. Help me then.

    [_Sophie helps Louise with her coat._]

LOUISE. Mail this letter for me. [_The bell rings downstairs._] Go and
see who it is. I am not at home to anybody now.

SOPHIE. It may be the lady who was here before.

LOUISE. Heavens, I had almost forgotten her. If it's the lady--

SOPHIE. Yes?

LOUISE. See who it is.

SOPHIE [_going_]. Yes, madam.

VENNEMA. What is it, Louise? What does the lady wish?

LOUISE. Nothing, father [_with a forced laugh_]. Nothing at all.

VENNEMA. Must you see her? Can't you say that you are about to go away
on a trip and that you cannot see her? Say that, and let us go.

LOUISE. Oh, it's nothing. I will just speak to her, and then we will go
at once. [_She laughs again in a forced manner._]

VENNEMA. But why are you so excited?

SOPHIE [_entering_]. Madam, the lady has gone away. She left this. [_She
extends a visiting card._] But--

LOUISE. What is it, Sophie?

SOPHIE. She told me to tell you that you must think of the bay mare.
Here is her card.

LOUISE [_excitedly_]. Oh, a card [_tries to restrain herself_]. Give it
to me.

SOPHIE. Then she said nothing about Elsa and the race.

    [_Louise takes the card and goes a little to the side._]

VENNEMA. What's the matter, Louise? What ails you?

LOUISE [_deeply affected_]. Father, father! [_She looks from the card to
her father with tears in her eyes; then she goes mutely toward the
couch, sits down, and stares blankly in front of her._]

LOUISE [_sobbing_]. I can't do it!

VENNEMA [_takes the visiting card from her hands_]. Must you pay all
that? Have you lost all that money?

LOUISE. Yes.

VENNEMA. Through gambling?

LOUISE. Yes.

VENNEMA. Good God! Gambling, too? And to-night you must pay all that
money.

SOPHIE [_entering excitedly with a small bunch of flowers_]. Madam,
Madam.

LOUISE [_looks up slowly and sees the flowers_]. What is it?

SOPHIE. These are the compliments of Mr. De Brandeis.

LOUISE. Mr. De Brandeis?

SOPHIE. The gentleman is waiting below in a carriage.

VENNEMA. Tell that gentleman to go away.

LOUISE. It was too beautiful, too good to be true. Now it will never be.

VENNEMA. Why not? I shall give you the money.

LOUISE. Father, I tell you it can never be.

VENNEMA. What do you mean? What are you going to do, Louise?

LOUISE. Father, I can't go back home with you. [_To Sophie._] Take the
flowers and tell Mr. De Brandeis that--that--

    [_Vennema sinks into a chair. Sophie stands at the door with the
    flowers. Van der Elst stands listening anxiously._]

LOUISE [_with a sob in her throat_]. Tell him, that I am going to stand
by him.

    [_She stands looking at the door, twitching her handkerchief
    nervously._]


  [_Curtain._]



THE GRANDMOTHER

  A PLAY
  BY LAJOS BIRO


  Authorized Translation by Charles Recht.
  Copyright, 1920, by Charles Recht.
  All rights reserved.


  CHARACTERS

    THE GRANDMOTHER.
    HER GRANDCHILDREN:
      THE BLOND YOUNG LADY.
      THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY.
      THE BRIDE.
      THE VIVACIOUS GIRL.
      THE MELANCHOLY GIRL.
      THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL.
      THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN.
      THE POLITE YOUNG MAN.
      THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN.


  All rights reserved by Charles Recht and John Biro, 47 West 42nd
  Street, New York. Applications for permission to produce THE
  GRANDMOTHER must be made to Mr. Charles Recht.



THE GRANDMOTHER

A PLAY BY LAJOS BIRO


    [_There is only this notable thing to be said about
    Grandmother--her hair is snow white, her cheeks rosy and her eyes
    violet blue. She is the most youthful and enthusiastic, best and
    most cordial grandmother ever beloved by her grandchildren._

    _The scene opens on a broad, sunny terrace furnished with garden
    furniture, chairs, small tables and chaises longues. Back of the
    terrace is the beautiful summer residence of Grandpa. Behind it is
    a large English garden in its lenten blossoms. The Disagreeable
    Young Man enters; yawns; stretches discontentedly; slouches here
    and there; picks up a volume from the table, then falls into a
    couch at right and, lighting a cigarette, begins to read. The
    other grandchildren enter in groups of two and three and seat
    themselves._]


THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. My word, children, I am too full for utterance.
What a spread! Now for a good cigar and a soft chair and I am as rich as
a king.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. We are having such charming weather. Is not this
park like a paradise?

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. How did you like the after-dinner speeches?

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. Uncle Heinrich was splendid. [_There is great
laughter._]

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Uncle Heinrich was never strong in speechmaking,
but in the beginning even Demosthenes stuttered.

THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. The trouble is that Uncle Heinrich stopped where
Demosthenes began. Besides a manufacturer has no time to parade on the
sea shore with pebbles under his tongue.

    [_There is more laughter._]

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Children, who wants a cigarette?

THE BLOND AND BRUNETTE YOUNG LADIES. I!

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN [_handing them cigarettes and lighting a match for
them. He speaks to the Bride_]. Aren't you going to smoke?

BRIDE. No, I thank you.

THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. Lord, no! She must not! The noble bride must not
permit tobacco smoke to contaminate her rosy lips. [_They all laugh._]

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. May I have a cigarette, too?

THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. You be careful or the same misfortune may happen
to you at any minute that happened to Lucy [_pointing to the Bride, he
hands the Vivacious Girl a cigarette._]

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. If my bridegroom shall object to tobacco smoke, he
can pack his things and--off.

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. Well, young people, what are we going to do
next?

THE MELANCHOLY YOUNG LADY. Let's remain here. The park looks so
beautiful.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. Oh, I object. We'll remain here until the sun goes
down a little and then we'll play tennis. [_They agree._]

THE MELANCHOLY YOUNG LADY. Can't we remain here? Let us enjoy the spring
in the garden.

THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. Let's play tennis. A little exercise is the best
cure for romance. And you can enjoy your spring out there as well--you
dreamer. [_They laugh._]

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. You are as loud as the besiegers of Jericho
in your planning.

THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. Behold! He speaketh. [_They laugh._]

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. You are so overbearing in your
jollifications that it is positively disgusting. For the past hour you
have been giggling away without the slightest reason. You have so much
leisure you do not know what to do with yourselves.

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. Curt, must you always be the killjoy in a
party!

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. If you would at least take yourselves off
from here.

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. But admit that to-day there is reason enough
for every kind of jollity.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Is there, indeed? You have finished a costly
banquet and now are enjoying a good digestion. You are young and have a
healthy animal appetite; but why deck sentimentalism on your horns?

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Your pardon! Do you suppose that all a person gets
out of this remarkable occasion is a good dinner? Have you no
appreciation? Do you realize what this day means to all of us?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Very well, my boy. Now tell me why you are
so over-filled with joy?

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Yes, I will. I am glad that I can celebrate the
golden wedding of my grandfather. I am glad that just thirty years ago
to-day grandfather founded his factory. I am glad because of our large
and happy family and that so many lovely and good and happy people have
come here to celebrate this remarkable event; all of them good and
prosperous.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Prosperous!

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Yes, I rejoice at their prosperity.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. The laborers down there in the foundry,
however, are not as over-joyed at this prosperity as you are. For this
prosperity of yours they have been starving these past thirty years.

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Grandfather was always good to his employees.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Indeed! Our grandfather has managed by hook
or by crook to amass an enormous fortune and you are glad that his
fortune is now made and you do not have to resort to questionable means.

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN [_hurt_]. Questionable means? You do not intend to
assert that our grandpapa....

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. I assert nothing. But mark you this. There
is only one honest way to gain a large fortune: inheriting it. You
cannot earn it without resorting to questionable means.

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Shame! to say a thing like that!

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. Shame to say that of grandfather.

    [_All of them are upset and disturbed. Grandmother appears on the
    balcony._]

GRANDMOTHER. Why, children, what is it? What's wrong?

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. Why, grandma, just think of it! Curt
said that grandpa made his fortune by questionable means.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. I did not say exactly that--

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Yes, you did.

THE OTHERS [_chiming in_]. You said that. Yes, you said that.

GRANDMOTHER [_as energetically as possible for her_]. I think you are in
error, Curt. In the entire fortune of your grandpa there is not a single
copper that was not earned by him in the most honest way.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. But look, grandma,--what I said
was--generally in those cases no one--

GRANDMOTHER [_hurt_]. When I tell you this, boy, it _is so_. When I tell
you anything, my child, you should never doubt it.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Yes, grandma, you are quite right. But I
maintain that human learning and experience have proved--

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Why don't you stop? Do you perhaps want to insult
grandma? You are taking too great an advantage of our good nature--I'll
tell you that!

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. If you folks had any sense--

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Don't you know enough....

THE OTHER GRANDCHILDREN. ... to shut up. [_Attacks him._] Indeed. He's
right. Stop--shut up!

    [_The Disagreeable Young Man, in spite of this scene, wants to
    continue, but the protests of the others drown his voice. He casts
    a contemptuous look at them, shrugs his shoulders, throws himself
    on the sofa and begins to read._]

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Now don't trouble yourself about him any longer,
grandma dear. Here, rest yourself nicely in this chair among us.

THE JOVIAL YOUNG MAN. There, grandma! The old folks are there at table.
We young people are here in the fresh air. We lacked only the youngest
one of us all. And here you are.

    [_There is a glad assent as the Grandmother sits down._]

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. Are you quite comfortable, grandma dear? Would you
like something to rest your feet on?

GRANDMOTHER. Thanks, my child, I am quite all right, and I am very
happy.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. Yes, grandma, you ought to feel happy.

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. How young you look, and how lovely and rosy!

THE BRIDE. Grandma?

GRANDMOTHER. What is it, my angel?

THE BRIDE. Tell me, how does a woman manage so that she is admired by
her husband for full fifty years, as you are by grandfather?

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. Yes, how did you manage that?

GRANDMOTHER. You will all be loved and admired after fifty years as I
have been. A person must be good. We must love each other.

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. But, grandmother, is it not wonderful at seventy
and seventy-five to love so beautifully and purely as you and
grandfather have loved?

GRANDMOTHER. You must always be good and patient with each other, and
brave. Never lose courage.

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. But look, grandma, not even I could be as brave as
you have been. And no one can ever say that I lose courage. [_They all
laugh._] I still shudder when I think how in those days in March of
Forty-eight you had to run away! Or in the Sixties when the city was
bombarded, you with my mamma and Aunt Olga escaped from the burning
house....

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. How interesting that was! Tell us
another story, grandma. [_There is loud assent._] Yes, yes, grandma
shall tell us another story!

GRANDMOTHER. But I have already told you so much. You heard all our
history.

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. Not I, grandma; I have not heard the
story of when you got lost in the _Friedrichsrode_ forest.

GRANDMOTHER. That story I have told you so often, children. Ask your
mother about it; she'll tell you.

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. But, grandma, I haven't heard it, either. Just
tell us that one and we'll go to play tennis.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. If you'll pardon me, grandma, I believe you
ought to tell us a different incident to-day. I've heard that history so
often. Tell us something contemporaneous. Tell us about the first sewing
machine, or the first railroad, or about crinolines or contemporary
theater or art.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. No. Tell us about the woods.

THE OTHERS. Yes, yes, that's right,--the story of how you got lost.

    [_The Disagreeable Young Man shrugs his shoulder and buries his
    head in his book. Grandmother begins to narrate, and the circle of
    her admiring and attentive audience grows narrower._]

GRANDMOTHER. Well, my children, it happened in the year eighteen hundred
and forty, a year after grandfather was almost shot by error. In those
days the happenings took us quite far away from here to
_Friedrichsrode_, my dears, where you have never been. Your grandfather
had a small estate there, and that's how we made our livelihood. We
always wished and prayed to get the management of the large estate of
the Count of Schwanhausen. But we lived there humbly in the little
house.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. Was my mamma home then?

GRANDMOTHER. No, she was not in this world yet. But a year later she was
born. So your grandfather and I lived then in this little red-roofed
house. Your grandfather used to be busy with the land the entire day.
Those days I was taking on weight, and to reduce I would take long
walks through the country. One day in October--in the afternoon--it was
beautiful sunny autumn weather--as usual I went again on my long walk.
The country there is very beautiful--all hills--covered with dense
forests. This afternoon my way led into the famous forest of
_Friedrichsrode_. When there I kept on walking--here and there I would
stop to pick a flower.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. Don't forget, grandma, that it was quite late when
you left your house.

GRANDMOTHER. You are correct, my dear. After our dinner I had some
things to attend to in the house and that is why I started that day
later than usual. I was walking through the forest, going in deeper and
deeper and suddenly I began to realize that it was getting dark. It was
in the autumn and the days were getting short. When I saw how dark it
was I turned homeward. But in the meanwhile evening came sooner than I
counted, and suddenly it got dark altogether. Now, thought I, I must
hustle. I hurried, as well as I could, but as much as I hurried I did
not get home. Had I gone home the right way I would have reached it
then, and so it dawned on me that I had lost my way.

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. Great Heavens....

GRANDMOTHER. Indeed, my child, I was really lost in the woods and in the
_Friedrichsrode_ forest, besides. What that meant you cannot now
realize. Since that time these woods have been considerably cleared.
Then also we live in a different world to-day. But in those days
_Friedrichsrode_ forest was a very, very dismal place. It spread away
into the outskirts of the Harz Mountains and was a wild, primæval,
godforsaken forest where highway robbers were hiding. And in the winter
it was full of the wolves from the mountains.

    [_There is a short pause._]

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. And what did you do, grandmother?

GRANDMOTHER. Really, my child, a great anxiety came upon me. I stood
still and tried to fix my direction. Then I turned to a path which I
figured ought to lead me home. After I walked a half hour, however, I
found that the forest instead of getting lighter was getting thicker and
thicker. Three or four times I changed the direction, but no matter what
I did I was walking deeper and deeper into the dark woods. Although the
moon was shining then, the branches of the trees were so thick that I
could see but little. And that which I saw only frightened me all the
more. Every tree stump, every overhanging bough excited my fear. My feet
were continuously caught in the roots of big trees and the undergrowth
tore my bleeding face and feet; and it was getting cold. I felt frozen.
And dismally quiet, terribly dark was the night in the forest.

    [_There is a pause and suspense._]

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. Good heavens, how perfectly terrible!

GRANDMOTHER. Then I collected all my wits. I said to myself, if I keep
on walking I will lose my way all the more. I ought to remain where I am
and wait. When grandfather arrives at home and misses me he will start a
search with all the help and people. They will go into the woods with
torchlights--and then I will see the lights from the distance and hear
them call--and in that way I can get home.

THE MELANCHOLY GIRL. How clever of our grandma!

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. And how brave!

GRANDMOTHER. After I figured it out that way I looked about for a
sheltered nook. In between two great big tree trunks there was a cave,
like a little house, a place all filled with soft moss. A pleasant
camping place. I fell into this and prepared myself for a long wait. I
waited and waited. The night peopled the woods with every kind of sound.
There was whistling, whispering, humming, blowing, screeching and once
from a distance a long-drawn deep howling. This, undoubtedly, was the
wolves.

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL [_frightened_]. Merciful God!

GRANDMOTHER. Then even I lost my courage. I wanted to run, run as long
as my legs would carry me. But I realized that the wiser thing was to be
brave and to remain. So I set my teeth and kept on waiting. And then
gradually the howling ceased. So, I sat there on this moss bank gazing
before me and thought of many things. Suddenly I heard a noise. I
straightened up and listened. It was a breaking sound and a rustle as
though some one were brushing aside the underbrush.... The noise was
getting nearer and nearer.

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. Oh!

GRANDMOTHER. I was all ears. I could clearly distinguish now that the
sound was the footstep of a human being. Frightened, I started through
the darkness and in the dull moonlight I saw that actually a man was
wading through the thick underbrush. What was I to do? I pressed against
the tree trunk and my fast and loud-beating heart seemed to be in my
throat. The man was coming directly toward me. When he was about three
paces away from me and I could distinguish his features, I felt like
fainting. It was "Red Mike," a very dangerous fellow from our
neighborhood; every one knew that he was a robber. Later on he was
imprisoned for murder, but he escaped from the prison. Now he was
there.... What should I do?

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL [_breathlessly_]. What did you do, grandma?

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. Great heavens!

GRANDMOTHER. Frenzied, I pressed against the tree trunk. I wanted to
hide, but the robber came directly toward me. It was as though he could
see me even in this darkness and behind the tree trunk. Later on when he
was caught, I found out, that he had prepared this very place for his
night's resting place. He had brought all this soft moss there. Of
course, I did not know that he just came there to rest himself. All I
saw was that he was making directly for me. Then such a great fear
seized me that instead of pressing against the tree and letting him go
past me I shrieked just as he came within reaching distance and began to
run away.

    [_There is a pause and feverish suspense._]

THE MELANCHOLY YOUNG LADY. And what did the robber do?

GRANDMOTHER. My sudden outcry and quick dash and flight scared him for
the moment, but as soon as I appeared in the moonlight, he saw that it
was only a woman who had frightened him. He hesitated about a half a
minute and then started to pursue me. I flew. I was young then and I
could run fast. But it was dark and I did not know my way. As I pressed
forward I ran into a low branch and tore my cheek so that it bled. My
skirt was torn into shreds. Suddenly I stumbled and fell to the ground.
I hurt myself quite painfully, but in spite of that I rose quickly again
and commenced to run. And the robber after me all the time. I could
always hear his footsteps in my wake. My legs were about to give up
under me when I got an idea to hide behind a stout tree trunk. But the
robber began to look through the underbrush in the spot where he last
saw me and he finally found me. He came near me.

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. How terrible!

GRANDMOTHER. With one single leap I jumped aside and started to run
again. Once more I fell down and again I rose. Aimlessly I ran wildly
over roots and stones and the robber kept right on after me.... And the
distance between me and my pursuer was getting smaller and smaller. Then
all of a sudden I heard the sound of his footsteps close to me--to
escape him I tried to dash away to the side of him but with a sudden
leap he was by my side. Grabbing me by my shoulder he threw me on the
ground and I fell upon my back. He had run so fast that he dashed a
couple of paces past me. He turned about.... And then I saw that he had
a long knife in his hand.

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL [_horrified_]. Merciful heaven!

GRANDMOTHER. I could not budge.... And unspeakable fear seized me....
Then I uttered a piercing shriek.... The robber approached me.... I
cried out....

    [_There is a pause._]

THE MELANCHOLY GIRL. Then, then--

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. Well, what then? What?

GRANDMOTHER. I cried out like an insane person.... Now the robber was
near me.... He bent over me.... Suddenly a voice sounded,--"_who is
crying here?_" the voice seemed to be near--the footsteps were
audible--"who's crying here?" it asked the second time.... The branches
parted and a man in a hunting habit with a gun in his hand appeared. The
robber took to his heels and flew into the woods. The hunter now came
near me and called to a second man who followed. They helped me to rise
and they carried me over to a small clearing. There I saw a light buggy
into which they lifted me. Soon they fetched the horses and in a half
hour I was in the Schwanhausen castle sipping hot brandy which they had
prepared for me. The man in the hunting habit was the Count of
Schwanhausen, who had been hunting in the woods.

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. How interesting!

GRANDMOTHER. In the castle I quite recovered. Then the Count ordered
another carriage to drive me home and at six in the morning I landed
safely in our house. Your grandpa was sick with worry.... He and his
people had searched for me in the woods for hours. And that's how I was
almost lost. A few days later grandpa went to thank the Count for my
rescue. The Count took a liking to him.

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. That was the old Count?

GRANDMOTHER. Yes, it was the old Count. The benefactor of all of us.
Grandfather thanked him courteously for my rescue. The Count took a
liking to him and soon after that grandfather got the management of the
entire Schwanhausen estate, which proved the cornerstone of his good
fortune. And that, my dears, is the story of my night wander in the
forest of _Friedrichsrode_.

    [_Amid general approval, Grandma is surrounded. Everybody is
    indebted to her. They all speak at once, except the The
    Disagreeable Young Man._]

"We thank you cordially."

"It was wonderful, grandma, dear."

"Interesting."

"Beautiful."

THE VIVACIOUS GIRL. Grandma is a story-telling genius!

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. A most wonderful one!

GRANDMOTHER. Very well, my dears, but now run along to your tennis game.
I'll come over later to watch on. [_They all agree._]

THE POLITE YOUNG MAN. Three cheers for our very dear beloved charming
grandma.

    [_They all cheer three times, then they surround her, kiss her
    cheeks and head and stroke her hair._]

THE BLOND YOUNG LADY. _Adieu_--old sweetheart.

THE BRUNETTE YOUNG LADY. _Auf wiedersehen_--precious grandma!

THE SENTIMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL GIRL [_inspired_]. Grandma...! [_She rushes
over to her and covers her with kisses._]

    [_Grandma bears all these amiabilities with pleasurable tolerance.
    She strokes and pats the grandchildren and as they retire, she
    fondly gazes after them, nodding to them with laughter._]

GRANDMOTHER. Curt--are not you going with the others?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. No.

GRANDMOTHER. Why not, Curt? Why don't you follow the others?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. They think that I am bad, and I know that
they are stupid.

    [_Grandmother seats herself in silence. The Disagreeable Young Man
    continues to read. He lights a new cigarette. While lighting the
    cigarette--_]

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Grandma!

GRANDMOTHER. What is it, my child?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Whatever you say might, of course, never be
questioned....

GRANDMOTHER. No, my child.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. But do tell me, grandma, did that story
really happen in that way?

GRANDMOTHER. What story?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. The night wander through the
_Friedrichsrode_ forest.

GRANDMOTHER. Certainly it happened.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Exactly as you told it? Are you quite sure
that you remember all those details.

GRANDMOTHER. Yes. Why?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Oh, just so. I merely wanted to inquire,
grandma.

GRANDMOTHER. But why did you want to?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. I was just interested. Thank you very much.
Do not let me disturb you further, grandma.

    [_He takes up his book and continues to read. The Grandmother
    remains seated, but is greatly embarrassed. She would like to keep
    on gazing into the park and enjoying her quiet, but she is unable
    to concentrate her thoughts. She is getting more and more
    disturbed. There is a pause._]

GRANDMOTHER. Curt!

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Yes--grandma, dear.

GRANDMOTHER. Curt, why have you asked me if the forest incident happened
that way?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. I merely wanted to find out, grandma.

GRANDMOTHER. You just wanted to find out. But one does not ask such
things without some good reason.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. I was interested.

GRANDMOTHER. Interested, but why are you interested?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Just in general. But do not get disturbed on
account of that, grandma.

    [_The Grandmother is silent._]

    [_The Disagreeable Young Man picks up his book. The Grandmother
    wants to drop the subject at this point. She does not succeed, but
    continues to look over toward the young man. He reads on._]

GRANDMOTHER. Curt!

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Yes, grandma, dear.

GRANDMOTHER. Curt, you shall tell me this instant the reason you asked
if the incident really happened that way!

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. But, grandma ... I have already told you
that....

GRANDMOTHER. Don't you tell me again that you asked because the matter
interested you. You would have never asked such a question if you did
not have some special reason for it.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. But, grandma--

GRANDMOTHER. Curt, if you do not this moment tell me why you said that,
then I will never--[_her voice becomes unusually strong and shakes_] I
never in my life will speak to you again.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. But, grandma, I do not want to insult you.

GRANDMOTHER. You will not insult me if you will be sincere and open. Be
sincere always.... And you will not insult me. But when your trying to
hide something from me, that's when you insult me. This _cannot_ remain
in this way. I must know what you are thinking of. I must know that.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Grandma, I was afraid you would be angry
with me.

GRANDMOTHER. If you keep on concealing things I shall be angry. No
matter what you have to say I will not hold it against you.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Are you not angry now?

GRANDMOTHER. No. I promise you I will not be angry. Say whatever you
please.

    [_The Disagreeable Young Man hesitates._]

GRANDMOTHER. Well, then--out with it--speak up, my child--be it what it
may as long as it is frank and sincere. Speak up, now. Come!

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Very well then, grandma. It is impossible
that the story could happen in that manner.

GRANDMOTHER [_offended_]. You mean that I told an untruth?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Oh, no. I did not say that the incident did
not happen. I just maintain that it could not have happened in that
fashion.

GRANDMOTHER. But why not?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. On account of the details. Let us take it
for granted, grandma, that as you state you commenced your exercise walk
in the afternoon....

GRANDMOTHER. Yes.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Let's say that you had household duties and
started out quite late--about four o'clock.

GRANDMOTHER [_disturbed, but following the cross-examination intently_].
Yes.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Very well, you started at four o'clock. The
walk was a good one and consumed--let us say one hour and a half.

GRANDMOTHER. Yes.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Yes? This brings us to half-past five
o'clock. In October and in a dense forest besides at half-past five it
gets fairly dark at that hour. It was then that you lost your way?

THE GRANDMOTHER [_nods her head in assent_].

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Another hour and a half spent in
wandering--that brings us to seven o'clock. You now reached the night
lodging of the robber--here you were resting?

GRANDMOTHER. Exactly.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Quite right. Here you were waiting and
resting--now we want to allow a long time for it--three--let us
say--three and a half hours.

GRANDMOTHER [_involuntarily_]. Not that long....

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Oh, yes ... let us ... we'll then have
reached half-past ten o'clock. It could not have been later when this
forest bandit came. These pirates never go to their bed earlier. They
shun light and must get their sleep while the world is the darkest. He
could not sleep during the day even in the darkest forests. In short,
then, it was half-past ten?

GRANDMOTHER. Half-past ten.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. Now began the flight and the pursuit. You
ran--let us say--full twenty minutes. That is a great deal. I was a
track runner in college and I know what a twenty-minute stretch means.
Shall we say twenty minutes?

GRANDMOTHER. Twenty minutes....

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. In any circumstances it was not even eleven
when you were safely out of danger?

GRANDMOTHER. Yes.

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. And--and a half hour later you were sipping
hot brandy in the Schwanhausen castle?

GRANDMOTHER. Yes.

    [_The Disagreeable Young Man is silent._]

GRANDMOTHER [_shaking with excitement_]. And--what else?

    [_The Disagreeable Young Man is silent._]

GRANDMOTHER [_she shakes with fear as to what will follow, but forces
herself to face it_]. Well, say on ... what else?...

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. At six on the following morning you reached
your home and.... [_He pauses._]

GRANDMOTHER [_if her loud-speaking could be called an outcry, then she
cries out_]. Yes ... what else?... What happened then?... Go on ... say
it ... what else?

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN. [_He makes a new attempt to tell everything
bravely at once, but hesitates._] In the morning at six you arrived at
home. The others had no idea as to the distance between _Schwanhausen_
and _Friederichsrode_. But I wanted to see it myself, so last year with
a friend I made a walking trip through that country. I tried this
distance. In a half hour of slow walking I reached from one place to the
other, and the horses in the Count's stables and the state roads were
then in as good condition as to-day. Well, then you started from the
castle at half-past five in the morning; but you reached there at
half-past eleven the preceding night.... You spent six entire hours in
the castle.... Then, another point--they all speak of the count, the
"benefactor of us all," as the "old count."... When he died five years
ago he was, of course, an old count--an old man of seventy.... But
thirty-five years ago he was a young count of thirty years of age.

    [_The Grandmother stares blindly at The Disagreeable Young Man.
    Alarmed over Grandma's fright, he rises. He would very much like
    to make up to her, but he lacks words. The Grandmother rises. She
    is trembling. With a shaking hand she is nervously setting her
    dress to rights. Twice she turns to the young man to speak to him,
    but is unable to utter a word. Then she turns; she is about to
    return into the house, but remains near the doorstep. Again she
    turns; then she is about to go in, but turns again and remains
    standing._]

THE DISAGREEABLE YOUNG MAN [_frightened_]. Grandma, you gave me your
word that you would not be angry.

GRANDMOTHER [_she stumbles forward a few steps. She is disturbed,
shivering, beside herself, complaining, almost sobbing_]. You are an
evil child! You are a bad, bad and evil child! For fifty years I have
told the same story ... always the same, same way ... and that it
happened differently never, never even came into my mind.


  [_Curtain._]



THE RIGHTS OF THE SOUL

  A PLAY

  BY GIUSEPPE GIACOSA
  TRANSLATED BY THEODORA MARCONE.


  Copyright, 1920, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
  All rights reserved.


  CHARACTERS

    PAOLO.
    MARIO.
    ANNA.
    MADDALENA.

  PLACE: _A villa at Brianza_.
  TIME: _The Present_.


  Applications for the right of performing THE RIGHTS OF THE SOUL must
  be made to Frank Shay, who may be addressed in care of Stewart & Kidd
  Company.



THE RIGHTS OF THE SOUL

ONE ACT BY GIUSEPPE GIACOSA


    [SCENE: _A living-room well furnished in an old fashioned style
    but not shabbily. An open fire-place which is practical. A sofa. A
    writing desk. A closet at the back. Door leading into Anna's room
    at the left. Window at the right._

    _Paolo discovered seated at the writing desk upon which there is a
    confusion of papers._]


    [_Servant--Maddalena enters._]

PAOLO. Well, has he returned yet?

MADDALENA. Not yet.

PAOLO. He has taken a lot of time!

MADDALENA. I have been to look for him at the post-office café.

PAOLO. I told you to look in his room or in the garden. Was it necessary
to run all over the country?

MADDALENA. Well, he wasn't there. I thought--he wasn't at the café
either, but they told me where he was. He'll be back shortly. He went to
the station at Poggio to meet the engineer of the water-works. The tax
collector saw him walking in that direction. He always walks. But he
will return by the stage for the engineer's sake. The stage should be
here at any moment. It is sure though--but are you listening?

PAOLO. No, you may go.

MADDALENA. Yes, sir. But it is sure that if the engineer of the
water-works really has arrived, your brother will not go away to-morrow.
You and the Madame intend leaving to-morrow, don't you?

PAOLO. Yes, no. I don't know--yes, we will go to-morrow. Leave me alone.

MADDALENA. All right, but see if I'm wrong; I say that your brother will
not go to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow. Here he is.

MARIO. Were you looking for me?

PAOLO. Yes, for the last hour.

MADDALENA. Mr. Paolo--here asked me--

PAOLO. I did not ask you anything. Go away. [_He takes her by the arm
and pushes her out._]

MARIO. What has happened?

PAOLO. She is insufferable. She isn't listening at the door, is she?

MARIO. No, be calm. I hear her in the garden. What has happened. You
look worried.

PAOLO. [_After a pause._] Do you know why Luciano killed himself?

MARIO. No.

PAOLO. He killed himself for love. For the love of Anna. I have the
proofs--they are there. I just found it out to-day, a moment ago. He has
killed himself for the love of my wife. You and I were his relatives; he
was a companion of my youth, my dearest friend. He tried to force her to
love him. Anna repulsed him. He insisted; Anna responded firmly. Highly
strung as he was, he killed himself.

MARIO. How did you find out?

PAOLO. I have the proofs, I tell you. I have been reading them for an
hour. I am still stunned! They have been there for a month. You know
that as soon as I received the telegram in Milan which announced his
suicide in London, I ran to Luciano's room and gathered all his papers,
made a packet of them, sealed it and brought them here.

MARIO. I told you to burn them.

PAOLO. I wanted to in fact, but afterward I thought it better to await
until the authorities of the hospital, to whom he left the estate, had
verified the accounts. The Syndic came here an hour ago, at the order of
the sub-Prefect, to give me the wallet which was found on the body and
which our Consul at London had sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I was just putting them away into the desk, when I felt the desire, I
don't know why, to look for the reason of his suicide which no one
seemed able to explain. [_Mario starts._] You know? You suspect the
reason?

MARIO. I suspected--

PAOLO. Suspected! You knew of this love?

MARIO. There, there--I will tell you, don't excite yourself!

PAOLO. No--answer me! You knew?

MARIO. I felt it--yes, that Luciano had lost his head.

PAOLO. And you never told me anything?

MARIO. What had I to tell you? Seen by others these things appear
greater and more offensive than they are. And then I might have been
wrong; I only see you and Anna during your short visits to the country.
If you, who are with her all the year, did not see anything--On the
other hand, Anna was always on her guard, she knew perfectly how to
defend herself.

PAOLO. Oh, Anna! Anna is a saint! I have always thought of her as one.
But now--

MARIO. GO on--tell me.

PAOLO. In the wallet I found a letter and noticed it was in Anna's
handwriting.

MARIO. It was perfectly natural that your wife should write to our
cousin.

PAOLO. Naturally. In fact I have read it. Here it is. [_Mario starts to
take the letter._] No, listen. [_Paolo reads._] "You write me--"
[_Speaking._] There is no heading. [_Reads._] "You write me that if I do
not respond you will return immediately. I love my husband, that is my
reply. This and only this forever. I beg you not to torment me. Anna."

MARIO. Of course.

PAOLO. The scoundrel.

MARIO. What date is that letter?

PAOLO. Luciano himself has noted the hour and date when he received it.
He has written here in pencil: "Received to-day, June 26th, 11 A.M." He
killed himself before noon.

MARIO. Poor devil! One can see it was a stroke of insanity; the writing
demonstrates that.

PAOLO. You understand of course, that I did not stop there. I opened the
wallet. I found four other letters from Anna all on the same subject and
in the same tone. The first is of three years ago. There are few words;
returning a letter Luciano had written. I looked for this letter of
Luciano--it is not here. He must have destroyed it. He kept only hers.
Then there is a little note from Rome; you know Anna visited her mother
in Rome for a month last winter. It is evident that our friend followed
her. Anna would not see him. Then there is a long one which must have
been written when he was recovering from that fall he had from his
horse. It is the only long one among the five--written in affectionate
terms, reasoning and begging; a wonderful letter, good, noble;
read--read.

MARIO [_turning away_]. No, no, no.

PAOLO. Listen, just a moment.

MARIO. I don't like to.

PAOLO. She does nothing but speak of me, of our brotherly youth. She
also speaks of you. She says--

MARIO. No, I beg of you. It is useless. I know what kind of a woman my
sister-in-law is and I do not need proofs of her virtue. Why do you
bother with those poor letters? Is it so painful that you have found
them?

PAOLO. Painful? It is painful that I am not able to weep for a false
relative who wished to rob--

MARIO. Let him alone. He is dead and he has not robbed you of anything.
If he had lived he would not have robbed you of anything, the same. Anna
knew how--

PAOLO. And this? And this? You count as little? Is this painful? I never
had the shadow of a doubt about Anna, but--nor has the thought even
passed through my mind--but it is different not to have doubted and not
to have thought, than to possess the palpable proof of her faith and
love. "I love my husband." It is the refrain of all her letters.

MARIO. Was it necessary that she tell you this?

PAOLO. She did not tell it to me, she told it to him. She told it to
him--do you understand? Luciano had all the qualities which attract a
woman. He was younger, better looking than I, well spoken, full of fire
and courage.

MARIO. How it pleases you, eh? To praise him now!

PAOLO. Painful? If I had burned, as you wished, those papers and then
one day I should have discovered this love, who could then have lifted
this suspicion from my mind?

MARIO. The certainty makes you suspicious!

PAOLO. What do you mean?

MARIO. If you had feared this a year ago, that which has happened would
not have occurred. I was wrong not to have opened your eyes. A long way
off, perhaps Luciano would not have killed himself.

PAOLO. But I would have lacked the proof.

MARIO. Your tranquility costs much--to the others.

PAOLO. You can't pretend that I should feel badly about the fate of
Luciano?

MARIO. I am not speaking of him.

PAOLO. Of whom?

MARIO. Of your wife. Think what she must be suffering!

PAOLO. Do you think she blames herself?

MARIO. Of course.

PAOLO. I have noticed that she was distressed but not agitated.

MARIO. You do not see the continuous things, you only see the
unexpected. Besides, Anna is mistress of herself.

PAOLO. And she has done her duty.

MARIO. It is a long time that she has done her duty.

PAOLO. I shall know how to comfort her, there, I shall know how to cheer
her. You shall see, Mario. I feel that we have returned to the first
days of our marriage, that I possess her only from to-day.

MARIO. Leave it to time. You have read--you have known. It is enough. It
is useless that Anna knows you know.

PAOLO. She was here when the Syndic gave me the wallet. But she went out
immediately.

MARIO. She does not know, then, that you have read?

PAOLO. She will have imagined it.

MARIO. No. And in any case she would be grateful if you pretended to
ignore....

PAOLO. Let us be frank. Don't let's argue. Nothing is more dreadful than
to plan out a line of conduct in these matters. What she has done, Anna
has done for me. I must think how to repay her. She has done this for
me, for me, do you understand?

MARIO. And who says the contrary? See how you excite yourself.

PAOLO. Excite myself! Certainly, I will not go and say: "I have read
your letters and I thank you very much!" One understands that when I
speak of comforting her and of cheering her I intend to do it with the
utmost tenderness, with the utmost confidence. I have always been like
that. That was why she loved me. There is no need to change even to
please you.

MARIO. How you take it!

PAOLO. It is you who take it badly. You have not said a just word to me.
I thought better of you. One would say, to hear you, that this discovery
was a disgrace. What has happened new from this discovery? Luciano is
dead a month ago, the first grief is passed. If I did continue to ignore
everything he would not return to life! He did not arrive to do me the
harm he wanted to; so peace be to his soul. There remains the certainty
of my wife's love and for this, think as you wish, I rejoice for the
best fortune which could befall me.

MARIO. Come here. [_He places an arm around Paolo's shoulders._] Are you
persuaded that I love you?

PAOLO. Yes.

MARIO. Well then, if you are content, so am I. Is it all right?

PAOLO. Yes. Now go and pack your bag.

MARIO. Ah, that reminds me, I cannot go to-morrow.

PAOLO. No!

MARIO. The engineer Falchi has arrived. The day after to-morrow there is
the meeting of the water-company.

PAOLO. Send it to the devil.

MARIO. I cannot, I am the president.

PAOLO. It was arranged that we were to leave to-day. We put it off on
your account.

MARIO. How could it be helped? I had to sell the hay. It is now a
question of three days, four at the most.

PAOLO. Suppose Anna and I go meanwhile? The rent of the chalet started
fifteen days ago. You can join us as soon as you are free.

MARIO. If you think so--

PAOLO. I'll tell you. The day after to-morrow is Anna's birthday. Until
the business kept me in Milan all of July, we always passed that day
together--just Anna and I. We did not do this on purpose, but things
turned out so. Last year I was able to be free early in July and we came
here to stay until September. Well, three days before her birthday, Anna
begged me to take her for a trip to Switzerland. She did not tell me,
you understand, the reason for her desire, but insisted upon leaving
immediately. We went to Interlaken and from there we went up to Murren.
The day of Saint Anna we were at Murren. The place was so lovely, Anna
liked it so much, that then and there I arranged for a chalet for this
year. Fifteen days ago you--who never go anywhere, proposed to accompany
us--

MARIO. Did you find it indiscreet of me?

PAOLO. No. You saw that Anna was pleased. She is very fond of you.

MARIO. I know.

PAOLO. When you had to postpone your leaving it was the same as to
propose that we wait for you. But the first delay would still have
allowed us to arrive in time; this second one will not and I, for my
part, now especially desire to be there at the date arranged. It is
childish if you wish--

MARIO. No. All right. I will join you there.

PAOLO. We postponed leaving until to-morrow to await you; but now that
you cannot come immediately we could leave this evening. [_Jumping up._]
I must go--to get out of here. Those letters--

MARIO. Burn them. Give them to me.

PAOLO. Ah, no. Not yet.

MARIO. Go. Go to-night; it is better. But will Anna be ready?

ANNA. [_Who has entered._] To do what?

MARIO. I was telling Paolo that I could not leave to-morrow; nor for
three or four days. It is useless that you two remain here in the heat
to wait for me. Paolo must be back in Milan at the beginning of
September; every day shortens his vacation. I am old enough to travel
alone; as soon as I am free I will join you. What do you say?

ANNA. As you wish.

MARIO. I also desire to thoroughly clean the house and garden. Your
presence would disturb me, and mine is necessary.

PAOLO. And as Mario cannot accompany us, we may as well leave this
evening.

ANNA. So soon?

PAOLO. Your luggage is almost finished.

MARIO. You will gain a day. At this season of the year it is better to
travel by night than by day. It is full moon now and the Gottard road is
charming.

ANNA [_distractedly_]. Yes. Yes.

MARIO [_to Paolo_]. Then you had better go immediately to the stable in
the piazza and tell them to hold a carriage in readiness. At what time
does the train leave from Poggio?

PAOLO. At seven-thirty.

MARIO. Tell him to be here at six. I would send Battista to order it,
but the engineer has taken him with him. On the other hand, it is better
that you see the carriage, they have some antediluvian arks!

PAOLO. And why don't you go? He knows you and you know his arsenal--you
could choose better.

MARIO. You are right. Anna, I will send Maddalena to help you with your
luggage?

ANNA. Yes, thank you, Mario. Send Maddalena to help me.

MARIO [_going off_]. And dinner is at five.

PAOLO. Yes.

    [_Mario exits. Silence. Anna takes a few steps toward the desk.
    Paolo goes impetuously to Anna and takes her in his arms and
    kisses her. She breaks away violently._]

ANNA. Oh--horrors! [_The words escape from her lips involuntarily._]

PAOLO [_drawing back_]. Anna!

ANNA. There was one of my letters in that wallet, wasn't there?

PAOLO. Yes, there was.

ANNA. You have read it?

PAOLO. Yes.

ANNA. I have killed a man and you embrace me for that?

PAOLO. I did not want to. I was tempted not to tell you. Mario advised
me not to. Then when I saw you--you filled me with tenderness! But what
did you say, Anna?

ANNA. Pardon me. And promise me that you will never speak of all this
again, either here or hereafter, directly or indirectly--never.

PAOLO. I promise.

ANNA. You will not keep your promise.

PAOLO. Oh!

ANNA. You will not keep it. I know you. What a misfortune that you
should have known it! I saw it in your eyes when I came in, that you
knew. I had hoped that you would always have ignored it. I prayed so.
But as soon as I entered I saw immediately. [_With imperceptible accent
of mocking pity._] You had a modest and embarrassed air. I know you so
well. Do you want to hear how well? When Mario proposed you go for the
carriage, I thought--he will not go. When you sent him instead, I
smiled.

PAOLO. I noticed it, but I did not understand.

PAOLO. That's nothing. That you should read me is natural.

ANNA. In exchange, eh? And listen--when Mario was leaving, I also
thought--now the minute we are alone--he will come to me and embrace me.

PAOLO. You imagine very well....

ANNA. This was also natural, wasn't it?

PAOLO. I love you so much, Anna. [_A long pause._] It is strange that in
your presence I have a sense of restraint. I tell you something and
immediately I think should I tell her? Was it better I kept silent? It
is the first time I have had this feeling toward you. We both need
distraction.

ANNA. Yes, but to-day I do not leave.

PAOLO. No? But you said--

ANNA. I have thought better. There is not the time to get ready.

PAOLO. Your luggage is ready.

ANNA. Oh, there is a lot to do.

PAOLO. We have eight hours yet.

ANNA. I am tired.

PAOLO. Mario has just gone to order the carriage.

ANNA. It can be for another day.

PAOLO. Perhaps to-morrow--

ANNA. Not to-day, certainly.

PAOLO. I do not know how to tell Mario. It looks like a whim.

ANNA. Oh, Mario will understand.

PAOLO. More than I do.

ANNA. I did not wish to say--

PAOLO. Anna, you do not pardon me for having read those letters.

ANNA. You see, you have already begun to speak of them again! Well, no,
no, no, poor Paolo, it is not that. I have nothing to pardon. Believe
me. I feel no wrath or bitterness. I would have given, I don't know
what, if you had ignored them; for you, for your own good, for your
peace, not for me. But I felt that some time or other--[_Pause._] It has
been a useless tragedy--you will see.

PAOLO. What do you mean?

ANNA. I don't know, don't mind me--excuse me--[_Moves up._]

PAOLO. Are you going?

ANNA. Yes.

PAOLO. So you won't tell me if we go to-morrow?

ANNA. We have time to decide.

PAOLO. Oh, rather. [_Anna exits. Silence._] A useless tragedy! [_Sits
with his elbows upon his knees and his head in his hands._]

MARIO [_coming in_]. There, that is done. And Anna?

PAOLO. She's there. [_Points off._]

MARIO. Maddalena will be here immediately, she was still at the
wash-house. Well? Come, come, shake yourself, throw off that fixed idea.
One knows that at the first opportunity--You do well to leave
immediately, the trip will distract you.

PAOLO. We do not go.

MARIO. What?

PAOLO. Anna does not want to.

MARIO. Why?

PAOLO [_shrugs his shoulders_].

MARIO. She said so?

PAOLO. She understood, she asked me.... I could not deny it.

MARIO. She asked of her own accord, without you saying anything?

PAOLO. Do me the favor of not judging me now. If you knew what I am
thinking!

MARIO. Do you wish that I speak to her? I am convinced that to remain
here is the worse thing to do.

PAOLO. Try it. Who knows? You understand her so well! She said so
herself.

MARIO. And you promise me not to worry meanwhile?

PAOLO. What is the use of promising? I wouldn't keep it. She said that
also. She knows me. Don't you know me?

MARIO. Is she in her room?

PAOLO. I think so.

MARIO. Leave it to me.

PAOLO. Look out. If--no, no, go--go--we shall see afterwards. [_Mario
exits. Paolo takes a letter from the wallet, reads it attentively,
accentuating the words._] "You write me that if I do not respond you
will return immediately." [_Speaks._] You write me! Where is that
letter? [_Reads._] "I love my husband, that is my response. This and
only this forever. I beg you not to torment me." [_Speaks._] I beg you
not to torment me. Ummm!

MADDALENA. Here I am.

PAOLO. I do not want you. It is not necessary now. If I need you I will
call you.

MADDALENA. Excuse me, Mr. Paolo, is it true what they say in the
village?

PAOLO. What?

MADDALENA. That the Syndic brought the wallet of Mr. Luciano this
morning with a lot of money in it for the poor!

PAOLO. Why--no.

MADDALENA. The servant of the Syndic said so just now at the wash-house.

PAOLO. There was nothing in it, the Syndic also knows that.

MADDALENA. Oh, it would not have been a surprise. Mr. Luciano came here
rarely, but when he did he spent.

PAOLO. I am glad to hear it.

MADDALENA. Last year, to Liberata, the widow of the miner who went to
America to join his son and to whom you gave fifty lire, well, Mr.
Luciano gave her a hundred.

PAOLO. What a story! He wasn't even here at that time.

MADDALENA. Wasn't even here? I saw him--

PAOLO. Nonsense. That woman received word that her husband was killed in
the mine and that the son wanted her to come to America, the day I left
for Switzerland, a year ago yesterday or to-day; I remember it because I
gave her a little money in gold which I had been able to procure. She
was to leave two days later....

MADDALENA. There you are.

PAOLO. There you are nothing. Luciano was not there. I know.

MADDALENA. He arrived the day Liberata started on the trip.

PAOLO. Oh, two days after we left.

MADDALENA. Yes it was. He arrived in the morning.

PAOLO. At his villa.

MADDALENA. No, no, here; but he found only Mr. Mario; he was annoyed,
poor man, and left immediately.

PAOLO. Ah, I did not know that.... Then you are right. Ah, so he came?
You are right. Oh, he was generous! He left all to the hospital.

MADDALENA. Yes, yes. But what hospital?

MARIO [_off stage calls_]. Maddalena!

MADDALENA. Here I am.

MARIO [_entering_]. Go to Madame, she needs you. [_Maddalena exits._]
[_To Paolo._] I have persuaded her.

PAOLO. How fortunate to have a good lawyer.

MARIO. And as you see, it did not take long.

PAOLO. Want to bet I know how you convinced her?

MARIO. Oh, it was very easy--I said....

PAOLO. No, let me tell you. I want my little triumph. You gave up the
business which held you here and decided to leave with us.

MARIO. Even that.

PAOLO. Eh? Didn't I know it? When you went away I was just about to tell
you and then I wanted to wait and see. So now Anna is disposed to go?

MARIO. Are you sorry?

PAOLO. I should say not! All the more as we are--are we not going to
amuse ourselves? The place, the trip, the hotels,--yes, it is better.
But the company! To run away there should be few of us.

MARIO. What are you saying?

PAOLO [_putting his two hands on Mario's shoulders and facing him._] To
run away--do you understand? We must be a few. To run away as Anna and I
did last year.

MARIO. I do not understand.

PAOLO. You did not tell me that Luciano had been here last year, nor
the day that he was here.

MARIO. I don't know. I do not remember....

PAOLO. There you are--there--there--I knew it! And you knew that Anna
went away from here to avoid him. And I went with her all unconscious.
You saw the husband take a train and run away before the other could
arrive!

MARIO. And if it is true. It does not tell you more or less than the
letters did.

PAOLO. No, a little more. Everything tells a little more. One grain of
sand piles up upon another, then another until it makes the mill-stone
which crushes you. It tells a little more. It is one thing to keep away
and another to run away. One can keep away a trouble without begging it
to keep its distance. But one runs away for fear.

MARIO. Uh-h!

PAOLO. And look here--look--look, let us examine the case. Let us see.
It is improbable that he wrote her he was coming. It is sure he did not
or she would have responded: "You write me that you are coming.... I
love my husband--I beg you to remain away."

MARIO. Oh!

PAOLO. So she, foreseeing his intentions, felt that he would come ... by
that divination....

MARIO. You are the first husband to get angry because a wife did her
duty.

PAOLO. Uhm! Duty--the ugly word!

MARIO. If there ever was a virtuous woman!

PAOLO. Woman or wife?

MARIO. It is the same.

PAOLO. No, no. A woman is for all; a wife for myself alone. Do you
believe one marries a woman because she is virtuous? Never! I marry her
because I love her and because I believe she loves me. There are a
thousand virtuous women, there is one that I love, one alone who loves
me ... if there is one....

MARIO. Paolo!

PAOLO. And if she loved him? Tell me--and if she loved him? And if she
repulsed him for virtue's sake, for duty's sake? Tell me. What remains
for me? If he was alive I could fight, I might win out. But he is
dead--and has killed himself for love of her. If she loved him no force
can tear him from her heart.

MARIO. You think--?

PAOLO. I do not know. It is that--I do not know. And I want to--I want
to hear her shout it to my face. And she shall tell me.... Oh, I had the
feeling the minute I had read the first letter. I did not then
understand anything, indeed, I believed; "I love my husband." But I
immediately felt a blow here--and it hurt me so! And I did not know what
it was. Oh, before some fears assume shape, it takes time. First they
gnaw, they gnaw and one does not know what they are. I was content.... I
told you I was content, I wanted to persuade myself, but you have seen
that fear gnaws at my heart. And if she loved him? Oh, surely! The more
admirable eh? All the world would admire her. I, myself, would admire
her upon my knees if she were the wife of another. But she is mine. I am
not the judge of my wife. I am too intimately concerned, I cannot judge,
I am the owner--she is mine--a thing of mine own. I must admire her
because, while she could have cheated me altogether, she has only
cheated me a little. I see that which she has robbed me of, not that
which remains.

MARIO. You are crazy!

PAOLO. Do you not see that I am odious to her?

MARIO. Oh, God!

PAOLO. Odious! You were not here a moment ago. Don't you see that it is
necessary that she have your help in order to support my presence?

MARIO. To-day. Because she knows that you have read--did I not tell you?
Because it is embarrassing.

PAOLO. Not only to-day. You never move from this place. For fifteen
years that you have played at being a farmer, you have not been away for
a week. And fifteen days ago you suddenly decided to make a tour of the
world. She begged you to.

MARIO. I swear--

PAOLO. I do not believe you. Anna shall have to tell me. [_Paolo starts
to exit._]

MARIO. What are you doing?

PAOLO. I am going to ask her.

MARIO. No, Paolo.

PAOLO. Let me go.

MARIO. No. Maddalena is also there.

PAOLO. Oh, as far as that's concerned--[_Calls._] Anna--Anna!

MARIO. You are very ungrateful.

PAOLO. If she loved me it did not come hard for her to repulse him. If
she loved him, I owe her no gratitude.

ANNA [_entering_]. Did you call me?

    [_Mario starts to exit._]

PAOLO. No, no. Remain. Yes, Anna. I wanted to ask you something.
Whatever you say, I shall believe you.

ANNA. Of that I am certain.

PAOLO. Was it you who begged Mario to come with us? Not to-day I don't
mean.

ANNA. Neither to-day nor before.

MARIO. You see!

ANNA. I did not beg him nor did I propose it to him. But I must say that
if Mario had not come I would not have gone either.

PAOLO. To-day. But fifteen days ago?

MARIO. Listen, this is ridiculous.

ANNA. It is natural that Paolo desires to know and he has the right to
question me.

PAOLO. I do not wish to impose my rights.

ANNA. There you are wrong. We must value our own and respect those of
the others. Fifteen days ago I would have gone with you alone.

MARIO. Oh, blessed God!

PAOLO. You were afraid that she would say no?

ANNA. But his consent to accompany us greatly relieved me.

PAOLO. Which is to say that my company would have weighed upon you.

ANNA. Not weighed. It would have annoyed me.

PAOLO. May one ask why?

ANNA. You may as well. Because I was shadowed by an unhappiness which
you ignored at the time, whereas now you know the reasons. Knowing them,
you will understand that I must be very worried, but for the sake of
your peace I must hide my unhappiness, seeing that I had nothing to
reproach myself with in relation to you. You understand that for two to
be together, always together, it would be more difficult to pretend all
the time--all the time! While the presence of a third person--

MARIO. But listen--listen--

ANNA. Mario had the good idea to accompany us.

PAOLO. Mario, who knew him!

ANNA. I ignore that.

PAOLO. Did he ever speak of it?

MARIO. Do not reply, Anna, do not answer, come away--he is ill, he does
not reason--poor devil--it will pass and he will understand then--

ANNA. No, it is useless.

PAOLO. A useless tragedy, isn't it, Anna?

ANNA. Do you require anything more of me?

PAOLO [_imperiously_]. Yes. I want the letters which you wrote to
Luciano.

ANNA. That is just. I will go and get them. [_Exits._]

PAOLO. All!

    [_Anna returns and hands Paolo a key._]

ANNA. They're in my desk, in the first drawer at the right. They are
tied with a black ribbon.

PAOLO. Very well. [_Exits._]

MARIO. Pardon him, Anna, he does not know what he is doing. He loves you
so much? He is rather weak.

ANNA. Oh, without pity!

MARIO. As are the weak. He loves you--he loves you.

ANNA. Worse for him that he loves me. He will lose.

MARIO. No, it is for you to help him.

ANNA. As long as I can.

    [_Paolo returns with the letters in his hand, goes to the desk and
    takes out the others, throws them all into the fire-place and
    lights them._]

MARIO. What are you doing? Look, Anna!

    [_Anna stands rigid, erect and watches the letters burn, and
    murmurs as though to herself._]

ANNA. Gone! Gone! Gone!

    [_Paolo comes to Anna with hands clinched as though in prayer,
    bursts into tears and kneels before her. Mario goes off half in
    contempt and half in despair._]

PAOLO [_on his knees_]. And now--can you pardon me?

    [_Anna reluctantly rests a hand upon his head, then indulgently
    and discouragingly._]

ANNA. Rise--rise.

PAOLO. Tell me that you pardon me. I swear that I want to die here and
now.

ANNA. Yes, yes. Arise; do not remain so. It hurts me.

PAOLO [_getting up_]. I do not know what got into my head--but I have
suffered a great deal.

ANNA. Yes, I see. Yes ... calm yourself.

PAOLO. Mario has no tact ... it was he who irritated me from the first.
[_Anna starts to go._] Do not go. Stay here a moment. [_Anna sits upon
the sofa._] You see the stroke of madness has passed. It was only
because Mario was here. Mario is good, judicious, but his presence
irritated me. Yes, yes, you were right. But you should also understand
the state of my mind. [_He walks up and down._] After all, what does all
this disturbance mean? It means that I love you--and it seems to me that
is the essential thing! One must consider the source of things. It is
five years that we are husband and wife and you cannot say I have ever
given you the slightest reason for regret. I do not believe so. Five
years are five years. I have worked up to a good position, you have
always figured in society; a pastime which I would never have enjoyed
alone. I had friends, the club, the other husbands after the first year
of marriage, in the evenings, I renounced everything. I do not wish to
praise myself, but--

ANNA. Please don't walk up and down so much!

PAOLO. Excuse me. Will you allow me to sit here next to you? [_Long
silence._] When shall I see you smile, Anna? No, do not get up. Then it
is not true that you have pardoned me!

ANNA. What do you wish, Paolo? What do you wish of me? Say it quickly!

PAOLO. You made me promise never to speak of it.

ANNA. Oh, but I said that you would break your promise immediately. You
are wrong though, believe me. Do not ask me anything. When there is no
more danger I promise you, and I will keep my promise. I promise that I
will tell you everything without your asking me. And it will be good for
both of us. But I wish to choose the moment.

PAOLO. All right then. Do not tell me anything, but come away with me,
with me alone. I will attend to Mario. He was coming to please you and
he will be much happier to see us leave together, as a sign of peace. I
understand that it is repulsive to you to re-awaken those memories; all
right, instead of awakening them I will make you forget them--I swear
it--I swear that I will never speak of them again, but come away with me
and you shall see how much love....

ANNA. Do not insist, Paolo. If you insist I shall come--but--

PAOLO. No, no, I do not insist. You see me here begging. I do not want
you by force. But listen once more, listen. I am grateful, you must
understand, for that which you have done. Oh, I shall recompense you for
it all my life. I realize there is not a more saintly woman in all the
world, but you must enter into my soul and feel a little pity also for
me.

