Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Contemporary One-Act Plays
Author: Bornstead, Beulah, Middleton, George, 1880-1967, Tchekov, Anton, Thurston, Althea, Marks, Jeannette Augustus, 1875-1964, Kreymborg, Alfred, 1883-1966, Hervieu, Paul, Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew), 1860-1937, Sudermann, Hermann, 1857-1928, Hopkins, Arthur, Pinski, David, Crocker, Bosworth, Greene, Paul, Gregor, Lady Augusta, Mackaye, Percy, 1875-1956, Strindberg, August, 1849-1912, Wolff, Oscar M., Pillot, Eugene
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Contemporary One-Act Plays" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from scanned images of public domain material


CONTEMPORARY ONE-ACT PLAYS



CONTEMPORARY
ONE-ACT PLAYS

WITH OUTLINE STUDY OF THE
ONE-ACT PLAY AND BIBLIOGRAPHIES

BY

B. ROLAND LEWIS

Professor and Head of the Department of English in the University of Utah;
Author of "The Technique of the One-Act Play"

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

NEW YORK CHICAGO BOSTON

COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Printed in the United States of America

The plays in this book are fully protected by copyright and the
professional and amateur stage rights are reserved by the authors.
Applications for their use should be made to the respective authors or
publishers, as designated

             TO
     THE MEN AND WOMEN
WHO SO KINDLY HAVE PERMITTED ME TO
  REPRINT THESE ONE-ACT PLAYS



PREFACE


This collection of one-act plays appears because of an increasingly
large demand for such a volume. The plays have been selected and the
Introduction prepared to meet the need of the student or teacher who
desires to acquaint himself with the one-act play as a specific dramatic
form.

The plays included have been selected with this need in mind.
Accordingly, emphasis has been placed upon the wholesome and uplifting
rather than upon the sordid and the ultra-realistic. The unduly
sentimental, the strikingly melodramatic, and the play of questionable
moral problems, has been consciously avoided. Comedies, tragedies,
farces, and melodramas have been included; but the chief concern has
been that each play should be good, dramatic art.

The _Dramatic Analysis and Construction of the One-Act Play_, which
appears in the Introduction, also has been prepared for the student or
teacher. This outline-analysis and the plays in this volume are
sufficient material, if carefully studied, for an understanding and
appreciation of the one-act play.

B. ROLAND LEWIS.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

INTRODUCTION                                                           3


                 LIST OF PLAYS

THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK      _Sir James M. Barrie_                      17

TRADITION                  _George Middleton_                         43

THE EXCHANGE               _Althea Thurston_                          61

SAM AVERAGE                _Percy Mackaye_                            85

HYACINTH HALVEY            _Lady Augusta Gregory_                    103

THE GAZING GLOBE           _Eugene Pillot_                           139

THE BOOR                   _Anton Tchekov_                           155

THE LAST STRAW             _Bosworth Crocker_                        175

MANIKIN AND MINIKIN        _Alfred Kreymborg_                        197

WHITE DRESSES              _Paul Greene_                             215

MOONSHINE                  _Arthur Hopkins_                          239

MODESTY                    _Paul Hervieu_                            255

THE DEACON'S HAT           _Jeannette Marks_                         273

WHERE BUT IN AMERICA       _Oscar M. Wolff_                          301

A DOLLAR                   _David Pinski_                            321

THE DIABOLICAL CIRCLE      _Beulah Bornstead_                        343

THE FAR-AWAY PRINCESS      _Hermann Sudermann_                       365

THE STRONGER               _August Strindberg_                       393


               BIBLIOGRAPHIES

                                                                    PAGE

COLLECTIONS OF ONE-ACT PLAYS                                         405

LISTS OF ONE-ACT PLAYS                                               406

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF REFERENCE ON THE ONE-ACT PLAY                        408

BIBLIOGRAPHY ON HOW TO PRODUCE PLAYS                                 409



CONTEMPORARY ONE-ACT PLAYS



INTRODUCTION

THE ONE-ACT PLAY AS A SPECIFIC DRAMATIC TYPE


The one-act play is with us and is asking for consideration. It is
challenging our attention whether we will or no. In both Europe and
America it is one of the conspicuous factors in present-day dramatic
activity. Theatre managers, stage designers, actors, playwrights, and
professors in universities recognize its presence as a vital force.
Professional theatre folk and amateurs especially are devoting zestful
energy both to the writing and to the producing of this shorter form of
drama.

The one-act play is claiming recognition as a specific dramatic type. It
may be said that, as an art form, it has achieved that distinction. The
short story, as every one knows, was once an embryo and an experiment;
but few nowadays would care to hold that it has not developed into a
specific and worthy literary form. This shorter form of prose fiction
was once apologetic, and that not so many years ago; but it has come
into its own and now is recognized as a distinct type of prose
narrative. The one-act play, like the short story, also has come into
its own. No longer is it wholly an experiment. Indeed, it is succeeding
in high places. The one-act play is taking its place among the
significant types of dramatic and literary expression.

Artistically and technically considered, the one-act play is quite as
much a distinctive dramatic problem as the longer play. In writing
either, the playwright aims so to handle his material that he will get
his central intent to his audience and will provoke their interest and
emotional response thereto. Both aim at a singleness of impression and
dramatic effect; both aim to be a high order of art. Yet since the one
is shorter and more condensed, it follows that the dramaturgy of the one
is somewhat different from that of the other, just as the technic of the
cameo is different from the technic of the full-sized statue. The
one-act play must, as it were, be presented at a "single setting": it
must start quickly at the beginning with certain definite dramatic
elements and pass rapidly and effectively to a crucial movement without
halt or digression. A careful analysis of any one of the plays in this
volume, like Anton Tchekov's _The Boor_, or like Oscar M. Wolff's _Where
But in America_, will reveal this fact. The shorter form of drama, like
the short story, has a technical method characteristically its own.

It is a truth that the one-act play is well made or it is nothing at
all. A careful analysis of Sir James M. Barrie's _The Twelve-Pound
Look_, Paul Hervieu's _Modesty_, Althea Thurston's _The Exchange_, will
reveal that these representative one-act plays are well made and are
real bits of dramatic art. A good one-act play is not a mere cheap
mechanical _tour de force_; mechanics and artistry it has, of course,
but it is also a high order of art product. A delicately finished cameo
is quite as much a work of art as is the larger statue; both have
mechanics and design in their structure, but those of the cameo are more
deft and more highly specialized than those of the statue, because the
work of the former is done under far more restricted conditions. The
one-act play at its best is cunningly wrought.

Naturally, the material of the one-act play is a bit episodical. It
deals with but a single situation. A study of the plays in this volume
will reveal that no whole life's story can be treated adequately in the
short play, and that no complexity of plot can be employed. Unlike the
longer play, the shorter form of drama shows not the whole man--except
by passing hint--but a significant moment or experience, a significant
character-trait. However vividly this chosen moment may be
interpreted--and the one-act play must be vivid--much will still be
left to the imagination. It is the aim of the one-act form to trace the
causal relations of but _one_ circumstance so that the circumstance may
be intensified. The writer of the one-act play deliberately isolates so
that he may throw the strong flashlight more searchingly on some one
significant event, on some fundamental element of character, on some
moving emotion. He presents in a vigorous, compressed, and suggestive
way a simplification and idealization of a particular part or aspect of
life. Often he opens but a momentary little vista of life, but it is so
clear-cut and so significant that a whole life is often revealed
thereby.

The student must not think that because the one-act play deals with but
one crisis or but one simplified situation, it is therefore weak and
inconsequential. On the contrary, since only one event or situation can
be emphasized, it follows that the writer is obliged to choose the one
determining crisis which makes or mars the supreme struggle of a soul,
the one great change or turning-point or end of a life history. Often
such moments are the really vital material for drama; nothing affords so
much opportunity for striking analysis, for emotional stress, for the
suggestion of a whole character sketched in the act of meeting its test.

The one-act play is a vital literary product. To segregate a bit of
significant experience and to present a finished picture of its aspects
and effects; to dissect a motive so searchingly and skilfully that its
very roots are laid bare; to detach a single figure from a dramatic
sequence and portray the essence of its character; to bring a series of
actions into the clear light of day in a sudden and brief human crisis;
to tell a significant story briefly and with suggestion; to portray the
humor of a person or an incident, or in a trice to reveal the touch of
tragedy resting like the finger of fate on an experience or on a
character--these are some of the possibilities of the one-act play when
bandied by a master dramatist.


THE PROPER APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF THE ONE-ACT PLAY

To read a one-act play merely to get its story is not in itself an
exercise of any extraordinary value. This sort of approach to any form
of literature does not require much appreciation of literary art nor
much intelligence. Almost any normal-minded person can read a play for
its story with but little expenditure of mental effort. Proper
appreciation of a one-act play requires more than a casual reading whose
chief aim is no more than getting the plot.

If the shorter form of drama is to be appreciated properly as a real
literary form, it must be approached from the point of view of its
artistry and technic. This means that the student should understand its
organic construction and technic, just as he should understand the
organic construction and technic of a short story, a ballad, or a
perfect sonnet, if he is to appreciate them properly.

The student should know _what_ the dramatist intends to get across the
footlights to his audience, and should be able to detect _how_ he
accomplishes the desired result.

It must not be thought that the author urges a study of construction at
the expense of the human values in a play. On the contrary, such a study
is but the means whereby the human values are made the more manifest.
Surely no one would argue that the less one knows about the technic of
music the better able is one to appreciate music. Indeed, it is not too
much to say that, within reasonable limits, no one can really appreciate
a one-act play if one does not know at least the fundamentals of its
dramatic organization.

In fact, students of the one-act play recognize in its constructive
regularity not a hindrance to its beauty but a genuine power. This but
lends to it the charm of perfection. The sonnet and the cameo are
admirable, if for no other reason than their superior workmanship. The
one-act play does not lose by any reason of its technical requirements;
indeed, this is one of its greatest assets. And the student who will
take the pains to familiarize himself with the organic construction of a
typical one-act play will have gone a long way in arriving at a proper
appreciation of this shorter form of drama.


DRAMATIC ANALYSIS AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE ONE-ACT PLAY

I. THE THEME OF THE ONE-ACT PLAY

The one-act play, like the short story, is a work of literary art, and
must be approached as such. Just like a painting or a poem or a fine
public building, the one-act play aims at making a _singleness of
effect_ upon the reader or observer. One does not judge a statue, or a
poem, or any other work of art, by the appearance of any isolated part
of it, but by the sum-total effect of the whole. The fundamental aim of
a one-act play is that it shall so present a singleness of effect to the
reader or to the assembled group who have gathered to witness a
performance of it, that the reader or observer will be provoked to
emotional response thereto.

Thus, when a student reads a play like George Middleton's _Tradition_,
he is made to see and feel that the life of a daughter has been
handicapped and the longings of a mother smothered because of the
conventional narrowness of an otherwise loving father. This is the
singleness of effect of the play; this is its theme. This is precisely
what the author of the play wished his reader or observer to see and
feel. When one reads Bosworth Crocker's _The Last Straw_, one feels that
a reasonably good and worthy man, because of his sensitiveness to
criticism, has been driven to despair and to a tragic end by the
malicious gossip of neighbors. One's sense of pity at his misfortune is
aroused. This is what the author intended to do. This idea and effect is
the theme of the play. And when the student reads Paul Hervieu's
_Modesty_, he feels that a woman, even though she may lead herself into
thinking she prefers brutal frankness, instinctively likes affection and
even flattery. This is the effect produced by the play; this is its
intent; this is its theme.

In approaching a one-act play, then, the very first consideration should
be to determine what the purpose and intent of the play is--to determine
its theme. This demands that the play be read through complete at one
sitting and that no premature conclusions be drawn. Once the play is
read, it is well to subject the play to certain leading questions. What
has the author intended that his reader or hearer shall understand,
think, or feel? What is the play about? What is its object and purpose?
Is it a precept or an observation found in life, or is it a bit of
fancy? Is it artificially didactic and moralizing? With what fundamental
element in human nature does it have to do: Love? Patriotism? Fear?
Egotism and self-centredness? Sacrifice? Faithfulness? Or what?

A word of warning should be given. The student should not get the idea
that by theme is meant the moral of the play. A good play may be
thoroughly moral without its descending to commonplace moralizing. Good
plays concern themselves with the presentation of the fundamentals of
life rather than a creed of morals, theories, and propagandas. Art
concerns itself with larger things than didactic and argumentative
moralizing.


II. THE TECHNIC OF THE ONE-ACT PLAY

Once the student satisfies himself as to the singleness of effect or
theme of the play, he will do well to set himself to the task of seeing
just how the dramatist has achieved this effect. He should keep in mind
that the playwright is a skilled workman; that he has predetermined for
himself just what he wishes his audience to think, feel, or understand,
and has marshalled all his materials to that end. The way by which he
accomplishes that end is his technic. Technic is but the practical
method by which an artist can most effectively convey his message to
his public. In a play the materials that the dramatist uses to this end
are character, plot, dialogue, and stage direction. If he is skilled he
will use these elements in such a way that the result will be an
artistic whole, a singleness of effect, an organized unit that will
exemplify and express his theme.

_A._ THE CHARACTERS IN THE ONE-ACT PLAY.--Generally speaking, drama
grows out of character. Farce, melodrama, and extravaganza usually
consist of situation rather than of character. In any event, the student
should avail himself of every means to understand the characters in the
play under discussion. His real appreciation of the play will be in
direct ratio almost to his understanding of the persons in the drama.
Any attention given to this end will be energy well spent. The student
should get into the very heart of the characters, as it were.

Thus, ADONIJAH, in Beulah Bornstead's _The Diabolical Circle_, is a
narrow, self-centred, Puritan egotist who has little about his
personality to appeal to the romantic and vivacious BETTY. LADY SIMS, in
Sir James M. Barrie's _The Twelve-Pound Look_, is a woman who really is
pathetic in her longing for some human independence in the presence of
her self-centred husband, "SIR" HARRY SIMS. And MANIKIN and MINIKIN, in
Alfred Kreymborg's _Manikin and Minikin_, are conventionalized puppets
representing the light yet half-serious bickerings, jealousies, and
quarrellings of human nature.

The student will do well to characterize the _dramatis personæ_
deliberately and specifically. He should not now value himself for
working fast; for things done in a hurry usually lack depth. He must not
be content with vague and thin generalities. In analyzing a character it
might be well to apply some specific questions similar to the following:
Just what is the elemental human quality in the character? Loving?
Trusting? Egotistic? Superstitious? Revengeful? Treacherous? Selfish?
Discontented? Optimistic? Romantic? Or what? How does the dramatist
characterize them: By action? By dialogue? By spirit of likes and
dislikes? By racial trait? By religion? By peculiarity of manner,
speech, appearance? Are the characters really dramatic: are they
impelled to strong emotional reaction upon each other and upon
situation? Do they provoke one's dramatic sympathy? Do they make one
feel their own point of view and their own motives for conduct?

_B._ THE PLOT OF THE ONE-ACT PLAY.--Plot and character are integrally
interlinked. Plot is not merely story taken from every-day life, where
seldom do events occur in a series of closely following minor crucial
moments leading to a climax. The dramatist so constructs his material
that there is a sequential and causal interplay of dramatic forces,
ending in some major crisis or crucial moment. Plot may be said to be
the framework and constructed story by which a dramatist exemplifies his
theme. It does not exist for its own end, but is one of the fundamental
means whereby the playwright gets his singleness of effect, or theme, to
his reader or hearer. From the story material at his disposal the
playwright constructs his plot to this very end.

Careful attention should be given to the plot. The student should
question it carefully. Do the plot materials seem to have been taken
from actual life? Or do they seem to be invented? Is the plot well
suited to exemplifying the theme? Reconstruct the story out of which the
plot may have been built. Since the plot of a one-act play is highly
simplified, determine whether there are any complexities, any
irrelevancies, any digressions. Does the plot have a well-defined
beginning, middle, and end?

