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Title: More Portmanteau Plays
Author: Walker, Stuart
Language: English
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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.

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Kentuckiana Digital Library.)



[Illustration: STUART WALKER WITH THE WORKING MODEL OF HIS PORTMANTEAU
THEATRE]



MORE PORTMANTEAU PLAYS

BY

STUART WALKER

Author of Portmanteau Plays

Edited, and with an Introduction by

EDWARD HALE BIERSTADT

[Illustration: ILLUSTRATED]

CINCINNATI
STEWART & KIDD COMPANY
1919


STEWART &. KIDD DRAMATIC SERIES

The Portmanteau Plays

By Stuart Walker

Edited and with an Introduction by

Edward Hale Bierstadt

VOL. 1--Portmanteau Plays

    Introduction
    The Trimplet
    Nevertheless
    Six Who Pass While the Lintels Boil
    Medicine Show

VOL. 2--More Portmanteau Plays

    Introduction
    The Lady of the Weeping Willow Tree
    The Very Naked Boy
    Jonathan Makes a Wish

VOL. 3--Portmanteau Adaptations

    Introduction
    Gammer Gurton's Needle
    The Birthday of the Infanta
    "Seventeen"

_Each of the above three volumes handsomely bound and illustrated. Per
volume net $1.75_


STEWART & KIDD CO., PUBLISHERS



ILLUSTRATIONS


STUART WALKER WITH THE WORKING MODEL OF
HIS PORTMANTEAU THEATRE                           _Frontispiece_

                                                   FACING PAGE

THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE, ACT III                34

THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE, ACT III                63

THE VERY NAKED BOY                                          80

JONATHAN MAKES A WISH, ACT I I                             130

JONATHAN MAKES A WISH, ACT II II                           149



INTRODUCTION


During the period which has elapsed between the publication of _Portmanteau
Plays_, and that of the present volume our country entered upon the
greatest war in history, and emerged victorious. It is far too early to
estimate what effect that war has had or may have upon all art in general,
and upon the dramatic and theatric arts in particular, but there is every
indication that the curtain is about to rise on the great romantic revival
which we have watched and waited for, and of which Stuart Walker has been
one of the major prophets.

During the actual period of the war many of the creative and interpretative
artists of the theater were engaged either directly in army work or in one
of its auxiliary branches. It is amusing to recall that the present writer
met Schuyler Ladd serving as Mess Sergeant for a Base Hospital in France,
Alexander Wollcott, late dramatic critic of the New York _Times_, attached
to the _Stars and Stripes_ in Paris, and Douglas Stuart, the London
producer, in an English hospital at Etretat, the while he himself was
serving as an enlisted man on the staff of the same hospital. These are
minor instances, but when they have been multiplied several hundred times
one begins to see how closely the actor, the critic, and the producer were
involved in the struggle. Again the problem of providing proper
entertainment for the troops was, and still is, a serious one. In the great
number of cases it seems highly probable that the entertainment along such
lines done by the men themselves was far more effective than that provided
by outside organizations. More than once, however, it appeared to the
writer that here was a field especially suited to the _Portmanteau Theater_
and to its repertory. The question of transportation, always a crucial
point with such a venture, was no more difficult than that presented by
many companies already in the field, and doing immensely inferior work. My
return to America put me in possession of the facts of the matter, and
without desiring in any way to cast blame, much less to indict, or to
emphasize unduly a relatively unimportant point, it seems only fitting that
there should be included in this record the reasons for what has seemed to
many of us a lost opportunity. They are at least much more brief than the
apologia which precedes them.

The _Portmanteau Theater_, its repertory of forty-eight plays, and its
trained company, was offered for war purposes under the following
conditions: no royalty was to be paid for any of the plays, no salary was
to be paid Mr. Walker; the company was to go wherever sent, whether in or
out of shell fire, in France or in England; the only stipulation being that
the members of the company should be remunerated at the same rate paid an
enlisted man in the United States army, and that the principal members
should receive the pay of subalterns. On the whole an arrangement so
generous that it is almost absurd. To this offer the Y. M. C. A. turned a
deaf ear. Their attention was concentrated on vaudeville at the moment,
and with one hand they covered their eyes while with the other they
clutched their purse strings. The War Camp Community Service could see no
way in which the Theater could function for the men either at home or
abroad. The _Portmanteau_ was, in a word, too "high-brow" a venture for
them. The reader is referred to the Appendix of this volume showing the
repertory in use at that time. Another official contented himself with the
statement that the problem of transportation involved rendered the project
impracticable. The matter is too lengthy to discuss here, but the writer,
who was able to observe the situation at first hand, knows this to be an
error. The navy then asked for plans and estimates so that a number of
_Portmanteau Theaters_ might be constructed aboard the ships. Mr. Walker
offered to put all his patents at the complete disposal of the Navy
Department, and himself was ready to draw plans and make suggestions. The
navy approved the idea, and with sublime assurance requested Mr. Walker to
proceed with the work of construction--at his own expense. It was
impossible; the money could not be afforded, and the venture was abandoned.
It is therefore very evident that there was an opportunity, and that that
opportunity was lost; but it was not the _Portmanteau_ which lost it. At
any rate we are left free to take up the history of Mr. Walker's theater
and his plays at the point where we left off in the first book of the
series.

The close of the highly successful season at the _Princess Theater_ in New
York, the winter of 1915-1916, was followed by twelve weeks on the road,
three of which were spent in Chicago, and then by thirteen weeks in
Indianapolis. It was in this last city that the production of the
adaptation of Booth Tarkington's book, "Seventeen," changed all plans by
its instant popularity. On the way East, a stop was made in Chicago, and
before that city had time to do much more than voice its enthusiasm, the
company left for New York. During the fall of 1917 _Seventeen_ was played
regularly, with the addition of some special performances of the repertory.
_Seventeen_ was played in New York for two hundred and fifty-eight
performances (Chicago had already had one hundred), and the special
performances of _The Book of Job_ were renewed in the spring. It was during
the next fall, that of 1918, that a second _Seventeen_ company was sent out
on the road. That company is still out, the total playing time for the work
since its production being (April, 1919) just one hundred and four weeks.
The next summer, 1918, included a repertory season of thirteen weeks, again
at Indianapolis, and four in Cincinnati, while the following winter, just
past, chimed ten weeks of repertory at the _Punch and Judy Theater_ in New
York. To sum up in brief then--Mr. Walker has, beginning in the spring of
1916 and ending in the spring of 1919, played seventy-six weeks of
repertory, in which he has produced forty-eight plays. This does not
include the _Seventeen_ run which, as I have said, totals one hundred and
four weeks to date. It is safe to claim that this represents as successful
repertory work as has been done in the United States so far. We shall,
however, return to that presently.

In the fall of 1917, so important to the Portmanteau company, a change of
management was instituted, by which the following staff came into control:
Stage Director--Gregory Kelly: Stage Manager--Morgan Farley: Musical
Director--Michel Bernstein: Manager--Harold Holstein: Press
Representative--Alta May Coleman: Treasurer--Walter Herzbrun. The changes
were excellent, and were thoroughly justified in their results. An
arrangement was made with the Shuberts, whereby booking was greatly
facilitated, and with its structure thus reinforced, the Theater was in an
excellent position to "carry on."

It may be remembered by those who read the first book of the _Portmanteau
Series_ that in my introduction I placed the greater portion of my emphasis
on the theatrical side; that is, the _Portmanteau_ as a portable theater
rather than as a repertory company. It is my intention here to reverse the
process, and this for two reasons. First: Mr. Walker has in the last two
years by no means confined himself to the _Portmanteau_ stage. The recent
run at the _Punch and Judy Theater_ in New York was upon a full size stage,
and this was not at all an exception. The _Portmanteau_ was, and is, an
idea, but that idea has no very definite connection with repertory as such.
There is no longer the need, in this particular instance, that there once
was, for the invariable use of the _Portmanteau_, except as convenience
requires. At the very beginning, when the company often played for private
persons, the portable stage was indispensable. But so thoroughly did the
_Portmanteau_ idea justify itself that from being a crutch it grew into a
handy staff, always valuable, but no longer essential. All that has been
said of it, and of its possibilities, is quite as true today as ever it
was, but now having proved his original thesis, if so it may be called, Mr.
Walker may well be content to work out the future gradually and in his own
way. Second: the repertory idea is certainly of infinitely more importance
than any theatrical device or contrivance, however interesting and valuable
such a departure may be in itself. As to any difference in the acting
necessitated by the change from a small to a large stage that amounts to
little. It is entirely a difference in quality, an ability to temper the
interpretation to the surroundings, and as such would apply as readily to
the staging and setting of a play as to the acting itself. On a large stage
one might take three steps to convey an impression where on a small stage
one step would produce the same effect. An arch or pylon would obviously
have to be of greater proportions on a large stage than on a small one. Yet
in both these instances the ultimate effect is precisely the same. Let us
turn then to a consideration of the Portmanteau, not as a theater, but as a
repertory company.

There is certainly no space here, and just as certainly no necessity, for
dwelling long upon the prime importance of repertory. Several excellent
books have been written on that absorbing subject, and we may surely take
for granted that which we know beyond all doubt to be the truth, namely,
that repertory as opposed to the "long run" and to the "star" system is the
ultimate solution of a most vexatious and perplexing problem--how to change
the modern theater from an industry to an art. The disadvantages of the
present mode of procedure are too evident to call for recapitulation;
witness the results obtained. On the other hand there can be no question
that there is a practicable and simple panacea in repertory; see what has
been done by the Abbey company in Dublin, by Miss Horniman's players in
Manchester, by the _Scottish Repertory Theater_, on a smaller scale, in
Glasgow, by John Drinkwater's repertory theater in Birmingham, concerning
which I have, unfortunately, no exact data, but which I understand is doing
remarkable work with distinct success, and by the Portmanteau company in
the United States. It would be well also to include Charles Frohman's
season at the _Duke of York's Repertory Theater_ in London; in fact the
inclusion of this seventeen weeks' season would be inevitable. Where the
experiment has failed it has failed for reasons which did not, in any way,
shape or manner, invalidate the principle at stake. Thus, to cite the great
example on our own side of the water, the _New Theater_ was doomed to
failure from the very start in the fact that it was born crippled. It may
be restated to advantage, just here, that from the spring of 1916 to the
spring of 1919, a period of three years, Mr. Walker has produced
forty-eight plays, has given seventy-six weeks of repertory, and has had a
nearly unbroken run of one hundred and four weeks with one play which has
been commercially successful beyond the others. Of the forty-eight plays
produced during this time eighteen had never been seen before on any stage;
four were entirely new to America (except for a possible itinerant amateur
performance); and twenty-six were revivals, modern, semi-modern, and
classical. It is my belief that this record will take a creditable position
in the history of American repertory. Abroad, however, its place is less
secure, but even here the _Portmanteau_ is by no means snowed under.

In the other great English speaking country there are four outstanding
examples of repertory work, as has already been stated. On the Continent
the situation is entirely different; there is no "problem" there, for the
repertory theater has long been an established fact. France, in the
_Comedié-Française_, and Germany, in several of her theaters before the
war, merely provide us with a criterion. In Great Britain, however, and in
America, we are in the process of building and adjusting, so that the
examples of one will reasonably affect the other. At the risk of being
misunderstood we shall pause long enough to call attention to the _Irving
Place Theatre_,[1] of New York, a German house supporting German plays, and
attended very largely by a German clientele, but notwithstanding all this a
repertory theater of standing, and of some distinction, from which we might
learn several useful lessons. However, it is with the Anglo-American stage
that we have to do at the moment.

Doubtless, first in importance comes the Abbey Theater Company of Dublin.
From December, 1905, to December, 1912, there were produced at the _Abbey
Theater_ (I am unfortunately unable to include the several important tours
made) seventy-four plays, of which seven were translations. Of the rest but
few were revivals, as the history of the Irish literary movement will show.
They were plays written especially for the theater, for particular
audiences, and to achieve definite purpose as propaganda. Moreover, when
the _Abbey_ was tottering on the brink of failure, Miss Horniman came to
the rescue with a substantial subsidy which enabled the theater not only to
proceed, but finally to establish itself on a sound running basis. Mr.
Walker's company has had to fight its own way from the very start.

In Manchester, Miss Horniman's own repertory company at the _Midland
Theater_ and finally at the _Gaiety_ has been distinctly and brilliantly
successful. In a period of a little more than two years there were produced
fifty-five plays; twenty-eight new, seventeen revivals of modern English
plays, five modern translations, and five classics. This is a repertory as
well balanced as it is wide. In 1910, however, there was inaugurated the
practise of producing each play for a run of one week, so that from that
time on the theater was open to the criticism of being not a repertory in
the fullest sense of the term, but a short run theater. But for that
matter, I do not think that there is a repertory theater either in England
or in America which fulfills the ideal conditions set down by William
Archer who had in mind, as he wrote, the repertory theater of the
Continent.

"When we speak of a repertory, we mean a number of plays always ready for
performance, with nothing more than a 'run through' rehearsal, which,
therefore, can be, and are, acted in such alternation that three, four or
five different plays may be given in the course of a week. New plays are
from time to time added to the repertory, and those of them which succeed
may be performed fifty, seventy, a hundred times, or even more, in the
course of one season; but no play is ever performed more than two or three
times in uninterrupted succession."[2]

This applies exactly to the _Comedié-Française_, which, in the year 1909,
presented one hundred and fifteen plays, eighteen of which were performed
for the first time, the remainder being a part of the regular body of the
repertory of that theater. In the first decade of the present century there
were no less than two hundred and eighty-two plays added to the repertory
of the _Comedié_. It may be of service to remember, however, that the
_Comedié-Française_ was established by royal decree in 1680. If the _Globe
Theater_ of Shakespeare's day had lived and prospered up to the present we
might have an example to match that of France.

It is probable that if one were to use the phrase "repertory in America"
the wise ones of the theater would raise their eye-brows stiffly and
remark, "There is none." That would be nearly true, but not altogether so.
It is my desire here to sketch in brief the early beginnings of what has
been termed the "independent theater" movement,[3] from which repertory in
this country unquestionably grew, up to the time of the establishment of
the "little theaters" which now dot the country, and into which movement
that of the "independent theater" eventually merged.

In 1887 there was inaugurated by A. M. Palmer at the _Madison Square
Theater_, of which he was manager at that time, a series of "author's
matinées" which appear to have been in some sense try-outs for a possible
repertory season. Only three plays were produced, however, before Mr.
Palmer decided against the scheme as impracticable. It is interesting to
note that these three plays were all by American authors--Howells,
Matthews, and Lathrop. The attempt was actually not repertory in the
strict sense, but it undoubtedly marks a tendency, slight, but evident, to
incline in the right direction.

Some four years later, in the fall of 1891, a Mr. McDowell, son of General
McDowell of Civil War fame, started the _Theater of Arts and Letters_ with
the idea of bringing literature and the drama into closer relationship.
Five plays were produced, and among the names of the authors (again they
were all natives) one finds several which have since become famous.
Commercially, the venture was a total failure, and the authors did not even
collect their full royalties. A short tour was made with several of the
more successful plays, one by Clyde Fitch (a one-act which was afterwards
expanded into _The Moth and the Flame_), one by Richard Harding Davis, and
one by Brander Matthews. All three of these were one-act. American authors
were willing enough to write plays, but they apparently could not succeed,
except in isolated instances, in writing good ones. There was evidently an
utter dearth of suitable material. Nevertheless, when foreign plays were
put on no better fortune ensued, unless they represented the old school of
pseudo melodrama, and farce adapted from the French and German, such as
Augustin Daly delighted in. Daly too had discovered that to encourage the
American playwright was to court disaster.

In 1897 _The Criterion_, a New York review of rather eccentric merit,
endeavored to establish the _Criterion Independent Theater_ modeled on the
_Théâtre-Libre_ of Antoine. A company was recruited, headed by E. J.
Henley, and performances were given at first the _Madison Square Theater_,
and then the _Berkeley Lyceum_. It was frankly intended that the appeal
should be to a small, select audience, and, in spite of the jeers of the
press, five plays were produced--one Norwegian, one Italian, one French,
one Spanish, and one American. A glance through the list shows us that the
American play, by Augustus Thomas, is the only one which has not since
entered into the permanent literature of the stage. Internal differences,
and imperfect rehearsals combined to overthrow the venture which, after one
season, was abandoned. The success of the last production, however, _El
Gran Galeoto_, inspired Mr. John Blair to produce Ibsen's _Ghosts_ with
Miss Mary Shaw at the _Carnegie Lyceum_ in 1899. From this sprang _The
Independent Theater_, generously backed financially by Mr. George Peabody
Eustis of Washington.

The list of the patrons of this theater reads like a chapter from "Who's
Who." Many of the men associated with the plan gave their services free or
at a nominal cost. The three persons more directly responsible for the
artistic side of the work were Charles Henry Meltzer, John Blair, and
Vaughan Kester, while among the patrons were W. D. Howells, Bronson Howard,
E. C. Stedman, E. H. Sothern, Charles and Daniel Frohman, and Sir Henry
Irving. Six plays were given, this time none of them of American origin.
The press and critics were most bitter in their denunciation of these
foreign importations, as they had been on the previous occasion. There was,
however, on the part of the audiences a definite tendency to let drop the
scales from their eyes, and to awake to the new forces in the drama and the
theater as represented by Ibsen, Hervieu, the _Théâtre-Libre_, and the
_Independent Theater_. But in spite of all this, one season's work saw the
conclusion of the project. A part of the repertory was given in other
cities, notably Boston and Washington, but, though a very real interest was
aroused, it was not sufficient to permit the company to continue. About two
thousand dollars represented the deficit at the end of the season; by no
means a discreditable balance, albeit on the wrong side of the ledger, when
one considers the circumstances. The actual results of the work are summed
up in a privately printed pamphlet written by Mr. Meltzer than whom no one
was more closely in touch with the whole independent movement.

"What have the American 'Independents' achieved by their efforts?

"They have succeeded, thanks to Mr. George Peabody Eustis, the general
manager of the scheme, in giving twenty-two performances of plays
recognized everywhere abroad as characteristic, interesting, and literary.

"They have extended the 'Independent' movement from New York to Boston and
Washington.

"They have encouraged at least one 'regular' manager to announce the
production next season of an Ibsen play.

"They have revived discussion of the general tendencies of modern drama.

"They have interested, and occasionally charmed, an intelligent minority of
playgoers, who have grown weary of the rank insipidity, vulgarity, and
improbability of current drama.

"They have bored, angered, and distressed a less intelligent majority of
playgoers and critics.

"They have discovered at least one new actress of unusual worth.

"They have prepared the way, at a by no means inconsiderable cost of time,
thought, and money, for future, and perhaps, more prosperous movements
aiming at the reform of the American stage."

Coming at the time it did, sponsored by the best minds in America, and
worked to its conclusion by whole hearted enthusiasts, _The Independent
Theater_ did, beyond all doubt, have a very vitalizing effect on both the
stage and the drama of this country. The next step, perhaps the climactic
one of the series, was longer in coming (1909).

The _New Theater_ has been our greatest attempt and our greatest failure.
The details of these two seasons have been placed before the public so many
times that there is no necessity for doing more here than suggesting a
broad outline. If the enterprise had, from its very inception, been in the
hands of capable men who knew their work, instead of being handicapped by
wealthy amateurs the history of a failure might never have been written. In
its first season _The New Theater_ presented thirteen plays at intervals of
a fortnight. Of these, four were classics, three were original works by
native authors, and two by contemporary British dramatists. During the
second season, at the end of which the idea was given up and the _New
Theater_ abandoned, eleven plays were produced; six of these were of
British origin, semi-modern; one was a classic; three were Belgian, and one
was American. I have counted in this season, two plays produced the season
before, the only revivals. Altogether then, twenty-two plays were given,
only five of which can be considered as home products. Mr. Ames, the
Director, was balked at every turn by the combined forces of Fifth Avenue
and Wall Street, while the outrageous and impossible construction of the
theater itself proved an insurmountable handicap. In addition it was now
found almost impossible to induce the American dramatist to turn from the
great profits of the long run Broadway theaters to the acceptance of one
hundred and fifty dollars a performance at the _New Theater_. There was
something to be said on both sides. The _New Theater_ was a splendid and
costly attempt, and it taught us several invaluable lessons, chief among
them the occasional unimportance of money.

Probably next in order comes the short repertory of Miss Grace George at
the _Playhouse_ in 1915 and 1917. This lasted for about one season and a
half, and, while there was promise of continuation, the project was finally
abandoned. It is only fair to say that Miss George worked under the
peculiar disadvantage of entire lack of sympathy, and indeed, open
antagonism as well, on the part of several of her most important confréres.
The real trouble seemed to be one of those that affected the _New Theater_,
that is, Miss George was totally unable to secure American plays for her
purposes. In the period of her project she produced seven plays; five the
first year, and two the next. Of these, five were modern British plays, one
was a translation from the French, and one was semi-modern American. Again
it will be observed that American plays were simply not forthcoming, a
condition widely different from that obtaining during the nineties when the
_Theater of Arts and Letters_, and the _Criterion Independent_ held their
short sway. Miss George's effort was distinctly worth while, but in the end
there was added only another gravestone to the cemetery of buried hopes.[4]

With the advent of the "little theater" movement, from about 1905, there
are many small companies and theaters which can, in a broad sense, fairly
be termed repertory. To discuss any number of them would require a book in
itself, and the reader is referred to "_The Insurgent Theater_" by
Professor Dickenson as the work most nearly fulfilling this need. Probably
the _Washington Square Players_ of New York are typical, more or less, of
them all, and their repertory for two years is given in the Appendix. Aside
from the natural conditions resulting from the war, one reason of their
failure seems to have been their pernicious desire to be "different" at any
cost. In spite of their excellent work they ultimately found that cost to
be prohibitive, but the discovery was made too late.[5] The majority of the
little theaters are, however, too entirely provincial in their appeal to
warrant an assumption of any great influence, in spite of their vital and
unquestionable importance.[6]

It will be observed that in speaking of Stuart Walker's work I have used
the phrase repertory _company_, not, repertory _theater_. That is, of
course, part of the secret. A theater anchored to one spot is obviously at
a disadvantage. It cannot seek its audience, but must sit with what
patience and capital it has at its disposal, and wait for the audience to
come to it. With a touring company the odds are more even. An unsuccessful
month in one city may be made up by a successful one in another. The type
of play that captivates the west may not go at all in the east, and the
other way about. There are plays now on the road, and which have been there
literally for years, doing excellent business, which have never ventured to
storm the very rocky coast bounding New York. And there are plays which
have had crowded houses in the metropolis which have slumped, and
deservedly so, most dismally when they were taken out where audiences were
possessed of a clearer vision. Hence it is easy to see that Mr. Walker,
playing in both the east and the west, in small cities and in large ones,
can do what the _New Theater_ and the _Playhouse_ could not do. True, they
could send their companies out on tour, but the _New Theater_ with its huge
stage and panoramic scenery could find but few theaters which could house
it, and the whole idea of both that and Miss George's company was a fixed
repertory theater. Indeed in both of them the faults of the "star" system
were never wholly absent.

The facts that I have been able to give here seem to point to but one
conclusion. That is, that Stuart Walker's repertory company stands
numerically on a par with anything else of the kind ever attempted in the
United States, and that it is not unworthy of comparison with the best
repertory work in England. It must be borne in mind that, in some measure,
all this has been done on a fairly small scale. There has not been the
money at hand to do it otherwise, nor has there been the necessity. The
company may be compared better with the _Gaiety_ of Manchester than with
the _Duke of York's Theater_. And too, as with the _Gaiety_, many of the
players have been relatively unknown before their advent on the
_Portmanteau_ stage. It is the definite mission, or some part of it at any
rate, of the repertory company to encourage new dramatists, new players,
and new stage effects when such encouragement is advisable. To be merely
different is by no means to be worth while.

The three plays included in this volume have all been presented
successfully both in the east and in the west. The two long plays--_The
Lady of the Weeping Willow Tree_ and _Jonathan Makes a Wish_--both have the
distinction of being popular with audiences and unpopular with critics, a
condition of affairs not as unique as it might seem. As for the third, _The
Very Naked Boy_, it is a thoroughly delightful trifle, unimportant as
drama, yet very perfect in itself, and has been liked by nearly everyone.
Combining, as it does, comedy and sentiment, it possesses all the elements
that go to make for success with the average audience.

_The Lady of the Weeping Willow Tree_ is founded on an old Japanese legend,
how old no one knows. Mr. Walker became interested in Japanese folk-lore
through a collection of ballads; it is amusing to observe how his fondness
for ballads has followed him through all his work, and this play was the
result. From the first it went well. Apparently no one could resist the
pathos of the intensely human story which culminated in so tragic a form.
One might think that the appeal in a play of this type, written by an
author so well known as an artist in stagecraft, would be largely visual.
While that appeal is unquestionably there in abundance, the real essence of
the tale is the vitally human quality of its characters. One is indeed
inclined to believe that we take our pleasures sadly, when he has seen an
audience quite dissolved in tears at a performance of this play, and all
the while enjoying themselves unutterably. It is a drama of imagination and
of emotion. The cold, hard, and more often than not deceiving light of the
intellect plays but a small part. It is the human heart with its passions,
its fears, its regrets, and its aspirations that concerns us here; not the
human mind with its essentially microcosmic point of view, and its petty,
festering egoism. The play is beautiful because it is true, and equally it
is true because it is beautiful. It seems to me quite the best and
soundest piece of work Mr. Walker has done so far, though he himself
prefers his later play, _Jonathan Makes a Wish_.

This last play is more realistic--stupid term!--than anything of a serious
nature that the author has so far attempted. It is, however, the realism of
Barrie rather than that of Brieux, and this at any rate is consoling. The
first act is extraordinary, splendid in thought, in technique, and in
execution. Therein lies the trouble, if trouble there be. Neither of the
two acts following can reach the level of the first, and with the opening
of the second act the play gradually, though hardly perceptibly, declines,
not in interest, but in strength. The transposition of the character of the
Tramp from an easy going good nature in the first act to that of a Dickens
villain in the second may require explanation. The last sensation the boy
has is that of the blow on his head, and his last visualization is that of
the Tramp's face bending over him. Thus, in his delirium, the two would
inevitably be associated. The story of the delirium, the second act, is
peculiarly well done. One feels the slight haziness of outline, the great
consequence of actually inconsequential events, the morbid terror lurking
always in the near background, which are a very part and parcel of that
strange psychological condition which is here made to play a spiritual
part. The last act suffers for want of material. In reality, all that is
necessary is to wind up the play speedily and happily. It seems probable
that the introduction of the deliciously charming Frenchwoman, played so
delightfully by Margaret Mower, would give the needed color and substance
to this portion. As it is, one feels a little something lacking--but only a
little. That the play is, as one pseudo-critic remarked, an argument in
favor of infant playwrights, is too absurd to discuss. If it argues at all,
it is that the relationship between the child world and the adult must be
democratic, not tyrannic, and that flowers grow, like weeds, only when they
are encouraged, not trod upon. The play is interesting, true, and
imaginative to a degree; if it is not wholly satisfactory, it but partakes
of the faults of virtue. Audiences, young, old, metropolitan and urban,
have responded to the work in a manner which left no doubt of their
approval. In New York it was slow in taking hold, and unfortunately the
company was obliged to leave to fill other engagements just at the time
when a more definite success was at hand. In the west the spirit of the
thing caught at once; there was no hesitation there.

From the beginning there has been a very definite plan in Mr. Walker's mind
as to what his objective point was to be, and especially in view of what I
have said of his company in connection with repertory it may be interesting
to suggest the outline of that plan here. This is no less than to establish
in some city a permanent repertory theater and company, and to use the
_Portmanteau Theater_ and company for touring purposes. It is an amusing
thought; the little theater would shoot out from under the wing of its
parent as a raiding party detaches itself from its company, but the
consequences would be, one hopes, less destructive on both sides. The
thought, however, is really much more than amusing; it is of very real
consequence and importance. It will readily be seen that in this we have a
combination of the advantages of both the stationary and the touring
repertory company, and hence, double the chances of success. And Mr. Walker
would by no means be restricted to one _Portmanteau Theater_. If conditions
warranted it he could as easily construct and send out a dozen on the road,
taking his work into every nook and corner of the theater-loving country.
In fact the ramifications of the idea are so vast that it is useless to
endeavor to do more than suggest them here. The reader will see for himself
what great possibilities are involved, and what an effect this might have
on all repertory work in America.