ANNA. Ah, ah! [_Laughs bitterly._]

PAOLO. Why do you prolong this torment? You said when there is no more
danger! What danger is there? Upon whom depends this danger--from you or
from me? What can time change for us? I have always loved you, I love
you now, and in this moment I love you as I have never loved you! Give
me your hand--only your hand. God, Anna! You are beautiful! And you are
my wife--you are my wife and the oath which you took when we were
married, is not only one of faithfulness, but of love. Come away--come
away.

ANNA. No, no, no.

PAOLO. No? Are you afraid? Afraid of being unfaithful to him?

ANNA. Paolo--Paolo!

PAOLO. And if I wish it?

ANNA. You cannot wish it.

PAOLO. And if I want?

ANNA. Paolo!--

PAOLO. And if I command?

ANNA. You will, in one moment, destroy all my plan. Think--your violence
is a liberation for me.

PAOLO. Oh, come--or speak!

ANNA. Do you wish it so? We have come to that? I have done all that I
could.

PAOLO. Yes, go on. Speak!

ANNA. I loved Luciano and I love him still.

PAOLO. Oh!

ANNA. I loved him. I loved him--do you hear? I loved him and I feel an
immense joy to say it here and you did not see that I was dying to say
it--and when I saw you nearly stifling me with your ferocious curiosity,
I said to myself: "It will out--it will out"... And it has come. I loved
him, I love him and I have never loved any one in the world but him and
I feel only remorse for my virtue. Now do you know?

PAOLO. Very well! [_Starts to go._]

ANNA. Ah, no. Remain here--now you hear me. You wished that I speak, now
I do.... It is I now who command you to stay. You must understand very
well that after a scene such as this, everything is finished between us,
so I must tell you everything. I listened to you and will listen to you
again if you wish, but you also must listen to me. What have you ever
done for me? What help have you given me? Have you known how to see when
it was right that you should see? Have you known even how to suspect?
Was it necessary that a man die.... Not even that! When you were not
suffering, as you are suffering now, did you know how to see the way I
suffered? You thought that my sorrow was for a dead relative! You did
not understand that I was crazed; you slept next to me and yet you did
not realize that the first few nights I bit the covers so as not to cry
out. In a moment you realize all the facts. And what are these facts?
That I, your wife for many years, have defended your peace in silence. I
have fulfilled that which people call my duty. Then your curiosity is
awakened and to make up for lost time you wish to violate my soul and
penetrate down to its very depths. Ah--Paolo, no, no; one cannot do
this. No, it will not help to know everything. One does not enter into
the soul by the front door; one enters by stealth. You have tried to
force an entrance; now you see there is nothing more inside for you.

PAOLO. No? You think you are right, eh? You are right--it is true--I
admit that you are right. So I have never had your love, eh? You have
said so; that I never had your love! Then what? You are right. Still--do
you know what I shall do? I throw you out of my house!

ANNA [_happily_]. I go, I go, I go and I shall never come back! And do
not beg me and do not come after me. I have no more strength to have
pity, when I say good-by, I shall be as dead to you! [_Runs off into her
room. Paolo stunned, stares after her awaiting for her return. Anna
returns with her hat and cloak, crosses to exit._]

PAOLO. No, Anna, no, no, no. Anna, no. For pity's sake wait! We are both
mad. What will become of us? I need you. [_Paolo tries to get in her way
to stop her._] Do not go. I do not want you to--remain here. I was
crazy--do not go, you will see that--for all my life--[_Anna tries to
break away._] No, for pity's sake--if you go--if you break from me--if
you speak--I feel that this will be the end of everything! Remain!
Remain, Anna! [_She breaks away._]

ANNA. Good-by! [_Exits._]


  [_Curtain._]



LOVE OF ONE'S NEIGHBOR

  A COMEDY

  BY LEONID ANDREYEV
  TRANSLATED BY THOMAS SELTZER.


  Copyright, 1914, by Albert and Charles Boni.


  Reprinted from "The Plays of the Washington Square Players," published
  by Frank Shay.

  The professional and amateur stage rights on this play are strictly
  reserved by Mr. Thomas Seltzer. Applications for permission to produce
  the play should be made to Mr. Seltzer, 5 West 50th St., New York
  City.



LOVE OF ONE'S NEIGHBOR

A COMEDY BY LEONID ANDREYEV


    [SCENE: _A wild place in the mountains_.

    _A man in an attitude of despair is standing on a tiny projection
    of a rock that rises almost sheer from the ground. How he got
    there it is not easy to say, but he cannot be reached either from
    above or below. Short ladders, ropes and sticks show that attempts
    have been made to save the unknown person, but without success._

    _It seems that the unhappy man has been in that desperate position
    a long time. A considerable crowd has already collected, extremely
    varied in composition. There are venders of cold drinks; there is
    a whole little bar behind which the bartender skips about out of
    breath and perspiring--he has more on his hands than he can attend
    to; there are peddlers selling picture postal cards, coral beads,
    souvenirs, and all sorts of trash. One fellow is stubbornly trying
    to dispose of a tortoise-shell comb, which is really not
    tortoise-shell. Tourists keep pouring in from all sides, attracted
    by the report that a catastrophe is impending--Englishmen,
    Americans, Germans, Russians, Frenchmen, Italians, etc., with all
    their peculiar national traits of character, manner and dress.
    Nearly all carry alpenstocks, field-glasses and cameras. The
    conversation is in different languages, all of which, for the
    convenience of the reader, we shall translate into English._

    _At the foot of the rock where the unknown man is to fall, two
    policemen are chasing the children away and partitioning off a
    space, drawing a rope around short stakes stuck in the ground. It
    is noisy and jolly._]


POLICEMAN. Get away, you loafer! The man'll fall on your head and then
your mother and father will be making a hullabaloo about it.

BOY. Will he fall here?

POLICEMAN. Yes, here.

BOY. Suppose he drops farther?

SECOND POLICEMAN. The boy is right. He may get desperate and jump, land
beyond the rope and hit some people in the crowd. I guess he weighs at
least about two hundred pounds.

FIRST POLICEMAN. Move on, move on, you! Where are you going? Is that
your daughter, lady? Please take her away! The young man will soon fall.

LADY. Soon? Did you say he is going to fall soon? Oh, heavens, and my
husband's not here!

LITTLE GIRL. He's in the café, mamma.

LADY [_desperately_]. Yes, of course. He's always in the café. Go call
him, Nellie. Tell him the man will soon drop. Hurry! Hurry!

VOICES. Waiter!--Garçon--Kellner--Three beers out here!--No
beer?--What?--Say, that's a fine bar--We'll have some in a
moment--Hurry up--Waiter!--Waiter!--Garçon!

FIRST POLICEMAN. Say, boy, you're here again?

BOY. I wanted to take the stone away.

POLICEMAN. What for?

BOY. So he shouldn't get hurt so badly when he falls.

SECOND POLICEMAN. The boy is right. We ought to remove the stone. We
ought to clear the place altogether. Isn't there any sawdust or sand
about?

    [_Two English tourists enter. They look at the unknown man through
    field-glasses and exchange remarks._]

FIRST TOURIST. He's young.

SECOND TOURIST. How old?

FIRST TOURIST. Twenty-eight.

SECOND TOURIST. Twenty-six. Fright has made him look older.

FIRST TOURIST. How much will you bet?

SECOND TOURIST. Ten to a hundred. Put it down.

FIRST TOURIST [_writing in his notebook. To the policeman_]. How did he
get up there? Why don't they take him off?

POLICEMAN. They tried, but they couldn't. Our ladders are too short.

SECOND TOURIST. Has he been here long?

POLICEMAN. Two days.

FIRST TOURIST. Aha! He'll drop at night.

SECOND TOURIST. In two hours. A hundred to a hundred.

FIRST TOURIST. Put it down. [_He shouts to the man on the rock._] How
are you feeling? What? I can't hear you.

UNKNOWN MAN [_in a scarcely audible voice_]. Bad, very bad.

LADY. Oh, heavens, and my husband is not here!

LITTLE GIRL [_running in_]. Papa said he'll get here in plenty of time.
He's playing chess.

LADY. Oh, heavens! Nellie, tell him he must come. I insist. But perhaps
I had rather--Will he fall soon, Mr. Policeman? No? Nellie, you go. I'll
stay here and keep the place for papa.

    [_A tall, lanky woman of unusually independent and military
    appearance and a tourist dispute for the same place. The tourist,
    a short, quiet, rather weak man, feebly defends his rights; the
    woman is resolute and aggressive._]

TOURIST. But, lady, it is my place. I have been standing here for two
hours.

MILITARY WOMAN. What do I care how long you have been standing here. I
want this place. Do you understand? It offers a good view, and that's
just what I want. Do you understand?

TOURIST [_weakly_]. It's what I want, too.

MILITARY WOMAN. I beg your pardon, what do you know about these things
anyway?

TOURIST. What knowledge is required? A man will fall. That's all.

MILITARY WOMAN [_mimicking_]. "A man will fall. That's all." Won't you
have the goodness to tell me whether you have ever seen a man fall? No?
Well, I did. Not one, but three. Two acrobats, one rope-walker and three
aëronauts.

TOURIST. That makes six.

MILITARY WOMAN [_mimicking_]. "That makes six." Say, you are a
mathematical prodigy. And did you ever see a tiger tear a woman to
pieces in a zoo, right before your eyes? Eh? What? Yes, exactly. Now, I
did--Please! Please!

    [_The tourist steps aside, shrugging his shoulders with an air of
    injury, and the tall woman triumphantly takes possession of the
    stone she has won by her prowess. She sits down, spreading out
    around her her bag, handkerchief, peppermints, and medicine
    bottle, takes off her gloves and wipes her field-glass, glancing
    pleasantly on all around. Finally she turns to the lady who is
    waiting for her husband in the café_].

MILITARY WOMAN [_amiably_]. You will tire yourself out, dear. Why don't
you sit down?

LADY. Oh, my, don't talk about it. My legs are as stiff as that rock
there.

MILITARY WOMAN. Men are so rude nowadays. They will never give their
place to a woman. Have you brought peppermints with you?

LADY [_frightened_]. No. Why? Is it necessary?

MILITARY WOMAN. When you keep looking up a long time you are bound to
get sick. Sure thing. Have you spirits of ammonia? No? Good gracious,
how thoughtless! How will they bring you back to consciousness when he
falls? You haven't any smelling salts either, I dare say. Of course not.
Have you anybody to take care of you, seeing that you are so helpless
yourself?

LADY [_frightened_]. I will tell my husband. He is in the café.

MILITARY WOMAN. Your husband is a brute.

POLICEMAN. Whose coat is this? Who threw this rag here?

BOY. It's mine. I spread my coat there so that he doesn't hurt himself
so badly when he falls.

POLICEMAN. Take it away.

    [_Two tourists armed with cameras contending for the same
    position._]

FIRST TOURIST. I wanted this place.

SECOND TOURIST. You wanted it, but I got it.

FIRST TOURIST. You just came here. I have had this place for two days.

SECOND TOURIST. Then why did you go without even leaving your shadow?

FIRST TOURIST. I wasn't going to starve myself to death.

COMB-VENDER [_mysteriously_]. Tortoise-shell.

TOURIST [_savagely_]. Well?

VENDOR. Genuine tortoise-shell.

TOURIST. Go to the devil.

THIRD TOURIST, PHOTOGRAPHER. For heaven's sake, lady, you're sitting on
my camera!

LITTLE LADY. Oh! Where is it?

TOURIST. Under you, under you, lady.

LITTLE LADY. I am so tired. What a wretched camera you have. I thought
it felt uncomfortable and I was wondering why. Now I know; I am sitting
on your camera.

TOURIST [_agonized_]. Lady!

LITTLE LADY. I thought it was a stone. I saw something lying there and I
thought: A queer-looking stone; I wonder why it's so black. So that's
what it was; it was your camera. I see.

TOURIST [_agonized_]. Lady, for heaven's sake!

LITTLE LADY. Why is it so large, tell me. Cameras are small, but this
one is so large. I swear I never had the faintest suspicion it was a
camera. Can you take my picture? I would so much like to have my picture
taken with the mountains here for a background, in this wonderful
setting.

TOURIST. How can I take your picture if you are sitting on my camera?

LITTLE LADY [_jumping up, frightened_]. Is it possible? You don't say
so. Why didn't you tell me so? Does it take pictures?

VOICES. Waiter, one beer!--What did you bring wine for?--I gave you my
order long ago.--What will you have, sir?--One minute.--In a second.
Waiter!--Waiter--Toothpicks!--

    [_A fat tourist enters in haste, panting, surrounded by a numerous
    family._]

TOURIST [_crying_]. Mary! Aleck! Jimmie!--Where is Mary? For God's sake!
Where is Mary?

STUDENT [_dismally_]. Here she is, papa.

TOURIST. Where is she? Mary!

GIRL. Here I am, papa.

TOURIST. Where in the world are you? [_He turns around._] Ah, there!
What are you standing back of me for? Look, look! For goodness' sake,
where are you looking?

GIRL [_dismally_]. I don't know, papa.

TOURIST. No, that's impossible. Imagine! She never once saw a lightning
flash. She always keeps her eyes open as wide as onions, but the instant
it flashes she closes them. So she never saw lightning, not once. Mary,
you are missing it again. There it is! You see!

STUDENT. She sees, papa.

TOURIST. Keep an eye on her. [_Suddenly dropping into tone of profound
pity._] Ah, poor young man. Imagine! He'll fall from that high rock.
Look, children, see how pale he is! That should be a lesson to you how
dangerous climbing is.

STUDENT [_dismally_]. He won't fall to-day, papa!

SECOND GIRL. Papa, Mary has closed her eyes again.

FIRST STUDENT. Let us sit down, papa! Upon my word, he won't fall
to-day. The porter told me so. I can't stand it any more. You've been
dragging us about every day from morning till night visiting art
galleries.

TOURIST. What's that? For whose benefit am I doing this? Do you think I
enjoy spending my time with a dunce?

SECOND GIRL. Papa, Mary is blinking her eyes.

SECOND STUDENT. I can't stand it, either. I have terrible dreams.
Yesterday I dreamed of garçons the whole night long.

TOURIST. Jimmie.

FIRST STUDENT. I have gotten so thin I am nothing but skin and bones. I
can't stand it any more, father. I'd rather be a farmer, or tend pigs.

TOURIST. Aleck.

FIRST STUDENT. If he were really to fall--but it's a fake. You believe
every lie told you! They all lie. Baedeker lies, too. Yes, your Baedeker
lies!

MARY [_dismally_]. Papa, children, he's beginning to fall.

    [_The man on the rock shouts something down into the crowd.
    There is general commotion._ (_Voices._) _"Look, he's falling."
    Field-glasses are raised; the photographers, violently agitated,
    click their cameras; the policemen diligently clean the place
    where he is to fall._]

PHOTOGRAPHER. Oh, hang it! What is the matter with me? The devil! When a
man's in a hurry--

SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER. Brother, your camera is closed.

PHOTOGRAPHER. The devil take it.

VOICES. Hush! He's getting ready to fall.--No, he's saying
something.--No, he's falling.--Hush!

UNKNOWN MAN ON THE ROCK [_faintly_]. Save me! Save me!

TOURIST. Ah, poor young man. Mary, Jimmie, there's a tragedy for you.
The sky is clear, the weather is beautiful, and has he to fall and be
shattered to death? Can you realize how dreadful that is, Aleck?

STUDENT [_wearily_]. Yes, I can realize it.

TOURIST. Mary, can you realize it? Imagine. There is the sky. There are
people enjoying themselves and partaking of refreshments. Everything is
so nice and pleasant, and he has to fall. What a tragedy! Do you
remember Hamlet?

SECOND GIRL [_prompting_]. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, of Elsinore.

JAMES. Of Helsingfors, I know. Don't bother me, father!

MARY [_dismally_]. He dreamed about garçons all night long.

ALECK. Why don't you order sandwiches, father.

COMB-VENDER [_mysteriously_]. Tortoise-shell. Genuine tortoise-shell.

TOURIST [_credulously_]. Stolen?

VENDOR. Why, sir, the idea!

TOURIST [_angrily_]. Do you mean to tell me it's genuine if it isn't
stolen? Go on. Not much.

MILITARY WOMAN [_amiably_]. Are all these your children?

TOURIST. Yes, madam. A father's duty. You see, they are protesting. It
is the eternal conflict between fathers and children. Here is such a
tragedy going on, such a heart-rending tragedy--Mary, you are blinking
your eyes again.

MILITARY WOMAN. You are quite right. Children must be hardened to
things. But why do you call this a terrible tragedy? Every roofer, when
he falls, falls from a great height. But this here--what is it? A
hundred, two hundred feet. I saw a man fall plumb from the sky.

TOURIST [_overwhelmed_]. You don't say?

ALECK. Children, listen. Plumb from the sky.

MILITARY WOMAN. Yes, yes. I saw an aëronaut drop from the clouds and go
crash upon an iron roof.

TOURIST. How terrible!

MILITARY WOMAN. That's what I call a tragedy. It took two hours to bring
me back to consciousness, and all that time they pumped water on me, the
scoundrels. I was nearly drowned. From that day on I never step out of
the door without taking spirits of ammonia with me.

    [_Enter a strolling troop of Italian singers and musicians: a
    short, fat tenor, with a reddish beard and large, watery, stupidly
    dreamy eyes, singing with extraordinary sweetness; a skinny
    humpback with a jockey cap, and a screeching baritone; a bass who
    is also a mandolinist, looking like a bandit; a girl with a
    violin, closing her eyes when she plays, so that only the whites
    are seen. They take their stand and begin to sing: "Sul mare
    lucica--Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia--"_]

MARY [_dismally_]. Papa, children, look. He is beginning to wave his
hands.

TOURIST. Is that the effect the music has upon him?

MILITARY WOMAN. Quite possible. Music usually goes with such things. But
that'll make him fall sooner than he should. Musicians, go away from
here! Go!

    [_A tall tourist, with up-curled mustache, violently
    gesticulating, enters, followed by a small group attracted by
    curiosity._]

TALL TOURIST. It's scandalous. Why don't they save him? Ladies and
gentlemen, you all heard him shout: "Save me." Didn't you?

THE CURIOUS [_in chorus_]. Yes, yes, we heard him.

TALL TOURIST. There you are. I distinctly heard these words: "Save me!
Why don't they save me?" It's scandalous. Policemen, policemen! Why
don't you save him? What are you doing there?

POLICEMEN. We are cleaning up the place for him to fall.

TALL TOURIST. That's a sensible thing to do, too. But why don't you save
him? You ought to save him. If a man asks you to save him, it is
absolutely essential to save him. Isn't it so, ladies and gentlemen?

THE CURIOUS [_in chorus_]. True, absolutely true. It is essential to
save him.

TALL TOURIST [_with heat_]. We are not heathens, we are Christians. We
should love our neighbors. When a man asks to be saved every measure
which the government has at its command should be taken to save him.
Policemen, have you taken every measure?

POLICEMAN. Every one!

TALL TOURIST. Every one without exception? Gentleman, every measure has
been taken. Listen, young man, every measure has been taken to save you.
Did you hear?

UNKNOWN MAN [_in a scarcely audible voice_]. Save me!

TALL TOURIST [_excitedly_]. Gentlemen, did you hear? He again asked to
be saved. Policemen, did you hear?

ONE OF THE CURIOUS [_timidly_]. It is my opinion that it is absolutely
necessary to save him.

TALL TOURIST. That's right. Exactly. Why, that's what I have been saying
for the last two hours. Policemen, do you hear? It is scandalous.

ONE OF THE CURIOUS [_a little bolder_]. It is my opinion that an appeal
should be made to the highest authority.

THE REST [_in chorus_]. Yes, yes, a complaint should be made. It is
scandalous. The government ought not to leave any of its citizens in
danger. We all pay taxes. He must be saved.

TALL TOURIST. Didn't I say so? Of course we must put up a complaint.
Young man! Listen, young man. Do you pay taxes? What? I can't hear.

TOURIST. Jimmie, Katie, listen! What a tragedy! Ah, the poor young man!
He is soon to fall and they ask him to pay a domiciliary tax.

KATE [_the girl with glasses, pedantically_]. That can hardly be called
a domicile, father. The meaning of domicile is--

JAMES [_pinching her_]. Lickspittle.

MARY [_wearily_]. Papa, children, look! He's again beginning to fall.

    [_There is excitement in the crowd, and again a bustling and
    shouting among the photographers._]

TALL TOURIST. We must hurry, ladies and gentlemen. He must be saved at
any cost. Who's going with me?

THE CURIOUS [_in chorus_]. We are all going! We are all going?

TALL TOURIST. Policemen, did you hear? Come, ladies and gentlemen!

    [_They depart, fiercely gesticulating. The café grows more lively.
    The sound of clinking beer glasses and the clatter of steins is
    heard, and the beginning of a loud German song. The bartender, who
    has forgotten himself while talking to somebody, starts suddenly
    and runs off, looks up to the sky with a hopeless air and wipes
    the perspiration from his face with his napkin. Angry calls of
    Waiter! Waiter!_]

UNKNOWN MAN [_rather loudly_]. Can you let me have some soda water?

    [_The waiter is startled, looks at the sky, glances at the man on
    the rock, and pretending not to have heard him, walks away._]

MANY VOICES. Waiter! Beer!

WAITER. One moment, one moment!

    [_Two drunken men come out from the café._]

LADY. Ah, there is my husband. Come here quick.

MILITARY WOMAN. A downright brute.

DRUNKEN MAN [_waving his hand to the unknown man_]. Say, is it very bad
up there? Hey?

UNKNOWN MAN [_rather loudly_]. Yes, it's bad. I am sick and tired of it.

DRUNKEN MAN. Can't you get a drink?

UNKNOWN MAN. No, how can I?

SECOND DRUNKEN MAN. Say, what are you talking about? How can he get a
drink? The man is about to die and you tempt him and try to get him
excited. Listen, up there, we have been drinking your health right
along. It won't hurt you, will it?

FIRST DRUNKEN MAN. Ah, go on! What are you talking about? How can it
hurt him? Why, it will only do him good. It will encourage him. Listen,
honest to God, we are very sorry for you, but don't mind us. We are
going to the café to have another drink. Good-by.

SECOND DRUNKEN MAN. Look, what a crowd.

FIRST DRUNKEN MAN. Come, or he'll fall and then they'll close the café.

    [_Enter a new crowd of tourists, a very elegant gentleman, the
    chief correspondent of European newspapers at their head. He is
    followed by an ecstatic whisper of respect and admiration. Many
    leave the café to look at him, and even the waiter turns slightly
    around, glances at him quickly, smiles happily and continues on
    his way, spilling something from his tray._]

VOICES. The correspondent! The correspondent! Look!

LADY. Oh, my, and my husband is gone again!

TOURIST. Jimmie, Mary, Aleck, Katie, Charlie, look! This is the chief
correspondent. Do you realize it? The very highest of all. Whatever he
writes goes.

KATE. Mary, dear, again you are not looking.

ALECK. I wish you would order some sandwiches for us. I can't stand it
any longer. A human being has to eat.

TOURIST [_ecstatically_]. What a tragedy! Katie, dear, can you realize
it? Consider how awful. The weather is so beautiful, and the chief
correspondent. Take out your note-book, Jimmie.

JAMES. I lost it, father.

CORRESPONDENT. Where is he?

VOICES [_obligingly_]. There, there he is. There! A little higher.
Still higher! A little lower! No, higher!

CORRESPONDENT. If you please, if you please, ladies and gentlemen, I
will find him myself. Oh, yes, there he is. Hm! What a situation!

TOURIST. Won't you have a chair?

CORRESPONDENT. Thank you. [_Sits down._] Hm! What a situation! Very
interesting. Very interesting, indeed! [_Whisks out his note-book;
amiably to the photographers._] Have you taken any pictures yet,
gentlemen?

FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER. Yes, sir, certainly, certainly. We have photographed
the place showing the general character of the locality--

SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER. The tragic situation of the young man--

CORRESPONDENT. Ye-es, very, very interesting.

TOURIST. Did you hear, Aleck? This smart man, the chief correspondent,
says it's interesting, and you keep bothering about sandwiches. Dunce!

ALECK. May be he has had his dinner already.

CORRESPONDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, I beg you to be quiet.

OBLIGING VOICES. It is quieter in the café.

CORRESPONDENT [_shouts to the unknown man_]. Permit me to introduce
myself. I am the chief correspondent of the European press. I have been
sent here at the special request of the editors. I should like to ask
you several questions concerning your situation. What is your name? What
is your general position? How old are you? [_The unknown man mumbles
something._]

CORRESPONDENT [_a little puzzled_]. I can't hear a thing. Has he been
that way all the time?

VOICE. Yes, it's impossible to hear a word he says.

CORRESPONDENT [_jotting down something in his note-book_]. Fine! Are you
a bachelor? [_The unknown man mumbles._]

CORRESPONDENT. I can't hear you. Are you married? Yes?

TOURIST. He said he was a bachelor.

SECOND TOURIST. No, he didn't. Of course, he's married.

CORRESPONDENT [_carelessly_]. You think so? All right. We'll put down,
married. How many children have you? Can't hear. It seems to me he said
three. Hm! Anyway, we'll put down five.

TOURIST. Oh, my, what a tragedy. Five children! Imagine!

MILITARY WOMAN. He is lying.

CORRESPONDENT [_shouting_]. How did you get into this position? What? I
can't hear? Louder! Repeat. What did you say? [_Perplexed, to the
crowd._] What did he say? The fellow has a devilishly weak voice.

FIRST TOURIST. It seems to me he said that he lost his way.

SECOND TOURIST. No, he doesn't know himself how he got there.

VOICES. He was out hunting.--He was climbing up the rocks.--No, no! He
is simply a lunatic!

CORRESPONDENT. I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon, ladies and
gentlemen! Anyway, he didn't drop from the sky. However--[_He quickly
jots down in his note-book._] Unhappy young man--suffering from
childhood with attacks of lunacy.--The bright light of the full
moon--the wild rocks.--Sleepy janitor--didn't notice--

FIRST TOURIST [_to the second, in a whisper_]. But it's a new moon now.

SECOND TOURIST. Go, what does a layman know about astronomy.

TOURIST [_ecstatically_]. Mary, pay attention to this! You have before
you an ocular demonstration of the influence of the moon on living
organisms. What a terrible tragedy to go out walking on a moonlit night
and find suddenly that you have climbed to a place where it is
impossible to climb down or be taken down.

CORRESPONDENT [_shouting_]. What feelings are you experiencing? I can't
hear. Louder! Ah, so? Well, well! What a situation!

CROWD [_interested_]. Listen, listen! Let's hear what his feelings are.
How terrible!

CORRESPONDENT [_writes in his note-book, tossing out detached remarks_].
Mortal terror, numbs his limbs.--A cold shiver goes down his spinal
column.--No hope.--Before his mental vision rises a picture of family
bliss: Wife making sandwiches; his five children innocently lisping
their love.--Grandma in the armchair with a tube to her ear, that is,
grandpa in the arm-chair, with a tube to his ear and grandma.--Deeply
moved by the sympathy of the public.--His last wish before his death
that the words he uttered with his last breath should be published in
our newspapers--

MILITARY WOMAN [_indignantly_]. My! He lies like a salesman.

MARY [_wearily_]. Papa, children, look, he is starting to fall again.

TOURIST [_angrily_]. Don't bother me. Such a tragedy is unfolding itself
right before your very eyes--and you--What are you making such big eyes
for again?

CORRESPONDENT [_shouting_]. Hold on fast. That's it! My last question:
What message do you wish to leave for your fellow citizens before you
depart for the better world?

UNKNOWN MAN. That they may all go to the devil.

CORRESPONDENT. What? Hm, yes--[_He writes quickly._] Ardent love--is a
stanch opponent of the law granting equal rights to negroes. His last
words: "Let the black niggers--"

PASTOR [_out of breath, pushing through the crowd_]. Where is he? Ah,
where is he? Ah, there! Poor young man. Has there been no clergyman here
yet? No? Thank you. Am I the first?

CORRESPONDENT [_writes_]. A touching dramatic moment.--A minister has
arrived.--All are trembling on the verge of suspense. Many are shedding
tears--

PASTOR. Excuse me, excuse me! Ladies and gentlemen, a lost soul wishes
to make its peace with God--[_He shouts._] My son, don't you wish to
make your peace with God? Confess your sins to me. I will grant you
remission at once! What? I cannot hear?

CORRESPONDENT [_writes_]. The air is shaken with the people's groans.
The minister of the church exhorts the criminal, that is, the
unfortunate man, in touching language.--The unfortunate creature with
tears in his eyes thanks him in a faint voice--

UNKNOWN MAN [_faintly_]. If you won't go away I will jump on your head.
I weigh three hundred pounds. [_All jump away frightened behind each
other._]

VOICES. He is falling! He is falling!

TOURIST [_agitatedly_]. Mary, Aleck, Jimmie.

POLICEMAN [_energetically_]. Clear the place, please! Move on!

LADY. Nellie, go quick and tell your father he is falling.

PHOTOGRAPHER [_in despair_]. Oh my, I am out of films [_tosses madly
about, looking pitifully at the unknown man_]. One minute, I'll go and
get them. I have some in my overcoat pocket over there. [_He walks a
short distance, keeping his eyes fixed on the unknown man, and then
returns._] I can't, I am afraid I'll miss it. Good heavens! They are
over there in my overcoat. Just one minute, please. I'll fetch them
right away. What a fix.

PASTOR. Hurry, my friend. Pull yourself together and try to hold out
long enough to tell me at least your principal sins. You needn't
mention the lesser ones.

TOURIST. What a tragedy?

CORRESPONDENT [_writes_]. The criminal, that is, the unhappy man, makes
a public confession and does penance. Terrible secrets revealed. He is a
bank robber--blew up safes.

TOURIST [_credulously_]. The scoundrel.

PASTOR [_shouts_]. In the first place, have you killed? Secondly, have
you stolen? Thirdly, have you committed adultery?

TOURIST. Mary, Jimmie, Katie, Aleck, Charlie, close your ears.

CORRESPONDENT [_writing_]. Tremendous excitement in the crowd.--Shouts
of indignation.

PASTOR [_hurriedly_]. Fourthly, have you blasphemed? Fifthly, have you
coveted your neighbor's ass, his ox, his slave, his wife? Sixthly--

PHOTOGRAPHER [_alarmed_]. Ladies and gentlemen, an ass!

SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER. Where? I can't see it!

PHOTOGRAPHER [_calmed_]. I thought I heard it.

PASTOR. I congratulate you, my son! I congratulate you! You have made
your peace with God. Now you may rest easy--Oh, God, what do I see? The
Salvation Army! Policeman, chase them away!

    [_Enter a Salvation Army band, men and women in uniforms. There
    are only three instruments, a drum, a violin and a piercingly
    shrill trumpet._]

SALVATION ARMY MAN [_frantically beating his drum and shouting in a
nasal voice_]. Brethren and sisters--

PASTOR [_shouting even louder in a still more nasal voice in an effort
to drown the other's_]. He has already confessed. Bear witness, ladies
and gentlemen, that he has confessed and made his peace with heaven.

SALVATION ARMY WOMAN [_climbing on a rock and shrieking_]. I once
wandered in the dark just as this sinner and I lived a bad life and was
a drunkard, but when the light of truth--

A VOICE. Why, she is drunk now.

PASTOR. Policeman, didn't he confess and make his peace with heaven?

    [_The Salvation Army man continues to beat his drum frantically;
    the rest begin to drawl a song. Shouts, laughter, whistling.
    Singing in the café, and calls of "Waiter!" in all languages. The
    bewildered policemen tear themselves away from the pastor, who is
    pulling them somewhere; the photographers turn and twist about as
    if the seats were burning under them. An English lady comes riding
    in on a donkey, who, stopping suddenly, sprawls out his legs and
    refuses to go farther, adding his noise to the rest. Gradually the
    noise subsides. The Salvation Army band solemnly withdraws, and
    the pastor, waving his hands, follows them._]

FIRST ENGLISH TOURIST [_to the other_]. How impolite! This crowd doesn't
know how to behave itself.

SECOND ENGLISH TOURIST. Come, let's go away from here.

FIRST ENGLISH TOURIST. One minute. [_He shouts._] Listen, won't you
hurry up and fall?

SECOND ENGLISH TOURIST. What are you saying, Sir William?

FIRST ENGLISH TOURIST [_shouting_]. Don't you see that's what they are
waiting for? As a gentleman you should grant them this pleasure and so
escape the humiliation of undergoing tortures before this mob.

SECOND ENGLISH TOURIST. Sir William.

TOURIST [_ecstatically_]. See? It's true. Aleck, Jimmie, it's true. What
a tragedy!

SEVERAL TOURISTS [_going for the Englishman_]. How dare you?

FIRST ENGLISH TOURIST [_shoving them aside_]. Hurry up and fall! Do you
hear? If you haven't the backbone I'll help you out with a pistol shot.

VOICES. That red-haired devil has gone clear out of his mind.

POLICEMAN [_seizing the Englishman's hand_]. You have no right to do it,
it's against the law. I'll arrest you.

SOME TOURISTS. A barbarous nation!

    [_The unknown man shouts something. Excitement below._]

VOICES. Hear, hear, hear!

UNKNOWN MAN [_aloud_]. Take that jackass away to the devil. He wants to
shoot me. And tell the boss that I can't stand it any longer.

VOICES. What's that? What boss? He is losing his mind, the poor man.

TOURIST. Aleck! Mary! This is a mad scene. Jimmie, you remember Hamlet?
Quick.

UNKNOWN MAN [_angrily_]. Tell him my spinal column is broken.

MARY [_wearily_]. Papa, children, he's beginning to kick with his legs.

KATE. Is that what is called convulsions, papa?

TOURIST [_rapturously_]. I don't know. I think it is. What a tragedy?

ALECK [_glumly_]. You fool! You keep cramming and cramming and you don't
know that the right name for that is agony. And you wear eyeglasses,
too. I can't bear it any longer, papa.

TOURIST. Think of it, children. A man is about to fall down to his death
and he is bothering about his spinal column.

    [_There is a noise. A man in a white vest, very much frightened,
    enters, almost dragged by angry tourists. He smiles, bows on all
    sides, stretches out his arms, now running forward as he is
    pushed, now trying to escape in the crowd, but is seized and
    pulled again._]

VOICES. A bare-faced deception! It is an outrage. Policeman, policeman,
he must be taught a lesson!

OTHER VOICES. What is it? What deception? What is it all about? They
have caught a thief!

THE MAN IN THE WHITE VEST [_bowing and smiling_]. It's a joke, ladies
and gentlemen, a joke, that's all. The people were bored, so I wanted to
provide a little amusement for them.

UNKNOWN MAN [_angrily_]. Boss!

THE MAN IN THE WHITE VEST. Wait a while, wait a while.

UNKNOWN MAN. Do you expect me to stay here until the Second Advent? The
agreement was till twelve o'clock. What time is it now?

TALL TOURIST [_indignantly_]. Do you hear, ladies and gentlemen? This
scoundrel, this man here in the white vest hired that other scoundrel up
there and just simply tied him to the rock.

VOICES. Is he tied?

TALL TOURIST. Yes, he is tied and he can't fall. We are excited and
worrying, but he couldn't fall even if he tried.

UNKNOWN MAN. What else do you want? Do you think I am going to break my
neck for your measly ten dollars? Boss, I can't stand it any more. One
man wanted to shoot me. The pastor preached me for two hours. This is
not in the agreement.

ALECK. Father, I told you that Baedeker lies. You believe everything
anybody tells you and drag us about without eating.

MAN IN THE WHITE VEST. The people were bored. My only desire was to
amuse the people.

MILITARY WOMAN. What is the matter? I don't understand a thing. Why
isn't he going to fall? Who, then, is going to fall?

TOURIST. I don't understand a thing either. Of course he's got to fall!

JAMES. You never understand anything, father. Weren't you told that he's
tied to the rock?

ALECK. You can't convince him. He loves every Baedeker more than his own
children.

JAMES. A nice father!

TOURIST. Silence!

MILITARY WOMAN. What is the matter? He must fall.

TALL TOURIST. The idea! What a deception. You'll have to explain this.

MAN IN THE WHITE VEST. The people were bored. Excuse me, ladies and
gentlemen, but wishing to accommodate you--give you a few hours of
pleasant excitement--elevate your spirits--inspire you with altruistic
sentiments--

ENGLISHMAN. Is the café yours?

MAN IN THE WHITE VEST. Yes.

ENGLISHMAN. And is the hotel below also yours?

GENTLEMAN. Yes. The people were bored--

CORRESPONDENT [_writing_]. The proprietor of the café, desiring to
increase his profits from the sale of alcoholic beverages, exploits the
best human sentiments.--The people's indignation--

UNKNOWN MAN [_angrily_]. Boss, will you have me taken off at once or
won't you?

HOTEL KEEPER. What do you want up there? Aren't you satisfied? Didn't I
have you taken off at night?

UNKNOWN MAN. Well, I should say so. You think I'd be hanging here
nights, too!

HOTEL OWNER. Then you can stand it a few minutes longer. The people are
bored--

TALL TOURIST. Say, have you any idea of what you have done? Do you
realize the enormity of it? You are scoundrels, who for your own sordid
personal ends have impiously exploited the finest human sentiment, love
of one's neighbor. You have caused us to undergo fear and suffering. You
have poisoned our hearts with pity. And now, what is the upshot of it
all? The upshot is that this scamp, your vile accomplice, is bound to
the rock and not only will he not fall as everybody expects, but he
_can't_.

MILITARY WOMAN. What is the matter? He has got to fall.

TOURIST. Policeman! Policeman!

    [_The pastor enters, out of breath._]

PASTOR. What? Is he still living? Oh, there he is! What fakirs those
Salvationists are.

VOICES. Don't you know that he is bound?

PASTOR. Bound! Bound to what? To life? Well, we are all bound to life
until death snaps the cord. But whether he is bound or not bound, I
reconciled him with heaven, and that's enough. But those fakirs--

TOURIST. Policeman! Policeman, you must draw up an official report.
There is no way out of it.

MILITARY WOMAN [_going for the hotel owner_]. I will not allow myself to
be fooled. I saw an aëronaut drop from the clouds and go crash upon a
roof. I saw a tiger tear a woman to pieces--

PHOTOGRAPHER. I spoiled three films photographing that scamp. You will
have to answer for this, sir. I will hold you responsible.

TOURIST. An official report! An official report! Such a bare-faced
deception. Mary, Jimmie, Aleck, Charlie, call a policeman.

HOTEL KEEPER [_drawing back, in despair_]. But, I can't make him fall if
he doesn't want to. I did everything in my power, ladies and gentlemen!

MILITARY WOMAN. I will not allow it.

HOTEL KEEPER. Excuse me. I promise you on my word of honor that the next
time he will fall. But he doesn't want to, to-day.

UNKNOWN MAN. What's that? What did you say about the next time?

HOTEL KEEPER. You shut up there!

UNKNOWN MAN. For ten dollars?

PASTOR. Pray, what impudence! I just made his peace with heaven when he
was in danger of his life. You have heard him threatening to fall on my
head, haven't you? And still he is dissatisfied. Adulterer, thief,
murderer, coveter of your neighbor's ass--

PHOTOGRAPHER. Ladies and gentlemen, an ass!

SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER. Where, where is an ass?

PHOTOGRAPHER [_calmed_]. I thought I heard one.

SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER. It is you who are an ass. I have become cross-eyed
on account of your shouting: "An ass! An ass!"

MARY [_wearily_]. Papa, children, look! A policeman is coming.

    [_Excitement and noise. On one side a crowd pulling a policeman,
    on the other the hotel keeper; both keep crying: "Excuse me!
    Excuse me!"_]

TOURIST. Policeman, there he is, the fakir, the swindler.

PASTOR. Policeman, there he is, the adulterer, the murderer, the coveter
of his neighbor's ass--

POLICEMAN. Excuse me, excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. We will bring him
to his senses in short order and make him confess.

HOTEL KEEPER. I can't make him fall if he doesn't want to.

POLICEMAN. Hey, you, young man out there! Can you fall or can't you?
Confess!

UNKNOWN MAN [_sullenly_]. I don't want to fall!

VOICES. Aha, he has confessed. What a scoundrel!

TALL TOURIST. Write down what I dictate, policeman--"Desiring--for the
sake of gain to exploit the sentiment of love of one's neighbor--the
sacred feeling--a-a-a--"

TOURIST. Listen, children, they are drawing up an official report. What
exquisite choice of language!

TALL TOURIST. The sacred feeling which--

POLICEMAN [_writing with painful effort, his tongue stuck out_]. Love of
one's neighbor--the sacred feeling which--

MARY [_wearily_]. Papa, children, look! An advertisement is coming.

    [_Enter musicians with trumpets and drums, a man at their head
    carrying on a long pole a huge placard with the picture of an
    absolutely bald head, and printed underneath: "I was bald."_]

UNKNOWN MAN. Too late. They are drawing up a report here. You had better
skidoo!

THE MAN CARRYING THE POLE [_stopping and speaking in a loud voice_]. I
had been bald from the day of my birth and for a long time thereafter.
That miserable growth, which in my tenth year covered my scalp was more
like wool than real hair. When I was married my skull was as bare as a
pillow and my young bride--

TOURIST. What a tragedy! Newly married and with such a head! Can you
realize how dreadful that is, children?

    [_All listen with interest, even the policeman stopping in his
    arduous task and inclining his ear with his pen in his hand._]

THE MAN CARRYING THE POLE [_solemnly_]. And the time came when my
matrimonial happiness literally hung by a hair. All the medicines
recommended by quacks to make my hair grow--

TOURIST. Your note-book, Jimmie.

MILITARY WOMAN. But when is he going to fall?

HOTEL KEEPER [_amiably_]. The next time, lady, the next time. I won't
tie him so hard--you understand?


  [_Curtain._]



THE BOOR

  A COMEDY

  BY ANTON TCHEKOFF
  TRANSLATED BY HILMAR BAUKAGE.


  Copyright, 1915, by Samuel French.


  CHARACTERS

    HELENA IVANOVNA POPOV [_a young widow, mistress of a country
        estate_].
    GRIGORJI STEPANOVITCH SMIRNOV [_proprietor of a country estate_].
    LUKA [_servant of Mrs. Popov_].
    A GARDENER.
    A COACHMAN.
    _Several Workmen._

  PLACE: _The Estate of Mrs. Popov_.
  TIME: _The Present_.

  [_The stage shows an elegantly furnished reception room._]


  Reprinted from "The World's Best Plays by Celebrated European
  Authors," edited by Barrett H. Clark, and published by Samuel French,
  by permission of, and special arrangements with, Samuel French.



THE BOOR

A COMEDY BY ANTON TCHEKOFF


    [_Mrs. Popov discovered in deep mourning, sitting upon a sofa,
    gazing steadfastly at a photograph. Luka is also present._]


LUKA. It isn't right, ma'am--You're wearing yourself out! The maid and
the cook have gone looking for berries, everything that breathes is
enjoying life, even the cat knows how to be happy--slips about the
courtyard and catches birds; but you hide yourself here in the house as
though you were in a cloister and have no pleasures--Yes, truly, by
actual reckoning you haven't left this house for a whole year.

MRS. POPOV. And I shall never leave it--why should I? My life is over.
He lies in his grave, and I have buried myself within these four walls.
We are both dead.

LUKA. There you are again! It's too awful to listen to, so it is!
Nikolai Michailovitch is dead, it was the will of the Lord and the Lord
has given him eternal peace. You have grieved over it and that ought to
be enough. Now it's time to stop. One can't weep and wear mourning
forever! My wife died a few years ago, too. I grieved for her, I wept a
whole month--and then it was over. Must one be forever singing
lamentations? That would be more than your husband was worth! [_He
sighs._] You have forgotten all your neighbors. You don't go out and you
won't receive any one. We live,--you'll pardon me--like the spiders, and
the good light of day we never see. All the livery is eaten by the
mice--As though there weren't any more nice people in the world! But the
whole neighborhood is full of gentlefolk. In Riblov the regiment is
stationed, officers--simply beautiful! One can't see enough of them!
Every Friday a ball, and military music every day. Oh, my dear, dear
ma'am, young and pretty as you are, if you'd only let your spirits live!
Beauty can't last forever. When ten short years are over, then you'll be
glad enough to go out a bit! And meet the officers--and then it'll be
too late.

MRS. POPOV [_resolutely_]. Please, don't speak of these things to me
again. You know very well that since the death of Nikolai Michailovitch
my life is absolutely nothing to me. You think I live, but it only seems
that I live. Do you understand? Oh, that his departed soul may see how I
love him--Oh, I know, it's no secret to you; he was often unjust towards
me, cruel and--he wasn't faithful, but I shall be faithful to the grave
and prove to him how I am able to love. There, in the beyond, he'll find
me the same, as I was until his death.

LUKA. What is the use of all these words? When you'd so much rather go
walking in the garden or order Tobby or Welikan harnessed to the trap,
and visit the neighbors.

MRS. POPOV [_weeping_]. Oh!

LUKA. Madam, dear, dear Madam, what is it? In heaven's name?

MRS. POPOV. He loved Tobby so! He always took him when he drove to the
Kortschagins or the Vlassovs. What a wonderful horseman he was! How fine
he looked! When he pulled at the reins with all his might! Tobby, Tobby,
give him an extra measure of oats to-day!

LUKA. Yes, ma'am.

    [_A bell rings loudly._]

MRS. POPOV [_shudders_]. What's that? Say that I am receiving no one.

LUKA. Yes, ma'am. [_He goes out center._]

MRS. POPOV [_gazing at the photograph_]. You shall see, Nikol, how I can
love and forgive--My love will die only with me--when my poor heart
stops beating. [_She smiles through her tears._] And aren't you
ashamed? I have been a good, true wife, I have imprisoned myself and I
shall remain true until the grave, and you--you--you're not ashamed of
yourself, my dear monster! Betrayed me, quarreled with me, left me alone
for weeks--

    [_Luka enters in great excitement._]

LUKA. Oh, ma'am, some one is asking for you, insists on seeing you--

MRS. POPOV. You told him that since my husband's death I receive no one?

LUKA. I said so, but he won't listen, he says that it is a pressing
matter.

MRS. POPOV. I--re--ceive--no--one!

LUKA. I told him that, but he's a wild-man, he swore and pushed himself
into the room--he's in the dining room now.

MRS. POPOV [_excitedly_]. Good. Show him in. What an intruder!

    [_Luka goes out center._]

MRS. POPOV. What a bore people are! What can they want with me? Why do
they disturb my peace? [_She sighs._] Yes, it is clear I must go to a
cloister. [_Meditatively._] Yes, in a cloister--

    [_Smirnov enters followed by Luka._]

SMIRNOV [_to Luka_]. Fool, you make too much noise! You're an ass!
[_Discovering Mrs. Popov--politely._] Madam, I have the honor to
introduce myself; Lieutenant in the Artillery, retired, country
gentleman, Grigorji Stepanovitch Smirnov! I'm forced to bother you about
an exceedingly important matter.

MRS. POPOV [_without offering her hand_]. What is it you wish?

SMIRNOV. Your deceased husband, with whom I had the honor to be
acquainted, left me two notes amounting to about twelve hundred rubles.
Inasmuch as I have to meet the interest to-morrow on a loan from the
Agrarian Bank, I should like to request, madam, that you pay me the
money to-day.

MRS. POPOV. Twelve hundred--and for what was my husband indebted to you?

SMIRNOV. He had bought oats from me.

MRS. POPOV [_with a sigh to Luka_]. Don't forget to have Tobby given an
extra measure of oats.

    [_Luka goes out._]

MRS. POPOV [_to Smirnov_]. If Nikolai Michailovitch is indebted to you,
I will of course pay you, but, I am sorry, I haven't the money to-day.
To-morrow my manager will be back from the city and I shall notify him
to pay you what is due you, but until then I cannot satisfy your
request. Furthermore to-day it is just seven months since the death of
my husband and I am not in the mood to discuss money matters.

SMIRNOV. And I am in the mood to fly up the chimney with my feet in the
air if I can't lay hands on that interest to-morrow. They'll sequestrate
my estate!

MRS. POPOV. Day after to-morrow you will receive the money.

SMIRNOV. I don't need the money day after to-morrow, I need it to-day.

MRS. POPOV. I'm sorry I can't pay you to-day.

SMIRNOV. And I can't wait until day after to-morrow.

MRS. POPOV. But what can I do if I haven't it?

SMIRNOV. So you can't pay?

MRS. POPOV. I cannot.

SMIRNOV. Hm.--Is that your last word?

MRS. POPOV. My last.

SMIRNOV. Absolutely?

MRS. POPOV. Absolutely.

SMIRNOV. Thank you. We shan't forget it. [_He shrugs his shoulders._]
And then they expect me to stand for all that. The toll gatherer just
now met me in the road and asked, why are you always worrying, Grigorji
Stepanovitch? Why in heaven's name shouldn't I worry? I need money, I
feel the knife at my throat. Yesterday morning I left my house in the
early dawn and called on all my debtors. If even one of them had paid
his debt! I worked the skin off my fingers! The devil knows in what sort
of Jew-inn I slept, in a room with a barrel of brandy! And now at last I
come here, seventy versts from home, hope for a little money and all you
give me is moods. Why shouldn't I worry?

MRS. POPOV. I thought I made it plain to you that my manager will return
from town and then you will get your money?

SMIRNOV. I did not come to see the manager, I came to see you. What the
devil--pardon the language--do I care for your manager?

MRS. POPOV. Really, sir, I am neither used to such language nor such
manners. I shan't listen to you any further. [_She goes out left._]

SMIRNOV. What can one say to that? Moods! Seven months since her husband
died! And do I have to pay the interest or not? I repeat the question,
have I to pay the interest or not? Well yes, the husband is dead and all
that, the manager is--the devil with him--traveling somewhere. Now tell
me, what am I to do? Shall I run away from my creditors in a balloon? Or
push my head into a stone wall? If I call on Grusdev he chooses to be
"not at home," Iroschevitch has simply hidden himself, I have quarreled
with Kurzin until I came near throwing him out of the window, Masutov is
ill and this one in here has--moods! Not one of the crew will pay up!
And all because I've spoiled them all, because I'm an old whiner, an old
dish rag! I'm too tender hearted with them. But you wait! I'll show you!
I permit nobody to play tricks with me, the devil with 'em all! I'll
stay here and not budge from the spot until she pays! Brrr! How angry I
am, how terribly angry I am! Every tendon is trembling with anger and I
can hardly breathe--ah, I'm even growing ill. [_He calls out._] Servant!

    [_Luka enters._]

LUKA. What is it you wish?

SMIRNOV. Bring me Kvas or water! [_Luka goes out._] Well, what can we
do? She hasn't it on hand? What sort of logic is that? A fellow stands
with the knife at his throat, he needs money, he is just at the point of
hanging himself, and she won't pay because she isn't in the mood to
discuss money matters. See! Pure woman's logic. That's why I never liked
to talk to women and why I hate to do it now. I would rather sit on a
powder barrel than talk with a woman. Brr!--I'm getting cold as ice,
this affair has made me so angry. I only need to see such a romantic
creature from the distance to get so angry that I have cramps in the
calves? It's enough to make one yell for help!

    [_Enter Luka._]

LUKA [_hands him water_]. Madam is ill and is not receiving.

SMIRNOV. March! [_Luka goes out._] Ill and isn't receiving! All right,
it isn't necessary. I won't receive either. I'll sit here and stay until
you bring that money. If you're ill a week, I'll sit here a week. If
you're ill a year, I'll sit here a year. As heaven is a witness I'll get
my money. You don't disturb me with your mourning--or with your dimples.
We know these dimples! [_He calls out the window._] Simon, unharness. We
aren't going to leave right away. I am going to stay here. Tell them in
the stable to give the horses some oats. The left horse has twisted the
bridle again. [_Imitating him._] Stop. I'll show you how. Stop. [_Leaves
window._] It's awful. Unbearable heat, no money, didn't sleep well last
night and now mourning-dresses with moods. My head aches, perhaps I
ought to have a drink. Ye-s, I must have a drink. [_Calling._] Servant!

LUKA. What do you wish?

SMIRNOV. A little drink. [_Luka goes out. Smirnov sits down and looks at
his clothes._] Ugh, a fine figure! No use denying that. Dust, dirty
boots, unwashed, uncombed, straw on my vest--the lady probably took me
for a highwayman. [_He yawns._] It was a little impolite to come into a
reception room with such clothes. Oh well, no harm done. I'm not here as
guest. I'm a creditor. And there is no special costume for creditors.

LUKA [_entering with glass_]. You take a great deal of liberty, sir.

SMIRNOV [_angrily_]. What?

LUKA. I--I--I just--

SMIRNOV. Whom are you talking to? Keep quiet.

LUKA [_angrily_]. Nice mess! This fellow won't leave! [_He goes out._]

SMIRNOV. Lord, how angry I am! Angry enough to throw mud at the whole
world! I even feel ill--servant!

    [_Mrs. Popov comes in with downcast eyes._]

MRS. POPOV. Sir, in my solitude I have become unaccustomed to the human
voice and I cannot stand the sound of loud talking. I beg of you, please
to cease disturbing my quiet.

SMIRNOV. Pay me my money and I'll leave.

MRS. POPOV. I told you once plainly in your native tongue that I haven't
the money on hand; wait until day after to-morrow.

SMIRNOV. And I also have the honor of informing you in your native
tongue that I need the money, not day after to-morrow, but to-day. If
you don't pay me to-day I shall have to hang myself to-morrow.

MRS. POPOV. But what can I do when I haven't the money? How strange!

SMIRNOV. So you are not going to pay immediately? You're not?

MRS. POPOV. I can't.

SMIRNOV. Then I'll sit here and stay until I get the money. [_He sits._]
You will pay day after to-morrow? Excellent! Here I stay until day after
to-morrow. [_Jumps up._] I ask you: do I have to pay that interest
to-morrow or not? Or do you think I'm joking?

MRS. POPOV. Sir, I beg of you, don't scream! This is not a stable.

SMIRNOV. I'm not asking you about a stable, I'm asking you whether I
have to pay that interest to-morrow or not?

MRS. POPOV. You have no idea how a lady should be treated.

SMIRNOV. Oh, yes, I know how to treat ladies.

MRS. POPOV. No, you don't. You are an ill-bred, vulgar
person--respectable people don't speak so with ladies.

SMIRNOV. Oh, how remarkable! How do you want one to speak with you? In
French perhaps. Madame, je vous prie--how fortunate I am that you won't
pay me my money! Pardon me for having disturbed you. What beautiful
weather we are having to-day. And how this mourning becomes you. [_He
makes an ironic bow._]

MRS. POPOV. Not at all funny--vulgar!

SMIRNOV [_imitating her_]. Not at all funny--vulgar. I don't understand
how to behave in the company of ladies. Madam, in the course of my life
I have seen more women than you have sparrows. Three times I have fought
duels over women, twelve women I threw over and nine threw me over.
There was a time when I played the fool, used honeyed language, bows and
scrapings. I loved, suffered, sighed to the moon, melted in love's
torments. I loved passionately, I loved to madness, in every key,
chattered like a magpie on emancipation, sacrificed half my fortune in
the tender passion until now the devil knows I've had enough of it. Your
obedient servant will let you lead him around by the nose no more.
Enough! Black eyes, passionate eyes, coral lips, dimples in cheeks,
moonlight whispers, soft, modest sighs,--for all that, madam, I wouldn't
pay a copper cent. I am not speaking of the present company but of women
in general; from the tiniest to the greatest, they are all conceited,
hypocritical, chattering, odious, deceitful from top to toe; vain,
petty, cruel with a maddening logic and [_he strikes his forehead_] in
this respect, please excuse my frankness, but one sparrow is worth ten
of the aforementioned petticoat-philosophers. When one sees one of the
romantic creatures before him he imagines that he is looking at some
holy being, so wonderful that its one breath could dissolve him in a sea
of a thousand charms and delights--but if one looks into the soul--it's
nothing but a common crocodile. [_He seizes the arm-chair and breaks it
in two._] But the worst of all is that this crocodile imagines that it
is a chef-d'oeuvre and that it has a monopoly on all the tender
passions. May the devil hang me upside down if there is anything to love
about a woman! When she is in love all she knows is how to complain and
shed tears. If the man suffers and makes sacrifices she trails her train
about and tries to lead him around by the nose. You have the misfortune
to be a woman and you naturally know woman's nature; tell me on your
honor, have you ever in your life seen a woman who was really true and
faithful? You never saw one. Only the old and the deformed are true and
faithful. It's easier to find a cat with horns or a white woodcock than
a faithful woman.

MRS. POPOV. But just allow me to ask, who is true and faithful in love?
The man, perhaps?

SMIRNOV. Yes, indeed! The man!

MRS. POPOV. The man! [_She laughs ironically._] The man is true and
faithful in love! Well, that is something new. [_She laughs bitterly._]
How can you make such a statement? Men true and faithful! As long as we
have gone as far as we have I may as well say that of all the men I have
known my husband was the best--I loved him passionately with all my
soul, as only a young, sensible woman may love, I gave him my youth, my
happiness, my fortune, my life. I worshiped him like a heathen. And what
happened? This best of all men betrayed me right and left in every
possible fashion. After his death I found his desk filled with a
collection of love letters. While he was alive he left me alone for
months--it is horrible to even think about it--he made love to other
women in my very presence, he wasted my money and made fun of my
feelings,--and in spite of all that I trusted him and was true to him.
And more than that, he is dead and I am still true to him. I have buried
myself within these four walls and I shall wear this mourning to my
grave.

SMIRNOV [_laughing disrespectfully_]. Mourning! What on earth do you
take me for? As if I didn't know why you wore this black domino and why
you buried yourself within these four walls. As if I didn't know! Such a
secret! So romantic! Some knight will pass the castle, will gaze up at
the windows and think to himself: "Here dwells the mysterious Tamara
who, for love of her husband, has buried herself within four walls." Oh,
I understand the art!