1. _The Beginning of the One-Act Play._--Having but a relatively short
time at its disposal, usually about thirty minutes and seldom more than
forty-five minutes, the beginning of a one-act play is very short. It is
characterized by condensation, compactness, and brevity. Seldom is the
beginning more than a half-page in length; often the play is got under
way in two or three speeches. The student will do well to practise to
the end that he will recognize instantly when the dramatic background of
a one-act play has been laid.

Whatever else may characterize the beginning, it must be dramatically
effective. Instantly it must catch the powers of perception by making
them aware of the initial situation out of which the subsequent dramatic
action will develop. A good beginning makes one _feel_ that suddenly he
has come face to face with a situation which cannot be solved without an
interplay of dramatic forces to a given final result.

Thus, when one reads Althea Thurston's _The Exchange_, one is made
suddenly to feel that human beings are discontent with their
shortcomings and possessed qualities, and that they always feel that
they would be happier if they possessed something other than what they
have. The JUDGE, who handles the cases as they come in for exchange, is
disgusted with the vanities of humankind, and is ready to clear his
hands of the whole matter. Here is a situation; it is the beginning of
the play. In the beginning of Lady Gregory's _Hyacinth Halvey_ one is
brought suddenly to the realization that HYACINTH HALVEY instinctively
rebels against the highly colored and artificially created good name
that has been unwittingly superimposed upon him. This situation,
suddenly presented, is the beginning of the play. Out of this initial
situation the subsequent dramatic action evolves.

Is the beginning too short? Too long? Does it make the initial dramatic
situation clear? How has the playwright made it clear and effective?
Just where is the end of the beginning? Although the beginning and the
subsequent plot development are well blended together, so that there is
no halting where the beginning ends, usually one can detect where the
one ends and the other begins. It is a good idea, for the purpose of
developing a sense of the organic structure of the one-act play, to draw
a line across the page of the play, just where the one ends and the
other begins.

The _setting_ of the play is a part of the beginning. Is the setting
realistic? Romantic? Fantastic or bizarre? Are the details of stage
design, properties, and especially the atmosphere and color scheme in
harmony with the tone of the play itself? Is the setting really an
organic part of the play or is it something apart from it? Note that the
setting is usually written in the third person, present tense, and in
italics.

2. _The Middle of the One-Act Play._--The middle of a one-act play is
concerned primarily with the main crucial moment or climax and the
dramatic movement that from the beginning leads up to it. A good play
consists of a series of minor crises leading up to a major crisis or
crucial moment. It is for this crucial moment that the play exists; it
is for this big scene precisely that the play has been written. Indeed,
the play succeeds or fails as the crucial moment is strongly dramatic or
flabbily weak. This is the part of the play that is strongest in
dramatic tension, strongest in emotional functioning.

A study of Sir James M. Barrie's _The Twelve-Pound Look_ shows that the
crucial moment comes at the point where "SIR" HARRY SIMS in his
self-centred egotism discovers that his wife's, LADY SIMS'S,
heart-longing could easily be satisfied if she were permitted no other
freedom than merely operating a typewriter. In Althea Thurston's _The
Exchange_ the crucial moment comes when the several characters, who
unwittingly had exchanged one ill for a worse one, find that they can
never re-exchange, and that they must endure the torments and
displeasure of the newly acquired ill throughout life.

Just where is the crucial moment or climax in the play under
consideration? Determine the several minor crises that lead up to the
crucial moment. Is the crucial moment delayed too long for good dramatic
effect? Or is it reached too soon, so that the play is too short and too
sudden in reaching the climax? Does it make one _feel_ that some vital
result has been attained in the plot movement? Is it characterized by
strong situation and by strong emotional reactions of character on
character or of character on situation?

For purposes of impressing a sense the organic structure of a one-act
play, it is a good plan to draw a horizontal line across the page at the
close of the crucial moment. Keep in mind, however, that the crucial
moment is _not_ the end of the play as it appears on the printed page or
as it is acted on the stage.

3. _The End of the One-Act Play._--The end of the one-act play is an
important consideration. Too often it is entirely lost sight of. It is
the part that frequently makes or mars a play. When the crucial moment
or climax has been reached, the plot action of the play is completed,
but the play is not yet completed. The play needs yet to be rounded out
into an artistic and dramatic whole. In life the actual crisis in human
affairs is not often our chiefest interest, but the reaction of
characters immediately _after_ the crisis has occurred. Thus, in a play,
the emotional reaction of the characters on the crucial moment and the
more or less sudden readjustment between characters after the crucial
moment must be presented. For this very purpose the end of the one-act
play is constructed. The end is of need very short--usually even shorter
than the beginning. Usually the end consists of but a speech or two, or
sometimes only of pantomime that more effectively expresses the
emotional reactions of the characters on the crucial moment than
dialogue.

Thus, in Sir James M. Barrie's _The Twelve-Pound Look_, the end consists
of but pantomime, in which "SIR" HARRY expresses his emotional reaction
upon his wife's longing for the human liberty that even the operating of
a typewriter would provide her. The end of Bosworth Crocker's _The Last
Straw_ comes immediately after the pistol-shot is heard in the adjoining
room and MRS. BAUER'S voice is heard: "Fritz! Fritz! Speak to me! Look
at me, Fritz! You didn't do it, Fritz! I know you didn't do it!" etc.

Is the end of the play under consideration in terms of dialogue? In
pantomime? Or both? Is it too long? Too short? Is it dramatic? Is it
conclusive and satisfying?

_C._ DIALOGUE OF THE ONE-ACT PLAY.--Dialogue, like plot and
characterization, is another means whereby the theme of the play is got
to the reader or audience. Good dramatic dialogue is constructed to this
very end. It is not the commonplace, rambling, uncertain, and realistic
question and answer of every-day life. Usually good dramatic dialogue is
crisp, direct, condensed. It is the substance but not the form of
ordinary conversation. Its chiefest characteristic is spontaneity.

_The highest type of dramatic dialogue is that which expresses the ideas
and emotions of characters at the points of highest emotional
functioning._ It will readily be seen, then, that not all dialogue in a
play is necessarily dramatic. In truth, the best dramatic dialogue
occurs in conjunction with the series of minor crises and the crucial
moment that go to make up the dramatic movement of the play. Often there
is much dialogue in a play that essentially is not dramatic at all.

In analyzing dramatic dialogue it is well to inquire whether in the play
it serves (1) to express the ideas and emotions of characters at points
of highest emotional functioning, (2) to advance the plot, (3) to reveal
character, or (4) what. Is it brief, clear, direct, spontaneous? Or is
it careless, loose, insipid? Wit, repartee? Didactic, moralizing?
Satirical, cynical?

_D._ STAGE-BUSINESS AND STAGE-DIRECTION IN THE ONE-ACT PLAY.--The
stage-business and stage-direction, usually printed in italics, of a
play are an essential part of a drama. They must not be ignored in
either reading or staging a play. The novel or short story generally
uses narration and description to achieve its desired result; a play, on
the contrary, uses dialogue and concrete objective pantomime that may be
seen readily with the eye. A play is not a story narrated in
chronological order of events, but it is a story so handled and so
constructed that it can be acted on a stage by actors before an
audience. It is a series of minor crises leading to a major crisis,
presented to a reader or to an audience by characters, dialogue, and
stage-business and pantomime. For purposes of indicating the pantomimic
action of the play, the dramatist resorts to stage-business and
stage-direction.

Does the stage-direction aid in making (1) the dialogue, (2) the plot,
(3) the dramatic action, or (4) the character more clear? Does it
shorten the play? Does it express idea, emotion, or situations more
effectively than could dialogue, if it were used?

And, finally, do not judge any play until all the evidence is in, until
you have thoroughly mastered every detail and have fully conceived the
_author's idea_ and _purpose_. It is not a question whether _you_ would
have selected such a theme or whether _you_ would have handled it in the
same way in which the author did; but the point is does the _author_ in
_his_ way make _his_ theme clear to you. The author has conceived a
dramatic problem in his _own mind_ and has set it forth in _his own
way_. The question is, does he make you see his result and his method?

Do you like the play? Or do you not like it? State your reason in either
case. Is it because of the author? Is it because of the theme? Is it
because of the technic--the way he gets his intent to his reader or
audience? Is it because of your own likes or dislikes; preconceived
notions or prejudices? Is it because of the acting? Of the staging or
setting? Does it uplift or depress? Does it provoke you to emotional
functioning?

    "Though old the thought and oft expressed,
    'Tis his at last who says it best."



THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK

BY

SIR JAMES M. BARRIE


_The Twelve-Pound Look_ is reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner's
Sons, the publisher in America of the works of Sir James M. Barrie. For
permission to perform, address the publisher.


SIR JAMES M. BARRIE

Sir James M. Barrie is rated as the foremost English dramatist of the
day; and his plays, taken together, make the most significant
contribution to English drama since Sheridan. Practically his entire
life has been given to the writing of novels and plays, many of the
latter having their heroines conceived especially for Maude Adams, one
of America's greatest actresses. He was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, in
1860. He received his education at Dumfries and Edinburgh University.
His first work in journalism and letters was done at Nottingham, but
soon he took up his work in London, where he now resides.

Sir James M. Barrie's literary labors have been very fruitful. His _The
Professor's Love Story_, _The Little Minister_, _Quality Street_, _The
Admirable Crichton_, _Peter Pan_, _What Every Woman Knows_, and _Alice
Sit-by-the-Fire_ are well known to every one.

In 1914 there appeared a volume of one-act plays, _Half Hours_, the most
important of which is _The Twelve-Pound Look_. And in 1918 appeared a
volume, _Echoes of the War_, the most important one-act play therein
being _The Old Lady Shows Her Medals_.

Barrie is a great playwright because he is so thoroughly human. All the
little whimsicalities, sentiments, little loves, and heart-longings of
human beings are ever present in his plays. He is no reformer, no
propagandist. He appeals to the emotions rather than to the intellect.
He continues the romantic tradition in English drama and gives us plays
that are wholesome, tender, and human. And with all this, he has the
added saving grace of a most absorbing humor.

While Barrie is not a devotee of the well-made play, his _The
Twelve-Pound Look_ is one of the most nearly perfect one-act plays of
contemporary drama. His interest in human personalities is not more
manifest in any of his plays than in LADY SIMS and "SIR" HARRY SIMS in
this play.


CHARACTERS


    "SIR" HARRY SIMS
    LADY SIMS
    KATE
    TOMBES



THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK[A]


     _If quite convenient (as they say about checks) you are to conceive
     that the scene is laid in your own house, and that_ HARRY SIMS _is
     you. Perhaps the ornamentation of the house is a trifle
     ostentatious, but if you cavil at that we are willing to
     redecorate: you don't get out of being_ HARRY SIMS _on a mere
     matter of plush and dados. It pleases us to make him a city man,
     but (rather than lose you) he can be turned with a scrape of the
     pen into a K.C., fashionable doctor, Secretary of State, or what
     you will. We conceive him of a pleasant rotundity with a thick red
     neck, but we shall waive that point if you know him to be thin._

     _It is that day in your career when everything went wrong just when
     everything seemed to be superlatively right._

     _In_ HARRY'S _case it was a woman who did the mischief. She came to
     him in his great hour and told him she did not admire him. Of
     course he turned her out of the house and was soon himself again,
     but it spoiled the morning for him. This is the subject of the
     play, and quite enough too._

     HARRY _is to receive the honor of knighthood in a few days, and we
     discover him in the sumptuous "snuggery" of his home in Kensington
     (or is it Westminster?), rehearsing the ceremony with his wife.
     They have been at it all the morning, a pleasing occupation._ MRS.
     SIMS _(as we may call her for the last time, as it were, and
     strictly as a good-natured joke) is wearing her presentation gown,
     and personates the august one who is about to dub her_ HARRY
     _knight. She is seated regally. Her jewelled shoulders proclaim
     aloud her husband's generosity. She must be an extraordinarily
     proud and happy woman, yet she has a drawn face and shrinking ways,
     as if there were some one near her of whom she is afraid. She claps
     her hands, as the signal to_ HARRY. _He enters bowing, and with a
     graceful swerve of the leg. He is only partly in costume, the sword
     and the real stockings not having arrived yet. With a gliding
     motion that is only delayed while one leg makes up on the other, he
     reaches his wife, and, going on one knee, raises her hand superbly
     to his lips. She taps him on the shoulder with a paper-knife and
     says huskily: "Rise, Sir Harry." He rises, bows, and glides about
     the room, going on his knees to various articles of furniture, and
     rises from each a knight. It is a radiant domestic scene, and_
     HARRY _is as dignified as if he knew that royalty was rehearsing it
     at the other end_.

SIR HARRY. [_Complacently._] Did that seem all right, eh?

LADY SIMS. [_Much relieved._] I think perfect.

SIR HARRY. But was it dignified?

LADY SIMS. Oh, very. And it will be still more so when you have the
sword.

SIR HARRY. The sword will lend it an air. There are really the five
moments--[_suiting the action to the word_]--the glide--the dip--the
kiss--the tap--and you back out a knight. It's short, but it's a very
beautiful ceremony. [_Kindly._] Anything you can suggest?

LADY SIMS. No--oh, no. [_Nervously, seeing him pause to kiss the tassel
of a cushion._] You don't think you have practised till you know what to
do almost too well?

     [_He has been in a blissful temper, but such niggling criticism
     would try any man._

SIR HARRY. I do not. Don't talk nonsense. Wait till your opinion is
asked for.

LADY SIMS. [_Abashed._] I'm sorry, Harry. [_A perfect butler appears and
presents a card._] "The Flora Typewriting Agency."

SIR HARRY. Ah, yes. I telephoned them to send some one. A woman, I
suppose, Tombes?

TOMBES. Yes, Sir Harry.

SIR HARRY. Show her in here. [_He has very lately become a stickler for
etiquette._] And, Tombes, strictly speaking, you know, I am not Sir
Harry till Thursday.

TOMBES. Beg pardon, sir, but it is such a satisfaction to us.

SIR HARRY. [_Good-naturedly._] Ah, they like it down-stairs, do they?

TOMBES. [_Unbending._] Especially the females, Sir Harry.

SIR HARRY. Exactly. You can show her in, Tombes. [_The butler departs on
his mighty task._] You can tell the woman what she is wanted for, Emmy,
while I change. [_He is too modest to boast about himself, and prefers
to keep a wife in the house for that purpose._] You can tell her the
sort of things about me that will come better from you. [_Smiling
happily._] You heard what Tombes said: "Especially the females." And he
is right. Success! The women like it even better than the men. And
rightly. For they share. _You_ share, _Lady_ Sims. Not a woman will see
that gown without being sick with envy of it. I know them. Have all our
lady friends in to see it. It will make them ill for a week.

     [_These sentiments carry him off light-heartedly, and presently the
     disturbing element is shown in. She is a mere typist, dressed in
     uncommonly good taste, but at contemptibly small expense, and she
     is carrying her typewriter in a friendly way rather than as a badge
     of slavery, as of course it is. Her eye is clear; and in odd
     contrast to_ LADY SIMS, _she is self-reliant and serene_.

KATE. [_Respectfully, but she should have waited to be spoken to._] Good
morning, madam.

LADY SIMS. [_In her nervous way, and scarcely noticing that the typist
is a little too ready with her tongue._] Good morning. [_As a first
impression she rather likes the woman, and the woman, though it is
scarcely worth mentioning, rather likes her._ LADY SIMS _has a maid for
buttoning and unbuttoning her, and probably another for waiting on the
maid, and she gazes with a little envy perhaps at a woman who does
things for herself_.] Is that the typewriting machine?

KATE. [_Who is getting it ready for use._] Yes. [_Not "Yes, madam" as it
ought to be._] I suppose if I am to work here I may take this off. I get
on better without it. [_She is referring to her hat._

LADY SIMS. Certainly. [_But the hat is already off._] I ought to
apologize for my gown. I am to be presented this week, and I was trying
it on.

     [_Her tone is not really apologetic. She is rather clinging to the
     glory of her gown, wistfully, as if not absolutely certain, you
     know, that it is a glory._

KATE. It is beautiful, if I may presume to say so.