During the last two years the work of Mr. Walker's company has improved in
every way. The addition of new members, such as Margaret Mower, and
particularly George Gaul, whose performance In _The Book of Job_ was, in my
opinion, one of the finest ever seen on the American stage, has naturally
served to strengthen the fabric greatly. The older members of the company,
Gregory Kelly, McKay Morris, Edgar Stehli and many others, have all
improved in their work, increasing in assurance and finish. The success
that has attended the fortunes of the theater has made possible finer stage
effects (the Dunsany productions have been immensely improved) and the
repertory has been greatly enriched by some really fine plays, and has been
enhanced by others of a more popular character. One thing must be said,
however, in all fairness. It has seemed to the writer that of late there
has been an increasing tendency on the part of Mr. Walker's scenic artists
and costume designers to fall away from the plain surfaces and unbroken
lines of the new stagecraft, and to achieve an effect which one can only
characterize as "spotty." This can best be appreciated by those who know
the two American productions of Dunsany's one-act play, _The Tents of the
Arabs_. I am rather regretfully of the opinion that, aside from the actual
playing and reading of the parts, Sam Hume's production was superior to
that of Mr. Walker. An opulence of variegated colors does not always
suggest as much as flat masses. The set used by Mrs. Hapgood in her
production of Torrence's _Simon the Cyrenian_ illustrates excellently the
desired result. It is, however, Stuart Walker's privilege to adapt the new
ideas, and to make such use of the old, as seems best to him. One is
sometimes inclined to miss, nevertheless, the simplicity of his earlier
work, especially when it is compared with the splendor, not always well
used or well advised, of his later productions. His company has always read
beautifully, and its reading is now better than ever. The only adverse
criticism, if adverse criticism there be at all, lies against the Stage
Director himself. I am especially glad to be able to say this, for the
producer whose work is too good, too smooth, is surely stumbling to a fall.
The very fact that there is definite room for improvement in the
_Portmanteau_ presentations, leads one to feel, knowing the record of the
company, that these improvements will be made.

To return for a moment to an earlier phase of our discussion, it may be
both interesting and profitable to note the fact that while the _Abbey_,
the _Manchester_, and the _New Theaters_ were all aided by material
subsidies, the _Portmanteau_ has stood on its own legs, albeit they wabbled
a trifle on occasion, from the very start. A little, but only a little,
money has been borrowed, and there has been just one gift, that of $5000.
This last was accepted for the reason that it would enable the Theater to
mount sets and costume plays in a rather better fashion than heretofore.
While it was not absolutely essential to the continued existence of the
_Portmanteau_ it made presently possible productions which otherwise would
have been postponed indefinitely; in British army slang it would be called
"bukshee," meaning extra, like the thirteenth cake in the dozen. The record
of the _Portmanteau_ is its own, and that of its many friends who have been
generous in contributing that rarest of all gifts, sympathetic
understanding.

Before withdrawing my intrusive finger from the _Portmanteau_ pie I should
like to pay a small tribute to Stuart Walker himself. I do not think I have
ever known a man who gave more unsparingly of himself in all his work. That
dragon of the theater, the expense account, has often necessitated someone
shouldering the work of half a dozen who were not there. Always it is Mr.
Walker who has taken the task upon his back, cheerfully and willingly, and
despite physical ills, under which a less determined man would have
succumbed. His never wavering belief in his work and his ability to do that
work have brought him through many a pitfall. It is not a petty vanity,
but the strong conceit of the artist; that which most of us call by the
vague term ideals. The spirit of the _Portmanteau_ is to be found alike in
its offices and on its stage; a spirit of unselfish belief that somehow,
somewhere, we all shall "live happily ever after" if only we do the work we
are set to do faithfully here and now. The theater, the organization which
has that behind it, in conjunction with a keenly intelligent co-operation
or team-play, will take a great deal of punishment before it goes down.
Mistakes have been made, of course; otherwise neither producer nor company
were human; but it is in the acknowledgment and rectification of errors
that men become great.

The repertory theater, the new drama, and stage craft, have an able ally in
the _Portmanteau_. We may look far afield for that elixir which will
transmute the base metal of the commercial theater to the bright gold of
art, but unless we remember that the pot of treasure is to be found at this
end of the rainbow, and not the other, our search will be in vain.

EDWARD HALE BIERSTADT.

New York City,
April, 1919.

       *       *       *       *       *

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance given me by Mr. Brander
Matthews, Mr. Montrose Moses, and by Mr. Charles Henry Meltzer in obtaining
data, verifying dates and names, and by their kindly advice.

E. H. B.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Since America's entrance in the War given over to the "movies."

[2] Mr. John Palmer, in his book, "The Future of the Theater," gives the
following as the programme for the then, 1913, projected National Theater.
The war intervened, however, and the venture has been lost sight of for the
moment. This statement is even more reasonable than that of Mr. Archer, for
this is intended for practical use in England while his was merely taken
from France.

"... it seems desirable to state that a repertory theater should be held to
mean a theater able to present at least two different plays of full length
at evening performances in each completed week during the annual season,
and at least three different plays at evening performances and matinées
taken together ... and the number of plays presented in a year should not
be less than twenty-five. A play of full length means a play occupying at
least two-thirds of the whole time of any performance. But two two-act
plays, or three one-act plays, composing a single programme, should, for
the purposes of this statute, be reckoned as equivalent to a play of full
length."

As Mr. Palmer remarks "this statute is both elastic and watertight."

E. H. B.

[3] See Appendix for complete repertories.

[4] Announcement has just been made that Miss George will continue her
repertory during the season of 1919-1920.

[5] They only failed for $3000, however: the rent of a Broadway theater for
a week.

[6] This statement hardly applies to _The Neighborhood Theater_, or to that
successor to _The Washington Square Players_, _The Theater Guild_, the work
of which at the _Garrick Theater_, New York, during the first part of 1919
has been excellent in the very highest degree.



THE PROLOGUE TO THE PORTMANTEAU THEATER



THE PROLOGUE


_As the lights in the theater are lowered the voice of MEMORY is heard as
she passes through the audience to the stage_.


MEMORY

Once upon a time, but not so very long ago, you very grownups believed in
all true things. You believed until you met the Fourteen Doubters who were
so positive in their unbelief that you weakly cast aside the things that
made you happy for the hapless things that they were calling life. You were
afraid or ashamed to persist in your old thoughts, and strong in your folly
you discouraged your little boy, and other people's little boys from the
pastimes they had loved. Yet all through the early days you had been surely
building magnificent cities, and all about you laying out magnificent
gardens, and, with an April pool you had made infinite seas where pirates
fought or mermaids played in coral caves. Then came the Doubters, laughing
and jeering at you, and you let your cities, and gardens, and seas go
floating in the air--unseen, unsung--wonderful cities, and gardens, and
seas, peopled with the realest of people.... So now you, and he, and I are
met at the portals. Pass through them with me. I have something there that
you think is lost. The key is the tiny regret for the real things, the
little regret that sometimes seems to weight your spirit at twilight, and
compress all life into a moment's longing. Come, pass through. You cannot
lose your way. Here are your cities, your gardens, and your April pools.
Come through the portals of once upon a time, but not so very long
ago--today--now!

_She passes through the soft blue curtains, but unless you are willing to
follow her, turn back now. There are only play-things here._



THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE

A PLAY IN THREE ACTS


CHARACTERS

    O-SODE-SAN, an old woman
    O-KATSU-SAN
    OBAA-SAN
    THE GAKI OF KOKORU, an eater of unrest
    RIKI, a poet
    AOYAGI



WEEPING WILLOW TREE



ACT I


[_Before the House of Obaa-San. At the right back is a weeping willow tree,
at the left the simple little house of Obaa-San._

[_O-Sode-San and O-Katsu-San enter._

O-SODE-SAN

Oi!... Oi!... Obaa-San!

O-KATSU-SAN

Obaa-San!... Grandmother!

O-SODE-SAN

She is not there.

O-KATSU-SAN

Poor Obaa-San.

O-SODE-SAN

Why do you always pity Obaa-San? Are her clothes not whole? Has she not her
full store of rice?

O-KATSU-SAN

Ay!

O-SODE-SAN

Then what more can one want--a full hand, a full belly, and a warm body!

O-KATSU-SAN

A full heart, perhaps.

O-SODE-SAN

What does Obaa-San know of a heart, silly O-Katsu? She has had no husband
to die and leave her alone. She has had no child to die and leave her arms
empty.

O-KATSU-SAN

Hai! Hai! She does not know.

O-SODE-SAN

She has had no lover to smile upon her and then--pass on.

O-KATSU-SAN

But Obaa-San is not happy.

O-SODE-SAN

Pss-s!

O-KATSU-SAN

She may be lonely because she has never had any one to love or to love her.

O-SODE-SAN

How could one love Obaa-San? She is too hideous for love. She would
frighten the children away--and even a drunken lover would laugh in her
ugly face. Obaa-San! The grandmother!

O-KATSU-SAN

O-Sode, might we not be too cruel to her?

O-SODE-SAN

If we could not laugh at Obaa-San, how then could we laugh? She has been
sent from the dome of the sky for our mirth.

O-KATSU-SAN

I do not know! I do not know! Sometimes I think I hear tears in her laugh!

O-SODE-SAN

Pss-s! That is no laugh. Obaa-San cackles like an old hen.

O-KATSU-SAN

I think she is unhappy now and then--always, perhaps.

O-SODE-SAN

Has she not her weeping willow tree--the grandmother?

O-KATSU-SAN

Ay. She loves the tree.

O-SODE-SAN

The grandmother of the weeping willow tree! It's well for the misshapen,
and the childless, and the loveless to have a tree to love.

O-KATSU-SAN

But, O-Sode, the weeping willow tree can not love her. Perhaps even old
Obaa-San longs for love.

O-SODE-SAN

Do we not come daily to her to talk to her? And to ask her all about her
weeping willow tree?

O-KATSU-SAN

Oi! Obaa-San.

[_A sigh is heard._

O-SODE-SAN

What was that, O-Katsu?

O-KATSU-SAN

Someone sighed--a deep, hard sigh.

O-SODE-SAN

Oi! Obaa-San! Grandmother!

[_The sigh is almost a moan._

O-KATSU-SAN

It seemed to come from the weeping willow tree.

O-SODE-SAN

O-Katsu! Perhaps some evil spirit haunts the tree.

O-KATSU-SAN

Some hideous Gaki! Like the Gaki of Kokoru--the evil ghost that can feed
only on the unrest of humans. Their unhappiness is his food. He has to find
misery in order to live, and win his way back once more to humanity. To
different men he changes his shape at will, and sometimes is invisible.

O-SODE-SAN

Quick, Katsu, let us go to the shrine--and pray--and pray.

O-KATSU-SAN

Ay. There!

[_They go out. The Gaki appears._

THE GAKI

Why did you sigh?

THE VOICE OF THE TREE

O Gaki of Kokoru! My heart hangs within me like the weight of years on
Obaa-San.

THE GAKI

Why did you moan?

THE TREE

The tree is growing--and it tears my heart.

THE GAKI

I live upon your unrest. Feed me! Feed me!

[_The tree sighs and moans and The Gaki seems transported with joy._

THE TREE

Please! Please! Give me my freedom.

THE GAKI

Where then should I feed? Unless I feed on your unhappiness I should cease
to live--and I must live.

THE TREE

Someone else, perchance, may suffer in my stead.

THE GAKI

I care not where or how I feed. I am in the sixth hell, and if I die in
this shape I must remain in this hell through all the eternities. One like
me must feed his misery by making others miserable. I can not rise through
the other five hells to human life unless I have human misery for my food.

THE TREE

Oh, can't you feed on joy--on happiness, on faith?

THE GAKI

Faith? Yes, perhaps--but only on perfect faith. If I found perfect
faith--ah, then--I dare not dream.--There is no faith.

THE TREE

Do not make me suffer more. Let me enjoy the loveliness of things.

THE GAKI

Would you have someone else suffer in your stead?

THE TREE

Someone else--someone else--

THE GAKI

Ay--old Obaa-San--she whom they call the grandmother.

[_The Tree moans._

THE GAKI

She will suffer in your stead.

THE TREE

No! No! She loves me! She of all the world loves me! No--not she!

THE GAKI

It shall be she!

THE TREE

I shall not leave!

THE GAKI

You give me better food than I have ever known. You wait! You wait!

THE TREE

Here comes Obaa-San! Do not let her suffer for me!

THE GAKI

You shall be free--as free as anyone can be--when I have made the misery of
Obaa-San complete.

THE TREE

She has never fully known her misery. Her heart is like an iron-bound chest
long-locked, with the key lost.

THE GAKI

We shall find the key! We shall find the key!

THE TREE

I shall warn her.

THE GAKI

Try!

THE TREE

Alas! I can not make her hear! I can not tell her anything.

THE GAKI

She can not understand you! She can not see me unless I wish! Earth people
never see or hear!

THE TREE

Hai! Hai! Hai!

[_Obaa-San enters. She is old, very, very old, and withered and misshapen.
There is only laughter in your heart when you look at Obaa-San unless you
see her eyes. Then_--

OBAA-SAN

My tree! My little tree! Why do you sigh?

THE TREE

Hai! Hai! Hai!

OBAA-SAN

Sometimes I think I pity you. Yes, dear tree!

THE TREE

Hai! Hai! Hai!

THE GAKI

Now I am a traveller. She sees me pleasantly.--Grandmother!

OBAA-SAN

Ay, sir!

THE GAKI

Which way to Kyushu?

OBAA-SAN

You have lost your way. Far, far back beyond the ferry landing at Ishiyama
to your right. That is the way to Kyushu.

THE GAKI

Ah, me!

OBAA-SAN

You are tired. Will you not sit and rest?--Will you not have some rice?

THE GAKI

Oh, no.--Where is your brood, grandmother?

OBAA-SAN

I have no brood. I am no grandmother. I am no mother.

THE GAKI

What! Are there tears in your voice?

OBAA-SAN

Tears! Why should I weep?

THE GAKI

I do not know, grandmother!

OBAA-SAN

I am no grandmother!--Who sent you here to laugh at me?--O-Sode-San? 'Tis
she who laughs at me, because--

THE GAKI

No one, old woman--

OBAA-SAN

Yes, yes, old woman. That is it. Old woman!--Who are you? I am not wont to
cry my griefs to any one.

THE GAKI

Griefs? You have griefs?

OBAA-SAN

Ay! Even _I_--she whom they call Obaa-San--have griefs.--Even I! But they
are locked deep within me. No one knows!

THE GAKI

Someone must know.

OBAA-SAN

I shall tell no one.

THE GAKI

Someone must know!

OBAA-SAN

You speak like some spirit--and I feel that I must obey.

THE GAKI

Someone must know!

OBAA-SAN

I shall not speak. Who cares?--What is it I shall do? Tell my story--unlock
my heart--so that O-Sode-San may laugh and laugh and laugh. Is it not
enough that some evil spirit feeds upon my deep unrest?

THE GAKI

How can one feed upon your unrest when you lock it in your heart? (_The
voices of O-Sode-San and O-Katsu-San are heard calling to Obaa-San_) Here
come some friends of yours. Tell them your tale.

[_He goes out._

OBAA-SAN

Strange. I feel that I must speak out my heart.

[_O-Sode-San and O-Katsu-San come in._

O-SODE-SAN

Good morning, grandmother!

OBAA-SAN (_with a strange wistfulness in her tone_)

Good morning, O-Sode-San. Good morning, O-Katsu-San. May the bright day
bring you a bright heart.

O-KATSU-SAN

And you, Obaa-San.

O-SODE-SAN

How is the weeping willow tree, grandmother?

OBAA-SAN

It is there--close to me.

O-SODE-SAN

And does it speak to you, grandmother--

OBAA-SAN

I am no grandmother! I am no grandmother! I am no mother! O-Sode, can you
not understand? I am no mother.--I am no wife.--There is no one.--I am only
an old woman.--In the spring I see the world turn green and I hear the song
of happy birds and feel the perfumed balmy air upon my cheek--and every
spring that cheek is older and more wrinkled and I have always been alone.
I see the stars on a summer night and listen for the dawn--and there never
has been a strong hand to touch me nor tiny fingers to reach out for me. I
have heard the crisp autumn winds fight the falling leaves and I have known
that long winter days and nights were coming--and I have always been
alone--alone. I have pretended to you--what else could I do? Grandmother!
Grandmother! Every time you speak the name, the emptiness of my life stands
before me like a royal Kakemono all covered with unliving people.

O-SODE-SAN

You never seemed to care.

OBAA-SAN

Did I not care! Grandmother! Grandmother! Why? Because I loved a weeping
willow tree. Because to me it was real. It was my baby. But no lover ever
came to woo. No words ever came to me.--Think you, O-Sode-San, that the
song of birds in the branches is ease to an empty heart. Think you that the
wind amongst the leaves soothes the mad unrest in here. (_She beats her
breast_) I have no one--no one. I talk to my weeping willow tree--but there
is no answer--no answer, O-Sode-San--only stillness--and yet--sometimes I
think I hear a sigh.--Grandmother! Grandmother! There! Is that enough? I've
bared my heart to you. Go spread the news--I am lonely and old--old.--I
have always been lonely. Go spread the news.

O-KATSU-SAN

No, Obaa-San. We shall not spread the news. No one shall know.

O-SODE-SAN

But--we pity you.

OBAA-SAN

I need no pity.--Now my heart is unlocked. The dread Gaki of Kokoru who
feeds upon unrest can come to me and feed upon my pain. I care not.

THE TREE

Hai! Hai! Hai!

O-KATSU-SAN

Someone sighs.

OBAA-SAN

Yes. It is my tree. Perhaps there, too, someone in deep distress is
imprisoned--as I am imprisoned in this body.--Hai! You do not know. You do
not know!

O-SODE-SAN

Obaa-San--we have been hurting. I never knew--I am sorry, Obaa-San.

O-KATSU-SAN

You have been lonely, Obaa-San, but you have always been lonely. I know the
having and I know the losing.

O-SODE-SAN

Ay. 'Tis better to long for love than to have it--and then lose. Look at
me, whom the villagers call the bitter one. He came to me so long ago.--It
was spring, Obaa-San, and perfume filled the air and birds were singing
and his voice was like the voice from the sky-dome--all clear and
wonderful. Together we saw the cherry trees bloom--_once_: and on a summer
night we saw the wonder of the firefly fête. My heart was young and life
was beautiful. We watched the summer moon--and when the autumn came--Ai!
Ai! Ai! Obaa-San.--I knew a time of love--and oh, the time of hopelessness!
And I shut my heart. I did not see, Obaa-San.

OBAA-SAN

You knew his love, O-Sode-San. You touched his hand.

O-KATSU-SAN

But what is that? To her--my little girl--I gave all my dreams. I felt her
baby hands in mine and in the night I could reach out to her. I lived for
her. And then, one day--Obaa-San, I had known the joy of motherhood and I
had known the ecstasy of--child--and now--Her little life with me was only
a dream of spring, but still my back is warm with the touch of her
babyhood. The little toys still dance before my eyes. Oh, that was long
ago.--Now all is black.

OBAA-SAN

All blackness can never fill a mother's heart.--O-Katsu-San, you have known
the baby's hand in yours. But I am old--and I have never known, can never
know.--I'd go to the lowest hells if once I might but know the touch of my
own child's hand.

THE TREE

Hai! Hai! Hai

OBAA-SAN

Just once--for one short day--to fill the empty place in my heart that has
always been empty--and a pain--

O-SODE-SAN

Who is that man, Obaa-San?

OBAA-SAN

There? That is a stranger seeking for Kyushu.

O-KATSU-SAN

He seems to wish to speak to you.

OBAA-SAN

A strange man. 'Twas he who seemed to make me unlock my heart to you.

O-SODE-SAN

Then shall we go.--And we'll return, Obaa-San.

OBAA-SAN

Grandmother!

O-KATSU-SAN

We'll laugh no more.

[_They leave. Obaa-San turns to the tree. The Gaki enters, strangely
agitated._

THE GAKI

Obaa-San, for so they called you, tell me--did you say you'd go to the
lowest hells if you might know the touch of your own child?

OBAA-SAN

Forever--could I but fill this emptiness in my mother-heart.

THE GAKI

Would you really pay?

OBAA-SAN

Yes, yes. But why do you ask?--Who are you?

THE GAKI

I am a stranger bound for Kyushu.

OBAA-SAN

Why do you, too, make sport of me?

THE GAKI

Go you into your house and come not till I call.

[_Obaa-San obeys under a strange compulsion._

THE TREE

Hai! Hai! Hai

THE GAKI

You can not feed me now. That cry was the wind amongst your branches. Come.
I bid you come to life, to human form.

THE TREE

I do not wish to come.

THE GAKI

I bid you come!

[_When he touches the trunk of the tree, Aoyagi steps forth. She is small.
Her little body is swathed in brown and from her arms hang long sleeves
like the branches of the weeping willow. At first she shrinks. Then freedom
takes hold on her and she opens her arms wide._

THE GAKI

You are free.

AOYAGI

Free!

THE GAKI

As free as one in life. You are bound to the tree as one might be bound to
his body in a dream--but you may wander as one wanders in a dream--free
until the waking--then when the tree suffers, you shall suffer. Though you
be leagues away, you shall suffer.--But first you shall dream.--Now you are
to be the daughter of Obaa-San.

AOYAGI

Oi!

THE GAKI

Do not call yet.--You are to wed the first young man who passes here and
you are to follow him.

AOYAGI

But--Obaa-San?

THE GAKI

She shall feed me with her new-made misery.

AOYAGI

No--no--she loved me so!

THE GAKI

She shall feed me. You will be happy.

[_He disappears._

AOYAGI

Free! And happy!

[_The Gaki's voice is heard calling Obaa-San. She comes in and looks about.
At last her old tired eyes see Aoyagi. For a moment they face each other._

AOYAGI

Hai.

OBAA-SAN

A dream!

AOYAGI

Mother--

[_Obaa-San stands mute. She listens--yearning for the word again._

OBAA-SAN

Have you lost your way?

AOYAGI

No, mother--

[_Obaa-San does not know what to think or do. A strange giddiness seizes on
her and a great light fills her eyes._

OBAA-SAN

How beautiful the name! But I am only Obaa-San. Your mother--

[_She shakes her old head sadly._

AOYAGI

Obaa-San, my mother.

[_Obaa-San lays her hand upon her heart. Then she stretches out her arms._

OBAA-SAN

Obaa-San--your mother--where is my pain? And you--who are you?

AOYAGI

I am Aoyagi, mother.

OBAA-SAN

You have not lost your way?

AOYAGI

I have but just found my way.

OBAA-SAN

My pain is stilled. There is no emptiness. It is a dream--a dream of spring
and butterflies--Aoyagi!

[_She stretches out her arms and silently Aoyagi glides into them--as
though they had always been waiting for her._

OBAA-SAN

I seem never to have known a time when you were not here.

AOYAGI

Oh, mother dear, it is now--and now is always, if we will.

OBAA-SAN

It seems as though the weeping willow tree had warmed and shown its heart
to me.

AOYAGI

I am the Lady of the Weeping Willow tree!

OBAA-SAN

I care not who or what you are. You are here--close to my heart and I have
waited always. I know I dream--I know.

AOYAGI

How long I've tried to speak to you!

OBAA-SAN

How long my heart has yearned for you!

AOYAGI

Mother!

[_The Gaki appears._

THE GAKI

Such happiness. Already she has forgotten the coming of the man.

OBAA-SAN

Oh, how I've dreamed of you! When I was very, very young and had my little
doll, I dreamed of you. I used to sing a lullaby and still I sing it in my
heart:

    See, baby, see
    The ears of the wolf are long;
    Sleep, baby, sleep,
    Your father is brave and strong.

I grew into womanhood and still I dreamed of you. And, dreaming still, I
grew old. And all the world it seemed to me, made sport of my longing and
my loneliness. The people of the village called me grandmother. The
children echoed the grownups' cry and ran from me. Now--Aoyagi--you are
here. Oh, the warmth--the peace. Come let me gather flowers for the house.
Let me--

AOYAGI

Oh, mother, dear. I am so happy here.

OBAA-SAN (_suddenly becoming the solicitous mother, she handles Aoyagi as
one might handle a doll_)

Are you--truly?--Are you warm?--You are hungry!

AOYAGI

No--I am just happy.

[_She nestles close to Obaa-San. There is complete contentment._

OBAA-SAN

I shall bring you--a surprise.

[_She darts into the house. Immediately The Gaki comes in._

THE GAKI

You seem very happy, Aoyagi. And your mother is very happy, too.--And I am
hungry now.

AOYAGI

You will not hurt her! Let me go back to the Weeping Willow Tree--

THE GAKI

That would kill her--perhaps.

AOYAGI

No--no--I should be near her then--always.

THE GAKI

But where would I have my food? Not in your heart, not in hers--I should
starve and I must live.

AOYAGI

What then?

THE GAKI

See!

[_He points to the road. Aoyagi looks in that direction as The Gaki
disappears. Riki comes in. Occasionally one may hear a bit of a lullaby
sung in the old cracked voice of Obaa-San_:

    See, baby, see
    The ears of the wolf are long;
    Sleep, baby, sleep,
    Your father is brave and strong.

_Riki is a poet, young, free, romantic. He faces Aoyagi a little moment as
though a wonderful dragonfly had poised above his reflection in a pool._

RIKI

You are she!

AOYAGI

My--who--are--you?

RIKI

I am a poet--I have sought everywhere for you.

AOYAGI

I am the Lady of the Weeping Willow Tree!

RIKI

You are my love.

AOYAGI

I am the daughter of Obaa-San.

RIKI

I love you so!

AOYAGI

Yes--I love you so!--But I love Obaa-San, my mother--

RIKI

Come with me.

AOYAGI

But Obaa-San--

RIKI

Come with me. Butterfly, butterfly, alight upon the Willow Tree And if you
rest not well, then fly home to me. See! I make a little verse for you.

AOYAGI

But--Obaa-San--is very old and very lonely.

RIKI

She is your mother.--She must be glad to let you go.

AOYAGI

She does not know you.

RIKI

I know you.

AOYAGI

Yes--but I can not leave Obaa-San.

RIKI

We can not stay with Obaa-San.

AOYAGI

Can we not take her with us?

RIKI

No--like the Oshidori--we can go only by two and two along the silent
stream--and as Oshidori in silence and in happiness float on and on and
seem to cleave the mirrored sky that lies deep within the dark waters, so
we must go, we two, just you and I, to some silent place where only you and
I may be--and look and look until we see the thousand years of love in each
other's hearts.

AOYAGI

Something speaks to me above the pity for poor Obaa-San.

RIKI

It is love.

AOYAGI

I love Obaa-San.

RIKI

This is love beyond love. This is earth and air--sea and sky.

AOYAGI

I do not even know your name.

RIKI

What does my name matter? I am I--you are you.

AOYAGI

I love Obaa-San, my mother.--I feel happy in her arms;--I felt at
peace;--but now I feel that I must go to you.--I am fearful--yet I must
go.--You are--

RIKI

I am Riki. But what can Riki mean that already my eyes have not said?

AOYAGI

I feel a strange unrest--that is happiness.

RIKI

Come!

AOYAGI

First let me speak to Obaa-San.

RIKI

Look--out there--a mountain gleaming in the fresh spring air.--Amongst the
trees I know a glade that waits for you and me.--A little stream comes
plashing by and silver fishes leap from pool to pool--dazzling jewels in
the leaf-broken sunlight. Tall bamboo trees planted deep in the father
earth reach up to the sky.--And there the hand of some great god can reach
down to us and feed our happiness--

AOYAGI

Riki--I must go--I feel the strong hand leading me--I feel the happy
pain--I long--I would stay with Obaa-San; but, Riki, I must go.--Yon
mountain gleaming in the sun--the bamboo trees--the silver fishes--you--

[_Obaa-San enters carrying an armful of wistaria blossoms. She is radiant.
Then--she sees the lovers--and she understands. The blossoms slip from her
arms._

OBAA-SAN

When do you go?