MRS. POPOV [_springing up_]. What? What do you mean by saying such
things to me?

SMIRNOV. You have buried yourself alive, but meanwhile you have not
forgotten to powder your nose!

MRS. POPOV. How dare you speak to me so?

SMIRNOV. Don't scream at me, please, I'm not the manager. Just let me
call things by their right names. I am not a woman and I am accustomed
to speak out what I think. So please don't scream.

MRS. POPOV. I'm not screaming. It is you who are doing the screaming.
Please leave me, I beg of you.

SMIRNOV. Pay me my money and I'll leave.

MRS. POPOV. I won't give you the money.

SMIRNOV. You won't? You won't give me my money?

MRS. POPOV. I don't care what you do. You won't get a kopeck! Leave me
alone.

SMIRNOV. As I haven't the pleasure of being either your husband or your
fiancé please don't make a scene. [_He sits down._] I can't stand it.

MRS. POPOV [_breathing hard_]. You are going to sit down?

SMIRNOV. I already have.

MRS. POPOV. Kindly leave the house!

SMIRNOV. Give me the money.

MRS. POPOV. I don't care to speak with impudent men. Leave! [_Pause._]
You aren't going?

SMIRNOV. No.

MRS. POPOV. No?

SMIRNOV. No.

MRS. POPOV. Very well. [_She rings the bell._]

    [_Enter Luka._]

MRS. POPOV. Luka, show the gentleman out.

LUKA [_going to Smirnov_]. Sir, why don't you leave when you are
ordered? What do you want--

SMIRNOV [_jumping up_]. Whom do you think you are talking to? I'll grind
you to powder.

LUKA [_puts his hand to his heart_]. Good Lord! [_He drops into a
chair._] Oh, I'm ill, I can't breathe!

MRS. POPOV. Where is Dascha? [_Calling._] Dascha! Pelageja! Dascha!
[_She rings._]

LUKA. They're all gone! I'm ill. Water!

MRS. POPOV [_to Smirnov_]. Leave! Get out!

SMIRNOV. Kindly be a little more polite!

MRS. POPOV [_striking her fists and stamping her feet_]. You are vulgar!
You're a boor! A monster!

SMIRNOV. Wh--at did you say?

MRS. POPOV. I said you were a boor, a monster!

SMIRNOV [_steps toward her quickly_]. Permit me to ask what right you
have to insult me?

MRS. POPOV. Yes, I insult you. What of it? Do you think I am afraid of
you?

SMIRNOV. And you think that because you are a romantic creature that you
can insult me without being punished? I challenge you! Now you have it.

LUKA. Merciful heaven! Water!

SMIRNOV. We'll have a duel.

MRS. POPOV. Do you think because you have big fists and a steer's neck
that I am afraid of you?

SMIRNOV. That is the limit! I allow no one to insult me and I make no
exception because you are a woman, one of the "weaker sex"!

MRS. POPOV [_trying to cry him down_]. Boor, boor, boor!

SMIRNOV. It is high time to do away with the old superstition that it is
only a man who is forced to give satisfaction. If there is equity at all
let there be equity in all things. There's a limit!

MRS. POPOV. You wish to fight a duel? Very well.

SMIRNOV. Immediately.

MRS. POPOV. Immediately. My husband had pistols. I'll bring them. [_She
hurries away, then turns._] Oh, what a pleasure it will be to put a
bullet in your impudent head. The devil take you! [_She goes out._]

SMIRNOV. I'll shoot her down! I'm no fledgling, no sentimental, young
puppy. For me there is no weaker sex.

LUKA. Oh, sir. [_Falls to his knees._] Have mercy on me, an old man, and
go away. You have frightened me to death already and now you want to
fight a duel.

SMIRNOV [_paying no attention_]. A duel. That's equity, that's
emancipation. That way the sexes are made equal. I'll shoot her down as
a matter of principle. What can a person say to such a woman?
[_Imitating her._] "The devil take you. I'll put a bullet in your
impudent head." What can a person say to that? She was angry, her eyes
blazed, she accepted the challenge. On my honor it's the first time in
my life that I ever saw such a woman.

LUKA. Oh, sir. Go away. Go away from here.

SMIRNOV. That _is_ a woman. I can understand her. A real woman. No
shilly-shallying, but fire, powder, and noise! It would be a pity to
shoot a woman like that.

LUKA [_weeping_]. Oh, sir; go away.

    [_Enter Mrs. Popov._]

MRS. POPOV. Here are the pistols. But before we have our duel please
show me how to shoot. I have never had a pistol in my hand before!

LUKA. God be merciful and have pity upon us! I'll go and get the
gardener and the coachman. Why has this horror come to us! [_He goes
out._]

SMIRNOV [_looking at the pistols_]. You see there are different kinds of
pistols. There are special duelling pistols with cap and ball. But these
are revolvers, Smith & Wesson, with ejectors, fine pistols. A pair like
that cost at least ninety rubles. This is the way to hold a revolver.
[_Aside._] Those eyes, those eyes! A real woman!

MRS. POPOV. Like this?

SMIRNOV. Yes, that way. Then you pull the hammer back--so--then you
aim--put your head back a little--just stretch your arm out, please.
So--then press your finger on the thing like that, and that is all. The
chief thing is this: don't get excited, don't hurry your aim, and take
care that your hand doesn't tremble.

MRS. POPOV. It isn't as well to shoot inside, let's go into the garden.

SMIRNOV. Yes. I'll tell you now that I am going to shoot into the air.

MRS. POPOV. That is too much. Why?

SMIRNOV. Because--because--That's my business why.

MRS. POPOV. You are afraid. Yes. A-h-h-h. No, no, my dear sir, no
welching. Please follow me. I won't rest myself, until I've made a hole
in your head that I hate so much. Are you afraid?

SMIRNOV. Yes, I'm afraid.

MRS. POPOV. You are lying. Why won't you fight?

SMIRNOV. Because--because--I--like you.

MRS. POPOV [_with an angry laugh_]. You like me! He dares to say that he
likes me. [_She points to the door._] Go.

SMIRNOV [_laying the revolver silently on the table, takes his hat and
goes; at the door he stops a moment gazing at her silently, then he
approaches her undecidedly_]. Listen? Are you still angry? I was mad as
the devil, but please understand me--how can I express myself?--The
thing is like this--such things are--[_He raises his voice._] How is it
my fault that you owe me money? [_Grasps the chair back which breaks._]
The devil knows what breakable furniture you have! I like you! Do you
understand?--I--I'm almost in love!

MRS. POPOV. Leave. I hate you.

SMIRNOV. Lord! What a woman! I never in my life met one like her. I'm
lost, ruined! I've been caught like a mouse in a trap.

MRS. POPOV. Go, or I'll shoot.

SMIRNOV. Shoot! You have no idea what happiness it would be to die in
sight of those beautiful eyes, to die from the revolver in this little
velvet hand--I'm mad! Consider it and decide immediately for if I go
now; we shall never see each other again. Decide--speak--I am a noble, a
respectable man, have an income of ten thousand, can shoot a coin thrown
into the air--I own some fine horses. Will you be my wife?

MRS. POPOV [_swings the revolver angrily_]. Shoot!

SMIRNOV. My mind is not clear--I can't understand--servant--water! I
have fallen in love like any young man. [_He takes her hand and she
cries with pain._] I love you! [_He kneels._] I love you as I have never
loved before. Twelve women, I threw over, nine were untrue to me, but
not one of them all have I loved as I love you. I am conquered, lost, I
lie at your feet like a fool and beg for your hand. Shame and disgrace!
For five years I haven't been in love, I thanked the Lord for it and now
I am caught, like a carriage tongue in another carriage. I beg for your
hand! Yes or no? Will you?--Good! [_He gets up and goes to the door
quickly._]

MRS. POPOV. Wait a moment--

SMIRNOV [_stopping_]. Well?

MRS. POPOV. Nothing. You may go. But--wait a moment. No, go on, go on. I
hate you. Or no. Don't go. Oh, if you knew how angry I was, how angry!
[_She throws the revolver onto the chair._] My finger is swollen from
this thing. [_She angrily tears her handkerchief._] What are you
standing there for? Get out!

SMIRNOV. Farewell!

MRS. POPOV. Yes, go. [_Cries out._] What are you going for? Wait--no,
go!! Oh, how angry I am! Don't come too near, don't come too
near--er--come--no nearer.

SMIRNOV [_approaching her_]. How angry I am with myself. Fallen in love
like a school-boy, thrown myself on my knees. I've got a chill!
[_Strongly._] I love you. This is fine,--all I needed was to fall in
love. To-morrow I have to pay my interest, the hay harvest has begun and
then you appear. [_He takes her in his arms._] I can never forgive
myself.

MRS. POPOV. Go away! Take your hands off me! I hate you--you--this
is--[_A long kiss._]

    [_Enter Luka with an ax, the gardener with a rake, the coachman
    with a pitch-fork, workmen with poles._]

LUKA [_staring at the pair_]. Merciful Heavens! [_A long pause._]

MRS. POPOV [_dropping her eyes_]. Tell them in the stable that Tobby
isn't to have any oats.


  [_Curtain._]



HIS WIDOW'S HUSBAND

  A COMEDY

  BY JACINTO BENEVENTE
  TRANSLATED BY JOHN GARRETT UNDERHILL.


  Copyright, 1917, by John Garrett Underhill.
  All rights reserved.


  First presented at the Teatro Principe Alfonso, Madrid, on the evening
  of the nineteenth of October, 1908.

  CHARACTERS

    CAROLINA.
    EUDOSIA.
    PAQUITA.
    FLORENCIO.
    CASALONGA.
    ZURITA.
    VALDIVIESO.

  THE SCENE _is laid in a provincial capital_.


  Reprinted from "Plays: First Series," by permission of, and special
  arrangements with, Mr. John Garrett Underhill and Charles Scribner's
  Sons. Applications for permission to produce HIS WIDOW'S HUSBAND
  should be addressed to the Society of Spanish Authors, 20 Nassau
  Street, New York.



HIS WIDOW'S HUSBAND

A COMEDY BY JACINTO BENEVENTE


    [_Carolina is seated as Zurita enters._]

ZURITA. My friend!

CAROLINA. My good Zurita, it is so thoughtful of you to come so
promptly! I shall never be able to repay all your kindness.

ZURITA. I am always delighted to be of service to a friend.

CAROLINA. I asked them to look for you everywhere. Pardon the
inconvenience, but the emergency was extreme. I am in a terrible
position; all the tact in the world can never extricate me from one of
those embarrassing predicaments--unless you assist me by your advice.

ZURITA. Count upon my advice; count upon me in anything. However, I
cannot believe that you are really in an embarrassing predicament.

CAROLINA. But I am, my friend; and you are the only one who can advise
me. You are a person of taste; your articles and society column are the
standard of good form with us. Everybody accepts and respects your
decisions.

ZURITA. Not invariably, I am sorry to say--especially now that I have
taken up the suppression of the hips, which are fatal to the success of
any _toilette_. Society was formerly very select in this city, but it is
no longer the same, as you no doubt have occasion to know. Too many
fortunes have been improvised, too many aristocratic families have
descended in the scale. There has been a great change in society. The
_parvenus_ dominate--and money is so insolent! People who have it
imagine that other things can be improvised--as education, for example,
manners, good taste. Surely you must realize that such things cannot be
improvised. Distinction is a hothouse plant. We grow too few gardenias
nowadays--like you, my friend. On the other hand, we have an abundance
of sow-thistles. Not that I am referring to the Nuñez family.... How do
you suppose those ladies enliven their Wednesday evenings? With a
gramophone, my friend, with a gramophone--just like any vulgar café;
although I must confess that it is an improvement upon the days when the
youngest sang, the middle one recited, and all played together.
Nevertheless it is horrible. You can imagine my distress.

CAROLINA. You know, of course, that I never take part in their
Wednesdays. I never call unless I am sure they are not at home.

ZURITA. But that is no longer a protection; they leave the gramophone.
And the maid invites you to wait and entertain yourself with the
_Mochuelo_. What is a man to do? It is impossible to resent the records
upon the maid. But we are wandering from the subject. You excite my
curiosity.

CAROLINA. You know that to-morrow is the day of the unveiling of the
statue of my husband, of my previous husband--

ZURITA. A fitting honor to the memory of that great, that illustrious
man. This province owes him much, and so does all Spain. We who enjoyed
the privilege of calling ourselves his friends, should be delighted to
see justice done to his deserts at last, here where political jealousies
and intrigues have always belittled the achievements of our eminent men.
But Don Patricio Molinete could have no enemies. To-morrow will atone
for much of the pettiness of the past.

CAROLINA. No doubt. I feel I ought to be proud and happy, although you
understand the delicacy of my position. Now that I have married again,
my name is not the same. Yet it is impossible to ignore the fact that
once it was mine, especially as everybody knows that we were a model
couple. I might perhaps have avoided the situation by leaving town for
a few days on account of my health, but then that might have been
misinterpreted. People might have thought that I was displeased, or that
I declined to participate.

ZURITA. Assuredly. Although your name is no longer the same, owing to
circumstances, the force of which we appreciate, that is no reason why
you should be deprived of the honor of having borne it worthily at the
time. Your present husband has no right to take offense.

CAROLINA. No, poor Florencio! In fact, he was the first to realize that
I ought to take a leading part in the rejoicing. Poor Florencio was
always poor Patricio's greatest admirer. Their political ideas were the
same; they agreed in everything.

ZURITA. Apparently.

CAROLINA. As I have reason to know. Poor Patricio loved me dearly;
perhaps that was what led poor Florencio to imagine that there was
something in me to justify the affection of that great-hearted and
intellectual man. It was enough for me to know that Florencio was
Patricio's most intimate friend in order to form my opinion of him. Of
course, I recognize that Florencio's gifts will never enable him to
shine so brilliantly, but that is not to say that he is wanting in
ability. He lacks ambition, that is all. All his desires are satisfied
at home with me, at his own fireside. And I am as well pleased to have
it so. I am not ambitious myself. The seasons which I spent with my
husband in Madrid were a source of great uneasiness to me. I passed the
week during which he was Minister of Agriculture in one continual state
of anxiety. Twice he nearly had a duel--over some political question. I
did not know which way to turn. If he had ever become Prime Minister, as
was actually predicted by a newspaper which he controlled, I should have
been obliged to take to my bed for the week.

ZURITA. You are not like our senator's wife, Señora Espinosa, nor the
wife of our present mayor. They will never rest, nor allow others to do
so, until they see their husbands erected in marble.

CAROLINA. Do you think that either Espinosa or the mayor are of a
caliber to deserve statues?

ZURITA. Not publicly, perhaps. In a private chapel, in the class of
martyrs and husbands, it might not be inappropriate. But I am growing
impatient.

CAROLINA. As you say, friend Zurita, it might seem marked for me to
leave the city. Yet if I remain I must attend the unveiling of the
monument to my poor Patricio; I must be present at the memorial
exercises to-night in his honor; I must receive the delegations from
Madrid and the other cities, as well as the committees from the rest of
the province. But what attitude ought I to assume? If I seem too sad,
nobody will believe that my feeling is sincere. On the other hand, it
would not be proper to appear altogether reconciled. Then people would
think that I had forgotten too quickly. In fact, they think so already.

ZURITA. Oh, no! You were very young when you became a widow. Life was
just beginning for you.

CAROLINA. It is a delicate matter, however, to explain to my
sisters-in-law. Tell me, what ought I to wear? Anything severe, an
attempt at mourning, would be ridiculous, since I am going with my
husband; on the other hand, I should not like to suggest a festive
spirit. What do you think, friend Zurita? Give me your advice. What
would you wear?

ZURITA. It is hard to say; the problem is difficult. Something rich and
black, perhaps, relieved by a note of violet. The unveiling of a
monument to perpetuate the memory of a great man is not an occasion for
mourning. Your husband is partaking already of the joys of immortality,
in which no doubt, he anticipates you.

CAROLINA. Thank you so much.

ZURITA. Do not thank me. You have done enough. You have been faithful to
his memory. You have married again, but you have married a man who was
your husband's most intimate friend. You have not acted like other
widows of my acquaintance--Señora Benitez, for example. She has been
living for two years with the deadliest enemy her husband had in the
province, without any pretense at getting married--which in her case
would have been preposterous.

CAROLINA. There is no comparison.

ZURITA. No, my friend; everybody sympathizes with your position, as they
ought.

CAROLINA. The only ones who worry me are my sisters-in-law. They insist
that my position is ridiculous, and that of my husband still more so.
They do not see how we can have the effrontery to present ourselves
before the statue.

ZURITA. Señora, I should not hesitate though it were that of the
Commander. Your sisters-in-law exaggerate. Your present husband is the
only one you have to consider.

CAROLINA. I have no misgivings upon that score. I know that both will
appreciate that my feelings are sincere, one in this world, and the
other from the next. As for the rest, the rest--

ZURITA. The rest are your friends and your second husband's friends, as
we were of the first. We shall all take your part. The others you can
afford to neglect.

CAROLINA. Thanks for those words of comfort. I knew that you were a good
friend of ours, as you were also of his.

ZURITA. A friend to both, to all three; _si, señora_, to all three. But
here is your husband.

    [_Don Florencio enters._]

ZURITA. Don Florencio! My friend!

FLORENCIO. My dear Zurita! I am delighted to see you! I wish to thank
you for that charming article in memory of our never-to-be-forgotten
friend. It was good of you, and I appreciate it. You have certainly
proved yourself an excellent friend of his. Thanks, my dear Zurita,
thanks! Carolina and I are both indebted to you for your charming
article. It brought tears to our eyes. Am I right, Carolina?

CAROLINA. We were tremendously affected by it.

FLORENCIO. Friend Zurita, I am deeply gratified. For the first time in
the history of the province, all parties have united to do honor to this
region's most eminent son. But have you seen the monument? It is a work
of art. The statue is a perfect likeness--it is the man, the man
himself! The allegorical features are wonderfully artistic--Commerce,
Industry, and Truth taken altogether in the nude. Nothing finer could be
wished. You can imagine the trouble, however, we had with the nudes. The
conservative element opposed the nudes, but the sculptor declined to
proceed if the nudes were suppressed. In the end we won a decisive
victory for Art.

CAROLINA. Do you know, I think it would have been just as well not to
have had any nudes? What was the use of offending anybody? Several of
our friends are going to remain away from the ceremonies upon that
account.

FLORENCIO. How ridiculous! That only shows how far we are behind the
times. You certainly have no feeling of that sort after having been the
companion of that great, that liberal man. I remember the trip we took
to Italy together--you surely recollect it, Carolina. I never saw a man
so struck with admiration at those marvelous monuments of pagan and
Renaissance art. Oh, what a man! What a wonderful man! He was an artist.
Ah! Before I forget it, Carolina, Gutiérrez asked me for any pictures
you have for the special edition of his paper, and I should like to have
him publish the verses which he wrote you when you were first engaged.
Did you ever see those verses? That man might have been a poet--he might
have been anything else for that matter. Talk about letters! I wish you
could see his letters. Carolina, let us see some of those letters he
wrote you when you were engaged.

CAROLINA. Not now. That is hardly the time....

FLORENCIO. Naturally. In spite of the satisfaction which we feel, these
are trying days for us. We are united by our memories. I fear I shall
never be able to control myself at the unveiling of the statue.

CAROLINA. Florencio, for heaven's sake, you must! You must control
yourself.

ZURITA. Yes, do control yourself. You must.

FLORENCIO. I am controlling myself.

ZURITA. If there is nothing further that I can do....

CAROLINA. No, thank you, Zurita. I am awfully obliged to you. Now that I
know what I am to wear, the situation does not seem half so
embarrassing.

ZURITA. I understand. A woman's position is never so embarrassing as
when she is hesitating as to what to put on.

CAROLINA. Until to-morrow then?

ZURITA. Don Florencio!

FLORENCIO. Thank you again for your charming article. It was admirable!
Admirable!

    [_Zurita retires._]

FLORENCIO. I see that you feel it deeply! you are touched. So am I. It
is foolish to attempt to conceal it.

CAROLINA. I don't know how to express it, but--I am upset.

FLORENCIO. Don't forget the pictures, however, especially the one where
the three of us were taken together on the second platform of the Eiffel
tower. It was particularly good.

CAROLINA. Yes, something out of the ordinary. Don't you think, perhaps,
that our private affairs, our family life.... How do we know whether at
this time, in our situation....

FLORENCIO. What are you afraid of? That is the woman of it. How
narrow-minded! You ought to be above such pettiness after having been
the wife of such an intelligent man. Every detail of the private life of
the great has its interest for history. Those of us who knew him, who in
a certain sense were his colaborers--you will not accuse me of
immodesty--his colaborers in the great work of his life, owe it to
history to see that the truth be known.

CAROLINA. Nevertheless I hardly think I would print those letters--much
less the verses. Do you remember what they said?

FLORENCIO. Of course, I remember:

  "Like a moth on a pin I preserve all your kisses!..."

Everybody makes allowances for poetry. Nobody is going to take seriously
what he reads in a poem. He married you anyway. Why should any one
object?

CAROLINA. Stop, Florencio! What are you talking about? We are making
ourselves ridiculous.

FLORENCIO. Why should we make ourselves ridiculous? Although I shall
certainly stand by you, whatever you decide, if for no other reason than
that I am your husband, his widow's husband. Otherwise people might
think that I wanted you to forget, that I was jealous of his memory; and
you know that is not the case. You know how I admired him, how I loved
him--just as he did me. Nobody could get along with him as well as I
could; he was not easy to get along with, I do not need to tell you
that. He had his peculiarities--they were the peculiarities of a great
man--but they were great peculiarities. Like all great men, he had an
exaggerated opinion of himself. He was horribly stubborn, like all
strong characters. Whenever he got on one of his hobbies no power on
earth could pry him off of it. It is only out of respect that I do not
say he was pig-headed. I was the only one who had the tact and the
patience to do anything with him; you know that well enough. How often
you said to me: "Oh, Florencio! I can't stand it any longer!" And then I
would reason with you and talk to him, and every time that you had a
quarrel I was the one who consoled you afterward.

CAROLINA. Florencio, you are perfectly disgusting! You have no right to
talk like this.

FLORENCIO. Very well then, my dear. I understand how you feel. This is a
time when everybody is dwelling on his virtues, his good qualities, but
I want you to remember that that great man had also his faults.

CAROLINA. You don't know what you are talking about.

FLORENCIO. Compare me with him--

CAROLINA. Florencio? You know that in my mind there has never been any
comparison. Comparisons are odious.

FLORENCIO. Not necessarily. But of course you have not! You have never
regretted giving up his distinguished name, have you, Carolina, for this
humble one of mine? Only I want you to understand that if I had desired
to shine, if I had been ambitious.... I have talent myself. Now admit
it!

CAROLINA. Of course I do, my dear, of course! But what is the use of
talking nonsense?

FLORENCIO. What is the matter with you, anyway? You are nervous to-day.
It is impossible to conduct a sensible conversation.--Hello! Your
sisters-in-law! I am not at home.

CAROLINA. Don't excite yourself. They never ask for you.

FLORENCIO. I am delighted!... Well, I wish you a short session and
escape.

CAROLINA. I am in a fine humor for this sort of thing myself.

    [_Florencio goes out. Eudosia and Paquita enter._]

EUDOSIA. I trust that we do not intrude?

CAROLINA. How can you ask? Come right in.

EUDOSIA. It seems we find you at home for once.

CAROLINA. So it seems.

PAQUITA. Strange to say, whenever we call you always appear to be out.

CAROLINA. A coincidence.

EUDOSIA. The coincidence is to find you at home. [_A pause._] We passed
your husband on the street.

CAROLINA. Are you sure that you would recognize him?

PAQUITA. Oh! he was not alone.

CAROLINA. Is that so?

EUDOSIA. Paquita saw him with Somolino's wife, at Sanchez the
confectioner's.

CAROLINA. Very possibly.

PAQUITA. I should not make light of it, if I were you. You know what
Somolino's wife is, to say nothing of Sanchez the confectioner.

CAROLINA. I didn't know about the confectioner.

EUDOSIA. No respectable woman, no woman who even pretends to be
respectable, would set foot in his shop since he married that French
girl.

CAROLINA. I didn't know about the French girl.

EUDOSIA. Yes, he married her--I say married her to avoid using another
term. He married her in Bayonne--if you call such a thing
marriage--civilly, which is the way French people marry. It is a land of
perdition.

CAROLINA. I am very sorry to hear it because I am awfully fond of
sweetmeats. I adore _bonbons_ and _marrons glacés_, and nobody here has
as good ones as Sanchez, nor anywhere else for that matter.

PAQUITA. In that case you had as well deny yourself, unless you are
prepared to invite criticism. Somolino's wife is the only woman who
enters the shop and faces the French girl, who gave her a receipt for
dyeing her hair on the spot. You must have noticed how she is doing it
now.

CAROLINA. I hadn't noticed.

EUDOSIA. It is not jet-black any more; it is baby-pink--so she is having
the Frenchwoman manicure her nails twice a week. Have you noticed the
condition of her nails? They are the talk of the town.

    [_A pause._]

PAQUITA. Well, I trust he is satisfied.

CAROLINA. Who is he?

PAQUITA. I do not call him your husband. Oh, our poor, dear brother!

CAROLINA. I have not the slightest idea what you are talking about.

EUDOSIA. So he has had his way at last and desecrated the statue of our
poor brother with the figures of those naked women?

PAQUITA. As large as life.

CAROLINA. But Florencio is not responsible. It was the sculptor and the
committee. I cannot see anything objectionable in them myself. There are
such figures on all monuments. They are allegorical.

EUDOSIA. I could understand, perhaps, why the statue of Truth should be
unclothed. Something of the sort was always expected of Truth. But I
must say that Commerce and Industry might have had a tunic at least.
Commerce, in my opinion, is particularly indecent.

PAQUITA. We have declined the seats which were reserved for us. They
were directly in front and you could see everything.

EUDOSIA. I suppose you still intend to be present? What a pity that
there is nobody to give you proper advice!

CAROLINA. As I have been invited, I judge that I shall be welcome as I
am.

PAQUITA. Possibly--if it were good form for you to appear at all. But
when you exhibit yourself with that man--who was his best friend--after
only three short years!

CAROLINA. Three long years.

EUDOSIA. No doubt they seemed long to you. Three years, did I say? They
were like days to us who still keep his memory green!

PAQUITA. Who still bear his name, because no other name sounds so noble
in our ears.

EUDOSIA. Rather than change it, we have declined very flattering
proposals.

CAROLINA. I am afraid that you have made a mistake. You remember that
your brother was very anxious to see you married.

PAQUITA. He imagined that all men were like him, and deserved wives like
us, our poor, dear brother! Who would ever have dreamed he could have
been forgotten so soon? Fancy his emotions as he looks down on you from
the skies.

CAROLINA. I do not believe for one moment that he has any regrets. If he
had, then what would be the use of being in paradise? Don't you worry
about me. The best thing that a young widow can do is marry at once. I
was a very young widow.

EUDOSIA. You were twenty-nine.

CAROLINA. Twenty-six.

EUDOSIA. We concede you twenty-six. At all events, you were not a
child--not to speak of the fact that no widow can be said to be a child.

CAROLINA. No more than a single woman can be said to be old. However, I
fail to see that there would be any impropriety in my being present at
the unveiling of the statue.

EUDOSIA. Do you realize that the premature death of your husband will be
the subject of all the speakers? They will dwell on the bereavement
which we have suffered through the loss of such an eminent man. How do
you propose to take it? When people see you standing there, complacent
and satisfied, alongside of that man, do you suppose they will ever
believe that you are not reconciled?

PAQUITA. What will your husband do while they are extolling the genius
of our brother, and he knows that he never had any?

CAROLINA. That was not your brother's opinion. He thought very highly of
Florencio.

EUDOSIA. Very highly. Our poor, dear brother! Among his other abilities
he certainly had an extraordinary aptitude for allowing himself to be
deceived.

CAROLINA. That assumption is offensive to me; it is unfair to all of us.

EUDOSIA. I hope you brought it with you, Paquita?

PAQUITA. Yes; here it is.

    [_Taking out a book._]

EUDOSIA. Just look through this book if you have a moment. It arrived
to-day from Madrid and is on sale at Valdivieso's. Just glance through
it.

CAROLINA. What is the book? [_Reading the title upon the cover._] "Don
Patricio Molinete, the Man and His Work. A Biography. Together with His
Correspondence and an Estimate of His Life." Why, thanks--

PAQUITA. No, do not thank us. Read, read what our poor brother has
written to the author of this book, who was one of his intimate friends.

CAROLINA. Recaredo Casalonga. Ah! I remember--a rascal we were obliged
to turn out of the house. Do you mean to say that scamp Casalonga has
any letters? Merely to hear the name makes me nervous.

EUDOSIA. But go on! Page two hundred and fourteen. Is that the page,
Paquita?

PAQUITA. It begins on page two hundred and fourteen, but before it
amounts to anything turn the page.

CAROLINA. Quick, quick! Let me see. What does he say? What are these
letters? What is this? He says that I.... But there is not a word of
truth in it. My husband could never have written this.

EUDOSIA. But there it is in cold type. You don't suppose they would dare
to print--

CAROLINA. But this is outrageous; this book is a libel. It invades the
private life--the most private part of it! It must be stopped.

EUDOSIA. It cannot be stopped. You will soon see whether or not it can
be stopped.

PAQUITA. Probably the edition is exhausted by this time.

CAROLINA. Is that so? We shall see! We shall see!--Florencio! Florencio!
Come quickly! Florencio!

EUDOSIA. Perhaps he has not yet returned.

PAQUITA. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

CAROLINA. Nonsense! He was never out of the house. You are two old
busybodies!

EUDOSIA. Carolina! You said that without thinking.

PAQUITA. I cannot believe my ears. Did you say busybody.

CAROLINA. That is exactly what I said. Now leave me alone. I can't stand
it. It is all your fault. You are insupportable!

EUDOSIA and PAQUITA. Carolina!

CAROLINA. Florencio! Florencio!

    [_Florencio enters._]

FLORENCIO. What is it, my dear? What is the matter? Ah! You? I am
delighted....

EUDOSIA. Yes, we! And we are leaving this house, where we have been
insulted--forever!

PAQUITA. Where we have been called busybodies!

EUDOSIA. Where we have been told that we were insupportable!

PAQUITA. And when people say such things you can imagine what they
think!

FLORENCIO. But Eudosia, Paquita.... I do not understand. As far as I am
concerned....

EUDOSIA. The person who is now your wife will make her explanations to
you.

PAQUITA. I never expected to be driven out of our brother's house like
this!

EUDOSIA. Our poor, dear brother!

FLORENCIO. But, Carolina--

CAROLINA. Let them go! Let them go! They are impossible.

PAQUITA. Did you hear that, Eudosia? We are impossible!

EUDOSIA. I heard it, Paquita. There is nothing left for us to hear in
this house.

CAROLINA. Yes there is! You are as impossible as all old maids.

EUDOSIA. There was something for us to hear after all! Come, Paquita.

PAQUITA. Come, Eudosia.

    [_They go out._]

FLORENCIO. What is this trouble between you and your sisters-in-law?

CAROLINA. There isn't any trouble. We were arguing, that was all. There
is nothing those women like so much as gossip, or making themselves
disagreeable in any way they can. Do you remember Casalonga?

FLORENCIO. Recaredo Casalonga? I should say I did remember him! That man
was a character, and strange to say, a profound philosopher with it all.
He was quite a humorist.

CAROLINA. Yes, he was. Well, this philosopher, this humorist, has
conceived the terribly humorous idea of publishing this book.

FLORENCIO. Let me see. "Don Patricio Molinete, the Man and His Work. A
Biography. Together with His Correspondence and an Estimate of His
Life." A capital idea! They were great friends, you know, although I
don't suppose that there can be anything particular in this book. What
could Casalonga tell us anyway?

CAROLINA. Us? Nothing. But go on, go on.

FLORENCIO. You don't say! Letters of Patricio's. Addressed to whom?

CAROLINA. To the author of the book, so it seems. Personal letters, they
are confidential. Go on, go on.

FLORENCIO. "Dear Friend: Life is sad. Perhaps you ask the cause of my
disillusionment. How is it that I have lost my faith in the future, in
the future of our unfortunate land?" I remember that time. He was
already ill. This letter was written after he had liver complaint and
took a dark view of everything. Ah! What a pity that great men should be
subject to such infirmities! Think of the intellect being made the slave
of the liver! We are but dust. "The future of this unfortunate land...."

CAROLINA. No, that doesn't amount to anything. Lower down, lower down.
Go on.

FLORENCIO. "Life is sad!"

CAROLINA. Are you beginning all over again?

FLORENCIO. No, he repeats himself. What is this? "I never loved but once
in my life; I never loved but one woman--my wife." He means you.

CAROLINA. Yes. Go on, go on.

FLORENCIO. "I never trusted but one friend, my friend Florencio." He
means me.

CAROLINA. Yes, yes; he means you. But go on, go on.

FLORENCIO. I wonder what he can be driving at. Ah! What does he say?
That you, that I....

CAROLINA. Go on, go on.

FLORENCIO. "This woman and this man, the two greatest, the two pure, the
two unselfish passions of my life, in whom my very being was
consumed--how can I bring myself to confess it? I hardly dare admit it
to myself! They are in love--they love each other madly--in
secret--perhaps without even suspecting themselves."

CAROLINA. What do you think of that?

FLORENCIO. Suspecting themselves.... "They are struggling to overcome
their guilty passion, but how long will they continue to struggle? Yet I
am sorry for them both. What ought I to do? I cannot sleep."

CAROLINA. What do you say?

FLORENCIO. Impossible! He never wrote such letters. Besides, if he did,
they ought never to have been published.

CAROLINA. But true or false, they have been published, and here they
are. Ah! But this is nothing! You ought to see what he says farther on.
He goes on communicating his observations, and there are some, to be
perfectly frank, which nobody could have made but himself.

FLORENCIO. You don't mean to tell me that you think these letters are
genuine?

CAROLINA. They might be for all we know. He gives dates and details.

FLORENCIO. And all the time we thought he suspected nothing!

CAROLINA. You do jump so at conclusions, Florencio. How could he
suspect? You know how careful we were about everything, no matter what
happened, so as not to hurt his feelings.

FLORENCIO. This only goes to show all the good that it did us.

CAROLINA. He could only suspect--that it was the truth; that we were
loving in silence.

FLORENCIO. Then perhaps you can explain to me what was the use of all
this silence? Don't you see that what he has done now is to go and blurt
the whole thing out to this rascal Casalonga?--an unscrupulous knave
whose only interest in the matter is to turn these confidences to his
own advantage! It is useless to attempt to defend it. Such foolishness
was unpardonable. I should never have believed it of my friend. If he
had any doubts about me--about us--why didn't he say so? Then we could
have been more careful, and have done something to ease his mind. But
this notion of running and telling the first person who happens
along.... What a position does it leave me in? In what light do we
appear at this time? Now, when everybody is paying respect to his
memory, and I have put myself to all this trouble in order to raise
money for this monument--what are people going to think when they read
these things?

CAROLINA. I always said that we would have trouble with that monument.

FLORENCIO. How shall I have the face to present myself to-morrow before
the monument?

CAROLINA. My sisters-in-law were right. We are going to be conspicuous.

FLORENCIO. Ah! But this must be stopped. I shall run at once to the
offices of the papers, to the judicial authorities, to the governor, to
all the booksellers. As for this Casalonga--Ah! I will settle with him!
Either he will retract and confess that these letters are forgeries from
beginning to end, or I will kill him! I will fight with him in earnest!

CAROLINA. Florencio! Don't forget yourself! You are going too far. You
don't mean a duel? To expose your life?

FLORENCIO. Don't you see that it is impossible to submit to such an
indignity? Where is this thing going to stop? Is nobody's private life
to be secure? And this goes deeper than the private life--it impugns the
sanctity of our intentions.

CAROLINA. No, Florencio!

FLORENCIO. Let me go!

CAROLINA. Florencio! Anything but a duel! No, no!

FLORENCIO. Ah! Either he will retract and withdraw the edition of this
libel or, should he refuse....

CAROLINA. Zurita!

FLORENCIO. My friend.... You are just in time!

    [_Zurita enters._]

ZURITA. Don Florencio.... Carolina.... Don't say a word! I know how you
feel.

FLORENCIO. Did you see it? Did you hear it? Is this a civilized country
in which we live?

CAROLINA. But surely he has not heard it already?

ZURITA. Yes, at the Club. Some one had the book; they were passing it
around....

FLORENCIO. At the Club?

ZURITA. Don't be alarmed. Everybody thinks it is blackmail--a case of
_chantage_. Don Patricio could never have written such letters.

FLORENCIO. Ah! So they think that?

ZURITA. Even if he had, they deal with private matters, which ought
never to have been made public.

FLORENCIO. Exactly my idea--with private matters; they are confidential.

ZURITA. I lost no time, as you may be sure, of hurrying to Valdivieso's
shop, where the books are on sale. I found him amazed; he was entirely
innocent. He bought the copies supposing that the subject was of timely
importance; that it was of a serious nature. He hurried at once to
withdraw the copies from the window, and ran in search of the author.

FLORENCIO. Of the author? Is the author in town?

ZURITA. Yes, he came with the books; he arrived with them this morning.

FLORENCIO. Ah! So this scamp Casalonga is here, is he? Tell me where I
can find him!

ZURITA. At the Hotel de Europa.

CAROLINA. Florencio! Don't you go! Hold him back! He means to challenge
him.

ZURITA. Never! It is not worth the trouble. Besides, you ought to hold
yourself above such things. Your wife is above them.

FLORENCIO. But what will people say, friend Zurita? What will people
say?

ZURITA. Everybody thinks it is a huge joke.

FLORENCIO. A joke? Then our position is ridiculous.

ZURITA. I did not say that. What I do say....

FLORENCIO. No, no, friend Zurita; you are a man of honor, you know that
it is necessary for me to kill this man.

CAROLINA. But suppose he is the one who kills you? No, Florencio, not a
duel! What is the use of the courts?

FLORENCIO. No, I prefer to fight. My dear Zurita, run in search of
another friend and stop at the Hotel de Europa as my representatives.
Seek out this man, exact reparation upon the spot--a reparation which
shall be resounding, complete. Either he declares over his own signature
that those letters are impudent forgeries or, should he refuse....

CAROLINA. Florencio!

FLORENCIO. Stop at nothing! Do not haggle over terms. Let it be pistols
with real bullets, as we pace forward each to each!

ZURITA. But, Don Florencio!

CAROLINA. Don't go, I beg of you! Don't leave the house!

FLORENCIO. You are my friend--go at once!

CAROLINA. No, he will never go!

ZURITA. But, Don Florencio! Consider.... The situation is serious.

FLORENCIO. When a man is made ridiculous the situation ceases to be
serious! How shall I have the face to show myself before the monument!
I--his most intimate friend! She, my wife, his widow! And everybody
thinking all the while of those letters, imagining that I, that she....
No, no! Run! Bring me that retraction at once.

ZURITA. Not so fast! I hear the voice of Valdivieso.

FLORENCIO. Eh? And Casalonga's! Has that man the audacity to present
himself in my house?

ZURITA. Be calm! Since he is here, perhaps he comes to explain. Let me
see--

    [_He goes out_.]

CAROLINA. Florencio! Don't you receive him! Don't you have anything to
do with that man!

FLORENCIO. I am in my own house. Never fear! I shall not forget to
conduct myself as a gentleman. Now we shall see how he explains the
matter; we shall see. But you had better retire first. Questions of
honor are not for women.

CAROLINA. You know best; only I think I might remain within earshot. I
am nervous. My dear!--Where are your arms?

FLORENCIO. What do I need of arms?

CAROLINA. Be careful just the same. Keep cool! Think of me.

FLORENCIO. I am in my own house. Have no fear.

CAROLINA. It upsets me dreadfully to see you in such a state.

FLORENCIO. What are you doing now?

CAROLINA. Removing these vases in case you should throw things. I should
hate awfully to lose them; they were a present.

FLORENCIO. Hurry, dear!

CAROLINA. I am horribly nervous. Keep cool, for heavens' sake! Control
yourself.

    [_Carolina goes out. Zurita reënters._]

ZURITA. Are you calmer now?

FLORENCIO. Absolutely. Is that man here?

ZURITA. Yes, Valdivieso brought him. He desires to explain.

FLORENCIO. Who? Valdivieso? Naturally. But that other fellow, that
Casalonga--what does he want?

ZURITA. To have a few words with you; to offer a thousand explanations.

FLORENCIO. No more than one explanation is possible.

ZURITA. Consider a moment. In my opinion it will be wiser to receive
him. He appears to be innocent.

FLORENCIO. Of the first instincts of a gentleman.

ZURITA. Exactly. I did not venture to put it so plainly. He attaches no
importance to the affair whatever.

FLORENCIO. Of course not! It is nothing to him.

ZURITA. Nothing. However, you will find him disposed to go to any
length--retract, make a denial, withdraw the book from circulation. You
had best have a few words with him. But first promise to control
yourself. Shall I ask them to come in?

FLORENCIO. Yes ... yes! Ask them to come in.

ZURITA. Poor Valdivieso is awfully put out. He always had such a high
opinion of you. You are one of the two or three persons in this town who
buy books. It would be a tremendous relief to him if you would only tell
him that you knew he was incapable....

FLORENCIO. Thoroughly! Poor Valdivieso! Ask him to come in; ask them
both to come in.

    [_Zurita retires and returns presently with Valdivieso and
    Casalonga._]

VALDIVIESO. Señor Don Florencio! I hardly know what to say. I am sure
that you will not question my good faith in the matter. I had no
idea ... in fact, I never suspected....

FLORENCIO. I always knew you were innocent! but this person....

CASALONGA. Come, come now! Don't blame it on me. How the devil was I to
know that you were here--and married to his widow! Sport for the gods!

FLORENCIO. Do you hear what he says?

ZURITA. I told you that he appeared to be innocent.

FLORENCIO. And I told you that he was devoid of the first instincts of a
gentleman; although I failed to realize to what an extent. Sir--

CASALONGA. Don't be absurd! Stop making faces at me.

FLORENCIO. In the first place, I don't recall that we were ever so
intimate.

CASALONGA. Of course we were! Of course! Anyhow, what difference does it
make? We were together for a whole season; we were inseparable. Hard
times those for us both! But what did we care? When one of us was out of
money, all he had to do was to ask the other, and be satisfied.

FLORENCIO. Yes; I seem to recall that the other was always I.

CASALONGA. Ha, ha, ha! That might be. Stranger things have happened. But
you are not angry with me, are you? The thing is not worth all this
fuss.

FLORENCIO. Do you hear what he says?

VALDIVIESO. You may be sure that if I had had the slightest idea.... I
bought the books so as to take advantage of the timeliness of the
monument. If I had ever suspected....

CASALONGA. Identically my position--to take advantage of the monument.
Life is hard. While the conservatives are in power, I am reduced to
extremities. I am at my wit's end to earn an honest penny.

FLORENCIO. I admire your colossal impudence. What are you going to do
with a man like this?

ZURITA. Exactly the question that occurred to me. What are you going to
do?

CASALONGA. For a time I was reduced to writing plays--like everybody
else--although mine were better. That was the reason they did not
succeed. Then I married my last landlady; I was obliged to settle with
her somehow. A little difference arose between us, so we agreed to
separate amicably after smashing all the furniture. However, that will
be of no interest to you.

FLORENCIO. No, no, it is of no interest to me.

CASALONGA. A novel, my boy! A veritable work of romance! I wandered all
over the country explaining views for the cinematograph. You know what a
gift I have for talk? Wherever I appeared the picture houses were
crowded--even to the exits. Then my voice gave out. I was obliged to
find some other outlet for my activities. I thought of my friends. You
know what friends are; as soon as a man needs them he hasn't any
friends. Which way was I to turn? I happened to hear that you were
unveiling a monument to the memory of friend Patricio. Poor Patricio!
That man was a friend! He could always be relied upon. It occurred to me
that I might write out a few pages of reminiscences--preferably
something personal--and publish any letters of his which I had chanced
to preserve.

FLORENCIO. What luck!

CASALONGA. Pshaw! Bread and butter--bread and butter, man! A mere
pittance. It occurred to me that they would sell better here than
anywhere else--this is where he lived. So I came this morning third
class--think of that, third class!--and hurried at once to this fellow's
shop. I placed two thousand copies with him, which he took from me at a
horrible discount. You know what these booksellers are....

VALDIVIESO. I call you to witness--what was customary under the
circumstances. He was selling for cash.

CASALONGA. Am I the man to deny it? You can divide mankind into two
classes--knaves and fools.

VALDIVIESO. Listen to this--

CASALONGA. You are not one of the fools.

VALDIVIESO. I protest! How am I to profit by the transaction? Do you
suppose that I shall sell a single copy of this libel now that I know
that it is offensive to my particular, my excellent friend, Don
Florencio, and to his respected wife?

FLORENCIO. Thanks, friend Valdivieso, thanks for that.

VALDIVIESO. I shall burn the edition, although you can imagine what that
will cost.

FLORENCIO. The loss will be mine. It will be at my expense.

CASALONGA. What did I tell you? Florencio will pay. What are you
complaining about?--If I were in your place, though, I'd be hanged if I
would give the man one penny.

VALDIVIESO. What? When you have collected spot cash?

CASALONGA. You don't call that collecting? Not at that discount. The
paper was worth more.

FLORENCIO. The impudence of the thing was worth more than the paper.

CASALONGA. Ha, ha, ha! Really, I cannot find it in my heart to be angry
with you. You are too clever! But what was I to do? I had to find some
outlet for my activities. Are you going to kill me?

FLORENCIO. I have made my arrangements. Do you suppose that I will
submit meekly to such an indignity? If you refuse to fight, I will hale
you before the courts.

CASALONGA. Drop that tragic tone. A duel? Between us? Over what? Because
the wife of a friend--who at the same time happens to be your wife--has
been intimate with you? Suppose it had been with some one else!

FLORENCIO. The supposition is improper.

CASALONGA. You are the first man I ever heard of who was offended
because it was said that he had been intimate with his wife. The thing
is preposterous. How are we ever going to fight over it?

ZURITA. I can see his point of view.

FLORENCIO. Patricio could never have written those letters, much less to
you.

CASALONGA. Talk as much as you like, the letters are genuine. Although
it may have been foolish of Patricio to have written them--that is a
debatable question. I published them so as to enliven the book. A little
harmless suggestion--people look for it; it adds spice. Aside from that,
what motive could I have had for dragging you into it?

FLORENCIO. I admire your frankness at least.

ZURITA. What do you propose to do with this man?

FLORENCIO. What do you propose?

CASALONGA. You know I was always fond of you. You are a man of ability.

FLORENCIO. Thanks.

CASALONGA. You have more ability than Patricio had. He was a worthy
soul, no doubt, but between us, who were in the secret, an utter
blockhead.

FLORENCIO. Hardly that.

CASALONGA. I need not tell you what reputations amount to in this
country. If he had had your brains, your transcendent ability....

FLORENCIO. How can I stop this man from talking?

CASALONGA. You have always been too modest in my opinion; you have
remained in the background in order to give him a chance to shine, to
attract attention. Everybody knows that his best speeches were written
by you.

FLORENCE. You have no right to betray my confidence.

CASALONGA. Yes, gentlemen, it is only just that you should know. The
real brains belonged to this man, he is the one who should have had the
statue. As a friend he is wonderful, unique!

FLORENCIO. How am I going to fight with this man?

CASALONGA. I will give out a statement at once--for public
consumption--declaring that the letters are forgeries--or whatever you
think best; as it appeals to you. Fix it up for yourself. It is of no
consequence anyhow. I am above this sort of thing. I should be sorry,
however, to see this fellow receive more than his due, which is two
_reals_ a copy, or what he paid me.

VALDIVIESO. I cannot permit you to meddle in my affairs. You are a rogue
and a cheat.

CASALONGA. A rogue and a cheat? In that case you are the one I will
fight with. You are no friend of mine. You are an exploiter of other
men's brains.

VALDIVIESO. You are willing to fight with me, are you--a respectable
man, the father of a family? After swindling me out of my money!

CASALONGA. Swindling? That is no language to use in this house.

VALDIVIESO. I use it where I like.

FLORENCIO. Gentlemen, gentlemen! This is my house, this is the house of
my wife!

ZURITA. Valdivieso!

CASALONGA [_to Florencio_]. I choose you for my second. And you too, my
friend--what is your name?

VALDIVIESO. But will you listen to him? Do you suppose that I will fight
with this rascal, with the first knave who happens along? I, the father
of a family?

CASALONGA. I cannot accept your explanation. My friends will confer with
yours and apprise us as to the details. Have everything ready for this
afternoon.

VALDIVIESO. Do you stand here and sanction this nonsense? You cannot
believe one word that he says. No doubt it would be convenient for you
to retire and use me as a Turk's head to receive all the blows, when you
are the one who ought to fight!

FLORENCIO. Friend Valdivieso, I cannot permit reflections upon my
conduct from you. After all, you need not have purchased the book, which
you did for money, knowing that it was improper, since it contained
matter which was offensive to me.

VALDIVIESO. Are you speaking in earnest?

FLORENCIO. I was never more in earnest in my life.

CASALONGA. Yes, sir, and it is high time for us all to realize that it
is in earnest. It was all your fault. Nobody buys without spending the
wares. It was your business to have pointed out to me the indiscretion I
was about to commit. [_To Florencio._] I am perfectly willing to
withdraw if you wish to fight him, to yield my place as the aggrieved
party to you. I should be delighted to act as one of your seconds, with
our good friend here--what is your name?

ZURITA. Zurita.

CASALONGA. My good friend Zurita.

VALDIVIESO. Am I losing my mind? This is a trap which you have set for
me, a despicable trap!

FLORENCIO. Friend Valdivieso, I cannot tolerate these reflections. I am
incapable of setting a trap.

ZURITA. Ah! And so am I! When you entered this house you were familiar
with its reputation.

CASALONGA. You have forgotten with whom you are speaking.

VALDIVIESO. Nonsense! This is too much. I wash my hands of the whole
business. Is this the spirit in which my advances are received? What I
will do now is sell the book--and if I can't sell it, I will give it
away! Everybody can read it then--and they can talk as much as they want
to. This is the end! I am through.

FLORENCIO. Wait? What was that? I warn you not to sell so much as one
copy?

ZURITA. I should be sorry if you did. Take care not to drag me into it.

CASALONGA. Nor me either.

VALDIVIESO. Enough! Do as you see fit--and I shall do the same. This is
the end--the absolute end! It is the finish!

    [_Rushes out._]

FLORENCIO. Stop him!

CASALONGA. It won't be necessary. I shall go to the shop and take back
the edition. Whatever you intended to pay him you can hand directly to
me. I am your friend; besides I need the money. This man shall not get
the best of me. Oh! By the way, what are you doing to-night? Have dinner
with me. I shall expect you at the hotel. Don't forget! If you don't
show up, I may drop in myself and have dinner with you.

FLORENCIO. No! What would my wife say? She has trouble enough.

CASALONGA. Nonsense! She knows me, and we should have a good laugh. Is
she as charming, as good-looking, as striking as ever? I am keen for
her. I don't need to ask whether she is happy. Poor Patricio was a
character! What a sight he was! What a figure! And age doubled him for
good measure. I'll look in on you later. It has been a rare pleasure
this time. There are few friends like you. Come, shake hands! I am
touched; you know how it is. See you later! If I don't come back, I have
killed my man and am in jail for it. Tell your wife. If I can help out
in any way.... Good-by, my friend--ah, yes! Zurita. I have a terrible
head to-day. See you later!

    [_Goes out._]

FLORENCIO. Did you ever see anything equal of it? I never did, and I
knew him of old. But he has made progress.

ZURITA. His assurance is fairly epic.

FLORENCIO. What are you going to do with a man who takes it like this?
You cannot kill him in cold blood--

    [_Carolina reënters._]

FLORENCIO. Ah! Carolina! Were you listening? You heard everything.

CAROLINA. Yes, and in spite of it I think he is fascinating.

FLORENCIO. Since Carolina feels that way it simplifies the situation.

ZURITA. Why not? She heard the compliments. The man is irresistible.

FLORENCIO. Carolina, it comes simply to this: nobody attaches any
importance to the matter. Only two or three copies have been sold.

CAROLINA. Yes, but one of them was to my sisters-in-law, which is the
same as if they had sold forty thousand. They will tell everybody.

FLORENCIO. They were doing it anyhow; there is no further cause for
worry.

CAROLINA. At all events, I shall not attend the unveiling to-morrow, and
you ought not to go either.

FLORENCIO. But, wife!

ZURITA. Ah! The unveiling.... I had forgotten to mention it.

CAROLINA. To mention what?

ZURITA. It has been postponed.

FLORENCIO. How?

ZURITA. The committee became nervous at the last moment over the
protests against the nudes. After seeing the photographs many ladies
declined to participate. At last the sculptor was convinced, and he has
consented to withdraw the statue of Truth altogether, and to put a tunic
upon Industry, while Commerce is to have a bathing-suit.

CAROLINA. That will be splendid!

ZURITA. All this, however, will require several days, and by that time
everything will have been forgotten.

    [_Casalonga reënters with the books. He is completely out of
    breath and drops them suddenly upon the floor, where they raise a
    tremendous cloud of dust._]

CAROLINA. _Ay!_

CASALONGA. I had you scared! At your service.... Here is the entire
edition. I returned him his thousand pesetas--I declined to make it
another penny. I told you that would be all that was necessary. I am a
man of my word. Now it is up to you. No more could be asked! I am your
friend and have said enough. I shall have to find some other outlet for
my activities. That will be all for to-day.

FLORENCIO. I will give you two thousand pesetas. But beware of a second
edition!

CASALONGA. Don't begin to worry so soon. With this money I shall have
enough to be decent at least--at least for two months. You know me,
señora. I am Florencio's most intimate friend, as I was Patricio's most
intimate friend, which is to say one of the most intimate friends you
ever had.

CAROLINA. Yes, I remember.

CASALONGA. But I have changed since that time.

FLORENCIO. Not a bit of it! He is just the same.

CASALONGA. Yes, the change is in you. You are the same, only you have
improved. [_To Carolina._] I am amazed at the opulence of your beauty,
which a fortunate marriage has greatly enhanced. Have you any children?

CAROLINA. No....

CASALONGA. You are going to have some.

FLORENCIO. Flatterer!

CASALONGA. But I must leave before night: there is nothing for me to do
here.

FLORENCIO. No, you have attended to everything. I shall send it after
you to the hotel.

CASALONGA. Add a little while you are about it to cover expenses--by way
of a finishing touch.

FLORENCIO. Oh, very well!

CASALONGA. That will be all. Señora, if I can be of service.... My good
Zurita! Friend Florencio! Before I die I hope to see you again.

FLORENCIO. Yes! Unless I die first.

CASALONGA. I know how you feel. You take the worst end for yourself.

FLORENCIO. Allow me that consolation.

CASALONGA. God be with you, my friend. Adios! Rest in peace. How
different are our fates! Life to you is sweet. You have
everything--love, riches, satisfaction. While I--I laugh through my
tears!

    [_Goes out._]

CAROLINA. That cost you money.

FLORENCIO. What else did you expect? I gave up to avoid a scandal upon
your account. I could see that you were nervous. I would have fought if
I could have had my way; I would have carried matters to the last
extreme. Zurita will tell you so.

CAROLINA. I always said that monument would cost us dear.

FLORENCIO. Obviously! Two thousand pesetas now, besides the twenty-five
thousand which I subscribed for the monument, to say nothing of my
uniform as Chief of Staff which I had ordered for the unveiling. Then
there are the banquets to the delegates....

ZURITA. Glory is always more expensive than it is worth.

FLORENCIO. It is not safe to be famous even at second hand.

CAROLINA. But you are not sorry?

FLORENCIO. No, my Carolina, the glory of being your husband far
outweighs in my eyes the disadvantages of being the husband of his
widow.


  [_Curtain._]



A SUNNY MORNING

  A COMEDY

  BY SERAFIN AND JOAQUIN ALVAREZ QUINTERO
  TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH BY LUCRETIA XAVIER FLOYD.


  Copyrighted, 1914, by Lucretia Xavier Floyd under the title of
  "A Morning of Sunshine."

  All rights reserved.


  CHARACTERS

    DOÑA LAURA.
    PETRA [_her maid_].
    DON GONZALO.
    JUANITO [_his servant_].

  TIME: _The Present_.


  Published by special arrangement with Mrs. Lucretia Xavier Floyd
  and Mr. John Garrett Underhill, the Society of Spanish Authors.
  Applications for permission to produce this play must be made to the
  Society of Spanish Authors, Room 62, 20 Nassau Street, New York.



A SUNNY MORNING

A COMEDY BY SERAFIN AND JOAQUIN ALVAREZ QUINTERO


    [_Scene laid in a retired part of a park in Madrid, Spain. A bench
    at right. Bright, sunny morning in autumn. Doña Laura, a handsome
    old lady of about 70, with white hair and of very refined
    appearance, although elderly, her bright eyes and entire manner
    prove her mental facilities are unimpaired. She enters accompanied
    by her maid Petra, upon whose arm she leans with one hand, while
    the other holds a parasol which she uses as a cane._]


DOÑA LAURA. I am so glad we have arrived. I feared my seat would be
occupied. What a beautiful morning!

PETRA. The sun is rather hot.

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, to you who are only 20 years old. [_She sits down on
the bench._] Oh, I feel more tired to-day than usual. [_Noticing Petra,
who seems impatient._] Go, if you wish to chat with your guard.

PETRA. He is not my guard, Señora; he belongs to the park.

DOÑA LAURA. He belongs more to you than to the park. Go seek him, but
remain within calling distance.

PETRA. I see him over there waiting for me.

DOÑA LAURA. Do not remain away more than ten minutes.