     [_She frankly admires it. She probably has a best and a second best
     of her own; that sort of thing._

LADY SIMS. [_With a flush of pride in the gown._] Yes, it is very
beautiful. [_The beauty of it gives her courage._] Sit down, please.

KATE. [_The sort of woman who would have sat down in any case._] I
suppose it is some copying you want done? I got no particulars. I was
told to come to this address, but that was all.

LADY SIMS. [_Almost with the humility of a servant._] Oh, it is not work
for me, it is for my husband, and what he needs is not exactly copying.
[_Swelling, for she is proud of_ HARRY.] He wants a number of letters
answered--hundreds of them--letters and telegrams of congratulation.

KATE. [_As if it were all in the day's work._] Yes?

LADY SIMS. [_Remembering that_ HARRY _expects every wife to do her
duty_.] My husband is a remarkable man. He is about to be knighted.
[_Pause, but_ KATE _does not fall to the floor_.] He is to be knighted
for his services to--[_on reflection_]--for his services. [_She is
conscious that she is not doing_ HARRY _justice_.] He can explain it so
much better than I can.

KATE. [_In her businesslike way._] And I am to answer the
congratulations?

LADY SIMS. [_Afraid that it will be a hard task._] Yes.

KATE. [_Blithely_] It is work I have had some experience of. [_She
proceeds to type._

LADY SIMS. But you can't begin till you know what he wants to say.

KATE. Only a specimen letter. Won't it be the usual thing?

LADY SIMS. [_To whom this is a new idea._] Is there a usual thing?

KATE. Oh, yes.

     [_She continues to type, and_ LADY SIMS, _half-mesmerized, gazes at
     her nimble fingers. The useless woman watches the useful one, and
     she sighs, she could not tell why._

LADY SIMS. How quickly you do it! It must be delightful to be able to do
something, and to do it well.

KATE. [_Thankfully._] Yes, it is delightful.

LADY SIMS [_Again remembering the source of all her greatness._] But,
excuse me, I don't think that will be any use. My husband wants me to
explain to you that his is an exceptional case. He did not try to get
this honor in any way. It was a complete surprise to him----

KATE. [_Who is a practical_ KATE _and no dealer in sarcasm_.] That is
what I have written.

LADY SIMS. [_In whom sarcasm would meet a dead wall._] But how could you
know?

KATE. I only guessed.

LADY SIMS. Is that the usual thing?

KATE. Oh, yes.

LADY SIMS. They don't try to get it?

KATE. I don't know. That is what we are told to say in the letters.

     [_To her at present the only important thing about the letters is
     that they are ten shillings the hundred._

LADY SIMS. [_Returning to surer ground._] I should explain that my
husband is not a man who cares for honors. So long as he does his
duty----

KATE. Yes, I have been putting that in.

LADY SIMS. Have you? But he particularly wants it to be known that he
would have declined a title were it not----

KATE. I have got it here.

LADY SIMS. What have you got?

KATE. [_Reading._] "Indeed, I would have asked to be allowed to decline
had it not been that I want to please my wife."

LADY SIMS. [_Heavily._] But how could you know it was that?

KATE. Is it?

LADY SIMS. [_Who, after all, is the one with the right to ask
questions._] Do they all accept it for that reason?

KATE. That is what we are told to say in the letters.

LADY SIMS. [_Thoughtlessly._] It is quite as if you knew my husband.

KATE. I assure you, I don't even know his name.

LADY SIMS. [_Suddenly showing that she knows him._] Oh, he wouldn't like
that!

     [_And it is here that_ HARRY _re-enters in his city garments,
     looking so gay, feeling so jolly, that we bleed for him. However,
     the annoying_ KATHERINE _is to get a shock also_.

LADY SIMS. This is the lady, Harry.

SIR HARRY. [_Shooting his cuffs._] Yes, yes. Good morning, my dear.

     [_Then they see each other, and their mouths open, but not for
     words. After the first surprise_ KATE _seems to find some humor in
     the situation, but_ HARRY _lowers like a thunder-cloud_.

LADY SIMS. [_Who has seen nothing._] I have been trying to explain to
her----

SIR HARRY. Eh--what? [_He controls himself._] Leave it to me, Emmy; I'll
attend to her.

     [LADY SIMS _goes, with a dread fear that somehow she has vexed her
     lord, and then_ HARRY _attends to the intruder_.

SIR HARRY. [_With concentrated scorn._] You!

KATE. [_As if agreeing with him._] Yes, it's funny.

SIR HARRY. The shamelessness of your daring to come here.

KATE. Believe me, it is not less a surprise to me than it is to you. I
was sent here in the ordinary way of business. I was given only the
number of the house. I was not told the name.

SIR HARRY. [_Withering her._] The ordinary way of business! This is what
you have fallen to--a typist!

KATE. [_Unwithered._] Think of it!

SIR HARRY. After going through worse straits, I'll be bound.

KATE. [_With some grim memories._] Much worse straits.

SIR HARRY. [_Alas, laughing coarsely._] My congratulations!

KATE. Thank you, Harry.

SIR HARRY. [_Who is annoyed, as any man would be, not to find her
abject._] Eh? What was that you called me, madam?

KATE. Isn't it Harry? On my soul, I almost forget.

SIR HARRY. It isn't Harry to you. My name is Sims, if you please.

KATE. Yes, I had not forgotten that. It was my name, too, you see.

SIR HARRY. [_In his best manner._] It was your name till you forfeited
the right to bear it.

KATE. Exactly.

SIR HARRY. [_Gloating._] I was furious to find you here, but on second
thoughts it pleases me. [_From the depths of his moral nature._] There
is a grim justice in this.

KATE. [_Sympathetically._] Tell me?

SIR HARRY. Do you know what you were brought here to do?

KATE. I have just been learning. You have been made a knight, and I was
summoned to answer the messages of congratulation.

SIR HARRY. That's it, that's it. You come on this day as my servant!

KATE. I, who might have been Lady Sims.

SIR HARRY. And you are her typist instead. And she has four
men-servants. Oh, I am glad you saw her in her presentation gown.

KATE. I wonder if she would let me do her washing, Sir Harry? [_Her want
of taste disgusts him._

SIR HARRY. [_With dignity._] You can go. The mere thought that only a
few flights of stairs separates such as you from my innocent
children----

     [_He will never know why a new light has come into her face._

KATE. [_Slowly._] You have children?

SIR HARRY. [_Inflated._] Two. [_He wonders why she is so long in
answering._

KATE. [_Resorting to impertinence._] Such a nice number.

SIR HARRY. [_With an extra turn of the screw._] Both boys.

KATE. Successful in everything. Are they like you, Sir Harry?

SIR HARRY. [_Expanding._] They are very like me.

KATE. That's nice. [_Even on such a subject as this she can be ribald._

SIR HARRY. Will you please to go.

KATE. Heigho! What shall I say to my employer?

SIR HARRY. That is no affair of mine.

KATE. What will you say to Lady Sims?

SIR HARRY. I flatter myself that whatever I say, Lady Sims will accept
without comment.

     [_She smiles, heaven knows why, unless her next remark explains
     it._

KATE. Still the same Harry.

SIR HARRY. What do you mean?

KATE. Only that you have the old confidence in your profound knowledge
of the sex.

SIR HARRY. [_Beginning to think as little of her intellect as of her
morals._] I suppose I know my wife.

KATE. [_Hopelessly dense._] I suppose so. I was only remembering that
you used to think you knew her in the days when I was the lady. [_He is
merely wasting his time on her, and he indicates the door. She is not
sufficiently the lady to retire worsted._] Well, good-by, Sir Harry.
Won't you ring, and the four men-servants will show me out? [_But he
hesitates._

SIR HARRY. [_In spite of himself._] As you are here, there is something
I want to get out of you. [_Wishing he could ask it less eagerly._] Tell
me, who was the man?

     [_The strange woman--it is evident now that she has always been
     strange to him--smiles tolerantly._

KATE. You never found out?

SIR HARRY. I could never be sure.

KATE. [_Reflectively._] I thought that would worry you.

SIR HARRY. [_Sneering._] It's plain that he soon left you.

KATE. Very soon.

SIR HARRY. As I could have told you. [_But still she surveys him with
the smile of Mona Lisa. The badgered man has to entreat._] Who was he?
It was fourteen years ago, and cannot matter to any of us now. Kate,
tell me who he was?

     [_It is his first youthful moment, and perhaps because of that she
     does not wish to hurt him._

KATE. [_Shaking a motherly head._] Better not ask.

SIR HARRY. I do ask. Tell me.

KATE. It is kinder not to tell you.

SIR HARRY. [_Violently._] Then, by James, it was one of my own pals. Was
it Bernard Roche? [_She shakes her head._] It may have been some one who
comes to my house still.

KATE. I think not. [_Reflecting._] Fourteen years! You found my letter
that night when you went home?

SIR HARRY. [_Impatient._] Yes.

KATE. I propped it against the decanters. I thought you would be sure to
see it there. It was a room not unlike this, and the furniture was
arranged in the same attractive way. How it all comes back to me. Don't
you see me, Harry, in hat and cloak, putting the letter there, taking a
last look round, and then stealing out into the night to meet----

SIR HARRY. Whom?

KATE. Him. Hours pass, no sound in the room but the tick-tack of the
clock, and then about midnight you return alone. You take----

SIR HARRY. [_Gruffly._] I wasn't alone.

KATE. [_The picture spoiled._] No? Oh. [_Plaintively._] Here have I all
these years been conceiving it wrongly. [_She studies his face._] I
believe something interesting happened.

SIR HARRY. [_Growling._] Something confoundedly annoying.

KATE. [_Coaxing._] Do tell me.

SIR HARRY. We won't go into that. Who was the man? Surely a husband has
a right to know with whom his wife bolted.

KATE. [_Who is detestably ready with her tongue._] Surely the wife has a
right to know how he took it. [_The woman's love of bargaining comes to
her aid._] A fair exchange. You tell me what happened, and I will tell
you who he was.

SIR HARRY. You will? Very well.

     [_It is the first point on which they have agreed, and, forgetting
     himself, he takes a place beside her on the fire-seat. He is
     thinking only of what he is to tell her, but she, womanlike, is
     conscious of their proximity._

KATE. [_Tastelessly._] Quite like old times. [_He moves away from her
indignantly._] Go on, Harry.

SIR HARRY. [_Who has a manful shrinking from saying anything that is to
his disadvantage._] Well, as you know, I was dining at the club that
night.

KATE. Yes.

SIR HARRY. Jack Lamb drove me home. Mabbett Green was with us, and I
asked them to come in for a few minutes.

KATE. Jack Lamb, Mabbett Green? I think I remember them. Jack was in
Parliament.

SIR HARRY. No, that was Mabbett. They came into the house with me
and--[_with sudden horror_]--was it him?

KATE. [_Bewildered._] Who?

SIR HARRY. Mabbett?

KATE. What?

SIR HARRY. The man?

KATE. What man? [_Understanding._] Oh, no. I thought you said he came
into the house with you.

SIR HARRY. It might have been a blind.

KATE. Well, it wasn't. Go on.

SIR HARRY. They came in to finish a talk we had been having at the club.

KATE. An interesting talk, evidently.

SIR HARRY. The papers had been full that evening of the elopement of
some countess woman with a fiddler. What was her name?

KATE. Does it matter?

SIR HARRY. No. [_Thus ends the countess._] We had been discussing the
thing and--[_he pulls a wry face_]--and I had been rather warm----

KATE. [_With horrid relish._] I begin to see. You had been saying it
served the husband right, that the man who could not look after his wife
deserved to lose her. It was one of your favorite subjects. Oh, Harry,
say it was that!

SIR HARRY. [_Sourly._] It may have been something like that.

KATE. And all the time the letter was there, waiting; and none of you
knew except the clock. Harry, it is sweet of you to tell me. [_His face
is not sweet. The illiterate woman has used the wrong adjective._] I
forget what I said precisely in the letter.

SIR HARRY. [_Pulverizing her._] So do I. But I have it still.

KATE. [_Not pulverized._] Do let me see it again.

     [_She has observed his eye wandering to the desk._

SIR HARRY. You are welcome to it as a gift.

     [_The fateful letter, a poor little dead thing, is brought to light
     from a locked drawer._

KATE. [_Taking it._] Yes, this is it. Harry, how you did crumple it!
[_She reads, not without curiosity._] "Dear husband--I call you that for
the last time--I am off. I am what you call making a bolt of it. I won't
try to excuse myself nor to explain, for you would not accept the
excuses nor understand the explanation. It will be a little shock to
you, but only to your pride; what will astound you is that any woman
could be such a fool as to leave such a man as you. I am taking nothing
with me that belongs to you. May you be very happy.--Your ungrateful
KATE. _P.S._--You need not try to find out who he is. You will try, but
you won't succeed." [_She folds the nasty little thing up._] I may
really have it for my very own?

SIR HARRY. You really may.

KATE. [_Impudently._] If you would care for a typed copy----?

SIR HARRY. [_In a voice with which he used to frighten his
grandmother_.] None of your sauce! [_Wincing._] I had to let them see it
in the end.

KATE. I can picture Jack Lamb eating it.

SIR HARRY. A penniless parson's daughter.

KATE. That is all I was.

SIR HARRY. We searched for the two of you high and low.

KATE. Private detectives?

SIR HARRY. They couldn't get on the track of you.

KATE. [_Smiling._] No?

SIR HARRY. But at last the courts let me serve the papers by
advertisement on a man unknown, and I got my freedom.

KATE. So I saw. It was the last I heard of you.

SIR HARRY. [_Each word a blow for her._] And I married again just as
soon as ever I could.

KATE. They say that is always a compliment to the first wife.

SIR HARRY. [_Violently._] I showed them.

KATE. You soon let them see that if one woman was a fool, you still had
the pick of the basket to choose from.

SIR HARRY. By James, I did.

KATE. [_Bringing him to earth again._] But still, you wondered who he
was.

SIR HARRY. I suspected everybody--even my pals. I felt like jumping at
their throats and crying: "It's you!"

KATE. You had been so admirable to me, an instinct told you that I was
sure to choose another of the same.

SIR HARRY. I thought, it can't be money, so it must be looks. Some dolly
face. [_He stares at her in perplexity._] He must have had something
wonderful about him to make you willing to give up all that you had with
me.

KATE. [_As if he was the stupid one._] Poor Harry.

SIR HARRY. And it couldn't have been going on for long, for I would have
noticed the change in you.

KATE. Would you?

SIR HARRY. I knew you so well.

KATE. You amazing man.

SIR HARRY. So who was he? Out with it.

KATE. You are determined to know?

SIR HARRY. Your promise. You gave your word.

KATE. If I must--[_She is the villain of the piece, but it must be
conceded that in this matter she is reluctant to pain him._] I am sorry
I promised. [_Looking at him steadily._] There was no one, Harry; no one
at all.

SIR HARRY.. [_Rising._] If you think you can play with me----

KATE. I told you that you wouldn't like it.

SIR HARRY. [_Rasping._] It is unbelievable.

KATE. I suppose it is; but it is true.

SIR HARRY. Your letter itself gives you the lie.

KATE. That was intentional. I saw that if the truth were known you might
have a difficulty in getting your freedom; and as I was getting mine it
seemed fair that you should have yours also. So I wrote my good-by in
words that would be taken to mean what you thought they meant, and I
knew the law would back you in your opinion. For the law, like you,
Harry, has a profound understanding of women.

SIR HARRY. [_Trying to straighten, himself._] I don't believe you yet.

KATE. [_Looking not unkindly into the soul of this man._] Perhaps that
is the best way to take it. It is less unflattering than the truth. But
you were the only one. [_Summing up her life._] You sufficed.

SIR HARRY. Then what mad impulse----

KATE. It was no impulse, Harry. I had thought it out for a year.

SIR HARRY. A year? [_Dazed._] One would think to hear you that I hadn't
been a good husband to you.

KATE. [_With a sad smile._] You were a good husband according to your
lights.

SIR HARRY. [_Stoutly._] _I_ think so.

KATE. And a moral man, and chatty, and quite the philanthropist.

SIR HARRY. [_On sure ground._] All women envied you.

KATE. How you loved me to be envied.