AOYAGI

Obaa-San, my mother--something outside of me calls and I must obey.

OBAA-SAN

I understand.--It must be wonderful, my little daughter.

AOYAGI

Mother!--This is Riki.

OBAA-SAN

Riki!--See that you bring her happiness.

RIKI

I could not fail. I have searched for her always.

OBAA-SAN

We always search for someone--we humans.--Sometimes we find--sometimes we
wait always.

AOYAGI

Riki, I must not go. Obaa-San is my mother--and I am all she has.

OBAA-SAN

Yes, Aoyagi, you are all I have and that is why I can let you go. Be
happy--

AOYAGI

But you, my mother.

OBAA-SAN

For my sake, be happy. Some day I shall be Obaa-San no more--and what of
you then? Go, my little darling, go with Riki.--Some day, you will return.

RIKI

We shall return some day, Obaa-San.

AOYAGI

Farewell.

[_Very simply she steps into Obaa-San's outstretched arms and then, as
though they had been forever empty, Obaa-San stands gazing into space with
her arms outstretched. Aoyagi and Riki go out._

OBAA-SAN

Hai!--Hai!

[_She lays her hand upon her heart and, looking into space, turns to the
house. There is the empty tree--her empty heart! The Gaki comes in._

THE GAKI

Oi! Obaa-San!

[_Obaa-San turns mechanically._

OBAA-SAN

Did you not find your way?

THE GAKI

I found my way.--But why this unhappiness in your eyes?

OBAA-SAN

I am very lonely. I have lived my lifelong dream of spring and butterflies
a single instant--and it is gone.

[_She turns to go._

THE GAKI

I feed! I feed!

[_The voices of O-Sode and O-Katsu are heard calling Obaa-San._

Here are your friends again.

[_O-Sode and O-Katsu come in._

O-SODE-SAN

Hai! Obaa-San, a little lady passed and told us you were lonely.

OBAA-SAN

I am lonely.--But I have always been lonely.

O-SODE-SAN

What has happened?

[_The Gaki, hidden, has been triumphant. Suddenly he seems to shrivel as if
drawn with rage._

OBAA-SAN

I waited, oh so long--you know.--I opened my arms.--My dream came true.--I
sang my lullaby--to my child.--A lover came;--they have gone.

O-KATSU-SAN

She is a-wander in her mind.

OBAA-SAN

I opened my arms here--like this.--She stepped into them as though she had
been there always--and now she has gone.--In one short moment I lived my
mother-life.

O-SODE-SAN

It was magic! Come, Obaa-San, we'll make some prayers to burn.

O-KATSU-SAN

Some evil ghost.

OBAA-SAN

No! No! Some kindly spirit from the sky-dome came to me.--I have had one
moment of happiness complete.--I dreamed and I have known. Now I shall
dream again--a greater dream--a greater dream.

[_The old women go into the house._

THE GAKI

What! I can not feed! My Lady of the Weeping Willow Tree is gone! Obaa-San
has built a circle of happiness about her head. Hai! I shall die in this
shape.--I must feed.--Perhaps she tries to trick me.--I shall listen.--Why
does she not weep?--Why do they not wail?

[_He starts for the house. As he nears it, the voice of Obaa-San is heard
crooning the little lullaby_:

    See, baby, see
    The ears of the wolf are long;
    Sleep, baby, sleep,
    Your father is brave and strong.

THE GAKI (_defeated, seems beside himself. Suddenly he looks out and sees
the mountain-peak_) I'll find them in the bamboo glade. Perhaps I can make
unhappiness there. Riki and Aoyagi!


_The Curtains Close._



ACT II


_A Bamboo Glade on the Mountain-side._

[_The Gaki comes in._

THE GAKI

This is the glade on the mountain side--the glade where Aoyagi and Riki
think to find their happiness. Here must I feed or I shall die in this
shape.--Hai!--They come.

[_Riki and Aoyagi enter._

RIKI

... and so like every other prince who is a real prince, he charged to the
top of the hill before his men; and they, following him, fell upon the
enemy and victory was theirs.

AOYAGI

And then--?

RIKI

And then the Princess laid her hand upon her heart.

AOYAGI

Is that all?

RIKI

Is that all? What more need there be?

AOYAGI

Did they not wed and have great happiness?

RIKI

You can answer that.

AOYAGI

I? I never heard the story before.

RIKI

One may always end a story--just right.

AOYAGI

Not a weeping willow tree?

RIKI

Even a weeping willow tree!

AOYAGI

How?

RIKI

I'll show you.--Stand right here.--So! I stand here.--Now look at me.

AOYAGI

I am looking.

RIKI

Place your hand upon your heart.

AOYAGI

Ay.

RIKI

Now I am the Prince. With sword in hand I come to you. From Kyushu to Koban
I've fought my way to you;--through forest, marsh and mountain path I've
striven for you. Now I am here.--Look at me.

AOYAGI

Ah!

[_With a cry of delight she rushes to his arms._

RIKI

And did they wed?

AOYAGI

Ah, love beyond love.

RIKI

And did they have great happiness?

AOYAGI

Ah!

[_She nestles close to him._

[Illustration: THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE

ACT III.]

RIKI

My little princess! I did not come to you sword in hand; I did not fight my
way from Kyushu to Koban. But I strove for you through forest, marsh and
mountain pass.--Within me throbbed a mighty song that I could not sing. I
saw almost all the world, it seems, and once I heard a voice that seemed to
call to me alone. It was at the ferry of Ishiyama. I followed the
sound--and there she stood all aglow in the morning sunlight. But when I
saw, the song still throbbed within my heart and I could not sing to
her.--Someone else called to me--"Hai! Hai! Hai!"

AOYAGI

And what of her--the vision at the ferry of Ishiyama?

RIKI

For all I know she may still be standing there in the morning sunlight all
aglow.--I have found you!

AOYAGI

And was she--fair?

RIKI

Ay--how can I say? Now all the world is fair because I see only you in
earth and sky and everything.

AOYAGI

She was aglow in the morning sun.

RIKI

How can I say? I heard her voice;--a song was in my heart--a song for
you.--I saw her--the song staid locked in my heart for you.

AOYAGI

Riki--Riki--

RIKI

A dream that's true.

AOYAGI

I do not understand it all.--Obaa-San--you--this happiness.--I have known
happiness, but not like this.--When I was in the weeping willow
tree--sometimes I was happy and sometimes I was hurt.--Oh, Riki, Riki, this
glade is like the weeping willow tree! Whenever the soft air sways the
leaves, I feel the same sweet joy as when the little breezes played amongst
my branches. The rain--oh, the gentle little rain that cooled me in the hot
summer--the drops that danced from leaf to leaf and felt like smiles upon
my face. Tears! The rain is not like tears, Riki.

RIKI

The dew is tears, perhaps.

AOYAGI

The dew! It came to me like a cool veil that the morning sun would lift and
little breezes bear away. Then sometimes--the voice, the loneliness of
Obaa-San.

RIKI

Look where her home lies. Far down there beyond that stream, see--there is
Kyushu.

AOYAGI

Oh, Riki, my Riki, my august lord, why, why can I stay here in happiness
with you when I know that Obaa-San is miserable and alone?

RIKI

I can not say? I only know that we are here--you and I--and we are happy.
Two make a world, Aoyagi. Why? How? I do not know.

AOYAGI

Can we not send a message to Obaa-San?

RIKI

Yes. I shall go down the mountain to the road and tell some passer-by.

AOYAGI

And I?

RIKI

Sit here and rest--and watch the silver stream at Kyushu.

AOYAGI

I shall wait--I shall wait.

RIKI

Sayonara.

AOYAGI

Sayonara.--Sayonara, my august lord.

[_Riki goes out. Aoyagi, left alone, feels the air in the old way. She
sways slightly in the breeze, then flutters toward the steps._

Oh, Kyushu! The silver stream at Kyushu!

[_She evidently sees the place where Obaa-San lives. Her eyes dim a bit and
slowly she hums the old lullaby_:

    See, baby, see,
    The ears of the wolf are long;
    Sleep, baby, sleep,
    Thy father is brave and strong.

Poor Obaa-San!

[_The Gaki appears._

THE GAKI

I have lost my way.

[_Aoyagi turns quickly, questioning him almost fearfully with her eyes.
There is something of the Aoyagi of the time when The Gaki bade her leave
Obaa-San._

AOYAGI

Whither are you bound?

THE GAKI

I am a stranger bound for Kyushu.

AOYAGI

There is Kyushu. (_She indicates the silver stream_)

THE GAKI

I am told there is a ferry on the way to Kyushu.

AOYAGI

Yes,--at Ishiyama.

THE GAKI

At--Ishiyama.

AOYAGI

Why do you speak so?

THE GAKI

I merely echoed your own words.

AOYAGI

I did not say them so terribly.

THE GAKI

What is in your heart came into your voice, perhaps.

AOYAGI

There is the way to Kyushu.

THE GAKI

Down that path?

AOYAGI

Yes. Did you not meet Riki?

THE GAKI

Riki?

AOYAGI

Yes, my august lord.

THE GAKI

I passed no one--except--a tall woman who was climbing slowly and singing a
wonderful song--which I had heard once near the ferry at Ishiyama.

AOYAGI

But Riki just left me here. You must have passed him on the way.

THE GAKI

The by-paths are many and the trysting places are secret--like this.

AOYAGI

Riki would take no by-path. My august lord needs no trysting place save
this.

THE GAKI

I do not know. I saw no Riki.

AOYAGI

My lord needs no trysting place. I am here. He knows I am here--waiting.

[_The Gaki looks at her._

THE GAKI

Riki?

AOYAGI

He knows I am waiting--

THE GAKI

Riki?--Oh, yes the name--I heard it--once--at the ferry at Ishiyama. He has
been there.

AOYAGI

Yes.

THE GAKI

A poet?

AOYAGI

Yes.

THE GAKI

He writes wonderful love-songs--they say.

AOYAGI

They?

THE GAKI

Yes,--the people at Ishiyama. I heard one.--It goes--let me see:

"Butterfly, butterfly, alight upon the willow tree--"

AOYAGI

He did not speak that at Ishiyama. He made that for me.

THE GAKI

I heard it, strange to say, at Ishiyama. Perhaps they brought it
from--where did you say?

AOYAGI

He made that for me only yesterday.

THE GAKI

And I heard it--yesterday--at Ishiyama. There the wonderful woman was
singing. (_She looks at him_) The one I passed just now.

AOYAGI

That is a mistake.--You are wrong.--I know my--Ah! what is it here--that
hurts me, tears me, seems to choke me! Riki!--I am all in all to him--he
told me that.--He can not make poems for another.

THE GAKI

I should not have told anything.--Forgive me.--I did not know.--To speak
truth is deep in my heart.--I have no gracious subtleties.--I am sorry--

AOYAGI

In the valley there is a mist. I can no longer see the silver stream at
Kyushu.--Who are you?--I am afraid!--Riki--Riki--

[_There is no answer._

THE GAKI

He does not seem to hear.--I shall go to meet him. He went this way, you
say?

AOYAGI

Yes.--There is a mist in the valley and I can not see the silver stream at
Kyushu--

[_She does not see The Gaki who goes in the direction opposite to the one
Aoyagi has indicated._

Oh, the little day--the little day--of love beyond love.--Riki--my mother,
Obaa-San.--Yesterday the mountain-top gleamed like the topmost heaven in
the spring sunlight. Today--the valley dies in mist and the mountain-top is
lost in the sky.

RIKI (_coming in singing_)

Hai! Hai! Hai!

RIKI

Aoyagi!

AOYAGI

I must go back to Obaa-San, my mother.

RIKI

What has happened, Aoyagi?

AOYAGI

We came up the mountain path side by side, Riki. Without question I gave
myself to you.

RIKI

Aoyagi!

AOYAGI

I gave my love--my love beyond love. I believed.

RIKI

Why not believe?

AOYAGI

Your first words were--"You are she!" I did not question. And now--

RIKI

Oh, my little love, was I gone too long?

AOYAGI

My love knows no time, Riki.--You were gone--how can I say?--ages.

RIKI

It was ages, too, to me, Aoyagi.

AOYAGI (_softening_)

I watched the silver stream at Kyushu--and I waited.

RIKI

What, are those tears?

AOYAGI

Nothing, Riki--but I feel so far away--from Obaa-San.

RIKI

She can bridge the distance with her heart. A mother can always bridge all
distance with her heart.

AOYAGI

Hai!

RIKI

Our happiness is all she wants.

AOYAGI

Our happiness--(_bitterly_)

RIKI (_He goes to her. She moves away_)

Why--

AOYAGI

The silver fishes--

RIKI

What has happened, Aoyagi?

AOYAGI

Did you send the message to Obaa-San?

RIKI

Yes.

AOYAGI

Did you go down the path?

RIKI

Yes.

AOYAGI

Did you pass a stranger on the way?

RIKI

No.

AOYAGI

A stranger just came by.--He came up the mountain path.

RIKI

I crossed the stream.

AOYAGI (_She takes a deep breath_)

You crossed the stream.

RIKI

Aoyagi--little sweetheart--I cannot understand.--What do you mean?

AOYAGI

Oh, Riki, Riki, I am so alone. Tell me what--why--why--

RIKI

Aoyagi, was I gone too long? Has some demon come to you?

AOYAGI

No demon came. You were gone too long.

RIKI

I went down the path and crossed the stream to take a shorter way. I met a
stranger--

AOYAGI

Singing?

RIKI

Yes--I think she was singing.

AOYAGI

_She_ was singing.

RIKI

What do you mean, Aoyagi?

AOYAGI

Who was she?

RIKI

I do not know.--She said she would pass Ishiyama.

AOYAGI

Where did you see her?

RIKI

Beyond the stream--in a little glade.

AOYAGI

Did she sing your song?

RIKI

My song? No.

AOYAGI

Did she know your songs?

RIKI

Aoyagi! What do you want to know?

AOYAGI

Did she know your song to me--"Butterfly, butterfly, alight upon the willow
tree"?

RIKI

Perhaps.--I made that to you years ago--when you were a dream in my heart.

AOYAGI

At Ishiyama?

RIKI

Perhaps.

AOYAGI

Hai!--Obaa-San, my mother!--Oh, my heart--my heart--

RIKI

Aoyagi--what have I done? Let me comfort you!

[_He goes to her._

AOYAGI

You leave me nothing in all the world.

RIKI

I give you all my world.

AOYAGI

Hai! Hai! Hai!

RIKI

Let me go and call the lady bound for Ishiyama.

AOYAGI

Riki!--ah!

RIKI

Little Aoyagi--my love--she will be tender with you.--And when your tears
are gone, she'll bear your message on to Obaa-San.

[_He goes to her, but she draws away. For a moment he is uncertain what to
do;--then--he speaks._

I'll bring her back to you.

AOYAGI

Riki!--No!--We came up the mountain-path together--side by side.--We--but
now, Riki, we go two ways.--I to Obaa-San--you to--

RIKI

What do you mean?

AOYAGI

Go sing your songs at Ishiyama! Go make your poems to the butterfly.--I--

RIKI

I have made songs only for you.

AOYAGI

But the songs for me are on every tongue.

RIKI

Ay--I am proud of that.

AOYAGI

The lady at the ferry at Ishiyama--

RIKI

She learned the song to you!

AOYAGI

Ah!

[_Aoyagi rushes upon him and before she realizes what she is doing, she
strikes him. He stands petrified a moment, then faces her very calmly._

RIKI

I shall find the stranger-woman and send her to you.--I can no longer help
you.

AOYAGI

You can no longer help.--Oh--life--oh, love--this too short day--

RIKI

I shall stay near at hand until you return to Obaa-San.

AOYAGI

I shall find the path alone.

RIKI

I'll send the stranger-woman to you.

[_Riki goes out._

AOYAGI

Hai! Hai! Hai! I watched the sunrise only yesterday and I trembled with the
wonder of the dew-cooled dawn. Life seemed all peace and--today--I have
known a mother's love and my mother.--I have known a lover's touch--love
beyond love.--I am waking from a dream. The Gaki said I'd waken--I'd be as
free as one in life. Oh, what is this thing they call life? No happiness
complete--a vision of a mountain top--a climbing to the goal--a bamboo
glade--oh, the mist at Kyushu.--When I go back to Obaa-San--I shall love
her so--but oh, the memory of Riki--the mountain gleaming in the sun--

[_She starts sadly from the path. The Gaki enters._

THE GAKI

Lady, I am here again. It seemed to me that I must return to you. Something
seemed to call. (_Aoyagi almost collapses_) I feed! I feed!

AOYAGI

I can not go!

THE GAKI

You seem to suffer.

AOYAGI

Oh--I have lost my way in life--

THE GAKI

Lost your way in life? Let me help you.

AOYAGI

I have stood on the mountain side and I have seen the green valleys far
below.

THE GAKI

Talk to me--as you would to yourself.--I hear but I shall not speak what I
hear.

AOYAGI

Riki--no, I can not speak even to myself. Deep in me there is a hurt.--I
can not tell--

THE GAKI

A woman gives all;--the man forgets.

AOYAGI

But to Riki--he knows--I brought him my full belief--my all-in-all.

THE GAKI

Your perfect faith.

AOYAGI

Ay, my perfect faith.--He spoke to me and then I bowed to my august
lord.--I followed him without question.--And he forgets so soon.

THE GAKI

Are you sure he has forgotten?

AOYAGI

You know--you saw the lady from Ishiyama.

THE GAKI

True.--I saw her.

AOYAGI

You did not meet him on the path.

THE GAKI

True.--I did not meet him on the path.

AOYAGI

He crossed the stream.

THE GAKI

Perhaps to shorten the way.

AOYAGI

He met her in a little glade.--Hai!

THE GAKI

What shall you do?

AOYAGI

I'll go my way. I'll return to Obaa-San.

THE GAKI

I'll guide you down the mountain side.--Come, we'll take the shorter
way--the by-paths--across the stream--through the little glade--

AOYAGI (_She looks about once more at the scene of her happiness_)

Hai!

THE GAKI

Come!

AOYAGI

No, let us go down the path.--I want to see my footprints--side by side
with his.

THE GAKI

Perhaps they're being crushed under the feet of the lady from Ishiyama!

[_Aoyagi starts a moment as though to fly along the path before the lady
comes.--She sways slowly--and then falls in a pitiful little heap.--The
Gaki takes her in his arms and, utterly triumphant, starts up the
mountain-side._

We'll go up--up--sweet Aoyagi, to the snow peak--gleaming in the
sun.--You'll find the mountain-top--not lost in the sky.--Your perfect
faith!--Oh, you silly human--oh, futile love--climb, Aoyagi--climb without
love.--But first we'll make footprints for the lover's eyes.--Blindness
will lead him to the mists at Kyushu.--Jealousy will lead you to the lonely
stars.

[_He holds Aoyagi so that her feet touch the ground--toward the downward
path. Then with a wild laugh, he turns toward the mountain top. As the
laughter dies, the voice of Riki is heard calling_

Aoyagi! Aoyagi!... Oi!

[_The laugh of The Gaki is heard once more very far away--as he ascends the
mountain with his burden._

RIKI

Aoyagi!--Aoyagi!

[_Riki comes running in. Presently he sees the footprints._

Oi!--Aoyagi!

[_He runs down the path._

Aoyagi!--Aoyagi!

[_Far, very far away The Gaki's laugh is heard._

RIKI

Aoyagi!--Aoyagi!

[_Night has fallen slowly._

Aoyagi!--Aoyagi!


_The Curtains Close._



ACT III

_Before the House of Obaa-San_


[_It is moonlight. As the curtain opens, Obaa-San is heard singing the
lullaby; from the distance the voice of Riki calls._

RIKI

Aoyagi!--Aoyagi!--Aoyagi!--Aoyagi! Oi!

[_Obaa-San appears in the doorway._

Aoyagi!

OBAA-SAN (_She goes toward the voice_)

Oi!

[_Riki enters._

RIKI

Obaa-San! Where is Aoyagi?

OBAA-SAN

Where is Aoyagi?

RIKI

Is she not here?

OBAA-SAN

She is not here. Where--Riki!

RIKI

I left her in the bamboo glade--and when I returned she was gone. Her
footprints pointed toward the path--and then were lost.

OBAA-SAN

Why did you leave her?

RIKI

I left her because she--I left her.

OBAA-SAN

I do not know, Riki, what has come to pass--but this I know--I am waiting
for her.--I am waiting for her. Go seek for her--and bring her back to me.

RIKI

I shall search for her.--Obaa-San, she--

OBAA-SAN

I care not what she did. I am waiting here for her.

[_Riki looks at Obaa-San a moment and then understands._

RIKI

Aoyagi!

[_He goes out. Obaa-San turns to the empty house--the empty willow tree._

OBAA-SAN

She will come back to me.

[_She goes into the house. The Gaki enters._

THE GAKI

Foolish Riki! He searches in the valley. Mad Aoyagi! Alone with the lonely
stars!--Oh, wondrous misery that makes itself.

[_He sees Obaa-San. She enters from the house._

Good-morning, Obaa-San, my friend.

OBAA-SAN

Good-morning, traveller.

THE GAKI

Why do you rise before the dawn?

OBAA-SAN

I could not rest.--Why are you not at Kyushu?

THE GAKI

There is a mist at Kyushu--and I feared to lose my way.

OBAA-SAN

Did you pass a little lady--Aoyagi, by name--alone--

THE GAKI

It seems--I met a little lady.--She was not happy.--That one?

OBAA-SAN

Where?

THE GAKI

I am a stranger here--I cannot say. Over there--or over there.

OBAA-SAN

She will come to me, perhaps.

THE GAKI

Do you know her?

OBAA-SAN

She is my daughter,--Aoyagi.

THE GAKI

Do you not fear for her?

OBAA-SAN

Perhaps.--She will be here soon.--Riki has gone for her.

THE GAKI

She must know the way.

[_The voices of O-Sode and O-Katsu are heard._

This has been a restless night for age. (_He disappears. O-Sode-San and
O-Katsu-San enter_)

OBAA-SAN

Good-morning, O-Sode-San. Good-morning, O-Katsu-San.--The lily hands of
sleep have passed you by.

O-KATSU-SAN

A strange unrest has seized upon me. I think--and think of my little one.
She is glorious in my heart, and words with wings seem to flash before my
eyes like fireflies in the darkness.

O-SODE-SAN

I, too, have lived in words.

O-KATSU-SAN

Obaa-San, is it not wonderful to put a joy or pain in words?

OBAA-SAN

Ah, yes--if there is anyone to hear them. All my long, long years before
Aoyagi came to me, my heart sang, and words freighted with my dreams and my
love would come to me--here; and they would die because they found no ear
attuned to them.--Tell me what you thought, O-Sode-San.

O-SODE-SAN

    The moon in calm restlessness
    Shows the water grasses of the River of Heaven,
    Swaying in the cool spring air--
    I know the time to meet my lover
    Is not too far away.

OBAA-SAN

Every one has a poem in his heart, I believe.--What was your poem, O-Katsu?

O-KATSU-SAN

    Oh, messenger of the other world,
    My little one is young;
    She can not find her way--
    Do you kindly take my little one
    Upon your warm, broad back
    Along the twilight path.

O-SODE-SAN

And you, Obaa-San,--was it words that kept sleep from your eyes?

OBAA-SAN

Ay, bitter dream-words. And for the bitterness I am paying dearly.--Over
and over the words came to me:

    Here lies my daughter's sleeping body
    On the mat beside me.
    But her soul is far away
    Asleep in her lover's arms--
    And I, her white-haired mother,
    Hold only an empty shell.

Oh, I am ashamed--ashamed.--And just now Riki came to me--and told me he
could not find Aoyagi.

O-KATSU-SAN AND O-SODE-SAN

Hai!

O-SODE-SAN

Can we not search for her?

OBAA-SAN

I am waiting here.--She may find her way back.--I would not have her come
to an empty house.--Come--let's go within--and dream that yours and yours
and mine are on their way to us.

[_The old women go into the house. There is just a moment's silence--then_:

AOYAGI

Hai! Hai! Hai!

[_Aoyagi, utterly forlorn, enters. She looks at the house, turns and sees
the mountains, covers her eyes, and drags herself wearily to the willow
tree. She moans as though winter had fallen upon the world and were
taunting her. The Gaki enters._

THE GAKI

So you have found your way--in life.

AOYAGI

Oh, let me go back to my tree!

THE GAKI

No, little Aoyagi--you would be happy then.

AOYAGI

Let me die!

THE GAKI

One can not die.

AOYAGI

Hai!

THE GAKI

Where have you been?

AOYAGI

So far--so far!--I am weary.--When I awoke, I was on the
mountain-top--alone.

THE GAKI

Were there no stars?

AOYAGI

Oh--the stars, the lonely, lonely stars! I tried to touch them--they seemed
so near.--I found the path--the glade--our footprints--strange people--I am
here. Let me back! Let me back!

THE GAKI

And what of Riki?

AOYAGI

He does not care.

THE GAKI

And what of Obaa-San?

AOYAGI

What can I give to Obaa-San now--but misery? Am I never to be free?

THE GAKI

What would you do if you were free--climb to the mountain top to see the
lonely stars?

AOYAGI

Hai!--Riki!--Obaa-San!

[_Obaa-San enters. The Gaki disappears._

OBAA-SAN

Was my name spoken in the dawn?

AOYAGI

Mother!

[_With a cry of joy, Obaa-San enfolds Aoyagi in her arms._

OBAA-SAN

Nadeshiko! My little girl!

AOYAGI

Where is Riki?

OBAA-SAN

He has gone to search for you.

AOYAGI

Was he alone?

OBAA-SAN

Alone?

AOYAGI

Yes. Was there no woman with him--a lady from Ishiyama?

OBAA-SAN

A lady from--

AOYAGI

Yes--tall--fair--singing--

OBAA-SAN

He was alone. A lady from Ishiyama--(_Aoyagi shudders with dread_) brought
me a message in the early night--

AOYAGI

It was she--young?

OBAA-SAN

No--old.

AOYAGI

Had she seen Riki?

OBAA-SAN

Yes. On the mountain-side--

AOYAGI

The stranger said she was young and fair.

OBAA-SAN

Perhaps the stranger did not see with honest eyes.

AOYAGI

He would not lie.

OBAA-SAN

Sometimes the eyes and the ears lie.

AOYAGI

Ah!

OBAA-SAN

And if she had been young and fair?

AOYAGI

Riki met her in a glade.

OBAA-SAN

Did you see them meet?

AOYAGI

No--she was singing.

OBAA-SAN

A happy song, perhaps.

AOYAGI

She sang the song he made to me.

OBAA-SAN

How do you know?

AOYAGI

Riki said she knew his song to me.

OBAA-SAN

Ah, that is beautiful, that she should love his song to you.

AOYAGI

He--

OBAA-SAN

My little darling, I do not know what really happened; but this I know, you
did not speak fairly to Riki or Riki did not speak fairly to you. Almost
every unhappiness comes because we speak too much of our pride and speak
too little of our hearts.

AOYAGI

I asked him if he saw her.

OBAA-SAN

Why?

AOYAGI

A stranger told me--

OBAA-SAN

Was it the stranger you believed before Riki could defend himself?

AOYAGI

But, mother, I gave my all in all to Riki. He does not care.

OBAA-SAN

Do you know?

AOYAGI

I asked Riki if they met?

OBAA-SAN

Did he tell you?

AOYAGI

He seemed to be proud to tell.

OBAA-SAN

Then he was unashamed to tell--

AOYAGI

I asked him questions.

OBAA-SAN

But did you ask him the great question in your heart?

AOYAGI

Oh--

OBAA-SAN

Did you say, "Riki, my love, you are in all my heart. Am I in all yours?"

AOYAGI

He told me that.

OBAA-SAN

And did you believe?

AOYAGI

Above all the world!

OBAA-SAN

Then why doubt him later?

AOYAGI

The lady from Ishiyama passed by.

OBAA-SAN

My child, a lady bound for Ishiyama passed by! Had she been singing all the
love-songs of all the worlds; had she been fairer than the lotus-flower,
why should you have doubted Riki?