PETRA. Very well, Señora. [_Walks toward right, but is detained._]

DOÑA LAURA. Wait a moment.

PETRA. What does the Señora wish?

DOÑA LAURA. You are carrying away the bread crumbs.

PETRA. Very true. I don't know where my head is.

DOÑA LAURA [_smiling_]. I do. It is where your heart is--with your
guard.

PETRA. Here, Señora. [_She hands Doña Laura a small bag. Exit Petra._]

DOÑA LAURA. Adios. [_Glancing toward trees._] Here come the rogues. They
know just when to expect me. [_She rises, walks toward right, throws
three handfuls of bread crumbs._] These are for the most daring, these
for the gluttons, and these for the little ones which are the biggest
rogues. Ha, ha. [_She returns to her seat and watches with a pleased
expression, the pigeons feeding._] There, that big one is always the
first. That little fellow is the least timid. I believe he would eat
from my hand. That one takes his piece and flies to that branch. He is a
philosopher. But from where do they all come? It seems as if the news
had been carried. Ha, ha. Don't quarrel. There is enough for all.
To-morrow I'll bring more.

    [_Enter Don Gonzalo and Juanito. Don Gonzalo is an old gentleman
    over 70, gouty and impatient. He leans upon Juanito's arm and
    drags his feet along as he walks. He displays ill temper._]

DON GONZALO. Idling their time away. They should be saying Mass.

JUANITO. You can sit here, Señor. There is only a lady.

    [_Doña Laura turns her head and listens to the dialogue._]

DON GONZALO. I won't, Juanito. I want a bench to myself.

JUANITO. But there is none.

DON GONZALO. But that one over there is mine.

JUANITO. But there are three priests sitting there.

DON GONZALO. Let them get up. Have they gone, Juanito?

JUANITO. No, indeed. They are in animated conversation.

DON GONZALO. Just as if they were glued to the seat. No hope of their
leaving. Come this way, Juanito. [_They walk toward birds._]

DOÑA LAURA [_indignantly_]. Look out!

DON GONZALO [_turning his head_]. Are you talking to me, Señora?

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, to you.

DON GONZALO. What do you wish?

DOÑA LAURA. You have scared away the birds who were feeding on bread
crumbs.

DON GONZALO. What do I care about the birds.

DOÑA LAURA. But I do.

DON GONZALO. This is a public park.

DOÑA LAURA. Then why do you complain that the priests have taken your
bench?

DON GONZALO. Señora, we have not been introduced to each other. I do not
know why you take the liberty of addressing me. Come, Juanito. [_Both
exit._]

DOÑA LAURA. What an ill-natured old man. Why must some people get so
fussy and cross when they reach a certain age? I am glad. He lost that
bench, too. Serves him right for scaring the birds. He is furious. Yes,
yes; find a seat if you can. Poor fellow! He is wiping the perspiration
from his face. Here he comes. A carriage would not raise more dust than
he does with his feet.

    [_Enter Don Gonzalo and Juanito._]

DON GONZALO. Have the priests gone yet, Juanito?

JUANITO. No, indeed, Señor. They are still there.

DON GONZALO. The authorities should place more benches here for these
sunny mornings. Well, I suppose I must resign myself and sit on the same
bench with the old lady. [_Muttering to himself, he sits at the extreme
end of Doña Laura's bench and looks at her indignantly. Touches his hat
as he greets her._] Good morning.

DOÑA LAURA. What, you here again?

DON GONZALO. I repeat that we have not been introduced.

DOÑA LAURA. I am responding to your greeting.

DON GONZALO. Good morning should be answered by good morning, and that
is what you should have said.

DOÑA LAURA. And you should have asked permission to sit on this bench
which is mine.

DON GONZALO. The benches here are public property.

DOÑA LAURA. Why, you said the one the priests occupied was yours.

DON GONZALO. Very well, very well. I have nothing more to say. [_Between
his teeth_.] Doting old woman. She should be at home with her knitting
and counting her beads.

DOÑA LAURA. Don't grumble any more. I'm not going to leave here just to
please you.

DON GONZALO [_brushing the dust from his shoes with his handkerchief_].
If the grounds were sprinkled more freely it would be an improvement.

DOÑA LAURA. What an idea, to brush your shoes with your handkerchief.

DON GONZALO. What?

DOÑA LAURA. Do you use a shoe brush as a handkerchief?

DON GONZALO. By what right do you criticize my actions?

DOÑA LAURA. By the rights of a neighbor.

DON GONZALO. Juanito, give me my book. I do not care to hear any more
nonsense.

DOÑA LAURA. You are very polite.

DON GONZALO. Pardon me, Señora, but if you did not interfere with what
does not concern you.

DOÑA LAURA. I generally say what I think.

DON GONZALO. And say more than you should. Give me the book, Juanito.

JUANITO. Here it is, Señor. [_Juanito takes book from pocket, hands it
to Don Gonzalo; then exits._]

    [_Don Gonzalo, casting indignant glances at Doña Laura, puts on an
    enormous pair of glasses, takes from his pocket a reading-glass,
    adjusts both to suit him, opens his book._]

DOÑA LAURA. I thought you were going to take out a telescope now.

DON GONZALO. What, again?

DOÑA LAURA. Your sight must be fine.

DON GONZALO. Many times better than yours.

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, it is very evident.

DON GONZALO. Many hares and partridges could bear testimony to my words.

DOÑA LAURA. Do you hunt?

DON GONZALO. I did, and even now--

DOÑA LAURA. Oh, yes, of course.

DON GONZALO. Yes, Señora. Every Sunday I take my gun and dog, you
understand, and go to one of my properties near Aravaca, just to kill
time.

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, to kill time. That is all you can kill.

DON GONZALO. Do you think so? I could show you a wild boar's head in my
study--

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, and I could show you a tiger's skin in my boudoir. What
an argument!

DON GONZALO. Very well, Señora, please allow me to read. I do not feel
like having more conversation.

DOÑA LAURA. Well, keep quiet then.

DON GONZALO. But first I shall take a pinch of snuff. [_Takes out snuff
box._] Will you have some? [_Offers box to Doña Laura._]

DOÑA LAURA. If it is good?

DON GONZALO. It is of the finest. You will like it.

DOÑA LAURA [_taking pinch of snuff_]. It clears my head.

DON GONZALO. And mine.

DOÑA LAURA. Do you sneeze?

DON GONZALO. Yes, Señora, three times.

DOÑA LAURA. And so do I. What a coincidence!

    [_After taking the snuff, they await the sneezes, making grimaces,
    and then sneeze alternately three times each._]

DON GONZALO. There, I feel better.

DOÑA LAURA. So do I. [_Aside._] The snuff has made peace between us.

DON GONZALO. You will excuse me if I read aloud?

DOÑA LAURA. Read as you please; you will not disturb me.

DON GONZALO [_reading_]. "All love is sad, but sad and all, it is the
best thing that exists." That is from Campoamor.

DOÑA LAURA. Ah!

DON GONZALO [_reading_]. "The daughters of the mothers I once loved,
kiss me now as they would kiss a wooden image." Those lines are in the
humorous vein.

DOÑA LAURA [_laughing_]. So I see.

DON GONZALO. There are some beautiful poems in this book. Listen:
"Twenty years have passed. He returns."

DOÑA LAURA. You cannot imagine how it affects me to see you reading with
all those glasses.

DON GONZALO. Can it be possible that you read without requiring any?

DOÑA LAURA. Certainly.

DON GONZALO. At your age? You must be jesting.

DOÑA LAURA. Pass me the book, please. [_takes book, reads aloud._]
"Twenty years have passed. He returns. And each upon beholding the other
exclaims--Can it be possible that this is he? Merciful heavens, can this
be she?"

    [_Doña Laura returns book to Don Gonzalo._]

DON GONZALO. Indeed, you are to be envied for your wonderful eyesight.

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. I knew the lines from memory.

DON GONZALO. I am very fond of good verse, very fond. I even composed
some in my youth.

DOÑA LAURA. Good ones?

DON GONZALO. Of all kinds. I was a great friend of Espronceda, Zorrilla,
Becquer and others. I first met Zorrilla in America.

DOÑA LAURA. Why, have you been in America?

DON GONZALO. Several times. The first time I went I was only six years
old.

DOÑA LAURA. Columbus must have carried you in one of his caravels.

DON GONZALO [_laughing_]. Not quite as bad as that. I am old, I admit,
but I did not know Ferdinand and Isabella. [_They both laugh._] I was
also a great friend of Campoamor. I met him in Valencia. I am a native
of that city.

DOÑA LAURA. You are?

DON GONZALO. I was brought up there and there I spent my early youth.
Have you ever visited that city?

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, Señor. Not far from Valencia there was a mansion that
if still there, should retain memories of me. I spent there several
seasons. This was many, many years ago. It was near the sea, concealed
among lemon and orange trees. They called it--let me see, what did they
call it?--"Maricela."

DON GONZALO [_startled_]. Maricela?

DOÑA LAURA. Maricela. Is the name familiar to you?

DON GONZALO. Yes, very familiar. If my memory serves me right, for we
forget as we grow old, there lived in that mansion the most beautiful
woman I have ever seen, and I assure you I have seen a few. Let me
see--what was her name? Laura--Laura--Laura Lorente.

DOÑA LAURA [_startled_]. Laura Lorente?

DON GONZALO. Yes. [_They look at each other strangely._]

DOÑA LAURA [_recovering herself_]. Nothing. You reminded me of my best
friend.

DON GONZALO. How strange!

DOÑA LAURA. It is strange. She was called "The Silver Maiden."

DON GONZALO. Precisely, "The Silver Maiden." By that name she was known
in that locality. I seem to see her as if she were before me now, at
that window of the red roses. Do you remember that window?

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, I remember. It was that of her room.

DON GONZALO. She spent many hours there. I mean in my days.

DOÑA LAURA [_sighing_]. And in mine, too.

DON GONZALO. She was ideal. Fair as a lily, jet black hair and black
eyes, with a very sweet expression. She seemed to cast a radiance
wherever she was. Her figure was beautiful, perfect. "What forms of
sovereign beauty God models in human sculpture!" She was a dream.

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. If you but knew that dream was now by your side,
you would realize what dreams are worth. [_Aloud_.] She was very
unfortunate and had a sad love affair.

DON GONZALO. Very sad. [_They look at each other._]

DOÑA LAURA. You know of it?

DON GONZALO. Yes.

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. Strange are the ways of Providence! This man is my
early lover.

DON GONZALO. The gallant lover, if we refer to the same affair--

DOÑA LAURA. To the duel?

DON GONZALO. Precisely, to the duel. The gallant lover was--my cousin,
of whom I was very fond.

DOÑA LAURA. Oh, yes, a cousin. My friend told me in one of her letters
the story of that love affair, truly romantic. He, your cousin, passed
by on horseback every morning by the rose path under her window, and
tossed up to her balcony a bouquet of flowers which she caught.

DON GONZALO. And later in the afternoon, the gallant horseman would
return by the same path, and catch the bouquet of flowers she would toss
him. Was it not so?

DOÑA LAURA. Yes. They wanted to marry her to a merchant whom she did not
fancy.

DON GONZALO. And one night, when my cousin watched under her window to
hear her sing, this new lover presented himself unexpectedly.

DOÑA LAURA. And insulted your cousin.

DON GONZALO. There was a quarrel.

DOÑA LAURA. And later a duel.

DON GONZALO. Yes, at sunrise, on the beach, and the merchant was badly
wounded. My cousin had to conceal himself for a few days and later to
fly.

DOÑA LAURA. You seem to know the story perfectly.

DON GONZALO. And so do you.

DOÑA LAURA. I have told you that my friend related it to me.

DON GONZALO. And my cousin to me. [_Aside._] This woman is Laura. What a
strange fate has brought us together again.

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. He does not suspect who I am. Why tell him? Let
him preserve his illusion.

DON GONZALO [_aside_]. She does not suspect she is talking to her old
lover. How can she? I will not reveal my identity.

DOÑA LAURA. And was it you, by chance, who advised your cousin to forget
Laura?

DON GONZALO. Why, my cousin never forgot her for one instant.

DOÑA LAURA. How do you account, then, for his conduct?

DON GONZALO. I will explain. The young man first took refuge in my
house, fearful of the consequences of his duel with that man, so much
beloved in that locality. From my home he went to Seville, then came to
Madrid. He wrote to Laura many letters, some in verse. But, undoubtedly,
they were intercepted by her parents, for she never answered them.
Gonzalo then, in despair, and believing his loved one lost to him
forever, joined the army, went to Africa, and there, in a trench, met a
glorious death, grasping the flag of Spain and repeating the name of his
beloved--Laura--Laura--Laura.

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. What an atrocious lie!

DON GONZALO [_aside_]. I could not have killed myself in a more glorious
manner.

DOÑA LAURA. Such a calamity must have caused you the greatest sorrow.

DON GONZALO. Yes, indeed, Señora. As great as if it were a brother. I
presume though, that on the contrary, Laura in a short time was chasing
butterflies in her garden, indifferent to everything.

DOÑA LAURA. No, Señor, no indeed.

DON GONZALO. It is usually a woman's way.

DOÑA LAURA. Even if you consider it a woman's way, the "Silver Maiden"
was not of that disposition. My friend awaited news for days, months, a
year, and no letter came. One afternoon, just at sunset, and as the
first stars were appearing, she was seen to leave the house, and with
quick steps, wend her way toward the beach, that beach where her beloved
had risked his life. She wrote his name on the sand, then sat upon a
rock, her gaze fixed upon the horizon. The waves murmured their eternal
monologue and slowly covered the rock where the maiden sat. Shall I tell
you the rest?--The tide rose and carried her off to sea.

DON GONZALO. Good heavens!

DOÑA LAURA. The fishermen of that sea-coast who tell the story, affirm
that it was a long time before the waves washed away that name written
on the sand. [_Aside._] You will not get ahead of me in inventing a
romantic death.

DON GONZALO [_aside_]. She lies more than I do.

DOÑA LAURA. Poor Laura!

DON GONZALO. Poor Gonzalo!

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. I will not tell him that in two years I married
another.

DON GONZALO [_aside_]. I will not tell her that in three months I went
to Paris with a ballet dancer.

DOÑA LAURA. What strange pranks Fate plays! Here you and I, complete
strangers, met by chance, and in discussing the romance of friends of
long ago, we have been conversing as we were old friends.

DON GONZALO. Yes, it is strange, considering we commenced our
conversation quarreling.

DOÑA LAURA. Because you scared away the birds.

DON GONZALO. I was in a bad temper.

DOÑA LAURA. Yes, that was evident. [_Sweetly._] Are you coming
to-morrow?

DON GONZALO. Most certainly, if it is a sunny morning. And not only will
I not scare away the birds, but will also bring them bread crumbs.

DOÑA LAURA. Thank you very much. They are very interesting and deserve
to be noticed. I wonder where my maid is? [_Doña Laura rises; Don
Gonzalo also rises._] What time can it be? [_Doña Laura walks toward
left._]

DON GONZALO. It is nearly twelve o'clock. Where can that scamp Juanito
be? [_Walks toward right._]

DOÑA LAURA. There she is talking with her guard. [_Signals with her hand
for her maid to approach._]

DON GONZALO [_looking at Laura, whose back is turned. Aside_]. No, no, I
will not reveal my identity. I am a grotesque figure now. Better that
she recall the gallant horseman who passed daily under her window and
tossed her flowers.

DOÑA LAURA. How reluctant she is to leave him. Here she comes.

DON GONZALO. But where can Juanito be? He has probably forgotten
everything in the society of some nursemaid. [_Looks toward right and
signals with his hand._]

DOÑA LAURA [_looking at Gonzalo, whose back is turned. Aside_]. No, I
will not tell him I am Laura. I am too sadly altered. It is better he
should remember me as the blackeyed girl who tossed him flowers as he
passed through the rose path in that garden.

    [_Juanito enters by right: Petra by left. She has a bunch of
    violets in her hand._]

DOÑA LAURA. Well, Petra, I thought you were never coming.

DON GONZALO. But, Juanito, what delayed you so? It is very late.

PETRA [_handing violets to Doña Laura_]. My lover gave me these violets
for you, Señora.

DOÑA LAURA. How very nice of him. Thank him for me. They are very
fragrant. [_As she takes the violets from her maid, a few loose ones
drop to the ground._]

DON GONZALO. My dear Señora, this has been a great honor and pleasure.

DOÑA LAURA. And it has also been a pleasure to me.

DON GONZALO. Good-by until to-morrow.

DOÑA LAURA. Until to-morrow.

DON GONZALO. If it is a sunny day.

DOÑA LAURA. If it is a sunny day. Will you go to your bench?

DON GONZALO. No, Señora, I will come to this, if you do not object?

DOÑA LAURA. This bench is at your disposal. [_Both laugh._]

DON GONZALO. And I will surely bring the bread crumbs. [_Both laugh
again._]

DOÑA LAURA. Until to-morrow.

DON GONZALO. Until to-morrow.

    [_Laura walks away on her maid's arm toward right. Gonzalo, before
    leaving with Juanito, trembling and with a great effort, stoops to
    pick up the violets Laura dropped. Just then, Laura turns her head
    and sees him pick up flowers._]

JUANITO. What are you doing, Señor?

DON GONZALO. Wait, Juanito, wait.

DOÑA LAURA [_aside_]. There is no doubt. It is he.

DON GONZALO [_walks toward left. Aside_]. There can be no mistake. It is
she.

    [_Doña Laura and Don Gonzalo wave farewells to each other from a
    distance._]

DOÑA LAURA. Merciful heavens! This is Gonzalo.

DON GONZALO. And to think that this is Laura.

    [_Before disappearing they give one last smiling look at each
    other._]


  [_Curtain._]



THE CREDITOR

  A PLAY

  BY AUGUST STRINDBERG


  PERSONS

    THELKA.
    ADOLF [_her husband, a painter_].
    GUSTAV [_her divorced husband_].
    TWO LADIES, A WAITER.



THE CREDITOR

A PLAY BY AUGUST STRINDBERG


    [SCENE: _A small watering-place. Time, the present. Stage
    directions with reference to the actors._

    _A drawing-room in a watering-place; furnished as above._

    _Door in the middle, with a view out on the sea; side doors right
    and left; by the side door on the left the button of an electric
    bell; on the right of the door in the center a table, with a
    decanter of water and a glass. On the left of the door in the
    center a what-not; on the right a fireplace in front; on the right
    a round table and arm-chair; on the left a sofa, a square table, a
    settee; on the table a small pedestal with a draped
    figure--papers, books, arm-chairs. Only the items of furniture
    which are introduced into the action are referred to in the above
    plan. The rest of the scenery remains unaffected. It is summer,
    and the day-time._]


SCENE I.

    [_Adolf sits on the settee on the left of the square table; his
    stick is propped up near him._]

ADOLF. And it's you I've got to thank for all this.

GUSTAV [_walks up and down on the right, smoking a cigar_]. Oh,
nonsense.

ADOLF. Indeed, I have. Why, the first day after my wife went away, I lay
on my sofa like a cripple and gave myself up to my depression; it was as
though she had taken my crutches, and I couldn't move from the spot. A
few days went by, and I cheered up and began to pull myself together.
The delirious nightmares which my brain had produced, went away. My head
became cooler and cooler. A thought which I once had came to the surface
again. My desire to work, my impulse to create, woke up. My eye got back
again its capacity for sound sharp observation. You came, old man.

GUSTAV. Yes, you were in pretty low water, old man, when I came across
you, and you went about on crutches. Of course, that doesn't prove that
it was simply my presence that helped so much to your recovery: you
needed quiet, and you wanted masculine companionship.

ADOLF. You're right in that, as you are in everything else you say. I
used to have it in the old days. But after my marriage it seemed
unnecessary. I was satisfied with the friend of my heart whom I had
chosen. All the same I soon got into fresh sets, and made many new
acquaintances. But then my wife got jealous. She wanted to have me quite
to herself; but much worse than that, my friends wanted to have her
quite to themselves--and so I was left out in the cold with my jealousy.

GUSTAV. You were predisposed to this illness, you know that.

    [_He passes on the left behind the square table and comes to
    Adolf's left._]

ADOLF. I was afraid of losing her--and tried to prevent it. Are you
surprised at it? I was never afraid for a moment that she'd be
unfaithful to me.

GUSTAV. What husband ever was afraid?

ADOLF. Strange, isn't it? All I troubled about was simply this--about
friends getting influence over her and so being able indirectly to
acquire power over me--and I couldn't bear that at all.

GUSTAV. So you and your wife didn't have quite identical views?

ADOLF. I've told you so much, you may as well know everything---my wife
is an independent character. [_Gustav laughs._] What are you laughing
at, old man?

GUSTAV. Go on, go on. She's an independent character, is she?

ADOLF. She won't take anything from me.

GUSTAV. But she does from everybody else?

ADOLF [_after a pause_]. Yes. And I've felt about all this, that the
only reason why my views were so awfully repugnant to her, was because
they were mine, not because they appeared absurd on their intrinsic
merits. For it often happened that she'd trot out my old ideas, and
champion them with gusto as her own. Why, it even came about that one of
my friends gave her ideas which he had borrowed direct from me. She
found them delightful; she found everything delightful that didn't come
from me.

GUSTAV. In other words, you're not truly happy.

ADOLF. Oh yes, I am. The woman whom I desired is mine, and I never
wished for any other.

GUSTAV. Do you never wish to be free either?

ADOLF. I wouldn't like to go quite so far as that. Of course the thought
crops up now and again, how calmly I should be able to live if I were
free--but she scarcely leaves me before I immediately long for her
again, as though she were my arm, my leg. Strange. When I'm alone I
sometimes feel as though she didn't have any real self of her own, as
though she were a part of my ego, a piece out of my inside, that stole
away all my will, all my _joie de vivre_. Why, my very marrow itself, to
use an anatomical expression, is situated in her; that's what it seems
like.

GUSTAV. Viewing the matter broadly, that seems quite plausible.

ADOLF. Nonsense. An independent person like she is, with such a
tremendous lot of personal views, and when I met her, what was I then?
Nothing. An artistic child which she brought up.

GUSTAV. But afterwards you developed her intellect and educated her,
didn't you?

ADOLF. No; her growth remained stationary, and I shot up.

GUSTAV. Yes; it's really remarkable, but her literary talent already
began to deteriorate after her first book, or, to put it as charitably
as possible, it didn't develop any further. [_He sits down opposite
Adolf on the sofa on the left._] Of course she then had the most
promising subject-matter--for of course she drew the portrait of her
first husband--you never knew him, old man? He must have been an
unmitigated ass.

ADOLF. I've never seen him. He was away for more than six months, but
the good fellow must have been as perfect an ass as they're made,
judging by her description--you can take it from me, old man, that her
description wasn't exaggerated.

GUSTAV. Quite; but why did she marry him?

ADOLF. She didn't know him then. People only get to know one another
afterwards, don't you know.

GUSTAV. But, according to that, people have no business to marry
until--Well, the man was a tyrant, obviously.

ADOLF. Obviously?

GUSTAV. What husband wouldn't be? [_Casually._] Why, old chap, you're as
much a tyrant as any of the others.

ADOLF. Me? I? Well, I allow my wife to come and go as she jolly well
pleases!

GUSTAV [_stands up_]. Pah! a lot of good that is. I didn't suppose you
kept her locked up. [_He turns round behind the square table and comes
over to Adolf on the right._] Don't you mind if she's out all night?

ADOLF. I should think I do.

GUSTAV. Look here. [_Resuming his earlier tone._] Speaking as man to
man, it simply makes you ridiculous.

ADOLF. Ridiculous? Can a man's trusting his wife make him ridiculous?

GUSTAV. Of course it can. And you've been so for some time. No doubt
about it.

    [_He walks round the round table on the right._]

ADOLF [_excitedly_]. Me? I'd have preferred to be anything but that. I
must put matters right.

GUSTAV. Don't you get so excited, otherwise you'll get an attack again.

ADOLF [_after a pause_]. Why doesn't she look ridiculous when I stay out
all night?

GUSTAV. Why? Don't you bother about that. That's how the matter stands,
and while you're fooling about moping, the mischief is done.

    [_He goes behind the square table, and walks behind the sofa._]

ADOLF. What mischief?

GUSTAV. Her husband, you know, was a tyrant, and she simply married him
in order to be free. For what other way is there for a girl to get free,
than by getting the so-called husband to act as cover?

ADOLF. Why, of course.

GUSTAV. And now, old man, you're the cover.

ADOLF. I?

GUSTAV. As her husband.

ADOLF [_looks absent_].

GUSTAV. Am I not right?

ADOLF [_uneasily_]. I don't know. [_Pause._] A man lives for years on
end with a woman without coming to a clear conclusion about the woman
herself, or how she stands in relation to his own way of looking at
things. And then all of a sudden a man begins to reflect--and then
there's no stopping. Gustav, old man, you're my friend, the only friend
I've had for a long time, and this last week you've given me back all my
life and pluck. It seems as though you'd radiated your magnetism over
me. You were the watchmaker who repairs the works in my brain, and
tightened the spring. [_Pause._] Don't you see yourself how much more
lucidly I think, how much more connectedly I speak, and at times it
almost seems as though my voice had got back the timbre it used to have
in the old days.

GUSTAV. I think so, too. What can be the cause of it?

ADOLF. I don't know. Perhaps one gets accustomed to talk more softly to
women. Thekla, at any rate, was always ragging me because I shrieked.

GUSTAV. And then you subsided into a minor key, and allowed yourself to
be put in the corner.

ADOLF. Don't say that. [_Reflectively._] That wasn't the worst of it.
Let's talk of something else--where was I then--I've got it. [_Gustav
turns round again at the back of the square table and comes to Adolf on
his right._] You came here, old man, and opened my eyes to the mysteries
of my art. As a matter of fact, I've been feeling for some time that my
interest in painting was lessening, because it didn't provide me with a
proper medium to express what I had in me; but when you gave me the
reason for this state of affairs, and explained to me why painting could
not possibly be the right form for the artistic impulse of the age, then
I saw the true light and I recognized that it would be from now onwards
impossible for me to create in colors.

GUSTAV. Are you so certain, old man, that you won't be able to paint any
more, that you won't have any relapse?

ADOLF. Quite. I have tested myself. When I went to bed the evening after
our conversation I reviewed your chain of argument point by point, and
felt convinced that it was sound. But the next morning, when my head
cleared again, after the night's sleep, the thought flashed through me
like lightning that you might be mistaken all the same. I jumped up, and
snatched up a brush and palette, in order to paint, but--just think of
it!--it was all up. I was no longer capable of any illusion. The whole
thing was nothing but blobs of color, and I was horrified at the
thought. I could never have believed I could convert any one else to the
belief that painted canvas was anything else except painted canvas. The
scales had fallen from my eyes, and I could as much paint again as I
could become a child again.

GUSTAV. You realized then that the real striving of the age, its
aspiration for reality, for actuality, can only find a corresponding
medium in sculpture, which gives bodies extension in the three
dimensions.

ADOLF [_hesitating_]. The three dimensions? Yes--in a word, bodies.

GUSTAV. And now you want to become a sculptor? That means that you were
a sculptor really from the beginning; you got off the line somehow, so
you only needed a guide to direct you back again to the right track. I
say, when you work now, does the great joy of creation come over you?

ADOLF. Now, I live again.

GUSTAV. May I see what you're doing?

ADOLF [_undraping a figure on the small table_]. A female figure.

GUSTAV [_probing_]. Without a model, and yet so lifelike?

ADOLF [_heavily_]. Yes, but it is like somebody; extraordinary how this
woman is in me, just as I am in her.

GUSTAV. That last is not so extraordinary--do you know anything about
transfusion?

ADOLF. Blood transfusion? Yes.

GUSTAV. It seems to me that you've allowed your veins to be opened a bit
too much. The examination of this figure clears up many things which I'd
previously only surmised. You loved her infinitely?

ADOLF. Yes; so much that I could never tell whether she is I, or I am
her; when she laughed I laughed; when she cried I cried, and when--just
imagine it--our child came into the world I suffered the same as she
did.

GUSTAV [_stepping a little to the right_]. Look here, old chap, I am
awfully sorry to have to tell you, but the symptoms of epilepsy are
already manifesting themselves.

ADOLF [_crushed_]. In me? What makes you say so.

GUSTAV. Because I watched these symptoms in a younger brother of mine,
who eventually died of excess.

    [_He sits down in the arm-chair by the circular table._]

ADOLF. How did it manifest itself--that disease, I mean?

    [_Gustav gesticulates vividly; Adolf watches with strained
    attention, and involuntarily imitates Gustav's gestures._]

GUSTAV. A ghastly sight. If you feel at all off color, I'd rather not
harrow you by describing the symptoms.

ADOLF [_nervously_]. Go on; go on.

GUSTAV. Well, it's like this. Fate had given the youngster for a wife a
little innocent, with kiss-curls, dove-like eyes, and a baby face, from
which there spoke the pure soul of an angel. In spite of that, the
little one managed to appropriate the man's prerogative.

ADOLF. What is that?

GUSTAV. Initiative, of course; and the inevitable result was that the
angel came precious near taking him away to heaven. He first had to be
on the cross and feel the nails in his flesh.

ADOLF [_suffocating_]. Tell me, what was it like?

GUSTAV [_slowly_]. There were times when he and I would sit quite
quietly by each other and chat, and then--I'd scarcely been speaking a
few minutes before his face became ashy white, his limbs were paralyzed,
and his thumbs turned in towards the palm of the hand. [_With a
gesture._] Like that! [_Adolf imitates the gesture._] And his eyes were
shot with blood, and he began to chew, do you see, like this. [_He moves
his lips as though chewing; Adolf imitates him again._] The saliva stuck
in his throat; the chest contracted as though it had been compressed by
screws on a joiner's bench; there was a flicker in the pupils like gas
jets; foam spurted from his mouth, and he sank gently back in the chair
as though he were drowning. Then--

ADOLF [_hissing_]. Stop!

GUSTAV. Then--are you unwell?

ADOLF. Yes.

GUSTAV [_gets up and fetches a glass of water from the table on the
right near the center door_]. Here, drink this, and let's change the
subject.

ADOLF [_drinks, limp_]. Thanks; go on.

GUSTAV. Good! When he woke up he had no idea what had taken place. [_He
takes the glass back to the table._] He had simply lost consciousness.
Hasn't that ever happened to you?

ADOLF. Now and again I have attacks of dizziness. The doctor puts it
down to anæmia.

GUSTAV [_on the right of Adolf_]. That's just how the thing starts, mark
you. Take it from me, you're in danger of contracting epilepsy; if you
aren't on your guard, if you don't live a careful and abstemious life,
all round.

ADOLF. What can I do to effect that?

GUSTAV. Above all, you must exercise the most complete continence.

ADOLF. For how long?

GUSTAV. Six months at least.

ADOLF. I can't do it. It would upset all our life together.

GUSTAV. Then it's all up with you.

ADOLF. I can't do it.

GUSTAV. You can't save your own life? But tell me, as you've taken me
into your confidence so far, haven't you any other wound that hurts
you?--some other secret trouble in this multifarious life of ours, with
all its numerous opportunities for jars and complications? There is
usually more than one _motif_ which is responsible for a discord.
Haven't you got a skeleton in the cupboard, old chap, which you hide
even from yourself? You told me a minute ago you'd given your child to
people to look after. Why didn't you keep it with you?

    [_He goes behind the square table on the left and then behind the
    sofa._]

ADOLF [_covers the figure on the small table with a cloth_]. It was my
wife's wish to have it nursed outside the house.

GUSTAV. The motive? Don't be afraid.

ADOLF. Because when the kid was three years old she thought it began to
look like her first husband.

GUSTAV. Re-a-lly? Ever seen the first husband?

ADOLF. No, never. I just once cast a cursory glance over a bad
photograph, but I couldn't discover any likeness.

GUSTAV. Oh, well, photographs are never like, and besides, his type of
face may have changed with time. By the by, didn't that make you at all
jealous?

ADOLF. Not a bit. The child was born a year after our marriage, and the
husband was traveling when I met Thekla, here--in this
watering-place--in this very house. That's why we come here every
summer.

GUSTAV. Then all suspicion on your part was out of the question? But so
far as the intrinsic facts of the matter are concerned you needn't be
jealous at all, because it not infrequently happens that the children of
a widow who marries again are like the deceased husband. Very awkward
business, no question about it; and that's why, don't you know, the
widows are burned alive in India. Tell me, now, didn't you ever feel
jealous of him, of the survival of his memory in your own self? Wouldn't
it have rather gone against the grain if he had just met you when you
were out for a walk, and, looking straight at Thekla, said "We," instead
of "I"? "We."

ADOLF. I can't deny that the thought has haunted me.

GUSTAV [_sits down opposite Adolf on the sofa on the left_]. I thought
as much, and you'll never get away from it. There are discords in life,
you know, which never get resolved, so you must stuff your ears with
wax, and work. Work, get older, and heap up over the coffin a mass of
new impressions, and then the corpse will rest in peace.

ADOLF. Excuse my interrupting you--but it is extraordinary at times how
your way of speaking reminds me of Thekla. You've got a trick, old man,
of winking with your right eye as though you were counting, and your
gaze has the same power over me as hers has.

GUSTAV. No, really?

ADOLF. And now you pronounce your "No, really?" in the same indifferent
tone that she does. "No, really?" is one of her favorite expressions,
too, you know.

GUSTAV. Perhaps there is a distant relationship between us: all men and
women are related of course. Anyway, there's no getting away from the
strangeness of it, and it will be interesting for me to make the
acquaintance of your wife, so as to observe this remarkable
characteristic.

ADOLF. But just think of this, she doesn't take a single expression from
me; why, she seems rather to make a point of avoiding all my special
tricks of speech; all the same, I have seen her make use of one of my
gestures; but it is quite the usual thing in married life for a husband
and a wife to develop the so-called marriage likeness.

GUSTAV. Quite. But look here now. [_He stands up._] That woman has never
loved you.

ADOLF. Nonsense.

GUSTAV. Pray excuse me, woman's love consists simply in this--in taking
in, in receiving. She does not love the man from whom she takes nothing:
she has never loved you.

    [_He turns round behind the square table and walks to Adolf's
    right._]

ADOLF. I suppose you don't think that she'd be able to love more than
once?

GUSTAV. No. Once bit, twice shy. After the first time, one keeps one's
eyes open, but you have never been really bitten yet. You be careful of
those who have; they're dangerous customers.

    [_He goes round the circular table on the right._]

ADOLF. What you say jabs a knife into my flesh. I've got a feeling as
though something in me were cut through, but I can do nothing to stop
it all by myself, and it's as well it should be so, for abscesses will
be opened in that way which would otherwise never be able to come to a
head. She never loved me? Why did she marry me, then?

GUSTAV. Tell me first how it came about that she did marry you, and
whether she married you or you her?

ADOLF. God knows! That's much too hard a question to be answered
offhand, and how did it take place?--it took more than a day.

GUSTAV. Shall I guess?

    [_He goes behind the round table, toward the left, and sits on the
    sofa._]

ADOLF. You'll get nothing for your pains.

GUSTAV. Not so fast! From the insight which you've given me into your
own character, and that of your wife, I find it pretty easy to work out
the sequence of the whole thing. Listen to me and you'll be quite
convinced. [_Dispassionately and in an almost jocular tone._] The
husband happened to be traveling on study and she was alone. At first
she found a pleasure in being free. Then she imagined that she felt the
void, for I presume that she found it pretty boring after being alone
for a fortnight. Then he turned up, and the void begins gradually to be
filled--the picture of the absent man begins gradually to fade in
comparison, for the simple reason that he is a long way off--you know of
course the psychological algebra of distance? And when both of them,
alone as they were, felt the awakening of passion, they were frightened
of themselves, of him, of their own conscience. They sought for
protection, skulked behind the fig-leaf, played at brother and sister,
and the more sensual grew their feelings the more spiritual did they
pretend their relationship really was.

ADOLF. Brother and sister! How did you know that?

GUSTAV. I just thought that was how it was. Children play at mother and
father, but of course when they grow older they play at brother and
sister--so as to conceal what requires concealment; they then discard
their chaste desires; they play blind man's bluff till they've caught
each other in some dark corner, where they're pretty sure not to be seen
by anybody. [_With increased severity._] But they are warned by their
inner consciences that an eye sees them through the darkness. They are
afraid--and in their panic the absent man begins to haunt their
imagination--to assume monstrous proportions--to become
metamorphosed--he becomes a nightmare who oppresses them in that love's
young dream of theirs. He becomes the creditor [_he raps slowly on the
table three times with his finger, as though knocking at the door_] who
knocks at the door. They see his black hand thrust itself between them
when their own are reaching after the dish of pottage. They hear his
unwelcome voice in the stillness of the night, which is only broken by
the beating of their own pulses. He doesn't prevent their belonging to
each other, but he is enough to mar their happiness, and when they have
felt this invisible power of his, and when at last they want to run
away, and make their futile efforts to escape the memory which haunts
them, the guilt which they have left behind, the public opinion which
they are afraid of, and they lack the strength to bear their own guilt,
then a scapegoat has to be exterminated and slaughtered. They posed as
believers in Free Love, but they didn't have the pluck to go straight to
him, to speak straight out to him and say, "We love each other." They
were cowardly, and that's why the tyrant had to be assassinated. Am I
not right?

ADOLF. Yes; but you're forgetting that she trained me, gave me new
thoughts.

GUSTAV. I haven't forgotten it. But tell me, how was it that she wasn't
able to succeed in educating the other man--in educating him into being
really modern?

ADOLF. He was an utter ass.

GUSTAV. Right you are--he was an ass; but that's a fairly elastic word,
and according to her description of him, in her novel, his asinine
nature seemed to have consisted principally in the fact that he didn't
understand her. Excuse the question, but is your wife really as deep as
all that? I haven't found anything particularly profound in her
writings.

ADOLF. Nor have I. I must really own that I too find it takes me all my
time to understand her. It's as though the machinery of our brains
couldn't catch on to each other properly--as though something in my head
got broken when I try to understand her.

GUSTAV. Perhaps you're an ass as well.

ADOLF. No, I flatter myself I'm not that, and I nearly always think that
she's in the wrong--and, for the sake of argument, would you care to
read this letter which I got from her to-day?

    [_He takes a letter out of his pocketbook._]

GUSTAV [_reads it cursorily_]. Hum, I seem to know the style so well.

ADOLF. Like a man's, almost.

GUSTAV. Well, at any rate I know a man who had a style like that.
[_Standing up._] I see she goes on calling you brother all the time--do
you always keep up the comedy for the benefit of your two selves? Do you
still keep on using the fig leaves, even though they're a trifle
withered--you don't use any term of endearment?

ADOLF. No. In my view, I couldn't respect her quite so much if I did.

GUSTAV [_hands back the letter_]. I see, and she calls herself "sister"
so as to inspire respect.

    [_He turns around and passes the square table on Adolf's right._]

ADOLF. I want to esteem her more than I do myself. I want her to be my
better self.

GUSTAV. Oh, you be your better self; though I quite admit it's less
convenient than having somebody else to do it for you. Do you want,
then, to be your wife's inferior?

ADOLF. Yes, I do. I find pleasure in always allowing myself to be beaten
by her a little. For instance, I taught her swimming, and it amuses me
when she boasts about being better and pluckier than I am. At the
beginning I simply pretended to be less skillful and courageous than she
was, in order to give her pluck, but one day, God knows how it came
about, I was actually the worse swimmer and the one with less pluck. It
seemed as though she's taken all my grit away in real earnest.

GUSTAV. And haven't you taught her anything else?

ADOLF. Yes--but this is in confidence--I taught her spelling, because
she didn't know it. Just listen to this. When she took over the
correspondence of the household I gave up writing letters, and--will you
believe it?--simply from lack of practice I've lost one bit of grammar
after another in the course of the year. But do you think she ever
remembers that she has to thank me really for her proficiency? Not for a
minute. Of course, I'm the ass now.

GUSTAV. Ah, really? You're the ass now, are you?

ADOLF. I'm only joking, of course.

GUSTAV. Obviously. But this is pure cannibalism, isn't it? Do you know
what I mean? Well, the savages devour their enemies so as to acquire
their best qualities. Well, this woman has devoured your soul, your
pluck, your knowledge.

ADOLF. And my faith. It was I who kept her up to the mark and made her
write her first book.

GUSTAV [_with facial expression_]. Re-a-lly?

ADOLF. It was I who fed her up with praise, even when I thought her work
was no good. It was I who introduced her into literary sets, and tried
to make her feel herself in clover; defended her against criticism by my
personal intervention. I blew courage into her, kept on blowing it for
so long that I got out of breath myself. I gave and gave and gave--until
nothing was left for me myself. Do you know--I'm going to tell you the
whole story--do you know how the thing seems to me now? One's
temperament is such an extraordinary thing, and when my artistic
successes looked as though they would eclipse her--her prestige--I tried
to buck her up by belittling myself and by representing that my art was
one that was inferior to hers. I talked so much of the general
insignificant rôle of my particular art, and harped on it so much,
thought of so many good reasons for my contention, that one fine day I
myself was soaked through and through with the worthlessness of the
painter's art; so all that was left was a house of cards for you to blow
down.

GUSTAV. Excuse my reminding you of what you said, but at the beginning
of our conversation you were asserting that she took nothing from you.

ADOLF. She doesn't--now, at any rate; now there is nothing left to
take.

GUSTAV. So the snake has gorged herself, and now she vomits.

ADOLF. Perhaps she took more from me than I knew of.

GUSTAV. Oh, you can reckon on that right enough--she took without your
noticing it. [_He goes behind the square table and comes in front of the
sofa._] That's what people call stealing.

ADOLF. Then what it comes to is that she hasn't educated me at all?

GUSTAV. Rather you her. Of course she knew the trick well enough of
making you believe the contrary. Might I ask how she pretended to
educate you?

ADOLF. Oh--at first--hum!

GUSTAV. Well? [_He leans his arms on the table._]

ADOLF. Well, I--

GUSTAV. No; it was she--she.

ADOLF. As a matter of fact I couldn't say which it was.

GUSTAV. You see.

ADOLF. Besides, she destroyed my faith as well, and so I went backward
until you came, old chap, and gave me a new faith.

GUSTAV [_he laughs_]. In sculpture?

    [_He turns round by the square table and comes to Adolf's right._]

ADOLF [_hesitating_]. Yes.

GUSTAV. And you believed in it?--in that abstract, obsolete art from the
childhood of the world. Do you believe that by means of pure form and
three dimensions--no, you don't really--that you can produce an effect
on the real spirit of this age of ours, that you can create illusions
without color? Without color, I say. Do you believe that?

ADOLF [_tonelessly_]. No.

GUSTAV. Nor do I.

ADOLF. But why did you say you did?

GUSTAV. You make me pity you.

ADOLF. Yes, I am indeed to be pitied. And now I'm bankrupt,
absolutely--and the worst of it is I haven't got her any more.

GUSTAV [_with a few steps toward the right_]. What good would she be to
you? She would be what God above was to me before I became an atheist--a
subject on which I could lavish my reverence. You keep your feeling of
reverence dark, and let something else grow on top of it--a healthy
contempt, for instance.

ADOLF. I can't live without some one to reverence.

GUSTAV. Slave!

    [_He goes round the table on the right._]

ADOLF. And without a woman to reverence, to worship.

GUSTAV. Oh, the deuce! Then you go back to that God of yours--if you
really must have something on which you can crucify yourself; but you
call yourself an atheist when you've got the superstitious belief in
women in your own blood; you call yourself a free thinker when you can't
think freely about a lot of silly women. Do you know what all this
illusive quality, this sphinx-like mystery, this profundity in your
wife's temperament all really comes to? The whole thing is sheer
stupidity; why, the woman can't distinguish between A.B. and bull's foot
for the life of her. And look here, it's something shoddy in the
mechanism, that's where the fault lies. Outside it looks like a
fifty-guinea hunting watch, open it and you find it's tuppenny-halfpenny
gun-metal. [_He comes up to Adolf._] Put her in trousers, draw a
mustache under her nose with a piece of coal, and then listen to her in
the same state of mind, and then you'll be perfectly convinced that it
is quite a different kettle of fish altogether---a gramaphone which
reproduces, with rather less volume, your words and other people's
words. Do you know how a woman is constituted? Yes, of course you do. A
boy with the breasts of a mother, an immature man, a precocious child
whose growth has been stunted, a chronically anæmic creature that has a
regular emission of blood thirteen times in the year. What can you do
with a thing like that?

ADOLF. Yes--but--but then how can I believe--that we are really on an
equality?

GUSTAV [_moves away from him again towards the right_]. Sheer
hallucination! The fascination of the petticoat. But it is so; perhaps,
in fact you have become like each other, the leveling has taken place.
But I say. [_He takes out his watch._] We've been chatting for quite
long enough. Your wife's bound to be here shortly. Wouldn't it be better
to leave off now, so that you can rest for a little?

    [_He comes nearer and holds out his hand to say good-by. Adolf
    grips his hand all the tighter._]

ADOLF. NO, don't leave me. I haven't got the pluck to be alone.

GUSTAV. Only for a little while. Your wife will be coming in a minute.

ADOLF. Yes, yes--she's coming. [_Pause._] Strange, isn't it? I long for
her and yet I'm frightened of her. She caresses me, she is tender, but
her kisses have something in them which smothers one, something which
sucks, something which stupefies. It is as though I were the child at
the circus whose face the clown is making up in the dressing-room, so
that it can appear red-cheeked before the public.

GUSTAV [_leaning on the arm of Adolf's chair_]. I'm sorry for you, old
man. Although I'm not a doctor I am in a position to tell you that you
are a dying man. One only has to look at your last pictures to be quite
clear on the point.

ADOLF. What do you say--what do you mean?

GUSTAV. Your coloring is so watery, so consumptive and thin, that the
yellow of the canvas shines through. It is just as though your hollow
ashen white cheeks were looking out at me.

ADOLF. Ah!

GUSTAV. Yes, and that's not only my view. Haven't you read to-day's
paper?

ADOLF [_he starts_]. No.

GUSTAV. It's before you on the table.

ADOLF [_he gropes after the paper without having the courage to take
it_]. Is it in here?

GUSTAV. Read it, or shall I read it to you?

ADOLF. No.

GUSTAV [_turns to leave_]. If you prefer it, I'll go.

ADOLF. NO, no, no! I don't know how it is--I think I am beginning to
hate you, but all the same I can't do without your being near me. You
have helped to drag me out of the slough which I was in, and, as luck
would have it, I just managed to work my way clear and then you knocked
me on the head and plunged me in again. As long as I kept my secrets to
myself I still had some guts--now I'm empty. There's a picture by an
Italian master that describes a torture scene. The entrails are dragged
out of a saint by means of a windlass. The martyr lies there and sees
himself getting continually thinner and thinner, but the roll on the
windless always gets perpetually fatter, and so it seems to me that you
get stronger since you've taken me up and that you're taking away now
with you, as you go, my innermost essence, the core of my character, and
there's nothing left of me but an empty husk.

GUSTAV. Oh, what fantastic notions; besides, your wife is coming back
with your heart.

ADOLF. No; no longer, after you have burnt it for me. You have passed
through me, changing everything in your track to ashes--my art, my love,
my hope, my faith.

GUSTAV [_comes near to him again_]. Were you so splendidly off before?

ADOLF. No, I wasn't, but the situation might have been saved; now it's
too late. Murderer!

GUSTAV. We've wasted a little time. Now we'll do some sowing in the
ashes.

ADOLF. I hate you! I curse you!

GUSTAV. A healthy symptom. You've still got some strength, and now I'll
screw up your machinery again. I say. [_He goes behind the square table
on the left and comes in front of the sofa._] Will you listen to me and
obey me?

ADOLF. Do what you will with me, I'll obey.

GUSTAV. Look at me.

ADOLF [_looks him in the face_]. And now you look at me again with that
other expression in those eyes of yours, which draws me to you
irresistibly.

GUSTAV. Now listen to me.

ADOLF. Yes, but speak of yourself. Don't speak any more of me: it's as
though I were wounded, every movement hurts me.

GUSTAV. Oh no, there isn't much to say about me, don't you know. I'm a
private tutor in dead languages and a widower, that's all. [_He goes in
front of the table._] Hold my hand.

    [_Adolf does so._]

ADOLF. What awful strength you must have, it seems as though a fellow
were catching hold of an electric battery.

GUSTAV. And just think, I was once quite as weak as you are.
[_Sternly._] Get up.

ADOLF [_gets up_]. I am like a child without any bones, and my brain is
empty.

GUSTAV. Take a walk through the room.

ADOLF. I can't.

GUSTAV. You must; if you don't I'll hit you.

ADOLF [_stands up_]. What do you say?

GUSTAV. I've told you--I'll hit you.

ADOLF [_jumps back to the circular table on the right, beside himself._]
You!

GUSTAV [_follows him_]. Bravo! That's driven the blood to your head, and
woken up your self-respect. Now I'll give you an electric shock. Where's
your wife?

ADOLF. Where's my wife?

GUSTAV. Yes.

ADOLF. At--a meeting.

GUSTAV. Certain?

ADOLF. Absolutely.

GUSTAV. What kind of a meeting?

ADOLF. An orphan association.

GUSTAV. Did you part friends?

ADOLF [_hesitating_]. Not friends.

GUSTAV. Enemies, then? What did you say to make her angry?

ADOLF. You're terrible. I'm frightened of you. How did you manage to
know that?

GUSTAV. I've just got three known quantities, and by their help I work
out the unknown. What did you say to her, old chap?

ADOLF. I said--only two words--but two awful words. I regret them--I
regret them.

GUSTAV. You shouldn't do that. Well, speak!

ADOLF. I said, "Old coquette."

GUSTAV. And what else?

ADOLF. I didn't say anything else.

GUSTAV. Oh yes, you did; you've only forgotten it. Perhaps because you
haven't got the pluck to remember it. You've locked it up in a secret
pigeonhole; open it.

ADOLF. I don't remember.

GUSTAV. But I know what it was--the sense was roughly this: "You ought
to be ashamed of yourself to be always flirting at your age. You're
getting too old to find any more admirers."

ADOLF. Did I say that--possibly? How did you manage to know it?

GUSTAV. On my way here I heard her tell the story on the steamer.

ADOLF. To whom?

GUSTAV [_walks up and down on the left_]. To four boys, whom she
happened to be with. She has a craze for pure boys, just like--

ADOLF. A perfectly innocent _penchant_.

GUSTAV. Quite as innocent as playing brother and sister when one is
father and mother.

ADOLF. You saw her, then?

GUSTAV. Yes, of course; but you've never seen her if you didn't see her
then--I mean, if you weren't present--and that's the reason, don't you
know, why a husband can never know his wife. Have you got her
photograph?

ADOLF [_takes a photo out of his pocketbook. Inquisitively_]. Here you
are.

GUSTAV [_takes it_]. Were you present when it was taken?

ADOLF. No.

GUSTAV. Just look at it? Is it like the portrait you painted? No, the
features are the same, but the expression is different. But you don't
notice that, because you insist on seeing in it the picture of her which
you've painted. Now look at this picture as a painter, without thinking
of the original. What does it represent? I can see nothing but a
tricked-out flirt, playing the decoy. Observe the cynical twist in the
mouth, which you never managed to see. You see that her look is seeking
a man quite different from you. Observe the dress is _décolleté_, the
coiffure titivated to the last degree, the sleeves finished high up. You
see?

ADOLF. Yes, now I see.

GUSTAV. Be careful, my boy.

ADOLF. Of what?

GUSTAV [_gives him back the portrait_]. Of her revenge. Don't forget
that by saying she was no longer attractive to men you wounded her in
the one thing which she took most seriously. If you'd called her
literary works twaddle she'd have laughed, and pitied your bad taste,
but now--take it from me--if she hasn't avenged herself already it's not
her fault.

ADOLF. I must be clear on that point.

    [_He goes over to Gustav, and sits down in his previous place.
    Gustav approaches him._]

GUSTAV. Find out yourself.

ADOLF. Find out myself?

GUSTAV. Investigate. I'll help you, if you like.

ADOLF [_after a pause_]. Good. Since I've been condemned to death
once--so be it--sooner or later it's all the same what's to happen.

GUSTAV. One question first. Hasn't your wife got just one weak point?

ADOLF. Not that I know of. [_Adolf goes to the open door in the
center_]. Yes. You can hear the steamer in the Sound now--she'll be here
soon. And I must go down to meet her.

GUSTAV [_holding him back_]. No, stay here. Be rude to her. If she's got
a good conscience she'll let you have it so hot and strong that you
won't know where you are. But if she feels guilty she'll come and caress
you.

ADOLF. Are you so sure of it?

GUSTAV. Not absolutely. At times a hare goes back in the tracks, but I'm
not going to let this one escape me. My room is just here. [_Points to
the door on the right and goes behind Adolf's chair._] I'll keep this
position, and be on the look-out, while you play your game here, and
when you've played it to the end we'll exchange parts. I'll go in the
cage and leave myself to the tender mercies of the snake, and you can
stand at the keyhole. Afterwards we'll meet in the park and compare
notes. But pull yourself together, old man, and if you show weakness
I'll knock on the floor twice with a chair.

ADOLF [_getting up_]. Right. But don't go away: I must know that you're
in the next room.

GUSTAV. You can trust me for that. But be careful you aren't afraid when
you see later on how I can dissect a human soul and lay the entrails
here on the table. It may seem a bit uncanny to beginners, but if you've
seen it done once you don't regret it. One thing more, don't say a word
that you've met me, or that you have made any acquaintance during her
absence--not a word. I'll ferret out her weak point myself. Hush! She's
already up there in her room. She's whistling--then she's in a temper.
Now stick to it. [_He points to the left._] And sit here on this chair,
then she'll have to sit there [_He points to the sofa on the left._],
and I can keep you both in view at the same time.

ADOLF. We've still got an hour before dinner. There are no new visitors,
for there has been no bell to announce them. We'll be alone
together--more's the pity!

GUSTAV. You seem pretty limp. Are you unwell?

ADOLF. I'm all right; unless, you know, I'm frightened of what's going
to happen. But I can't help its happening. The stone rolls, but it was
not the last drop of water that made it roll, nor yet the
first--everything taken together brought it about.

GUSTAV. Let it roll, then; it won't have any peace until it does.
Good-by, for the time being.

    [_Exit on the right. Adolf nods to him, stands up for a short
    time, looking at the photograph, tears it to pieces, and throws
    the fragments behind the circular table on the right; he then sits
    down in his previous place, nervously arranges his tie, runs his
    fingers through his hair, fumbles with the lapels of his coat,
    etc. Thekla enters on the left._]


SCENE II.

THEKLA [_frank, cheerful and engaging, goes straight up to her husband
and kisses him_]. Good-day, little brother; how have you been getting
on?

    [_She stands on his left._]

ADOLF [_half overcome but jocularly resisting_]. What mischief have you
been up to, for you to kiss me?

THEKLA. Yes, let me just confess. Something very naughty--I've spent an
awful lot of money.

ADOLF. Did you have a good time, then?

THEKLA. Excellent. [_She goes to his right._] But not at the Congress.
It was as dull as ditch-water, don't you know. But how has little
brother been passing the time, when his little dove had flown away?

    [_She looks around the room, as though looking for somebody or
    scenting something, and thus comes behind the sofa on the left._]

ADOLF. Oh, the time seemed awfully long.

THEKLA. Nobody to visit you?

ADOLF. Not a soul.

THEKLA [_looks him up and down and sits down on the sofa_]. Who sat
here?

ADOLF. Here? No one.

THEKLA. Strange! The sofa is as warm as anything, and there's the mark
of an elbow in the cushion. Have you had a lady visitor?

    [_She stands up._]

ADOLF. Me? You're not serious?

THEKLA [_turns away from the square table and comes to Adolf's right_].
How he blushes! So the little brother wants to mystify me a bit, does
he? Well, let him come here and confess what he's got on his conscience
to his little wife.

    [_She draws him to her. Adolf lets his head sink on her breast;
    laughing._]

ADOLF. You're a regular devil, do you know that?

THEKLA. No, I know myself so little.

ADOLF. Do you never think about yourself?

THEKLA [_looking in the air, while she looks at him searchingly_]. About
myself? I only think about myself. I am a shocking egoist, but how
philosophical you've become, my dear.

ADOLF. Put your hand on my forehead.

THEKLA [_playfully_]. Has he got bees in his bonnet again? Shall I drive
them away? [_She kisses him on the forehead._] There, it's all right
now? [_Pause, moving away from him to the right._] Now let me hear what
he's been doing to amuse himself. Painted anything pretty?

ADOLF. No; I've given up painting!

THEKLA. What, you've given up painting!

ADOLF. Yes, but don't scold me about it. How could I help it if I wasn't
able to paint any more?

THEKLA. What are you going to take up then?

ADOLF. I'm going to be a sculptor. [_Thekla passes over in front of the
square table and in front of the sofa._] Yes, but don't blame me--just
look at this figure.

THEKLA [_unwraps the figure on the table_]. Hallo, I say. Who's this
meant to be?

ADOLF. Guess!

THEKLA [_tenderly_]. Is it meant to be his little wife? And he isn't
ashamed of it, is he?

ADOLF. Hasn't he hit the mark?

THEKLA. How can I tell?--the face is lacking.

    [_She drapes the figure._]

ADOLF. Quite so--but all the rest? Nice?

THEKLA [_taps him caressingly on yhe cheek_]. Will he shut up? Otherwise
I'll kiss him.

    [_She goes behind him; Adolf defending himself._]

ADOLF. Look out, look out, anybody might come.

THEKLA [_nestling close to him_]. What do I care! I'm surely allowed to
kiss my own husband. That's only my legal right.

ADOLF. Quite so; but do you know the people here in the hotel take the
view that we're not married because we kiss each other so much, and our
occasional quarreling makes them all the more cocksure about it, because
lovers usually carry on like that.