SIR HARRY. I swaddled you in luxury.

KATE. [_Making her great revelation._] That was it.

SIR HARRY. [_Blankly._] What?

KATE. [_Who can be serene because it is all over._] How you beamed at me
when I sat at the head of your fat dinners in my fat jewelry, surrounded
by our fat friends.

SIR HARRY. [_Aggrieved._] They weren't so fat.

KATE. [_A side issue._] All except those who were so thin. Have you ever
noticed, Harry, that many jewels make women either incredibly fat or
incredibly thin?

SIR HARRY. [_Shouting._] I have not. [_Is it worth while to argue with
her any longer?_] We had all the most interesting society of the day. It
wasn't only business men. There were politicians, painters, writers----

KATE. Only the glorious, dazzling successes. Oh, the fat talk while we
ate too much--about who had made a hit and who was slipping back, and
what the noo house cost and the noo motor and the gold soup-plates, and
who was to be the noo knight.

SIR HARRY. [_Who it will be observed is unanswerable from first to
last._] Was anybody getting on better than me, and consequently you?

KATE. Consequently me! Oh, Harry, you and your sublime religion.

SIR HARRY. [_Honest heart._] My religion? I never was one to talk about
religion, but----

KATE. Pooh, Harry, you don't even know what your religion was and is and
will be till the day of your expensive funeral. [_And here is the lesson
that life has taught her._] One's religion is whatever he is most
interested in, and yours is Success.

SIR HARRY. [_Quoting from his morning paper._] Ambition--it is the last
infirmity of noble minds.

KATE. Noble minds!

SIR HARRY. [_At last grasping what she is talking about._] You are not
saying that you left me because of my success?

KATE. Yes, that was it. [_And now she stands revealed to him._] I
couldn't endure it. If a failure had come now and then--but your success
was suffocating me. [_She is rigid with emotion._] The passionate
craving I had to be done with it, to find myself among people who had
not got on.

SIR HARRY. [_With proper spirit._] There are plenty of them.

KATE. There were none in our set. When they began to go down-hill they
rolled out of our sight.

SIR HARRY. [_Clenching it._] I tell you I am worth a quarter of a
million.

KATE [_Unabashed._] That is what you are worth to yourself. I'll tell
you what you are worth to me: exactly twelve pounds. For I made up my
mind that I could launch myself on the world alone if I first proved my
mettle by earning twelve pounds; and as soon as I had earned it I left
you.

SIR HARRY. [_In the scales._] Twelve pounds!

KATE. That is your value to a woman. If she can't make it she has to
stick to you.

SIR HARRY. [_Remembering perhaps a rectory garden._] You valued me at
more than that when you married me.

KATE. [_Seeing it also._] Ah, I didn't know you then. If only you had
been a man, Harry.

SIR HARRY. A man? What do you mean by a man?

KATE. [_Leaving the garden._] Haven't you heard of them? They are
something fine; and every woman is loath to admit to herself that her
husband is not one. When she marries, even though she has been a very
trivial person, there is in her some vague stirring toward a worthy
life, as well as a fear of her capacity for evil. She knows her chance
lies in him. If there is something good in him, what is good in her
finds it, and they join forces against the baser parts. So I didn't give
you up willingly, Harry. I invented all sorts of theories to explain
you. Your hardness--I said it was a fine want of mawkishness. Your
coarseness--I said it goes with strength. Your contempt for the weak--I
called it virility. Your want of ideals was clear-sightedness. Your
ignoble views of women--I tried to think them funny. Oh, I clung to you
to save myself. But I had to let go; you had only the one quality,
Harry, success; you had it so strong that it swallowed all the others.

SIR HARRY. [_Not to be diverted from the main issue._] How did you earn
that twelve pounds?

KATE. It took me nearly six months; but I earned it fairly. [_She
presses her hand on the typewriter as lovingly as many a woman has
pressed a rose._] I learned this. I hired it and taught myself. I got
some work through a friend, and with my first twelve pounds I paid for
my machine. Then I considered that I was free to go, and I went.

SIR HARRY. All this going on in my house while you were living in the
lap of luxury! [_She nods._] By God, you were determined.

KATE. [_Briefly._] By God, I was.

SIR HARRY. [_Staring._] How you must have hated me.

KATE. [_Smiling at the childish word._] Not a bit--after I saw that
there was a way out. From that hour you amused me, Harry; I was even
sorry for you, for I saw that you couldn't help yourself. Success is
just a fatal gift.

SIR HARRY. Oh, thank you.

KATE. [_Thinking, dear friends in front, of you and me perhaps._] Yes,
and some of your most successful friends knew it. One or two of them
used to look very sad at times, as if they thought they might have come
to something if they hadn't got on.

SIR HARRY. [_Who has a horror of sacrilege._] The battered crew you live
among now--what are they but folk who have tried to succeed and failed?

KATE. That's it; they try, but they fail.

SIR HARRY. And always will fail.

KATE. Always. Poor souls--I say of them. Poor soul--they say of me. It
keeps us human. That is why I never tire of them.

SIR HARRY. [_Comprehensively._] Bah! Kate, I tell you I'll be worth half
a million yet.

KATE. I'm sure you will. You're getting stout, Harry.

SIR HARRY. No, I'm not.

KATE. What was the name of that fat old fellow who used to fall asleep
at our dinner-parties?

SIR HARRY. If you mean Sir William Crackley----

KATE. That was the man. Sir William was to me a perfect picture of the
grand success. He had got on so well that he was very, very stout, and
when he sat on a chair it was thus [_her hands meeting in front of
her_]--as if he were holding his success together. That is what you are
working for, Harry. You will have that and the half million about the
same time.

SIR HARRY. [_Who has surely been very patient._] Will you please to
leave my house?

KATE. [_Putting on her gloves, soiled things._] But don't let us part in
anger. How do you think I am looking, Harry, compared to the dull, inert
thing that used to roll round in your padded carriages?

SIR HARRY. [_In masterly fashion._] I forget what you were like. I'm
very sure you never could have held a candle to the present Lady Sims.

KATE. That is a picture of her, is it not?

SIR HARRY. [_Seizing his chance again._] In her wedding-gown. Painted by
an R.A.

KATE. [_Wickedly._] A knight?

SIR HARRY. [_Deceived._] Yes.

KATE. [_Who likes_ LADY SIMS--_a piece of presumption on her part_.] It
is a very pretty face.

SIR HARRY. [_With the pride of possession._] Acknowledged to be a beauty
everywhere.

KATE. There is a merry look in the eyes, and character in the chin.

SIR HARRY. [_Like an auctioneer._] Noted for her wit.

KATE. All her life before her when that was painted. It is a
_spirituelle_ face too. [_Suddenly she turns on him with anger, for the
first and only time in the play._] Oh, Harry, you brute!

SIR HARRY. [_Staggered._] Eh? What?

KATE. That dear creature, capable of becoming a noble wife and
mother--she is the spiritless woman of no account that I saw here a few
minutes ago. I forgive you for myself, for I escaped, but that poor lost
soul, oh, Harry, Harry.

SIR HARRY. [_Waving her to the door._] I'll thank you--If ever there
was a woman proud of her husband and happy in her married life, that
woman is Lady Sims.

KATE. I wonder.

SIR HARRY. Then you needn't wonder.

KATE. [_Slowly._] If I was a husband--it is my advice to all of them--I
would often watch my wife quietly to see whether the twelve-pound look
was not coming into her eyes. Two boys, did you say, and both like you?

SIR HARRY. What is that to you?

KATE. [_With glistening eyes_.] I was only thinking that somewhere there
are two little girls who, when they grow up--the dear, pretty girls who
are all meant for the men that don't get on! Well, good-by, Sir Harry.

SIR HARRY. [_Showing a little human weakness, it is to be feared._] Say
first that you're sorry.

KATE. For what?

SIR HARRY. That you left me. Say you regret it bitterly. You know you
do. [_She smiles and shakes her head. He is pettish. He makes a terrible
announcement._] You have spoiled the day for me.

KATE. [_To hearten him._] I am sorry for that; but it is only a
pin-prick, Harry. I suppose it is a little jarring in the moment of your
triumph to find that there is--one old friend--who does not think you a
success; but you will soon forget it. Who cares what a typist thinks?

SIR HARRY. [_Heartened._] Nobody. A typist at eighteen shillings a week!

KATE. [_Proudly._] Not a bit of it, Harry. I double that.

SIR HARRY. [_Neatly._] Magnificent!

     [_There is a timid knock at the door._]

LADY SIMS. May I come in?

SIR HARRY. [_Rather appealingly._] It is Lady Sims.

KATE. I won't tell. She is afraid to come into her husband's room
without knocking!

SIR HARRY. She is not. [_Uxoriously._] Come in, dearest.

     [_Dearest enters, carrying the sword. She might have had the sense
     not to bring it in while this annoying person is here._

LADY SIMS. [_Thinking she has brought her welcome with her._] Harry, the
sword has come.

SIR HARRY. [_Who will dote on it presently._] Oh, all right.

LADY SIMS. But I thought you were so eager to practise with it.

     [_The person smiles at this. He wishes he had not looked to see if
     she was smiling._

SIR HARRY. [_Sharply._] Put it down.

     [LADY SIMS _flushes a little as she lays the sword aside_.

KATE. [_With her confounded courtesy._] It is a beautiful sword, if I
may say so.

LADY SIMS. [_Helped._] Yes.

     [_The person thinks she can put him in the wrong, does she? He'll
     show her._

SIR HARRY. [_With one eye on_ KATE.] Emmy, the one thing your neck needs
is more jewels.

LADY SIMS. [_Faltering._] More!

SIR HARRY. Some ropes of pearls. I'll see to it. It's a bagatelle to me.
[KATE _conceals her chagrin, so she had better be shown the door. He
rings._] I won't detain you any longer, miss.

KATE. Thank you.

LADY SIMS. Going already? You have been very quick.

SIR HARRY. The person doesn't suit, Emmy.

LADY SIMS. I'm sorry.

KATE. So am I, madam, but it can't be helped. Good-by, your
ladyship--good-by, Sir Harry.

     [_There is a suspicion of an impertinent courtesy, and she is
     escorted off the premises by_ TOMBES. _The air of the room is
     purified by her going._ SIR HARRY _notices it at once_.

LADY SIMS. [_Whose tendency is to say the wrong thing._] She seemed such
a capable woman.

SIR HARRY. [_On his hearth._] I don't like her style at all.

LADY SIMS. [_Meekly._] Of course you know best.

     [_This is the right kind of woman._

SIR HARRY. [_Rather anxious for corroboration._] Lord, how she winced
when I said I was to give you those ropes of pearls.

LADY SIMS. Did she? I didn't notice. I suppose so.

SIR HARRY. [_Frowning._] Suppose? Surely I know enough about women to
know that.

LADY SIMS. Yes, oh yes.

SIR HARRY. [_Odd that so confident a man should ask this._] Emmy, I know
you well, don't I? I can read you like a book, eh?

LADY SIMS. [_Nervously._] Yes, Harry.

SIR HARRY. [_Jovially, but with an inquiring eye._] What a different
existence yours is from that poor lonely wretch's.

LADY SIMS. Yes, but she has a very contented face.

SIR HARRY. [_With a stamp of his foot._] All put on. What?

LADY SIMS. [_Timidly._] I didn't say anything.

SIR HARRY. [_Snapping._] One would think you envied her.

LADY SIMS. Envied? Oh, no--but I thought she looked so alive. It was
while she was working the machine.

SIR HARRY. Alive! That's no life. It is you that are alive. [_Curtly._]
I'm busy, Emmy. [_He sits at his writing-table._

LADY SIMS. [_Dutifully._] I'm sorry; I'll go, Harry.
[_Inconsequentially._] Are they very expensive?

SIR HARRY. What?

LADY SIMS. Those machines?

     [_When she has gone the possible meaning of her question startles
     him. The curtain hides him from us, but we may be sure that he will
     soon be bland again. We have a comfortable feeling, you and I, that
     there is nothing of_ HARRY SIMS _in us_.



TRADITION

BY

GEORGE MIDDLETON


_Tradition_ is reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher,
Henry Holt & Company, New York City. All rights reserved. For permission
to perform, address the author, in care of the publisher.

The author and publisher of this play have permitted this reprinting of
copyrighted material on the understanding that the play will be used
only in classroom work. No other use of the play is authorized, and
permission for any other use must be secured from the holder of the
acting rights.


GEORGE MIDDLETON

George Middleton, one of the first to write and publish a volume of
one-act plays in America, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, 1880. He was
graduated from Columbia University in 1902. Since 1921 he has been
literary editor of _La Follette's Weekly_, and, in addition, has been a
frequent contributor to magazines and reviews on dramatic and literary
subjects. During the last few years he has spent much of his time
abroad.

George Middleton's chiefest interest has been in the one-act play. He
has been an ardent champion of the shorter form of drama. Among his
three volumes of one-act plays are _Embers_ (including _The Failures_,
_The Gargoyle_, _In His House_, _Madonna_, and _The Man Masterful_),
_Tradition_ (including _On Bail_, _Their Wife_, _Waiting_, _The Cheat of
Pity_, and _Mothers_), and _Possession_ (including _The Grove_, _A Good
Woman_, _The Black Tie_, _Circles_, and _The Unborn_). Other one-act
plays are _Criminals_ and _The Reason_. His longer plays are _Nowadays_
and _The Road Together_. Mr. Middleton has lectured widely on the
one-act play before colleges, in Little Theatres, and clubs. Perhaps his
most notable article is _The Neglected One-Act Play_, which appeared in
_The New York Dramatic Mirror_ in 1912.

_Tradition_ is one of Mr. Middleton's best and most popular one-act
plays; and it most nearly conforms to the organic technic of the one-act
play.

FIRST PERFORMANCE AT THE BERKELEY THEATRE, NEW YORK CITY, JANUARY 24,
1913.

(Produced under the personal direction of Mr. FRANK REICHER.)


THE PEOPLE

GEORGE OLLIVANT             MR. GEORGE W. WILSON

EMILY, _his wife_      MISS ALICE LEIGH

MARY, _his daughter, an actress_      MISS FOLA LA FOLLETTE



TRADITION[B]


     SCENE: _The sitting-room at the_ OLLIVANTS' _in a small town
     up-State. It is an evening late in the spring._

     _A simple room is disclosed, bearing the traces of another
     generation. Old-fashioned window-doors at the right, overlooking
     the garden, open on a porch; another door in back opening on the
     hall-way. A large fire-place at the left, now concealed by an
     embroidered screen; the horsehair furniture, several terra-cotta
     statuettes, and a woodcut or two on the walls create the subtle
     atmosphere of the past. There is a lamp on the table, and another
     on a bracket by the door in back. Moonlight filters through the
     window-doors._

     _The_ OLLIVANTS _are discovered together_. MARY, _a rather plain
     woman of about twenty-five, with a suggestion of quick
     sensibilities, is standing, lost in thought, looking out into the
     garden. Her mother_, EMILY, _nearing fifty, quiet and subdued in
     manner, is seated at the table trimming a hat. Occasionally she
     looks at_ MARY, _stops her work, glances at her husband, closes her
     eyes as though tired, and then resumes. The silence continues for
     some time, broken only by the rattle of the town paper which_
     GEORGE OLLIVANT _is reading. He is well on in middle life, with a
     strong, determined face not entirely without elements of kindness
     and deep feeling. When he finishes, he folds the paper, puts it on
     the table, knocks the ashes carefully from his pipe into his hand,
     and throws them behind the screen; takes off his spectacles and
     wipes them as he, too, looks over toward his daughter, still gazing
     absently into the garden. Finally, after a slight hesitation, he
     goes to her and puts his arm about her; she is startled but smiles
     sweetly._

OLLIVANT. [_Affectionately._] Glad to be home again, Mary?

MARY. [_Evasively._] The garden is so pretty.

OLLIVANT. Hasn't changed much, eh?

MARY. It seems different; perhaps it's the night.

OLLIVANT. I guess it isn't up to its usual standard. Haven't seen your
mother there so often this spring.

EMILY. [_Quietly._] This dry spell is not good for flowers.