AOYAGI

A stranger--

OBAA-SAN

A stranger!--a stranger!--Oh, why--why--why do the eyes of love grow blind
because a stranger speaks? You, Aoyagi, did not see the lady bound for
Ishiyama. You did not hear her song--and yet upon the ears and eyes of a
stranger you would shatter your love.--I saw the lady.--She was
singing.--She was not fair.--If she had been--Oh, my little child--Riki is
Riki, your august lord, the lord of your life. When he comes back, go to
him and speak from your heart.

AOYAGI

What shall I say?

OBAA-SAN

I need not tell your heart.--It is only your head that can not learn to
speak unprompted.--Do you love Riki?

AOYAGI

Ay--so dearly!

[_The voice of Riki is heard._

RIKI

Aoyagi!

AOYAGI

He is coming!

[_Obaa-San, unnoticed, goes into the house. Riki enters._

RIKI

Aoyagi!

[_When he sees she is safe, he drops suddenly. She goes to him._

AOYAGI

Riki, my august lord, listen to my heart.--Forget my anger.--Tell me once
again that you love me.--I'll believe.

RIKI

You know--I have always loved you.--When you were a song in my heart, I
loved you so! And now--

AOYAGI

Oh, Riki, can we ever forget the blow I struck?

RIKI

That was yesterday--see, this is today: the dawn has spread across the sky.
What shall we do? Look back upon the bitterness of yesterday, or try to see
the fears of tomorrow, or live in the gladness of today?

AOYAGI

The Gaki of Kokoru is here at the tree. He will not let us live in
happiness. He let me go with you because he meant to feed upon the misery
of poor Obaa-San.

RIKI

He has not come upon us yet. We are struggling against tomorrow. This is
the dawning of today.

AOYAGI

Then shall we live--today.

[_Obaa-San enters from the house._

OBAA-SAN

Come, Aoyagi; come, Riki. We have found happiness at our door. Within there
is rice and tea. Come.

[_They go into the house. The Gaki enters._

[Illustration: THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE

ACT III.]

THE GAKI

There is love!--Now what shall I do for misery? Old Obaa-San remembers
happiness. She has taught O-Katsu and O-Sode to remember happiness. The
lovers are reunited;--now they understand.--And I--I, ah, I must die in
this dread shape and stay in this hell through all the eternities unless I
bring new misery to them. What can I do? (_He turns to see the tree_) Ah--I
shall kill the tree--slowly--slowly--and I'll feed upon them all. Aoyagi is
bound to the tree as one is bound to his body in a dream.--I'll kill the
tree.

[_He draws his short sword and smites the tree. There is a cry from the
house and Aoyagi enters quickly, followed by Riki, Obaa-San, O-Katsu-San,
and O-Sode-San. Aoyagi holds her heart._

RIKI

Aoyagi! (_She droops in his arms. Obaa-San lays her hand upon her dear
child's head. O-Katsu-San understands. The Gaki in triumph smiles again.
Aoyagi cries out and shudders as she clings to Riki_) Oh, whatever power
gave strength to me and led me to my love, give me the chance to save my
love.

AOYAGI

The tree!--The tree!

[_The Gaki smites again._

RIKI

The Gaki of Kokoru! Ay, I know! I know! I fight a fear, Obaa-San. Hold
Aoyagi fast--with all your love.--I shall find the Gaki of Kokoru! (_The
Gaki smites the tree again and again, and at each stroke Aoyagi fails more
and more until she finally crumples in a heap among the three old women_)
All strength! All faith to me! Into my hands give the power to break the
bitterest hell asunder! Into my eyes put light that I may see the cowardly
fears that infest our way.--Gaki! Gaki! where are you?--I pass about you
and in my heart I carry fearlessness and faith.--Upon your wickedness I
hurl belief.--Ah, now, I see you.

THE GAKI

Let me go! Let me go!

RIKI

You shall bring misery into no more hearts!

THE GAKI

Ah, pity me! Let me go! I must feed or I shall die!

RIKI

You shall feed no more!

THE GAKI

Do not let me die in this sixth hell! Do not let me die! Once I was
human--like you and you. I came into this hell because I was bitter in
life.--I made misery for others.--I put mischief in their minds.--

RIKI (_leaping upon him_)

You shall make no more misery.

THE GAKI

Let me feed! Let me live! I can not die thus.

RIKI (_throttling him_)

Dread demon, the end has come!

THE GAKI

Please--please--hear me.

RIKI

Nay, you have made your last horror in our lives.

OBAA-SAN

Riki! Hear him--hear him.--We know not what we do, perhaps.

RIKI

Then speak.

THE GAKI

Let me go! Do you think it did not punish me to see your misery, to bring
misery upon you? That is what these hells are. In life we can not always
see what wretchedness we make; in the hells we see and know and understand,
but we can not escape our evil until we've sucked the bitterness, the
horror to the blackest end. Oh--five hells lie between me and human life.
In each I may perchance forget the lesson learned before. Let me live! Let
me live!--I can not fight your faith!--Let me live!

RIKI

What further harm will you do?

THE GAKI

I cannot help myself. I must live on you.--You are young--

[_He tears himself from Riki and once more rushes to the tree. Aoyagi
writhes a moment in agony. Riki leaps upon The Gaki, throttling him once
more. The struggle is terrific._

RIKI

Die!

THE GAKI

Let me go! Let me live!--I promise anything--I--

RIKI

Too late!--You shall harm no more!

[_With one supreme effort, The Gaki draws himself to his full height and
seems about to crush Riki. He leaps upon the prostrate Aoyagi and flings
her body high above his head. Riki starts for him._

THE GAKI

I shall live! I shall live!

RIKI

Aoyagi!

THE GAKI

Come not near me, Riki, or I shall crush her at your feet. I _shall_ live!

[_He laughs the hideous laugh of triumph which rang out on the mountain
side yesterday._

OBAA-SAN

Give her back to us! Feed on me!

THE GAKI

In your heart there is only hope and beautiful memory. Old fool, I can not
feed on you.--But now in my arms I hold the precious gift by which I shall
pass from hell to hell.

O-KATSU-SAN

Take me!

THE GAKI

Silly old woman, you, too, like Obaa-San, can not feed me. Age learns to
grasp at bubbles and pretend that they are stars.

O-KATSU-SAN

But I shall dream of my little girl.

THE GAKI

Ay, dream of her and have tender memories that are not pain.

O-SODE-SAN

I shall think of him and long for him, my lover.

THE GAKI

Ay, and in the memory of the firefly fête you'll make a poem that will
leave you all melting-like and holy--then where shall I feed?

RIKI

Obaa-San, are you content? I'll let her die at my own hand before I'll let
him live.

[_He draws his dagger and leaps toward The Gaki; but old Obaa-San is too
swift for him. She catches his hand._

OBAA-SAN

Riki! Would you kill the evil by killing the joy of us all?

RIKI

But the joy--my little Aoyagi--can not live so. See--

OBAA-SAN

O Gaki of Kokoru--I stand before you, no longer a suppliant. I am old and
in my years I have known all the wanting, all the hopelessness one can know
in life. But in your evil way, you brought to me a moment of happiness
yesterday and in that moment I saw the beauty that I had always believed
must be and yet that I had never known. In your evil arms you hold the
treasure of my life--you hold the songs that filled the heart of Riki. But
you do not feed, oh, Gaki of Kokoru. You can not feed. Oh, Gaki, what is
this sixth hell of yours?--Who made it? Some man who was afraid of the joy
of life;--it was too beautiful for his belief. Misery makes itself: so
happiness makes itself. You stand before us, holding the darling of our
dreams, but there is no misery so great as yours. See! I stand before
you--unafraid--and in my heart lies happiness.--Aoyagi rested in my arms
and my breast is warm and there is a glory where her dear head lay. In my
life--if you take her from me--there will be an emptiness.--There will be
long silences in the days to come; but my breast will still be warm with
her touch and my ears will still hear the sweet words you cannot unsay--the
lullaby I sang.--Oh, Gaki--it has been sung to her.--The climbing to the
mountain gleaming in the sun--the glade where love found the perfect
mystery--that cannot be undone whether we live or die.--Love that has been
can never be undone.

[_The Gaki looks from one to the other, but finds only that splendid
happiness that is almost pain. He loosens his hold upon Aoyagi and turns to
Riki with her._

THE GAKI

She is yours!--I have met perfect faith.--Five hells lie before me--but I
have met a perfect faith.--You cannot know what wonder I am knowing. From
the sixth hell I have seen a perfect faith.--I am content to die in this
shape. Strike, Riki!

RIKI

I have my love.

THE GAKI

But a peace has come upon me, a peace that I have never known.--I seem to
be on wings--afloat in the sky.--Stars and suns swing gently by--and cool
clouds brush my brow.--Five hells lie before me.--Can it be, in each I
shall find peace like this?--(_He falls on his knees_) Now a fire rages
deep in me--a pain--I'm torn.--Oh, Obaa-San, I die--I die.--Come to
me--touch me--let me feel your gentle hands.--So! So!--I have never known
such gentleness.--Oh, I am cold--cold! Hold me--

[_He rises--sways--and falls. It is full day. The Gaki rises wonderfully._

Obaa-San--I see--I see.--The hells were made by some man afraid of the joy
of life.--It was too beautiful for his belief.--Riki--Aoyagi, there is the
mountain gleaming in the morning light.--Go--see your footprints side by
side.--A Gaki's feet trod upon them, but left no mark--and they are there
side by side.--O-Sode-San, I look across the River of Heaven;--there stands
your lover waiting for you--an empty boat is here to bear you to
him.--O-Katsu-San,--the messenger of the other world bears your little one
upon his broad, warm back.--They are smiling, O-Katsu-San--Obaa-San--

[_He points to Riki and Aoyagi. Obaa-San goes to them and lays her hands
upon them._

OBAA-SAN

My little girl!--my little boy!--Today the sun is very bright.


_The Curtains Close._



THE VERY NAKED BOY

AN INTERLUDE BEFORE THE CURTAIN


CHARACTERS

    SHE
    HE
    BROTHER

_The scene is half way to a proposal._

_A hallway with a heavily-curtained doorway in the centre. Right of this
are two chairs with a tabouret between them. Right and Left are curtained
arches._

_She enters quickly, crossing to the chairs._

HE (_following breathlessly and almost colliding with her as she stops_)

Genevieve!

SHE (_with a calmness strangely at variance with her entrance_)

Well?

HE

Why did you--

SHE

I didn't.

HE

I beg your pardon, you may not have known it, but you did.

SHE

I didn't.

HE

If you'll only say you didn't mean it.

SHE

I didn't _do_ it.

HE

Now, Genevieve, you know--

SHE

I didn't.

HE

Well, why did you--?

SHE

_I didn't do it!_

HE (_meltingly but without humor or subtlety_)

Well, if you didn't do it, _dear_--

[_She is adamant._

Why did you run away the moment I came up to you?

SHE

I didn't run away--

[_He looks at her quizzically._

I just _came_ out here.

HE (_hoping it isn't true_)

But you seemed to be trying to avoid me.

SHE (_with sphinx-like indifference_)

Why should I avoid you?

HE

Genevieve! You make it impossible for me to talk to you.... I'll apologise
if it will help.

SHE

Why should you apologise?

HE

Perhaps I've misconstrued your meaning.

SHE

I didn't mean _anything_--

[_He smiles pleasantly with more hope than discretion._

--because I didn't do it.

HE

Now, Genevieve, I saw you do it.

SHE

You'll have to excuse me, Mr. Gordon, from further discussion.

[_She seats herself, fully prepared for all the discussion she can force
from him._

HE

But, Genevieve--

[_He seats himself._

SHE

I didn't do it--and besides if I _did_ what difference does it make? I'm
free white and twenty-one.

HE (_with a frail attempt at humor_)

How old did you say?

SHE

I said I was free white.

HE

But, Genevieve, you must admit that--

SHE

Mr. Gordon!

HE

_Please_ call me Henry. (_In his emotion he pronounces it Hennery_)

SHE

I don't see why I should.

HE

You did last night.

SHE

That was different. You were Dr. Jekyll last night.

HE

Oh, Genevieve--

SHE

You're showing your true colors tonight.

HE (_appealingly_)

I'm--sorry--

SHE

You're a tyrant.

HE

I don't mean to be. I think you're wo--

SHE

Now don't be personal. I'm not interested in your thoughts.

HE

But, Genevieve, won't you tell me why you did it?

SHE

I did it because--I've told you often enough I _didn't_ do it.

HE (_bitterly_)

Joe--

SHE

Joe--what?

HE

Joe squeezed your hand.

SHE

Well, it's my hand, and besides I don't see why I should be
cross-questioned by you.

HE

You know I'm--

[_He leans toward her and she moves away._

SHE

You're what?

HE

I'm crazy about you.

SHE

Please, Mr. Gordon!

HE

Call me Henry! Just once.

SHE

I don't see why I should.

HE

Please, Genevieve.

SHE

Now don't be silly!

HE

Oh, Genevieve, if you only knew how it hurt me when you did it!

SHE

_Did_ it hurt you?

HE

I could have killed Joe--gladly.

SHE

Honest!

HE

You know--you must know!

SHE

You certainly are calm about it.

HE (_in the most absurd position that hopeless love can twist a man into_)

What can I do? I can't be ridiculous.

SHE

Did you really see us?

HE

Yes, I saw you.

SHE

You seemed terribly tied up with Ethel.

HE

I had to sit by her.

SHE

I don't see why.

HE

I didn't have any place else to go.

SHE

I knew you were looking.

HE

Then why did you do it?

SHE

Don't ask me why. I loathe why.

HE

But oh, Genevieve, I love you so!

[_He grasps her hand, not too violently. She gasps slightly, smiles
pleasantly and becomes stern._

SHE (_encouragingly_)

Please, let go of my hand.

[_He does so. She looks at him in mingled wonder and chagrin._

HE

Genevieve, isn't there any chance for me?

SHE

I've never thought of such a thing. What do you mean!

HE

I mean I love you.

SHE

... Yes?

HE (_taking her scarf in his hand_)

Aren't you interested?

SHE

Why, really, Mr. Gordon, you ask such strange questions.

HE

Oh, Genevieve--Genevieve--

[_He kisses the scarf gently._

SHE [_looking at him in wonder, disappointment and delight._

Don't be silly.

HE

When a man's in love he always does silly things.

SHE

Always?

HE

Oh, Genevieve--

[_He reaches for her hand reverently and this time she seems content to let
matters rest._

SHE (_making conversation_)

I have the next dance with--

[_She racks her memory._

HE

Joe, I suppose.

[_He rises and crosses to the far side of the centre arch._

SHE (_drawing her scarf about her and brushing against him as she passes._)

Excuse me, please.

HE (_torrentially_)

You shall not go. You _shall_ listen to me. You have no right to treat me
as a plaything when I love you so! I love you so! I love you so! I think of
you all day long, I lie awake at night wondering what stars are looking
upon you and I find myself envying them--every one of them.

[_She tries to speak, but he presses her head against his shoulder._

I won't listen. You must hear me out. I've waited days and days and days
for this chance to speak to you, and you've trailed me about
like--like--like a poodle. I'm tired of it because I love you so.

[_She tries to speak again; but succeeds only in mussing her hair._

HE

I want you to marry me, and marry me you shall if I have to carry you away
with me. Oh, Genevieve, my darling Genevieve, just know that for this
moment I am almost completely happy. You are close to me and I do not feel
any struggle against me. Oh, if you will only listen to me, I do not mean
to be brutal. I have torn your dress. I have mussed your precious hair.
But I love you so! I love you so!

SHE

Oh, Henry--Henry--You are so wonderful!

[_They embrace one long moment when an arm comes out between the curtains
and tugs at his coat._

_He lets go of her as though he had been shot, turns and sees the naked arm
and the top of the Boy's head._

BOY (_whispering_)

Get her out of here!

SHE

Oh, Henry, Henry, have I been cruel to you?

HE (_constrained_)

We'd better go.

SHE (_looks questioningly at him_)

Please let's stay here.

[_He presses her head against his breast and looks surreptitiously at the
curtains._

_The Boy makes as though to get out._

_He starts violently--shoves the Boy back._

SHE

I saw you first--do you remember--at Poughkeepsie.

HE

Yes, yes--

SHE

I think--I liked you then.... But I never thought you'd be so wonderful.

HE

Let's go (_whispering_). Darling, let's go.

[Illustration: THE VERY NAKED BOY]

SHE

No, I want to stay here. I love this nook.

[_He laughs nervously as she crosses to the curtains._

I should love to fill it full of great tall lilies.

[_By this time she has become lyric and swept her arms against the
curtains: with a cry, rushing to him for protection._

Henry, there's a man behind those curtains!

HE

I think we'd better go.

SHE

Oh, Henry, you're not going to leave him here.

HE

We'd better.

BOY [_poking his head and a naked arm through the curtains._

Yes, you'd better, because I'm going to get out of here.

SHE

_Bob!_ You get your clothes on!

BOY

I told Mr. Gordon to get my clothes.

SHE

Mr. Gordon--

BOY

Call him Henry--just once--please, Genevieve.

HE (_stiffly_)

I'll get your clothes. Where are they?

BOY

In my room.

HE

What do you want?

BOY

Everything.

SHE (_straightening up_)

Don't be common, Robert.

[_He starts for the door._

HE

No, I'm not going.

SHE

Hen--Mr. Gordon!... Very well. I'll go!

HE

No, you won't go either!

SHE

Please!

BOY

Well, I'll go.

[_Boy moves as though to part the curtains. She screams a stifled little
scream and both he and she rush to the curtains to hold them together._

SHE

Oh, Bob, if you won't get out I'll do anything for you.

BOY

Well, I'm cold.

SHE

Mr. Gordon, please go.

HE

I won't go!

SHE

You are very strange, indeed.... I'll go!

[_She nears the door--Stops._

SHE

Never mind.

BOY

Oh, Henry, it's Ethel.

HE

Bob, won't you be a good sport? We'll turn our backs.

BOY

But will everybody else turn their back?

HE

Old man, can't you see how it is? We're--we're going to be engaged--and
Ethel is out there--and--and--well--

BOY

Joe's out there, too.

HE

Well, yes.

SHE

Bob, I shall tell Father on you.

[_She starts._

BOY

All right, go ahead. I'll tell Ethel.

SHE

Just wait.

BOY

I'll get out of here!

[_Again the two rush precipitately to hold the Boy in place._

HE

Bob, be a man! You are childish and common. You are old enough to know
better and I think it's an outrage for you to subject your sister to this
fright. We can't go out of here just now--and you're making it very
embarrassing for us.

SHE

Mr. Gordon--there's a cape in that closet. Will you get it for Bob.... He
says he's cold.

[_He goes to the closet._

SHE

Bob, I'll get even with you. You ought to be ashamed. I'm humiliated.

BOY

Why--Sis?

SHE

Imagine my being with a gentleman and having a very naked boy pop into the
conversation.

[_He returns with the cape._

HE

Here's the cape.

[_He tosses it over the Boy's head and suddenly leans over and kisses her._

BOY

Why don't you smother me!

[_Boy begins to emerge._

SHE

Bob, be careful.

[_He and She turn away._

_The Boy rises and as he does so the cloak falls about him until, when he
steps out of the curtains, he discloses trousers and shoes._

BOY

I can't go through the hall looking like this.

SHE

You must.

HE (_turning_)

Go away, Bob. Your sister is very nervous.

[_He sees the boy fairly well clothed. He gasps._

HE

Why--

SHE

Bob--

[_Turning she sees the boy fairly well clothed._

I thought--How did you--Why didn't you--What were you doing in there?

BOY

Father was going to get strict and keep me off the water tonight and just
as I came down here to get my sweater I heard him coming to the coat room
so I jumped behind the curtains and let him pass and then Joe and Ethel
came in and I couldn't let them see me this way. And then somebody else
came and then you came in--well, I got cold.

HE (_looking out_)

Run on now, Bob, the hall is clear.

[_Boy starts._

BOY

What was it you did, Sis?

SHE

I didn't do it.

BOY

Why didn't you do it?

SHE

I didn't do anything.

BOY

He said Joe squeezed your hand.

SHE

Absurd!

BOY

Well, I hope not, because he and Ethel got engaged in here too!

[_He and She look fondly at each other and He murmurs_, "Genevieve" _as he
reaches out for her_.

_The Boy begins to sing, "Oh, Genevieve, Sweet Genevieve," and they become
aware of him, turning upon him and pursuing him with a warning cry of_
"Bob."


_The End_



JONATHAN MAKES A WISH

A PLAY IN THREE ACTS


CHARACTERS

    AUNT LETITIA
    SUSAN SAMPLE
    UNCLE NATHANIEL
    UNCLE JOHN
    JONATHAN
    MLLE. PERRAULT
    HANK
    ALBERT PEET
    MARY
    JOHN III



ACT I

JONATHAN MAKES A FRIEND


[_The scene represents the lumber room in the carriage house on John Clay's
suburban estate. The room is crowded with old trunks, paintings, barrels,
boxes, chests, furniture showing long residence during slow epochs of
changing taste. Everything is in good order and carefully labelled. At the
right of the room is a door opening onto the stairs which lead to the
ground floor. A small window is set high in the peak of the gabled end up
centre. At the left a chimney comes through the floor and cuts into the
roof as though it had been added by Victorian standards of taste for
exterior beautification. An open stove intrudes its pipe into the chimney.
The single indication of the life of today having touched the place is the
studied arrangement of an old rosewood square grand piano. The keyboard is
uncovered. On the top is a tiny theatre--a model masked and touched with
mystery, according to early adolescent standards. Two benches stand in
front of the piano, and the piano stool is meticulously set in place. A
flamboyant placard leaning against the music rack announces:_

    TODAY

    ZENOBIA

    A tragedy in ten acts
    by
    Alexander Jefferson, Sr.

_The light in the room is dim, although it is quite bright out of doors.
There are two low windows which are heavily barred. The little theatre is
so arranged that when the manipulator stands on the box to work it, his
head can be seen over the masking._

       *       *       *       *       *

_The curtain rises disclosing an empty room. Presently laborious steps are
heard on the stairs and a key is turned in the lock. Then Aunt Letitia
enters followed by Susan Sample. Aunt Letitia is a motherly old woman who
has been in the Clay home for many years. She may have preferences, but
like the buildings on the estate, she stays where she is. Susan Sample is a
tall, slender girl of fourteen with a very gentle manner and a way of
looking at people that indicates a receptivity rarely met in one so old.
Letitia goes to one of the trunks marked E R in large white letters and
unlocks it._

LETITIA

Here they are, my dear. Help me with the hasps.

SUSAN

What does E. R. really stand for, Mis' Letitia?

LETITIA

E. R.... That's a secret, Susan, that little girls aren't supposed to
know.

SUSAN

I won't tell.

LETITIA

But what good would that do, my sweet? Please open the windows.

SUSAN (_opening the window and returning to her question_)

No one would know you told me.

LETITIA

I would know. Yes, I would know that I had told somebody else's secret.

SUSAN

Whose secret is it? Please.

LETITIA

I've been living in this house for thirty-five years, Susan, and I've known
the secrets of all the boys and girls from time to time.

SUSAN

You know mine, too.

LETITIA

And I've never told one of them, either.

SUSAN

Does old Mr. John ever have secrets?

LETITIA

_Old_ Mr. John! For shame!... Of course he has secrets.

SUSAN

I wish I knew some of his, Mis' Letitia.

LETITIA

My dear, you never will know them. John is very quiet.

SUSAN

Who in the family didn't have any secrets at all?

LETITIA

Oh, they all had secrets when they were young. Nathaniel had _fewer_ than
any of them and...

[_Her words are lost tenderly in a memory._

SUSAN

Why hasn't he ever come back home?

LETITIA (_as she busies herself with the contents of the trunk_)

That is his secret, Susan, and we mustn't ask too many questions. Nathaniel
is coming today. I won't ask any questions.... He was a fine young man.
Yes, he's coming back today, my dear. He was the baby of the family.

SUSAN

How old is he now?

LETITIA

You little chatterbox! Between you and Jonathan I have to fight to keep
anybody's secrets.

SUSAN

Does Jonathan ask many questions?

LETITIA

When we're alone he does. He's just like his Uncle Nathaniel. God bless
him!

SUSAN (_seeing a costume in the trunk_)

Oh, isn't that just wonderful!

LETITIA (_holding the costume up for Susan to see_)

_That_ is what you can wear in the pageant, my dear Susan.

SUSAN (_taking the costume_)

Oh! Oh! Oh!... I wish I knew whose it was.

LETITIA

Would that make it any prettier?

SUSAN

No, but I'd like to know just the same.... Was it E. R.'s?

[_A cry is heard outside_, "Aunt Letty! Aunt Letty!"

LETITIA

Oh, Susan, it's Nathaniel! It's my boy. Here I am, dear.

[_She has an armful of costumes which she drops nervously._

SUSAN

Mis' Letitia, I believe you love him best of all!

LETITIA

No, I don't, but I always understood him, I think.

[_The voice below calls again_, "Where are you?"

Come up here, my boy. Come up to the lumber room.

[_Steps are heard on the stairs, young eager steps, and Nathaniel Clay
bursts into the room. He is an eternally young man of thirty-five, who has
touched the dregs and the heights of the world and remained himself._

NATHANIEL [_taking Letitia in his arms, then holding her from him as he
inspects her._

Aunt Letty! Not a day older.... But oh, so wise.

LETITIA

Nathaniel, my boy, my darling, darling boy.

NATHANIEL

Now, now. Don't cry.

LETITIA

My boy, my boy. My splendid boy.

[_Susan has forgotten her costume in her admiration for Nathaniel. She puts
it down on the bench in front of the piano._

NATHANIEL

And this is--

LETITIA

This is Susan Sample.

NATHANIEL

Not--

LETITIA

Yes, time has been flying, Nathaniel. This young lady is Mary Sample's
daughter.

NATHANIEL

How do you do? I can't believe it. You were only a little pink cherub up
there in the sky when I ran--

LETITIA (_hurriedly interrupting him_)

Yes, Susan was born three years after you went away.

NATHANIEL

Oh!... And, Aunt Letitia, you've opened Emily's trunk!

LETITIA

Yes, Susan is going to be in a pageant.

SUSAN

Who was Emily?

NATHANIEL

She was--

LETITIA

Nathaniel dear, you must not satisfy her curiosity.

(_To Susan_)

You go find Jonathan, dear, and tell him that his uncle is here.

(_To Nathaniel_)

I'll put these things away, and we'll go into the house.

SUSAN (_reluctantly_)

Good-bye, Mr. Clay.

NATHANIEL

Good-bye, Susan. You'll come back, won't you?

SUSAN

Oh, yes. Good-bye.

NATHANIEL

Good-bye.

[_Susan goes out._

LETITIA

She hates to go. She's never seen anyone just like you: and I have only
seen one.

NATHANIEL

Who's Jonathan?

LETITIA

He's the one.... He's Emily's boy.

NATHANIEL

You mean Emily--

LETITIA

No, no, my dear. Emily was married, left the stage. She wasn't happy. The
boy was her only comfort.

NATHANIEL

He's my nephew. Why, I'm Uncle Nathaniel. Oh, Aunt Letty, I'm getting to be
an old man!

LETITIA

Nathaniel, Jonathan doesn't know about his mother. I sent Susan away
because I didn't want her to associate these things with Jonathan's
mother.

NATHANIEL

My God, Emily didn't do anything wrong.

LETITIA

Well, she was an actress.

NATHANIEL

And a good one, too.

LETITIA

Yes, yes, dear. All that has been talked over many times, but John is the
head of the family and he doesn't approve of the stage.

NATHANIEL

So! John is still himself.

LETITIA

John is austere, Nathaniel. He is a Clay through and through and he holds
to the traditions of the family.

NATHANIEL

I remember the traditions, Aunt Letitia.

LETITIA

I never oppose John. He feels that he is right. But it _is_ very hard
sometimes to live up to his rules.

NATHANIEL

Has he rules?

LETITIA

Well, he has ideas, dear--much like your father's. We might call them
rules.

NATHANIEL

Where is Emily?

LETITIA

Two years ago, Nathaniel.

[_There is a moment's silence._

NATHANIEL

Did she ever go back to the stage?

LETITIA

No. John forbade it.

NATHANIEL

And John is still forbidding.

LETITIA

John is the head of the family.