THEKLA. But need there be any quarrels? Can't he always be as sweet and
good as he is at present. Let him tell me. Wouldn't he like it himself?
Wouldn't he like us to be happy?

ADOLF. I should like it, but--

THEKLA [_with a step to the right_]. Who put it into his head not to
paint any more?

ADOLF. You're always scenting somebody behind me and my thoughts. You're
jealous.

THEKLA. I certainly am. I was always afraid some one might estrange you
from me.

ADOLF. You're afraid of that, you say, though you know very well that
there isn't a woman living who can supplant you--that I can't live
without you.

THEKLA. I wasn't frightened the least bit of females. It was your
friends I was afraid of: they put all kinds of ideas into your head.

ADOLF [_probing_]. So you were afraid? What were you afraid of?

THEKLA. Some one has been here. Who was it?

ADOLF. Can't you stand my looking at you?

THEKLA. Not in that way. You aren't accustomed to look at me like that.

ADOLF. How am I looking at you then?

THEKLA. You are spying underneath your eyelids.

ADOLF. Right through. Yes, I want to know what it's like inside.

THEKLA. I don't mind. As you like. I've nothing to hide, but--your very
manner of speaking has changed--you employ expressions. [_Probing._] You
philosophize. Eh? [_She goes toward him in a menacing manner._] Who has
been here?

ADOLF. My doctor--nobody else.

THEKLA. Your doctor! What doctor?

ADOLF. The doctor from Strömastad.

THEKLA. What's his name?

ADOLF. Sjöberg.

THEKLA. What did he say?

ADOLF. Well--he said, among other things--that I'm pretty near getting
epilepsy.

THEKLA [_with a step to the right_]. Among other things! What else did
he say?

ADOLF. Oh, something extremely unpleasant.

THEKLA. Let me hear it.

ADOLF. He forbade us to live together as man and wife for some time.

THEKLA. There you are. I thought as much. They want to separate us. I've
already noticed it for some time.

    [_She goes round the circular table toward the right._]

ADOLF. There was nothing for you to notice. There was never the
slightest incident of that description.

THEKLA. What do you mean?

ADOLF. How could it have been possible for you to have seen something
which wasn't there if your fear hadn't heated your imagination to so
violent a pitch that you saw what never existed? As a matter of fact,
what were you afraid of? That I might borrow another's eye so as to see
you as you really were, not as you appeared to me?

THEKLA. Keep your imagination in check, Adolf. Imagination is the beast
in the human soul.

ADOLF. Where did you get this wisdom from? From the pure youths on the
steamer, eh?

THEKLA [_without losing her self-possession_]. Certainly--even youth can
teach one a great deal.

ADOLF. You seem for once in a way, to be awfully keen on youth?

THEKLA [_standing by the door in the center_]. I have always been so,
and that's how it came about that I loved you. Any objection?

ADOLF. Not at all. But I should very much prefer to be the only one.

THEKLA [_coming forward on his right, and joking as though speaking to a
child_]. Let the little brother look here. I've got such a large heart
that there is room in it for a great many, not only for him.

ADOLF. But little brother doesn't want to know anything about the other
brothers.

THEKLA. Won't he just come here and let himself be teased by his little
woman, because he's jealous--no, envious is the right word.

    [_Two knocks with a chair are heard from the room on the right._]

ADOLF. No, I don't want to fool about, I want to speak seriously.

THEKLA [_as though speaking to a child_]. Good Lord! he wants to speak
seriously. Upon my word! Has the man become serious for once in his
life? [_Comes on his left, takes hold of his head and kisses him._]
Won't he laugh now a little?

    [_Adolf laughs._]

THEKLA. There, there!

ADOLF [_laughs involuntarily_]. You damned witch, you! I really believe
you can bewitch people.

THEKLA [_comes in front of the sofa_]. He can see for himself, and
that's why he mustn't worry me, otherwise I shall certainly bewitch him.

ADOLF [_springs up_]. Thekla! Sit for me a minute in profile, and I'll
do the face for your figure.

THEKLA. With pleasure.

    [_She turns her profile toward him._]

ADOLF [_sits down, fixes her with his eyes and acts as though he were
modeling_]. Now, don't think of me, think of somebody else.

THEKLA. I'll think of my last conquest.

ADOLF. The pure youth?

THEKLA. Quite right. He had the duckiest, sweetest little mustache, and
cheeks like cherries, so delicate and soft, one could have bitten right
into them.

ADOLF [_depressed_]. Just keep that twist in your mouth.

THEKLA. What twist?

ADOLF. That cynical insolent twist which I've never seen before.

THEKLA [_makes a grimace_]. Like that?

ADOLF. Quite. [_He gets up._] Do you know how Bret Harte describes the
adulteress?

THEKLA [_laughs_]. No, I've never read that Bret What-do-you-call-him.

ADOLF. Oh! she's a pale woman who never blushes.

THEKLA. Never? Oh yes, she does; oh yes, she does. Perhaps when she
meets her lover, even though her husband and Mr. Bret didn't manage to
see anything of it.

ADOLF. Are you so certain about it?

THEKLA [_as before_]. Absolutely. If the man isn't able to drive her
very blood to her head, how can he possibly enjoy the pretty spectacle?

    [_She passes by him toward the right._]

ADOLF [_raving_]. Thekla! Thekla!

THEKLA. Little fool!

ADOLF [_sternly_]. Thekla!

THEKLA. Let him call me his own dear little sweetheart, and I'll get red
all over before him, shall I?

ADOLF [_disarmed_]. I'm so angry with you, you monster, that I should
like to bite you.

THEKLA [_playing with him_]. Well, come and bite me; come.

    [_She holds out her arms towards him._]

ADOLF [_takes her by the neck and kisses her_]. Yes, my dear, I'll bite
you so that you die.

THEKLA [_joking_]. Look out, somebody might come.

    [_She goes to the fireplace on the right and leans on the
    chimneypiece._]

ADOLF. Oh, what do I care if they do. I don't care about anything in the
whole world so long as I have you.

THEKLA. And if you don't have me any more?

ADOLF [_sinks down on the chair on the left in front of the circular
table_]. Then I die!

THEKLA. All right, you needn't be frightened of that the least bit; I'm
already much too old, you see, for anybody to like me.

ADOLF. You haven't forgotten those words of mine?--I take them back.

THEKLA. Can you explain to me why it is that you're so jealous, and at
the same time so sure of yourself?

ADOLF. No, I can't explain it, but it may be that the thought that
another man has possessed you, gnaws and consumes me. It seems to me at
times as though our whole love were a figment of the brain--a passion
that had turned into a formal matter of honor. I know nothing which
would be more intolerable for me to bear, than for him to have the
satisfaction of making me unhappy. Ah, I've never seen him, but the very
thought that there is such a man who watches in secret for my
unhappiness, who conjures down on me the curse of heaven day by day, who
would laugh and gloat over my fall--the very idea of the thing lies like
a nightmare on my breast, drives me to you, holds me spellbound,
cripples me.

THEKLA [_goes behind the circular table and comes on Adolf's right_]. Do
you think I should like to give him that satisfaction, that I should
like to make his prophecy come true?

ADOLF. No, I won't believe that of you.

THEKLA. Then if that's so, why aren't you easy on the subject?

ADOLF. It's your flirtations which keep me in a chronic state of
agitation. Why do you go on playing that game?

THEKLA. It's no game. I want to be liked, that's all.

ADOLF. Quite so; but only liked by men.

THEKLA. Of course. Do you suggest it would be possible for one of us
women to get herself liked by other women?

ADOLF. I say. [_Pause._] Haven't you heard recently--from him?

THEKLA. Not for the last six months.

ADOLF. Do you never think of him?

THEKLA [_after a pause, quickly and tonelessly_]. No. [_With a step
toward the left._] Since the death of the child there is no longer any
tie between us. [_Pause._]

ADOLF. And you never see him in the street?

THEKLA. No; he must have buried himself somewhere on the west coast. But
why do you harp on that subject just now?

ADOLF. I don't know. When I was so alone these last few days, it just
occurred to me what he must have felt like when he was left stranded.

THEKLA. I believe you've got pangs of conscience.

ADOLF. Yes.

THEKLA. You think you're a thief, don't you?

ADOLF. Pretty near.

THEKLA. All right. You steal women like you steal children or fowl. You
regard me to some extent like his real or personal property. Much
obliged.

ADOLF. No; I regard you as his wife, and that's more than property: it
can't be made up in damages.

THEKLA. Oh yes, it can. If you happen to hear one fine day that he has
married again, these whims and fancies of yours will disappear. [_She
comes over to him._] Haven't you made up for him to me?

ADOLF. Have I?--and did you use to love him in those days?

THEKLA [_goes behind him to the fireplace on the right_]. Of course I
loved him--certainly.

ADOLF. And afterwards?

THEKLA. I got tired of him.

ADOLF. And just think, if you get tired of me in the same way?

THEKLA. That will never be.

ADOLF. But suppose another man came along with all the qualities that
you want in a man? Assume the hypothesis, wouldn't you leave me in that
case?

THEKLA. No.

ADOLF. If he riveted you to him so strongly that you couldn't be parted
from him, then of course you'd give me up?

THEKLA. No; I have never yet said anything like that.

ADOLF. But you can't love two people at the same time?

THEKLA. Oh yes. Why not?

ADOLF. I can't understand it.

THEKLA. Is anything then impossible simply because you can't understand
it? All men are not made on the same lines, you know.

ADOLF [_getting up a few steps to the left_]. I am now beginning to
understand.

THEKLA. No, really?

ADOLF [_sits down in his previous place by the square table_]. No,
really? [_Pause, during which he appears to be making an effort to
remember something, but without success._] Thekla, do you know that your
frankness is beginning to be positively agonizing? [_Thekla moves away
from him behind the square table and goes behind the sofa on the left._]
Haven't you told me, times out of number, that frankness is the most
beautiful virtue you know, and that I must spend all my time in
acquiring it? But it seems to me you take cover behind your frankness.

THEKLA. Those are the new tactics, don't you see.

ADOLF [_after a pause_]. I don't know how it is, but this place begins
to feel uncanny. If you don't mind, we'll travel home this very night.

THEKLA. What an idea you've got into your head again. I've just arrived,
and I've no wish to travel off again.

    [_She sits down on the sofa on the left._]

ADOLF. But if I want it?

THEKLA. Nonsense! What do I care what you want? Travel alone.

ADOLF [_seriously_]. I now order you to travel with me by the next
steamer.

THEKLA. Order? What do you mean by that?

ADOLF. Do you forget that you're my wife?

THEKLA [_getting up_]. Do you forget that you're my husband?

ADOLF [_following her example_]. That's just the difference between one
sex and the other.

THEKLA. That's right, speak in that tone--you have never loved me.

    [_She goes past him to the right up to the fireplace._]

ADOLF. Really?

THEKLA. No, for loving means giving.

ADOLF. For a man to love means giving, for a woman to love means
taking--and I've given, given, given.

THEKLA. Oh, to be sure, you've given a fine lot, haven't you?

ADOLF. Everything.

THEKLA [_leans on the chimneypiece_]. There has been a great deal
besides that. And even if you did give me everything, I accepted it.
What do you mean by coming now and handing the bill for your presents?
If I did take them, I proved to you by that very fact that I loved you.
[_She approaches him._] A girl only takes presents from her lover.

ADOLF. From her lover, I agree. There you spoke the truth. [_With a step
to the left._] I was just your lover, but never your husband.

THEKLA. A man ought to be jolly grateful when he's spared the necessity
of playing cover, but if you aren't satisfied with the position you can
have your _congé_. I don't like a husband.

ADOLF. No, I noticed as much, for when I remarked, some time back, that
you wanted to sneak away from me, and get a set of your own, so as to be
able to deck yourself out with my feathers, to scintillate with my
jewels, I wanted to remind you of your guilt. And then I changed from
your point of view into that inconvenient creditor, whom a woman would
particularly prefer to keep at a safe distance from one, and then you
would have liked to have canceled the debt, and to avoid getting any
more into my debt; you ceased to pilfer my coffers and transferred your
attention to others. I was your husband without having wished it, and
your hate began to arise; but now I'm going to be your husband, whether
you want it or not. I can't be your lover any more, that's certain!

    [_He sits down in his previous place on the right._]

THEKLA [_half joking, she moves away behind the table and goes behind
the sofa_]. Don't talk such nonsense.

ADOLF. You be careful! It's a dangerous game, to consider every one else
an ass and only oneself smart.

THEKLA. Everybody does that more or less.

ADOLF. And I'm just beginning to suspect that that husband of yours
wasn't such an ass after all.

THEKLA. Good God! I really believe you're beginning to have
sympathy--for him?

ADOLF. Yes, almost.

THEKLA. Well, look here. Wouldn't you like to make his acquaintance, so
as to pour out your heart to him if you want to? What a charming
picture! But I, too, begin to feel myself drawn to him somehow. I'm
tired of being the nurse of a baby like you. [_She goes a few steps
forward and passes by Adolf on the right._] He at any rate was a man,
even though he did make the mistake of being my husband.

ADOLF. Hush, hush! But don't talk so loud, we might be heard.

THEKLA. What does it matter, so long as we're taken for man and wife.

ADOLF. So this is what it comes to then? You are now beginning to be
keen both on manly men and pure boys.

THEKLA. There are no limits to my keenness, as you see. And my heart is
open to the whole world, great and small, beautiful and ugly. I love the
whole world.

ADOLF [_standing up_]. Do you know what that means?

THEKLA. No, I don't know, I only feel.

ADOLF. It means that old age has arrived.

THEKLA. Are you starting on that again now? Take care!

ADOLF. You take care!

THEKLA. What of?

ADOLF. Of this knife.

    [_Goes towards her._]

THEKLA [_flippantly_]. Little brother shouldn't play with such dangerous
toys.

    [_She passes by him behind the sofa._]

ADOLF. I'm not playing any longer.

THEKLA [_leaning on the arm of the sofa_]. Really, he's serious, is he,
quite serious? Then I'll jolly well show you--that you made a mistake. I
mean--you'll never see it yourself, you'll never know it. The whole
world will be up to it, but you jolly well won't, you'll have suspicions
and surmises and you won't enjoy a single hour of peace. You will have
the consciousness of being ridiculous and of being deceived, but you'll
never have proofs in your hand, because a husband never manages to get
them. [_She makes a few steps to the right in front of him and toward
him._] That will teach you to know me.

ADOLF [_sits down in his previous place by the table on the left_]. You
hate me.

THEKLA. No, I don't hate you, nor do I think that I could ever get to
hate you. Simply because you're a child.

ADOLF. Listen to me! Just think of the time when the storm broke over
us. [_Standing up._] You lay there like a new-born child and shrieked;
you caught hold of my knees and I had to kiss your eyes to sleep. Then I
was your nurse, and I had to be careful that you didn't go out into the
street without doing your hair. I had to send your boots to the
shoe-maker. I had to take care there was something in the larder. I had
to sit by your side and hold your hand in mine by the hour, for you were
frightened, frightened of the whole world, deserted by your friends,
crushed by public opinion. I had to cheer you up till my tongue stuck to
my palate and my head ached; I had to pose as a strong man, and compel
myself to believe in the future, until at length I succeeded in
breathing life into you while you lay there like the dead. Then it was I
you admired, then it was I who was the man; not the athlete like the man
you deserted, but the man of psychic strength, the man of magnetism, who
transferred his moral force into your enervated muscles and filled your
empty brain with new electricity. And then I put you on your feet again,
got a small court for you, whom I jockeyed into admiring you, as a sheer
matter of friendship to myself, and I made you mistress over me and my
home. I painted you in my finest pictures, in rose and azure on a ground
of gold, and there was no exhibition in which you didn't have the place
of honor. At one moment you were called St. Cecelia, then you were Mary
Stuart, Karm Mansdotter, Ebba Brahe, and so I succeeded in awakening and
stimulating your interests and so I compelled the yelping rabble to look
at you with my own dazzled eyes. I impressed your personality on them by
sheer force. I compelled them until you had won their overwhelming
sympathy--so that at last you have the free _entrée_. And when I had
created you in this way it was all up with my own strength--I broke
down, exhausted by the strain. [_He sits down in his previous place.
Thekla turns toward the fireplace on the right._] I had lifted you up,
but at the same time I brought myself down; I fell ill; and my illness
began to bore you, just because things were beginning to look a bit rosy
for you--and then it seemed to me many times as though some secret
desire were driving you to get away from your creditor and accomplice.
Your love became that of a superior sister, and through want of a better
part I fell into the habit of the new rôle of the little brother. Your
tenderness remained the same as ever, in fact it has rather increased,
but it is tinged with a grain of pity which is counterbalanced by a
strong dose of contempt, and that will increase until it becomes
complete, even as my genius is on the wane and your star is in the
ascendant. It seems, too, as though your source were likely to dry up,
when I leave off feeding it, or, rather, as soon as you show that you
don't want to draw your inspiration from me any longer. And so we both
go down, but you need somebody you can put in your pocket, somebody new,
for you are weak and incapable of carrying any moral burden yourself. So
I became the scapegoat to be slaughtered alive, but all the same we had
become like twins in the course of years, and when you cut through the
thread of my longing, you little thought that you were throttling our
own self. You are a branch from my tree, and you wanted to cut yourself
free from your parent stem before it had struck roots, but you are
unable to flourish on your own, and the tree in its turn couldn't do
without its chief branch, and so both perish.

THEKLA. Do you mean, by all that, that you've written my books?

ADOLF. No; you say that so as to provoke me into a lie. I don't express
myself so crudely as you, and I've just spoken for five minutes on end
simply so as to reproduce all the nuances, all the half-tones, all the
transitions, but your barrel organ has only one key.

THEKLA [_walking up and down on the right_]. Yes, yes; but the gist of
the whole thing is that you've written my books.

ADOLF. No, there's no gist. You can't resolve a symphony into one key;
you can't translate a multifarious life into a single cipher. I never
said anything so crass as that I'd written your books.

THEKLA. But you meant it all the same.

ADOLF [_furious_]. I never meant it.

THEKLA. But the result--

ADOLF [_wildly_]. There's no result if one doesn't add. There is a
quotient, a long infinitesimal figure of a quotient, but I didn't add.

THEKLA. You didn't, but I can.

ADOLF. I quite believe you, but I never did.

THEKLA. But you wanted to.

ADOLF [_exhausted, shutting his eyes_]. No, no, no--don't speak to me
any more, I'm getting convulsions--be quiet, go away! You're flaying my
brain with your brutal pinchers--you're thrusting your claws into my
thoughts and tearing them.

    [_He loses consciousness, stares in front of him and turns his
    thumbs inwards._]

THEKLA [_tenderly coming towards him_]. What is it, dear? Are you ill?
[_Adolf beats around him. Thekla takes her handkerchief, pours water on
to it out of the bottle on the table right of the center door, and cools
his forehead with it._] Adolf!

ADOLF [_he shakes his head_]. Yes.

THEKLA. Do you see now that you were wrong?

ADOLF [_after a pause_]. Yes, yes, yes--I see it.

THEKLA. And you ask me to forgive you?

ADOLF. Yes, yes, yes--I ask you to forgive me; but don't talk right into
my brain any more.

THEKLA. Now kiss my hand.

ADOLF. I'll kiss your hand, if only you won't speak to me any more.

THEKLA. And now you'll go out and get some fresh air before dinner.

ADOLF [_getting up_]. Yes, that will do me good, and afterwards we'll
pack up and go away.

THEKLA. No.

    [_She moves away from him up to the fireplace on the right._]

ADOLF. Why not? You must have some reason.

THEKLA. The simple reason that I've arranged to be at the reception this
evening.

ADOLF. That's it, is it?

THEKLA. That's it right enough. I've promised to be there.

ADOLF. Promised? You probably said that you'd try to come; it doesn't
prevent you from explaining that you have given up your intention.

THEKLA. No, I'm not like you: my word is binding on me.

ADOLF. One's word can be binding without one being obliged to respect
every casual thing one lets fall in conversation; or did somebody make
you promise that you'd go? In that case, you can ask him to release you
because your husband is ill.

THEKLA. No, I've no inclination to do so. And, besides, you're not so
ill that you can't quite well come along too.

ADOLF. Why must I always come along too? Does it contribute to your
greater serenity?

THEKLA. I don't understand what you mean.

ADOLF. That's what you always say when you know I mean something which
you don't like.

THEKLA. Re-a-lly? And why shouldn't I like it?

ADOLF. Stop! stop! Don't start all over again--good-by for the
present--I'll be back soon; I hope that in the meanwhile you'll have
thought better of it.

    [_Exit through the central door and then toward the right. Thekla
    accompanies him to the back of the stage. Gustav enters, after a
    pause, from the right._]


SCENE III.

    [_Gustav goes straight up to the table on the left and takes up a
    paper without apparently seeing Thekla._]

THEKLA [_starts, then controls herself_]. You?

    [_She comes forward._]

GUSTAV. It's me--excuse me.

THEKLA [_on his left_]. Where do you come from?

GUSTAV. I came by the highroad, but--I won't stay on here after seeing
that--

THEKLA. Oh, you stay--Well, it's a long time.

GUSTAV. You're right, a very long time.

THEKLA. You've altered a great deal, Gustav.

GUSTAV. But you, on the other hand, my dear Thekla, are still quite as
fascinating as ever--almost younger, in fact. Please forgive me. I
wouldn't for anything disturb your happiness by my presence. If I'd
known that you were staying here I would never have--

THEKLA. Please--please, stay. It may be that you find it painful.

GUSTAV. It's all right as far as I'm concerned. I only thought--that
whatever I said I should always have to run the risk of wounding you.

THEKLA [_passes in front of him toward the right_]. Sit down for a
moment, Gustav; you don't wound me, because you have the unusual
gift--which always distinguished you--of being subtle and tactful.

GUSTAV. You're too kind; but how on earth can one tell if--your husband
would regard me in the same light that you do.

THEKLA. Quite the contrary. Why, he's just been expressing himself with
the utmost sympathy with regard to you.

GUSTAV. Ah! Yes, everything dies away, even the names which we cut on
the tree's bark--not even malice can persist for long in these
temperaments of ours.

THEKLA. He's never entertained malice against you--why, he doesn't know
you at all--and, so far as I'm concerned, I always entertained the
silent hope that I would live to see the time in which you would
approach each other as friends--or at least meet each other in my
presence, shake hands, and part.

GUSTAV. It was also my secret desire to see the woman whom I loved more
than my life in really good hands, and, as a matter of fact, I've only
heard the very best account of him, while I know all his work as well.
All the same, I felt the need of pressing his hand before I grew old,
looking him in the face, and asking him to preserve the treasure which
providence had entrusted to him, and at the same time I wanted to
extinguish the hate which was burning inside me, quite against my will,
and I longed to find peace of soul and resignation, so as to be able to
finish in quiet that dismal portion of my life which is still left me.

THEKLA. Your words come straight from your heart; you have understood
me, Gustav--thanks.

    [_She holds out her hand._]

GUSTAV. Ah, I'm a petty man. Too insignificant to allow of your thriving
in my shadow. Your temperament, with its thirst for freedom, could not
be satisfied by my monotonous life, the slavish routine to which I was
condemned, the narrow circle in which I had to move. I appreciate that,
but you understand well enough--you who are such an expert
psychologist--what a struggle it must have cost me to acknowledge that
to myself.

THEKLA. How noble, how great to acknowledge one's weaknesses so
frankly--it's not all men who can bring themselves to that point.
[_She sighs._] But you are always an honest character, straight and
reliable--which I knew how to respect,--but--

GUSTAV. I wasn't--not then, but suffering purges, care ennobles
and--and--I have suffered.

THEKLA [_comes nearer to him_]. Poor Gustav, can you forgive me, can
you? Tell me.

GUSTAV. Forgive? What? It is I who have to ask you for forgiveness.

THEKLA [_striking another key_]. I do believe that we're both
crying--though we're neither of us chickens.

GUSTAV [_softly sliding into another tone_]. Chickens, indeed! I'm an
old man, but you--you're getting younger every day.

THEKLA. Do you mean it?

GUSTAV. And how well you know how to dress!

THEKLA. It was you and no one else who taught me that. Do you still
remember finding out my special colors?

GUSTAV. No.

THEKLA. It was quite simple, don't you remember? Come, I still remember
distinctly how angry you used to be with me if I ever had anything else
except pink.

GUSTAV. I angry with you? I was never angry with you.

THEKLA. Oh yes, you were, when you wanted to teach me how to think.
Don't you remember? And I wasn't able to catch on.

GUSTAV. Not able to think, everybody can think, and now you're
developing a quite extraordinary power of penetration--at any rate in
your writings.

THEKLA [_disagreeably affected, tries to change the subject quickly_].
Yes, Gustav dear, I was really awfully glad to see you again, especially
under circumstances so unemotional.

GUSTAV. Well, you can't say at any rate that I was such a cantankerous
cuss: taking it all round, you had a pretty quiet time of it with me.

THEKLA. Yes; if anything too quiet.

GUSTAV. Really? But I thought, don't you see, that you wanted me to be
quiet and nothing else. Judging by your expressions of opinion as a
bride, I had to come to that assumption.

THEKLA. How could a woman know then what she really wanted? Besides,
mother had always drilled into me to make the best of myself.

GUSTAV. Well, and that's why it is that you're going as strong as
possible. There's such a lot always doing in artist life--your husband
isn't exactly a home-bird.

THEKLA. But even so one can have too much of a good thing.

GUSTAV [_suddenly changing his tone_]. Why, I do believe you're still
wearing my earrings.

THEKLA [_embarrassed_]. Yes, why shouldn't I? We're not enemies, you
know--and then I thought I would wear them as a symbol that we're not
enemies--besides, you know that earrings like this aren't to be had any
more.

    [_She takes one off._]

GUSTAV. Well, so far so good; but what does your husband say on the
point?

THEKLA. Why should I ask him?

GUSTAV. You don't ask him? But that's rubbing it in a bit too much--it
could quite well make him look ridiculous.

THEKLA [_simply--in an undertone_]. If it only weren't so pretty.

    [_She has some trouble in adjusting the earring._]

GUSTAV [_who has noticed it_]. Perhaps you will allow me to help you?

THEKLA. Oh, if you would be so kind.

GUSTAV [_presses it into the ear_]. Little ear! I say, dear, supposing
your husband saw us now.

THEKLA. Then there'd be a scene.

GUSTAV. Is he jealous, then?

THEKLA. I should think he is--rather!

    [_Noise in the room on the right._]

GUSTAV [_passes in front of her toward the right_]. Whose room is that?

THEKLA [_stepping a little toward the left_]. I don't know--tell me how
you are now, and what you're doing.

    [_She goes to the table on the left._]

GUSTAV. You tell me how you are. [_He goes behind the square table on
the left, over to the sofa.--Thekla, embarrassed, takes the cloth off
the figure absent-mindedly._] No! who is that? Why--it's you!

THEKLA. I don't think so.

GUSTAV. But it looks like you.

THEKLA [_cynically_]. You think so?

GUSTAV [_sits down on the sofa_]. It reminds one of the anecdote: "How
could your Majesty say that?"

THEKLA [_laughs loudly and sits down opposite him on the settee_]. What
foolish ideas you do get into your head. Have you got by any chance some
new yarns?

GUSTAV. No; but you must know some.

THEKLA. I don't get a chance any more now of hearing anything which is
really funny.

GUSTAV. Is he as prudish as all that?

THEKLA. Rather!

GUSTAV. Never different?

THEKLA. He's been so ill lately.

    [_Both stand up._]

GUSTAV. Well, who told little brother to walk into somebody else's
wasps' nest.

THEKLA [_laughs_]. Foolish fellow, you!

GUSTAV. Poor child! do you still remember that once, shortly after our
engagement, we lived in this very room, eh? But then it was furnished
differently, there was a secretary for instance, here, by the pillar,
and the bed [_With delicacy._] was here.

THEKLA. Hush!

GUSTAV. Look at me!

THEKLA. If you would like me to.

    [_They keep their eyes looking into each other's for a minute._]

GUSTAV. Do you think it is possible to forget a thing which has made so
deep an impression on one's life?

THEKLA. No; the power of impressions is great, particularly when they
are the impressions of one's youth.

    [_She turns toward the fireplace on her right._]

GUSTAV. Do you remember how we met for the first time? You were such an
ethereal little thing, a little slate on which your parents and
governess had scratched some wretched scrawl, which I had to rub out
afterwards, and then I wrote a new text on it, according to what I
thought right, till it seemed to you that the slate was filled with
writing. [_He follows her to the circular table on the right._] That's
why, do you see, I shouldn't like to be in your husband's place--no,
that's his business. [_Sits down in front of the circular table._] But
that's why meeting you has an especial fascination for me. We hit it off
together so perfectly, and when I sit down here and chat with you it's
just as though I were uncorking bottles of old wine which I myself have
bottled. The wine which is served to me is my own, but it has mellowed.
And now that I intend to marry again, I have made a very careful choice
of a young girl whom I can train according to my own ideas. [_Getting
up._] For woman is man's child, don't you know; if she isn't his child,
then he becomes hers, and that means that the world is turned upside
down.

THEKLA. You're going to marry again?

GUSTAV. Yes. I'm going to try my luck once more, but this time I'll
jolly well see that the double harness is more reliable and shall know
how to guard against any bolting.

THEKLA [_turns and goes over toward him to the left_]. Is she pretty?

GUSTAV. Yes, according to my taste, but perhaps I'm too old, and
strangely enough--now that chance brings me near to you again--I'm now
beginning to have grave doubts of the feasibility of playing a game like
that twice over.

THEKLA. What do you mean?

GUSTAV. I feel that my roots are too firmly embedded in your soil, and
the old wounds break open. You're a dangerous woman, Thekla.

THEKLA. Re-a-lly? My young husband is emphatic that is just what I'm
not--that I can't make any more conquests.

GUSTAV. That means he's left off loving you.

THEKLA. What he means by love lies outside my line of country.

    [_She goes behind the sofa on the left. Gustav goes after her as
    far as the table on the left._]

GUSTAV. You've played hide and seek so long with each other that the
"he" can't catch the she, nor the she the "he," don't you know. Of
course it's just the kind of thing one would expect. You had to play the
little innocent, and that makes him quite tame. As a matter of fact a
change has its disadvantages--yes, it has its disadvantages.

THEKLA. You reproach me?

GUSTAV. Not for a minute. What always happens, happens with a certain
inevitability, and if this particular thing hadn't happened something
else would, but this did happen, and here we are.

THEKLA. You're a broad-minded man. I've never yet met anybody with whom
I liked so much to have a good straight talk as with you. You have so
little patience with all that moralizing and preaching, and you make
such small demands on people, that one feels really free in your
presence. Do you know I'm jealous of your future wife?

    [_She comes forward and passes by him toward the right._]

GUSTAV. And you know I'm jealous of your husband.

THEKLA. And now we must part! Forever!

    [_She goes past him till she approaches the center door._]

GUSTAV. Quite right, we must part--but before that, we'll say good-by to
each other, won't we?

THEKLA [_uneasily_]. No.

GUSTAV [_dogging her_]. Yes, we will; yes, we will. We'll say good-by;
we will drown our memories in an ecstasy which will be so violent that
when we wake up the past will have vanished from our recollection
forever. There are ecstasies like that, you know. [_He puts his arm
around her waist._] You're being dragged down by a sick spirit, who's
infecting you with his own consumption. I will breathe new life into
you. I will fertilize your genius, so that it will bloom in the autumn
like a rose in the spring, I will--

    [_Two lady visitors appear on the right behind the central door._]


SCENE IV.

    [_The previous characters; the Two Ladies._]

    [_The ladies appear surprised, point, laugh, and exeunt on the
    left._]


SCENE V.

THEKLA [_disengaging herself_]. Who was that?

GUSTAV [_casually, while he closes the central door_]. Oh, some visitors
who were passing through.

THEKLA. Go away! I'm afraid of you.

    [_She goes behind the sofa on the left._]

GUSTAV. Why?

THEKLA. You've robbed me of my soul.

GUSTAV [_comes forward_]. And I give you mine in exchange for it.
Besides, you haven't got any soul at all. It's only an optical illusion.

THEKLA. You've got a knack of being rude in such a way that one can't be
angry with you.

GUSTAV. That's because you know very well that I am designated for the
place of honor--tell me now when--and where?

THEKLA [_coming toward him_]. No. I can't hurt him by doing a thing like
that. I'm sure he still loves me, and I don't want to wound him a second
time.

GUSTAV. He doesn't love you. Do you want to have proofs?

THEKLA. How can you give me them?

GUSTAV [_takes up from the floor the fragments of photograph behind the
circular table on the right_]. Here, look at yourself!

    [_He gives them to her._]

THEKLA. Oh, that is shameful!

GUSTAV. There, you can see for yourself--well, when and where?

THEKLA. The false brute!

GUSTAV. When?

THEKLA. He goes away to-night by the eight-o'clock boat.

GUSTAV. Then--

THEKLA. At nine. [_A noise in the room on the right._] Who's in there
making such a noise?

GUSTAV [_goes to the right at the keyhole_]. Let's have a look--the
fancy table has been upset and there's a broken water-bottle on the
floor, that's all. Perhaps some one has shut a dog up there. [_He goes
again toward her._] Nine o'clock, then?

THEKLA. Right you are. I should only like him to see the fun--such a
piece of deceit, and what's more, from a man that's always preaching
truthfulness, who's always drilling into me to speak the truth. But
stop--how did it all happen? He received me in almost an unfriendly
manner--didn't come to the pier to meet me--then he let fall a remark
over the pure boy on the steam-boat, which I pretended not to
understand. But how could he know anything about it? Wait a moment. Then
he began to philosophize about women--then you began to haunt his
brain--then he spoke about wanting to be a sculptor, because sculpture
was the art of the present day--just like you used to thunder in the old
days.

GUSTAV. No, really?

    [_Thekla moves away from Gustav behind the sofa on the left._]

THEKLA. "No, really?" Now I understand. [_To Gustav._] Now at last I see
perfectly well what a miserable scoundrel you are. You've been with him
and have scratched his heart out of his body. It's you--you who've been
sitting here on the sofa. It was you who've been suggesting all these
ideas to him: that he was suffering from epilepsy, that he should live a
celibate life, that he should pit himself against his wife and try to
play her master. How long have you been here?

GUSTAV. Eight days.

THEKLA. You were the man, then, I saw on the steamer?

GUSTAV [_frankly_]. It was I.

THEKLA. And did you really think that I'd fall in with your little game?

GUSTAV [_firmly_]. You've already done it.

THEKLA. Not yet.

GUSTAV [_firmly_]. Yes, you have.

THEKLA [_comes forward_]. You've stalked my lamb like a wolf. You came
here with a scoundrelly plan of smashing up my happiness and you've been
trying to carry it through until I realize what you were up to and put a
spoke in your precious wheel.

GUSTAV [_vigorously_]. That's not quite accurate. The thing took quite
another course. That I should have wished in my heart of hearts that
things should go badly with you is only natural. Yet I was more or less
convinced that it would not be necessary for me to cut in actively;
because, I had far too much other business to have time for intrigues.
But just now, when I was loafing about a bit, and happened to run across
you on the steamer with your circle of young men, I thought that the
time had come to get to slightly closer quarters with you two. I came
here and that lamb of yours threw himself immediately into the wolf's
arms. I aroused his sympathy by methods of reflex suggestion, into
details of which, as a matter of good form, I'd rather not go. At first
I experienced a certain pity for him, because he was in the very
condition in which I had once found myself. Then, as luck would have it,
he began unwittingly to probe about in my old wound--you know what I
mean--the book--and the ass--then I was overwhelmed by a desire to pluck
him to pieces and to mess up the fragments in such a tangle that they
could never be put together again. Thanks to the conscientious way in
which you have cleared the ground, I succeeded only too easily, and then
I had to deal with you. You were the spring in the works that had to be
taken to pieces. And, that done, the game was to listen for the
smash-up. When I came into this room I had no idea what I was to say. I
had a lot of plans in my head, like a chess player, but the character of
the opening depended on the moves you made; one move led to another,
chance was kind to me. I soon had you on toast--and now you're in a nice
mess.

THEKLA. Nonsense.

GUSTAV. Oh yes; what you'd have prayed your stars to avoid has happened:
society, in the persons of two lady visitors--I didn't commandeer their
appearance because intrigue is not in my line--society, I say, has seen
your pathetic reconciliation with your first husband, and the penitent
way in which you crawled back into his faithful arms. Isn't that enough?

THEKLA [_she goes over to him toward the right_]. Tell me--you who make
such a point of being so logical and so intellectual--how does it come
about that you, who make such a point of your maxim that everything
which happens happens as a matter of necessity, and that all our actions
are determined--

GUSTAV [_corrects her_]. Determined up to a certain extent.

THEKLA. It comes to the same thing.

GUSTAV. No.

THEKLA. How does it come about that you, who are bound to regard me as
an innocent person, inasmuch as nature and circumstances have driven me
to act as I did, could regard yourself as justified in revenging
yourself on me.

GUSTAV. Well, the same principle applies, you see--that is to say, the
principle that my temperament and circumstances drove me to revenge
myself. Isn't it a case of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other? But
do you know why you've got the worst of it in this struggle? [_Thekla
looks contemptuous._] Why you and that husband of yours managed to get
downed? I'll tell you. Because I was stronger than you, and smarter. It
was you, my dear, who was a donkey--and he as well! So you see that one
isn't necessarily bound to be quite an ass even though one doesn't write
any novels or paint any pictures. Just remember that!

    [_He turns away from her to the left._]

THEKLA. Haven't you got a grain of feeling left?

GUSTAV. Not a grain--that's why, don't you know, I'm so good at
thinking, as you are perhaps able to see by the slight proofs which I've
given you, and can play the practical man equally well, and I've just
given you something of a sample of what I can do in that line.

    [_He strides round the table and sofa on the left and turns again to
    her._]

THEKLA. And all this simply because I wounded your vanity?

GUSTAV [_on her left_]. Not that only, but you be jolly careful in the
future of wounding other people's vanity--it's the most sensitive part
of a man.

THEKLA. What a vindictive wretch! Ugh!

GUSTAV. What a promiscuous wretch. Ugh!

THEKLA. Do you mean that's my temperament?

GUSTAV. Do you mean that's my temperament?

THEKLA [_goes over toward him to the left_]. You wouldn't like to
forgive me?

GUSTAV. Certainly, I have forgiven you.

THEKLA. You?

GUSTAV. Quite. Have I ever raised my hand against you two in all these
years? No. But when I happened to be here I favored you two with scarce
a look and the cleavage between you is already there. Did I ever
reproach you, moralize, lecture? No. I joked a little with your husband
and the accumulated dynamite in him just happened to go off, but I, who
am defending myself like this, am the one who's really entitled to stand
here and complain. Thekla, have you nothing to reproach yourself with?

THEKLA. Not the least bit--the Christians say it's Providence that
guides our actions, others call it Fate, aren't we quite guiltless?

GUSTAV. No doubt we are to a certain extent. But an infinitesimal
something remains, and that contains the guilt, all the same, and the
creditors turn up sooner or later! Men and women may be guiltless, but
they have to render an account. Guiltless before Him in whom neither of
us believes any more, responsible to themselves and to their fellow-men.

THEKLA. You've come, then, to warn me?

GUSTAV. I've come to demand back what you stole from me, not what you
had as a present. You stole my honor, and I could only win back mine by
taking yours--wasn't I right?

THEKLA [_after a pause, going over to him on the right_]. Honor! Hm! And
are you satisfied now?

GUSTAV [_after a pause_]. I am satisfied now.

    [_He presses the bell by the door L. for the Waiter._]

THEKLA [_after another pause_]. And now you're going to your bride,
Gustav?

GUSTAV. I have none--and shall never have one. I am not going home
because I have no home, and shall never have one.

    [_Waiter comes in on the lef._]


SCENE VI.

    [_Previous characters--Waiter standing back._]

GUSTAV. Bring me the bill--I'm leaving by the twelve-o'clock boat.

    [_Waiter bows and exit left._]


SCENE VII.

THEKLA. Without a reconciliation?

GUSTAV [_on her left_]. Reconciliation? You play about with so many
words that they've quite lost their meaning. We reconcile ourselves?
Perhaps we are to live in a trinity, are we? The way for you to effect a
reconciliation is to put matters straight. You can't do that alone. You
have not only taken something, but you have destroyed what you took, and
you can never put it back. Would you be satisfied if I were to say to
you: "Forgive me because you mangled my heart with your claws; forgive
me for the dishonor you brought upon me; forgive me for being seven
years on end the laughing-stock of my pupils, forgive me for freeing you
from the control of your parents; for releasing you from the tyranny of
ignorance and superstition; for making you mistress over my house; for
giving you a position and friends, I, the man who made you into a woman
out of the child you were? Forgive me like I forgive you? Anyway, I now
regard my account with you as squared. You go and settle up your
accounts with the other man.

THEKLA. Where is he? What have you done with him? I've just got a
suspicion--a--something dreadful!

GUSTAV. Done with him? Do you still love him?

THEKLA [_goes over to him toward the left_]. Yes.

GUSTAV. And a minute ago you loved me? Is that really so?

THEKLA. It is.

GUSTAV. Do you know what you are, then?

THEKLA. You despise me?

GUSTAV. No, I pity you. It's a characteristic--I don't say a defect, but
certainly a characteristic--that is very fatal, by reason of its
results. Poor Thekla! I don't know--but I almost think that I'm sorry
for it, although I'm quite innocent--like you. But anyway it's perhaps
all for the best that you've now got to feel what I felt then. Do you
know where your husband is?

THEKLA. I think I know now. [_She points to the right._] He's in your
room just here. He has heard everything, seen everything, and you know
they say that he who looks upon his vampire dies.


SCENE VIII.

    [_Adolf appears on the right, deadly pale, a streak of blood on
    his left cheek, a fixed expression in his eyes, white foam on his
    mouth._]

GUSTAV [_moves back_]. No, here he is--settle with him now! See if he'll
be as generous to you as I was. Good-by.

    [_He turns to the left, stops after a few steps, and remains
    standing._]

THEKLA [_goes toward Adolf with outstretched arms_]. Adolf! [_Adolf
sinks down in his chair by the table on the left. Thekla throws herself
over him and caresses him._] Adolf! My darling child, are you alive?
Speak! Speak! Forgive your wicked Thekla! Forgive me! Forgive me!
Forgive me! Little brother must answer. Does he hear? My God, he doesn't
hear me! He's dead! Good God! O my God! Help! Help us!

GUSTAV. Quite true, she loves him as well--poor creature!


  [_Curtain._]



AUTUMN FIRES

  A COMEDY

  BY GUSTAV WIED
  TRANSLATED BY BENJAMIN F. GLAZER.


  Copyright, 1920, by Benjamin F. Glazer.
  All rights reserved.


  PERSONS

    HELMS,     }
    KRAKAU,    }
    HANSEN,    }
    JOHNSTON,  } [_Old Men, inmates of an old men's home_].
    HAMMER,    }
    BUFFE,     }
    BOLLING,   }
    KNUT [_An eighteen-year-old boy_].


  The professional and amateur stage rights are reserved by the
  translator, Mr. Benjamin F. Glazer, Editorial Department, _The Press_,
  Philadelphia, Pa., to whom all requests for permission to produce the
  play should be made.



AUTUMN FIRES

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT BY GUSTAV WIED


    [_The room of Helms and Krakau in the Old Men's Home. The time
    is afternoon of a late September day. There is a window at right
    looking out on the street and another at left overlooking a
    courtyard. There is a single door back center which opens into a
    corridor on both sides of which are similar doors in long regular
    rows and at the end of which is a stairway from the lower floors._

    _An imaginary line divides the room into two equal parts. Helms
    lives on the street side and Krakau on the side nearest the
    courtyard. In each division there is a bed, chiffonier, a
    cupboard, a table, a sofa and several chairs. The stove is on
    Krakau's side, but by way of compensation Helms has an upholstered
    arm chair with a tall back. A lamp hangs in the exact center of
    the ceiling._

    _Though there is a low screen which can be used as partial
    partition between the two divisions it is now folded and standing
    against the back wall, and the two tables are placed down center,
    end to end, so that the place is for all present purposes a single
    room._

    _Helms' side is conspicuously ill kept and in disorder; Krakau's
    side is spick and span. On Helms' table there is a vase filled
    with flowers and near it a pair of gray woolen socks and a pair of
    heavy mittens. There is also a photograph of a boy in a polished
    nickel standing-frame._

    _Helms, his spectacles on his nose, sits in his great arm chair at
    the table and reads a newspaper._

    _Krakau sits next to him working out a problem on a chess board._

    _There is a short pause after the curtain rises._]


KRAKAU. There, I've done it again.

HELMS [_without looking up from his paper_]. It's easy enough if one
cheats.

KRAKAU. Who cheats?

HELMS. Well, year after year you work out the same problem. Anybody can
do that.

KRAKAU [_rearranging the chessmen_]. You can't.

HELMS. Just try another problem once, then see how smart you are.

KRAKAU. I'm quite satisfied with this one. [_Moves a piece._] Going to
have chocolate to-day?

HELMS [_contemptuously_]. Chocolate! What for?

KRAKAU. I thought on account of it being your birthday--

HELMS. Chocolate! That's a drink for women. On my birthday I serve wine.

KRAKAU. Hmmm! Wine, eh? Who's coming?

HELMS. Just one floor.

KRAKAU. Bolling too?

HELMS. I suppose Buffe will bring him along.

KRAKAU. And he won't have a word to say.

HELMS. He never has a word to say.

KRAKAU. No, never.

HELMS. Must you rattle those pieces like that?

KRAKAU. Can I help it if they are heavy? [_Moves them more carefully._]
You are always complaining about noise. You only do it to remind me how
well you can hear.

HELMS. Your hearing has gotten a good deal worse this year, hasn't it?
Hansen says so, too.

KRAKAU. Hansen! A lot he knows! [_Moves a piece._] Is there anything
about you in the paper?

HELMS. Nonsense! What should there be?

KRAKAU. Your eightieth birthday. They put all kinds of foolishness in
the papers these days.

HELMS. Didn't you hear what I said? There is nothing.

KRAKAU. I heard you.

HELMS [_regards him distrustfully over his spectacles_]. Have you been
reading this paper while I was out?

KRAKAU [_loftily_]. I always read the paper at night, you know.
Newspaper ought to be read by lamplight.

HELMS. Boasting about your eyesight again.

KRAKAU. Yes, I have excellent eyes. [_Knocks solemnly on wood._]

HELMS. Did you read the "personal notes"?

KRAKAU [_indignantly_]. I told you I haven't touched your old paper.

HELMS. My son-in-law has been appointed postal inspector.

KRAKAU. Postal Inspector! That's not a very high office. I suppose that
is why Knut hasn't turned up to-day.

HELMS [_resentfully_]. You haven't congratulated me.

KRAKAU. Because he's a postal inspector? Hump! Congratulations. [_Pushes
aside the chessboard and rises._]

HELMS [_ironically_]. Thanks. Ah, if my daughter had lived, she would be
proud.

KRAKAU [_over his shoulder_]. If Mary's gray cat had been a horse she
could have gone riding in the park.

HELMS [_regarding him sharply over his glasses_]. Do you know what I
have noticed, Krakau? [_Krakau does not answer._] I have noticed that
whenever I mention my son-in-law you get mad.

KRAKAU. So?

HELMS [_querulously_]. Yes you do. I noticed it long ago. I don't see
what you've got against him. His son Knut is your godson, too.

KRAKAU. We'll not talk about that, Helms.

HELMS. But I want to talk about it. We have been friends for sixty
years, you and me, and--

KRAKAU [_suddenly_]. Why didn't Knut send regards to me in his birthday
letter?

HELMS. Ha, you're jealous, that's what you are. After all, it's my
birthday, not yours.

KRAKAU. He never forgot to send regards to _you_ on _my_ birthday.

HELMS [_beating his breast_]. Well, he's my grandson and he's only your
godson.

KRAKAU [_incredulously_]. So--e?

HELMS. Well, isn't he your godson?

KRAKAU. Yes.

HELMS. Then why do you say so--e like that?

KRAKAU [_restraining himself_]. We'd better not talk about that. I told
you so before.

HELMS. But, damn it, I insist upon talking about it. I want to know what
you mean.

KRAKAU. That's all right.

HELMS. It isn't the first time you've made the same stupid remark.... Do
you mean to insinuate that he isn't my grandson? Is that what you're
driving at?

KRAKAU. For the third time, let's drop the subject. [_Down in the
courtyard a hand organ begins to play._] There's the old organ
grinder.... This is Thursday.

HELMS. You needn't tell me. I can hear for myself.

KRAKAU. It's your turn to give him something.

HELMS. I have no small change. Lay it out for me.

KRAKAU. Remember you owe me for the pack of matches.

HELMS. This will make seventeen.

KRAKAU. [_Wraps a coin in a bit of paper._] I just want to make sure
you've got it right. You always argue about it afterwards.

HELMS. Hmm!

KRAKAU. [_Opens the window, throws out the coin. The music plays more
vigorously, then suddenly stops._] The porter is chasing him away.... I
suppose it's because Larsen is sick downstairs.

HELMS [_laughs angrily_]. Huh! You were in an awful hurry about throwing
that money down, weren't you? Well, I won't pay you for that.

KRAKAU [_hastily closing the window_]. What kind of a way is that?

HELMS. You should have waited until he'd played a few tunes.

KRAKAU. How was I going to know the porter would chase him away?

HELMS. That's your lookout. You should have waited, then you would have
seen, I won't pay you back.

KRAKAU. You're a damned old swindler, Helms, and you always were.
[_Turns away and pulls out his pipe._]

HELMS [_sees the pipe_]. I can't bear tobacco smoke to-day; my throat's
too bad.

KRAKAU. Let me tell you something; I take no orders from you.

HELMS. I'll complain to the superintendent. Smoke hurts my throat, and
you know it.

KRAKAU. Huh! Won't you complain to your postal clerk son-in-law, too?

HELMS. No, but I'll tell Knut when he comes. I don't see why I let you
be his godfather anyway. They wanted some one else, but I said: "No,
let's ask Krakau; it will please him." I was a fool.

KRAKAU. You asked me because you knew I'd give him a handsome present.
Old miser that you are!

HELMS. But you've always been jealous because I am his grandfather while
you are only his godfather.

KRAKAU. So--!

HELMS [_furious_]. Don't you dare to smoke, do you hear!

KRAKAU. Who's smoking? [_Puts the pipe back in his pocket._]

HELMS. You needn't pretend you are not jealous. Why, when my daughter
was alive and came to visit me here you used to crawl over to your own
side and hide your envious face.

KRAKAU. She didn't come to see me.

HELMS. Well, you might at least have been polite.... But you were always
a false friend. You never forgave me for having a wife and family while
you were a lonely old bachelor.

KRAKAU. So--e!

HELMS. Don't make that nasty noise! It's true; you know it's true. To
this day I remember how angry you were when Andrea was born. For two
years you didn't set foot in my house. You said you couldn't bear
children about.... But if she had been your own child--

KRAKAU. Can't you talk about anything else?

HELMS. And you wouldn't come to my wife's funeral either. I shall never
forgive you that, Krakau,--the wife of your best friend--and now you
want to smoke though you know I have a weak throat.

KRAKAU. Why will you talk like an idiot? Don't you see the pipe is in my
pocket.

HELMS. Well, you were going to smoke, weren't you? And there's another
thing: It never occurred to you to congratulate me when I told you my
son-in-law had been made a postal clerk.

KRAKAU [_ironically_]. I do congratulate you. But you needn't be so
stuck up about it. He's not the only postal inspector in the world.

HELMS. Who's stuck up? Not a bit of it! I was thinking of Knut. He'll be
better provided for now his father has a good position. Isn't it natural
for me to think of Knut's welfare? I am his grandfather.

KRAKAU. So--o?

HELMS. There you go again with your So--o! My daughter's son is my
grandson. Any fool knows that.

KRAKAU. Many a fool has believed he was a daughter's father--and wasn't.

HELMS. What's that? My daughter...? You are an idiot.

KRAKAU. Do you remember what happened to Adam Harbee?

HELMS. That has nothing to do with the case. My wife was not that sort
of a woman. You'll concede that.

KRAKAU. Ye-es.

HELMS. Well, then--but what can an innocent old bachelor like you know
of such things.

KRAKAU. Are you going to talk stuck up again, Helms?

HELMS. Sure I will: I am too stuck up to let an ignorant bachelor like
you teach me what's what about married life. What do you know about it?
Virgin!

KRAKAU [_infuriated_]. I'll tell you what I know about it. You are not
Andrea's father at all.

HELMS [_laughs incredulously_]. Ain't I? Well, if I may take the liberty
to ask, who is her father?

KRAKAU. That's all right. We'll not talk about it any more.

HELMS. Oh yes, we will! Who is her father, if I am not?

KRAKAU. That's all right.

HELMS. Just empty talk, eh? I might have known it. You just say such
things because I owe you seventeen pfennig.

KRAKAU. Twenty-seven! I laid out ten for cake last Friday.

HELMS. Twenty-seven, then. And that's why you make up these stories to
annoy me.

KRAKAU.. Have it your way.

HELMS [_whimpering_]. Why don't you speak out, then? If I am not
Andrea's father, who is? You can't leave it like this. Who is the man
you accuse, eh? Was it Axel?

KRAKAU [_scornfully_]. No.

HELMS. Or Summensen?

KRAKAU. Do you suppose Caroline would mix up with a couple of swine like
that?

HELMS. Of course I don't. It's you that's been putting such things in my
head. You don't know what you are talking about.

KRAKAU. I know what I know.

HELMS [_pounds on the table_]. Who was he then? Speak up or admit that
you are a filthy liar.

KRAKAU [_with sudden determination_]. I was her father. Now you know it.

HELMS [_derisively_]. You!... Ha, ha, ha!... You! God knows how you hit
on that idea. Do tell us about it.

KRAKAU [_savagely; he is on his own side of the room now_]. Yes, I'll
tell you about it.... With pleasure, my dear Helms!... I had made up my
mind to carry the secret with me to the grave ... but I can't stand your
overbearing ways any more.... Now it comes out.... And thank God for
it.... You were a devil to your wife and you have been a devil to me,
Helms, all the fifteen years we have lived in this room.

HELMS. Ha, ha! So I've been a devil, eh? The things one lives and
learns!

KRAKAU. Yes, a devil--a devil on wheels. You whine and crow and fuss and
scold ... nothing suits you ... no matter how hard I try ... and you are
mean and niggardly.... Every pfennig must be pulled out of you like a
tooth.

HELMS. I don't throw my money in the street.

KRAKAU. Nobody throws his money in the street, but you can't get along
without spending money, can you?

HELMS. No.

KRAKAU. No, but you expected Caroline to. Instead of money you gave her
compliments. Naturally she came to me for help. She had to have pin
money and clothes.

HELMS. And you gave her money.

KRAKAU. Of course I did.

HELMS. Yes, what then?

KRAKAU. Of course it was humiliating to her. She was very unhappy. I did
my best to console her.

HELMS. And then Andrea was born.

KRAKAU. Yes.

HELMS [_bitterly_]. That was ... that was powerful consolation, Krakau,
I must say.... But tell me how you are so sure that Andrea was your
daughter.

KRAKAU. Caroline told me herself. Besides, didn't I know that she had
lived with you ten years before and never had a child.

HELMS [_pathetically_]. No. [_With a flash of anger._] Why didn't you
tell me this before?

KRAKAU [_who is half sorry now_]. Why should I have told you?

HELMS [_without heeding him; mumbles half to himself, shaking his
head_]. And if she was your daughter, then Knut is your grandson and you
are also his godfather ... and to me he is nothing [_bows his head_]. I
am eighty years old to-day, Krakau.... It is hard to be told such a
thing when you are eighty....

KRAKAU [_has gone over to him, sympathetically touching his shoulder_].
I'm sorry, Helms. I wish I hadn't told you. But you made me so angry it
just popped out.... But don't worry ... everything will be just the same
as before--

HELMS [_shakes his head mournfully_]. No.

KRAKAU. But yes! I don't want him all for myself. We can share him,
can't we?

HELMS. Share him?

KRAKAU. Of course. Instead of being your grandson Knut will be _our_
grandson, that's all.

HELMS [_sits up proudly_]. Knut is nothing to me.

KRAKAU. But nobody knows that.

HELMS. He is a perfect stranger.

KRAKAU. But nobody knows it except you and me--don't you see?

HELMS. You would throw it up to me every day.

KRAKAU. Never! We should be equal partners. And oh, the long talks we
could have about him!... Before it was different ... you were so stuck
up about your grandson, I couldn't bear it any longer.... But now we can
both be stuck up.

HELMS [_hotly_]. No.... Go over on your own side. I don't want you
here.... I want to be alone.

KRAKAU. Helms....

HELMS. Get out of here, I say.... And take your flowers with you. I
accept no presents from the like of you.

KRAKAU. The flowers--?

HELMS. Yes, take them away. And take [_chokes over the word_] take
Knut's picture, too, and the stockings his father sent.... I guess
they're yours by right.

KRAKAU [_indignantly_]. I'll do nothing of the kind. My name's not Carl
Helms.

HELMS. Well, take the flowers then.

KRAKAU [_takes the flowers_]. I can do that, all right.

HELMS. And see that you don't come on my side again without asking
permission.

KRAKAU [_walks a few paces; turns around_]. Hadn't I better straighten
up a bit before your guests come?

HELMS. You leave my things alone ... and mind your business.

    [_Krakau goes with the flowers to his own side._]

HELMS. You've got the best of everything anyhow. The stove is on your
side and the morning sun. Wouldn't you like to take my arm chair too,
and my pictures? Don't mind me, you know.

    [_Krakau does not answer. There is a pause. A clock outside
    strikes five._]

KRAKAU. The clock's striking five.

HELMS. Let it strike.