OLLIVANT. It's only the cultivated flowers that need care; can't help
thinking that when I see the wild ones so hardy in my fields on the
hill. [_Turning to_ EMILY _and patting her_.] Is there any of that spray
mixture left, Emily, dear?

EMILY. I haven't looked lately.

OLLIVANT. I'll order some to-morrow. [_Taking up his pipe again and
looking for the tobacco._] Think it would be a good idea, daughter, if
you'd spray those rosebushes every couple of weeks. The bugs are a pest
this spring. Where's my tobacco?

EMILY. On the mantel.

OLLIVANT. Wish you would always leave it on the table; you know how I
hate to have things changed.

     [OLLIVANT _goes to the mantel, filling his pipe, and while his back
     is turned_, MARY _makes a quick questioning gesture to her mother,
     who sighs helplessly_. MARY _ponders a moment_.]

MARY. How's Ben been doing these two years, father?

OLLIVANT. Hasn't your brother written you?

MARY. Only once--when I left home; he disapproved, too.

OLLIVANT. Had an older brother's feeling of wanting to take care of you,
Mary.

MARY. Yes; I know. How's he doing?

OLLIVANT. He's commencing to get on his feet. Takes time and money for
any one to get started these days.

MARY. But he's still in partnership with Bert Taylor, isn't he?

OLLIVANT. Yes. He'd have been somewhere if he'd worked in with me as I
did with _my_ father. Things should be handed down. Offered him the
chance, tried to make him take it, as your mother knows; but that
college chum--nice enough fellow, I've heard--turned his head another
way. [_Lighting his pipe and puffing slowly._] It's best to humor a
young fellow's ideas if he sticks them out, but I'd like to have had us
all here together now. The place is big enough even if he should want to
marry. Your mother and I came here, you know, when your grandfather was
still alive.

MARY. Then Ben isn't making any money?

OLLIVANT. [_Reluctantly._] Not yet--to speak of.

EMILY. [_Quietly._] But he's promised to pay his father back, Mary.

MARY. I see. [_Thoughtfully._] College and then more help to get
started, because he's a man.

OLLIVANT. [_Complacently._] He'll have to support a family some day;
I've had to keep that in mind.

MARY. I'd like to have a real talk with him.

OLLIVANT. When did his letter say he'd be coming for a visit, Emily?

EMILY. The fifteenth.

MARY. Not till then? That's too bad.

OLLIVANT. Eh?

MARY. [_After exchanging a quick glance with her mother and gaining
courage._] Father, I hope you didn't misunderstand my coming back?

OLLIVANT. Not at all. We all make mistakes--especially when we're young.
Perhaps I was a bit hasty when you left home, but I knew you'd soon see
I was right. I didn't think it would take you two years--but perhaps if
I'd written you before you'd have come sooner. I told your mother I'd
like to make it easy for you to come home.

MARY. Mother suggested that you write me?

OLLIVANT. Well, I suppose you might put it that way. I always felt she
thought I was a bit hard on you, but I'm not one to back down easily.

MARY. Don't blame me then, father, if I showed I was your daughter.

OLLIVANT. Let's forget my feeling; but naturally I was set back.

MARY. Because you didn't take my going seriously until I was actually
leaving.

OLLIVANT. I couldn't get it into my head then, and I can't now, how any
girl would want to leave a home like this, where you have everything.
You don't know how lucky you are--or maybe you have realized it. Look
about you and see what other girls have. Is it like this? Trees,
flowers, and a lake view that's the best in the county. Why, one can
breathe here and even taste the air. Every time I come back from a
business trip it makes a new man of me. Ask your mother. Eh, Emily? When
I sit out there on the porch in the cool evenings it makes me feel at
ease with the world to know that the place is _mine_ and that I've
raised a family and can take care of them all. Ben had to go, I
suppose--it's the way with sons; but I thought you, at least, would stay
here, daughter, in this old house where you were born, where I was born,
where all your early associations----

MARY. [_Shuddering._] I hate associations.

OLLIVANT. [_Eying her._] Well, I'd like to know where you get _that_
from. Not from your mother and me. _We_ like them, don't we, Emily? Why,
your mother's hardly ever even left here--but you had to up and get out.

MARY. Yes. That's right, father; I _had_ to.

OLLIVANT. [_He stops smoking and looks at her sharply._] Had to? Who
made you?

MARY. [_Reluctantly._] It was something inside me.

OLLIVANT. [_In spite of himself._] Tush--that foolishness.

MARY. [_Quickly._] Don't make it hard for us again.

OLLIVANT. I made it hard, Mary? Because I objected to your leaving your
mother here alone?

MARY. I remember; you said I was a foolish, "stage-struck" girl.

OLLIVANT. Well, you're over _that_, aren't you?

MARY. That's just where you are mistaken, father. [_Slowly._] That's why
I asked you if you hadn't misunderstood my coming back.

OLLIVANT. [_Suspiciously._] Then why did you come at all?

MARY. I'm human; I wanted to see you and mother, so I came when you
generously wrote me. I'm not going to stay and spray the roses.

OLLIVANT. [_He eyes her tensely and controls himself with an effort._]
So you are not going to stay with your mother and me?

MARY. [_Affectionately._] I'll come see you as often as I can and----

OLLIVANT.--and make a hotel of your home? [MARY _is silent_.] Don't you
see your mother is getting older and needs somebody to be here?

EMILY. [_With a quiet assurance._] I have never been so well and
contented.

OLLIVANT. [_Tenderly._] I know better, Emily; can't I see you're getting
thinner and older? [_Stopping her protests._] Now, let me manage this,
dear. It's a girl's place to stay at home. You know my feelings about
that. Suppose anything should happen to your mother, what would _I_ do?

MARY. So it's not mother alone you are thinking of?

OLLIVANT. [_Tersely._] I'm thinking of your place at home--doing a
woman's work. I'm not proud of having my daughter off earning her own
living as though I couldn't support her.

EMILY. George!

MARY. I thought it was only because I was on the stage.

OLLIVANT. Well, it's not the most heavenly place, is it? A lot of
narrow-minded fools here in town thought I was crazy to _let_ you go; I
knew how they felt; I grinned and bore it. You were my daughter and I
loved you, and I didn't want them to think any less of you by their
finding out you were leaving against my wish.

MARY. [_Slowly, with comprehension._] That's what hurt you.

OLLIVANT. Well, I blamed myself a bit for taking you to plays and liking
them myself.

MARY. People here will soon forget about me and merely be sorry for you.

OLLIVANT. [_Persuasively._] Why, Mary. I've made it easy for you to
stay. I told every one you were coming home for good. They'll think me a
fool if----

MARY. [_Tenderly._] You meant what was dear and good, father; but you
had no right to say that. I'm sorry.

OLLIVANT. I did it because I thought you had come to your senses.

MARY. [_Firmly._] I never saw so clearly as I do now.

OLLIVANT. [_Bluntly._] Then you're stubborn--plain stubborn--not to
admit failure.

MARY. [_Startled._] Failure?

OLLIVANT. I know what the newspapers said; Ben sent them to me.

MARY. Which ones?

OLLIVANT. Why, all of them, I guess.

MARY. Did he send you the good ones?

OLLIVANT. Were there any?

MARY. Oh, I see. So Ben carefully picked out only those which would
please you.

OLLIVANT. [_Sarcastically._] Please me?

MARY. Yes; because you and he didn't want me to succeed; because you
thought failure would bring me home. But don't you think I'll let some
cub reporter settle things for me. I'll never come home through
failure--never.

OLLIVANT. [_Kindly._] Ben and I only want to protect you, Mary.

MARY. Why do men always want to protect women?

OLLIVANT. Because we know the world.

MARY. Yes; but you don't know _me_. Father, you still think I'm only a
foolish, stage-struck girl, and want flowers and men and my name in big
letters. It isn't that.

OLLIVANT. Well, what is it, then?

MARY. Oh--I want to be an artist. I don't suppose you can understand it;
I didn't, myself, at first. I was born with it, but didn't know what it
was till that first time you took me to the theatre.

OLLIVANT. So it was all my fault?

MARY. It isn't anybody's fault; it's just a fact. I knew from that day
what I wanted to do. I wanted to act--to create. I don't care whether I
play a leading lady or a scrub-woman, if I can do it with truth and
beauty.

OLLIVANT. Well, you haven't done much of either, have you? What have you
got to show for our unhappiness? What have you got ahead of you?

MARY. Nothing--definite.

OLLIVANT. [_Incredulously._] Yet, you're going to keep at it?

MARY. Yes.

OLLIVANT. What do you think of that, Emily?

MARY. I am going to the city Monday.

OLLIVANT. [_Persistently._] But what will you do when you get there?

MARY. What I've done before: hunt a job, tramp the streets, call at the
offices, be snubbed and insulted by office-boys--keep at it till I get
something to do.

OLLIVANT. Come, come, Mary; don't make me lose patience. Put your pride
in your pocket. You've had your fling. You've tried and failed. Give it
all up and stay home here where you can be comfortable.

MARY. [_With intense feeling._] Father, I can't give it up. It doesn't
make any difference how they treat me, how many times I get my "notice"
and don't even make good according to their standards. I can't give it
up. I simply can't. It keeps gnawing inside me and driving me on. It's
there--always there, and I know if I keep at work I will succeed. I know
it; I know it.

     [MARY _throws herself into the chair, much stirred_. EMILY'S _eyes
     have eagerly followed her throughout this as though responding
     sympathetically, but_ OLLIVANT _has stood in silence, watching her
     apparently without comprehension_.]

OLLIVANT. [_Not without kindness._] Something inside. Huh! Have you any
clear idea what she's talking about, Emily?

     [MARY _gives a short, hurt cry and goes quickly to the window,
     looking out and controlling herself with an effort_.]

EMILY. [_Softly, as she looks at_ MARY.] I think I understand.

OLLIVANT. I don't. Something inside. I never had anything like that
bothering me. What's it all mean?

EMILY. [_Quietly._] So many people use the same words, but cannot
understand each other.

OLLIVANT. Well, you seem to think it's mighty important Mary, whatever
it is; but it's too much for me. If you had something to show for it I
wouldn't mind. But you're just where you started and you might as well
give up.

EMILY. George!

OLLIVANT. Now I don't know much about the stage, Emily, but Ben does. He
says you're not made for an actress, Mary; you haven't got a chance.

MARY. [_Turning._] Father!

OLLIVANT. Can't you see your failure isn't your own fault? If you were a
beauty like Helen Safford or some of those other "stars"--but you're
not pretty, why, you're not even good-looking and----

MARY. [_With bitter vehemence_.] Oh, don't go any further. I know all
that. But I don't care how I look off the stage if only I can grow
beautiful on it. I'll create with so much inner power and beauty that
people will forget how I look and only see what I think and feel. I can
do it; I have done it; I've made audiences feel and even got my "notice"
because the stage-manager said I was "too natural." Helen
Safford--what's she? A professional beauty with everything outside and
nothing in. You think of her eyes, her mouth, and her profile; but does
she touch you so you remember? I know her work. Wait till I get a chance
to play a scene with her--which they may give me because I'm not
good-looking--I'll make them forget she's on the stage the first ten
minutes--yes, and you and Ben, too, if you'll come. Helen Safford? Huh!
Why, people will remember me when she's only a lithograph.

OLLIVANT. Well, then, why haven't you had your chance?

MARY. [_Quickly._] Because most managers feel the way you and Ben do.
And not having a lovely profile and a fashion-plate figure stands
between me and a chance even to read a part, let alone play it. That's
what eats the heart out of me, mother; and makes me hate my face every
time I sit down to put on the grease paint.

OLLIVANT. Well, don't blame me for that.

MARY. [_Going to her mother, who takes her hand._] You can laugh at me,
father; you don't understand. It's foolish to talk. But, oh, mother, why
is such beauty given to women like Helen Safford who have no inner need
of it, and here am I, with a real creative gift, wrapped up in a
nondescript package which stands between me and everything I want to do?
[_With determination._] But I will--ultimately I will make good, in
spite of my looks; others have. And what I've suffered will make me a
greater artist.

OLLIVANT. [_In a matter-of-fact tone._] Are you sure all this isn't
overconfidence and vanity?

MARY. I don't care what you call it. It's what keeps me working.

OLLIVANT. [_Quickly._] Working? But how can you work without an
engagement?

MARY. That _is_ the hard part of our life; waiting, waiting for a chance
to work. But don't think I stand still when I haven't an engagement. I
don't dare. That's why I keep at my voice work and dancing and----

OLLIVANT. [_Suddenly interrupting._] Dancing and voice work when you
have no engagements. Would you mind telling me who is paying the bills?

MARY. [_Indignantly._] Father!

OLLIVANT. I think I have the right to ask that.

MARY. Have you?

OLLIVANT. I am your father.

MARY. [_With quiet dignity._] You thought you'd force me here at home to
do as you wished because you paid for my food and clothes; when you took
that from me you _ceased_ to have that right. Don't forget since I left
you've not helped me with my work or given me a penny.

OLLIVANT. [_Suspiciously._] Mary.... No, that's not why you went away
from home?

MARY. No.

OLLIVANT. Or you met some man _there_ and....

MARY. No.

OLLIVANT. There is some man.

MARY. Why a _man_?

OLLIVANT. Damn them; I know them. [_Breaking._] Good God, Mary, dear,
you haven't...? Answer me, daughter.

MARY. [_Calmly._] No, there's been no need of that.

     [_He has been violently shaken at the thought, looks at her
     intently, believes her, and then continues in a subdued manner._

OLLIVANT. Then who helped you? Ben?

MARY. How could he help me? Are men the only ones who help women?

EMILY. [_Quietly._] Tell him, Mary; it's best now.

OLLIVANT. [_Turning slowly to her in surprise._] You knew and have kept
it from me?

EMILY. [_Calmly, as she puts down the hat she has been trimming._] I
found I hadn't lost my old skill, though it's been a good many years
since I held a brush--since before we were married, George. I had an
idea I thought would sell: paper dolls with little hand-painted dresses
on separate sheets; they were so much softer than the printed kind, and
children like anything soft. I wrote to Mr. Aylwin--you remember--he was
so kind to me years before. He had called here once before when you were
away and asked after my work. He used to think I had such promise. He
found an opportunity to use the dolls as a specialty, and when I
explained he induced some other firms to use all I can paint, too. They
pay me very well. I made enough each month to help Mary when she went
behind.

OLLIVANT. [_Incredulously._] You! After you heard me say when she left I
wouldn't give her a cent?

EMILY. [_Looking fondly at_ MARY.] You were keeping Ben, weren't you?

OLLIVANT. But--that's--that's different.

EMILY. I didn't see why we shouldn't help _both_ our children.

OLLIVANT. [_Perplexed by this he turns to_ MARY.] And you took it?

MARY. Yes.

OLLIVANT. You knew how she got the money?

MARY. Yes.

OLLIVANT. Your mother working herself sick for you, and you took it?

EMILY. I told you I've never been so happy.

MARY. [_Simply._] I couldn't bargain with what I felt. I had to study.
I'd have taken anything, gotten it anywhere. I had to live. You didn't
help me. Ben and I both went against your will, but you helped him
because he was your son. I was only your daughter.

     [OLLIVANT _eyes her and seems to be struggling with himself. He is
     silent a long while as they both watch him. Finally, after several
     efforts he speaks with emotion._]

OLLIVANT. Mary, I--I didn't realize how much you meant to me till--till
I thought of what might have happened to you without my help.
Would--would you have stayed on in the city if--if your mother hadn't
helped you?

MARY. [_Firmly._] Yes, father; I would have stayed on.

OLLIVANT. [_After a pause._] Then I guess what you _feel_ is stronger
than all your mother and I tried to teach you.... Are you too proud to
take help from me--now?

MARY. [_Simply._] No, father; till I succeed. Then I'll pay you back
like Ben promised.

OLLIVANT. [_Hurt._] You don't think it was the money, daughter? It would
have cost to keep you here. It wasn't that.

MARY. No; it was your father speaking and his father and his father.
[_Looking away wistfully._] And perhaps I was speaking for those before
me who were silent or couldn't be heard.