NATHANIEL

So.... The Clay family is still an absolute monarchy.

LETITIA

Nathaniel, dear, will you promise me--

NATHANIEL (_with a smile_)

I'll try.

LETITIA

Will you promise not to antagonize John?

NATHANIEL

Will John antagonize _me_? I came back to see my home--to see you, my dear
aunt. But I am a grown man now.

LETITIA

Won't you try to be patient? It will be pleasanter for me. And I have
waited so long to see you, Nathaniel. There are seventeen very, very long
years for us to talk about. Let John have his way.

NATHANIEL

Well, I'll try for a few days. But I give you warning, my ideas have been
settling during the past few years, too.

LETITIA

Remember, he is used to being obeyed just as your father was.

NATHANIEL

Yes, I remember that, dear Aunt; but John isn't my father. He is just a
brother to whom fate gave a fifteen years' start by birth.

[_As a voice calls_, "Nathaniel, are you up there?" _Nathaniel looks at
Letitia._

NATHANIEL

His voice is just the same. (_Calling_) Yes, John, I am up here.

[_The antagonism between the two brothers is apparent immediately._

_John Clay enters. He is an austere, pompous man of fifty who has the
softness of the tithe-collector and the hardness of the tax-collector. He
speaks with an adamantine finality which is destined to rude shattering._

JOHN

How do you do, Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL

I am very well, I thank you, John. How are you?

[_They shake hands perfunctorily._

JOHN

You arrived ahead of time.

NATHANIEL

Yes.

JOHN

We haven't met for seventeen years.

NATHANIEL

No. I've been away, John.

JOHN

Where have you been?

NATHANIEL

I shall be here for two weeks, John, and if I should tell you all about
myself today, I should have nothing to talk about tomorrow.

JOHN (_severely_)

You haven't changed, Nathaniel. You are still frivolous.

NATHANIEL

I shall be serious when I am your age, brother.

JOHN

I came out here to ask you to be very careful of your conversation before
the children.

NATHANIEL

The children?

JOHN

Yes, my two grandchildren.--

NATHANIEL

Grandchildren! My, that makes me a great uncle. I _am_ getting old, Aunt
Letitia!

JOHN

I do not care to have them or Jonathan hear about any revolutionary or
other unusual ideas.

NATHANIEL

I shall try not to contaminate the children and Jonathan. How old are the
children?

JOHN

Mary is four and John 3rd is two.

NATHANIEL

I shall try to spare their sensibilities.

JOHN

They may not understand you but they will hear.

NATHANIEL (_to Letitia_)

How old is Jonathan?

LETITIA

Fourteen.

NATHANIEL

The impressionable age.

JOHN

The silly age.

NATHANIEL

Brother John, no age is the silly age. Fourteen is the age of visions and
enchantments and fears. What a boy of fourteen sees and hears takes on a
value that we cannot underestimate. Most men are defeated in life between
fourteen and twenty. At fourteen a boy begins to make a lens through which
he sees life. He thinks about everything. Ambition is beginning to stir in
him and he begins to know why he likes things, why he wants to do certain
things. He formulates lasting plans for the future and he takes in
impressions that are indelible. Things that seem nothing to old people
become memories to him that affect his whole life. The memory of a smile
may encourage him to surmount all obstacles and the memory of a bitterness
may act as an eternal barrier.

JOHN

Nathaniel, are you a father?

NATHANIEL

No, John, I am only a bachelor who is very much in love with life in
general and one lady in particular.

JOHN

You can know nothing of children, then.

NATHANIEL

I remember myself. Most men forget their younger selves and that is fatal.

JOHN

One would think to hear you talk that the most important things in life
were a boy of fourteen and his moorings.

NATHANIEL

One might know it.

JOHN

You are still the same impractical theorist.

NATHANIEL

I am the same theorist--a little older, a little more travelled. The
trouble with you, John, is that you think no age is important except your
own. You always thought that, even when you were fourteen. Oh, I know I
wasn't born then, but I know you.

JOHN

Did you come back to your home in order to lecture me?

NATHANIEL

No, no, I beg your pardon. I came back to see my home and Aunt Letitia and
the children--and you, and I--I think--Jonathan.

JOHN

Nathaniel, when your letter came telling me that you had decided to come
back to see us, I was going to ask you not to come--

NATHANIEL

I gave no address.

JOHN

But on second thought, I made up my mind to forgive you--

NATHANIEL

Thank you.

JOHN

To let bygones be bygones.

NATHANIEL

That is the better way, brother: let the dead past bury its dead.

JOHN

Why did you run away from home?

NATHANIEL

Because we couldn't agree, John.

JOHN

I was older than you; my judgment was mature; I was the head of the family,
in my father's place.

NATHANIEL

We didn't speak the same language. I wanted something out of life that you
couldn't understand; that my father couldn't understand. I determined to
get it by myself.

JOHN

Well?

NATHANIEL

And so, I ran away.

JOHN

Leaving no trace, no word.

NATHANIEL

Oh, yes, I left a very important word--"Good-bye."

JOHN

You were willing to leave all the work of our father's business on my
shoulders.

NATHANIEL

You were willing to take it all. And I wanted my freedom.

JOHN

You were selfish and heartless.

NATHANIEL

Selfish? Because I had my life to live and meant to live it?

JOHN

You should have told us where you were living.

NATHANIEL

I preferred to work out my salvation alone, without interference. My going
away gave you a free hand. John, don't tell me that you were not overjoyed
that my flight gave you all my father's fortune.

JOHN

It was my duty as head of the family to protect you.

NATHANIEL

I didn't ask for protection. I wanted understanding.

JOHN

A boy of eighteen must not be allowed freedom.

NATHANIEL

Perhaps not, John, but he must be allowed to grow toward his goal. Eighteen
is not too young for a man to fly through the air in defense of his
country, or you. The burden of the world today is on the shoulders of men
from eighteen to eighty, share and share alike.... I wanted to be a
writer--

JOHN

And our brother Henry wanted to be a musical composer and our sister Emily
wanted to be an actress! A fine putout for the leading commercial family of
this state!

NATHANIEL

Well, John, our brother and our sister have paid the final penalty. They
have died. Henry left a handful of worthless little tunes and Emily left a
trunkful of costumes as monuments to their folly. And now Emily's boy is
here under your wing.

JOHN

He's a dreamer like all the rest of you.

NATHANIEL (_with interest; tenderly_)

Yes?

JOHN

He spends all his leisure time playing with that fool toy there.

[_He points to the model theatre._

_Nathaniel smiles and crosses to the piano and lifts the cloth that covers
the theatre; then he looks at the placard and laughs joyously._

NATHANIEL

"Zenobia." " Alexander Jefferson, Sr."

JOHN

He pretends that's his name--Alexander Jefferson, Sr!

NATHANIEL

People like to have other names. Look at all artists--like writers,
pugilists, and actors, and base ball players. And the Sr. Is an effort to
appear older.

JOHN

Well, I'm breaking him of all that nonsense. I allow him only a certain
number of hours for play. Emily used to spoil him and it's been a task to
conquer him.

NATHANIEL

Jonathan is fourteen. When I was fourteen--What are Jonathan's tastes?

JOHN

He reads all the time and he wants to write plays and poetry; but I am
conquering that silliness.

NATHANIEL

I think I am going to like my nephew. John, I'll come into the house
shortly. I think I'll look at this toy a moment and I'll get Aunt Letitia
to show me some of Emily's things. A mere matter of sentiment.

JOHN

Now don't put any foolishness into the boy's head.

NATHANIEL

I promise you I sha'n't try to change the boy's head, brother.

JOHN

I play golf from five to six.

NATHANIEL

Oh, you've taken up athletics?

JOHN

The doctor's advice. Will you join me?

NATHANIEL

Thank you, no.

JOHN

Very well. I'll see you at dinner.

NATHANIEL

Thank you. (_John goes out. Nathaniel looks musingly at Letitia who has
been sitting silently on Emily's trunk, knitting, Nathaniel crosses to her
and sits on a stool at her feet_) Does John always talk to you so much,
little church mouse?

LETITIA

I have been a poor relation for thirty-five years, my boy, and to be a
successful poor relation, one must learn the art of silence.

NATHANIEL

No wonder I ran away!

LETITIA

But you should have written to me.

NATHANIEL

Perhaps--I should--yes--I should have written, but I didn't. You see, Aunt
Letty, I was a sensitive boy. All my life I had dreamed of doing my own
work. I saw Henry disappointed in life, I saw Emily made miserable enough
through the traditions of the family. John couldn't understand me and I
couldn't understand him. There was no common meeting-ground. John was the
head of the family and so deeply was the idea of submission to rule
ingrained in me that I could think of only one way out of my restraint. I
wouldn't study engineering, and I wouldn't continue at Somerset School.
Well, I ran away from my ancestral castle to find my way in a new world. I
think I have found it.

LETITIA

Jonathan doesn't want to study engineering, either.

NATHANIEL (_Looks closely at her a moment and then smiles_)

As Ibsen would say--Ghosts! (_He walks toward the window_) Poor John!

LETITIA

Poor Jonathan!

[_At this moment Jonathan enters the room. He is a slender boy of fourteen
with a deep problem in his eyes. When he smiles before his elders, which is
seldom, he seems always prepared to restrain the smile. His voice is just
changing and this adds to his reticence. He has a tremendous capacity for
expressing wonderment and, as usual with one of his type, he is capable of
great displays of temper. He gives the impression of thinking about
everything he sees. He is at the age of wonder and only custom prevents the
world from becoming the promised land of visions and enchantments._

NATHANIEL

Poor Jonathan!

[_He turns and sees the boy._

_The two stand face to face for a moment. For Nathaniel it is the first
moment of a new relationship. For Jonathan it is a moment of uncertainty.
He has heard himself called "Poor Jonathan" and he is facing another male
relative._

_Jonathan looks first at Letitia, then at Nathaniel and then at Letitia._

LETITIA

Jonathan, this is your Uncle Nathaniel. Nathaniel, this is Emily's boy.

NATHANIEL (_Holds out his hand which Jonathan takes very shyly_)

Jonathan!

JONATHAN

How do you do, sir?

NATHANIEL

How tall you are!

JONATHAN (_quite conscious of his short trousers_)

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

I didn't take you away from any studies, did I?

JONATHAN

No, sir.... I was just writing something when Susan called me.

NATHANIEL

May I ask what you were writing?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir....

[_He swallows._

... A play.

NATHANIEL

A play! _Zenobia_?

JONATHAN (_Looks quickly for some indication of laughter in Nathaniel's
eyes_)

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

It's a tragedy, isn't it?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

In ten acts.

JONATHAN

There may be only eight.

NATHANIEL

Then I know who you are! (_Jonathan looks at him in surprise_) You are the
celebrated dramatist, Alexander Jefferson, Sr.

JONATHAN

Did Aunt Letitia tell you?

NATHANIEL

No, sir. I read it on the billboards. (_Jonathan laughs with a catch in
his breath_) And I should like to attend a performance, Mr. Jefferson.

JONATHAN

It isn't finished yet.

NATHANIEL

Well, when am I to see this theatre?

LETITIA

Your Uncle Nathaniel and I shall come together.

JONATHAN

You've seen all the plays.

LETITIA

That doesn't make any difference. I'd like to see them again.

[_Jonathan looks at her to be sure she is in earnest. Then he smiles._

JONATHAN

I'll finish _Zenobia_ for tomorrow.

NATHANIEL

Agreed! Can you get the scenery ready?

JONATHAN

I painted it last week.

LETITIA

You must have the orchestra, too, Jonathan.

JONATHAN

Yes, ma'am. Susan has some new pieces.

NATHANIEL

Is Susan the orchestra?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

What else have you written?

JONATHAN

A lot of plays, sir. Mother and I used to write little plays. I don't write
many any more.

NATHANIEL

Why not?

JONATHAN

I'm getting too big.

NATHANIEL

Do you ever write anything beside plays?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

That's splendid. Stories?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.... And I've written some po--poetry.

NATHANIEL

Excellent!

JONATHAN

They're not very good, but Susan always wants me to write the poetry for
the music.

[_Aunt Letitia has repacked the trunk and locked it. She sees that
Nathaniel and Jonathan are getting on famously._

LETITIA

I'll go to the house now and you can talk to Jonathan, Nathaniel.

[_Jonathan looks appealingly at Letitia, but with a smile she goes
downstairs._

_Jonathan and Nathaniel look at each other for an embarrassed minute, then
Jonathan takes refuge at his theatre._

NATHANIEL

May I see some of your plays?

JONATHAN

Do you really want to see them?

NATHANIEL

Yes.

[_Jonathan goes to a box on the piano in which there are many manuscripts
carefully bound. He hands one to Nathaniel._

JONATHAN

Here is one that mother and I wrote. She loved the theatre.

NATHANIEL (_taking the strange-looking little manuscript._ _Reading_:)

"Robin Hood and His Merry Men."

JONATHAN

We used to make all those old stories into plays.

NATHANIEL

Do you like to write?

JONATHAN

Oh, yes. I wish I could write real plays, but there's no one to help me
now. My mother used to correct them and tell me what was wrong. She knew a
lot about the theatre and she used to tell me all sorts of things. But now
Aunt Letitia doesn't say anything. Sometimes she comes to a show, but she
can't help me. And Uncle John doesn't like the theatre. He thinks I'm too
old to give shows, but I can't help it. There's nothing I like so much.

NATHANIEL

May I read this some time?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.... Would you like to see it played?

NATHANIEL

I want to see them all.

JONATHAN

Forty-one of them?

NATHANIEL

Forty-one of them! Where do you keep them all?

JONATHAN

Here in this box.

[_He shows all the manuscripts._

NATHANIEL

What are the pink ones?

JONATHAN

Those are the ones mother liked best and these--(_showing blue ones_) are
the ones I liked best.... I like them all now, but it used to be lots of
fun to choose our favorites.

NATHANIEL

What is this one that's different from all the rest?

JONATHAN

That's one that mother wrote all by herself. It's best of all.

NATHANIEL

You must save these carefully, Jonathan--all your life.

JONATHAN

Oh, yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

Some day you may be proud of them.

JONATHAN

See--she wrote this, and I wrote this. I was a bad writer, wasn't I?

NATHANIEL

What do you want to do, Jonathan?

JONATHAN

You mean what do I want to be?

NATHANIEL

Yes.

JONATHAN

I want to write plays.

NATHANIEL

Is that all?

JONATHAN

Well, I'd like to run a theatre.

NATHANIEL

What else?

JONATHAN

I'd--you won't tell anyone, will you?

NATHANIEL

Of course not.

JONATHAN

You see, Uncle John wants me to go to Somerset School to study engineering
and learn the business.

NATHANIEL

And you don't want to--Is that it?

JONATHAN

I'd rather be a writer.

NATHANIEL

They say you can't make any money at writing.

JONATHAN

That's what Uncle John says, but I want to just the same.

NATHANIEL

If you follow John's advice, you'll be a rich man.

JONATHAN

I'd rather be poor. What would you do, Uncle Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL

I--why I'd--Oh, come now, Jonathan--you know John is the head of the Clay
family and you and he must decide this question.

JONATHAN

Wouldn't you want to be what you want to be?

NATHANIEL

Perhaps I should.

JONATHAN

I don't see how anyone can decide what you want to be--no matter how old he
is.

NATHANIEL

Have you ever talked to John?

JONATHAN

Oh, yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

What did he say?

JONATHAN

He said I had to study engineering or go to work in the factory next fall
for good.

NATHANIEL

What do you want to do?

JONATHAN

I want to go to a fine prep school and then to college and then--

NATHANIEL

Then what?

JONATHAN

I want to be an actor!!

NATHANIEL

I see.

JONATHAN

Don't tell anybody.

NATHANIEL

I won't. That's pretty far from engineering, isn't it?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir. But everybody can't be alike. You and Uncle John aren't anything
alike.

NATHANIEL

And we're brothers, too.

JONATHAN

Do you ever get all mixed up and don't know what to do?

NATHANIEL

Oh, yes. I think everybody does.

JONATHAN

What do you do then?

NATHANIEL

I do something very silly.

JONATHAN

Do you do silly things, too?

NATHANIEL

Yes. I'm afraid I do.

JONATHAN

What do you do when you get all mixed up?

NATHANIEL

I'll tell you--it might not work with everybody, you know--but it works
with me.

JONATHAN

Yes, sir!

NATHANIEL

My mother used to sing me a song called--"There is a green hill far away."
I always liked that song because it gave me a feeling of contentment and
happiness. I imagined that I could see that hill with its pleasant green
slopes and at its foot lay a little cottage all cool and pleasant and open
to the winds. There were no locks and bolts to keep one out or to keep one
in. I used to imagine that I was climbing that hill to the top of the world
and when I reached the summit I could see--

JONATHAN (_enthralled_)

I know--the whole wide world.

NATHANIEL

Its very bigness made me happy in my imagination.... Then when I grew up
and heavy troubles came to me I remembered the Green Hill Far Away and one
day I found such a hill and I climbed it--clear to the top--and there below
me lay the world--the whole wide world--and I told the world something then
and felt the better for it.... Jonathan, there is nothing like a hilltop to
make a man feel worth while.

JONATHAN

I know what you mean.... But I always want to jump when I look down from
any place, do you?

NATHANIEL

I suppose everybody does.

JONATHAN

Uncle John thinks every boy ought to be alike.

NATHANIEL

Many schools used to think that way.

JONATHAN

But boys don't all think the same. They're different just like men, only
they don't know so much.

NATHANIEL

Perhaps not.

JONATHAN

Uncle John won't let me put on long pants until I'm fifteen.

NATHANIEL

He let me put them on when I was fifteen, too.

JONATHAN

Were you as tall as I am?

NATHANIEL

Just about the same height, but my legs were like pipe stems and I was very
much ashamed.

JONATHAN

So am I.

NATHANIEL

You'll forget all about it after you're fifteen.

JONATHAN

I can talk to you like I used to talk to my mother.

NATHANIEL

Thank you. We're going to be fine friends, aren't we?

JONATHAN

You bet. Is it silly for me to like to write plays?

NATHANIEL

Why do you ask that?

JONATHAN

Because Uncle John says it's silly.

NATHANIEL

Well, it all depends upon the way you look at it, Jonathan. The world has
never been able to agree as to what is and what is not silly. Mr. Browning,
the poet, might have considered hooks and eyes the silliest things in the
world; but to Mr. de Long, they were, no doubt, the most important things
in the world. Many men agree with Mr. Browning and many ladies agree with
Mr. de Long.

JONATHAN

That's what I think.

NATHANIEL

You and I probably have many thoughts in common.

[_Susan and Mlle. Perrault enter. Mlle. Perrault is a Frenchwoman of
exquisite grace and poise. She speaks English fluently, but with a charming
accent and an occasional Gallic phrase larding her pleasant sentences. Her
entrance into the room is electric. She has already won Susan._

MLLE. PERRAULT

Ah, there you are, Mr. Nathaniel Clay. I met la belle Susanne in the
roadway and she told me you were in the lumber room in the carriage house
and I say to her, "We shall track him to his lair." Besides, I want to see
what a lumber room is.

NATHANIEL

I was hiding from you.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Villain! And this is Jonathan. How do you do? Susanne tells me you write
poetry and she writes music and she promise me that you will sing for me.

JONATHAN

I can't sing.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Ah! Susanne tell me you have a theatre and you write plays and paint
scenery and write poetry and sing songs and she say if I come here to the
lumber room in the carriage house you will play me a tragedy and sing me a
song.

JONATHAN

Yes, ma'am.

NATHANIEL

Having introduced yourself to everybody, will you tell me, Susan, how Mlle.
Perrault learned so much in such a little time?

SUSAN

Well, I was waiting for Jonathan to call me.

JONATHAN

Oh, I forgot.

MLLE. PERRAULT

She was sitting like a little fairy in the grass by the roadway, and I stop
my car and ask for Mr. Nathaniel Clay and she say you are here in the
lumber room in the carriage house and she tell me many things--because we
like each other very, very much and we walk very, very slowly.

NATHANIEL

Now! Now that you know all about Miss Susan Sample and Mr. Jonathan--(_He
realizes he doesn't know Jonathan's second name_) I think I shall introduce
you by your pen name, Jonathan--Mr. Alexander Jefferson, Sr.

(_To Mlle. Perrault_)

I am going to let them know about you. This, lady and gentleman, is Mlle.
Marthe Perrault of Paris, France. Mlle. Perrault, may I present my friend
Susan and my nephew Jonathan?

MLLE. PERRAULT (_falling into the mood_)

I am very, very pleased to see you again, Miss Sample. It is a great
pleasure to have the honor of meeting you, Mr. Alexander Jefferson, Sr. I
am looking forward to the première of your great tragedy, _Zenobia_, of
which Miss Sample has been telling me.

SUSAN (_Puts her arms about Mlle. Perrault and Jonathan is uncertain
whether to be happy or afraid_)

He wrote lots of others, too.

JONATHAN

Forty-one.

NATHANIEL

I think I'll tell you two a secret. (_Susan pricks up her ears_) Do you
like secrets?

SUSAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

And can you keep them?

SUSAN

Oh, yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

Well, some day Mlle. Perrault is going to be my wife.

[_He kisses Mlle. Perrault's hand._

_Mlle. Perrault shows her engagement ring._

SUSAN

When?

NATHANIEL

Very soon. She is here on some war work and when she and her father go
back to France I shall follow and we shall be married.

SUSAN

Ooh--

NATHANIEL

Now you mustn't tell.

SUSAN

Honest.

JONATHAN

No, sir!

MLLE. PERRAULT

Now, we have a secret. And you are going to sing me a little song.

SUSAN

Come on, Jonathan. Let's do the new one.

JONATHAN

Well, I'll try.

[_He is quite miserable with stage-fright._

_Susan sits at the piano and plays a chord. Then Jonathan begins to sing
with much fear in his voice._

JONATHAN (_singing_)

    All on a summer's day,
    With flowers by the way,
    A fair young prince and his purple knight
    Found a princess at her play.
    So by the crescent moon
    He asked a royal boon
    And sat him down on a soft green knoll--
    And the night-time came too soon.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Oh, that is just like a little French peasant song! How does it go?
La--la--la--la--la--la.

[_Susan begins to play it again._

_Jonathan sings more surely than before._

_Slowly Mlle. Perrault falls into the rhythm and very simply dances a
little peasant dance to Jonathan's and Susan's song. The two youngsters are
in the seventh heaven of delight._

So--when one is very happy or very sad, he makes a song and when he's very,
very happy, he dances. And when he is very, very, very unhappy he dies. You
see, _I_ am very, very happy. When do you play _Zenobia_, Mr. Jefferson,
Sr.?

JONATHAN

I'll have it ready tomorrow, maybe tonight.

NATHANIEL

We shall have a season ticket. But now, I want you to meet my blessed Aunt
Letitia. She hasn't changed one bit in all these years.

MLLE. PERRAULT

To Aunt Letitia then. Good-bye, Jonathan. Tomorrow is the day of the great
première.

JONATHAN (_awkwardly_)

Thanks.

MLLE. PERRAULT

And la belle petite Susanne, au revoir.

SUSAN

I'll walk with you part of the way.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Very well. Marchons, marchons....

[_They go out._

NATHANIEL (_holding back a little_)

Good-bye, Mr. Manager.

[_He goes out calling_ "Marthe."

_Jonathan is left alone in his joy_. _As he stands, a strange, aimless,
vacuous whistling is heard outside the window an though from one ambling
by. Jonathan hears it unconsciously, moves to put his plays away,
alternately whistling and singing "All on a summer's day."_

_Presently the whistling of the strange air is heard as though coming from
downstairs. It stops and a voice calls out_ "Hi!"

JONATHAN

Who is it?

VOICE

It's me.

JONATHAN

What do you want?

[_By this time the Voice has become a person in the shape of Hank, one of
the scum of creation who asks nothing of life and gives nothing. He was
born of woman and he grew into man's form, but one looking at him wonders
how he survived dirt and the mere effort of breathing. He is stoutish with
no marked coloring unless it be a cross between khaki and field-gray.
Weather and time have conspired to render him inconspicuous. When he speaks
his voice is produced with a careful effort to conserve energy. When he
walks it seems to be a movement in answer to prayer rather than a physical
fact._

HANK

Say--

JONATHAN

How'd you get in here?

HANK

Well, it's this way, you see. The gate was open out there and this looked
pretty fine to me so I come in.

JONATHAN

You'd better go away before my uncle sees you.

HANK

Look here, young feller, I ain't goin' a-do no harm.

JONATHAN

Well, he doesn't allow strangers on the place.

HANK

I jus' come in to ask if I could sleep somewhere around here if I worked
for my sleep and grub.

JONATHAN

No, he won't let you.

HANK

How do you know he won't?

JONATHAN

'Cause it's a rule.

[_Hank whistles a snatch of the strange air and sits down._

HANK

Where's your pa?

JONATHAN

He's dead.

HANK

Long?

JONATHAN

Ten years ago.

HANK

How old are you?

JONATHAN

Fourteen.

HANK

Your pa died when you were four. So did mine.

JONATHAN

Did you ever have an uncle?

HANK

How many you got?

JONATHAN

I got two living and one dead.

HANK

All three of mine's dead.

[_He whistles a snatch of the strange air and takes a chew of tobacco._

Where's your ma?

JONATHAN (_Is about to become impatient, but an innate tolerance causes him
to answer_)

She died when I was twelve.

HANK

So did mine. (_Whistles_) We're alike in lots of ways, ain't we?

JONATHAN

What did you do when your mother died?

HANK

I felt pretty sorry.

JONATHAN

Did your brothers and sisters help you any?

HANK

Have you any brothers and sisters?

JONATHAN

No--

HANK

Me neither. (_Whistles casually_) No one took no notice of me.

JONATHAN

What'd you do?

HANK

I went away.

JONATHAN

Why didn't you try to work?

HANK

Couldn't find nothing suitable. 'T first I felt sort o' worried an' then I
kep' walkin' on and I seen so much trouble where I went I says to myself,
"Hank, you're lucky," I says. "You ain't got no fam'ly to bother you an'
you ain't got nothing to worry you an' you don't have to get no place in
partic'lar and you don't have to stay no place." A man wot's got a wife's
all the time worrying about her health or her money spendin' or her gaddin'
or her naggin'. An' a man w'ots got a fam'ly's always wondering where
they'll end. An' a man's wot's got a home's all time worrying about keepin'
it locked up. I bet the poor nut wot owns this place can't breathe easy for
bein' scared things'll be took or burnt up. W'y you--look at
you--(_Whistles_) You're wishin' I'd go 'cause you're 'fraid I'll take
somethin'. I won't take nothin', young feller, 'cause I don't need nothin'
now and I won't need nothin' till it's cold again--and then I'll git an
overcoat maybe. It's too much trouble takin' things--'cause you have to
carry 'em. (_Whistles_) You goin' to let me sleep here some place?

JONATHAN

I can't. My uncle would drive you away. Maybe he'd have you arrested.

HANK

I ain't done nothin'. I ain't hurtin' nobody.

JONATHAN

Well, he doesn't allow strangers around.

HANK (_Whistles. At the window_)

That's where I went by jus' now.

JONATHAN

I heard you whistling.

HANK

That's a tune I made up once. (_Whistles_)

JONATHAN

Do you make up tunes?

HANK

That's the only one I ever done. It comes in handy and it don't hurt no
one.

[_Jonathan unconsciously tries to whistle a phrase of the tune._

HANK

No, that ain't it. It's this way.

[_Whistles._

_Jonathan tries it again and fails._

No. Here.

_Jonathan makes it this time._

HANK

That's it. Say, what you got these bars for? It's like jail. Are they
afraid you'll jump out on them rocks?

JONATHAN

No, I guess not. There isn't much danger of my wanting to jump out.

HANK

You never can tell for sure, young feller.

JONATHAN

It's to keep people from climbing in.

HANK

There ain't no bars over that one. (_Pointing to gable window_)

JONATHAN

That's too high.

HANK

It'd be like fallin' off the top of a house, wouldn't it?

[_Whistles._

_Jonathan whistles "All on a Summer's Day."_

HANK

What you got there?

JONATHAN

That's my theatre.

HANK

A show?

JONATHAN

Yes.