    [_There is another pause. A knock on the door is heard. Neither
    answers it. There is a louder knock._]

KRAKAU. [_Impatiently._] Why don't you answer the door?

HELMS. I'm not in the humor for company.

KRAKAU. But some one is knocking.

HELMS. What's that to me? [_There is a third knock._]

KRAKAU. Obstinate old fool. [_Loudly._] Come in.

    [_Hansen and Johnston enter. Behind them in the hallway Buffe can
    be seen with Bolling on his arm. Farther back Hammer is seen._

    [_Krakau rises, goes to the window and stands there, looking
    gloomily out into the courtyard._]

HANSEN [_leaving the door open_]. The others are coming. Well,
congratulations, Helms.

HELMS. Thank you.

JOHNSTON. Many happy returns. [_They shake hands._]

BUFFE [_entering with Bolling_]. I'll have to put him in your arm chair.

HELMS. Right over there.

BUFFE. [_Helping Bolling to the chair._] Our heartiest congratulations,
eh, Bolling?

BOLLING. Hey?

BUFFE [_speaking close to his ear_]. I say we congratulate Helms on his
birthday.

BOLLING. No. It's nothing to boast about.

HAMMER [_entering_]. Congratulations!

HANSEN. Now we're all here.

HELMS. Make yourselves comfortable. [_They all take seats._]

    [_Bolling sits rigid in the arm chair absently twirling his
    fingers._

    _Krakau, who has once or twice shown the impulse to go over to
    Helms, stirs uneasily but turns his back to his window._

    _A silence falls._

    _Suddenly Hansen begins to whistle, a tuneless mournful strain._]

JOHNSTON [_whispering confidentially_]. My dear Peter, one doesn't
whistle at a birthday party.

HANSEN [_mocking him_]. My dear Henry, mind your own affairs.

JOHNSTON. You have the soul of a greengrocer.

HANSEN. You have the manners of a barber.

BUFFE [_laughing_]. Those boys are always fighting.

HAMMER. But they can't live without each other.

BUFFE [_to Hammer_]. Aren't you lonely since Kruger died?

HAMMER. It is lonesome sometimes, but I have more room now.

BUFFE. My wrists are so full of rheumatism I can hardly bend them any
more.

HAMMER. There's something the matter with all of us. How is your throat,
Helms?

HELMS. Pretty good. [_There is silence again._]

HANSEN. Fine weather to-day.

JOHNSTON. Regular birthday weather.

HAMMER. On my birthday it always rains.

HANSEN [_points to the window_]. You can see the sun from here.

BUFFE. I read in the papers about your son-in-law's appointment.

HELMS [_shortly_]. Yes?

JOHNSTON. Yes, we must congratulate you over again.

HANSEN. Helms is the luckiest man in the place.

HAMMER. Has your grandson been here yet?

HELMS. No.

BUFFE. Of course he's coming.

HELMS. I don't know.

JOHNSTON. Of course he'll come on your birthday. He's a fine young
fellow.

HANSEN. Yes, indeed, Helms, you should be proud of him.

HAMMER [_sees Knut's portrait_]. There he is. [_All except Helms and
Bolling look at the picture._]

HANSEN. Looks something like his grandfather.

JOHNSTON. Yes, it's a striking resemblance.

HAMMER. The nose.

JOHNSTON. And the eyes--look at the eyes.

HANSEN. Yes.

BUFFE. We are looking at his grandson's picture, Bolling.

    [_Bolling stares indifferently. Helms casts apprehensive glances
    at Krakau._]

HAMMER. Look at the gifts.

HANSEN. He's a lucky man.

JOHNSTON [_with a sigh_]. Ah yes, when you have your family--

BUFFE [_showing the stockings_]. Helms got some wonderful birthday
presents, Bolling.

BOLLING [_feeling them_]. Good wool.

HANSEN [_suddenly_]. What is Krakau doing over there?

HELMS [_angrily_]. Yes, why don't you stop skulking over there like a
homeless dog.

BUFFE [_to Hammer_]. They have quarreled.

HAMMER. I guess so. [_To Hansen._] Have they had a fight?

HANSEN. I don't know.

JOHNSTON. That's right, be sociable, Krakau.

HELMS [_irritably_]. Why don't you get the wine, Krakau?

KRAKAU. How should I know--

HELMS [_interrupts_]. You know it is in the closet. [_Krakau takes
bottle and glasses from the cupboard._]

HAMMER [_delighted_]. Did you say wine?

BUFFE. Wine! Did you hear?

HANSEN. You might think Helms was a postal inspector himself.

JOHNSTON. More than that! He's a millionaire in disguise. Krakau can
tell you--he has stockings full of good red gold.

    [_Krakau pours the wine. All watch with eager eyes. The sun now
    shines full in the room._]

KRAKAU. Hadn't we better push the tables together.

HELMS [_petulantly_]. No. It's my birthday. And we can do very well
without your table.

HAMMER. There'd be more room with both tables.

BUFFE. We can't all sit around one table.

HELMS. All right--push them together. [_They do so._]

JOHNSTON. We must fix our tables this way, too, Peter.

HANSEN. All right.

BUFFE [_to Bolling_]. Come over to the table; we are going to have wine.

    [_Bolling stands up. They move his chair to the table. He sits
    again._]

HANSEN. Why are you so quiet, Bolling?

BOLLING. Everything there is to say has been said.

JOHNSTON. He's a smart man. [_Nods admiringly._]

HANSEN. Ha, ha, ha!

BOLLING [_suddenly to Krakau_]. What's that you are pouring?

KRAKAU. Sherry.

BOLLING [_angrily_]. I can't stand port wine.

KRAKAU. Yes, but this is sherry.

BOLLING. Port wine is poison.

HAMMER. But this is sherry.

BOLLING. Port wine is poison.

BUFFE. Yes, Bolling; but this is sherry; it won't hurt you.

BOLLING. Poison--port wine is.

JOHNSTON [_raising his glass._] Many happy returns!

HAMMER. Many future birthdays!

HANSEN. Happy ones!

BUFFE. Bolling, we are drinking to Helms.

BOLLING. It isn't port wine, is it?

BUFFE. No, indeed,--sherry.

BOLLING. I da'sn't drink port.

BUFFE. It's a toast to Helms.

BOLLING. Why?

BUFFE. He's eighty years old to-day.

BOLLING. I am ninety-two. That's nothing to be glad about.

    [_All except Bolling raise their glasses. They utter cheery
    exclamations and drink._]

HELMS. Thanks; thank you!

BOLLING [_raising his glass_]. Congratulations, Helms. I hope you never
get as old as me.

HAMMER [_angrily_]. That's no way to talk, Bolling.

HANSEN. He's spoiling the whole party.

BUFFE [_apologetically_]. Bolling's tired of living.

JOHNSTON. You're joking.

BUFFE. No; really he is. He wants to die.

JOHNSTON. Nonsense! How can any one _want_ to die? It's against human
nature.

KRAKAU [_who has taken cigars from the cupboard_]. Who wants to smoke?

HANSEN [_with delight._] Cigars too!

    [_Krakau passes the cigars. Hansen, Hammer and Johnston each take
    one. The sun now shines on the table and men._]

BUFFE. The sun is as red as wine.

HANSEN [_with a sigh_]. Autumn is coming.

HANSEN. We've had Autumn weather for two weeks past.

HELMS. Unseasonable weather! I hate it. [_During the entire scene he has
been ill at ease, casting frequent apprehensive glances at Krakau, who
avoids his gaze._]

BUFFE. It isn't like it used to be.

HAMMER. No. When the calendar said _Summer_ we _had_ Summer.

BOLLING [_apropos of nothing_]. I am ninety-two.

BUFFE [_explaining apologetically_]. He always says that. It's on his
mind.

KRAKAU. I hear that the nurse downstairs is engaged to be married.

HANSEN. Yes, with the doctor.

JOHNSTON. The hospital doctor?

KRAKAU. Yes; he's a sick man himself.

HAMMER. Then it's a good thing she's a nurse.

HELMS. Every young woman ought to be trained as a nurse.

BUFFE [_to Bolling_]. The nurse in the hospital is going to marry the
doctor.

BOLLING. I was married, too.

HELMS. Fill the glasses, Krakau. [_Krakau does._]

BUFFE. How is Larsen's brain fever getting along?

HANSEN. He must be worse. The porter chased the organ grinder away.

HAMMER. I thought I heard the organ. Is this Thursday?

KRAKAU. Thursday, September twentieth.

HELMS [_testily_]. Don't show off, Krakau.

JOHNSTON [_raises his glass_]. Here's health. Splendid sherry.

KRAKAU [_to Buffe_]. Why aren't you drinking?

BUFFE. Thanks. I never take more than one glass. This sunshine warms you
as much as wine.

HAMMER. I have the morning sun in my window.

HANSEN. So have I. It wakes me up every morning. It's supposed to be
healthy.

HELMS. Krakau stole it from me.

KRAKAU. You know very well that--

HELMS. Yes you did. And the stove, too.

KRAKAU. The stove--

HELMS. Isn't the morning sun on your side?

KRAKAU. Yes, but--

HELMS. And the stove, too?

KRAKAU. Didn't you--

HELMS. Nothing of the kind. You live on the east side, and the morning
sun is healthiest.

KRAKAU. We can change, for my part.

HELMS. Do you hear that? Now he wants to steal my view of the street,
too?

HAMMER. What do you old friends want to quarrel for?

JOHNSTON. And on your birthday.

HELMS. Who is quarreling?

BUFFE. You may be well satisfied with the afternoon sun, Helms. See how
beautifully it shines in the window. Look at the sun, Bolling.

BOLLING. I've seen it before.

BUFFE [_explaining with pride_]. Bolling used to be a carpenter, you
know. He traveled all over the world.

BOLLING. I have seen everything.

    [_There is a rap at the door. Silence. Krakau opens it, Knut
    enters._]

KNUT [_to Krakau_]. Hello, Grandpop! [_To Helms, shaking his hand._]
Congratulations, grandfather. [_To the others._] Hello, everybody.

    [_The old men nod their heads, delighted. Buffe whispers to
    Bolling._]

BUFFE. It's Knut. The son of Helms' daughter.

BOLLING. I had a son.

HELMS. I'm glad you came my--my son [_glares at Krakau defiantly._]

KNUT. I can only stay a minute. Have you heard about father's
appointment?

JOHNSTON. He's been bragging to us about it, sonny.

HAMMER. And treated us to sherry.

BOLLING. Port wine is poison.

HANSEN. And cigars.

KNUT. Not really!

HELMS. Why don't you hang up your cap?

KNUT. I must be off in a minute. Back to school. I had only an hour's
leave, and it takes half an hour to ride each way.

BUFFE. How old are you, my boy?

KNUT. Seventeen.

BUFFE. It's sixty-one years since I was that young. He's only seventeen,
Bolling.

BOLLING. I was seventeen--once. Now I'm ninety-two.

HAMMER. I am seventy-three.

KNUT. Let's add up the number of years in this room.

HELMS. There's too many. It can't be done.

KNUT [_with a laugh_]. Let's try. [_Rapidly._] Mr. Bolling is 92 and
grandfather is 80; that's 172.

HELMS. There's quick counting for you!

KNUT. How old are you, Mr. Buffe?

BUFFE. Seventy-eight.

KNUT. That's 250.

HAMMER [_in wonderment_]. Two hundred and fifty!

KNUT. And you, grandpop?

KRAKAU. Seventy.

KNUT. 320. And you, Mr. Hammer?

HAMMER. Seventy-three.

KNUT. 393.

JOHNSTON. Think of that!

KNUT. And Mr. Hansen?

    [_All the old people except Bolling and Hansen, snigger. Hansen
    turns away, offended._]

KNUT. Don't you know how old you are, sir?

HANSEN. Of course, I know.

HELMS. He's ashamed to tell you. Ha, ha!

BUFFE. He's afraid. Ha, ha!

HANSEN. Who's afraid? [_Reluctantly._] I'm only sixty.

THE OLD PEOPLE. "Only a boy." "Not dry behind the ears." "He'll grow."
"Poor child."

KNUT. That makes 453.

JOHNSTON [_beats his chest_]. I am seventy-five.

KNUT. That gives us 528 altogether.

HAMMER. Five hundred and twenty-eight! What a head the boy has on him.

BUFFE [_to Bolling_]. All together we are 528 years old.

BOLLING. What does it matter?

HELMS. We'd be older still if there weren't a boy among us.

JOHNSTON. Yes, Hansen spoils it by being so young.

KRAKAU. You'll have to hurry, Hansen.

HAMMER. Yes, so you will.

BUFFE. Why don't you take something to make you grow?

HANSEN. Oh, let me alone!

KNUT. Well, I must be going.

THE OLD PEOPLE. "What a pity." "Can't you be late for once?" "The
teacher won't mind."

KNUT. I really must. Good-by, grandfather.... Hope you live eighty years
more.... Good-by, grandpop.... Good-by, everybody. Good luck! [_He
exits._]

HAMMER. You can see him go from here. [_Goes to the window._]

HANSEN. Can you? [_Joins him._]

    [_All go to the window except Bolling, who sits stiff and
    abstracted in his chair._]

HELMS. Open it. [_He helps Johnston do so._]

JOHNSTON. There he goes.

KRAKAU. He is waving to us. [_All wave back._]

BUFFE. What a fine lad!

KRAKAU. Good-by. [_All shout good-by. Bolling does not stir._]

BUFFE [_turning away from the window, with a sigh_]. He's gone.

HANSEN [_low_]. Yes, he's gone.

JOHNSTON. It's nice to have young people around once in a while.

BUFFE [_nods sadly_]. Yes.

JOHNSTON. You have a fine young grandson, Helms.

HELMS [_with an uneasy glance at Krakau_]. Yes, I can't complain of him.

BUFFE. It's good to have a family that look after you.

HANSEN. It's good to have a family at all. Many people haven't.

HAMMER. No.

BOLLING. No. They die.

HELMS [_sharply_]. Close the window, Krakau. There's a draught. [_Krakau
closes the window._]

HAMMER. Yes, the sun is down.

BUFFE. Yes.

HANSEN. Isn't it time we were going?

JOHNSTON. These _young_ people should be early to bed. [_Laughter._]

BUFFE. It really is time to go. Thank you, Helms. It was a nice party.

HELMS. Going already? [_Glances uneasily at Krakau._]

BUFFE. It's near supper time, you know. We are going, Bolling.

HAMMER. Then we'll go too.... We enjoyed your party, Helms.

HELMS. The pleasure was mine.

JOHNSTON. Good night, Helms. Next time it's my party.

HELMS. When?

JOHNSTON. October 23rd.

HANSEN. Good-by--and many thanks.

HELMS. Not at all, not at all.

BUFFE. Are you ready, Bolling?

BOLLING. Hum! [_He rises._]

BUFFE. Good-by, everybody. [_To Bolling._] Say good-by.

BOLLING. Good-by.

    [_Krakau holds open the door. The guests file out talking gayly.
    He closes the door and their voices are faintly heard outside._]

    [_Helms bustles about uneasily._]

KRAKAU [_on his own side_]. Well, it went off very nicely.

HELMS. Yes, very well--very well.

KRAKAU. Want me to help you straighten up?

HELMS. No--I can do it myself.

    [_There is a pause. Krakau takes back his chairs._]

KRAKAU. We'll want to move my table back.

HELMS [_seizing one end of it_]. Well, come on! Where are you?

KRAKAU [_taking the other end hastily_]. Coming, coming!

    [_The table moved, there is another pause. Each is on his own
    side. Helms potters helplessly with the bottles and glasses._]

KRAKAU. Need any help?

HELMS. You stand there doing nothing and you ask me-- [_The rest is
a sullen growl._]

    [_Krakau takes the glasses, puts them on a tray and carries them
    across to left._]

HELMS. Where are you going with my glasses?

KRAKAU [_stops_]. I was going to wash them.

HELMS. Well, don't forget whom they belong to.

KRAKAU. Don't worry. [_Puts the glasses on the wash stand._] Shall I
light the lamp?

HELMS. You can't see in the dark, can you?

KRAKAU [_lighting the hanging lamp_]. Knut behaved very nicely, didn't
he?

HELMS [_moodily_]. Yes.

KRAKAU. He made everybody happy with his high spirits.

HELMS. Not me.

KRAKAU [_hastily changing the subject_]. It's funny about old Bolling.
How he's changed in the last year! He never talks any more.

HELMS. When you get to be ninety-two and not a relation in the
world--[_His voice breaks in self-pity._]

KRAKAU [_finished with the lamp, makes a little solicitous gesture
behind his friend's back, but immediately busies himself with putting
things to right_]. Where do you want these things to go?

HELMS. On the chiffonier ... next to the other.... Bolling is so old he
feels superfluous.... I am getting like that--

KRAKAU [_hastily_]. Where do these stockings and things go?

HELMS. Next to the last drawer.

KRAKAU. I guess you are all fixed now.... There's nothing else? [_Turns
from the chiffonier, having closed the drawer, and starts for his own
side of the room._]

HELMS [_suddenly_]. It's a terrible thing you've done to me, Krakau!

KRAKAU [_in surprise_]. What now?

HELMS [_his voice trembling_]. You have made my dead wife a strumpet and
my dead daughter a bastard. [_Krakau bridles and turns to him with
clenched fists. Helms continues pitifully._] And you have robbed me in
my old age of a grandson ... all I have in the world. [_Querulously
musing._] When men are young they see red and kill for that sort of
thing ... yes ... they kill.... But when you are old it's different....
I can't even be very angry with you, Krakau.... Isn't it queer?... It's
all so far back ... in the past ... impersonal ... and blurred like a
half-remembered dream.

KRAKAU [_with contrition_]. I shouldn't have told you.

HELMS. You shouldn't have told me.... No ... but you did ... and I can't
be angry with you.... I am an old fool.... After all ... honor ...
fidelity ... marriage vows ... what do they matter when there is nothing
to do but to sit and count the days until you die?

KRAKAU [_chokingly_]. Helms!

HELMS [_with a flash of anger_]. But Knut matters. He _is_ my grandson
... in spite of you.... You shan't take him away from me.

KRAKAU. I don't want to take him away from you.

HELMS. Your blood ... perhaps ... but _my grandson_--

KRAKAU [_eagerly_]. Of course, he is, Helms. We can share him between
us. Don't you see? He need never know. No one need know ... just you
and I.... We can have him together ... our own little secret.

HELMS [_looks at him_]. Nobody else will know?

KRAKAU [_solemnly_]. Not a soul. I swear it.

HELMS. Nobody?

KRAKAU. Nobody.

HELMS [_a faint smile dispels his frown_]. And when we talk about Knut
you won't say "So-o" any more?

KRAKAU. Never ... for hereafter he'll be _our_ Knut ... just as if you
were his father and I his mother.

HELMS [_the idea pleases him, considers it, then gives his assent like a
child playing a game_]. No, I'll be the mother. And we can quarrel about
him ... of course, in a friendly way.

KRAKAU. Always friendly.

HELMS. And just think--we shall have something to talk about all the
time.

KRAKAU. Especially at night ... after supper ... under the lamp.

HELMS. And when we are in bed in the dark and cannot sleep.

KRAKAU. Always about our Knut.

HELMS. Ha, ha.... Do you know, Krakau, I think you should have told me
long ago.

KRAKAU. I was afraid.

HELMS. Afraid! Absurd. What was there to be afraid about? You can see
for yourself that we are better friends since you told me. [_Goes to the
chiffonier and gets the photograph._] He does look something like you.

KRAKAU [_magnanimously_]. Oh, no! He's your wife's son all over.

HELMS [_with equal magnanimity_]. He looks a good deal like you just the
same.... Don't you want to borrow this for a few days?

KRAKAU. Why, you only got it this morning.

HELMS. Never mind. Take it.... Saturday I'll get it back from you. Then
in a few days I'll lend it to you again.

KRAKAU. Thanks. [_Takes the photograph_]. Can I borrow the paper, too?

HELMS. Sure, take it with you.... And lend me your chess men, will you?

KRAKAU [_with animation_]. I'll get it for you. [_Goes to his own
chiffonier for it._]

HELMS. We might as well move the tables together. It's more comfortable
that way.

KRAKAU. Certainly. [_Comes down with the chessboard and helps move the
tables._]

HELMS. Now you take my arm chair and read your paper. I'll play over
here.

KRAKAU. I wouldn't think of taking your chair.

HELMS. You do as you are told. [_Sits on an ordinary chair._] I can
reach better from one of these anyway.

KRAKAU. Oh, well. [_Sits in the arm chair and unfolds the newspaper.
There is a pause._]

HELMS. Why don't you light your pipe?

KRAKAU. Your throat--

HELMS. My throat is all right. Go on and smoke.

KRAKAU [_comfortably lights his pipe, relaxes_]. Well, now we'll see how
good you are at working out problems.

HELMS. I don't think I can do it.

KRAKAU [_reading_]. Sure you can.

HELMS. Look here. Would you check with the bishop?

KRAKAU [_studies the board_]. No ... that loses you the queen.... Hum
... you've sort of mixed it up.... Back with that rook.

HELMS. How's that?

KRAKAU. Brilliant!

HELMS. Knut is back at school by this time.

KRAKAU. Yes, probably studying his lessons.

HELMS. He's a boy.

KRAKAU. None better.

HELMS. Isn't it nice to talk about him like this ... calm and
friendly?... You have no cause to be jealous any more, ha, ha!

KRAKAU. And you needn't be stuck up any more, ha, ha!

HELMS. No, ha, ha! There, I've muddled it again.

KRAKAU. No, you haven't.... Just move here ... and here.

HELMS [_suddenly takes out his purse_]. By the way, I owe you
twenty-seven pfennig.

KRAKAU. There's no hurry.

HELMS. Take it!

KRAKAU. All right. [_He rises._]

HELMS. Where are you going?

KRAKAU [_at the chiffonier_]. We forgot the flowers.

HELMS. Oh, yes!

KRAKAU. They smell so fragrant. [_Puts them on the table._]

HELMS [_takes a flower and puts it in Krakau's buttonhole_]. You must
wear one.

KRAKAU [_overcome_]. Thank you, Helms, thank you. [_They bend over the
chessboard again._]

HELMS [_rubs his hands with delight_]. Now white moves.

KRAKAU [_considering_]. White moves.... I should say ... there ... that
pawn ... I'd sacrifice it.

HELMS [_picks it up with playful tenderness_]. Poor little white pawn!
[_Places it on the board._]

    [_They study the next move absorbedly as the curtain falls._]


  [_Curtain._]



BROTHERS

  A SARDONIC COMEDY

  BY LEWIS BEACH


  Copyright, 1920, by Frank Shay.
  All rights reserved.


  CHARACTERS

    SETH.
    LON.
    PA.


  BROTHERS was first presented by the Provincetown Players, New York.

  Applications for permission to produce BROTHERS should be addressed to
  Frank Shay, Four Christopher Street, New York City. No performance may
  take place without his consent.



BROTHERS

A SARDONIC COMEDY BY LEWIS BEACH


    [SCENE: _A very small room in a tar-papered shanty, reeking
    poverty. The entrance is center-back,--a few boards nailed
    together for a door. A similar door, opening into the bedroom of
    the shack, upstage right. Downstage left, a broken window. Left
    center, a rusty cooking stove. Above it, a series of shelves
    holding a few dishes and cooking utensils. Rough board table in
    the center of the room. A kitchen chair at the right of the table.
    A large wooden rocker near the stove; rope and wire hold it
    together. An arm-chair, below the bedroom door is full of
    newspapers. Several heterogeneous colored prints culled from
    out-of-date newspapers and calendars are tacked on the
    rain-stained walls. When the entrance door is open we see a
    cleared, sandy spot with a background of scrub oaks and jack
    pines._

    _The curtain rises on the late afternoon of a spring day._

    _A man of forty enters, leaving the bedroom door open behind him.
    His small head and childish face, on a tall, thin, and extremely
    erect body, resemble those of a species of putty-like rubber doll
    whose head may be reshaped by the hand. He wears a winter cap,
    blue flannel shirt, well-worn trousers with suspenders, and
    sneakers that were once white. Outside shirt sleeves are rolled to
    the elbow; undershirt sleeves are not. His shoes make no noise;
    nevertheless, he comes on tiptoe, his eyes fixed on the shelves.
    For a moment he stops and glances into the room he has just
    quitted. Satisfied, he squats before the shelves. He hesitates,
    then quickly lifts from a lower shelf an inverted cooking vessel,
    and grasps a small tin box which was hidden under it. He inspects
    the box, trying to decide whether he can pry open its lock._]


[_The voice of an old, infirm man in the adjoining room_]: Seth?

SETH [_alarmed; starts to return the box to the shelf_]. Yes, Pa? [_His
voice is pitched high._]

PA [_querulously_]. What yuh doin'?

SETH. Jest settin'.

PA. Don't yuh go near my tin box 'til I'm dead.

    [_Seth makes no answer._]

PA. D'yuh hear?

SETH. I hear.

PA. I won't heve no one know nothin' 'bout my last will an' testament
'til I'm dead.

    [_There is a pause. Seth is regarding the box intently._]

PA. Seth?

SETH [_peevishly_]. What d'yuh want?

PA. Bring me a drink.

SETH. There ain't no more water in the pail.

PA. There's lots in the well this spring.

    [_A pause. Seth continues his scrutiny of the lock._]

PA. My throat's burnin' up.

SETH. Well, maybe I kin find a drop. [_Puts the box on the shelf and
re-covers it; in doing so makes a slight noise._]

PA. What's that noise?

SETH. I'm gettin' yuh a drink!

    [_Seth strolls to the stove, lifts the top from the kettle, and
    looks inside. He finds a tin cup and fills it with water. Looking
    into the kettle again, he sees there is little water left. Why
    make a trip to the pump necessary? Back into the kettle goes some
    of the water. Cup in hand, he moves toward the bedroom. He reaches
    the door when a sagging bellied man enters from the yard. It is
    Lon, the elder, shorter brother. His face has become molded into
    an expressionless stare, and his every movement seems to be made
    with an effort. An abused man, Lon, the most ill-treated fellow
    in the world. At least, so he is ever at pains to have all
    understand. He wears an old felt hat, cotton shirt, badly patched
    trousers, suspenders attached to the buttons of his trousers with
    string, and shoes that are almost soleless. His shirt, stained
    with sweat, is opened at the throat, revealing red flannel
    underwear. When Seth sees Lon he immediately closes the bedroom
    door, silently turns the key in the lock, and puts the key in his
    pocket. For a moment the men stand looking at each other,
    reminding one of two roosters. Then Seth strolls to the stove,
    pours the water into the kettle, and planks himself down in the
    rocker. Lon glances once or twice at the bedroom door, but moves
    not to it. He watches Seth suspiciously. Finally he speaks._]

LON [_in an expressionless drawl_]. I hear Pa's dyin'.

SETH. Yuh hear right.

LON [_with a motion of his head toward the bedroom_]. Is he in there?

SETH. Yes.

    [_Lon hesitates, then moves slowly toward Pa's room. An idea
    strikes Seth suddenly and he interrupts Lon's progress._]

SETH. He's asleep.

    [_Lon stops. Seth fills his pipe and lights it. Lon takes his
    corncob from his pocket and coughs meaningly. Seth looks at Lon,
    sees what he wants, but does not offer him tobacco. Lon puts his
    pipe back in his pocket, moves to the table, sits, and sighs. He
    crosses his right foot so Seth sees what was once the sole of his
    shoe._]

SETH. What did yuh come here fur?

LON. 'Cause Pa's dyin'.

SETH. Yuh never come when he was about.

LON. Wall, no one ever seed yuh a settin' here much.

SETH [_fleeringly_]. Suppose yuh want t' know what he's left yuh.

LON. Wall, ... it warn't comfortable comin' three miles an' a quarter on
a day like this un.

SETH [_cackles_]. Sand's hot on yer bare naked feet, ain't it?

LON [_moves his feet_]. Yuh kin talk about my holey boots. If I didn't
heve no mouths but my own t' feed I guess I could buy new ones too. So
there, Seth Polland!

SETH. Jacobs offered yuh a job at the fisheries same as me.

LON. It's too fur t' hoof it twict a day.

SETH. Yuh could sleep at the fisheries.

LON. I got t' look after my kids.

SETH [_grins_]. 'Tain't my fault yuh've kids.

LON [_threateningly_]. Don't yuh talk 'bout that! [_Pause._] Yer woman
had t' leave yuh. [_Laughs._] Yuh didn't give her 'nough t' eat.

SETH [_indifferently_]. She warn't no good.

LON. She had t' leave yuh same as Ma left Pa twenty years ago. Pa's
dyin' fur sure?

SETH. Who told yuh?

LON. Ma.

SETH [_greatly surprised_]. Ma? [_suspiciously._] What you got t' do
with her?

LON. I was passin' her place this mornin'. Furst time I spoke t' her in
a year.

SETH. I ain't in two.

LON [_in despair_]. Seth, she's cut twenty cords o' wood t' sell.

SETH [_shaking his head_]. An' me without a roof o' my own.

LON. Me an' the kids wonder sometimes where our next meal's comin' from.

SETH [_as though there were something better in store for him_]. Oh,
wall.

LON [_pricks up his ears; coughs_]. If I had this house I could work at
the fisheries.

SETH. But yuh ain't a goin' t' git it.

LON [_alarmed_]. Pa ain't gone an' left it t' yuh?

SETH. Pa deeded this t' Doc last winter.

LON [_amazed and angered_]. He did?

SETH. Doc said he could live here 'till he died. But it's Doc's.

LON. It warn't right.

SETH. Wall, he had t' pay fur his physics some way. He told me yuh
wouldn't help him out.

LON. And Pa told me yuh wouldn't. An' yuh ain't got two kids t' feed.
[_Pause._] There's Pa's old shanty down the road. If I had that I could
work at the fisheries.

    [_Seth's smile is his only response._]

Pa still owns it, don't he?

SETH. There warn't no call fur him t' make his last will an' testament
if he don't.

LON [_brightens_]. He's left his last will an' testament?

SETH. Yes. I'm figgerin' on sellin' the place t' Doc.

LON [_emphatically_]. Pa ain't a left it t' yuh!

SETH. Doc'll want it.

LON [_forcefully_]. Where's the will an' testament?

SETH [_with a gesture_]. In the tin box under that there kittle.

    [_Lon hurries to the shelves, picks up the dish, and grasps the
    box._]

LON [_disappointed_]. It's locked.

SETH. An' the key's round Pa's neck.

LON. Let's git it.

SETH. Pa won't give it t' us.

LON. Yuh said he was sleepin'.

SETH. I mean--he might wake up.

    [_Lon inspects the box further._]

LON. I think I could open it.

SETH. Pa might ask t' see it.

LON. Hell. [_Puts the box back on the shelf._]

SETH. Doc'll want the place seein' as how it's right next t' this un.

    [_Lon is very nervous._]

Yuh might jest as wall go home.

LON. No, yuh don't! Yuh can't make me believe Pa's left it t' yuh.
[_Takes off his hat and mops his brow with his sleeve. The top of his
head is very bald._]

SETH. Then what yuh gettin' so excited 'bout?

LON. I ain't excited. [_Puts his hat on._] It jest makes me mad 'cause
yuh say Pa's left it t' yuh, an' I know he ain't. See? There warn't no
call fur him t' heve willed an' testamented it t' yuh. Yuh've only
yerself t' look after an' I've two motherless kids.

SETH. Every one knows how much Pa thought o' them.

LON. It warn't my fault if they thumbed their noses at him.

SETH. Yuh could o' basted 'em.

LON. They's like their Ma. Bastin' never done her no good, God rest her
soul. All the same, Pa knowd how hard it is fur me t' keep their bellies
full. Why, when we heve bread Alexander never wants less than half the
loaf! An' all the work I gits t' do is what the city folks who come t'
the Beach in the summer gives me.

SETH. Huh! Jest as though I didn't know 'bout yuh. Mr. Breckenridge told
me yuh wouldn't even contract t' chop his wood fur him. An' there yuh
sits all winter long in that God-fursaken shanty o' yourn, with trees
all round yuh, an' yuh won't put an ax t' one 'til yer own fires dies
out.

LON. My back ain't never been strong. Choppin' puts the kinks in it. Yuh
kin talk, yuh kin, Seth Polland, with a soft job at the fisheries an'
three squares a day which yuh don't heve t' cook yourself. Nothin' t' do
all winter but walk round them cottages an' see that no one broke in.
An' I'm the one who knows how often yuh walk round them cottages. I wish
I hed yer snap. [_Sits._] But I ain't never had no luck.

SETH [_defending himself_]. I walk round them cottages jest as often as
I need t' walk round them cottages.

LON. Huh! I could tell a tale. Who was it set with his feet in the oven
last winter, an' let Jack Tompkins break into them cottages--_with
keys_? [_Seth does not answer._] I could tell, I could. But I ain't a
goin' t' 'til they put me on the witness-stand. [_Pause._] But the furst
initials o' his name is Seth Polland.

SETH [_rising instantly_]. Lon Polland, yuh ever tell an' I'll skin yuh
alive.

LON. Huh!

SETH. Skin yuh like a pole-cat.

LON. Huh!

    [_Seth turns, knocks the ashes from his pipe into the stove. Lon
    rises; takes Seth's chair and rocks vigorously._]

SETH. Yuh know what I got on yuh.

    [_Lon's bravado is short-lived. He rocks less strenuously._]

SETH. Yuh thought I didn't see yuh, but I was right on the spot when yuh
set fire t' Mr. Rogers' bath-house.

    [_Lon stops rocking._]

SETH. Right behind a jack pine I was an' seed yuh do it. An' yuh done it
'cause Mr. Rogers leaved Jessup paint the house when yuh thought yuh
ought t' had the job.

LON [_rises_]. I got t' be a gettin' home a fore dark an' tend t' my
stock.

SETH. Stock? [_Cackles. Pulls out his tobacco-pouch and fills his pipe.
Lon shows his pipe again._] A blind mare an' a rooster. [_Drops pouch on
the table as he lights his pipe._]

LON. Rooster's dead. [_Moves stealthily toward the table._]

SETH. What of?

LON. Pip.

SETH. Starvation.

LON. I would a killed him this long time, but Victoria howled so when I
threatened. The fowl used t' wake me in winter same as summer with his
crowin'.

    [_As Lon finishes his speech he reaches for the pouch. But Seth's
    hand is quicker. Seth moves to the rocker and sits, dangling the
    pouch temptingly by one finger. Lon puts his pipe in his pocket._]

SETH. Should think yuh'd want t' set round 'til Pa dies, bein' as yer so
sure he's left yuh his property.

LON. He oughter a left it t' me.

SETH. Well, I'm a tellin' yuh it's mine.

LON. Yuh ain't got no right t' it. [_Mops his head again._] Pa begged
yuh t' come an' live with him, offered yuh this fine roof over yer head,
an' yuh was too cussed even t' do that fur him. An' now yuh expect he's
made yuh his heir.

SETH. I've treated him righter 'an yuh.

LON. Yuh ain't.

    [_Suddenly something seems to snap in Seth's brain. He looks as
    though he were in intense pain._]

SETH [_gasping_]. Maybe he's left it t' the two o' us!

LON. _What?_

SETH. Maybe he's divided the place a 'tween us.

LON [_shakes his head_]. Oh, he wouldn't be so unhuman as that.

SETH. He would. He was always settin' one agin' t' other.

LON. He used t' tell me I had t' figger how t' git the best o' yuh or
he'd baste me.

SETH. He was all the time whettin' us on when we was kids.

LON. It was him showed me how t' shake my old clock so it'd run fur five
minutes, an' then you'd swop that pail yuh found fur it.

SETH. Huh! He give me his gum t' stop up the hole in that pail. Yuh
wouldn't know it leaked an' we could laugh at yuh when you had t' carry
water in it.

LON [_pathetically_]. There warn't never more 'an a pint left when I got
t' the house. An' Pa always hed such a thirst.

SETH. He'd like t' laugh at us in his grave.

LON. It jest tickled him t' raise hell a 'tween us.

SETH [_rises_]. I'll take my oath he's divided the old shanty an' the
two acres a 'tween us. [_Drops into his chair like a condemned man._]
An' I figgered I'd be sellin' them t' Doc t'morrow.

LON. Me an' the kids was a goin' t' heve a garden on the cleared spot.

SETH. A garden in that sand?

LON. Radishes an' rutabagas.

SETH [_persuasively; his manner becomes kind_]. Lon, what yuh need is
the shanty.

LON [_droning_]. The shanty ain't no good t' me without I hes the ground
fur it t' set on.

SETH. Yuh can tear it down an' use the lumber t' mend yer old leaky one.

LON. I want the shanty t' live in so I kin git a soft job at the
fisheries. [_Sympathetically._] You ought t' have a shanty, Seth.
Supposin' yuh was t' take sick. They wouldn't keep yuh at the fisheries
then. Yuh take my place an' give me Pa's.

SETH [_flashing into anger_]. I want the two acres t' sell Doc. Yer old
place leaks like a net! [_Then, fearing he has been too disparaging:_]
But yuh could make it real comfortable with the lumber in--

LON [_cutting in_]. I'll make a bargain. I'll leave yuh a bed-stead an'
a table if yuh'll take my place.

SETH. I don't want it! I want Pa's old place.

LON. An' I want it. I'm older 'an yuh.

SETH. I got the best claim t' it.

LON. Yuh ain't. We with three mouths t' feed. Yer a swindler, yuh are.
Yuh always tried t' cheat me.

SETH. No one kin say that t' me. I'm an honest man. But I'm a goin' 't
heve the two acres if I heve t' go t' law.

LON. Wall, yuh ain't a goin' t' wreck me.

SETH [_calmly; philosophically again_]. Maybe yer right, Lon, when yuh
say I ought t' have a roof. I'll tell yuh what I'll do, seein' as how
yer my brother. Yuh give me the ground an' the house on it, an' I'll
make yuh a present o' twenty-five dollars.

LON. That's a lie! Yuh ain't got twenty-five dollars t' yer name.

SETH. Yuh think so.

LON. Every one in these parts knows yuh owes Hawkins forty-three dollars
an twenty-nine cents he kin't collect. Give me the house an' ground, an'
I'll give yuh my own house an' my note fur twenty-five dollars.

SETH. Yer note! I'm a goin' t' heve Pa's old place.

LON. An' I say that yuh or no swindler like yuh is a goin' t' cheat me
out o' it.

SETH. I ain't a swindler, yuh wall-eyed son--

LON [_advancing_]. Take it back. Don't yuh call me dissipated names.

SETH. I'll never take it back!

    [_Lon doubles his fists and strikes; but the blow lands in the air
    as Seth grabs Lon. They fight furiously and in dead earnest,
    though there is no ethics to the struggle. The rickety furniture
    trembles as they advance and retreat. Seth is quicker and lighter
    and less easily winded; but Lon's bulk is not readily moved, and,
    despite his "weak back," he can still wield his arms. It looks
    like a fight to the finish. Isn't their future at stake? And they
    are giving vent to a hatred bred by their father. But suddenly
    Pa's voice is heard, calling wildly to Seth. The men do not move:
    the voice seems to have paralyzed their muscles. For a moment they
    stand dazed. Then consciousness comes to them: they realize that
    the waiting is over. They tear to the bedroom. A silence follows.
    They must be fascinated by the ghost of the old man._]

SETH [_in the bedroom; quietly_]. He's gone, Lon.

LON [_in the bedroom_]. Yer right, Seth.

    [_Then their voices rise in dispute._]

Don't yuh take it!

SETH. I've got it!

LON. It's mine!

SETH. It ain't!

LON. Yuh kin't--

SETH. Shut up!

    [_They rush into the kitchen, Seth in advance, Lon close on his
    heels. The younger throws the cooking-dish to the floor, grabs the
    box, and hurries to the table. As though they were about to
    discover a world's secret, they unlock the box, each as near to it
    as possible, his arms tense, fingers itching, ready to ward off a
    blow or seize the treasure. From the box, Seth takes an old
    tobacco-pouch, a jack-knife, a bit of heavy cord, a couple of
    letters. These are contemptuously thrown on the table. The will
    lies at the bottom of the box. Lon snatches it. Seth would take it
    from him._]

LON. Hold off! I'm jest a goin' t' read it.

    [_Seth curbs his impatience. Lon opens the document and reads,
    slowly and haltingly._]

"I, Nathaniel Polland, o' Sandy Point in the County o' Rhodes an' State
o' Michigan, bein' o' sound mind an' memory, do make, publish, an'
declare this t' be my last Will an' Testament in manner followin',
viz--." What does "viz" mean?

    [_Unable to bear the suspense longer, Seth seizes the paper. He
    scans it until his eyes catch the all-important paragraph._]

SETH. "--Bequeath all my earthly possessions to my wife, Jennie
Polland."

    [_Their thunderbolt has descended. They stand like two men
    suddenly deprived of thought and motion. Medusa's victims could
    not have been more pitiable. They have been hurled from their El
    Dorado, which, at the worst, was to have been their common
    property._

    _Then Seth's voice comes to him, and sufficient strength to drop
    into a chair._]

SETH. The damned old critter.

LON. I'll be swaned.

SETH [_blazing out_]. That's gratitude.

LON. After all we done fur him.

SETH [_pathetically_]. An' me a plannin' these last five years on
gettin' that house an' ground.

LON. My kids are packin' our furniture this afternoon, gettin' ready t'
move in.

SETH [_with supreme disgust_]. Leavin' it t' Ma.

LON. Her who he ain't hardly spoke t' in twenty years.

SETH. Jest as though yuh an' me wasn't alive.

LON. We'd a given him our last pipeful.

SETH. His own flesh an' blood.

LON. Why, he told me more 'an a thousand times he hated Ma.

SETH. She don't need it.

LON. She's ready fur the grave-yard.

SETH. She's that stingy, cuttin' an' choppin' wood, sellin it t' the
city folks. We might a knowd.

LON. An' me a comin' all the three miles an' a quarter t' see him a fore
he died.

SETH. I been settin' here two days a waitin'.

LON. An' then t' treat us like that. [_Wipes his mouth._] Why, the hull
place ain't worth a damn!

SETH. A cavin'-in shanty an' two acres yuh couldn't grow weeds on.

LON. A pile o' sand.

SETH [_rising; bursting into fire like an apparently dead rocket_]. She
ain't a goin' t' heve it!

LON. What?

SETH. I won't let Ma heve it!

LON. But how yuh goin' t' stop her? 'Twon't do no good t' tear up the
will an' testament. It's rec-ord-ed.

SETH. Don't make no difference. She ain't a goin' t' heve that place.

LON [_eagerly_]. But how yuh goin'--?

SETH. I don't know. But I'm a goin' t'.

LON. It ain't hers by rights.

SETH. Didn't she leave him twenty years ago?

LON. Why, she ain't even expectin' it!

SETH. She'll never miss it if she don't git it.

LON [_shaking his head_]. Me an' the kids packed up, ready t' move in.

    [_There is a silence. Lon deep in his disappointment, Seth making
    his brain work as it has never worked before. And he is rewarded
    for his diligence. A suggestion of his sneering smile comes to his
    face._]

SETH. Lon?

LON. Yes?

SETH [_looks about, making sure that only his brother is listening_].
Yuh 'member what yuh done t' Rogers when he didn't leave yuh paint his
bath-house?

LON [_his eyes open wide_]. Burn it?

SETH. Sh!

LON. Oh, no!

SETH. Yuh don't want Ma t' heve it, does yuh?

LON. When I burned that bath-house I didn't sleep good fur a couple o'
nights. I dreamed o' the sheriff.

SETH. Nobody knows but me. An' nobody'll know yuh an' me set fire t'
Pa's old place.

LON. Yuh swear yuh won't never tell?

SETH [_raising his right hand_]. I swear.

LON. Yuh won't never try an' make out I done it next time we run agin
each other fur district school-inspector?

SETH [_raising his right hand_]. I swear. 'Cause if I kin't have Pa's
old place, no one kin.

LON. Got matches?

SETH. Yes. An' Pa's kerosene-can's got 'bout a pint in it. [_Takes the
can from the bottom shelf._]

LON. I may as wall take these papers along with me. [_Picks up the
newspapers._]

    [_Seth moves to the table. Begins to fill his pipe. Lon takes his
    corncob from his pocket and coughs. Seth looks at Lon, meditates,
    then speaks._]

SETH. Heve a smoke, Lon?

LON. Maybe I will.

    [_Lon fills his pipe.--Seth strikes a match, lights his own pipe
    first, then hands the match to Lon._]

SETH. We're brothers.

LON. The same flesh an' blood has got t' treat each other right.

    [_Lon starts to put Seth's tobacco-pouch in his pocket, but Seth
    stops him._]

SETH. An' we wouldn't be treatin' each other right if we let Pa's
property come into Ma's hands.

    [_Seth carries the kerosene, Lon the papers. They go out the back
    door and disappear. Thus, in disgust and rage, the brothers are
    united. Then Seth's voice is heard._]

SETH [_in the yard_]. Wait a minute, Lon.

    [_Seth returns. He picks up Pa's tobacco-pouch, knife and
    scissors, glances toward the door to see that Lon isn't watching,
    and sticks them into his pocket._]

LON [_in the yard_]. What yuh doin', Seth? [_Appears at the door._]

SETH. I thought I left somethin' valuable. But I ain't. [_He leaves._]

    [_Lon and Seth pass out of sight._]


  [_Curtain._]



IN THE MORGUE

  A PLAY

  BY SADA COWAN


  Copyright, 1920, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
  All rights reserved.


  IN THE MORGUE is reprinted from "The Forum" by special permission of
  Miss Sada Cowan. Application for right of performing IN THE MORGUE
  must be made to Miss Sada Cowan, The Authors' League, New York City.



IN THE MORGUE

A PLAY BY SADA COWAN


    [PLACE: _In the morgue of a foreign city_.]

    [SCENE: _A small almost empty room with the rear wall of glass.
    Before this glass black curtains are drawn. An old man ... Caren
    ... sits at a low table, well forward, sorting and arranging
    papers, writing from time to time. A lamp upon the table, is so
    shaded as to concentrate the light and throws Caren's wicked face
    into sharp relief. The room conveys a feeling of unfriendliness,
    coldness and gloom. Caren is old, so old he is somewhat decrepit
    ... hard, shrill and tottering. His features are sharp, his
    fingers are as talons. He seems almost as a vulture ... perhaps
    for hovering too long among the unbeloved dead._]

CAREN [_calling to some one behind the black curtain_]. What was the
number of that last one?

HELPER [_putting out his head_]. Thirteen. [_He disappears._]

CAREN [_writes and repeats_]. Thirteen....

VOICES [_are heard, rough and harsh, from in back of the curtains_].
Shove that stiff up! He's got more room than what's coming to him.

CAREN [_calling, without rising_]. Who is it you're moving?

VOICE. Thirteen. Any reason why he should sprawl?

CAREN. Not a bit. Shove him along.

    [_The curtains part. There is a swift vision of brilliant light
    within, and bodies laid out upon tables of ice._]

KRAIG [_a man, scarcely more than a boy, over-wrought and hysterical,
with his hands pressed close to his throbbing temples, bursts out_].
Oh.... Oh! Let me stay here just a moment away from that horror.

CAREN [_glancing up from his writing and smiles_]. You're all the same
the first day.

KRAIG. Oh.... Oh!

CAREN. That last one got you ... eh?

KRAIG [_bitterly_]. So young ... so young!

CAREN. Must have been a good looker. Much as you can tell the way his
face is banged up. I'll bet his own mother wouldn't know him.

KRAIG [_turning aside_]. Don't!

CAREN [_titters_]. He ... he ... he! Number thirteen...! I hope he ain't
superstitious.

KRAIG. He has nothing more to fear.

CAREN [_with dread_]. There's no tellin'.

KRAIG. He's dead.... [_Enviously._] ... Dead!

CAREN [_angry_]. Fool!

KRAIG [_watching through the glass at the placid figure, enviously_].
Dead!

CAREN [_exasperated_]. Bah!

KRAIG [_suddenly has a hideous thought and turns swiftly to Caren_]. You
think it was fair...? He went of his own free will?

CAREN. Eh...? What put that into your head?

KRAIG. No clothes ... naked!

CAREN. A lot of them do that when they take the plunge. It ain't so easy
to identify them. It saves a lot of bother, too. We stick 'em on the
slabs a while and then....

KRAIG [_shuddering_]. Don't! It makes me cold ... cold! [_Again he parts
the curtains and looks through the glass._] He's so calm ... so still. I
wonder if he suffered first! [_With a clutch of hatred in his voice._] I
wonder if--he starved!

CAREN. That soft white kitten? Not much. Did you get a squint at his
hands? He's never even tied his own tie.

KRAIG [_laughs_]. And he's here!

CAREN [_looking at Kraig_]. This is a funny job for a kid like you to
pick.

KRAIG [_turning away_]. I'm not as young as I look. I've got three
little ones already. [_With deep anguish._] And another on the way.

CAREN. It's a queer hang out for a kid like you, just the same.

KRAIG [_hysterically, almost beside himself_]. I tell you ... there's
another on the way.

CAREN. What do you mean by that?

KRAIG. Nothing! [_A pause, then bitterly._] Oh there's one joy down
here. You can burrow and hide like a rat from it all. The damn carriages
don't roll by before your eyes. The women don't!... Oh, those women, how
I hate them. Their silks, their jewels, their soft white skins. Fed!
Clothed! Housed!... [_Clenching his fists._] While Martha starves! Oh,
God! They drive by laughing and I could choke them! Listen what
happened. [_He comes closer to Caren and speaks fanatically._] Yesterday
in the park I stood there ... shivering ... wondering! And all at once
the mad hate came into my heart and I felt that I could kill. [_Caren
looks alarmed._] And then.... Ha ... ha ... ha! Then.... The King....
The King drove by. [_Laughing bitterly, and with a great flourish._] And
off came my hat! [_Making fun of himself._] My hat came off my head, Old
Man, and I bowed and cringed [_vehemently_] WITH THE HATE IN MY HEART. I
could have torn the warm furs from his throat and wrapped my fingers in
their place [_his hands clench spasmodically_]. Ugh!

CAREN [_thoroughly alarmed_]. Hush.... Hush! You mustn't talk so of our
King. A nice young boy he is.

KRAIG. Oh the hate ... the hate. Perhaps it will leave me here in this
hall of the dead. [_Glancing about._] It all seems so level here. So
level.

CAREN [_with the first faint touch of sympathy_]. You're right. Here's
the one spot on earth where you get fair play. That's what I like. There
ain't no rich and there ain't no poor. And there ain't no class nor
nothing. Every man gets a square deal here ... a square deal.

KRAIG. Perhaps that's worth dying for--a square deal.

CAREN. Dying ... bah! Wait until you've seen a few more of them slung on
the slabs. You'll lose your longing for death. I'm an old man, but....

KRAIG. If only I can see more of it. If only I can bear it.

CAREN. The pay's not bad?

KRAIG. It would be bad at any price.

CAREN [_shaking his finger childishly_]. Tut ... tut! We're fair here
... fair. There ain't no flowers ... he ... he ... he ... and there
ain't no song [_he chuckles_], but....

KRAIG [_with intense passion, pacing to and fro, and never pausing,
while he speaks very rapidly_]. If only the living could have what is
spent on the dead. All the waste ... the hateful waste. Flowers wilting
in dead hands. Stones weighing down dead hearts. While living bodies
famish and living eyes burn for the sight of beauty. Oh, I wonder the
dead don't scream out at our madness. I wonder the graves don't burst
with the pain of it all.

CAREN. Have they shut me up with a maniac? Have you gone stark out of
your mind?

    [_There is a loud knocking on the door, to the right._]

CAREN [_opens it a crack and peeps out cautiously_]. What do you want?

VOICE. Let me in.

CAREN. Get away.

VOICE [_piteously, clamoring_]. Let me look once ... just once.

CAREN [_harshly_]. Got a pass?

VOICE. No ... no. Oh, let me in.

CAREN [_bangs the door shut_]. Get away.

VOICE [_brokenly_]. Let me look once ... just once. [_Caren opens the
door a crack._] Are there any ... women?

CAREN. Women? Of course, there's women ... always women. What is it
you've craving? The sight of the beauties or the smell of their stinking
flesh? Go on ... get out. This isn't a bawdy house. [_He slams the door
to and walks away._]

KRAIG. What is it he wants?

CAREN. A peep at the stiffs. Probably looking for his girl. [_He passes
out of sight, behind the black curtain._]

KRAIG. Oh! [_Cautiously he peeps after Caren, then opens the door a
crack and calls in a whisper_]. Man!... You can see the new ones
through the panel there. Lift up the curtain. There's two. A blond
haired girl and a boy. [_He turns swiftly as the curtains part and Caren
reënters. Softly he shuts the door, then stands watching into the
hallway through a glass partition._] Poor soul!

CAREN [_mumbles as he returns_]. There's something queer about that last
young stiff.

KRAIG. Number thirteen?

CAREN. Yes, number thirteen. You may have been right after all. Perhaps
it wasn't fair play to put him in the river. There's some mystery ...
something wrong. [_Tittering._] He ... he ... he! Not number thirteen
for nothing.

KRAIG [_watching outside_]. How do you know there's anything wrong?

CAREN. That's telling, Sonny. [_With deep meaning._] But you get wise
quick ... looking at the dead.

KRAIG. Ugh!

CAREN. People are telephoning and messengers are on the way. Pah ...
things like this are a nuisance. They keep one late. What are you
watching?

KRAIG. That man who was here at the door. He doesn't go away. I wonder
what keeps him here.

CAREN. Conscience! Scared to death he'll find his girl. Afraid not to
look for her.

KRAIG. You mean?...

CAREN. Oh, there's just two things drives people into the water. The
men ... 'cause they've got too little inside 'em.... The women....

KRAIG [_furious_]. Stop!

CAREN [_alarmed, yet brazen ... scratching his head_]. He ... he ... he!
Pretty clever little joke. He ... he!

    [_Kraig begins to pace the room, his hands pressed to his temples._]

CAREN. I must tell that to the boys inside. [_He starts to go._] Pretty
clever little joke!...

KRAIG [_watching, excitedly_]. There's something wrong with the fellow.
I'd better see.

CAREN [_pausing_]. You'd better shut your eyes and see nothing.

KRAIG. He is staggering.

CAREN. Let him stagger.

KRAIG. He may be ill. He may be--starving.

CAREN. He's come to a good place to lose his appetite.

KRAIG. Oh, let me see what's wrong with him ... please.

CAREN. You go out that door and you don't come back. [_A pause._] I
guess you'll stay.

KRAIG [_looks his hatred_]. Just as you say.

    [_Outside the door there is a short, sharp scream._]

VOICE. Maria!

KRAIG. He's fallen.

CAREN. He'll get up.

KRAIG. I wonder what happened.

CAREN. Perhaps he got a peep at the new blonde. [_There is now a violent
banging on the door._]

KRAIG. He's here.

    [_Caren opens the door cautiously a crack._]

VOICE [_outside_]. My woman!... Maria!

CAREN. If you can identify her shut up your racket. Go to the first door
at the right and make arrangements to take her away.

VOICE [_crushed and broken_]. Maria.

CAREN. Shut up! Bottle the tears until you get home. The first door to
the right.

VOICE [_pleading_]. Cover her. For the love of the Lord ... cover her.
Don't let her lie like that.

CAREN. Ain't she covered enough to suit you?

VOICE. Cover her ... cover her.

CAREN. Afraid she'll catch cold? Go on ... get out! [_He slams the
door._]

KRAIG [_walks to the black curtains and parts them slightly_]. His woman
... his LOVE. [_Sighing and glancing towards the door_.] Poor devil!

CAREN. What's the matter with you, Softy?

KRAIG. Nothing. I was just thinking.

CAREN. Don't be a fool.

KRAIG [_again walking back and looking at the woman_]. Couldn't we cover
her just a little? The sheet seems to have slipped.

CAREN. And no harm done. Meat's meat.

KRAIG [_dreamily_]. Her hair would cover her like a mantle. How soft and
white she is. And how happy she seems. I wonder just when that look came
into her face. It surely wasn't there when she plunged into the river.

CAREN [_annoyed_]. You ought to be nurse maid to a doll baby. What are
you anyway?

KRAIG [_indifferently_]. A dreamer ... a creator ... a starver!

CAREN. Well, you're the wrong sort for in here. This is one place where
you get down to facts; truth. No lies, no frills, no dreams. Dreams
don't count [_banging his fist for emphasis_]. Money don't count. Power
don't count ... beauty don't count. Nothing counts.

KRAIG [_hotly_]. Then it's not truth if beauty and dreams don't count.
That's what we starved for, Martha and I.

CAREN [_softening a little_]. Well, you won't starve here. It's a fair
place ... fair. The King himself wouldn't be treated no different than a
beggar. The man with brains and the man without.... [_The curtains part
and a helper enters._]

HELPER. Some one wants to blink at number thirteen. He's got two swell
dames with him. Can they go in?

CAREN. If their permit's all right. Yes. Bring them in.

HELPER. They won't come in here. They want to go in the private way.

CAREN. I know there's some mystery about number thirteen....

HELPER. Yes, there is. He's a swell ... a big one. I shouldn't wonder
if....

CAREN. Go on. Get out. [_The helper goes._]

KRAIG. Aren't you going to cover the boy before you let them enter?

CAREN. If they can't see him how are they going to know him? He ain't a
tailor's dummy.

KRAIG. It all seems horrible.

CAREN. I guess you'll never see a second day at this.

KRAIG. Oh.... Oh, I don't know.

CAREN. You think I'm going to tuck on a few extras just because he's a
swell. [_Yelling._] Don't I keep telling you 'til there's not a breath
left in my body, that there ain't no class here? [_The helper reënters
and hears the last words. He stands breathless._] Tramp or gentleman,
they're all alike. Now get that into your head and let it grow.

HELPER [_has been stammering trying to speak_]. I oughtn't to tell.
They'd kill me if they knew. It's to be kept a secret, but....