OLLIVANT. [_With sincerity._] I don't exactly understand _that_ any more
than the feeling you spoke of driving you from home. But I do see what
you mean about brothers and sisters. You seem to think boys and girls
are the same. But they're not. Men and women are different. You may not
know it, but your mother had foolish ideas like you have when I first
knew her. She was poor and didn't have a mother to support her, and she
had to work for a living. She'd about given up when I met her--trying to
work at night to feed herself in the day while studying. But she was
sensible; when a good man came along who could support her she married
him and settled down. Look how happy she's been here with a home of her
own that is a home--with associations and children. Where would she be,
struggling to-day trying to paint pictures for a living? Why, there's
lots of men who can paint pictures, and too few good wives for
hard-working, decent men who want a family--which is God's law. You'll
find that out one of these days and you'll give yourself as she did.
Some day a man will come and you'll want to marry him. How could you if
you keep on with your work, going about the country?

MARY. [_Quietly._] You leave mother at times, don't you?

OLLIVANT. I've got to.

MARY. So may I.

OLLIVANT. And the children?

MARY. They'd have a share of my life.

OLLIVANT. A mighty big share if you're human, I tell you. Ask your
mother if you think they're easy coming and bringing up.

MARY. And now they've left her. Dear mother, what has she to do?

OLLIVANT. Well, if you ever get a husband with those ideas of yours
you'll see what a wife has to do. [_He goes to her._] Mary, it isn't
easy, all this you've been saying. But your mother and I are left alone,
and perhaps we _have_ got different views than you. But if ever you do
see it our way, and give up or fail--- well, come back to us,
understand?

MARY. [_Going to him and kissing him._] I understand how hard it was for
you to say that. And remember I may come back a success.

OLLIVANT. Yes. I suppose they all think that; it's what keeps them
going. But some day, when you're in love and marry, you'll see it all
differently.

MARY. Father, what if the man does not come--or the children?

OLLIVANT. Why--[_He halts as though unable to answer her._] Nonsense.
He'll come, never fear; they always do.

MARY. I wonder.

OLLIVANT. [_He goes affectionately to_ EMILY_, who has been staring
before her during this_.] Emily, dear. No wonder the flowers have been
neglected. Well, you'll have time to spray those roses yourself. I'll
get the spray mixture to-morrow. [_Kisses her tenderly._] Painting paper
dolls with a change of clothes! When I might have been sending her the
money without ever feeling it. No more of that, dear; you don't have to
now. I shan't let you get tired and sick. That's one thing I draw the
line at. [_He pats her again, looks at his watch, and then goes slowly
over to the window-doors._] Well, it's getting late. I'll lock up.
[_Looking up at sky._] Paper says it will rain to-morrow.

EMILY. [_Very quietly so only_ MARY _can hear_.] At the art school they
said I had a lovely sense of color. Your father is so kind; but he
doesn't know how much I enjoyed painting again--even those paper dolls.

MARY. [_Comprehending in surprise._] Mother! You, _too_?

EMILY. [_Fearing lest_ OLLIVANT _should hear_.] Sh!

     [OLLIVANT _closes the doors and eyes the women thoughtfully_.]

OLLIVANT. Better fasten the other windows when you come. Good-night.

     [_He goes out slowly as mother and daughter sit there together._]


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE EXCHANGE

BY

ALTHEA THURSTON

_The Exchange_ is reprinted by permission of Althea Thurston. This play
is one of the farces written in the Course in Dramatic Composition
(English 109) in the University of Utah. For permission to perform,
address B. Roland Lewis, Department of English, University of Utah, Salt
Lake City, Utah.


ALTHEA THURSTON

Althea Cooms-Thurston, one of the promising writers of the younger set
of American dramatists, was born in Iowa, but soon moved with her
parents to Colorado, where she spent her girlhood. She was educated in
the public schools of Colorado Springs and Denver. Her collegiate
training was received in the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. In 1902
she married Walter R. Thurston, a well-known engineer. At present she
resides in Dallas, Texas.

Mrs. Thurston has travelled widely and has resided for periods of time
in Mexico City and Havana, Cuba. She is an able linguist and has made a
special study of her native English tongue and of Spanish and French,
all of which she uses fluently.

From childhood she has shown dramatic ability. Her dramatic composition
has been more or less directly associated with the courses in
playwriting and the history of the drama which she completed in the
University of Utah. Among her one-act plays are _When a Man's Hungry_,
_And the Devil Laughs_, and _The Exchange_.

Mrs. Thurston has an aptitude for delicate and satirical farce. _The
Exchange_ is an excellent example of farce-comedy in the contemporary
one-act play.


CHARACTERS

    JUDGE, _the exchanger of miseries_
    IMP, _office boy to the_ JUDGE
    A POOR MAN
    A VAIN WOMAN
    A RICH CITIZEN



THE EXCHANGE[C]


SCENE I

     _The curtain rises upon an office scene. Seemingly there is nothing
     unusual about this office: it has tables, chairs, a filing cabinet,
     and a hat-rack. A portion of the office is railed off at the right.
     Within this enclosed space is a commodious desk and swivel-chair;
     and the filing cabinet stands against the wall. This railed-off
     portion of the office belongs, exclusively, to the_ JUDGE. _Here he
     is wont to spend many hours--sometimes to read or write, and again,
     perhaps, he will just sit and ponder upon the vagaries of mankind.
     The_ JUDGE _is a tall, spare man with rather long gray hair, which
     shows beneath the skull-cap that he always wears. When we first see
     him, he is reading a letter, and evidently he is not pleased, for
     he is tapping with impatient fingers upon his desk._

     _At the left of the stage is a heavily curtained door which leads
     to an inner room. At centre rear is another door which evidently
     leads to the street, as it is through this door that the_ POOR MAN,
     _the_ VAIN WOMAN, _and the_ RICH CITIZEN _will presently enter,
     each upon his special quest. The hat-rack stands near the street
     door, and we glimpse a soft black hat and a long black overcoat
     hanging upon it._

     _Down stage to the left is a flat-topped desk, littered with papers
     and letters. This desk has two large drawers, wherein a number of
     miscellaneous articles might be kept. It is at this desk that we
     catch our first glimpse of_ IMP. _He is busily writing in a huge
     ledger, and he seems to be enjoying his work, for he chuckles the
     while._ IMP _is a little rogue; he looks it and acts it, and we
     feel that he has a Mephistophelian spirit. He wears a dark-green
     tight-fitting uniform, trimmed with red braid. His saucy little
     round cap is always cocked over one eye. He is ever chuckling
     impishly, and we feel that he is slyly gleeful over the weaknesses
     of mankind and the difficulties that beset them._

IMP. [_Throws down his pen, chuckles, and half standing on the rungs of
his chair and balancing himself against his desk, surveys the ledger._]
Your honor, I've all the miseries listed to date and a fine lot there is
to choose from. Everything from bunions to old wives for exchange.

JUDGE. [_Scowls and impatiently taps the letter he is reading._] Here is
another one. A woman suspects her husband of a misalliance. Wants to
catch him, but is so crippled with rheumatism she can't get about. Wants
us to exchange her rheumatism for something that won't interfere with
either her walking or her eyesight.

IMP. [_Referring to the ledger and running his finger along the lines._]
We have a defective heart or a lazy liver that we could give her.

JUDGE. [_Irritably tossing the letter over to_ IMP.] She would not be
satisfied. People never are. They always want to change their miseries,
but never their vices. Each thinks his own cross heavier than others
have to bear, but he is very willing to make light of his own weaknesses
and shortcomings. He thinks they are not half so bad as his neighbor's.
I have tried for years to aid distressed humanity, but I can't satisfy
them. I am growing tired of it all, Imp. People need a lesson and
they're going to get it, too. I am going to----

     [_Knock is heard at the street door._ JUDGE _sighs, turns to his
     desk and begins to write_. IMP _sweeps the litter of papers on his
     desk into a drawer, closes ledger, and goes to answer knock_.

IMP. Here comes another misery.

     [IMP _opens the door to admit the_ POOR MAN, _who is very shabbily
     dressed. He hesitates, looks around the room as if he were in the
     wrong place, and then addresses_ IMP _in a loud whisper_.

POOR MAN. [_Indicating the_ JUDGE _with a motion of his head_.] Is that
him?

IMP. [_Whispering loudly his reply._] Yes, that is his honor.

POOR MAN. [_Still whispering and showing signs of nervousness._] Do I
dare speak to him?

IMP. [_Enjoying the situation and still whispering._] Yes, but be
careful what you say.

POOR MAN. [_Takes off his hat, approaches slowly to the railing, and
speaks humbly._] Your honor. I--[_Swallows hard, clears throat._] Your
honor, I've a little favor--to ask of you.

JUDGE. [_Looking coldly at the_ POOR MAN.] Well?

POOR MAN. You see, your honor, I've been poor all my life. I've never
had much fun. I don't ask for a lot of money, but--I would like enough
so that I could have some swell clothes, and--so that I could eat,
drink, and be merry with the boys. You know, I just want to have a good
time. Do you think you could fix it for me, Judge?

JUDGE. [_Gazes at him sternly for a moment._] So you just want to have a
good time? Want me to take away your poverty? I suppose you have no
moral weakness you want to change, no defects in your character that you
want to better?

POOR MAN. [_Stammering and twirling his hat._] Why, w-hy, Judge, I--I am
not a bad man. Of--of course, I have my faults, but then--I've never
committed any crimes. I guess I stack up pretty fair as men go. I'm just
awful tired of being poor and never having any fun. Couldn't you help me
out on that point, Judge?

JUDGE. [_Sighs wearily and turns to_ IMP.] Bring me the ledger.

     [IMP _gives him the ledger in which he has been writing_. JUDGE
     _opens it, and then speaks sharply to the_ POOR MAN.

JUDGE. You understand, do you, my good man, that if I take away your
poverty and give you enough money for your good time, you will have to
accept another misery?

POOR MAN. [_Eagerly._] Yes, your honor, that's all right. I'm willing.

JUDGE. [_Scanning ledger._] Very well. Let us see. Here is paralysis.

POOR MAN. [_Hesitatingly._] Well. I--I couldn't have a--very good time,
if--if I was paralyzed.

JUDGE. [_Shortly._] No. I suppose not. How about a glass eye?

POOR MAN. [_Anxiously._] Please, your honor, if I'm going to have a good
time I need two good eyes. I don't want to miss anything.

JUDGE. [_Wearily turning over the leaves of the ledger._] A man left his
wife here for exchange, perhaps you would like her.

POOR MAN. [_Shifting from one foot to the other and nervously twirling
his hat._] Oh, Judge, oh, no, please, no. I don't want anybody's old
cast-off wife.

JUDGE. [_Becoming exasperated._] Well, choose something, and be quick
about it. Here is lumbago, gout, fatness, old age, and----

IMP. [_Interrupting, and walking quickly over to the railing._] Excuse
me, Judge, but maybe the gentleman would like the indigestion that Mr.
Potter left when he took old Mrs. Pratt's fallen arches.

POOR MAN. [_Eagerly._] Indigestion? Sure! That will be fine! I won't
mind a little thing like indigestion if I can get rid of my poverty.

JUDGE. [_Sternly._] Very well. Raise your right hand. Repeat after me:
"I swear to accept indigestion for better or for worse as my portion of
the world's miseries, so help me God."

POOR MAN. [_Solemnly._] "I swear to accept indigestion for better or for
worse as my portion of the world's miseries, so help me God."

JUDGE. [_To_ IMP.] Show this gentleman to the changing-room.

     [POOR MAN _follows_ IMP, _who conducts him to the heavily curtained
     door. The_ POOR MAN _throws out his chest and swaggers a bit, as a
     man might who had suddenly come into a fortune_. IMP _swaggers
     along with him_.

IMP. Won't you have a grand time, though. I'll get you a menu card, so
that you can be picking out your dinner.

POOR MAN. [_Joyfully slapping_ IMP _on the back_.] Good idea, and I'll
pick out a regular banquet.

     [_Pausing a moment before he passes through the curtains, he smiles
     and smacks his lips in anticipation. Exit._

JUDGE. [_Speaks disgustedly to_ IMP.] There you are! He's perfectly
satisfied with his morals. Has no defects in his character. Just wants
to have a good time.

     [_Sighs heavily and turns back to his writing._ IMP _nods his head
     in agreement and chuckles slyly_.

     [_The street door opens slowly and the_ VAIN WOMAN _stands upon the
     threshold. She does not enter at once, but stands
     posing--presumably she desires to attract attention, and she is
     worthy of it. She has a superb figure, and her rich gowning
     enhances it. Her fair face reveals a shallow prettiness, but the
     wrinkles of age are beginning to leave telltale lines upon its
     smoothness. As_ IMP _hurries forward to usher her in, she sweeps
     grandly past him to the centre of the stage_. IMP _stops near the
     door, with his hands on his hips, staring after her, then takes a
     few steps in imitation of her. She turns around slowly and,
     sauntering over to the railing, coughs affectedly, and as the_
     JUDGE _rises and bows curtly, she speaks in a coaxing manner_.

VAIN WOMAN. Judge, I have heard that you are very kind, and I have been
told that you help people out of their troubles, so I have a little
favor to ask of you.

JUDGE. [_Coldly._] Yes, I supposed so; go on.

VAIN WOMAN. [_Archly._] Well, you know that I am a famous beauty; in
fact, both my face and my form are considered very lovely. [_She turns
around slowly that he may see for himself._] Great and celebrated men
have worshipped at my feet. I simply cannot live without admiration. It
is my very life. But, Judge [_plaintively_], horrid wrinkles are
beginning to show in my face. [_Intensely._] Oh, I would give anything,
do anything, to have a smooth, youthful face once more. Please, oh,
please, won't you take away these wrinkles [_touching her face with her
fingers_] and give me something in their stead.

JUDGE. [_Looking directly at her and speaking coldly._] Are you
satisfied with yourself in other ways? Is your character as beautiful as
your face? Have you no faults or weaknesses that you want exchanged?

VAIN WOMAN. [_Uncertainly._] Why, I--don't know what you mean. I am just
as good as any other woman and lots better than some I know. I go to
church, and I subscribe to the charities, and I belong to the best
clubs. [_Anxiously._] Oh, please, Judge, it's these wrinkles that make
me so unhappy. Won't you exchange them? You don't want me to be unhappy,
do you? Please take them away.

JUDGE. [_Wearily looking over the ledger._] Oh, very well, I'll see what
I can do for you. [_To_ IMP.] Fetch a chair for this lady.

     [IMP _gives her a chair and she sits facing front_. IMP _returns to
     his desk, perches himself upon, it and watches the_ VAIN WOMAN
     _interestedly_. JUDGE _turns over the leaves of the ledger_.

JUDGE. I have a goitre that I could exchange for your wrinkles.

VAIN WOMAN. [_Protestingly, clasping her hands to her throat._] Oh,
heavens, no! That would ruin my beautiful throat. See. [_Throwing back
her fur and exposing her neck in a low-cut gown._] I have a lovely neck.
[IMP _makes an exaggerated attempt to see_.

JUDGE. [_Glances coldly at her and then scans ledger again._] Well, how
about hay-fever?

VAIN WOMAN. [_Reproachfully._] Oh, Judge, how can you suggest such a
thing! Watery eyes and a red nose, the worst enemy of beauty there is. I
simply couldn't think of it. I want something that won't show.

JUDGE. [_Disgustedly turns to filing cabinet and looks through a series
of cards, withdraws one, and turns back to_ VAIN WOMAN.] Perhaps this
will suit you. [_Refers to card._] A woman has grown very tired of her
husband and wants to exchange him for some other burden.

VAIN WOMAN. [_Indignantly._] What! I accept a man that some other woman
doesn't want! Certainly not! I prefer one that some other woman does
want.

JUDGE. [_Irritated, puts the card back in its place, and turns upon the_
VAIN WOMAN _crossly_.] I fear that I cannot please you and I do not have
time to----

IMP. [_Interrupts and runs over to the railing, speaking soothingly to
the_ JUDGE.] Excuse me, Judge, but maybe the lady would like deafness in
exchange for her wrinkles. Deafness wouldn't show, so it couldn't spoil
her face or her elegant figure.