HANK

How does it work?

JONATHAN

These are the actors.

HANK

What's the string fer?

JONATHAN

You put him in a groove and pull him.

HANK

Lemme see it.

JONATHAN

All right. I'll show you a scene from the play I'm going to play for my
Uncle Nathaniel tomorrow.

HANK

Fire away.

[_Jonathan lights the lamps that are back of the screen and pulls the
blinds or some cover over the barred windows._

HANK

I wouldn't have all this junk if you'd give it to me. No, sir, when I move
I carry my house with me and there ain't much o' that now. (_Indicates his
clothes_)

JONATHAN

All ready. Now you sit there.

[_Places Hank on the bench._

_He goes behind the screen and taps some bells._

HANK

What's that fer?

JONATHAN

That's to get ready.

HANK

Well, I'm ready.

[_Jonathan opens the curtain and discloses a scene from Zenobia._

That's beautiful. It's just like real.

[_Jonathan pulls a figure across the stage._

Hello, old man. That's the one I jus' seen. Where's the string?

[_Jonathan lifts the string._

JONATHAN

Here it is.

HANK

Now where's that feller goin' to?

JONATHAN (_coming out from behind the screen_)

Well, you see, _Zenobia_--

HANK

_Zenob_--God, what a name!

JONATHAN

They used to have names like that.

HANK

How d' you do it?

JONATHAN

Look, I'll show you a little.

[_He goes behind the screen and closes the curtain._

HANK

What you doin' that for? I like to see that picture.

JONATHAN

I'm going to show you how I do it.

[_Jonathan rings the bells._

HANK

All right. I'm ready. Let her go.

[_Jonathan opens the curtain and pulls a character on, then another._

JONATHAN (_in assumed voice_)

    "Hail, noble duke."
    "All is well, I ween."

HANK

Say, are they talkin' to each other?

JONATHAN

Yes.

HANK

Which is the noble duke?

JONATHAN (_pulling a string_)

This one.

HANK.

And the other one's name is Iween, ain't it?

JONATHAN

No, his name is Rollo.

[Illustration: JONATHAN MAKES A WISH

ACT I.]

HANK

All right, fire ahead. I guess you know what you're doing.

JONATHAN (_in assumed voice_)

"Hail, noble duke."

"All is well, I ween."

"Not very well, noble duke."

"What is wrong?"

"Queen Zenobia is very mad, noble duke."

"What is she mad about, Rollo?"

[_Uncle John enters suddenly._

JOHN

Jonathan--

[_He sees Hank._

What does this mean?

HANK

I'm seein' a show.

JOHN

You get out of here this instant.

HANK

I ain't hurtin' nothin', mister, but I'll git out if you say so.

JOHN

What do you mean by this, Jonathan?

HANK

I'll git out. Thank you fer the show, boy.

[_He goes out whistling._

_John crosses to the door._

JOHN (_calling after Hank_)

Come on, get out of here quickly.

HANK (_off_)

I'm out, mister.

JOHN

Now, Jonathan, what do you mean by bringing such people into this place?

JONATHAN

I didn't bring him in. He came up while I was working.

JOHN

Do you call that silly stuff _working_?

JONATHAN

I was getting it ready for Uncle Nathaniel.

JOHN

He's been putting that nonsense in your head, has he?

JONATHAN

He asked me to let him see all my plays.

JOHN

I suppose he told you to ask that dirty tramp in here.

JONATHAN

No, sir. He didn't see the tramp.

[_Hank is heard whistling._

_John crosses to one of the windows and opens it._

JOHN (_calling_)

You get away from there. Move on.

HANK'S VOICE

I guess the roadside's free, mister.

JOHN

We'll see about that.

[_Hank whistles._

JOHN

Jonathan, I won't have you waste your time on this stuff. I've been pretty
lenient with you and I've allowed you to keep your toys because Emily
spoiled you; but you're too big for such things and I'm going to put my
foot down right now. I'm not going to have this silly stuff around.

JONATHAN

Uncle Nathaniel doesn't think it's silly.

JOHN

I'll decide what is and is not good for you.

JONATHAN

The same thing isn't good for everybody.

JOHN

Don't talk back to me, young man.

JONATHAN

I've got a right to think.

JOHN

Jonathan!

JONATHAN

If my mother was living, she wouldn't call everything I like to do silly.

JOHN

Your mother didn't know what was good for you.

JONATHAN

My mother was the best woman in the world.

JOHN

That will do, Jonathan. Your mother was my sister and I am not saying
anything against her. But I do say that stuff must go.

[_He starts for the door._

JONATHAN

If this theatre goes, I go, too. I'm not--

[_John walks over to the theatre and sweeps the whole structure onto the
floor._

JOHN

Now.

JONATHAN

You dirty coward, you--

[_John turns upon the boy and strikes him across the face._

_In mingled rage and humiliation Jonathan sobs wildly once or twice, then
controls himself and glares violently at his uncle._

JOHN

I'll let you think about it. I'll leave you here with your toys like a
girl-baby.

[_He goes out the door, closing it and turning the key in the lock._

_Jonathan runs to the door._

JONATHAN

You let me out of here! You let me out of here!

[_He pounds the door with his fists._

_Then he turns in despair and humiliation._

_He paces the floor a moment, not knowing what to do. Suddenly Hank's
whistle is heard. The boy listens as though fascinated and goes to the
window and watches Hank. Jonathan goes to his wrecked theatre and, taking
it up, piles his manuscripts, the pink and the blue, on it. He hesitates to
include one in the pile, offering once or twice to put it in his pocket,
but he finally places it in grim determination with the others. Then he
takes it off and stuffs it in his pocket. He stuffs the pile in the stove
and sets a match to it, watches it a moment, then writes on a piece of
paper, fastens it to the door. Then he finds a piece of rope on a packing
case, moves the ladder under the gable window, fastens the rope to a peg
in the wall, climbs the ladder, considers a moment, returns to the stove
with the beloved manuscript, stuffs it in the fire, remounts the ladder and
lets his weight onto the rope. As he disappears from view, the rope breaks
and a cry and sound of falling are heard._

_The flames from the burning theatre and manuscripts flicker against the
wall for a silent moment._

_The key is heard to turn in the lock and John and Nathaniel enter._

JOHN

Jonathan!

NATHANIEL

He's hiding.

JOHN

Jonathan!

NATHANIEL (_Sees paper on door_)

What's this?

JOHN

What does it say?

NATHANIEL

"Good-bye!... Jonathan."

JOHN (_Looks suspiciously at Nathaniel_)

Did you tell the silly boy about your running away?

NATHANIEL

I told Jonathan nothing about myself. You are the head of the Clay family
and out of custom I respected your position; but, by God, John, you're a
failure with this boy.

JOHN

He--

[_Hank enters carrying Jonathan in his arms. Jonathan is limp and pitiful.
His clothes are torn. He is moaning pitifully._

HANK

He fell on the rocks out there.

NATHANIEL

Put him over here.

[_Hank places Jonathan on the bench near the piano. Nathaniel places the
costume, which Susan left there, under his head for a pillow._

JOHN

What was he doing?

HANK

He was--

NATHANIEL

This is no time for questions, John. Call a doctor.

[_Jonathan moans and rolls his head, looking vacantly at Hank now and
then._

JONATHAN (_moaning_)

Good-bye.... Jonathan.

JOHN

We'd better take him in the house.

JONATHAN

My mother was the best woman--

NATHANIEL

He'd better stay here until the doctor comes.

[_John exits._

JONATHAN

All on a summer's day--

[_All the time Nathaniel has been passing his hands over Jonathan._

HANK

He's out of his head, ain't he?

NATHANIEL

Perhaps, but sometimes one's heart speaks in a delirium.

HANK

He acts like his back's broke.

NATHANIEL

My God--his back!

[_Touches the boy's back._

_Jonathan winces with pain._

JONATHAN

My back's broken, Hank.

HANK

Listen, he's saying my name. We wuz pals, sure nuff.

JONATHAN

My back's broken, Hank.


_Curtain._



ACT II

     Six years have elapsed since Act I as years elapse in a
     boy's imaginings.

     Throughout this act the characters are disclosed
     without reason as in a dream; and the movement of the
     act represents four terrors of a delirium--anxious
     effort to make oneself known, a feeling of fetters,
     climbing and a sudden fall.

JONATHAN BUILDS A FEAR


[_Before the curtain rises the voices of Jonathan, Hank, Nathaniel and John
are heard, muffled and far away._

HANK

He fell on the rocks out there.

NATHANIEL

Put him over here.

JOHN

What was he doing?

HANK

He was--

NATHANIEL

This is no time for questions, John. Call a doctor.

JONATHAN

Good-bye.... Jonathan.

JOHN

We'd better take him in the house.

JONATHAN

My mother was the best woman--

NATHANIEL

He'd better stay here until the doctor comes.

JONATHAN

All on a summer's day--

HANK

He's out of his head, ain't he?

NATHANIEL

Perhaps, but sometimes one's heart speaks in a delirium.

HANK

He acts like his back's broke.

NATHANIEL

My God--his back!

JONATHAN

My back's broken, Hank.

HANK

Listen, he's saying my name. We wuz pals, sure nuff.

JONATHAN

My back's broken, Hank.

[_The curtain has risen unnoticed._

_A faint light that grows steadily brighter as light does when one comes
out of a swoon discloses Jonathan and Hank seated on a log at the left of
the stage, where the bench had been. Jonathan seems much older, and he is
crooked and dirty and unkempt, and Hank is somewhat brutalised, less
negative._

JONATHAN

My back's broken, Hank.

[_Hank looks at him._

Tired?

HANK

Sure....

JONATHAN

I think Uncle Nathaniel would help me if he saw me.

HANK

He couldn't do nothin' for you. You can't straighten a crooked back....

JONATHAN

Hank, I'm tired of this and I'm going back.

HANK

Going back where?

JONATHAN

I'm going back home.

HANK

Your Uncle John won't let you in.

JONATHAN

Uncle Nathaniel will take me in.

HANK

He ain't there no more and besides he won't know you.

JONATHAN

Honest--don't you think he would?

HANK

Sure, he wouldn't.

JONATHAN

I wish I hadn't run away.

HANK

If you don't quit wishing I'll run away from you.

JONATHAN

You wouldn't leave me, would you, Hank?

HANK

Sure, I'd leave you.... What do you think I am--a wishing stone?... I want
peace, I do.... An' your wishing's disturbing my peace.... Every day fer
six years you squeal about what you done.... Your Uncle John swatted you
and you burned your theatre things and jumped out o' the window and broke
your back and I saved you....

JONATHAN

I can't do anything with a broken back!

HANK

What do you want to do anything for?

JONATHAN

Sometimes I'd like to write a little.

HANK

Go ahead.... I'll wait for you.

JONATHAN

And I'd like to give a show. You know, Hank, I used to want to be an
actor....

HANK

Sure, all kids want to be actors or go in a circus or do something where a
lot o' people are lookin' on.

JONATHAN

But I can't be an actor now, because nobody'd want to look at me.

HANK

You act like that hump's ruined your life, when all you got to do's crouch
over a little more and look sad and you can get anything you want. Why,
it's money in your pocket, that's what that hump is; it's money in your
pocket.

[_He closes the conversation by whistling._

Say, go on over to that house and get us something to eat.

[_Jonathan prepares for the quest and Hank rolls over to go to sleep._

_As Jonathan crosses, lights disclose a hill with pleasant green slopes. At
its foot stands a little cottage, all cool and pleasant with great glass
doors. There are no locks and bolts to keep one out or to keep one in. A
high plaster and brick wall flanks the cottage._

_As Jonathan nears the cottage he meets Uncle John, whose austerity is more
apparent than ever._

_Jonathan cowers a moment, then attempts to smile._

JONATHAN

Hank said you'd turn me away if I came back.

JOHN

Were you talking to me, boy?

JONATHAN

I'm so sorry I ran away, Uncle John.

JOHN

Uncle John?

JONATHAN

Don't you know me, Sir?

JOHN

Indeed I do not.

JONATHAN

I'm Jonathan--

JOHN

Jonathan! My nephew Jonathan?--Ha! Ha!

JONATHAN

Don't you remember I didn't want to study engineering--I didn't want to go
to Somerset School?

JOHN

Where is Jonathan?

JONATHAN

I'm Jonathan, sir. You remember I jumped out of the window and I tried to
run away.

JOHN

You seem to know a lot about it. Where is Jonathan?

JONATHAN

I tell you I am Jonathan.... Don't you remember you struck me--You struck
me across the face--that's what made me run away.

JOHN

I should have whipped him and put him to bed.

JONATHAN

I would have run away just the same, Uncle John.

JOHN

Don't call me Uncle John!

JONATHAN

But you are my Uncle John.

JOHN

I ask you where _is_ Jonathan.

JONATHAN

Would you like to see him?

JOHN

I should like to know what has become of him.

JONATHAN

Would you let him come back home?

JOHN

No. When he ran away, I cast him out forever.

JONATHAN

Couldn't you forgive him if he was very, very sorry for what he had
done?... Couldn't you forgive me, sir?... I am Jonathan. Honest I am
Jonathan.

JOHN

Don't try to deceive me. Jonathan was impudent as you are; but he was a
Clay: he was straight and fine.

JONATHAN

But I broke my back.

JOHN

Tell me where Jonathan is, you imposter.

[_He takes Jonathan by the arm and twists it brutally._

Tell me.... Tell me.

JONATHAN

I don't know.... Let me go.... I'm _not_ Jonathan.

JOHN

Tell me....

JONATHAN (_in desperation_)

He's dead.

JOHN

What!

JONATHAN

He's dead. He died somewhere.

JOHN

And so you tried to palm yourself off as Jonathan.

JONATHAN

I'm sorry.

JOHN

Don't you know you can't make your way with lies?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

JOHN

You ought to be whipped, but I suppose you don't know any better. I should
have you arrested for vagrancy.

[_Jonathan winces._

But I won't. I pity you, you dirty little beggar.

[_He starts to walk._

You ought to wash your hands and face at least.

JONATHAN

Please, sir--one minute.... How are Mary and John third?

JOHN

Mary is ten--a big girl--and John third is eight--a strapping boy who will
be a great help to me.

JONATHAN

And--how is Aunt Letitia?

JOHN

My aunt died of a broken heart.

JONATHAN

A broken heart?

JOHN

Because Jonathan ran away.

[_Jonathan buries his face in his arms._

There! Don't cry for someone you've never seen.... Here, here, take this--

[_He presses a coin into Jonathan's hand and goes out._

_Jonathan looks at the coin, then after John, and seems to close his heart.
He crosses to the sleeping Hank._

JONATHAN

Here, Hank.

HANK (_taking the coin_)

What'd he say?

JONATHAN

He didn't know me.

HANK

I guess you're not going back home now!

JONATHAN

No, I haven't any home.

HANK

Then quit your snifflin' an' go on over to that house.

JONATHAN

All right, Hank.

[_Hank curls up and goes to sleep again._

_Jonathan crosses to the cottage and finally summons the courage to knock
on the door. As he does so the lights within grow bright and disclose a
lovely little room with a beautiful piano in the centre. In a moment a
young woman appears and opens the doors. It is Susan Sample. She is
charmingly older; but she is dressed almost as she was in the old lumber
room._

JONATHAN

Please, Miss--why--

SUSAN

What do you want?

JONATHAN

I--don't you know me?

SUSAN

No, I don't know you, little boy. What do you want?

JONATHAN

I--don't you really know me?

SUSAN

I've never seen you before.

JONATHAN

I know you.... You're Susan Sample.

SUSAN

Who told you?

JONATHAN

I'm-- (_He becomes conscious of his back_) Why Jonathan told me.

SUSAN

Have you seen Jonathan?

JONATHAN

Yes.

SUSAN

Where is he?

JONATHAN

I don't know.

SUSAN

He ran away. Why doesn't he come home?

JONATHAN

Because--oh, I don't know.

SUSAN

Who are you?

JONATHAN

I'm a vagrant.

SUSAN

Are you hungry?

JONATHAN (_looking toward Hank_)

No. I'm not.... I'm not begging.... But will you do something for me?

SUSAN

Yes, if I can.

[Illustration: JONATHAN MAKES A WISH

ACT II.]

JONATHAN

Will you play for me?

SUSAN

Oh, yes.... What shall I play?

JONATHAN

Anything.

[_Jonathan notices his dirty hands._

Excuse me a moment.

[_He goes to a bird-bath and washes his hands, wipes them and returns to
the piano._

_Susan plays a bit of a nocturne with ease and grace._

JONATHAN

Do you remember this?

[_He hums "All on a Summer Day."_

SUSAN

Oh, yes.

[_She plays the tune in a sophisticated musical way, but Jonathan is
disappointed._

SUSAN

You don't like it?

JONATHAN

That isn't exactly the way it goes.

SUSAN

Oh, yes, it is.

[_She plays it once more and sings it._

JONATHAN

No--no--no. It ought to go this way.

[_He sings it as he had sung it years before._

SUSAN

You sing that just as Jonathan used to sing it.

JONATHAN

I like it that way.

SUSAN

Did Jonathan teach it to you?

JONATHAN

Yes.... A long time ago.

SUSAN

Did he tell you--

JONATHAN

About the lovely lady who danced to the tune? Oh, she was wonderful!

SUSAN

Jonathan ran away--and he never wrote to me or thought of me.

JONATHAN

He thought of you and he talked of you and he sang of you.

SUSAN

No.... I can't believe that.

JONATHAN

Jonathan loves you very much.

SUSAN

If a man loves a woman very much he can't go away from her for years and
years.

JONATHAN

Suppose Jonathan had pride and was ashamed to let you know that he had
failed.

SUSAN

Jonathan wouldn't fail. I know Jonathan.

JONATHAN

He--Susan Sample!

[_Susan plays softly. She is lovely in the sunlight which is lengthening
across the lawn._

[_Jonathan watches her quietly. The love of the boy fans into flame and he
reaches out to her, then in the consciousness of his deformity he turns
away._

SUSAN

Will you tell me where Jonathan was when you last saw him?

JONATHAN

I don't know--The last time I saw Jonathan--he was tall and straight--and
making his way.

SUSAN

Oh, well.

[_Albert Peet enters. He is a little man of immaculate appearance and great
preciseness._

ALBERT

Ah, Susan.

SUSAN

Albert, you are late.

ALBERT

Who is this?

SUSAN

This is a friend of Jonathan's.

ALBERT

Jonathan who?

SUSAN

Don't you remember Jonathan who had the toy theatre? He ran away from home.

ALBERT

Oh... and this is his friend? How do you do?

SUSAN

Do you remember this? I used to play it for you.

[_She begins "All on a Summer's Day."_

Jonathan and I made it up.

ALBERT (_laughing_)

Oh, yes.

SUSAN (_to Jonathan_)

Come on and sing it.

[_Jonathan is not sure of the status of Albert Peet._

[_Susan plays and she and Jonathan sing with great feeling._

ALBERT [_looking at his watch_

Well, all this is very pleasant indeed, but we'll have to go, Susan dear.

[_At the "Susan, dear" Jonathan turns quickly and sees the two holding
hands. Susan holds up her left hand and shows an engagement ring on it.
Jonathan is utterly crushed._

JONATHAN

I think I'd better say good-bye.

[_He takes up his cap._

SUSAN

Good-bye. If you see Jonathan, tell him I'm going to marry Albert Peet.
He'll know.

ALBERT

Good-bye.

[_Albert and Susan walk off happily in the sunshine._

_Jonathan looks after them._

_Mlle. Perrault enters followed by Mary and John 3rd. Mlle. Perrault's
dress is almost like the one she had worn when she first met Jonathan in
the lumber-room, except that the colors are reversed and more brilliant.
Mary is a lovely little yellow-haired child of ten and John 3rd is a
stoical matter-of-fact boy of eight. The two children are evidently very
fond of Mlle. Perrault, as fond as Jonathan and Susan had seemed. If the
children seem thoughtless and cruel, it is because they are children and
life has not yet laid a hard hand upon them. The sun rays are very low
against the wall now so that anyone walking near it will cast a very heavy
shadow._

MARY

John, look--he's a hunchback.

MLLE. PERRAULT

'Sh! Children.

[_The children whisper._

_Jonathan turns and seeing Mlle. Perrault smiles._

How do you do, little man.

JONATHAN

I am well, I thank you.

MLLE. PERRAULT

What are you doing here?

JONATHAN

I am with Hank.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Hank?

JONATHAN

Yes, Hank's my pal. There he is--asleep.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Oh, what a dreadful person.... Children, don't go near him.

JONATHAN

He's not so bad.

MLLE. PERRAULT

But he is a vagrant--a tramp. Why does he do nothing?

JONATHAN

He's happier that way.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Are you his son?

JONATHAN

Oh, no.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Where is your mother?

JONATHAN

My mother's dead.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Where did she live?

JONATHAN (_Looks for a trace of recognition_)

I'd better not tell you.

MARY

Oh, please tell us.

JONATHAN

I'd better not.

MARY

You ask him, John.

JOHN III

Uh-uh!

MARY

Why not?

JOHN III

I don't want to know.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Why don't you want to tell _us_? We won't tell anybody.

JONATHAN

Nobody'll believe me.

MARY

Why?

JONATHAN

You see, I ran away from home--

JOHN III

When you run away from home, you're no good.

MARY

Now, John, that isn't always so.

JOHN III

It is.

MARY

It isn't. Goldilocks and the Babes in the Wood and the Marquis of Carabas
were all good, and they ran away from home.

JOHN III

But they had bad homes.

MARY

Was your home bad?

JONATHAN

I thought it was.

JOHN III

You thought it was. But was it?

JONATHAN

No.

JOHN III

Then you're no good.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Oh, John.

JOHN III

No, he isn't. Grandfather said nobody who ran away from home was any good!

MARY

Why did you run away from home?

JONATHAN

I mustn't tell.

MARY

Oh, you won't tell anything!

JOHN III (_pointing to Hank_)

What did you say _he_ was, Ma'mselle?

MLLE. PERRAULT

He is a vagrant--

MARY AND JOHN III

What's a vagrant?

MARY

Ooh--

[_Puts up her hand to make a wish._

JOHN III

Aw, I'm not going to make a wish. Grandfather'll get it for me anyway if I
want it.

MARY

Now, John Clay III--

[_Jonathan looks up quickly._

You always spoil things.

JONATHAN

Is that Mary Clay and John Clay?

MLLE. PERRAULT

Yes.

JONATHAN

They don't remember Jonathan, do they?

MLLE. PERRAULT

You mean Jonathan who ran away?

JONATHAN

Yes, ma'am.

MARY

Who's Jonathan?

JOHN III

He's David's friend. I know that. And he was very good.

MLLE. PERRAULT

What do you know about Jonathan?

JONATHAN

I knew him once--

MLLE. PERRAULT

He was a splendid little man! He could make such lovely songs.

JONATHAN

Do you remember the one he and Susan Sample made up?

MLLE. PERRAULT

Let's see--how did it go?

[_Hums a little--tries several folk tunes. The children edge up to Jonathan
during this and manage to touch his back several times, each keeping count.
Jonathan smiles at them, thinking it's attention._

JONATHAN

No, it went this way.

[_He sings a little of the song and Mlle. Perrault joins him. As he stops
singing she switches the time to waltz time and begins to sway to it. The
music is taken up as by a dream-orchestra and Mlle. Perrault dances a very
lovely little waltz._

JOHN III

Oh, look at your shadow!

[_Mlle. Perrault turns and sees her shadow on the wall._

I can make a bigger one than that.

MARY

Oh, come on, ma'mselle, let's all make shadows.

[_The three of them stand in front of the wall._

JOHN III

Boy, you come, too.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Come, boy.

[_Jonathan joins them standing so that his deformity doesn't show in the
shadow._

Now, let's dance--Give me your hand--so.

[_The four dance, while Mlle. Perrault hums "All on a Summer's Day." They
are having a very good time when Susan and Albert enter._

_Jonathan is a little conscious of Susan and Albert, and he manages to make
several awkward moves._

MLLE. PERRAULT

Now, let's make everybody's shadow dance by itself.

MARY

Oh, come on.

JOHN III

You first, Mlle.

MARY

It's your turn, Mlle.

[_Mlle. Perrault stands before the wall and makes a very lovely shadow._

John, you do it now.

JOHN III

I won't. I'm going to be next to last.... He's going to be last.

[_Mary makes a pretty "statue."_

MARY

Now, John--

[_John III, holding a staff, stands bow-legged and pigeon-toed._

_All of them laugh._

MLLE. PERRAULT (_to John III_)

You little Jackanapes! You!

JOHN III (_to Jonathan_)

You can't do that.

[_Jonathan, still conscious of Susan, but more in the spirit of the game
nevertheless, laughs almost gleefully._

JONATHAN

You just wait.

[_He stands in front of the wall and does some comical movements with his
feet and legs, then he turns in such a way that for the first time the
shadow of his hump is thrown into a pitiful distortion on the wall. He
doesn't see it at first, for he is lost in the game with the children._

JOHN III (_yelling suddenly_)

Oh, look!

[_The children laugh immoderately, and Jonathan turns his head quickly, but
in so doing alters the shadow. He smiles joyfully and then once more falls
into the distorted picture._

MARY

Ooh--

JOHN III

That's funnier than mine.

[_Jonathan turns his head this time and sees the full horror of the thing._

_Mlle. Perrault and Susan have realized too late to protect Jonathan._

MLLE. PERRAULT

John! Mary! Tell the little boy good-bye. We must go.

[_Jonathan looks toward Susan and Albert. There is pity in Susan's eyes
and a smile in Albert's._

SUSAN

Albert, come--let's go!

[_They pass into the house._

JOHN III [_Almost as Susan speaks._

Wasn't he funniest of all!

MLLE. PERRAULT

Now, run along, children. Run along.

MARY

Look, I can make a hump-back.

JOHN III

So can I.

MARY

Not a good one!

JOHN III

You can't touch mine.

[_He smacks Mary on the back and runs off, Mary following him._

MLLE. PERRAULT

Little man, I'm very sorry. You mustn't let them hurt you. They are only
children.

JONATHAN

Yes, ma'am.... Thank you.

MLLE. PERRAULT

May I do something for you?

JONATHAN

No, ma'am... if you please... I must go to Hank.

MLLE. PERRAULT

Here, take this--

[_She offers a coin._

JONATHAN

Oh, no, ma'am....

[_He puts his hand behind him._

MLLE. PERRAULT

I am sorry.... Very, very sorry.

JONATHAN

Yes, ma'am.

[_Mlle. Perrault goes out silently, and in a moment she is heard to call_
"Marie"--"John," _and a distant answer is heard_.

_Susan comes to the door and sees Jonathan. She crosses to him. He looks at
her almost with madness in his eyes._

SUSAN

They didn't mean to hurt you.

[_She lays her hand on his arm._

JONATHAN

Yes, I know.

[_There is a moment of the tenderest, most understanding silence. He turns
away._

_Susan starts to reach in her bag, she even takes her purse out; but she
replaces it unopened, and instead of bestowing alms, she takes a flower
from her hair and presses it in Jonathan's hands._

_He looks at her with years of pent-up gratitude loosed from his heart._

_Silently, she turns away and goes into the house. Jonathan, left alone,
turns so that his hump once more shows in the most distorted shadow. He
lifts the flower and for a single moment, its shadow rises above the shadow
of the hump, a tiny cross on his little Calvary. Then he lays the flower
against his cheek and sits upon the log near Hank._

_Hank awakens._

HANK (_looking up stupidly_)

What you got?

JONATHAN (_hiding the flower_)

Nothing.

HANK

Come across, Humpy.

JONATHAN

Don't you call me that!

HANK

So--ho! What you yelling at me for?

[_He sits up._

JONATHAN

Nothing.... I didn't mean to yell.

HANK

What you got there?

JONATHAN

I tell you I haven't got anything, Hank.

HANK

Come on. Come across.

JONATHAN

It's not for you.

HANK

Come on.

JONATHAN (_Rises and moves away_)

No.

HANK.

Gimme it here....

[_He grabs Jonathan and tears the flower from his hand._

JONATHAN

Stop that!

HANK

Great God! (_Throwing the crushed petals on the ground_) Say, what's the
matter with you?