CAREN. What's the matter?

HELPER. Number thirteen.... [_Stammering._] He ... he....

CAREN. Well, what about him?

HELPER. He ain't a loafer. He ain't a tramp. He ain't even a gentleman.
He....

CAREN. Who is he? Quick!

HELPER. Our.... [_Exultantly._] Our King!

CAREN [_open-mouthed, aghast_]. Our ... King!

KRAIG [_laughing triumphantly_]. Ha ... ha ... ha ... ha--HERE! [_He
clasps his hands together._]

CAREN [_excited_]. Are you mad, Boy, mad? Our King! Oh!

    [_Kraig laughs. Both men stare at him horrified._]

HELPER [_to Caren_]. Ain't you got a flag or something ... some little
mark of respect to cover his nibs?

CAREN [_to Kraig_]. Run upstairs and get that big silk flag that....
[_as Kraig does not move_]. Go.

KRAIG [_immovable, abruptly ceasing to laugh_]. No.

CAREN [_threateningly_]. What do you mean? No?

KRAIG [_hysterically_]. This is one place in the world where all are
treated fair. Dreams don't count. POWER don't count. There's no rich, no
poor....

CAREN. Shut up and get that flag.

KRAIG. You're going to cover him ... but she.... Oh! [_Both men
disappear behind the curtains, cringing and bowing to people within.
Caren, with his back to the curtains, does not realize that he is
alone._] Even death can't level. No ... not even death. [_For a second
he stares ahead of him piercingly into space, standing taut and rigid.
Then commences to laugh in pure hysteria as_


  [_The Curtain Slowly Falls._]



A DEATH IN FEVER FLAT

  A PLAY

  BY GEORGE W. CRONYN


  Copyright, 1919, by Shadowland.
  Copyright, 1920, by George W. Cronyn.

  All rights reserved.


  Reprinted from _Shadowland_, a magazine, by permission of the
  publishers and the author. The professional and amateur stage rights
  of this play are strictly reserved by the author. Applications for
  permission to produce this play should be made to Frank Shay, Care
  Stewart & Kidd Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.

  SCENE: _In the great Far West, i. e., far from the "Movie" West_.

  CHARACTERS

    HANK [_proprietor of the Good Hope Roadhouse_].
    LON PURDY [_about whom the play is concerned_].
    MIZPAH [_his wife, called "Padie"_].
    THE STAGE DRIVER.
    THE GHOST OF HARVEY MACE.
    THE GHOST OF THE OTHER MAN.

  THE TIME _is the present, about 11 P. M._


  This is not a Bret Harte play, nor is it designed for W. S. Hart.
  And it should be performed with none of that customary and specious
  braggadoccio of western plays.



A DEATH IN FEVER FLAT

A PLAY BY GEORGE W. CRONYN


    [_THE SCENE is laid in the so-called dining-room of one of those
    forlorn hostelries of the great Plains, which goes by the name of
    Mace's Good Hope Roadhouse, a derisive title evidently intended to
    signify the traveler's hope of early escape from its desiccated
    hospitality._

    _This room is sometimes reluctantly frequented by a rare guest,
    usually a passenger on his way via auto stage, to some place else,
    whom delays en route have reduced to this last extremity of
    lodging for the night. The room is a kind of lumber yard of
    disused cheap hotel furniture._

    _Nothing can be drearier._

    _Most of this junk is heaped along the left (stage) wall, and it
    has a settled look of confusion which the processes of gradual
    decay will, apparently, never disturb. Tables tip crazily against
    the plaster of the greasy wall. Chairs upturned on these, project
    thin legs, like the bones of desert places, toward a ceiling
    fantastically stained. One table smaller than the rest, sees
    occasional use, for it stands somewhat out of the débris and has
    about it three chairs reasonably intact. A pack of cards and
    several dirty glasses adorn the top._

    _A stairway rises along the right wall, beginning at the rear, and
    attaining to a rickety landing, supported by a single post of
    doubtful strength, to which is affixed a glass lamp in a bracket.
    (Inasmuch as the stairway is turned away from the audience, those
    who ascend are completely hidden until their heads top the last
    riser.) At the right front, between the landing and the
    proscenium, a door (now shut) leads to the Bar, the one spot of
    brightness in this lump, the shining crack at its sill bespeaking
    the good cheer beyond. And that crack is the only illumination to
    this morgue of defunct appetites, for the moonlight, which enters
    by way of a small window at the right, is rather an obscuration,
    inasmuch as it heightens the barren mystery of the room's
    entombing shadows._

    _Double doors center of rear wall lead to the outside. A window on
    either side of the door._

    _So much for the melancholy set._

    _From the Bar percolates the lubricated melodiousness of the few
    regular customers who constitute the population of Fever Flat,
    with the exception of three worn-out women folks, two haggard cows
    and three hundred or so variegated dogs. The female element are to
    home, the dogs, astray and astir, with lamentable choruses._

    _Sounds from the Bar, samples only._]


A JOLLY SOUL [_hoarsely_]. Pitch into her, boys! Tune up your gullets!
[_With quavering pathos._] "She was born in old Kentucky"--

ANOTHER SUCH [_with peeve_]. Aw, shet up, that's moldy! Giv's that
Tennessee warble, Hank!

VOICE OF HANK [_rather rich and fine_].

  "When your heart was mine, true love,
  And your head lay on my breast,
    You could make me believe
    By the falling of your arm
  That the sun rose up in the west--"

    [_There is a momentary pause, filled in by--_

A VOICE. Y'oughter go courtin' with that throat o' yourn, Hank.

Mace [_as if misanthrope_]. Aw, women--

    [_During the laugh that follows, an auto horn blares outside and a
    bright shaft is visible through the rear windows._]

VOICES. Stage's come! Stage's come!

    [_There are sounds indicating the rapid evacuation of the Bar,
    and a moment later one of the rear doors is jerked open and the
    Stage Driver enters, dragging in two heavy suitcases which he
    deposits near the small table with appropriate grunts, meanwhile
    encouraging the passengers to enter._]

STAGE DRIVER. Uh! perty lumpy bags--come in, folks, come in! Seems like
you might be carryin' all your b'longings.

    [_The two passengers enter; the man, quickly, nervously, almost
    furtively; the woman, with that weariness which ignores everything
    except its own condition._]

STAGE DRIVER. Come in and set, lady; don't be skeered. Looks a little
spooky, but Hank'll have a glim fer ye in two shakes. [_Places a chair
for her._] Here, I know you're plumb tuckered. Make y'self t'home.
[_Looking around at the drear surroundings._] 'S fer 's yer able.

THE MAN. I thought the stage went through to Hollow Eye to-night?

DRIVER. Well, sir, she do, but this time she don't. I've been havin' to
run ten miles on low already and I jest don't _dast_ take her across
that thirty miles of sand the way she is. She'll drink water like a
thusty hoss and like as not lay down and die on us half way out. Then
where'd we be? No sir; you folks'll just have to camp here at Fever Flat
till I kin do a tinkerin' job to-morrow mornin'. So I'll step into the
Bar and tell Hank you're here. [_At the door to the Bar._] Hank'll do
the best he kin fer ye. He's a squ'ar man. Good-night to ye! [_Goes out,
leaving the door half open._]

THE MAN [_briefly_]. Good-night. [_Looking about._] What a hole! Like
somebody died here and they'd gone off and left it all stand just the
way it was. [_He goes to the open door at the rear and stares at the
naked moonlit buttes._] Them hills gits my goat. They're nothin' but
blitherin skeletons, and this bunch of shacks they call Fever Flat looks
like no more'n a damn bone yard to me. [_Shutting the door._] Ugh! it's
cold in here. Feel like I was sittin' on my own grave's edge.

THE WOMAN [_scarcely raising her head, and speaking with no emotion, in
a dead dry voice._] You didn't use to be so pernickety, when you was
punchin' on the range, Lon.

LON [_waspishly_]. And you didn't use to look like a hag, neither,
Padie.

PADIE [_with a momentary flash_]. Drink's poisoning your tongue, too.

LON [_viciously_]. Who's drinking? Cain't I take a thimbleful now'n then
without all this jawin'?

PADIE. You ain't takin' thimblefuls. You're just soakin' it up. You'll
be gettin' snakes if you keep on. 'n then, what'll _I_ do? [_Resuming
her air of weary indifference._] Not that I care so much what you do
with yourself--or what becomes of me. Nothing matters.

LON [_petulent and aggrieved_]. There you go, actin' abused. How 'bout
_my_ rights 'n pleasures? Ain't got none, I s'pose.

PADIE. Oh, shut up, you make me sick.

    [_Hank enters; a ruddy, vigorous, young man, strangely out of
    place among all this rubbish. He wears a barkeeper's apron and
    speaks cordially._]

HANK. Howdyedo, folks! Howdye do! Well, this is a kinda rough lay-out
fer you-all. Y'see the Stage is due here at five, and stops fer grub,
then makes Hollow Eye by about nine, but here 'tis ... [_pulls out
watch_] half an hour of midnight an' I s'pose you ain't et, yet, eh?
[_Lights the glass lamp._]

PADIE. Thanks. We've had sandwiches, but maybe my husband'd like
something.

LON [_significantly_]. Wet.

    [_Padie shrugs indifferently, and fixes her hair. As she turns
    toward Hank, the light for the first time falls full on his face.
    Padie stares fixedly at him, and half rises, with a little cry._]

LON [_with a quick, startled glance at Hank, speaks to her in a sharp,
threatening voice_]. Padie! Sit down! Are you gittin' plumb loco drivin'
out so late in autymobiles? [_To Hank, apologetically._] You kinda
flustered us, mister, cause you have a little the look a friend of ourn
that died suddint. Mournful case. Pardner o'mine. No, you're not much
like. He was tall, heavy-built and lighter complected. Must a been
consid'ble older, too.

PADIE [_almost in a whisper_]. No.

LON. Older, I say. My wife's kinda wrought up by this here little spell
of travelin'.

HANK [_sympathetically_]. Oh, you're not used to it, eh?

PADIE [_slowly and deliberately_]. We've been at it--[_draws out the
word into a burden_] years.

LON [_impatiently_]. That is, off'n on, m'dear. Only off'n on.

PADIE [_monotonously_]. All the time.

HANK [_trying to be a little jocose to break the oppressive
atmosphere_]. Should think you might hanker after yer own nest, lady.

PADIE [_rising rudely_]. Well, just keep your thoughts!

HANK [_completely abashed_]. Yes, ma'am. Your room is just at the top of
the landin'. I'll make ye a light. [_He hustles away upstairs to cover
his embarrassment, taking the suitcases with him._]

LON [_irritably_]. You're always tryin' to belittle me in public. Is
that any way fer a wife to act? I wanta know.

PADIE. What do you always lie so fer?

LON [_with rising voice_]. That's my business. I'll do as I damn please.
And don't you go too fer, crossin' me. I won't stand it. Some day I'll
up, an--

PADIE [_contemptuously_]. Beat me. That's all that's left to _you_,
wife-beater.

    [_Lon raises his hand as though to strike her, but lets it fall as
    Hank reappears on the landing._]

HANK. Excuse me, m'am. Have you your own towels by you? Ourn is pretty
scaly. It's been so long since we've had in women folks, at least,
ladies.

PADIE [_moving toward the stair_]. Thanks, we have some.

    [_Lon to Padie as Hank, hidden from audience, descends._]

LON. You might as well be decent, Padie. You ain't got none other but
me.

PADIE [_bitterly_]. Yes, you've took me from 'em. We've been trapsin and
trapsin till I'm plumb sick. Yes, I'm--

    [_Her voice breaks and she runs blindly toward the stair,
    almost into the arms of Hank, which further increases his
    consternation._]

HANK [_holding her off_]. Stidy, stidy. There's the ladder, m'am. Can't
I fetch you somethin'? Toddy?

    [_Padie shakes her head, runs up, and slams her door._]

HANK [_to Lon in friendly fashion_]. Women folks is cur'us, cur'us.

LON [_surlily_]. Take my advice and keep free from 'em.

HANK. It was a woman did fer my brother.

LON [_with increased interest_]. Oh, you've got a brother, eh?

HANK [_simply_]. Had.

LON. Where is he?

HANK. Down at Laguna Madre, Arizony.

LON [_leaning forward and gripping the edge of the table_]. Ranchin'?

HANK. Buried.

LON [_haltingly_]. How--what were you saying--about a woman?

HANK. A woman done fer him. That's what they said, I don't know. I
didn't git there fer a long time. There was a mix-up.

LON. Well, well. That's strange.

HANK [_eagerly_]. I s'pose you heard of it? It was in all the papers. It
even got as fer as Denver.

LON. No, I don't remember. But I've read of similar cases.

HANK. You've been to Arizony, I s'pose.

LON. No, not quite. I've been all around them parts, but never Arizony.

HANK. 'Tain't what you'd call a perty country, but it's mighty
satisfyin'. Too blame cold up here.

LON. Why don't you move?

HANK. I'm agoin' to, but you see my brother had half interest in this
here tavern and there was some litigation about it. Case's just
finished. I been here three years, ever since he went. But I'm pullin'
my stakes, you bet. I wouldn't be _buried_ here! Would you?

LON [_dryly_]. I'd rather not.

HANK. So she took me fer a friend that'd croaked, eh? That's cur'us.

LON. Eh? What's that? Who?

HANK. Your wife.

LON. Oh, yes. Well, he was a good ten years older. And dark-complected.

HANK. Thought you said he was light.

LON. Mebbe I did. Well, he mought have been a trifle lighten'n you, but
then, size him up by the average, he was dark. Let's fergit him. Bring
us a bottle of your best--and see that the glass is clean.

HANK. To be sure. [_Goes out._]

    [_Lon sits with his head between his hands, brooding. The voice of
    Hank rises from the Bar, rendering the second verse of the
    Tennessee "warble."_]

HANK [_in the Bar_].

  There's many a girl can go all round about
  And hear the small birds sing.
  And many a girl that stays at home alone,
  And rocks the cradle and spins.

    [_As the song ends, the door at the rear opens soundlessly,
    revealing the vast expanse of moonlit plains and desolate buttes.
    Lon shivers and turns up his coat collar, finally facing about to
    discover the cause of the chill. Observing the open door, he goes
    to it, closes and locks it, the click of the key being distinctly
    audible. He then returns and sits as before, and again the song
    comes._]

HANK [_in the Bar_].

  There's many a star shall jangle in the west;
  There's many a leaf below.
  There's many a damn that will light upon the man
  For treating a poor girl so.

    [_Now both of the double doors swing open, without sound. Lon
    shivers, then, looking over his shoulder, suddenly gets up, glares
    about him and makes hastily for the door to the Bar, where he
    almost collides with Hank entering with bottle and glass._]

HANK. Here, mister, I was just comin'.

LON. What the devil's the matter with your doors?

HANK. Them? Oh, the lock's no good. When the wind's southwest they fly
right open. Got to be wedged with a shingle.

    [_He goes over to the doors, slams them shut, picks up a shingle
    from the floor and inserts firmly between them._]

LON [_relieved_]. H'm. Well, that's all right.

HANK. Now it's blame cur'us the way old places gits. You'll hear these
floor boards creak at times like as if som'un was sneakin' over 'em
b'ar-foot. Feller told me onct it was made by contrapshun and
temper'ture. Mebbe so, but I reckon [_knowingly_] there's more goes on
around than we give credit fer.

    [_Hank dusts off the table and puts bottle and glass down. Lon
    seizes them eagerly and begins drinking._]

LON [_after a couple of glasses_]. You mean--spirits?

HANK. Well, I dunno as you'd call 'em that. But it's a fact, there's
more liquor goes over the Bar than gits paid for. 'Tain't _stole_
either. It just _goes_.... As old Pete Gunderson used to say, "I'm a
hell of a th'usty p'uson, and when I croak I'll be a hell of a th'usty
spirit." I sometimes wonder--

    [_Padie appears above, in a loose dressing sack, her hair hanging
    in a great wavy mass, and holding a pitcher._]

PADIE. Lon, please fetch some water.

LON [_not moving_]. I don't dast go out in the night. I've caught a kind
of chill from to-day's drive.

HANK [_going up the stairs_]. I'll fetch it you, m'am.

    [_She comes down to meet him and the two are momentarily hidden
    from the audience. Lon continues to drink steadily, pouring down
    one glass after another. Hank reappears, treading with a certain
    gayety, and goes out rear, whistling the Tennessee "warble."_]

PADIE [_leaning out of the shadow of the stairway toward her husband_].
Ain't you comin' up soon, Lon?

LON [_ignoring the query_]. Scarcely no resemblance whatever.

PADIE [_with sudden fierceness_]. You lie!

    [_She ascends to the top of the landing. Outside a pump cranks
    dismally._]

PADIE [_relenting a little_]. You'll be seein' things, Lon, if you keep
it up.

LON [_rising, perfectly steady_]. Mind your business. Wish to hell I had
a newspaper.

    [_He goes out through the door to the Bar, while Padie runs a comb
    reflectively through the exuberant tumult of her dark hair. Hank
    enters and stops a moment, half blinded by the light, then looks
    up, and shading his eyes, smiles._]

PADIE [_coyly_]. Is it the light in your eyes, mister?

HANK [_daringly_]. It's you, ma'am, are blinding them. [_He runs up the
stairs with the pitcher._]

PADIE [_bending toward him as he comes near the top steps_]. You'd
better reach it to me. Maybe the landing'll not hold the two of us.

HANK. It'll hold two that have such light hearts as we.

PADIE. Ah, you don't know mine, mister.

HANK [_reaching her the pitcher_]. There, the clumsy mut I am! Spillt
the cold water on your pretty bare toes!

    [_As she leans over to take the pitcher her hair falls suddenly
    about his head, almost covering his face._]

PADIE [_drawing it back, with a deft twirl_]. I've most smothered you!

HANK. I wouldn't want a sweeter death.

PADIE [_looking down into his eyes_]. Indeed, you're the picture of--an
old lover of mine.

HANK. I'd rather be the picture of the new.

    [_He makes as if to clasp her about the ankles, but she puts a
    hand on his shoulder and pushes him gently back._]

PADIE. You've been very kind to a wanderer--from Arizony. Don't spoil
it. Good-night!

HANK [_turning about, mutters_]. Good-night.

    [_He clatters loudly down the stairs as Lon reënters, studying a
    newspaper. Lon seats himself, still absorbed. Hank favors him with
    a glare of positive hatred._]

HANK [_with a sneer_]. All fixed fer the night, eh?

LON [_grunting_]. G'night.

HANK. Well, I hope you like this country better'n Arizony.

LON [_starting out of the news_]. The hell you say!

HANK. Your wife was wishing herself back there.

LON [_settling back to his paper and bottle_]. Well, that's where she
come from. I don't. Women allus want what they ain't got.

HANK [_retiring_].

  When your heart was mine, true love,
  And your head lay on my breast,

    [_He goes out, closing the door._]

  You could make me believe by the falling of your arm
  That the sun rose in the west.

    [_During the singing of this last stanza, the double doors swing
    wide as before, revealing a Figure standing motionless outside,
    bathed in moonlight. At the same time the flame in the glass lamp
    begins to flicker and wane. Lon holds the paper closer to his
    face, finally almost buries his nose in it, as if conscious of the
    Presence, but stubbornly resolved to ignore it. The Figure moves,
    and as it crosses the threshold the feeble light expires. Lon,
    however, still sits, as if absorbed in the newspaper, pretending
    to sip from the glass. The Figure in a thin mocking voice, echoes
    the song of the other, standing just behind Lon's chair._]

THE FIGURE [_a thin echo_].

  You could make me believe by the falling of your arm
  That the sun rose up in the west.--

    [_Lon picks up the soiled pack of cards from the table and begins
    to shuffle them mechanically, nor does he once turn toward the
    apparition._]

LON [_in a hoarse whisper_]. And what'r _you_ doin' here?

    [_The Figure sits down nonchalantly in a chair a little to one
    side of Lon's. He is dressed in the western style, that is,
    without style, corduroys, heavy boots, flannel shirt. In fact, he
    looks almost natural. But there is a curious dark mark in the
    center of his forehead--or is it a round, dark hole?_]

LON [_petulantly_]. Cain't you stay where you was put--with a heap o'
rocks on top o' ye?

THE FIGURE [_thinly ironical_]. Can't seem to give up the old habits, y'
know.

LON [_thickly, tossing the pack down_]. What's the hell's a corpse got
to do with habits?

GHOST [_unmoved_]. You pore fool, you'll _learn_ when you come over.

LON [_huskily_]. Come over--wh'ar?

GHOST [_significantly_]. Where I am. [_Sings in a quavering voice._]

  There's many a girl can go all round about
  And hear the small birds sing--

LON [_snarling_]. Dry up on them corpse tunes o' yourn, Harvey Mace.

GHOST [_leering_]. Oh, you recognize me, eh? You recognize your old
friend and pardner, do you, Lon Purdy?

LON [_sullenly_]. I _knowed_ you'd come.

GHOST [_triumphantly_]. And you believe in me, eh? Well, that's good,
too.

LON [_stubbornly_]. Believe? Well! I knowed I'd be seein' things soon,
what with the booze. I knowed it'd be the snakes or you. Padie told me
I'd be seein' things.

GHOST [_maliciously_]. So you believe in _her_, anyway. Well, how's
Padie--and the children?

LON. You know damn well we ain't had none.

GHOST. What, no children! How unfortunate! The house of love not to be
graced with fruit ... sterile, sterile.

LON [_belligerently_]. Er you referrin' to me?

GHOST. To your spiritual union only, my friend. Physically, I know,
nothing was wanting for a perfect match,--female form divine to mate
with big blond beast. A race of superpeople!

LON. What the hell 'r' you gabbin'? You allus had a lot of talky-talk.
That's what made a hit with Padie, before, before--

GHOST. Before the Other Man came along and cut us both out. [_Sings._]

  And many a girl that stays at home alone
  And rocks the cradle and spins.

GHOST [_reflectively_]. Yes, I'm afraid we both stood up pretty poorly
alongside him. I had the words, the brain, the idea. I could charm her,
tantalize her, quicken her mind, arouse her imagination. That's why I
cut you out with her.

LON [_sneeringly_]. Gab!

GHOST. Yes, gab. It was one better to her than mere brute--guts! You
personified strength. You didn't have nerves enough to be afraid of
anything. You had endurance, cheek, deviltry, and a kind of raw good
nature. These took with the gay, immature girl she was, until I came.
You had--Guts; I had--Gab.

LON. And the Other Feller?

GHOST. He had the Gift.

LON. What you mean?

GHOST. He was a full man. His personality exuded from him like incense.
It wrapped and enfolded you and warmed you, and yet it was not a grain
feminine, but deeply, proudly masculine. You tolerated him, I--loved
him. I had the fine passion for Padie, but when I first saw the two of
them together I _knew_ she was his, or [_with a keen, stern look at
Lon_] _ought_ to be ... and she _has_ been, always.

LON [_jumping to his feet, and knocking over his chair_]. You lie like
hell! She's mine! She's been mine all these three years! I won her and I
own her! What little of love she ever had fer you or him is buried down
in Laguna Madre with the bones of both of ye! And all hell can't take
her from me!

GHOST [_rising tall and pale_]. _He_ kin, and he's done it! You
_thought_ you'd got her. But he's had her, or rather, she's had _him_ in
her heart ever since they took the rope from his neck and pronounced him
legally dead, and justice vindicated, and laid him away in the desert.
All that time since, he's belonged to her. When you laid by her side
nights, it was _his_ arm she felt about her waist, not yours; his breath
was on her cheek, and his heart was beating against hers. Oh you poor,
poor fool!

LON [_throwing his glass straight at the ghost_]. You lyin' pup!

GHOST [_bursting into a gale of eerie laughter_]. Ha! ha! ha! you _poor_
fool! _Now_ you believe in me!

    [_Lon whips out his revolver and aims at the ghost, then slowly
    returns it to the holster, as he realizes the futility of the
    move._]

GHOST. Go on, my boy! Let's have another one here. [_He points to the
dark hole in his forehead._]

    [_Lon, wiping his own face with the back of his hand, and
    shuddering, slumps down into his seat and stares vacantly at the
    table._]

GHOST. Another one, just like the last--for your friend and pardner.
[_He stresses the words with intense irony._] Do you remember the
_last_ time you pulled that trick? What a foxy one it was! How astutely
planned! _Planned_, my friend. I remember when we two went up the canyon
together, just such a shining night as this, I asked you why you had
borrowed--the Other Man's horse, and you said, yours was a little lame.
Oh! excellent dissembler! Most crafty of liars! You _stole_ that horse.
You stole that horse to put a rope around the Other Man's neck! You knew
the pinto was shod different from any pony in those parts. You knew
where they'd track him to, when they found the job you'd done. Then we
sat down to smokes and cards. And I remember the curious glitter in your
eyes. I was dealing. [_The Ghost shuffles the cards on the table, then
lays down the pack in front of Lon._] Cut!

    [_Lon mechanically obeys._]

GHOST [_dealing_]. And after several hands, you brought up the subject
of Padie. And I told you I was out of the race--and that you'd better
get out too, because the best man already had her. And then--and then I
sensed you were going to draw, and when I had my gun out, it was empty.
Clever boy! You had it fixed right. And so you plugged me square. And
the moon and stars went out for me and I dropped into the black gulf.

    [_Lon, throwing his hand down, buries his face in his hands,
    groaning._]

GHOST [_pitilessly_]. You left me with my face to the stars for the
coyotes to find. Then, very coolly, you turned the Other Man's horse
toward home and sent him off cracking. And you jumped to a piñon log
that led off to a ledge of lava where your footprints wouldn't show. And
you turned up in half an hour with the boys in town. Then you inquired
casually where the Other Man was. You _knew_, you devil! You knew they'd
never get an alibi from him for that night, 'cause--Padie was with him.
Padie had her dear arms about his neck while you, clever dog! were out
fixing to put a rope there. And you done it, too! _Won_ her? Yes, you
did--like hell! After the trial was all over, and the dead buried, me
and him, you passed a dirty whisper around town about her, and then
married her, to save her good name. That's how you won her.

    [_There is an immense silence, broken only by the heavy breathing of
    Lon, which comes in rattling gasps._]

GHOST [_sings_].

  There's many a star shall jangle in the west,
  There's many a leaf below,
  There's many a damn that will light upon the man
  For treating a poor girl so.

GHOST. But I ain't forgot all you done for me. Neither has the Other
Man, [_with deep solemnity_] and he's come--to settle too--

LON [_staggering up_]. No! I don't believe in you! You're nothin' at
all! There ain't no--

    [_Lon sways and catches at the table; as he swings around, the
    figure of Another stands outside the door, a tall figure with
    something white twisted about its neck. Lon with a cry of horror
    puts out his arms as if to ward off the apparition and backs
    slowly toward the left wall._]

FIRST GHOST [_coming toward him_]. Murderer! betrayer! We've come to
settle!

LON [_screaming_]. No! no! no! I don't believe--

    [_He falls, and the pile of rubbishy furniture topples over on to
    him with a crash. The two apparitions vanish. The door to the bar
    is flung open and Hank leaps in, at the same moment that Padie
    appears above, whitely clad._]

PADIE. Lon! Lon! What's the matter?

HANK [_going toward the pile of stuff_]. Go back! It's something
terrible.

    [_He heaves the heavy pieces from the body and drags it out, as
    Padie, with a long cry, flies down the stairs. He feels the breast
    quickly and rises before Padie reaches the table._]

HANK. I'm afraid he's done for.

PADIE [_drawing a deep quivering breath_]. Oh.

HANK. He must 'a' fell.

PADIE. I knew--drink'd do fer him.

HANK. Did you--love him--so much?

PADIE [_very low_]. Once--a little. [_With sudden, fierce joy._] I don't
care! Now--I kin--live!

HANK [_looking out over the desert where the dawn begins to show_]. Both
of us.


  [_Curtain._]



THE SLAVE WITH TWO FACES

  AN ALLEGORY

  BY MARY CAROLYN DAVIES


  Copyright, 1918, by Egmont Arens.
  All rights reserved.

  Reprinted from No. 6, of the "Flying Stag Plays," published by Egmont
  Arens, by special permission of Miss Davies. The professional and
  amateur stage rights on this play are strictly reserved by the author.
  Applications for permission to produce this play should be made to
  Egmont Arens, 17 West 8th Street, New York.

  THE SLAVE WITH TWO FACES was first produced in New York City by the
  Provincetown Players, on January 25th, 1918, with the following cast:

    LIFE, THE SLAVE                             _Ida Rauh._
    FIRST GIRL                                  _Blanche Hays._
    SECOND GIRL                                 _Dorothy Upjohn._
    A WOMAN                                     _Alice MacDougal._
    A MAN                                       _O. K. Liveright._
    A YOUNG MAN                                 _Hutchinson Collins._
    A WORKMAN                                   _O. K. Liveright._
                            _And Others._


  Scene designed by Norman Jacobsen. Produced under the direction of
  Nina Moise. Incidental music written by Alfred Kreymborg.



THE SLAVE WITH TWO FACES

AN ALLEGORY BY MARY CAROLYN DAVIES


    [_THE SCENE is a wood through which runs a path. Wild rose bushes
    and other wood-things border it. On opposite sides of the path
    stand two girls waiting. They have not looked at each other. The
    girls wear that useful sort of gown which, with the addition of a
    crown, makes a queen--without, makes a peasant. The first girl
    wears a crown. The second carries one carelessly in her hand._]


FIRST GIRL [_looking across at the other_]. For whom are you waiting?

SECOND GIRL. I am waiting for Life.

FIRST GIRL. I am waiting for Life also.

SECOND GIRL. They said that he would pass this way. Do you believe that
he will pass this way?

FIRST GIRL. He passes all ways.

SECOND GIRL [_still breathing quickly_]. I ran to meet Life.

FIRST GIRL. Are you not afraid of him?

SECOND GIRL. Yes. That is why I ran to meet him.

FIRST GIRL [_to herself_]. I, too, ran to meet him.

SECOND GIRL. Ah! he is coming!

FIRST GIRL. No. It is only the little quarreling words of the leaves,
and the winds that are always urging them to go away.

SECOND GIRL. The leaves do not go.

FIRST GIRL. Some day they will go. And that the wind knows.

FIRST GIRL. Why are you not wearing your crown?

SECOND GIRL. Why should we wear crowns? [_She places the crown upon her
head._]

FIRST GIRL. Do you not know?

SECOND GIRL. No.

FIRST GIRL. That is all of wisdom--the wearing of crowns before the eyes
of Life.

SECOND GIRL. I do not understand you.

FIRST GIRL. Few understand wisdom--even those who need it most--

SECOND GIRL. He is coming! I heard a sound.

FIRST GIRL. It was only the sound of a petal dreaming that it had fallen
from the rose-tree.

SECOND GIRL. I have waited--

FIRST GIRL. We all long for him. We cry out to him. When he comes, he
hurts us, he tortures us. He kills us, unless we know the secret.

SECOND GIRL. What is the secret?

FIRST GIRL. That he is a slave. He pretends! He pretends! But always he
knows in his heart that he is a slave. Only of those who have learned
his secret is he afraid.

SECOND GIRL. Tell me more!

FIRST GIRL. Over those who are afraid of him he is a tyrant. He
obeys--Kings and Queens!

SECOND GIRL. Then that--

FIRST GIRL. --Is why we must never let him see us without our crowns!

SECOND GIRL. How do you know these things?

FIRST GIRL. They were told me by an old wise man, who sits outside the
gate of our town.

SECOND GIRL. How did he know? Because he was one of those who are kings?

FIRST GIRL. No. Because he was one of those who are afraid.

SECOND GIRL [_dreamily_]. I have heard that Life is very beautiful. Is
he so? I have heard also that he is supremely ugly; that his mouth is
wide and grinning, that his eyes slant, and his nostrils are thick. Is
he so?--or is he--very beautiful?

FIRST GIRL. Perhaps you will see--for yourself--Ah!

SECOND GIRL.

    [_As Life saunters into view at the farthest bend of the path. He
    walks like a conqueror. But there is something ugly in his
    appearance. Life sees the girls just as a sudden sun-ray catches
    the jewels of their crowns. He cringes and walks like a hunchback
    slave. He is beautiful now._]

FIRST GIRL. He has seen our crowns!

SECOND GIRL. Ah!

FIRST GIRL. Remember! You are only safe--as long as you remain his
master. Never forget that he is a slave, and that you are a queen.

SECOND GIRL [_to herself_]. I must never let him see me without my
crown.

FIRST GIRL. Hush! He is coming!

SECOND GIRL. He is very beautiful--

FIRST GIRL. While he is a slave.

SECOND GIRL [_not hearing_]. He is--very beautiful--

FIRST GIRL. Life!

    [_Life bows to the ground at her feet._]

SECOND GIRL [_in delight_]. Ah!

FIRST GIRL. Life, I would have opals on a platter.

    [_Life bows in assent._]

SECOND GIRL. Oh-h!

FIRST GIRL. And pearls!

    [_Life bows._]

SECOND GIRL. Ah!

FIRST GIRL. And a little castle set within a hedge.

    [_Life bows._]

SECOND GIRL. Yes--

FIRST GIRL. I would have a fair prince to think tinkling words about me.
And I would have a strawberry tart, with little flutings in the crust.
Go, see that these things are made ready for me.

    [_Life bows in assent and turns to go._]

SECOND GIRL. Ah!

FIRST GIRL. See? It is so that one must act. It is thus one must manage
him. So and not otherwise it is done. Now--do you try. [_She plucks a
rose from a bush beside her, and twirls it in her fingers._]

SECOND GIRL. Life! [_Life kneels._] I have a wish for a gown of gold.
[_Life bows._]

FIRST GIRL. Yes!

    [_And over his bowed head, the two laugh gayly at the ease of his
    subjection._]

SECOND GIRL. And a little garden where I may walk and think of trumpets
blowing.

    [_Life bows._]

SECOND GIRL. It is a good rule.

FIRST GIRL [_calling slave back as he is leaving_]. I have a wish for a
gray steed. [_Life bows._] Bring me a little page, too. With golden
hair. And with a dimple.

    [_Life acquiesces, and starts to leave._]

FIRST GIRL [_calling him back with a gesture_]. Life! [_An important
afterthought._] With two dimples!

SECOND GIRL. And an amber necklace! Bring me an amber necklace!

FIRST GIRL [_tossing away the rose she has just plucked_]. And a fresh
rose.

    [_Life bows; turns to obey. The two are convulsed with mirth at the
    adventure and its success._]

FIRST GIRL. Life!

    [_Life halts._]

SECOND GIRL. What are you going to do?

FIRST GIRL. Come here!

    [_Life comes to her. With a quick movement she snatches one of the
    gold chains from about his neck._]

SECOND GIRL [_frightened_]. How can you dare?

FIRST GIRL. What you see you must take. [_She seizes his wrist and pulls
from it a bracelet._]

SECOND GIRL [_frightened_]. Ah!

FIRST GIRL. Go!

    [_Exit Life._]

SECOND GIRL. But why--

FIRST GIRL. He does not like beggars, Life. You see, he is a slave
himself.

SECOND GIRL. He is so beautiful.

FIRST GIRL. Do not forget that he is your slave.... This rosebush
[_touches it_] is a queen who forgot.

SECOND GIRL. Ah!

FIRST GIRL [_pointing to bones that seemed part of bushes along
roadside_]. Those are the bones of others who forgot.

SECOND GIRL. But he is beautiful!

FIRST GIRL. Only so long as you are his master.

SECOND GIRL. But he is kind!

FIRST GIRL. Only so long as you are not afraid of him.

SECOND GIRL. But you snatched--

FIRST GIRL. Life is the only person to whom one should be rude.

    [_They hear sounds of moaning and cries and a harsh voice menacing
    some unseen crowd._]

SECOND GIRL. What is that?

FIRST GIRL. Come! We must not be seen! [_Pulls her companion behind bush
at side of stage._]

SECOND GIRL. What will be done to us?

FIRST GIRL. Hush! If he should see you! He is always watching for the
first sign of fear.

SECOND GIRL. What is the first sign of fear?

FIRST GIRL. It is a thought--

SECOND GIRL. But can he see one's thoughts--

FIRST GIRL. Only thoughts of fear.

SECOND GIRL. If one hides them well even from oneself?

FIRST GIRL. Even then. But words are more dangerous still. If we say we
are afraid we will be more afraid, because whatever we make into words
makes itself into our bodies.

VOICES OFF STAGE. Oh, master! Mercy, master!

FIRST GIRL. It spoils him, this cringing. It spoils a good servant. As
long as he is kept in his place--

    [_A man enters and kneels, looking at Life off stage, in fear._]

FIRST GIRL [_steals to man and says_]. But he is only a slave. Do you
not see that he is a slave?

MAN. How can you say that? Look at his terrible face. Who that has seen
his face can doubt that he is a master, and a cruel one?

FIRST GIRL. He cannot be a master unless you make him so.

MAN. What is this that you are saying? Is it true?

FIRST GIRL. Yes, it is true. Even though it can be put into words it is
true.

MAN [_starts to rise, sinks to knees again_]. Yes. I see that it is
true. But go away.

FIRST GIRL [_crouching behind bush again_]. Ah!

    [_Life crosses the stage, with a whip of many thongs driving a
    huddled throng of half crouching men and women. They kneel and
    kiss his robe. His mouth is wide and grinning, his eyes slant, his
    nostrils are thick. He is hideous._]

LIFE. You! Give me your ideals. Three ideals! Is that all you have?

YOUNG MAN. Life has robbed me of my ideals.

WORKMAN. He robbed me too.

YOUNG MAN. But I had so few.

WORKMAN. When you have toiled to possess more, he will take those from
you also.

LIFE [_to an old woman_]. For twelve hours you shall toil at what you
hate. For an hour you shall work at what you love, to keep the wound
fresh, to make the torture keener.

OLD MAN. Ah, pity! Do not be so cruel! Let me forget the work I love!

LIFE. Dog! Take what I give you! It is not by begging that you may win
anything from me!

A VOICE. Give me a dream! A dream to strengthen my hands!

ANOTHER VOICE. A little love to make the day less terrible!

THIRD VOICE. Only rest, a little rest! Time to think of the sea, and of
grasses blowing in the wind.

A WOMAN. Master!

    [_Life lashes her with his whip. The woman screams. Life draws
    back from them, and dances a mocking dance, dancing himself into
    greater fury, laughing terribly, he lashes out at them. Several
    fall dead. He chokes a cripple with his hands. Finally he drives
    them off the stage before him, several furtively dragging the
    bodies with them._]

SECOND GIRL [_as the two emerge from their hiding place_]. Oh! I wish
never to see his face as they saw it!

FIRST GIRL. You will not, unless you kneel--never kneel, little queen.

SECOND GIRL. I shall never kneel to Life. I shall stand upright, as you
have taught me, and I shall say, "Bring me another necklace, Life--"

FIRST GIRL. I must go now for a little while. I shall come back. Do not
forget. [_She goes out._]

SECOND GIRL. I shall say--

    [_Life's voice is heard off stage. Second Girl cowers. Life
    enters._]

SECOND GIRL. Slave! I would have the chain with the red stone! [_As Life
submissively approaches, she snatches it from his neck._] And this!

    [_Snatching at his hand and pulling the ring from a finger. The
    slave bows. She happens to look toward the spot where the bodies
    were, and shivers._]

LIFE [_raising his head in time to see the look of horror. From this
moment his aspect gradually changes until from the slave he becomes a
tyrant_]. Are you afraid of me?

SECOND GIRL. No.

LIFE. There are many who are afraid of me.

SECOND GIRL. You are a slave.

LIFE. There are many who are afraid.

SECOND GIRL. You are only a slave.

LIFE. A slave may become a master.

SECOND GIRL. No.

LIFE. I may become--

SECOND GIRL. You are my slave.

LIFE. If I were your master--

SECOND GIRL. You are a slave.

LIFE. If I were your master, I would be kind to you. You are beautiful.

SECOND GIRL. Ah!

LIFE. You are very beautiful.

SECOND GIRL. It is my crown that makes me beautiful.

LIFE. If you should take your crown from your head, you would still be
beautiful.

SECOND GIRL. That I will not do.

LIFE. You are beautiful as the slight burning of the apple-petal's cheek
when the sun glances at the great flowers near it. You are beautiful as
the little pool far in the forest which holds lily-buds in its hands.
You are beautiful--

SECOND GIRL [_aside_]. I think he wants me to be afraid, so I will say
it. I have heard that men are like that. I am not afraid, but I will say
it to please him.

LIFE. Are you afraid of me?

SECOND GIRL. Yes.

LIFE. Are you afraid?

SECOND GIRL. Yes, I am afraid.

LIFE. Ah, that pleases me.

SECOND GIRL [_aside_]. I knew that I would be able to please him!
Whatever I make into words makes itself into my body, she said, like
fear--but she does not know everything! It is impossible that she should
know everything! And it is so pleasant to please him--And so easy! I am
not afraid of him. I have only _said_ that I am afraid.

LIFE. Will you not take your crown from your head?

SECOND GIRL. No.

LIFE. There is nothing so beautiful as a woman's hair flying in the
wind. I can see your hair beneath your crown. Your hair would be
beautiful flying in the wind.

SECOND GIRL [_removes crown_]. It is only for a moment.

LIFE. Yes, you are beautiful.

SECOND GIRL [_to herself_]. It may be that I was not wise--

LIFE. You are like a new flower opening, and dazzling a passing bird
with sudden color.

SECOND GIRL. She said that I must not--

LIFE. You are like the bird that passes. Your hair lifts like winks in
the sun.

SECOND GIRL. He has not harmed me.

LIFE. Your crown is like jewels gathered from old galleons beneath the
sea. May I see your crown?

SECOND GIRL [_holds it out cautiously toward him, then changes her
mind_]. No--

LIFE. Let me hold it in my fingers. I shall give it back to you.

SECOND GIRL. No.

LIFE. I shall give it back.

SECOND GIRL. If you will surely give it back to me--

LIFE [_takes crown_]. But your hair is lovelier without a crown.
[_Flings it from him._]

SECOND GIRL. What have you done?

LIFE. It was only in jest.

SECOND GIRL. But you promised--

LIFE. In jest.

SECOND GIRL. But--

LIFE. Ho-ho! Laugh with me. What a jest!

SECOND GIRL [_laughs, then shivers_].

LIFE [_in high good humor with himself_]. Dance for me. You are young.
You are happy. Dance!

SECOND GIRL. What shall my dance say?

LIFE. That it is Spring, and that there are brooks flowing, newly
awakened and mad to be with the sea. That there is a white bud widening
under the moon, and in a curtained room a young girl sleeping. That the
sun has wakened her--

SECOND GIRL [_dances these things. At first she is afraid of him, then
she forgets and dances with abandon_]. And now give me back my crown.

LIFE. You do not need a crown, pretty one.

SECOND GIRL. I am afraid of you!

LIFE. Afraid of me! What have I done?

SECOND GIRL. I do not know.

LIFE. Do not be afraid.

SECOND GIRL. I am afraid.

LIFE. I shall be a kind master to you.

SECOND GIRL. Master?

LIFE. A kind master.

SECOND GIRL. You are my slave.

LIFE. I shall never be your slave again.

SECOND GIRL. And if she were right? If it is true?

LIFE. What are you saying?

SECOND GIRL. Nothing--

LIFE. You must call me master.

SECOND GIRL. No. That I will not do.

LIFE [_leering at her_]. Call me master. Then I shall be kind to you.

SECOND GIRL. No. I can not.

LIFE [_picks up his whip from the path, toying with the whip but
laughing at her_]. Then I shall be kind.

SECOND GIRL. Master--

LIFE. It has a good sound.

SECOND GIRL. You will give me--

LIFE. Greedy one! Be grateful that I do not punish you.

SECOND GIRL. You would not strike me?

LIFE. If you do not obey--

SECOND GIRL [_whispering_]. You would not strike--

LIFE. You must kneel.

SECOND GIRL [_repeating_]. Never kneel, little queen--

LIFE. You must kneel to me.

SECOND GIRL. No.

LIFE [_raising the whip as if to strike_]. On your knees! Slave!

SECOND GIRL. You were kind! Life, you were kind! You said beautiful
words to me.

LIFE. Kneel.

SECOND GIRL. You would be always kind, you said--

LIFE. Will you obey?

SECOND GIRL. I shall never--

    [_Life curls his whip around her shoulders._]

SECOND GIRL [_screams_]. Do not flog me. I will kneel. [_Kneels_.]

LIFE. So? In that way I can win obedience.

SECOND GIRL. Master!

LIFE. It has a good sound.

SECOND GIRL. Pity! Have pity!

LIFE. Do not whine. [_Kicks her._]

SECOND GIRL [_rises staggering_]. Spare me!

LIFE. I shall beat you, for the cries of those who fear me are sweet in
my ears. [_Beats her._]

SECOND GIRL. Master!

LIFE [_flinging aside whip_]. But sweeter yet are stilled cries--[_He
seizes her, they struggle._]

SECOND GIRL. He is too strong--I can struggle no longer!

    [_They struggle. Life chokes her to death and flings her body from
    him. Then laughing horribly he goes off the stage._]

FIRST GIRL [_enters skipping merrily. Singing_].

  Heigho, in April,
    Heigho, heigho,
  All the town in April
    Is gay, is gay!

    [_She plucks rose from bush._]

  Heigho, in April,
    In merry, merry April,
  Love came a-riding
    And of a sunny day
    I met him on the way!
  Heigho, in April,
    Heigho, heigho--

    [_Suddenly seeing the body, she breaks the song, and stares
    without moving. Then she goes very slowly toward it, smooths down
    the dead girl's dress, and kneels beside the body. Whispers._]

She was young ... he was cruel.... [_Touches the body._] She also was a
queen. She snatched his trinkets. See, there on her dead neck is his
chain with the red fire caught in gold. And on her finger his ring. But
he was too strong ... too strong.... [_She stands, trembles, cowering in
terror._] Life has broken her.... Life has broken them all.... Some
day.... I am afraid....

    [_Life enters, still the ugly tyrant. She remains cowering. His
    eyes rove slowly over the stage, but she sees him a second before
    he discovers her. She straightens up just in time to be her
    scornful self before his eyes light upon her. As she speaks Life
    becomes the slave again._]

FIRST GIRL [_carelessly flings rose down without seeing that it has
fallen upon the body_]. Life! Bring me a fresh rose!

    [_The slave bows abjectly and goes to do her bidding._]


  [_Curtain._]



THE SLUMP

  A PLAY

  BY FREDERIC L. DAY


  Copyright, 1920, by Frederic L. Day.
  All rights reserved.


  The Slump was first produced February 5, 1920, by "The 47 Workshop"
  with the following cast:

    FLORENCE MADDEN  _Miss Ruth Chorpenning_.
    JAMES MADDEN     _Mr. Walton Butterfield_.
    EDWARD MIX       _Mr. W. B. Leach, Jr_.


  Permission to reprint, or for amateur or professional performances
  of any kind must first be obtained from "The 47 Workshop," Harvard
  College, Cambridge, Mass. Moving picture rights reserved.

  TIME: _The Present. About four o'clock on a Saturday afternoon in
  December._



THE SLUMP

A PLAY BY FREDERIC L. DAY


    [SCENE: _A dingy room showing the very worst of contemporary lower
    middle-class American taste. The dining table in the center is of
    "golden oak"; and a sideboard at the left, a morris chair at the
    right and front, and three dining-room chairs (one of which is in
    the left rear corner, the others at the table) are all of this
    same finish. The paper on the walls is at once tawdry and faded. A
    tarnished imitation brass gas jet is suspended from the right
    wall, just over the morris chair. In the back wall and to the left
    is a door leading outside. Another door, in the left wall, leads
    to the rest of the house. A low, rather dirty window in the back
    wall, to the right of the center, looks out on a muddy river with
    the dispiriting houses of a small, grimy manufacturing city
    beyond. On the back wall are one or two old-fashioned engravings
    with sentimental subjects, and several highly-colored photographs
    of moving picture stars, each of them somewhat askew. A few
    pictures on the other walls are mostly cheap prints cut out of the
    rotogravure section of the Sunday paper. In the right-hand rear
    corner is an air-tight stove. The whole room has an appearance of
    hopeless untidiness and slovenliness. Close by the morris chair,
    at its right, is a phonograph on a stand. Outside it is a dull
    gray day. The afternoon light is already beginning to wane._

    _As the curtain rises, James Madden is sitting behind the table in
    the center of the room. He is a rather small man of thirty-five,
    his hair just beginning to turn gray at the temples. Spectacles, a
    peering manner, and the sallow pallor of his face all suggest the
    man of a sedentary mode of life. His clothes are faded and of a
    poor cut, but brushed and neat. There is something ineffectual but
    distinctly appealing about the little man. Madden is working on a
    pile of bills which are strewn over the top of the table. He picks
    up a bill, looks at it, and draws in his under lip with an
    expression of dismay. He writes down the amount of the bill on a
    piece of paper, below six or seven other rows of figures. He looks
    at another bill, and his expression becomes even more
    distracted._]


MADDEN [_with exasperation_]. Oh!

    [_He brings his fist down on the table with a limp whack, then
    turns and looks helplessly toward the door at the left. After a
    moment this door starts to open. Madden turns quickly to the
    front, trying to compose his face and busying himself with the
    bills. The door continues to open, and Mrs. Madden now issues from
    it lazily. She is thirty-two years old, and a good half head
    taller than her husband. Where he is thin and bony, she has
    already begun to lose her figure. Her yellow hair, the color of
    molasses kisses, is at once greasy and untidy, and seems ready to
    come to pieces. Her face is beginning to lose its contour--the
    uninspired face of a lower middle-class woman who has once been
    pretty in a rather cheap way. She is sloppily dressed in showy
    purple silk. Her skirt is short, and she wears brand new, high,
    shiny, mahogany-colored boots. She has powdered her nose._]

MRS. MADDEN [_uninterestedly, in a slow, flat, nasal voice_]. How long
y' been home? Yer pretty late f'r Sat'rdy.

MADDEN [_still looking down and trying to control his feelings_]. The
head bookkeeper kept me, checkin' up the mill pay roll. I been here
[_consulting his watch_] just seven minutes.

MRS. MADDEN [_yawning_]. Thanks. Yer s' darn acc'rate, Jim. I didn'
really wanta know.

    [_He looks at another bill and writes down the amount on the same
    piece of paper as before, keeping his head averted so that she may
    not see his face._]

MRS. MADDEN. Jim. [_With lazy self-satisfaction._] Look up an' glimpse
yer wifey in 'r new boots. [_She draws up her skirts sufficiently to
show the boots._]

    [_He looks up unwillingly and makes a movement of exasperation._]

MADDEN. Oh, Florrie!

MRS. MADDEN. W'at's a matter? Don'choo like 'em?

MADDEN. You didn't need another pair, Florrie.

MRS. MADDEN [_on the defensive_]. Y' wouldn' have me look worse 'n one
o' these furriners, would y'? There's Mrs. Montanio nex' door; she's
jus' got a pair o' mahogany ones an' a pair o' lemon colored ones. An'
_her_ husban's on'y a "slasher."

MADDEN. Slashers get a big sight more pay than under bookkeepers these
days, Florrie.

MRS. MADDEN [_persuasively_]. Got 'em at a bargain, anyways. Jus' think,
Jim. On'y twelve, an' they _was_ sixteen. [_Madden groans audibly. She
changes the subject hastily._] W'at's a news down town?

MADDEN [_seriously_]. Florrie-- [_He hesitates and then seems to change
his mind. He relaxes and speaks wearily, trying to affect an off-hand
manner._] Nothin' much. [_Struck by an unpleasant recollection._] Comin'
home by Market Wharf I saw 'em pull a woman out o' the river.

MRS. MADDEN [_interested_]. Y' don' say, Jim. Was she dead?

MADDEN [_nervously_]. I ... I don't know. I didn't stop. [_He passes his
hand across his face with a sudden gesture of horror._] You know,
Florrie, I hate things like that!

MRS. MADDEN. Well--y' poor boob! Not t' find out if she was dead!

    [_She gives an impatient shrug of the shoulders and passes behind
    him, going over to the back window and looking out aimlessly.
    Madden picks up another bill, regarding it malevolently. After a
    moment she turns carelessly toward him._]

MRS. MADDEN. Jim. [_He does not look up._] Say, Jim. I'm awful tired o'
cookin'. There ain't a thing t' eat in th' house. Le's go down t'
Horseman's f'r a lobster supper t'night, an' then take in a real show.
Mrs. Montanio's tol' me--

MADDEN [_interrupting very gravely_]. Florrie. [_He rises to his feet._]

MRS. MADDEN [_continuing without a pause_]. There's an awful comical
show down t' th' Hyperion. Regal'r scream, they say. Mrs. Montanio--

MADDEN [_breaking in_]. Florrie, there's somethin' I got to say to you.

MRS. MADDEN [_a little sulky_]. I got lots I'd like t' say t' _you_.
On'y I ain't sayin' it.

MADDEN [_more quietly_]. I wasn't goin' to say it now ... not 'till I
finished goin' through these. [_He makes a gesture toward the bills._]
But when I saw your new shoes, an' specially when you spoke o' goin' out
to-night....

MRS. MADDEN. Well, why shouldn' I? I got t' have _some_ fun.

MADDEN [_keeping his self-control_]. Look here, Florrie. D'you know what
I was doin' when you came in?

MRS. MADDEN. I didn't notice. Figgerin' somethin', I s'pose. Y' always
are.

MADDEN. This mornin' at the office I got called to the phone. The
Excelsior Shoe Comp'ny said you cashed a check there yesterday for
fifteen dollars. Said you bought a pair o' shoes ... those, I suppose
[_He looks at her feet. She turns away sulkily._] ... an' had some money
left over. Check came back to 'em this mornin' from the bank.--"No
funds."

MRS. MADDEN [_with righteous but lazy indignation_]. How'd I know there
wasn't no money in th' bank?

MADDEN. If you kept your check book up to date you'd know.

MRS. MADDEN. W'at right they got not t' cash my check?

MADDEN [_still controlling himself_]. The bank don't let you overdraw
any more. [_He glances back at the bills._] D'you know, I'm wonderin'
why you didn't charge those boots.

MRS. MADDEN. I ain't got any account at th' Excelsior.

MADDEN. I guess it's the only place in town you haven't got one.--You
don't seem to remember what salary I get.

MRS. MADDEN. Sure--I know. Ninety-five a month. Y' know mighty well I'm
ashamed o' you f'r not gettin' more. Mrs. Montanio's husban'--

MADDEN [_breaking in_]. Hang the Montanios! [_More quietly._] Don't you
see what I'm gettin' at? Here it is the twelfth o' December; you know my
pay don't come in till the end o' the month; an' here you go an' draw
all our money out o' the bank ... an' more. [_Turning toward the
table._] An' _look_ at these bills!

MRS. MADDEN. James Madden, I like t' know w'at right you got t' talk t'
me like that.

MADDEN [_thoughtfully_]. I've always argued it's the woman's job to run
the house. [_He walks around the table from front to rear, passing to
its left, and looking down at the bills. With conviction._] It's no
use!--I don't just see how we're goin' to get out of this mess; but I do
know one thing. [_Advancing toward her from the rear of the table._]
After this _I'm_ goin' to spend our money, even if I have to buy your
dresses.

MRS. MADDEN [_with rising anger_]. If you say I've been extrav'gant,
James Madden, yer a plain liar!

MADDEN [_biting his lip and stepping back a pace_]. Easy, Florrie!--I
know you don't mean that, or--

MRS. MADDEN [_interrupting viciously_]. I do!

MADDEN [_persuasively_]. Look here, Florrie. We got to work this out
together. There's no use gettin' mad. Prob'ly you aren't
extravagant--really. Just considerin' the size o' my salary.

MRS. MADDEN. A pig couldn' live decent on _your_ salary!

MADDEN. Other folks seem to get on, even in these times. What would you
do if we had kids?

MRS. MADDEN. Thank the Lord we ain't got _them_ t' think about.

MADDEN [_shocked_]. Florence!

MRS. MADDEN. Well, I guess anybody'd be glad not t' have kids with _you_
f'r a husban'. Y' don't earn enough money t' keep a cat--let alone kids!
An' jus' t' think they'd be like you!

MADDEN [_more surprised than angry_]. Florence--you're talking like a
street woman.

MRS. MADDEN. Oh, I am, am I? Well, I guess you treat me like a street
woman. Y' don' deserve t' have a wife.

MADDEN. Well, I don't guess I do. Not one like you!

MRS. MADDEN. That's right! That's right! You don' know how t' treat a
lady.

MADDEN [_controlling himself_]. Look here, Florrie. Don't let's get all
het up over this.

MRS. MADDEN. Who's gettin' het up? [_Bursting past him toward the door
at the left._] I wish t' God you was a gen'leman!

MADDEN. Florrie--_don't_!

MRS. MADDEN [_turning on him from the other side of the table_]. W'y
don't y' go out an' dig in th' ditch? Y'd earn a damn sight more money
th'n--

MADDEN [_with angry impatience_]. You _know_ I'm not strong enough.

MRS. MADDEN. Bony little shrimp! Not even pep enough t' have kids!

MADDEN [_beside himself_]. Florence! [_Going toward her._] I'm goin' to
tell you some things I never thought I would. You're just a plain,
common, selfish, vulgar woman! You don't care one penny for anybody
except yourself. You an' your clothes an' your movies an' your sodas an'
your candy! [_Mrs. Madden is glowering at him across the table. She is
beginning to weep with rage.--Two or three times she opens her mouth as
if to speak, but each time he cuts her short._] Look at the way you been
leavin' this house lately. [_He makes an inclusive gesture toward the
room._] The four years I've lived with you would drive a saint to Hell!
[_Mrs. Madden marches furiously by him and over to her hat and coat,
which are hanging from pegs at the right, just in front of the stove._]
I wish I'd never seen you!