JUDGE. [_Wearily._] No, it won't show. Deafness ought to be a good thing
for you.

VAIN WOMAN. [_Consideringly._] Why--yes--that might do. But--well, it
wouldn't show. I've a notion to take it. [_Pause--she seems to consider
and meditate. The_ JUDGE _stares at her coldly_. IMP _grins impudently.
She rises leisurely, sighs._] All right. I'll accept it.

JUDGE. [_Sharply._] Hold up your right hand. [_She raises hand._] Do you
swear to accept deafness for better or for worse, as your portion of the
world's miseries, so help you God?

VAIN WOMAN. [_Sweetly._] Oh, yes. I do, Judge.

JUDGE. [_To_ IMP.] Show the lady to the changing-room.

IMP. [_Escorts her to the curtained door with rather mock deference._]
No, deafness won't show at all, and you'll have 'em all crazy about you.
[_Draws aside curtains for her to pass._] Take second booth to your
right.

     [VAIN WOMAN _stands posing a moment. She smiles radiantly and pats
     her cheeks softly with her hands, then with a long-drawn sigh of
     happiness, she exits._ IMP _bows low and mockingly after her
     vanishing form, his hand on his heart_.

JUDGE. [_Sarcastically._] Do her faults or shortcomings trouble her? Not
at all! Perfectly satisfied with herself, except for a few wrinkles in
her face. Vain women! Bah!

IMP. Yes, sir; women have queer notions.

     [_An imperative rap at the street-door, immediately followed by the
     rapper's abrupt entrance. We see an important-appearing personage.
     His arrogant bearing and commanding pose lead us to believe that he
     is accustomed to prompt attention. It is the_ RICH CITIZEN,
     _exceedingly well groomed. His manner is lordly, but he addresses
     the_ JUDGE _in a bored tone. When_ IMP _scampers to meet him, the_
     RICH CITIZEN _hands him his hat and cane and turns at once to the_
     JUDGE. IMP _examines the hat and cane critically, hangs them on the
     hat-rack, and returns to his desk, where he again perches to watch
     the_ RICH CITIZEN.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Lighting a cigarette._] I am addressing the Judge, am I
not?

JUDGE. [_Shortly._] You are.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Languidly, between puffs of his cigarette._] Well,
Judge, life has become rather boresome, so I thought I would drop in and
ask you to do me a small favor.

JUDGE. [_Wearily._] Yes? We--What is your grievance?

RICH CITIZEN. [_Nonchalantly._] Oh, I wouldn't say grievance exactly.
You see, my dear Judge, it is this way. I am a very rich and influential
citizen, a prominent member of society, and I am very much sought after.

JUDGE. [_Frigidly._] Oh, indeed!

RICH CITIZEN. [_In a very bored manner._] Yes. Women run after me day
and night. Ambitious mothers throw their marriageable daughters at my
head. Men seek my advice on all matters. I am compelled to head this and
that committee. [_Smokes languidly._

JUDGE. [_Sharply._] Well, go on.

RICH CITIZEN. Really, Judge, my prestige has become a burden. I want to
get away from it all. I would like to become a plain, ordinary man with
an humble vocation, the humbler the better, so that people will cease
bothering me.

JUDGE. [_Sarcastically._] Is your prestige all that troubles you? Don't
worry about your morals, I suppose. Satisfied with your habits and
character?

RICH CITIZEN. [_Coldly._] What have my habits or morals got to do with
my request? [_Scornfully._] Certainly I am not one of your saintly men.
I live as a man of my station should live, and I think I measure up very
well with the best of them. I am simply bored and I would like a change.
I would like to be a plain man with an humble calling.

JUDGE. [_Ironically._] I'll see what we have in humble callings. [_He
looks at the ledger, turning the leaves over slowly._] We have several
bartenders' vocations.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Wearily smoking._] No. Too many people about all the
time, and too much noise.

JUDGE. Well, here's a janitor's job open to you.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Impatiently throwing away his cigarette._] No. I don't
like that, either. Too confining. Too many people bickering at you all
the time. I want to get out in the open, away from crowds.

JUDGE. [_Sighing, and turning over the leaves of the ledger, then
hopefully._] Here's the very thing for you, then--postman in a rural
district.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Showing vexation._] No, no, _no_. Too many old women
that want to gossip. I tell you, I want to get away from women. Haven't
you something peaceful and quiet; something that would take me out in
the quiet of the early morning, when the birds are singing?

JUDGE. [_Closing ledger with a bang, and rising._] Well, you're too
particular, and I have not time to bother with you. I bid you good
after----

IMP. [_Slides from his desk, runs to railing, and speaks suavely._]
Excuse me, Judge, but maybe the gentleman would like the vocation of
milkman. That is early-morning work. And, you remember, a milkman left
his job here when he took that old, worn-out senator's position.

JUDGE. [_Sharply, to_ RICH CITIZEN.] Well, how about it? Does a
milkman's vocation suit you? It's early-morning hours, fresh air, and no
people about.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Musingly._] Well, the very simplicity and quietness of
it is its charm. It rather appeals to me. [_He ponders a moment._] Yes,
by Jove, I'll take it.

JUDGE. [_Sternly._] Hold up your right hand. "Do you solemnly swear to
accept, for better or for worse, the vocation of milkman as your lot in
life, so help you God?"

RICH CITIZEN. I do.

JUDGE. [_To_ IMP.] Show this gentleman to the changing-room.

IMP. [_While escorting him to the curtained door._] Yes, sir, you will
lead the simple life. Fresh air, fresh milk, no people, just cows--and
they can't talk. [_Holding aside the curtains._] Third booth, sir.

RICH CITIZEN. [_Musingly._] The simple life--peace and quietness.

     [_Exit._

JUDGE. [I_n disgust._] It's no use, Imp. They all cling to their vices,
but they are very keen to change some little cross or condition that
vexes them--or think vexes them.

IMP. It's strange that people always want something different from what
they have.

     [IMP _opens a drawer in his desk and takes out a bottle, evidently
     filled with tablets, which he holds up, shaking it and chuckling.
     He hunts in the drawer again, and this time brings forth a huge
     ear-trumpet, which he chucklingly places an his table beside the
     bottle of tablets._

JUDGE. Don't let any more in, Imp. I can't stand another one to-day. I
am going to write a letter and then go home.

IMP. All right, sir.

JUDGE. I am feeling very tired; what I really need is a vacation. A
sea-trip would put me right. By the way, Imp, where is that
transatlantic folder that I told you to get?

     [IMP _picks up the folder from his desk and takes it to the_ JUDGE,
     _who studies it attentively_. IMP _returns to his own desk, where
     he again looks in a drawer and brings forth a menu card, which he
     glances over, grinning mischievously_.

     [_The former_ POOR MAN _re-enters from the changing-room. He is
     well dressed, and taking a well-filled wallet from his pocket, he
     looks at it gloatingly. However, from time to time, a shade of
     annoyance passes over his face, and he puts his hand to the pit of
     his stomach._ IMP _runs to meet him, and hands him the menu that he
     has been reading_.

IMP. Here's a menu from the Gargoyle. Say, you sure do look swell!
[_Looking him over admiringly._

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Grinning happily._] Some class to me now, eh!
[_Looking at menu._] And you watch me pick out a real dinner. [_Sits
down at left front._] First, I'll have a cocktail, then--let's see--I'll
have--another cocktail. Next, oysters, and [_he frowns and presses his
hand to the pit of his stomach, keeping up a massaging
motion_]--green-turtle soup, sand dabs--chicken breasts--

     [_They become absorbed over the menu._

     [_The_ VAIN WOMAN _re-enters from the changing-room. She now has a
     smooth face, and she is looking at herself in a hand-glass,
     smiling and touching her face delightedly, She walks over to the
     railing, and leans over it to the_ JUDGE. _He looks up
     questioningly._

VAIN WOMAN. [_Smiling._] Oh, I am so happy again. Am I not beautiful?

JUDGE. [_Pityingly._] You are a vain, foolish woman.

     [_Since she is deaf, she does not hear his words, but thinks he is
     complimenting her. She smiles at him coyly._

VAIN WOMAN. Ah, Judge, you too are susceptible to my charms.

     [_The_ JUDGE, _in great exasperation, puts away his papers, thrusts
     the transatlantic folder in his pocket, hastily closes his desk,
     and hurries to the hat-rack, puts on his overcoat, slips his
     skull-cap into his pocket and puts on his soft black hat. Then,
     with a shrug of his shoulders and a wave of his hand indicative of
     disgust, he slips quietly out._

     [_The_ VAIN WOMAN _saunters past the_ FORMER POOR MAN, _stops near
     him, posing, and begins to put on her gloves. He looks at her
     admiringly, then, getting to his feet, makes an elaborate but
     awkward bow._

FORMER POOR MAN. Excuse me, lady, but I've had a big piece of luck
to-day, and I want to celebrate, so I am having a big dinner. Won't you
join me and help me have a good time?

VAIN WOMAN. [_Looking at him blankly, and trying to fathom what he has
said._] Oh--why, what did you say?

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Hesitating, and a bit surprised._] Why--er--I said
that I had a big piece of luck to-day, and I am going to celebrate. I am
having a fine dinner, and I just asked if--if--you wouldn't have dinner
with me.

VAIN WOMAN. [_Still looking blank and a little confused, then smiling
archly and acting as though she had been hearing compliments, she speaks
affectedly._] Really, do you think so? [_Looking down and smoothing her
dress._] But, then, every one tells me that I am.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Puzzled, turns to_ IMP _for help_.] Just what is her
trouble, Nut?

IMP. [_Secretly gleeful._] She is stone-deaf. You had better write it.

FORMER POOR MAN. Never! No deaf ones for me.

     [_Turns away and consults menu again._ VAIN WOMAN _poses and
     frequently looks in hand-glass to reassure herself_.

     [FORMER RICH CITIZEN _re-enters from the changing-room. He is
     dressed in shabby overalls, jumper, and an old hat. He has a pipe
     in his mouth. He walks arrogantly over to the_ FORMER POOR MAN _and
     addresses him_.

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. Give me a light.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Trying to live up to his fine clothes and wallet full
of money, looks the_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _over snubbingly_.] Say, who do
you think you are? You light out, see?

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Very much surprised, stands nonplussed a
moment._] Well, upon my word, I--I----

     [_He stops short in his speech, walks haughtily over to the
     railing, where he stands glowering at the_ FORMER POOR MAN. _The_
     FORMER POOR MAN _starts for the street door, but_ IMP _runs after
     him, waving the bottle of tablets_.

IMP. I'll sell you these for two bits.

FORMER POOR MAN. What is that?

IMP. [_Grinning._] Indigestion tablets.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Puts his hand to his stomach and laughs a little
lamely._] Keep 'em; I don't need 'em.

     [VAIN WOMAN _fastens her fur and starts for the street-door, giving
     the_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _a snubbing look as she passes him_. IMP
     _stops her and offers the ear-trumpet_.

IMP. You might need this; I'll sell it for a dollar.

     [_She does not hear what he says, but she looks her scorn at the
     ear-trumpet and walks proudly out._

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Fumbling at his pocket, as if to find a watch._]
Boy, what time is it? I haven't my watch.

IMP. [_Grinning mischievously._] Time to milk the cows.

     [_The_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _starts angrily toward_ IMP, _then
     evidently thinking better of it, shrugs his shoulders and stalks
     majestically to the street-door. He pauses with it partly open,
     turns as if to speak to_ IMP, _drawing himself up haughtily--a
     ludicrous figure in his shabby outfit--then he goes abruptly out,
     slamming the door_.

     [IMP _doubles himself up in a paroxysm of glee as the curtain
     falls_.


SCENE II

     _A fortnight has passed. The curtain rises upon the same
     stage-setting. The_ JUDGE _is not about, but we see_ IMP _asleep in
     a chair. All seems quiet and serene. But suddenly the street-door
     opens noisily, and the_ FORMER POOR MAN _bursts into the room. He
     is panting, as though he had been running. He is haggard and seems
     in great pain, for occasionally he moans. He looks wildly about the
     room, and seeing_ IMP _asleep in the chair, he rushes to him and
     shakes him roughly_. IMP _wakes slowly, yawning and rubbing his
     eyes_.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Frantically._] The Judge, where is he? I must see him
at once.

IMP. [_Yawning._] You're too early. He isn't down yet.

     [_Settles himself to go to sleep again._

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Walking the floor, and holding his hands to his
stomach._] Don't go to sleep again. I'm nearly crazy. What time does the
Judge get here? Where does he live? Can't we send for him?

IMP. [_Indifferently._] Oh, he is liable to come any minute--and then he
may not come for an hour or two.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Pacing the floor, moaning and rubbing his stomach_.]
Oh, I can't stand it much longer. It's driving me wild, I tell you. I do
wish the Judge would come.

IMP. [_Getting up from his chair and keeping step with the_ FORMER POOR
MAN.] What's the matter? I thought all you wanted was to eat, drink, and
be merry.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Frantically waving his arms._] Eat, drink, and be
merry be----! Everything I eat gives me indigestion something awful;
everything I drink gives it to me worse. How can I be merry when I am in
this torment all the time? I tell you this pain is driving me mad. I
want to get rid of it quick. Oh, why doesn't the Judge come?

IMP. What's the Judge got to do with it?

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Pathetically._] I am going to beg him to take back
this indigestion and give me back my poverty. It was not so bad, after
all; not nearly so bad as this pain in my stomach.

     [_The street-door opens slowly, and a sorrowful woman enters. She
     is weeping softly. It is the_ VAIN WOMAN. _Gone is her posing and
     her proud manner. She walks humbly to the railing, and not seeing
     the_ JUDGE, she turns to IMP. _The_ FORMER POOR MAN _looks at the_
     VAIN WOMAN, _frowningly muttering: "What's she here for?" Then he
     sits down at the left and rocks back and forth in misery._

VAIN WOMAN. [_Tearfully._] I must see the Judge right away, please.

IMP. [Languidly.] He isn't down yet. You're too earl----

VAIN WOMAN. [_Interrupting._] Tell him that it is very important, that I
am in great distress and that he must see me at once.

IMP. [_Loudly._] I said that he was not down yet.

     [_Seeing that she does not understand, he takes a writing-pad from
     his desk, scribbles a few words, and standing in front of her,
     holds it up for her to read._

VAIN WOMAN. [_After reading._] Oh, when will he be here? Can't you get
him to come right away? Oh, I am so unhappy. [_She walks the floor in
agitation._

     [_The_ FORMER POOR MAN _grunts in irritation and turns his back on
     her_.

VAIN WOMAN. I cannot hear a word that is said to me. No one seems to
want me around, and I am not invited out any more. I have the feeling
that people are making fun of me instead of praising my beauty. Oh, it
is dreadful to be deaf. [_Getting hysterical._] I want the Judge to take
away this deafness. I would rather have my wrinkles.

     [IMP _shakes his head in pretended sympathy, saying: "Too bad, too
     bad."_

     [_She misunderstands and cries out._

VAIN WOMAN. Has the Judge given away my wrinkles? I want them back. I
want my very own wrinkles, too. Wrinkles are distinguished-looking.
[_Beginning to sob._] I don't want to be deaf any longer.

IMP. [_Running over to the_ FORMER POOR MAN.] Say, this lady feels very
bad. Can't you cheer her up a little?

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Who is still rocking back and forth with his own
misery, looks up at_ IMP _in disgust_.] Cheer--her--up! Me? What's the
joke?

     [_The_ VAIN WOMAN _walks to the curtained door, looks in as if
     seeking something, then returns to a chair, where she sits, weeping
     softly_.

     [_A peculiar thumping is heard at the street-door. The_ FORMER POOR
     MAN _jumps to his feet in expectancy, hoping it is the_ JUDGE. IMP,
     _also, stands waiting. The door opens as though the person that
     opened it did so with difficulty. The_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _hobbles
     in. He is ragged and dirty, and one foot is bandaged, which causes
     him to use a crutch. He carries a large milk-can. He hobbles
     painfully to the centre of the stage. The_ FORMER POOR MAN _grunts
     with disappointment, and sits down again, rubbing away at his
     stomach. The_ VAIN WOMAN _sits with bowed head, silently weeping.
     The_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _looks about, then addresses_ IMP _in a
     rather husky voice_.