JONATHAN

I tell you, I'm going back.... I'm going back to my home.... I'm going to
find my Uncle Nathaniel. I know he'll take me in. He won't blame me because
I'm a cripple.... I know.... I know.... Didn't he say, "Poor Jonathan"?...

[_At this moment Nathaniel enters, and the two stand face to face as they
had stood in the lumber-room at their first meeting._

_Hank slinks away._

_Nathaniel is untouched by the years. Jonathan looks at him hopefully, but
there is no glint of recognition In Nathaniel's eye._

JONATHAN (_timidly_)

Uncle Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL

What did you say, my boy?

JONATHAN (_Less and less audible, as his disappointment increases_)

Uncle Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL

I can't hear you.

JONATHAN

You--are--my--Uncle Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL

Come, come, my boy. I can't hear you.

JONATHAN

Aren't you--Mr.--Nathaniel--Clay?

NATHANIEL (_kindly, but as to a stranger_)

Yes, I am Mr. Nathaniel Clay.

[_Jonathan smiles one of his old half smiles._

JONATHAN

My name's--Jonathan.

NATHANIEL

Jonathan!... I had a nephew whose name was Jonathan.

JONATHAN

Don't you know me?

NATHANIEL

You must forgive me, little man--but I do not remember you. Boys grow so
quickly.

JONATHAN

Don't you remember _Zenobia_?

NATHANIEL

_Zenobia?_ Who was she?

JONATHAN

Don't you remember the little theatre?

NATHANIEL

Oh, yes, my nephew Jonathan had a little toy theatre, and he wrote a play
called _Zenobia_.... He burnt them.

JONATHAN

Was it wrong to burn them?

NATHANIEL

I don't know. You see Jonathan ran away, and I have never seen him since.

JONATHAN

Do you blame him?

NATHANIEL

Well, I can't say. When a fine boy like Jonathan runs away from home, he
may have what he considers a good reason.

JONATHAN

Don't you know why he ran away?

NATHANIEL

I think I know.

JONATHAN

Would you tell me why?

NATHANIEL

That wouldn't do any good, my boy.... If you had an uncle who liked you
very much, would you run away?

JONATHAN

No, sir--not if I had another chance....

NATHANIEL

What do you mean?

JONATHAN

Don't you really know me?

NATHANIEL

I'm sorry--no!

JONATHAN (_pointing to Hank_)

Do you know him?

NATHANIEL

That tramp?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.... That's Hank.

NATHANIEL

Hank?

JONATHAN

Yes, the one I ran away with.

NATHANIEL

Did you run away, too?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir; I jumped out the window, and I fell and broke my back. Hank
said--

NATHANIEL

What a dirty man!

JONATHAN

He's my pal.

NATHANIEL

You're evidently a fine young man inside.

JONATHAN

Oh, I'm sorry, sir, that I ran away.

NATHANIEL

You can't undo the past, my boy, but you can make the future.

JONATHAN

I can't straighten my back.

NATHANIEL

Perhaps not, but you can straighten your life.

JONATHAN

I'm only a beggar, sir.

NATHANIEL

There is something everybody can do.

JONATHAN

There isn't any place for me....

NATHANIEL

My boy, there is a place for everybody who wants a place.

JONATHAN

Do you remember what your nephew wanted to do?

NATHANIEL

Yes, he wanted to write plays and run a theatre and be an actor.

JONATHAN

I couldn't ever be an actor, could I?

NATHANIEL

No, my boy.

JONATHAN

Supposing you had your heart set on something and couldn't do it, what
would you do?

NATHANIEL

I'd not give up.... I'd try something else.

JONATHAN

Supposing I were your nephew, what would you do?

NATHANIEL

I'd find out what you wanted to be.

JONATHAN

Don't I look like Jonathan?

NATHANIEL

Jonathan must be very tall now.

JONATHAN

If Jonathan weren't tall?

NATHANIEL

But he _is_ tall and splendid. I know Jonathan! And he's doing what he set
out to do.

JONATHAN

I hope you'll find him, sir, and I hope he'll make you proud.

NATHANIEL (_very earnestly_)

My boy, how old are you?

JONATHAN

I'm twenty.

NATHANIEL

Twenty.... Will you try to pull yourself out of the rut?

JONATHAN

What do you mean, sir?

NATHANIEL

Look at that man. What is he to you?

JONATHAN

He's my pal.

NATHANIEL

You mustn't waste your life on such emptiness as his.

JONATHAN

I'm going to try, sir.... And if I make good, will you believe I'm
Jonathan?

NATHANIEL

I'll believe you are you.... Here....

[_He offers Jonathan a coin._

JONATHAN

Oh, no, sir.... I can't--from you--

NATHANIEL

Well, you are a strange beggar--

JONATHAN

I'm not a beggar at heart.... I don't want to be what I am. But I don't
know which way to turn. I'm all mixed up.

NATHANIEL

All mixed up?

[_Nathaniel turns and looks toward the hill._

Boy, there is a green hill far away. Climb to the top of it, look about and
you will see--

JONATHAN

I know: the whole wide world!

NATHANIEL

Exactly.

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

Go to the hilltop alone--and cry out to your heart's content.--There's
nothing like a hilltop to make a man feel worth while!

JONATHAN

I knew that, sir; but I forgot it. I'm going--

NATHANIEL

Good-bye, boy; God bless you.

[_The two clasp hands and Nathaniel goes._

JONATHAN

He believes in me....

[_He watches Nathaniel with wide eyes, then calls to Hank._

Hank! Hank!

HANK

What you want?

JONATHAN

_He_ didn't know me!

HANK

Who didn't know you?

[_Hank lies down._

JONATHAN

Uncle Nathaniel.... He just passed by.... But, Hank, he believed in me! He
believed I'd make good.

HANK

Say, what's the matter with you today?

JONATHAN

I'm goin' to leave you, Hank.

HANK

Huh?

JONATHAN

Old pal, I'm going to leave you forever. You've stuck by me--

HANK

Sure, I've stuck by you.

[_Makes himself comfortable._

Ain't you saved me a heap o' trouble?

JONATHAN

But I'm going now, Hank. Good-bye. I'm going to the green hill far away.

[_He starts away leaving Hank alone and asleep. The lights fade out._

_Soft music is heard through the darkness and slowly the outline of the
green hill appears close at hand. Jonathan outlined against the sky appears
at the edge of the hill, climbing with difficulty._

NATHANIEL (_The voice is heard with the music_)

Nine ninety-nine--one thousand. You're nearly there, Boy.

JONATHAN

Nine hundred and ninety-nine--one thousand--I'm almost there.

NATHANIEL (_far away_)

A thousand and one--a thousand and two--

JONATHAN

A thousand and one, a thousand and two--I am here!

NATHANIEL (_far away_)

The world is here.

JONATHAN (_as though addressing the world_)

Listen.... I ran away. I ran away. I was fourteen. I saw visions of great
things. I heard voices of the past and the future. I wanted to tell what I
saw and heard.... Oh, you who made sport of my dreams, I am here at the top
of the world! Uncle John, I have heard things you will never hear, and I
have seen things you will never see.

JOHN (_far away_)

But your back's broken.

JONATHAN

Oh, Susan--Susan Sample--see--see. I told you I wasn't a beggar.
See--see--Jonathan stands at the top of the world!

SUSAN (_faintly_)

But your back's broken.

JONATHAN

Oh, people of all the world, I am a boy who asks you to hear me and to
understand. I only wanted to work out _my_ way.... I planned my way because
I couldn't help it--I wanted to build my own world--alone.... I climbed
clear to the top--Jonathan stands before you--

VOICES

Jonathan's dead.

JONATHAN

Dead?... Oh, see the wreck of everything.... Jonathan _is_ dead!

[_He falls._

NATHANIEL

Boy--boy--Jonathan!--I believe you are you.

JONATHAN

Uncle Nathaniel!

[_He rises slowly._

Oh, people of all the world, my Uncle Nathaniel understands.--I speak for
all the boys of all times. Have patience--patience and understanding. Don't
you remember when you were young? We come to you with hopes and dreams and
wishes and fears,--and these are the things that life is made of--

NATHANIEL

I am here, Jonathan.

JONATHAN

I'm coming to you. I'm coming back to you with all my hopes and dreams.

NATHANIEL

We're waiting for you, Jonathan.

JONATHAN

I've made my wish that's coming true!!

[_He jumps into space._


_Curtain._



ACT III

JONATHAN MAKES A WISH


[_The scene is a summer house on the estate of John Clay. It is charmingly
furnished with wicker chairs and a table. The building is hexagon shape and
we look into half the hexagon. The doors at the left open on to the path
that leads from the house. The doors at the back open onto a garden path
that leads to a gate. Eight weeks have elapsed since the first act._

_The curtain rises disclosing an empty stage. It is early evening and
sunset is leaving only the faintest tinge above the hills. After a moment
Jonathan enters. He is unchanged except that he still carries in his eyes
some of the horror of his delirium. He opens the back windows and then sits
above the table and begins to look at an illustrated paper._

_Nathaniel enters carrying a manuscript. He seems a bit less carefree than
at his homecoming, and he also seems closer to Jonathan._

NATHANIEL

Well, my boy--

JONATHAN

Uncle Nathaniel, did you know that Caproni was an artist?

NATHANIEL

You mean the Caproni who makes the wonderful aeroplanes?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

No, I didn't know it; but I'm not surprised.

JONATHAN

Aren't these pictures fine?

NATHANIEL

Excellent.

JONATHAN

He made them.... They're like great dragon-flies, aren't they?

NATHANIEL

A whole swarm of them.

JONATHAN

It must feel funny to fly through air.

NATHANIEL

Would you like to try it some time?

JONATHAN

Yes... but I'd have to get used to it.... It must be like diving.

NATHANIEL

When you were very ill you seemed to imagine you were falling.

JONATHAN

Did I talk much when I was unconscious?

NATHANIEL

You talked almost continuously.

JONATHAN

Did I?... You said you'd tell me what I said--when I was strong enough....
I'm pretty strong now.

NATHANIEL

Do you know what I did?

JONATHAN

I don't know.

NATHANIEL (_showing manuscript_)

Can you guess?

JONATHAN (_Looks at manuscript_)

"Jonathan Builds a Fear." What does that mean?

NATHANIEL

When you were delirious I listened to what you said and then I made a story
out of it.

JONATHAN

You mean this is all about me?

NATHANIEL

It's about a little hunchback who thought he was you.

JONATHAN

I know. I was always trying to make somebody know me, and finally I thought
I jumped from the top of a hill and I seemed to be falling for years and
years....

NATHANIEL

Those were terrible days, my boy, and do you know, we were afraid you
wouldn't live.

JONATHAN

It was a terrible feeling.

NATHANIEL

I know, but all that's over now; and there's the whole story about the
little hunchback you never were.

JONATHAN

[_Hank's whistle is heard. Jonathan rises very quickly and looks at
Nathaniel._

NATHANIEL

He comes every now and then to ask about you and to get something to eat.

[_Hank whistles again._

HANK'S VOICE (_at back_)

Hi!

NATHANIEL

Come in, Hank.--

HANK

Is the old man here?

NATHANIEL

No.

HANK (_Enters through the gateway whistling_)

Hello, boy.

JONATHAN

I'm well now. How are you?

HANK

I'm beginning to get cold, so I think I'll go south tomorrow and I thought
I'd drop in to say good-bye.

NATHANIEL

I'll give you an overcoat, Hank.

HANK

No, thanks. It's too hot to carry it. I'll get one when I really need it,
maybe.

NATHANIEL

Well, here's something for you.

[_He offers him a five dollar bill._

Five dollars! No, thanks. If I had that much money I'd lose it maybe. Give
me two bits and call it square.

[_Nathaniel hands him a quarter._

Thanks.... Well... good-bye.... I'm glad your back wasn't broke.

JONATHAN

Good-bye, Hank.

HANK

Good-bye, Mister.... I'll see you next year maybe, when it's warm.--Say,
kid, I'd like to see that _Zenobia_ show again:--"Hail, noble duke," "All's
well, Irene." "Not very well, noble duke."

[_He goes out, chuckling to himself._

_Aunt Letitia enters. As usual she has something to keep her hands busy.
She seats herself comfortably in a chair that custom has evidently made her
very own. In her work she shows the effect of time upon her eyes and she
may feel a tiny draught that causes her to close the doors behind her and
draw her scarf a bit more closely about her. Never has Aunt Letitia seemed
more successfully the poor relation._

LETITIA

I thought you were out with John.

NATHANIEL

No.

[_Jonathan is looking at the manuscript._

LETITIA (_to Jonathan_)

How do you feel, dear?

JONATHAN

Fine;... I think I'll go in the house and read this.

(_To Nathaniel_)

I'm glad it isn't true.

[_He goes out._

NATHANIEL

It's the story of his delirium. I thought it would interest him--and
relieve him.

LETITIA

Has John gone?

NATHANIEL

Only for a stroll--the doctor's orders.

LETITIA

Well?

NATHANIEL

Well?

LETITIA

Sit down.

NATHANIEL

In John's chair?

LETITIA

If you wish.

NATHANIEL

John's chair! The throne of the head of the family! (_He sits in John's
chair_) Well?

LETITIA

Nathaniel dear, you are making John very unhappy.

NATHANIEL

And John has made me very unhappy, dearest Aunt Letty.

LETITIA

The feeling at the dinner table was almost unbearable tonight. There we sat
strained and silent.

NATHANIEL

I am sorry. I try to avoid meals with John as much as possible.

LETITIA

You've been here eight weeks and John and I know nothing of you. For me it
is enough that you are here; but John is the head of the family and he
feels that you ought to treat him with greater deference.

NATHANIEL

It is revolting to me to have a tsar in the family.

LETITIA

Your father and your father's father and grandfather were rulers of the
Clay family.

NATHANIEL

I don't question that.

LETITIA

You can't change John.

NATHANIEL

I don't want to change John.

LETITIA

Then why not tell him something about yourself?

NATHANIEL

It is none of John's affairs how or why I live. It is none of his affair
how or why or when I shall marry Mlle. Perrault.

LETITIA

Perhaps not.

NATHANIEL

When I tell him anything, Aunt Letty, it will be one thing--I have stayed
here because I love Jonathan, because he needs me. And I have listened to
the boy's fears and to his hopes as they came out of his poor tortured
little soul in his delirium. I have watched him during his convalescence,
and I see in him a growing man in prison. John sees in him only the
potential head of the family; but he is my flesh and blood as much as he is
John's and I intend to set him free.

LETITIA

My beloved Nathaniel, John will not give Jonathan up to you.

NATHANIEL

I don't want Jonathan unless he wants to come to me, but I do want
Jonathan's freedom.

LETITIA

Isn't he a bit young to have _freedom_.

NATHANIEL

Aunt Letitia, I don't mean a silly license.--I mean freedom. If you are
cultivating a peach-tree you don't expect oranges on it even if it could
wish to be an orange tree, but you can help to make it bear better peaches.
Jonathan isn't a mechanical business person. His bent is in another
direction.

LETITIA

What are you going to do?

NATHANIEL

Frankly, I do not know.

[_Up to window._

All I know now is that I shall stay here until I find a plan.

[_Jonathan enters._

JONATHAN

Where is Uncle John?

NATHANIEL

He has gone for a stroll.

LETITIA

What do you want, my dear?

JONATHAN

Uncle John sent word that he wanted to see me here at 7:30.

[_Letitia and Nathaniel look at each other._

_Jonathan takes out a large silver watch._

It's 7:29 now.

NATHANIEL

John will be on time--count sixty slowly--

[_John enters. He is rather pale, seems pre-occupied and even more
unapproachable than ever._

LETITIA

Did you have a pleasant stroll?

JOHN

I wasn't walking.

LETITIA

I shall go into the house, I think.

JOHN

No, Aunt Letitia, I would rather you'd wait, if you please.

[_Nathaniel is an interested spectator. He cannot understand why Jonathan
should be present for what will probably be an eventful family scene._

Nathaniel, will you sit down?

NATHANIEL

Certainly.--Where?

JOHN (_tartly_)

Would you like my chair?

NATHANIEL

Thank you.

[_He sits in John's chair, much to John's annoyance._

JOHN

Jonathan, sit down.

[_Jonathan sits. John also sits. Aunt Letitia knows what to expect.
Nathaniel is more curious than angry. Jonathan is attending his first
family conference._

Jonathan, I've sent for you because I want to talk to you seriously.

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

Do you think the boy is strong enough?

JOHN

The doctor told me today that he would be quite equal to it.... Eight weeks
ago, Jonathan, you made an effort to run away from your home, because I
punished you. In your foolish defiance of all family authority you suffered
a fall that might have resulted in a lasting and serious injury.
Fortunately you have recovered fully from the result of your fall.

NATHANIEL

Excuse me, John, but all of us know this.

JOHN

One moment, please, Nathaniel.... I have now arranged that you begin your
preparation for your life work immediately. You will leave for Somerset
School the day after tomorrow.

JONATHAN (_desperately_)

Uncle John, I don't want to go to Somerset School.

JOHN

You will leave for Somerset day after tomorrow. Good night, Jonathan.

NATHANIEL

Why Somerset?

JOHN

Good night, Jonathan.

[_Jonathan, dazed, goes out._

NATHANIEL

Jonathan will never go to Somerset School.

JOHN

Nathaniel, you forfeited your rights in the family councils when you ran
away from home seventeen years ago.

NATHANIEL

This boy will run away again and again and I mean to save him from what I
have suffered, if I can.

JOHN

Nathaniel, by what right do you attempt to interfere with my decisions?

NATHANIEL

By the right of blood and understanding.

JOHN

Blood and understanding? Where were you when Emily had to leave her husband
and brought her boy into my home? Where were you when Emily died? I took
Emily in and I took her boy in. As head of the family it was my duty to do
so and as head of the family it is my duty to see that the boy is brought
up in the best traditions of the family.

NATHANIEL

John, you can't force this boy into a mold.

JOHN

A boy of fourteen doesn't know his mind.... Do _you_ know what Jonathan
wants to be?

NATHANIEL

Yes, a writer of plays, a theatre director, and an actor.

JOHN

Imagine!... And I suppose you encouraged him.

NATHANIEL

No, but I didn't discourage him. The selection was wide enough for him to
find some lasting life work.

JOHN

He never told me he wanted to be an actor.

NATHANIEL

Oh, my brother, every growing boy has a deep secret wish that he cannot
bring himself to disclose! As you know, I always wanted to be a writer, but
most of all I wanted to be a left-handed base ball pitcher. And although
I'm irretrievably right handed I used to practice--religiously--pitching
with my left hand.

JOHN

That was juvenile foolishness.

NATHANIEL

Yes, but it was genuine.

[_John starts to speak._

What am I now? I am going to tell you, John--by and by. First, we must
dispose of the boy.

JOHN

I shall decide about the boy.

NATHANIEL

No, John; the boy must decide for himself.

JOHN

He'd decide to be an actor.

NATHANIEL

If he did, what of it?

JOHN

I want members of my family to do useful work.

NATHANIEL

What _is_ useful work? An actor serves his purpose just as a plumber or
lawyer serves his.... The only difference is that all of us are not
plumbers or lawyers while all of us _are_ actors. Yes, John, we're all
playing something--you are playing at head of the family, I'm--

JOHN

Still I do not regard acting as a worth-while or lucrative profession.

NATHANIEL

You never know, John.... Five generations ago the Clays were respectable
carpenters. They weren't wealthy and they gave no promise of becoming
wealthy. Then suddenly our revered ancestor became a successful maker of
cypress drain pipes--sewer pipes, I think we used to call them! The family
fortunes were founded!! Our ancestor bought a high hat and the esteem of
his neighbors. Cypress was in time replaced by pottery. Conduits for wires
and terra cotta building materials were added to our achievements and then
in your régime superfine sewers became a specialty.

JOHN

Every kind of concrete work!

NATHANIEL

I beg your pardon! Concrete sewers and other concrete things.--Such is the
foundation of the family.

JOHN

You are evidently ashamed of our business.

NATHANIEL

Not at all, but I cannot consider the manufacturing of sewers a greater
achievement than acting.

JOHN

Nathaniel, are you an actor?

NATHANIEL

No.

JOHN

What are you?

NATHANIEL

For the present I am Jonathan's uncle.

JOHN

You have nothing to do with Jonathan.

NATHANIEL

The boy is not going to Somerset School.

JOHN

Nathaniel, I shall not tolerate your interference. Now I must ask you to
leave this house.

NATHANIEL

What?

LETITIA

John... Nathaniel... my boys, it isn't my way to interfere; but please for
my sake, for your mother's sake--think what you're doing.

JOHN (_With some tenderness he lays his hand on Letitia's_)

I have thought, Aunt Letitia. I can not allow this boy's life to be ruined
as Emily's and Henry's and Nathaniel's were.

NATHANIEL

Ruined? John, I'll tell you how ruined my life has been and I'll tell you
in terms you'll understand. My income last year was over $350,000!

JOHN

Are you acting now?

NATHANIEL

Yes, I'm acting--I'm acting in terms that you will understand.... You know
that I'm your brother Nathaniel. Do you know who else I am? I am a writer
and a playwright and a director in the United Baking Company and a
stockholder in the National Munitions Company--munitions, John; think of
it, millions, millions in them--and I'm willing and eager to take Emily's
boy and educate him in the way he wants to live his life.

JOHN

What are these heroics?

NATHANIEL

I mean what I say. If need be I shall use brute force, financial force or
any kind of force to free Jonathan from the misery that I endured in this
house.

JOHN

You had everything you wanted.

NATHANIEL

Everything except freedom to think my own thoughts. John, some people are
like reinforced concrete. Someone builds the iron frame and the wooden
molds, then pours the cement and when it has hardened, the molds are
removed and lo, you have a monolith--a solid unchangeable stone.

JOHN

You talk very well, Nathaniel, but I shall insist upon bringing up my
sister's child in my way.

NATHANIEL

Would you have him run away as I did?

JOHN

He will never run away again. He has had his lesson.

[_Jonathan enters carrying a suit case._

JONATHAN

May I speak to you, Uncle John?

JOHN

What are you doing with that suit case?

JONATHAN

I'm going away.

JOHN

Who gave you permission?

JONATHAN

Nobody.... I've been thinking since a little while ago and at first I
thought I'd run away again; but that wouldn't be quite fair--so I came to
tell you.

JOHN

Take that suit case back into the house.

JONATHAN

No, sir! I'm going and nobody can keep me here unless they tie me.

JOHN

Well, I'll tell you one thing--if you leave this house without my
permission I'll cut you off without a penny and you'll never be allowed to
come back again.

JONATHAN

Yes, sir. I know that; but I'm going and I came to tell you good-bye.

JOHN

Very well. You've made your choice--and I never want to see you again as
long as you live. Good-bye, Jonathan. Good-bye, Nathaniel.

LETITIA

John, don't say things you'll regret. Jonathan doesn't mean what he's
saying.

JONATHAN

Yes'm, I do mean what I say.

JOHN

Good night.

[_He goes out._

LETITIA

Boys, you are so hot-headed--so much alike....

NATHANIEL

You dear, you have always been content to compromise while we two must go
our own ways or not at all. You go to John. Help him as you can. He's not a
bad man--he's just a structure of reinforced concrete. You love John and he
in his way loves you. Go to John and comfort his outraged authority.

LETITIA

I'm sorry things have turned out this way. (_She kisses them_) Good night,
my dears. Wait until morning if you can, my darling Nathaniel.

[_She goes out._

NATHANIEL

Now you've done it!

JONATHAN

I couldn't help it.

NATHANIEL

What are you going to do?

JONATHAN

I don't know.... They say there's plenty of work on farms.

NATHANIEL

You can't write if you work on a farm.

JONATHAN

I can earn some more money and save. Other boys have worked their way
through school and college. I can do that.

NATHANIEL

Of course--that is a way out of it. Yes... of course....

[_Nathaniel opens the back doors and sees the thinnest crescent moon
hanging in the sky._

The new moon.... They say if you make a wish on the new moon it will come
true.

JONATHAN

You have to see it over your right shoulder.

NATHANIEL

You saw it over your right shoulder.

JONATHAN

I don't believe that, do you?

NATHANIEL

Well, suppose it were true, what would you wish?

JONATHAN

You mean for right away?

NATHANIEL

Yes.

JONATHAN [_carefully looking over his right shoulder._

I'd wish to be with you.

NATHANIEL

More than anything?

JONATHAN

Yes, sir.

NATHANIEL

More than being a writer or a theatre director or an actor?

JONATHAN

Oh, yes, I'm too young to start right away. I have to have an education
first.

NATHANIEL

Suppose that wish couldn't be, then what would you wish?

JONATHAN

That you'd write me long letters and let me write you long letters.

[_Takes up his suit case._

I'd better be going now.

NATHANIEL

Aren't you going to tell John and Aunt Letitia good-bye?

JONATHAN

No, sir. I don't think I'd better. Uncle John doesn't care and Aunt Letitia
will understand.

NATHANIEL

Yes, she always understands somehow.

JONATHAN

Good-bye, sir.

NATHANIEL

Jonathan, suppose we go away together. I'm not wanted and you're not
wanted.

JONATHAN

You're going to Paris to marry Mlle. Perrault!

NATHANIEL

Would you let me be your father, Jonathan?

JONATHAN

Sir?

NATHANIEL

You shall go to the schools where you will find the work you want.... Will
you be my son?

JONATHAN

Do you like me that much?

NATHANIEL

I like you more than that much. You'll get some long trousers and we'll
plan and plan. Suppose we run away together.

JONATHAN

Do you think we ought to leave some word, Uncle Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL

Of course. How stupid of me.

JONATHAN

You write it.

NATHANIEL

No, we'll both write it.

JONATHAN

I don't know what to say. I've only run away once.

NATHANIEL

So have I.

JONATHAN

Did you ever run away?

NATHANIEL

Yes--when I was eighteen.

JONATHAN

Oh!

NATHANIEL (_taking up paper_)

The message ought to be short.

JONATHAN

Why did you run away?

NATHANIEL

I wanted to write.

JONATHAN

You did!

NATHANIEL

Didn't you know I ran away?

JONATHAN

No, sir; they never would tell me what became of you.

NATHANIEL

They didn't know.

JONATHAN

How could you keep it from them?

NATHANIEL

I changed my name--Mr. Alexander Jefferson, Sr! What shall I say?

JONATHAN

I can't think.... Did Uncle John lock you in?

NATHANIEL

No, I just ran away.

JONATHAN

How long did it take you to make up your mind to go?

NATHANIEL

I thought about it first when I was twelve. My father was still living
then.

JONATHAN

Did you go to Somerset School?

NATHANIEL

Yes--for three years.

JONATHAN

What did you do after you ran away?

NATHANIEL

I had a very hard time, my boy--at first. I worked at anything I could get,
then I got into a newspaper office, then I wrote "autobiographies" of
famous men.

JONATHAN

I thought you had to write your own autobiography--

NATHANIEL

Not nowadays. Then I wrote some successful short stories, then some very
successful long ones--and now I am independent; but it took me ten bitter
years to make my first success.... What shall I write here?

JONATHAN

I never could think of things to say when I was going away.

NATHANIEL

Neither could I.

JONATHAN

Don't you think "good-bye" would be enough?

NATHANIEL (_writing_)

Capital.... "Good-Bye--Nathaniel." Now you sign it.

JONATHAN (_Signs_)

"Jonathan."... Maybe we ought to put a line under it so Aunt Letitia won't
feel so bad.

NATHANIEL (_makes a line_)

Dear Aunt Letitia will understand. She is the blessed kind who always does.
Now, where shall we put it?... On John's chair, and maybe he'll understand
too.

[_He pins the note to John's chair._

JONATHAN

Don't you want to pack your things?

NATHANIEL

I'll wire for them.

[_Susan enters._

On second thought, I'll ask Aunt Letitia to send them.

[_He goes out._

JONATHAN

Hello, Susan.

SUSAN

Jonathan, I just saw Miss Letitia and she was crying.... What's the matter?

JONATHAN

I'm going away, Susan.

SUSAN

Where are you going?

JONATHAN

I'm going with Uncle Nathaniel. I'm going to be his son. And I'm going to a
fine prep. school and learn to write and do what I like.

SUSAN

When are you coming back?