MRS. MADDEN [_getting her coat and hat_]. D' y' think I'm goin' t' stay
in this house t' be talked to like that? [_Putting on her hat
viciously._] D' y' think I'm goin' t' stand that kind of a thing?
[_Putting on her coat.--Sobbing angrily._] I guess ... you'll be ...
pretty sorry when I've ... gone. [_Coming closer to him on her way to
the outside door._] If ... if I _did_ somethin' ... if somethin' ...
_happened_ t' me ... I guess you ... you wouldn't never ... f'give
yerself! [_She is at the door._]

MADDEN. I don't worry about you. [_She turns on him at the door._] You
wouldn't do anything like that. You're too _yellow_!

MRS. MADDEN [_at the door. Sobbing, in a fury_]. You'll ... see!

    [_With one last glare at him, she turns, opens the door and goes
    outside, slamming the door behind her. Madden stares after her,
    almost beside himself. He takes several steps across the room,
    then crosses and recrosses it, trying to regain control of
    himself. Little by little his anger fades; the energy goes out of
    his pacing, and finally he approaches the table and sits down in
    his old place with a hopeless droop of the shoulders. He takes up
    another bill and looks at its amount helplessly, finally writing
    it down on the same piece of paper as before. He starts to add up
    the total of the bills he has already set down on the piece of
    paper. His hand moves mechanically. Suddenly a shadow crosses his
    face, as an idea begins to form itself in his mind. He looks
    straight ahead, his eyes opening wide with horror. With a sudden
    movement he springs up from the table and goes quickly to the
    window, where he looks out anxiously at the river. He turns back
    into the room, and passes his hand across his face with the same
    gesture of horror he used earlier in speaking to Mrs. Madden of
    the woman who had fallen into the river._]

MADDEN. Ugh!

    [_He returns to the table, his face dark with the fear that has
    seized him. At the table, he stands a moment, thinking. Once again
    he passes his hand across his forehead with the same gesture of
    horrified fear. He drops into the chair behind the table, still
    thoughtful. After a moment his face clears, and he shakes his head
    with an expression of disbelief. He bends again over the bills,
    and once more takes up his work of going over them. From outside
    comes the faint sound of some one whistling "Tell Me." Gradually
    the whistle grows louder and louder, as if the whistler were
    coming nearer up the street. There is a sharp rap at the door.
    Madden starts violently, and, jumping up, he goes quickly to the
    door. He opens it eagerly and slumps with obvious disappointment
    as Edgar Mix enters breezily. Mix is about twenty-five; a loosely
    put together, thin faced youth in a new suit of readymade clothes
    which are of too blatant a pattern and much too extreme a cut to
    be in really good taste. He is whistling the refrain of "Tell
    Me."_]

MIX [_as he passes_]. H'llo, James. [_Without stopping for an answer, he
crosses the room and starts to remove his hat and coat._] Where's the
sister?

MADDEN [_he has closed the door. Dully._] She's gone out.

    [_As if struck by an idea, Madden reopens the door and goes
    outside. He can be seen, looking first to the left, then to the
    right, and finally down at the river before him. Mix finishes
    taking off his outer garments, which he hangs with a flourish on
    pegs near the stove. He is still whistling the same refrain._]

MIX. W'at's a matter with you? Tryin' t' freeze me out? [_His voice has
the same flat quality as his sister's, but it is full of energy._]

    [_Madden does not appear to hear him. He now comes back into the
    house, shutting the door behind him. His face is anxious, a fact
    he tries to hide._]

MADDEN. Did you want to see Florence? [_Mix pauses in his whistling._]

MIX. Sure. Nothin' important, though. Just about a little party she said
you an' she was goin' t' take me on t'night. [_He commences whistling
cheerily the opening bars of his refrain._]

MADDEN [_dully_]. Sorry. I don't know anythin' about it.

    [_Mix stops whistling suddenly and looks down with dismay. Then,
    with his hands in his pockets, he slowly whistles the four
    descending notes at the end of the third bar and the beginning of
    the fourth. He stops and shakes his head, then slowly whistles a
    few more bars of the refrain, starting where he just left off, and
    letting himself drop into the morris chair on the descending note
    in the fifth bar. After another brief silence he finishes the
    refrain, but with a sudden return of the same quick, light mood in
    which he entered. The refrain over, he begins again at the
    beginning and whistles two or three more bars. Madden has
    meanwhile sat down at the table and is again going over the
    bills._]

MIX. Jim--ever get a piece runnin' in yer head so y' can't get it out?
[_Madden is looking vacantly down at the bills._] I s'pose I been
w'istlin' that tune steady f'r three whole weeks. [_He whistles three or
four more bars of the same refrain._] Like it? [_Madden does not appear
to have heard him._] P'raps Florrie's got th' record f'r that on th'
phornograph. Has she, Jim? It ain't been out long.

MADDEN [_impatiently_]. Oh, I don't know, Ed.

MIX [_after whistling very softly a bar or two more_]. I see some girl
fell in the river.

MADDEN [_startled_]. What?

MIX. Yep. They was tryin' t' make her come to. No use. She was a goner
all right.

MADDEN [_rising from his chair. Trying to control himself._] Where was
this?

MIX. Oh, not s' far below here. Saw her m'self, I did.

MADDEN [_with increasing fear. Taking a step or two toward Mix._] Did
you see her face?

MIX. Nope. Somethin' 'd struck her face. Y'd hardly know she was a
woman, 'cept f'r her clothes.

MADDEN [_wildly. Coming closer_]. How long ago?

MIX. W'at y' gettin' s' het up about? [_Madden is almost frantic._]
Oh ... 'bout 'n hour.

    [_Madden relaxes suddenly. The reaction is almost too much for
    him. He slowly goes back to the table._]

MADDEN [_nervously_]. Oh ... down by Market Wharf?

MIX. Sure. Did y' see her? [_Madden sits down heavily._]

MADDEN. Uhuh.

    [_For a second or two there is silence. Madden rearranges the
    bills in front of him. Mix lolls in the armchair, whistling very
    softly._]

MADDEN. Ed.

MIX. Uhuh.

MADDEN. Would you call Florrie a ... a ... well one o' them high-strung
girls?

MIX. Gosh, no!

MADDEN. You don't think she'd be the sort to fly off the handle an' do
... well, somethin' desp'rate?

MIX. Come off. You know's well's I do, Florrie's nothin' but a big jelly
fish.

MADDEN. Ed--I don't want you to talk that way about Florrie. You don't
'preciate her.

MIX. Well, w'at's bitin' _you_? W'at y' askin' all these questions f'r,
anyways?

MADDEN [_dully_]. Oh, nothin'.

    [_Madden looks down uneasily at the bills, but without giving them
    any real attention. Mix yawns and lazily shifts his position in
    the armchair._]

MADDEN. Ed--I do want to ask you somethin'.

MIX [_indifferently_]. Shoot.

MADDEN. I want you to tell the truth about this, Ed. Even if you think
it will hurt my feelings. It won't.

MIX. Spit it out.

MADDEN. Just what sort of a chap do you think I am?

MIX [_considering_]. Huh! That's easy. D' y' really wanta know w'at I
think?

MADDEN [_gravely_]. I cert'nly do.

MIX. Well--if you really wanta know, I think yer a damn good kid
[_Madden looks suddenly grateful_] ... but a bit weak on th' pep.

MADDEN [_a trifle dubiously_]. Thanks. [_Thoughtfully._] You don't
think I'm unfair?

MIX. Unfair? Why, no. How d' y' mean?

MADDEN. Well ... here in the house, f'r instance.

MIX. Lord, no, Jim! Yer s' easy goin' it'd be a holy shame f'r any one
t' slip anythin' over on y'. [_After a short pause. Suspiciously._] W'at
y' askin' all these questions f'r, anyways?

MADDEN. Oh--nothin'.

MIX [_struck with an idea.--Starting up from his chair_]. _I_ know
w'at's bitin' you. You an' Florrie's had a row. [_He walks up to Madden
and taps his arm familiarly with the back of his hand._] Come on. Own
up! [_He passes around behind Madden until he stands behind the chair at
the left of the table._]

MADDEN. Well ... we did have a ... a sort of a ... disagreement.

MIX. I bet y' did. Look here, Jim. W'at's a use o' takin' it s' hard?

MADDEN [_gravely_]. The trouble is----[_He breaks off_] I guess I was
mostly in the wrong.

MIX [_sitting down vehemently_]. Tell that to a poodle! I know you an' I
know Florrie. I guess I know who'd be in the wrong, all right. She was
bad enough w'en y' firs' got sweet on 'r--jus' a lazy fool, ev'n if she
did have a pretty face. Gee, how you did fall f'r her face! Moonin'
round an' sayin' how _wonderful_ she was! [_He chuckles._] An' Florrie
twenty-eight years old ... an' jus' waitin' t' fall into yer arms.

MADDEN. Ed--don't say things like that, even in fun.

MIX. Hell! It's the truth.... But lately Florrie's jus' plain slumped.
She's nothin' now but a selfish, lazy pig.

MADDEN [_angrily_]. I won't have you talk that way about Florrie. She's
made me a good wife ... on the whole. She don't go trapesin' off like
some o' your fly by nights. She's affection'te ... an' good tempered ...
an'----[_Mix is grinning incredulously._]

MIX. Rats! Yer havin' a damn hard time t' say anythin' real nice about
'r. I wouldn' stretch th' truth s' far 's _that_ [_snapping his
fingers._] f'r her, ev'n if she is m' sister.

MADDEN [_vehemently_]. Ed--if you can't talk decently about a nice girl
like Florrie, I guess you better get out.

MIX [_slowly rising from his chair_]. Well I'll be damned! All right, I
_will_ go.... Yer crazy, Jim!

MADDEN [_rising and putting a restraining arm on Mix's shoulder.
Nervously_]. Don't mind me, Ed. I didn't really mean what I said. I'm
all upset.

MIX. Sh'd think y' were. [_After a slight hesitation, he sits down
again._] W'at y' quarrelin' 'bout? Money?

MADDEN [_sitting down again_]. Uhuh.

MIX. Huh! Thought as much.... As I was sayin', I know Florrie.

MADDEN. It really wasn't her fault.

MIX [_slowly and emphatically_]. Well, you are sappy. Ever'body knows
Florrie spends more money th'n you an' all my family put t'gether.

MADDEN. You wouldn't have me deny her _ev'rythin'_?... She's got to have
_some_ fun.

MIX. But, Lord, man, y' don't earn th' income of a John D. Rockefeller.

MADDEN [_somberly_]. I know.... I ought to do much better. But that
isn't _her_ fault. Besides, she's learned her lesson.

MIX. Well, I'll be damned! T' hear you talk this way. O' course, y' kep'
yer mouth pretty well shut. But we all figgered you was havin' th'
devil's own time with Florrie!

MADDEN [_rising from his seat. With deep feeling_]. Ed----[_He turns and
goes over to the window, looks out and then faces around_]. I never knew
... till just now ... how fond I was of her.

    [_Mix regards him with a puzzled expression. Madden begins to walk
    up and down the floor, at first slowly and thoughtfully, then more
    and more nervously. The light outside begins to fade._]

MIX [_after a pause. Looking up at Madden_]. Jim. Y' never c'n tell w'at
these women 're goin' t' do--can yer?

MADDEN [_stopping abruptly. Intensely_]. I s'pose not, Ed. [_He goes on
a few steps and then stops again._] Even ... even when they're not ...
high strung.

    [_Madden continues his nervous pacing of the floor. Mix watches
    him with increasing annoyance._]

MADDEN [_suddenly_]. Was that a footstep?

    [_Mix shakes his head. Madden goes quickly to the window and looks
    out. From there he rushes to the door and peers out, first to one
    side and then to the other. He shuts the door, and with a hopeless
    look on his face comes back into the room. Outside the light is
    steadily fading._]

MIX [_slowly rising from his chair, a look of still greater annoyance on
his face_]. I guess Florrie ain't comin' f'r some time. I'll be goin'.
[_He goes over toward his coat and hat._]

MADDEN [_nervously_]. Why don't you drop into Smith's soda parlor?
That's where she always is, this time o' the afternoon.

MIX. She ain't there, I don't guess.... I jus' come from there m'self.

MADDEN [_intensely_]. You did?

MIX. Sure.

MADDEN [_wildly_]. Ed--I can't stand this waitin' f'r her any more. [_He
goes quickly and gets his hat and coat from a peg near the stove._] I'm
goin' out.

    [_Madden goes swiftly across the room to the door at the back and
    goes out. He is seen to pass outside in front of the back window.
    Mix takes a few involuntary steps after him toward the door, then
    stops and gives a low whistle of astonishment. After a moment he
    turns and starts back toward his hat and coat._]

MIX [_half aloud_]. Poor ol' Jim.

    [_He gets his hat and coat, and puts them on. In the course of a
    few seconds the reflective look has gone from his face; he begins
    to whistle softly the same refrain as before. From his pocket
    he produces a cigarette, which he places in his mouth. He is
    preparing to light it when a thought strikes him. He goes quickly
    over to the phonograph and, bending down, takes a record and
    examines it. It has become so dark that he is unable to read the
    title; so he lights the neighboring gas jet. He then examines two
    or three records in quick succession, finally producing one which
    causes a smile to spread over his face._]

MIX. Ah!

    [_He places his find on the phonograph, winds the machine, and
    starts his record playing. The tune is the same one he has been
    whistling the whole afternoon. With an expression of great
    pleasure he hears the record start, at the same time producing a
    huge nickel watch from his pocket and glancing at it casually. As
    he sees the time, his whole expression changes._]

MIX [_throwing his cigarette impatiently on the floor_]. Hell!

    [_He stops the phonograph and tilts back the playing arm. He
    buttons up his overcoat, turns up his collar and adjusts his hat.
    Then, his whistle suddenly breaking out again loudly into his
    favorite refrain, he marches quickly across the room to the door
    at the back, and goes out. He is seen to pass by the window, and
    his whistling is heard to die away gradually down the street._

    _Stillness has hardly fallen when the door at the back opens, and
    Mrs. Madden enters. She appears a trifle chilly, but seems
    otherwise to have recovered her composure. Closing the door behind
    her, she comes forward lazily to the table. She looks down at the
    piles of bills before her with a perfectly vacant stare, and
    taking from her pocket a pound box of candy she tosses it down on
    the papers. She opens the cover and extracts a large chocolate
    cream, which she eats indolently and with evident pleasure. Next,
    she removes her hat and coat, throwing them carelessly on the
    table beside the candy. She walks, with a lazy, flat-footed step,
    over to the gas jet at the right, and turns up the gas
    sufficiently for reading. Looking down, she notices the record
    left on the phonograph._]

MRS. MADDEN [_with slow pleasure_]. Hm!

    [_Without bothering to find out whether or not the phonograph is
    wound up, she starts it going and places the playing arm with
    apparent carelessness so that the record begins playing about a
    third of the way through. She listens to the music for three or
    four seconds with an expression of indolent appreciation, then she
    crosses the floor to the door at the left, always moving with the
    same flat-footed walk. Opening the door, she peers through it._]

MRS. MADDEN [_calling, her flat voice rising above the sound of the
phonograph_]. Oh Ji--im!

    [_She listens a moment for an answer; but as there is none, she
    closes the door and turns around. Once again the music catches and
    holds her attention. She listens for an instant and then goes back
    to the table, making a heavy attempt at a dance step or two. From
    the pocket of her overcoat she extracts a new cheap novel, whose
    content is well advertised by a lurid colored cover. This she
    takes over to the morris chair. Another thought strikes her; she
    tosses the novel into the chair and goes back to the table, where
    she gets five or six chocolate creams from the candy box,
    depositing them in a row on the right arm of the morris chair.
    Then she takes up her book and sits down. For a moment she tries
    to read, but all is not comfortable yet. She changes her position
    two or three times in the chair. At last she rises, heaving a
    disgusted sigh. Dropping her book into the chair she walks with
    flat, heavy steps across the room and out of the door at the left,
    leaving it open. She returns almost instantly, dragging two greasy
    looking sofa pillows after her. She kicks the door to, and crosses
    to the morris chair. Here she places one of the pillows on the
    ground for her feet, the other at the back of the chair. Picking
    up her book once more, she settles back into the chair with an
    expression of perfect animal contentment. She puts another
    chocolate cream in her mouth, and finds her place in the book.
    Then the music again engages her attention; she leans back with a
    foolish smile on her face as she listens. Constantly chewing the
    piece of candy, she hums a bar or two of the tune which is still
    being played by the phonograph. Then she settles down to her
    reading, eating candy as she feels inclined. The phonograph
    reaches the end of the record and makes that annoying clicking
    noise which shows it should be shut off. For two or three seconds
    Mrs. Madden pays no attention to it. Finally she raises herself in
    the chair, and without getting up she reaches over and switches
    off the phonograph, then settles back again to her reading._

    _Some one goes swiftly by the window outside. After a moment the
    door at the back opens, and Madden stands in the doorway._]

MADDEN [_in the doorway, catching sight of Mrs. Madden. With pathetic
eagerness_]. _Florrie!_ [_He closes the door._]

MRS. MADDEN [_without looking up. In lazy, matter of fact tones_]. 'Lo,
Jim.

MADDEN [_coming forward toward his wife_]. Are you _really_ safe,
Florrie?

    [_She looks up with a glance of feeble annoyance._]

MRS. MADDEN. Sure. I'm all right. [_She looks down again._]

MADDEN [_coming still closer_]. Oh, I'm so _thankful_!... I ... I been
lookin' for you, Florrie.--Where you been?

MRS. MADDEN [_without looking up_]. Wat d' y' say?

MADDEN. Where you been, Florrie? [_With even greater anxiety._] You
didn't go down by the river?

MRS. MADDEN [_looking up_]. Lord no! W'atev'r made y' think that? [_She
takes up a chocolate cream and bites off half of it._] I jus' took Mrs.
Montanio over t' Brailey's new place f'r a couple o' ice cream sodas.
[_She looks down again._]

MADDEN [_softly_]. Oh. [_A shadow passes over his face and vanishes._]
Florrie. [_He sits down on the left arm of the morris chair and puts his
arm affectionately about her shoulders._] I didn't know what I was
sayin'.

MRS. MADDEN [_puzzled. Without looking up_]. W'at y' talkin' 'bout?

MADDEN [_pathetically_]. I guess I ought not to ask you to forgive me.

MRS. MADDEN [_looking up_]. F'give y'? [_Remembering._] Oh, yes--y'
_did_ call me some darn hard names.

MADDEN. I know. [_Slowly. Looking into her face._] D' you think you
_could_ forgive me?

MRS. MADDEN [_lazily_]. Sure. I guess so. Glad t' see y' got over yer
pet.

    [_He smiles a pathetic, eager smile, and takes her left hand,
    which is lying in her lap. With an impatient movement, she
    stretches her left arm out and back, carrying his left hand with
    it and forcing him off the arm of the chair._]

MRS. MADDEN. Say, Jim--look w'at's on th' table.

    [_Madden sighs softly and takes a few steps toward the table. He
    sees the candy box; a darker shadow appears on his face for a
    second or two, and is gone._]

MRS. MADDEN. Have a chocklick, Jim.

    [_She herself picks one up from the arm of the chair; then she
    looks down again at her book, eating the candy as she reads._]

MADDEN [_unheeding.--Taking a step or two back toward her from the
table. With deep feeling_]. Florrie. I got somethin' I want to tell you.
[_She does not look up. He takes another step toward her._] After you'd
gone out, I kept thinkin' ... thinkin' what mighta happened to you.

MRS. MADDEN [_with a short chuckle_]. Y' poor boob!

MADDEN. Florrie--look at me. [_She looks up with an expression of lazy
annoyance._] Out there--[_He gestures toward the door_] the river looked
so cold an' black--An' I couldn't find you-- ... I knew all of a sudden
I ... I hadn't really meant what I said to you.

MRS. MADDEN [_impatiently_]. That's all right. [_She looks down again at
her book._]

MADDEN [_with increasing emotion. Going to the arm chair and looking
down at her tenderly from behind it_]. I kept thinkin' ... thinkin' how
pretty an' how ... how good natured you are. [_With some
embarrassment._] I thought how we used to walk ... down by the river.
Four years ago ... you know--just before we was married.

MRS. MADDEN [_with growing annoyance_]. Don' choo want 'nuther
choclick, Jim?

MADDEN [_unheeding_]. Florrie--d'you remember that time ... the first
time you let me hold your hand?

MRS. MADDEN [_looking up impatiently_]. W'at's bitin' you? Don't y' see
I'm readin'? [_He steps back and to the left a pace or two. She looks
down again._]

MADDEN [_humbly_]. Scuse me, Florrie. I just wanted to tell you. [_With
great earnestness._] You know, I'd forgotten.... I mean I didn't
realize ... till just now--[_Awkwardly._] how fond ... how much I ... I
love you.

MRS. MADDEN [_thickly, through a chocolate cream which she is eating.
Without looking up._] Tha's ... nice.

    [_He looks at her pathetically, waiting, hoping that she will look
    up. His face is intense with longing. After a short interval he
    gives it up. He turns sadly and goes toward the door at the left,
    passing in back of the table._]

MRS. MADDEN [_taking another chocolate and looking after him. He has
almost reached the door_]. Jim. [_He stops and turns eagerly._] You
ain't such a bad ol' boy. [_His face is suddenly radiant. He takes
several steps back toward her, bringing him behind the table. She has
looked down at her book again. Coaxingly._] Goin' t' take me t'
Horseman's t'night f'r lobster?

    [_All the eagerness, the radiance, vanishes from his face.--He
    sits down heavily in the chair behind the table. He looks at her,
    uncomprehending, hurt, disillusionized._]

MRS. MADDEN [_without looking up_]. An' say--[_She puts another
chocolate in her mouth. Speaking through it thickly._] I'm jus' _dyin'_
t' see a real ... comical ... show.

    [_Madden's head droops. He looks at his wife dumbly, then back at
    the table. His left hand goes out toward the bills; then he drops
    both elbows limply on the table, resting his weight on them. Mrs.
    Madden does not look up, but continues to read and munch a
    chocolate cream. Madden stares in front of him miserably,
    hopelessly as_


  _The Curtain Falls._]



MANSIONS

  A PLAY

  BY HILDEGARDE FLANNER


  Copyright, 1920, by Hildegarde Flanner.
  All rights reserved.


  CHARACTERS

    HARRIET WILDE.
    LYDIA WILDE [_her niece_].
    JOE WILDE [_her nephew_].

  TIME: _Yesterday_.


  MANSIONS is an original play. The editors are indebted to Mr. Sam
  Hume for permission to include it in this volume. Applications for
  permission to produce this play must be made to Frank Shay, care
  Stewart & Kidd Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.



MANSIONS

A PLAY BY HILDEGARDE FLANNER


    [_In a small town on the southern border of a Middle-Western
    state, stands an old brick house. The town is sufficiently near
    the Mason and Dixon line to gather about its ankles the rustle of
    ancient petticoats of family pride and to step softly lest the
    delicate sounds should be lost in a too noisy world. Even this old
    brick house seems reticent of the present, and gazing aloofly from
    its arched windows, barely suffers the main street to run past its
    gate. Many of the blinds are drawn, as if the dwelling and its
    inhabitants preferred to hug to themselves the old strength of the
    past rather than to admit the untried things of the present._

    _The scene of the play is laid in the living-room. At the back is
    a wide door leading into the hallway beyond. At the left are
    French doors opening upon steps which might descend into the
    garden. At the right side of the room, and opposite the French
    doors, is a marble fireplace, while on either side of the
    fireplace and a little distant from it, is a tall window. To the
    left of the main door is a lounge upholstered in dark flowered
    tapestry, and to the right of the door is a mahogany secretary.
    Before the secretary and away from the hearth, an old-fashioned
    grand piano is placed diagonally, so that any one seated at the
    instrument would be partially facing the audience. To the left of
    the French doors is a lyre table, on which stands a bowl of
    flowers. Above the rear door hangs the portrait of a man._

    _When the curtain rises Harriet Wilde is discovered standing
    precisely in the middle of her great-grandfather's carpet which is
    precisely in the middle of the floor. To Harriet, ancestors are a
    passion, the future an imposition. Added to this, she is in her
    way, intelligent. Therefore even before she speaks, you who are
    observant know that she is a formidable person. Her voice is low,
    even, and--what is the adjective? Christian. Yes, Harriet is a
    good woman. But don't let that mislead you._]


HARRIET [_calling_]. Lydia!

    [_Lydia comes into the room from the garden. In fact, she has been
    coming and going for more than fifteen years at the word of her
    aunt, although she is now twenty-seven. Her hands appear sensitive
    and in some way, deprived and restless. She is dressed in a slim
    black gown which could be worn gracefully by no one else, although
    Lydia is not aware of this fact. In one hand she carries a pair of
    garden shears with handles painted scarlet; in the other, a bright
    spray of portulaca; while over her wrist is slung a garden hat.
    During their conversation Lydia moves fitfully about the room. Her
    manner changes from bitter drollery to a lonely timidness and from
    timidness to something akin to sulkiness. Harriet, whether seated
    or standing, gives the impression of having been for a long hour
    with dignity in the same position. She has no sympathy for Lydia
    nor any understanding of her. There is a wall of mistrust between
    the two. Both stoop to pick up stones, not to throw, but to build
    the wall even higher. Lydia employs by turns an attitude of
    cheerful cynicism and one of indifference, both planned to annoy
    her aunt, though without real malice. But this has become a
    habit._]

HARRIET. What are you doing, Lydia?

LYDIA. I had been trimming the rose hedge along the south garden, Aunt
Harriet.

HARRIET. But surely you can find something better to do than that, my
dear. [_She cannot help calling people "my dear." It is because she is
so superior._] Some one might see in if you trim it too much. We want a
bit of privacy in these inquisitive times.

LYDIA. The young plants on the edge of the walk needed sun.

HARRIET. Move the young plants. Don't sacrifice the rose hedge.
[_Pausing as she straightens the candle in an old brass candlestick on
the mantel._] I--it seems to me that the furniture has been disarranged.

LYDIA. I was changing it a little this morning.

HARRIET. May I ask why?

LYDIA [_eagerly_]. Oh, just--just to be changing. Don't you think it is
an improvement?

HARRIET [_coldly_]. It does very well. But I prefer it as it was. You
know yourself that this room has never been changed since your
grandfather died. [_Piously._] And as long as I am mistress in this
house, it shall remain exactly as he liked it.

    [_Lydia looks spitefully at the portrait over the rear door._]

HARRIET [_stepping to the window to the left of the fire-place and
lowering the curtain to the middle of the frame._] The court house will
be done before your brother is well enough to come downstairs, Lydia.
How astonished he will be to see it completed.

LYDIA. Yes. But he would much rather watch while it is being done.

HARRIET. Well naturally. But from upstairs you can't see through the
leaves of the maple tree. Why, Lydia, there isn't another tree for miles
around with such marvelous foliage. Great-grandfather Wilde did not
know, when he set out a sapling, that the county court house was to be
built--almost in its very shadow.

LYDIA. You always did admire any kind of a family tree.

HARRIET [_as if speaking to an unruly child_]. If Great-grandfather
Wilde heard you say that--

LYDIA [_with a sudden flash of spirit which dies almost before she
ceases to speak_]. If Great-grandfather Wilde heard me say that. It may
be he would have the excellent sense to come back and chop off a limb or
two, so that Joe could have sunlight in that little dark room up there,
and see out.

HARRIET [_lifting her left hand and letting it sink upon her knee with
the air of one who has suffered much, but can suffer more_]. Lydia, my
dear child, I am not responsible for your disposition this lovely
morning. Moreover, this is a fruitless--

LYDIA. Fruitless, fruitless! _Why_ couldn't he have planted an apple
tree? [_Throwing her head back slightly._] With blossoms in the spring
and fruit in the summer--

HARRIET. I beg your pardon?

LYDIA [_wearily_]. With blossoms in the spring and fruit in the summer.
[_Slowly and gazing toward the window._] Sounds rather pretty, doesn't
it?

HARRIET [_unsympathetically_]. I do not understand what you are talking
about.

LYDIA [_shortly_]. No.

HARRIET. It is always a source of sorrow to me, Lydia, that you show so
little pride in any of the really noble men in the Wilde family.

LYDIA. I never knew them.

HARRIET. But you could at least reverence what I tell you.

LYDIA [_cheerfully_]. Well, I do think great-great-grandfather must have
been a gay old person.

HARRIET. Gay old person!

LYDIA. Yes. The portulaca blooms so brightly on his grave. It's really
not bad, having your family buried in the front yard, if its dust
inspires a flower like this.

HARRIET. I don't see why you insist upon picking those. They wilt
immediately.

LYDIA [_looking appealingly at her aunt_]. Oh, but they're so bright and
gay! I can't keep my hands from them.

HARRIET [_scornfully smoothing her lace cuff_]. Really?

LYDIA [_for the moment a trifle lonely_]. Aunt Harriet, tell me why
these dead old men mean so much to you?

HARRIET [_breathlessly_]. Dead--old--men--? Why, Lydia? The Wildes came
up from Virginia and were among the very first pioneers, in this
section. They practically made this town and there is no better known
name here in the southern part of the state than ours. We--

LYDIA. Oh, yes. Of course, I've heard all that ever since I can
remember. [_Assuming an attitude of pride._] We have the oldest and most
aristocratic-looking house for miles around; the rose-hedge has bloomed
for fifty years--it's very nearly dead, too; General Someone drank out
of our well, or General Some-One-Else drowned in it, I always forget
which.

HARRIET. Lydia!

LYDIA [_soothingly_]. Oh, it doesn't make much difference which. That
doesn't worry me. But what does, is how you manage to put a halo around
all your fathers and grandfathers and--

HARRIET [_piously_]. Because they represent the noble traditions of a
noble past.

LYDIA. What about the noble present?

HARRIET [_looking vaguely about the room_]. I have not seen it.

LYDIA [_bitterly_]. No, you have not seen it. [_Turning to go._]

HARRIET. Just one moment, Lydia. I want to speak to you about your
brother.

LYDIA [_quickly_]. Did the doctor say that Joe is worse?

HARRIET. No. In fact, the doctor won't tell me anything. He and Joe seem
to have a secret. I can get nothing definite from the doctor at all. But
what I feel it my duty to ask you, Lydia, is this: Tell me truthfully.
Have you been speaking to Joe about--Heaven?

LYDIA. No. What a dreadful thing to even mention to a sick boy.

HARRIET. My dear, you are quite wrong. But some one has been
misinforming him.

LYDIA. Really?

HARRIET. Lydia, I am very distressed. [_Slowly._] Your young brother
holds the most unusual and sacrilegious ideas of immortality.

LYDIA [_indifferently_]. So?

HARRIET. No member of the Wilde family has ever held such ideas. It is
quite irregular.

LYDIA. What does he think?

HARRIET. I don't know that I can tell you clearly. It is all so
distasteful to me. But he declares--even in contradiction to my
explanation--that after death we continue our earthly occupations,--that
is, our studies, our ambitions--

LYDIA. That is a wonderful idea.

HARRIET [_not noticing_]. That if we die before accomplishing anything
on earth, we have a chance in the after-life to work. Work! Imagine! In
fact he pictures Heaven as a place where people are--doing things.

LYDIA [_lifting her head and smiling_]. Oh, that is beautiful--I mean,
what did you tell him?

HARRIET [_reverently_]. I explained very carefully that Heaven is peace,
peace. That the first thing we do when a dear one dies, is to pray for
the eternal rest of his soul.

LYDIA [_dully_]. Oh.

HARRIET. Yes, Lydia, I am glad to see that you share my distress.
Why--he desecrates the conception of Heaven with workmen, artists,
inventors, musicians--anything but angels.

LYDIA. Anything but angels. [_Smiles._] That is quite new, is it not? At
least in this little town. Does Joe see himself building houses in
Heaven?

HARRIET. That is the worst of it. Why, Lydia, even after I told him
patiently that there were no such things as architects in Heaven, he
still insists that if he dies, he is going to be one.

LYDIA [_startled_]. If he should die?

HARRIET [_decidedly_]. That is simply another foolish fancy. He has been
confined so long, that he gets restless and imagines these strange
things.

LYDIA. Poor Joe.

HARRIET. Don't sympathize with him, please. I can't possibly allow him
to become an architect.

LYDIA. Why not?

HARRIET. When the men in our family have been clergymen for four
generations?

LYDIA. Yes, but they're dead now.

HARRIET. All the more reason for continuing the tradition.

LYDIA. There isn't one bit of money in it.

HARRIET [_proudly_]. When was a Wilde ever slave to money?

LYDIA [_sulkily_]. Certainly not since my day, and for a very, very good
reason.

HARRIET. Well, at least we have sufficient to send Joe to college--and
as a divinity student. And some day we will hear him preach in the house
of the Lord.

LYDIA. He would rather build houses himself.

HARRIET. Simply a boyish whim. He's too young to really have a mind of
his own. [_Confidently._] He will do what I tell him to.

LYDIA. He is very nearly nineteen, Aunt Harriet. Didn't you have a mind
of your own when you were nineteen?

HARRIET. Certainly not. Yes, of course.

    [_Lydia laughs._]

HARRIET [_the hem of her skirt bellowing with dignity._] This is
entirely different. If you can't be polite, Lydia, you might at least
stop laughing.

LYDIA [_still laughing_]. Oh, no--oh, no--I take after my
great-great-grandfather. I've just discovered it. At last I'm interested
in the noble men of the Wilde family. I know he liked to laugh. Look at
the pertness of that! [_Holding up the portulaca._]

HARRIET [_ignoring the flower_]. Please give me your sun-hat, Lydia.

LYDIA [_demurely_]. Oh, are you going to look at the portulaca?

HARRIET. No. I am going to see what you have done to the rose-hedge.
[_Going out through the French door._]

LYDIA [_suddenly furious_]. Go look at your decrepit old rose-hedge! Go
look at it! And I hope you get hurt on a thorn and bleed, yes,
bleed--the way you make me bleed. I did cut a hole in it. I don't care
who sees in--I want to see out! [_Looking toward the portrait and
throwing the flowers on the floor._] Take your stupid flowers--take
them. They don't do me any good. They're withering, they're withering!

    [_She goes to lean against the window and look toward the court
    house. As she stands there, the door opens slowly and Joe, with
    blankets wrapped about him and trailing from his shoulders, comes
    unsteadily into the room. He carries paper and drawing materials.
    He is an eager boy, who seems always afraid of being overtaken.
    Lydia turns suddenly and starts toward the door. She stops in
    surprise as she sees her brother._]

LYDIA. Joe! My goodness! Whatever made you come downstairs? Aunt Harriet
will be angry. Why this might be awfully dangerous for you, Joe. How did
you come to do such a thing?

    [_She helps him toward the lounge and arranges a cushion for him._]

JOE [_sinking back, but facing the window_]. I wanted to see how the
court house was getting on. I can't see out of my window, you know.

LYDIA. Well, you see [_Raising the blind._] they will soon have it done.

JOE [_delightedly_]. Yes, won't they, though. Look at those white
pillars! That's worth something, I tell you. I'm glad I saw it.

LYDIA. What do you mean?

JOE. Just what I said.

LYDIA. Yes, but, Joe--coming down stairs this way, when you have been
really ill--

JOE. Oh, don't argue, Lydia. I have just been arguing with Aunt Harriet.

LYDIA. You'd better rest then. You will have to, anyway, before you go
back to your room. I see you plan to draw.

JOE. Yes, I've been lazy for so long. It's driving me crazy, never doing
anything. I thought I'd copy some Greek columns this morning. Could you
give me a large book to work on?

LYDIA. I'll look for one. [_Hunting._] Joe, what were you and Aunt
Harriet arguing about?

JOE. Oh, nothing.

LYDIA. Yes, I've heard her do that before. But won't you tell me?

JOE. It wasn't anything, Lydia.

LYDIA. Here is what you want.

    [_She brings a large bound volume from the piano and places it
    upon his knees._]

JOE. Thank you. [_Settling himself to draw._] Where is she, by the way?

LYDIA. Out looking at the rose-hedge, where I cut a hole in it.

JOE. A hole in the sacred rose-hedge! Where did you suddenly get the
courage? I've heard you talk about doing such things before, but you
never really did them.

LYDIA [_timidly_]. I don't know, Joe, where I got my courage. I think
it's leaving me, too.

    [_She puts out her hand as if trying to detain some one._]

JOE [_cheerfully_]. Come stand by me. I have--I have a great deal of
courage this morning.

    [_Lydia stands behind Joe and looks over his shoulder._]

JOE [_turning to her affectionately_]. It's good I have you, Lydia. Aunt
Harriet has a fit every time she sees me doing this.

LYDIA. Having them is part of her religion.

JOE. Well, this is mine. What is yours, Lydia? I don't believe I ever
heard you say.

LYDIA [_shortly_]. I haven't any.

JOE. Sure enough?

LYDIA [_nodding, then speaking quite slowly_]. I never did anything for
any one out of love, and I was never allowed to do anything I wanted to
for joy. So I know that I have no religion.

JOE [_embarrassed_]. Never mind. Perhaps that will all come to you some
day. [_Joe suddenly sits erect and looks first toward the French door
and then toward the window._] I wonder what you will do when I go?

LYDIA [_following the direction of his gaze_]. Where?

JOE. Oh--to college.

LYDIA. Perhaps when you go to college I'll do something Aunt Harriet
doesn't think is regular.

JOE. What will it be?

LYDIA. How can I know now? How should I want to know?

    [_Joe looks over his shoulder toward the rear door of the room._]

LYDIA [_nervously_]. What do you see?

JOE. Nothing--nothing.

LYDIA. Then please stop looking at it.

JOE [_meeting her eyes for the fraction of a moment and then holding up
the sheet of paper._] I am actually getting some form into this column.
If I could only learn to design beautiful buildings--

    [_He puts his hand to his side in sudden pain._]

LYDIA [_not noting his action_]. Why, of course you will some day.

JOE. I don't know. Sometimes I'm afraid I won't get the chance.

LYDIA. Oh, you'll be a man. You can ride over Aunt Harriet.

    [_Joe looks at his copy and crumples it savagely. Suddenly he
    holds up his hand and listens._]

JOE. What was that bell?

LYDIA. I did not hear any.

JOE. I did.

LYDIA. It must have been the side door. Some one will answer it.

JOE. Do people often come by the side door?

LYDIA. Why, Joe, you know very well that the delivery boy always comes
there.

JOE. Delivery?--I wonder--will it be delivery?

LYDIA. Joe, you're even odder than I am. Stop it. It doesn't do to have
two in the family.

JOE [_laughing_]. Oh, just as you say. [_Looking at the book on his
knee_.] What is this big book?

LYDIA. Music.

JOE [_opening the book_]. Why, it has your name in it.

LYDIA. It is my book.

JOE [_in surprise_]. Did you ever play the piano?

LYDIA [_turning aside_]. Yes.

JOE [_his face lighting up_]. Play something now, please.

LYDIA. That piano has been locked for fifteen years.

JOE. Ever since mother died and you and I came here to live?

LYDIA. Yes. Haven't you ever wondered why it was never open?

JOE. I certainly have. But Aunt Harriet always avoided the subject and I
could never get you to say anything about it.

LYDIA. By the time I had tried it for two years, I knew better.

JOE. But why is it locked?

LYDIA. Because I neglected my duties. I played the piano when I should
have been studying, and I played when I should have been hemming linen,
and I played when I should have been learning psalms.

JOE. But surely when you grew older--when you were through school--

LYDIA. No. I lied to her once about it. She made me promise not to
touch the piano, and left it open on purpose to see what I would do.
And I played and she heard me. So when I denied it--[_Shrugging her
shoulders._] You see, after that, to have let me go on, playing and
undisciplined--why, it would have meant the loss of my soul. [_Very
pleasantly._] It would have meant hell, at least, Joe dear, and I don't
know what else. Aunt Harriet has always been so careful about what I
learned.

JOE [_angrily_]. But surely you are old enough now to do what you want
to! I'll ask her myself if--

LYDIA [_alarmed_]. Oh, no, Joe! Please, please don't do that. I should
be frightened, really. It is a matter of religion with her.

JOE. And don't you know how to play any longer?

LYDIA. Yes, some. I sneak into the church when no one is there and play
on that piano. [_She walks to the instrument, and sitting down before
it, rubs her palms lovingly across the closed lid._] When you were away
six months ago, this was opened to be tuned for those young cousins of
hers who visited. They were lively young girls, and the first thing they
did every morning was to go to the piano. They would have asked
questions if it had been locked, and Aunt Harriet hates inquisitiveness
like poison.

JOE. Where is the key?

LYDIA. I don't know where it is now. She has probably thrown it away. It
would be just like her to do it. [_Changing her manner suddenly and
rising._] Joe, wouldn't you like a cup of tea?

JOE [_earnestly_]. No, I wouldn't. Sit down, Lydia.

    [_Lydia sits down again. Joe starts to speak, but stops to look
    about the room._]

LYDIA. Joe, what are you looking for?

JOE [_slowly and reluctantly_]. I can't get over the feeling that I am
expecting some one.

LYDIA. Who is it?

JOE [_evasively_]. I don't know. Some one I never saw before.

LYDIA [_laughing_]. An unknown visitor knocks before he comes in the
door.

JOE. I'm not sure that this one will.

    [_He closes his eyes wearily and puts his palms before them._]

LYDIA [_gently_]. Joe, you're tired. Please go upstairs.

JOE. Not quite yet. [_Eagerly._] Lydia, you know what Aunt Harriet and I
were arguing about. I saw it in your eyes.

LYDIA. Of course. It's a beautiful idea.

JOE [_excitedly_]. Then you think I'm right.

LYDIA [_looking at the piano_]. I hope to Heaven you are.

JOE [_pleading_]. Then do something for me, Lydia, please.

LYDIA. What?

JOE. I've been so worried lately to think--how awful it is if a person
dies without accomplishing anything.

LYDIA. I wish you wouldn't talk like that.

JOE [_hastily_]. I wasn't speaking for myself. I meant, just generally,
you know. But what I have been figuring out, is this--so long as you
believe that you can go on working after you leave here, it's all right,
isn't it?

LYDIA [_hesitant_]. Yes.

JOE [_thoughtfully and as though on unaccustomed ground_]. But when you
first go over, you are rather weak--

LYDIA. You mean your soul?

JOE [_speaking hurriedly_]. Yes, that's it. And you mustn't be worried
by grief or any force working against you from the people you've left
behind.

LYDIA. Yes, I follow you. Where did you learn all this?

JOE. In a book at the library.

LYDIA [_uncertainly_]. I think I have heard of some theory--

JOE [_impatiently_]. I'm not bothering about theories. I haven't got
time for them. In fact, I'd almost forgotten about the whole idea until
the other day. Something the doctor told me set me thinking. He is
really a splendid man, Lydia.

LYDIA [_indifferently_]. Yes, I've always thought so. But what is it you
want me to do for you, Joe? Aunt Harriet may come in any moment.

JOE [_looking at Lydia very fixedly and speaking slowly_]. Just this.
When I die, don't let Aunt Harriet pray for my soul.

LYDIA. Joe!

JOE. Yes, I mean it. She has a powerful mind. And she would pray for my
eternal rest and I might not be strong enough to stand against her.

LYDIA [_starting toward the rear door_]. I won't listen to you any
longer. It is wrong to talk and think about death.

JOE. Lydia, please! It means so much to me. Listen just one second. I
know I'm not very good, but Aunt Harriet would be sure to try to make an
angel out of me. And if I thought I had to sit on those everlasting gold
steps and twang an everlasting gold harp forever and forever--Lydia, I'd
go crazy, I'd go crazy!

    [_His voice rises to a scream and he sinks back gasping._]

LYDIA [_rushing to his side_]. I promise anything. Only don't excite
yourself this way. For Heaven's sake, Joe, be quiet.

JOE [_insisting_]. But don't let her pray. And make her give you the key
to the piano, and you play something so I can go out in
harmony.--Harmony--do you understand that, Lydia? Harmony. That's the
word they used so often in the book. Do you promise surely?

LYDIA [_tearfully_]. Yes, but, Joe, you're not going to die. You're not!
The doctor would have told us something about it.

JOE. Of course, I'm not going to. Not until I get good and ready. Don't
be silly. But remember, when it does happen, you must not cry. That is
very hard on souls that are just starting out.

LYDIA. I--I can see how it might be.

JOE. You won't forget to smile?

LYDIA. No.

JOE. But smile now, for practice.

LYDIA [_trying to smile, but failing_]. Oh, I can smile for you easily
enough; but don't frighten me like that again.

JOE. I'll try not to.

LYDIA [_suddenly facing him_]. Do you expect Aunt Harriet to live as
long as you do?

JOE [_with a second's hesitation_]. Yes, I'm quite sure she will. The
Wildes have the habit of living long, you know.

LYDIA. But why shouldn't you live longer than she, since you are
younger?

JOE. Oh, I don't know. I'd rather like to get ahead of her in something,
though.

LYDIA. Well, you do believe in preparation. I can't see why you are
being so beforehanded, but if it gives you any pleasure to scare me to
death----

JOE. It certainly does, Lydia. And just one thing more, I want of you.

LYDIA. What?

JOE [_rather shyly_]. Take the Bible and read something to bind the
promise. Just any verse.

LYDIA. This is becoming too solemn. I don't care for it.

    [_She approaches the lyre table, upon which, of course, is a Bible,
    and opens the book._]

JOE. Then I'll be ready to go.

LYDIA [_looking at him sharply_]. Go?

JOE. Upstairs.

    [_Lydia turns the leaves of the Bible._]

JOE. This will be our secret, Lydia. [_He leans forward and looks out
the French door, then turns to her impatiently._] What are you waiting
for?

LYDIA. Yes, Joe, our secret. Let me see. Mother was always very fond of
John. [_Joe makes a movement of pain, which Lydia does not see._] Oh, I
have the very thing to read you. How strange! It sounds like a prophecy
for you.

JOE. Read it. [_Steps are heard in the garden. Joe looks up in alarm._]
Who is that coming?

LYDIA. Only Aunt Harriet.

    [_Harriet Wilde comes in through the French door._]

HARRIET. I managed, Lydia, to some extent, to repair the damage which
you----[_Seeing Joe, she stops in surprise._] Actually, Joe downstairs!
But I felt certain this morning, my dear, when you were arguing in that
unheard-of fashion, that you must be better.

LYDIA [_hastily_]. I don't think it has hurt him to come down, Aunt
Harriet.

HARRIET. On the contrary, I think it has done him good.

JOE. I should say it did, Aunt Harriet,--you don't know how much.
[_Again he looks toward the rear door._]

HARRIET. What is it, Joe dear? Is the doctor coming again?

JOE. No, I hardly think the doctor will need to come again.

HARRIET. Why, how gratifying. I am so glad.

    [_Joe closes his eyes wearily._]

LYDIA. Aunt Harriet, Joe was just about to go up to his room, but he
asked me to read something to him from the Bible first. I opened to this
passage. Won't you read it to him?

HARRIET. Yes, I will indeed. It gives me great happiness, Joe, to see
you really showing a desire for the holy word of the Scripture.

    [_Harriet takes the Bible from Lydia and stands in the light by
    the French door. She faces slightly away from Joe. Lydia walks to
    the rear door and stands directly beneath the portrait. She
    conceals a smile and looks expectantly toward her aunt._]

[_Reading_]: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe
also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I
would have told you. I----

JOE [_sitting erect and interrupting_]. Many mansions--many
mansions--Lydia, Aunt Harriet--who said I couldn't build
hou--houses--in----

    [_He sinks back. Harriet does not look at him, but shuts the Bible
    with displeasure and moves forward to place it on the table._]

HARRIET [_coldly_]. That is positive sacrilege, Joe.

    [_Lydia laughs triumphantly and steps to Joe's side, walking on
    her tip-toes and pretending to dance, pleased at her aunt's
    discomfiture._]

LYDIA [_stopping by Joe and bending over him_]. Didn't I say it was a
prophecy?

    [_Joe does not answer nor open his eyes. Lydia takes his hand and
    then drops it in fear._]

LYDIA. Aunt Harriet, come here quickly!

    [_Harriet comes swiftly and stoops over Joe. She feels of his
    pulse and lays her hand against his heart._]

HARRIET. Joe, Joe!

LYDIA [_moving distractedly toward the door_]. I'll call the doctor.

HARRIET [_standing very straight and twisting her handkerchief_]. It
will do no good, Lydia. Joe has gone. This is the way your father went
and your grandfather--all the men in the Wilde family. But this is
irregular. They never died so young.

    [_Lydia covers her face with her hands._]

HARRIET. And he seems so well. Why didn't the doctor--Lydia! This was
their secret--this is what they wouldn't tell me!

LYDIA. Secret? Which secret?

    [_She looks at Joe and clasps her hands in anguish. Harriet kneels
    by the lounge and begins to pray._]

HARRIET. Dear Lord, I do beseech thee to grant peace and eternal rest to
thy child come home to thee. Grant that he may forever sit in thy
presence----

    [_Lydia, slowly realizing what her aunt is saying, runs to her
    side and makes her rise._]

LYDIA. Stop that! Stop it, I say! You worried him enough when he was
alive. Now that he's dead, let him do what he wants to.

HARRIET. Lydia! You have lost your senses. Be calm, be calm. [_Harriet
crosses to the table and picks up the Bible._] Come. We will read a few
verses and have faith that--

LYDIA [_snatching the Bible from her aunt_]. No you shan't! Let him
alone. Oh, Joe, Joe, I'm trying. Be brave! You knew, all along. You were
watching, you were expecting. Why didn't you tell me? [_Lydia looks from
Joe to the piano and back to Joe. She composes herself and puts her
hands on her aunt's shoulders._] Where is the key to the piano?

HARRIET [_horrified_]. You wouldn't touch the piano in the presence of
death!

LYDIA. Where is the key?

HARRIET [_unable to fathom Lydia's strange demand_]. It is gone. I don't
know where it is.

LYDIA. Don't you? Don't you? [_Sliding her hands toward her aunt's
throat and turning toward Joe._] Be brave, Joe. [_Speaking to her
aunt._] Then if the key is gone, I shall have to take the fire-tongs.

    [_Lydia steps toward the fire-place._]

HARRIET. Lydia! Don't touch them! What are you about?

LYDIA [_coming again to her aunt and placing her hands on her
shoulders_]. I want--that--key. And I want it quickly.

    [_They look squarely into one another's eyes._]

HARRIET [_uncertainly_]. I can't give it to you now. I will never give
it to you.

LYDIA. No? [_Almost breaking down._] Joe, why didn't you tell me?
[_Walking toward the hearth._] Very well, Aunt Harriet.

HARRIET [_passing her hand over her eyes in terror_]. Wait! Look in that
old vase on the mantel. No--the one that we never use--with the crack in
it--

    [_Lydia takes down the vase and tilts it. A key falls on the
    hearth with a ringing sound. She picks it up and quickly opens the
    piano._]

HARRIET. To think that this should happen in my house. Lord, what have I
done to deserve it?

LYDIA [_seating herself at the piano_]. Joe, this sounds like wind
blowing through willow trees. [_She plays softly._] Good-by, Joe,
good-by, dear. Good luck!

HARRIET [_pulling down the blinds on either side of the fire-place_].
Lydia, have you no religion?

LYDIA [_controlling her agitation_]. Yes--I have.

HARRIET [_looking from Lydia to Joe_]. I can't understand. Joe, poor
Joe.

LYDIA. Let not your heart be troubled.... [_Continuing to play._] I'm
smiling, Joe. I'm laughing, Joe! Be strong....

    [_Harriet is stupefied. She starts toward Lydia, but stops. She
    lifts the Bible from the table, but replaces it hastily, as Lydia
    looks across at her._]

LYDIA [_dreamily_]. In my Father's house are many mansions.

    [_Harriet looks to the portrait above the door, as if for help._]

LYDIA. If it were not so--I would have told you--

    [_And Lydia looks mystically out into space and continues to play
    while_


  _The Curtain Falls._]



TRIFLES

  A PLAY

  BY SUSAN GLASPELL


  Copyright, 1920, by Small, Maynard & Company.
  All rights reserved.


  TRIFLES was first produced by the Provincetown Players, at the Wharf
  Theatre, Provincetown, Mass., on August 8th, 1916, with the following
  cast:

    GEORGE HENDERSON    _Robert Rogers_.
    HENRY PETERS        _Robert Conville_.
    LEWIS HALE          _George Cram Cook_.
    MRS. PETERS         _Alice Hall_.
    MRS. HALE           _Susan Glaspell_.

  It was later produced by the Washington Square Players at the Comedy
  Theatre, New York City, on the night of November 15th, 1916, with the
  following cast:

    GEORGE HENDERSON    _T. W. Gibson_.
    HENRY PETERS        _Arthur E. Hohl_.
    LEWIS HALE          _John King_.
    MRS. PETERS         _Marjorie Vonnegut_.
    MRS. HALE           _Elinor M. Cox_.


  Reprinted from "Plays" by Susan Glaspell, published by Small, Maynard
  & Company, by permission of Miss Susan Glaspell and Messrs. Small,
  Maynard & Company. The professional and amateur stage rights on this
  play are strictly reserved by the author. Applications for permission
  to produce this play must be made to Miss Susan Glaspell, care of
  Small, Maynard & Company, 41 Mt. Vernon Street, Boston, Mass.



TRIFLES

A PLAY BY SUSAN GLASPELL


    [SCENE: _The kitchen in the now abandoned farm-house of John
    Wright, a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in
    order--unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the
    bread-box, a dish-towel on the table--other signs of incompleted
    work. At the rear the outer door opens and the Sheriff comes in
    followed by the County Attorney and Hale. The Sheriff and Hale are
    men in middle life, the County Attorney is a young man; all are
    much bundled up and go at once to the stove. They are followed by
    the two women--the Sheriff's wife first; she is a slight wiry
    woman, a thin nervous face. Mrs. Hale is larger and would
    ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, but she is
    disturbed now and looks fearfully about as she enters. The women
    have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door._]


COUNTY ATTORNEY [_rubbing his hands_]. This feels good. Come up to the
fire, ladies.

MRS. PETERS [_after taking a step forward_]. I'm not--cold.

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

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

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

COUNTY ATTORNEY. Somebody should have been left here yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

    [_They all look at the rocker._]

COUNTY ATTORNEY. What--was she doing?

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

COUNTY ATTORNEY. And how did she--look?

HALE. Well, she looked queer.

COUNTY ATTORNEY. How do you mean--queer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALE. She moved from that chair to this over here.... [_Pointing to a
small chair in the corner._] ... and just sat there with her hands held
together and looking down. I got a feeling that I ought to make some
conversation, so I said I had come in to see if John wanted to put in a
telephone, and at that she started to laugh, and then she stopped and
looked at me--scared. [_The County Attorney, who has had his notebook
out, makes a note._] I dunno, maybe it wasn't scared. I wouldn't like to
say it was. Soon Harry got back, and then Dr. Lloyd came, and you, Mr.
Peters, and so I guess that's all I know that you don't.

COUNTY ATTORNEY [_looking around_]. I guess we'll go upstairs first--and
then out to the barn and around there. [_To the Sheriff._] You're
convinced that there was nothing important here--nothing that would
point to any motive?

SHERIFF. Nothing here but kitchen things.

    [_The County Attorney, after again looking around the kitchen,
    opens the door of a cupboard closet. He gets up on a chair and
    looks on a shelf. Pulls his hand away, sticky._]

COUNTY ATTORNEY. Here's a nice mess.

    [_The women draw nearer._]

MRS. PETERS [_to the other woman_]. Oh, her fruit; it did freeze. [_To
the Lawyer._] She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said
the fire'd go out and her jars would break.

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

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

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

    [_The two women move a little closer together._]

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

MRS. HALE [_stiffly_]. There's a great deal of work to be done on a
farm.

COUNTY ATTORNEY. To be sure. And yet.... [_With a little bow to
her._] ... I know there are some Dickson county farmhouses which do
not have such roller towels.

    [_He gives it a pull to expose its full length again._]

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

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

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

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

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

COUNTY ATTORNEY. Yes--?

MRS. HALE [_looking about_]. It never seemed a very cheerful place.

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

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

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

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

COUNTY ATTORNEY. I'd like to talk more of that a little later. I want to
get the lay of things upstairs now.

    [_He goes to the left, where three steps lead to a stair door._]

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

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

MRS. PETERS. Yes, Mr. Henderson.

    [_The women listen to the men's steps on the stairs, then look
    about the kitchen._]

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

    [_She arranges the pans under sink which the Lawyer had shoved out
    of place._]

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

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

MRS. PETERS [_who has gone to a small table in the left rear corner of
the room, and lifted one end of a towel that covers a pan_]. She had
bread set. [_Stands still._]

MRS. HALE [_eyes fixed on a loaf of bread beside the bread-box, which is
on a low shelf at the other side of the room. Moves slowly toward it._]
She was going to put this in there. [_Picks up loaf, then abruptly
drops it. In a manner of returning to familiar things._] It's a shame
about her fruit. I wonder if it's all gone. [_Gets up on the chair and
looks._] I think there's some here that's all right, Mrs. Peters.
Yes--here; [_Holding it toward the window._] this is cherries, too.
[_Looking again._] I declare I believe that's the only one. [_Gets down,
bottle in her hand. Goes to the sink and wipes it off on the outside._]
She'll feel awful bad after all her hard work in the hot weather. I
remember the afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.

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

MRS. PETERS. Well, I must get those things from the front room closet.
[_She goes to the door at the right, but after looking into the other
room, steps back._] You coming with me, Mrs. Hale? You could help me
carry them.

    [_They go in the other room; reappear, Mrs. Peters carrying a
    dress and skirt, Mrs. Hale following with a pair of shoes._]

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

    [_She puts the cloth on the big table, and hurries to the stove._]

MRS. HALE [_examining the skirt_]. Wright was close. I thin