JONATHAN

I don't know. When I'm older maybe.

SUSAN

Can't we write any more songs?

JONATHAN

I'll send some words to you in letters.

SUSAN

Will you write every week?

JONATHAN

Yes.... Will you?

SUSAN

Yes. I wish I was going, too.

JONATHAN

So do I.

SUSAN

Maybe I'll come to see you graduate.

JONATHAN

That will be fine!

SUSAN (_She kisses him very simply_)

Good-bye, Jonathan.

JONATHAN

Good-bye, Susan.

SUSAN

I can hardly wait until you graduate.

JONATHAN

Neither can I.... Good-bye.

[_Nathaniel enters._

NATHANIEL

On third thought, I decided to wire for my things.

SUSAN

Good-bye, Mr. Nathaniel. I hope you'll have a nice time.

NATHANIEL

Good-bye, Susan.

[_He kisses her. She goes out._

JONATHAN

Good-bye, Susan.

SUSAN (_calling_)

Send me some picture postcards, Jonathan.

JONATHAN

I will.

[_He watches her._

NATHANIEL (_Goes to window_)

Don't you want to make your wish on the new moon, Jonathan?

JONATHAN

I don't know what to wish now. The only one I could think of has come true.

NATHANIEL

Good... come, my boy.

JONATHAN

I'll write a long letter to Susan Sample every week.

NATHANIEL

You can write her a long letter from New York.

JONATHAN

And I can send her picture postcards from every place we go to.

[_Arm in arm they go out talking._


_The Curtain Falls._



APPENDIX

A. M. PALMER--AUTHOR'S MATINEES

    _Madison Square Theater_ 1887

    MARJORIE'S LOVERS           _Brander Matthews_
    ELAINE (from Tennyson)      _G. P. Lathrop_
    A FOREGONE CONCLUSION       _W. D. Howells_


THE THEATER OF ARTS AND LETTERS

    _23rd Street Theater_ 1891

    GILES COREY                          _Mary E. Wilkins_
    SQUIRREL INN (from Frank Stockton)   _Frank Presbrey_
    THE OTHER WOMAN                      _Richard Harding Davis_
    HARVEST                              _Clyde Fitch_

    THE DECISION OF THE COURT       _Brander Matthews_
                                    _Frederick J. Stimson_


THE CRITERION INDEPENDENT THEATER

    _Madison Square Theater_ 1897

    _Berkeley Lyceum_

    JOHN GABRIEL BJORKMAN              _Ibsen_
    {THE RIGHTS OF THE SOUL            _Giacosa_
    {THAT OVERCOAT                     _Augustus Thomas_
    {FROM A CLEAR SKY                  _Henri Dumay_
    EL GRAN GALEOTO                    _Echegaray_


THE INDEPENDENT THEATER

    _Carnegie Lyceum_ 1899

    EL GRAN GALEOTO               _Echegaray_
    TIES                          _Hervieu_
    THE MASTER BUILDER            _Ibsen_
    THE STORM                     _Ostrovsky_
    THE HEATHER FIELD             _Martyn_
    A TROUBADOUR                  _Coppé_


THE NEW THEATER

                                  1909--1911

    _First Season_

    ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA      _Shakespeare_
    THE COTTAGE IN THE AIR    _Knoblauch_
    STRIFE                    _Galsworthy_
    THE NIGGER                _Sheldon_
    THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL    _Sheridan_
    {LIZ THE MOTHER           _Fenn and Bryce_
    {DON                      _Besier_
    TWELFTH NIGHT             _Shakespeare_
    THE WITCH       (adapted from Scandinavian by _Hagadorn Wiers-Jenssen_)
    {BRAND (act IV condensed) _Ibsen_
    {SISTER BEATRICE          _Maeterlinck_
    THE WINTER'S TALE         _Shakespeare_
    BEETHOVEN                 _Fauchois_

_Second Season_

    THE BLUE BIRD                _Maeterlinck_
    THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR   _Shakespeare_
    THE THUNDERBOLT              _Pinero_
    {DON                         _Besier_
    {SISTER BEATRICE             _Maeterlinck_
    MARY MAGDALENE               _Maeterlinck_
    OLD HEIDELBERG               _Meyer-Foerster_
    VANITY FAIR                  _R. Hichens and C. Gordan Lennox_
    THE PIPER                    _Marks_
    NOBODY'S DAUGHTER            _Paston_
    THE ARROW MAKER              _Austin_

    In addition there was a borrowed production of

    A SONG OF THE PEOPLE         _Michaelis_


MISS GRACE GEORGE--THE PLAYHOUSE

    _The Playhouse_ 1915-1917

    _1st Season_

    THE NEW YORK IDEA                  _Mitchell_
    THE LIARS                          _Jones_
    EARTH                              _Fagan_
    MAJOR BARBARA                      _Shaw_
    CAPTAIN BRASSBOUND'S CONVERSION    _Shaw_

_2nd Season_

    EVE'S DAUGHTER                     _Ramsey_
    ELEVATION                          _Bernstein_


WASHINGTON SQUARE PLAYERS[7]

    _Bandbox and Comedy Theaters_ 1915-1917

    INTERIOR                                    _Maeterlinck_
    EUGENICALLY SPEAKING                        _Goodman_
    LICENSED                                    _Lawrence_
    ANOTHER INTERIOR
    LOVE OF ONE'S NEIGHBOR                      _Andreyev_
    MOONDOWN                                    _Reed_
    MY LADY'S HONOR                             _Pemberton_
    TWO BLIND BEGGARS AND ONE LESS BLIND        _Moeller_
    THE SHEPHERD IN THE DISTANCE (pantomime)    _Hudson_
    THE MIRACLE OF ST. ANTONY                   _Maeterlinck_
    IN APRIL                                    _Stokes_
    FORBIDDEN FRUIT                             _Feuillet_
    SAVIOURS                                    _Goodman_
    THE BEAR                                    _Tchekhov_
    HELENA'S HUSBAND                            _Moeller_
    FIRE AND WATER                              _White_
    THE ANTICK                                  _Mackaye_
    A NIGHT OF SNOWS                            _Bracco_
    LITERATURE                                  _Schnitzler_
    THE HONOURABLE LOVER                        _Bracco_
    WHIMS                                       _Musset_
    OVERTONES                                   _Gerstenberg_
    THE CLOD                                    _Beach_
    THE ROAD-HOUSE IN ARDEN                     _Moeller_
    THE TENOR                                   _Wedekind_
    THE RED CLOAK (pantomime)                   _Meyer_
    CHILDREN                                    _Bolton and Carlton_
    THE AGE OF REASON                           _Dorrian_
    THE MAGICAL CITY                            _Akins_
                                                _Monsieur Pierre Patelin_
    AGLAVAINE AND SELYSETTE                     _Maeterlinck_
    THE SEA GULL                                _Tchekhov_
    A MERRY DEATH                               _Evréinev_
    LOVER'S LUCK                                _Porto-Riche_
    THE SUGAR HOUSE                             _Brown_
    SISTERS OF SUSANNA                          _Moeller_
    BUSHIDO                                     _Izumo_
    TRIFLES                                     _Glaspell_
    ANOTHER WAY OUT                             _Langner_
    ALTRUISM                                    _Ettlinger_
    THE DEATH OF TINTAGILES                     _Maeterlinck_
    THE LAST STRAW                              _Crocker_
    THE HERO OF SANTA MARIA                     _Goodman and Hecht_
    IMPUDENCE                                   _Auernheimer_
    PLOTS AND PLAYWRIGHTS                       _Massey_
    THE LIFE OF MAN                             _Andreyev_
    SGANARELLE                                  _Molière_
    THE POOR FOOL                               _Bahr_
    GHOSTS                                      _Ibsen_
    PARIAH                                      _Strindberg_


REPERTORY OF THE STUART WALKER COMPANY

  THE TRIMPLET                                            _Walker_
  A FAN AND TWO CANDLESTICKS                              _Macmillan_
  SIX WHO PASS WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL                     _Walker_
  THE SEVEN GIFTS (a pantomime)                           _Walker_
  THE MOON LADY (a pantomime)                             _Walker_
  NEVERTHELESS                                            _Walker_
  GAMMER GURTON'S NEEDLE (adapted by Mr. Walker)          _Stevenson_
  THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE                     _Walker_
  THE GOLDEN DOOM                                         _Dunsany_
  VOICES                                                  _Flexner_
  THE CRIER BY NIGHT                                      _Bottomley_
  THE GODS OF THE MOUNTAIN                                _Dunsany_
  THE MEDICINE SHOW                                       _Walker_
  THE VERY NAKED BOY                                      _Walker_
  THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA (from Oscar Wilde's Story)  _Walker_
  KING ARGIMENES AND THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR                  _Dunsany_
  IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE                                    _Megrue_
  THE DUMMY                                               _O'Higgins and Ford_
  THE CONCERT                                             _Bahr_
  KICK IN                                                 _Mack_
  SEVENTEEN                                               _Walker_
  SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE                                  _Cohan_
  THE COUNTRY BOY                                         _Selwyn_
  YOU NEVER CAN TELL                                      _Shaw_
  OFFICER 666                                             _McHugh_
  BROADWAY JONES                                          _Cohan_
  THE WOMAN                                               _DeMille_
  THE SHOW SHOP                                           _Forbes_
  A NIGHT IN AVIGNON                                      _Rice_
  THE SON OF ISIS                                         _Kelly_
  STINGY                                                  _Parry_
  THE BOOK OF JOB
  ROMANCE                                                 _Sheldon_
  STOP THIEF                                              _Moore_
  THE HERO                                                _Brown_
  THE MISLEADING LADY                                     _Goddard and Dickey_
  ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE (from O. Henry's story)           _Armstrong_
  PASSERS BY                                              _Chambers_
  SEVEN UP                                                _Coleman_
  THE THREE OF US                                         _Crothers_
  THE FORTUNE HUNTER                                      _Smith_
  ALICE SIT BY THE FIRE                                   _Barrie_
  THE WORKHOUSE WARD                                      _Gregory_
  THE WOLF                                                _Walter_
  THE TRUTH                                               _Fitch_
  JONATHAN MAKES A WISH                                   _Walker_
  THE LAUGHTER OF THE GODS                                _Dunsany_
  THE TENTS OF THE ARABS                                  _Dunsany_
  THE CINDERELLA MAN                                      _Carpenter_
  GOOD GRACIOUS ANNABELLE                                 _Kummer_
  LEAH KLESCHNA                                           _MacClellan_
  OVER NIGHT                                              _Bartholomae_
  THE PASSING OF THE THIRD FLOOR BACK                     _Jerome_
  MILESTONES                                              _Bennett and Knoblock_
  KISMET                                                  _Knoblock_
  DON                                                     _Besier_
  THE GIBSON UPRIGHT                                      _Tarkington and Ailson_
  THE MURDERERS                                           _Dunsany_
  TOO MANY COOKS                                          _Craven_

       *       *       *       *       *

CASTS

THE LADY OF THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE

CAST FOR OPENING


    O-SODE                        _Harrie Fumade_
    O-KATSU                       _Annie Lowry_
    OBAA-SAN                      _Florence Wollersen_
    THE GAKI OF KOKORU            _McKay Morris_
    AOYAGI                        _Nancy Winston_
    RIKI                          _Wilmot Heitland_


THE VERY NAKED BOY

CAST FOR OPENING

    HE       _Willard Webster_
    SHE      _Dorothea Carothers_
    BOY      _Gregory Kelly_


JONATHAN MAKES A WISH

NEW YORK CAST

    AUNT LETITIA         _Elizabeth Patterson_
    SUSAN SAMPLE         _Beatrice Maude_
    UNCLE NATHANIEL      _George Gaul_
    UNCLE JOHN           _Ainsworth Arnold_
    JONATHAN             _Gregory Kelly_
    MLLE. PERRAULT       _Margaret Mower_
    HANK                 _Edgar Stehli_
    ALBERT PEET          _Joseph Graham_
    MARY                 _Elizabeth Black_
    JOHN III             _John Talbott_

First produced at the _Murat Theatre_, Indianapolis, August 12, 1918.

At the _Princess Theatre_, New York première, September 11, 1918, Elizabeth
Patterson played Aunt Letitia, which was played in Indianapolis by Judith
Lowry.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] Taken from Prof. Dickenson's book, "The Insurgent Theater," in which a
number of interesting and more recent repertories of "independent" theaters
are given.



A SELECTED LIST

OF

DRAMATIC LITERATURE

[Illustration]

PUBLISHED BY
STEWART & KIDD COMPANY
CINCINNATI

       *       *       *       *       *

DRAMATIC LITERATURE


_European Theories of the Drama_

     _An Anthology of Dramatic Theory and Criticism from
     Aristotle to the Present Day, in a Series of Selected
     Texts, with Commentaries, Biographies and
     Bibliographies_

     By BARRETT H. CLARK

     _Author of_ "Contemporary French Dramatists," "The
     Continental Drama of Today," "British and American
     Drama of Today," etc., etc.

A book of paramount importance. This monumental anthology brings together
for the first time the epoch-making theories and criticisms of the drama
which have affected our civilization from the beginnings in Greece down to
the present day. Beginning with Aristotle, each utterance on the subject
has been chosen with reference to its importance, and its effect on
subsequent dramatic writing. The texts alone would be of great interest and
value, but the author, Barrett H. Clark, has so connected each period by
means of inter-chapters that his comments taken as a whole constitute a
veritable history of dramatic criticism, in which each text bears out his
statements.

Nowhere else is so important a body of doctrine on the subject of the drama
to be obtained. It cannot fail to appeal to any one who is interested in
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The introduction to each section of the book is followed by an exhaustive
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a brief biography, and the entire volume is rendered doubly valuable by the
index, which is worked out in great detail.

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task he set for himself. He has done well what was well worth doing. In
these five hundred pages he has extracted the essence of several five-foot
shelves. His anthology will be invaluable to all students of the principles
of playmaking; and it ought to be welcomed by all those whose curiosity has
been aroused by the frequent references of our latter day theorists of the
theater to their predecessors."

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Theories of the Drama,' is an exceedingly valuable work and ought to be
widely useful."

_Large 8vo, 500 pages Net, $3.50_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Plays and Players_

LEAVES FROM A CRITIC'S SCRAPBOOK

BY WALTER PRICHARD EATON PREFACE BY BARRETT H. CLARK

A new volume of criticisms of plays and papers on acting, playmaking, and
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stage, one to various revivals of Shakespeare. These sections form a record
of the important activities of the American theater for the past six years,
and constitute about half of the volume. The remainder of the book is given
over to various discussions of the actor's art, of play construction, of
the new stage craft, of new movements in our theater, such as the
Washington Square Players, and several lighter essays in the satiric vein
which characterized the author's work when he was the dramatic critic of
the _New York Sun_. Unlike most volumes of criticisms, this one is
illustrated, the pictures of the productions described in the text
furnishing an additional historical record. At a time when the drama is
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     Mr. Eaton writes well and with dignity and
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     since 1910, down to the present. Mr. Eaton succinctly
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_Large 12mo. About 420 pages, 10 full-page illustrations on Cameo Paper and
End Papers Net $2.00_

_Gilt top. 3/4 Maroon Turkey Morocco Net 6.50_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Four Plays of the Free Theater_

Francois de Curel's _The Fossils_

Jean Jullien's _The Serenade_

Georges de Porto-Riche's _Francoise' Luck_

Georges Ancey's _The Dupe_

_Translated with an introduction on Antoine and Theatre Libre by BARRETT H.
CLARK. Preface by BRIEUX, of the French Academy, and a Sonnet by EDMOND
ROSTAND._

_The Review of Reviews says_:

     "A lengthy introduction, which is a gem of condensed
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_Handsomely Bound. 12mo. Cloth Net, $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

DRAMATIC LITERATURE

_Contemporary French Dramatists_

By BARRETT H. CLARK

_In "Contemporary French Dramatists" Mr. Barrett H. Clark, author of "The
Continental Drama of Today," "The British and American Drama of Today,"
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Donnay, Hervieu, Lemaître, Sardou, Lavedan, etc., has contributed the first
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be found anywhere._

_This book gives a study of contemporary drama in France which has been
more neglected than any other European country._

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     "Almost indispensable to the student of the theater."

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     Playwrights selected is simple and helpful. * * * As a
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     will serve well its purpose."

_Uniform with FOUR PLAYS. Handsomely bound._

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    _3/4 Maroon Turkey Morocco_ _Net, $5.00_


_The Antigone of Sophocles_

By PROF. JOSEPH EDWARD HARRY

_An acting version of this most perfect of all dramas. A scholarly work in
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    _8vo. cloth. Dignified binding Net, $1.00_

       *       *       *       *       *

"_European Dramatists_"

By ARCHIBALD HENDERSON

_Author of_ "George Bernard Shaw: His Life and Works."

_In the present work the famous dramatic critic and biographer of Shaw has
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_At Last You May Understand G. B. S._

Perhaps once in a generation a figure of commanding greatness appears, one
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_George Bernard Shaw_

HIS LIFE AND WORKS

A CRITICAL BIOGRAPHY (Authorized)

By

ARCHIBALD HENDERSON, M.A. Ph.D.

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_Large 12mo. Dignified binding Net, $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Short Plays_

By MARY MACMILLAN

_To fill a long-felt want. All have been successfully presented. Suitable
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_Review of Reviews_:

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       *       *       *       *       *

_More Short Plays_

BY MARY MacMILLAN

Plays that act well may read well. Miss MacMillan's plays are good reading.
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_Uniform with "Short Plays" Net, $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Gift_

A POETIC DRAMA

By MARGARET DOUGLAS ROGERS

_A dramatic poem in two acts, treating in altogether new fashion the world
old story of Pandora, the first woman._

_New Haven Times Leader_:

     "Well written and attractive."

_Evangelical Messenger_:

     "A very beautifully written portrayal of the old story
     of Pandora."

_Rochester Post Dispatch_:

     "There is much poetic feeling in the treatment of the
     subject."

_Grand Rapids Herald_:

     "THE GIFT, dealing with this ever interesting
     mythological story, is a valuable addition to the
     dramas of the day."

_St. Xavier Calendar_:

     "The story of Pandora is so set down as to bring out
     its stage possibilities. Told by Mrs. Rogers in
     exquisite language."

_Salt Lake Tribune_:

     "The tale is charmingly wrought and has possibilities
     as a simple dramatic production, as well as being a
     delightful morsel of light reading."

_Cincinnati Enquirer_:

     "The love story is delightfully told and the dramatic
     action of the play is swift and strong."

_Buffalo Express_:

     "It is a delightful bit of fancy with a dramatic and
     poetic setting."

_Boston Woman's Journal_:

     "Epimetheus and Pandora and her box are charmingly
     presented."

_Worcester Gazette_:

     "It is absolutely refreshing to find a writer willing
     to risk a venture harking back to the times of the
     Muses and the other worthies of mythological fame. * *
     * The story of Pandora's box told in verse by a woman.
     It may be said it could not have been better written
     had a representative of the one who only assisted at
     the opening been responsible for the play."

_Handsomely bound silk cloth Net, $1.00_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Comedies of Words and Other Plays_

BY ARTHUR SCHNITZLER

TRANSLATED BY PIERRE LOVING

                      {"_The Hour of Recognition_"
                      {"_Great Scenes_"
    The contents are {"_The Festival of Bacchus_"
                      {"_His Helpmate_"
                      {"_Literature._"

In his "Comedies of Words," Arthur Schnitzler, the great Austrian
Dramatist, has penetrated to newer and profounder regions of human
psychology. According to Schnitzler, the keenly compelling problems of
earth are: the adjustment of a man to one woman, a woman to one man, the
children to their parents, the artist to life, the individual to his most
cherished beliefs, and how can we accomplish this adjustment when, try as
we please, there is a destiny which sweeps our little plans away like
helpless chessmen from the board? Since the creation of Anatol, that
delightful toy philosopher, so popular in almost every theater of the
world, the great Physician-Dramatist has pushed on both as World-Dramatist
and reconnoiterer beyond the misty frontiers of man's conscious existence.
He has attempted in an artistic way to get beneath what Freud calls the
"Psychic Censor" which edits all our suppressed desires. Reading Schnitzler
is like going to school to Life itself!

_Bound uniform with the S & K Dramatic Series, Net $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Lucky Pehr_

By AUGUST STRINDBERG

_Authorized Translation by Velma Swanston Howard. An allegorical drama in
five acts. Compared favorably to Barrie's "Peter Pan" and Maeterlinck's
"The Blue Bird."_

_Rochester Post Express_:

     Strindberg has written many plays which might be
     described as realistic nightmares. But this remark does
     not apply to "Lucky Pehr." * * * This drama is one of
     the most favorable specimens of Strindberg's genius.

_New York World_:

     "Pehr" is lucky because, having tested all things, he
     finds that only love and duty are true.

_New York Times_:

     "Lucky Pehr" clothes cynicism in real entertainment
     instead of in gloom. And it has its surprises. Can this
     be August Strindberg, who ends his drama so sweetly on
     the note of the woman-soul, leading upward and on?

_Worcester Gazette_:

From a city of Ohio comes this product of Swedish fancy in most attractive
attire, attesting that the possibilities of dramatic art have not entirely
ceased in this age of vaudeville and moving pictures. A great sermon in
altruism is preached in these pages, which we would that millions might see
and hear. To those who think or would like to think, "Lucky Pehr" will
prove a most readable book. * * * An allegory, it is true, but so are
Æsop's Fables, the Parables of the Scriptures and many others of the most
effective lessons ever given.

_Boston Globe_:

     A popular drama. * * * There is no doubt about the book
     being a delightful companion in the library. In charm
     of fancy and grace of imagery the story may not be
     unfairly classed with "The Blue Bird" and "Peter Pan."

_Photogravure frontispiece of Strindberg etched by Zorn. Also, a
reproduction of Velma Swanston Howard's authorization._

_Handsomely bound. Gilt top Net, $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Easter_

(A PLAY IN THREE ACTS)

AND STORIES BY AUGUST STRINDBERG

_Authorized translation by Velma Swanston Howard. In this work the author
reveals a broad tolerance, a rare poetic tenderness augmented by an almost
divine understanding of human frailties as marking certain natural stages
in evolution of the soul._

_Louisville Courier-Journal_:

     Here is a major key of cheerfulness and idealism--a
     relief to a reader who has passed through some of the
     author's morbid pages. * * * Some critics find in this
     play (Easter) less of the thrust of a distinctive art
     than is found in the author's more lugubrious dramas.
     There is indeed less sting in it. Nevertheless it has a
     nobler tone. It more ably fulfills the purpose of good
     drama--the chastening of the spectators' hearts through
     their participation in the suffering of the dramatic
     personages. There is in the play a mystical exaltation,
     a belief and trust in good and its power to embrace all
     in its beneficence, to bring all confusion to harmony.

_The Nation_:

     Those who like the variety of symbolism which
     Maeterlinck has often employed--most notably in the
     "Bluebird"--will turn with pleasure to the short
     stories of Strindberg which Mrs. Howard has included in
     her volume. * * * They are one and all diverting on
     account of the author's facility in dealing with
     fanciful details.

_Bookseller_:

     "Easter" is a play of six characters illustrative of
     human frailties and the effect of the divine power of
     tolerance and charity. * * * There is a symbolism, a
     poetic quality, a spiritual insight in the author's
     work that make a direct appeal to the cultured. * * *

_The Dial_:

     One play from his (Strindberg's) third, or symbolistic
     period stands almost alone. This is "Easter." There is
     a sweet, sane, life-giving spirit about it.

_Photogravure frontispiece of Strindberg etched by Zorn. Also, a
reproduction of Velma Swanston Howard's authorization._

    _Handsomely bound. Gilt top Net, $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Hamlet Problem and Its Solution_

By EMERSON VENABLE

_The tragedy of Hamlet has never been adequately interpreted. Two hundred
years of critical discussion has not sufficed to reconcile conflicting
impressions regarding the scope of Shakespeare's design in this, the first
of his great philosophic tragedies. We believe that all those students who
are interested in the study of Shakespeare will find this volume of great
value._

_The Louisville Courier-Journal_:

     "Mr. Venable's Hamlet is a 'protagonist of a drama of
     triumphant moral achievement.' He rises through the
     play from an elected agent of vengeance to a man
     gravely impressed with 'an imperative sense of moral
     obligation, tragic in its depth, felt toward the
     world.'"

E. H. Sothern:

     "Your ideas of Hamlet so entirely agree with my own
     that the book has been a real delight to me. I have
     always had exactly this feeling about the character of
     Hamlet. I think you have wiped away a great many
     cobwebs, and I believe your book will prove to be most
     convincing to many people who may yet be a trifle in
     the dark."

_The Book News Monthly_:

     "Mr. Venable is the latest critic to apply himself to
     the 'Hamlet' problem, and he offers a solution in an
     admirably written little book which is sure to attract
     readers. Undeterred by the formidable names of Goethe
     and Coleridge, Mr. Venable pronounces untenable the
     theories which those great authors propounded to
     account for the extraordinary figure of the Prince of
     Denmark. * * * Mr. Venable looks in another direction
     for the solution of the problem. * * * The solution
     offered by the author is just the reverse of that
     proposed by Goethe. * * * From Mr. Venable's viewpoint
     the key to 'Hamlet' is found in the famous soliloquies,
     and his book is based upon a close study of those
     utterances which bring us within the portals of the
     soul of the real Hamlet. The reader with an open mind
     will find in Mr. Venable a writer whose breadth of view
     and searching thought gives weight to this competent
     study of the most interesting of Shakespearean
     problems."

_16mo. Silk cloth Net, $1.00_

       *       *       *       *       *

_Portmanteau Plays_

BY STUART WALKER

Edited and with an Introduction by

EDWARD HALE BIERSTADT

This volume contains four One Act Plays by the inventor and director of the
Portmanteau Theater. They are all included in the regular repertory of the
Theater and the four contained in this volume comprise in themselves an
evening's bill.

There is also an Introduction by Edward Hale Bierstadt on the Portmanteau
Theater in theory and practice.

The book is illustrated by pictures taken from actual presentations of the
plays.

The first play, the "_Trimplet_," deals with the search for a certain magic
thing called a trimplet which can cure all the ills of whoever finds it.
The search and the finding constitute the action of the piece.

Second play, "_Six who Pass While the Lentils Boil_" is perhaps the most
popular in Mr. Walker's repertory. The story is of a Queen who, having
stepped on the ring-toe of the King's great-aunt, is condemned to die
before the clock strikes twelve. The Six who pass the pot in which boil the
lentils are on their way to the execution.

Next comes "_Nevertheless_," which tells of a burglar who oddly enough
reaches regeneration through two children and a dictionary.

And last of all is the "_Medicine-Show_," which is a character study
situated on the banks of the Mississippi. One does not see either the Show
or the Mississippi, but the characters are so all sufficient that one does
not miss the others.

All of these plays are fanciful--symbolic if you like--but all of them have
a very distinct raison d'être in themselves, quite apart from any ulterior
meaning.

With Mr. Walker it is always "the story first," and herein he is at one
with Lord Dunsany and others of his ilk. The plays have body, force, and
beauty always; and if the reader desires to read in anything else surely
that is his privilege.

Each play, and even the Theater itself has a prologue, and with the help of
these one is enabled to pass from one charming tale to the next without a
break in the continuity.

_With five full-page illustrations on cameo paper._

_12mo. Silk cloth $1.75_

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Truth About The Theater_

_Anonymous_

Precisely what the title indicates--facts as they are, plain and
unmistakable without veneer of any sort. It goes directly to the heart of
the whole matter. Behind the writer of it--who is one of the best known
theatrical men in New York--are long years of experience. He recites what
he knows, what he has seen, and his quiet, calm, authoritative account of
conditions as they are is without adornment, excuse or exaggeration. It is
intended to be helpful to those who want the facts, and for them it will
prove of immeasurable value.

"The Truth About the Theater," in brief, lifts the curtain on the American
stage. It leaves no phase of the subject untouched. To those who are
ambitious to serve the theater, either as players or as playwrights, or,
again, in some managerial capacity, the book is invaluable. To those, too,
who would know more about the theater that they may come to some fair
estimate of the worth of the innumerable theories nowadays advanced, the
book will again prove its value.

_Net $1.00_





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