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. I wish to see the Judge at once. It is most urgent.

IMP. [_With an ill-concealed smile._] You can't see the Judge at once.

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Impatiently._] Why not? I told you it was most
urgent.

IMP. [_Grinning openly._] Because he isn't here. He hasn't come in yet.
What's your trouble?

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Vehemently._] Trouble! Everything's the trouble!
I have been abused, insulted, overworked--even the cows have kicked me.
[_Looking down at his bandaged foot._] I can't stand it. I won't stand
it. I want back my proper place in the world, where I am respected, and
where I can rest and sleep and mingle with my kind. [_He hobbles to a
chair and sits down wearily._

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Getting up from his chair, walks over to the_ FORMER
RICH CITIZEN, _waggles his finger in his face and speaks fretfully_.]
What cause have you to squeal so? If you had indigestion like I have all
the time, you might be entitled to raise a holler. Why, I can't eat a
thing without having the most awful pain right here [_puts his hand to
the pit of his stomach_], and when I take a drink, oh, heavens, it----

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Interrupting contemptuously._] You big baby,
howling about the stomachache. If you had a man-sized trouble, there
might be some excuse for you. Now I, who have been used to wealth and
respect, have been subjected to the most gruelling ordeals; why, in that
dairy there were a million cows, and they kicked me, and horned me, and
I----

VAIN WOMAN. [_Walks over to them, interrupting their talk, and speaks in
a voice punctuated with sniffing sobs._] Have--[_sniff_] either of you
gentlemen [_sniff_] ever been deaf? [_Sniff, sniff._] It is a terrible
thing [_sniff_] for a beautiful woman like I am [_sniff_] to have such
an affliction. [_Sniff, sniff, sniff._

     [FORMER RICH CITIZEN _shrugs his shoulders indifferently and limps
     to the other side of the stage, where he sits_.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Stalks over to the railing, where he leans limply._]
Lord deliver me from a sniffling woman.

     [IMP, _who is perched on his desk, chuckles wickedly of their
     sufferings_. VAIN WOMAN _sinks dejectedly into the chair vacated by
     the_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN.

     [_A knock is heard at the street-door. The_ FORMER POOR MAN _and
     the_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _start forward eagerly, expecting the_
     JUDGE. _Even the_ VAIN WOMAN, _seeing the others rise, gets to her
     feet hopefully_. IMP _hastily slides from his desk and, pulling
     down his tight little jacket and cocking his round little cap a
     little more over one eye, goes to see who knocks. A messenger hands
     him a letter and silently departs._

IMP. [_Importantly._] Letter for me from the Judge.

FORMER POOR MAN. A letter! Why doesn't he come himself?

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. Send for him, boy.

IMP. [_Grins at_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _in an insolent manner_.] Well,
well, I wonder what the Judge is writing to me for. It's queer he would
send me a letter.

     [_He looks the letter over carefully, both sides; holds it up to
     the light, smells it, shakes it. The two men and the woman grow
     more and more nervous._

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Extremely irritated._] For goodness' sake, open it
and read it.

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. Yes, yes, and don't be so long about it.

     [VAIN WOMAN _simply stands pathetically and waits_. IMP _walks over
     to his desk, hunts for a knife, finally finds one; looks letter
     over again, then slowly slits the envelope and draws out letter,
     which he reads silently to himself. They are breathlessly waiting._
     IMP _whistles softly to himself_.

IMP. Well, what do you think of that!

FORMER POOR MAN. [_Excitedly._] What is it--why don't you tell us?

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Pounding with his crutch on the floor._] Come,
come, don't keep me waiting like this.

IMP. [_Reads letter again, silently, chuckling._] All right. Here it is.
[_Reads._]

     "MY DEAR IMP:

     "I have tried faithfully for years to aid distressed humanity, but
     they are an ungrateful lot of fools, and I wash my hands of them.
     When this letter reaches you I will be on the high seas, and I am
     never coming back. So write 'Finis' in the big old ledger of
     miseries, and shut up shop, for the Exchange is closed--forever.

Yours in disgust, THE JUDGE."

     [_They all stand dazed a moment. The_ VAIN WOMAN, _sensing that
     something terrible has happened, rushes from one to the other,
     saying: "What is it? What has happened?"_ IMP _gives her the letter
     to read_.

FORMER POOR MAN. [_In a perfect frenzy._] My God! Indigestion all the
rest of my days.

VAIN WOMAN. [_After reading letter collapses in a chair, hysterically
sobbing out._] Deaf, always deaf! Oh, what shall I do!

FORMER RICH CITIZEN. [_Leaning heavily on his crutch and shaking his
free hand, clenched in anger._] This is an outrage. I am rich and have
influence, and I shall take steps to--to----

     [IMP _laughs mockingly. The man looks down at his milk-spattered
     clothes, his bandaged foot, and, letting his crutch fall to the
     floor, sinks dejectedly into a chair, burying his face in his
     hands._

     [IMP _dangles his keys and opens the street-door, as an invitation
     for them to go. The_ FORMER POOR MAN _is the first to start, moving
     dazedly and breathing hard_. IMP _offers him the bottle of
     indigestion tablets; the man grasps them, eagerly, tipping_ IMP,
     _who chuckles as he pockets the money. The_ FORMER POOR MAN _takes
     a tablet as he exits. The_ VAIN WOMAN, _bowed with sorrow, moves
     slowly toward the door_. IMP _touches her arm and offers the
     ear-trumpet. She accepts it, with a wild sob, tipping_ IMP, _who
     again chuckles as he pockets the money. The last we see of the_
     VAIN WOMAN, _she is trying to hold the ear-trumpet to her ear, and
     exits, sobbing. The_ FORMER RICH CITIZEN _still sits in his chair,
     his head in his hands_. IMP _picks up the milk-can, and, tapping
     the man not too gently on the shoulder, thrusts the milk-can at him
     and makes a significant gesture, indicative of_--THIS WAY OUT. _The
     man rises dejectedly, picks up his crutch, takes the milk-can, and
     hobbles painfully toward the door._ IMP _doubles himself up in wild
     Mephistophelian glee as the_


CURTAIN FALLS



SAM AVERAGE

BY

PERCY MACKAYE


_Sam Average_ is reprinted by special permission of Percy Mackaye. This
play first appeared in _Yankee Fantasies_, Duffield & Company, New York.

_Special Notice_

No public or private performance of this play--professional or
amateur--and no public reading of it for money may be given without the
written permission of the author and the payment of royalty. Persons who
desire to obtain such permission should communicate direct with the
author at his address, Harvard Club, 27 West 44th Street, New York
City.


PERCY MACKAYE

Percy Mackaye, who was born in New York City in 1875, is one of the few
Americans whose interest has been almost wholly in the theatre. As a
lecturer, writer, and champion of real art in drama, he has had few if
any equals. He inherited his interest in drama from his father, Steele
Mackaye, author of _Hazel Kirke_. He was educated at Harvard, where he
studied under Professor George Pierce Baker, and at Leipzig. He has
travelled extensively in Europe and at various times has resided in
Rome, Switzerland, and London. In 1914 Dartmouth conferred upon him the
honorary Master of Arts degree. At present he holds a fellowship in
dramatic literature in Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Mr. Mackaye's efforts in the dramatic field have been varied. Masques,
pageants, operas, and plays are to his credit. _The Canterbury
Pilgrims_, _The Scarecrow_, _Jeanne D'Arc_, _Mater_, _Anti-Matrimony_,
_Sanctuary_, _Saint Louis Masque_, and _Caliban_ are among his
better-known works.

In 1912 appeared his Yankee Fantasies, of which _Sam Average_ and
_Gettysburg_ are the more noteworthy.

In all of Mr. Mackaye's work he possesses what many dramatists lack--a
definite ideal. He aims at an artistic and literary effect. His _Sam
Average_ is a real contribution to American patriotic drama.


CHARACTERS

    ANDREW
    JOEL
    ELLEN
    SAM AVERAGE


SAM AVERAGE[D]

     _An intrenchment in Canada, near Niagara Falls, in the year 1814.
     Night, shortly before dawn._

     _On the right, the dull glow of a smouldering wood fire ruddies the
     earthen embankment, the low-stretched outline of which forms, with
     darkness, the scenic background._

     _Near the centre, left, against the dark, a flag with stars floats
     from its standard._

     _Beside the fire_, ANDREW, _reclined, gazes at a small frame in his
     hand; near him is a knapsack, with contents emptied beside it_.

     _On the embankment_, JOEL, _with a gun, paces back and forth, a
     blanket thrown about his shoulders_.


JOEL. [_With a singing call._] Four o'clock!--All's well!

     [_Jumping down from the embankment, he approaches the fire._

ANDREW. By God, Joel, it's bitter.

JOEL. [_Rubbing his hands over the coals._] A mite sharpish.

ANDREW. [_Looks up eagerly._] What?

JOEL. Cuts sharp, for Thanksgivin'.

ANDREW. [_Sinks back, gloomily._] Oh! [_A pause._] I wondered you should
agree with me. You meant the weather. I meant--[_A pause again._

JOEL. Well, Andy, what'd you mean?

ANDREW. Life.

JOEL. Shucks!

ANDREW. [_To himself._] Living!

JOEL. [_Sauntering over left, listens._] Hear a rooster crow?

ANDREW. No. What are you doing?

JOEL. Tiltin' the flag over crooked in the dirt. That's our signal.

ANDREW. Nothing could be more appropriate, unless we buried it--buried
it in the dirt!

JOEL. She's to find us where the flag's turned down. I fixed that with
the sergeant all right. The rooster crowin' 's _her_ watchword for us.

ANDREW. An eagle screaming, Joel: that would have been better.
[_Rising._] Ah! [_He laughs painfully._

JOEL. Hush up, Andy! The nearest men ain't two rods away. You'll wake
'em. Pitch it low.

ANDREW. Don't be alarmed. I'm coward enough.

JOEL. 'Course, though, there ain't much danger. I'm sentinel this end,
and the sergeant has the tip at t'other. Besides, you may call it the
reg'lar thing. There's been two thousand deserters already in this
tuppenny-ha'penny war, and none on 'em the worse off. When a man don't
get his pay for nine months--well, he ups and takes his vacation. Why
not? When Nell joins us, we'll hike up the Niagara, cross over to
Tonawanda, and take our breakfast in Buffalo. By that time the boys here
will be marchin' away toward Lundy's Lane.

ANDREW. [_Walks back and forth, shivering._] I'm afraid.

JOEL. 'Fraid? Bosh!

ANDREW. I'm afraid to face----

JOEL. Face what? We won't get caught.

ANDREW. Your sister--my wife.

JOEL. Nell! Why, ain't she comin' here just a-purpose to get you? Ain't
there reason enough, Lord knows? Ain't you made up your mind to light
out home anyhow?

ANDREW. Yes. That's just what she'll never forgive me for. In her heart
she'll never think of me the same. For she knows as well as I what
pledge I'll be breaking--what sacred pledge.

JOEL. What you mean?

ANDREW. No matter, no matter; this is gush.

     [_He returns to the fire and begins to fumble over the contents of
     his knapsack._ JOEL _watches him idly_.

JOEL. One of _her_ curls?

ANDREW. [_Looking at a lock of hair in the firelight._] No; the baby's,
little Andy's. Some day they'll tell him how his father---- [_He winces,
and puts the lock away._

JOEL. [_Going toward the embankment._] Listen!

ANDREW. [_Ties up the package, muttering._] Son of a traitor!

JOEL. [_Tiptoeing back._] It's crowed--that's her.

     [_Leaping to his feet_, ANDREW _stares toward the embankment where
     the flag is dipped; then turns his back to it, closing his eyes and
     gripping his hands_.

     [_After a pause, silently the figure of a young woman emerges from
     the dark and stands on the embankment. She is bareheaded and ill
     clad._

     [JOEL _touches_ ANDREW, _who turns and looks toward her. Silently
     she steals down to him and they embrace_.

ANDREW. My Nell!

ELLEN. Nearly a year----

ANDREW. Now, at last!

ELLEN. Hold me close, Andy.

ANDREW. You're better?

ELLEN. Let's forget--just for now.

ANDREW. Is he grown much?

ELLEN. Grown? You should see him! But so ill! What could I do? You
see----

ANDREW. I know, I know.

ELLEN. The money was all gone. They turned me out at the old place, and
then----

ANDREW. I know, dear.

ELLEN. I got sewing, but when the smallpox----

ANDREW. I have all your letters, Nell. Come, help me to pack.

ELLEN. What! You're really decided----

JOEL. [_Approaching._] Hello, Sis!

ELLEN. [_Absently._] Ah, Joel; that you? [_Eagerly, following_ ANDREW
_to the knapsack_.] But, my dear----

ANDREW. Just these few things, and we're off.

ELLEN. [_Agitated._] Wait, wait! You don't know yet why I've
come--instead of writing.

ANDREW. I can guess.

ELLEN. But you can't; that's--what's so hard! I have to tell you
something, and then---- [_Slowly._] I must know from your own eyes, from
yourself, that you wish to do this, Andrew; that you think it is
_right_.

ANDREW. [_Gently._] I guessed that.

ELLEN. This is what I must tell you. It's not just the sickness, it's
not only the baby, not the money gone--and all that; it's--it's----

ANDREW. [_Murmurs._] My God!

ELLEN. It's what all that brings--the helplessness. I've been insulted.
Andy--[_Her voice breaks._] I want a protector.

ANDREW. [_Taking her in his arms, where she sobs._] There, dear!

ELLEN. [_With a low moan._] You know.

ANDREW. I know. Come, now; we'll go.

ELLEN. [_Her face lighting up._] Oh! and you _dare_! It's _right_?

ANDREW. [_Moving from her, with a hoarse laugh._] _Dare?_ Dare I be
damned by God and all his angels? Ha! Come, we're slow.

JOEL. Time enough.

ELLEN. [_Sinking upon_ JOEL'S _knapsack as a seat, leans her head on her
hands, and looks strangely at_ ANDREW.] I'd better have written, I'm
afraid.

ANDREW. [_Controlling his emotion._] Now, don't take it that way. I've
considered it all.

ELLEN. [_With deep quiet._] Blasphemously?

ANDREW. Reasonably, my brave wife. When I enlisted, I did so in a dream.
I dreamed I was called to love and serve our country. But that dream is
shattered. This sordid war, this political murder, has not one single
principle of humanity to excuse its bloody sacrilege. It doesn't deserve
my loyalty--our loyalty.

ELLEN. Are you saying this--for my sake? What of "God and his angels"?

ANDREW. [_Not looking at her._] If we had a just cause--a cause of
liberty like that in Seventy-six; if to serve one's country meant to
serve God and his angels--then, yes; a man might put away wife and
child. He might say: "I will not be a husband, a father; I will be a
patriot." But now--like this--tangled in a web of spiders--caught in a
grab-net of politicians--and you, you and our baby-boy, like this--hell
let in on our home--no, Country be cursed!

ELLEN. [_Slowly._] So, then, when little Andy grows up----

ANDREW. [_Groaning._] I say that the only thing----

ELLEN. I am to tell him----

ANDREW. [_Defiantly._] Tell him his father deserted his country, and
thanked God for the chance. [_Looking about him passionately._] Here!
[_He tears a part of the flag from its standard, and reaches it toward
her._] You're cold; put this round you.

     [_As he is putting the strip of colored silk about her shoulders,
     there rises, faint yet close by, a sound of fifes and flutes,
     playing the merry march-strains of "Yankee Doodle."_

     [_At the same time there enters along the embankment, dimly,
     enveloped in a great cloak, a tall_ FIGURE, _which pauses beside
     the standard of the torn flag, silhouetted against the first pale
     streaks of the dawn_.


ELLEN. [_Gazing at_ ANDREW.] What's the matter?

ANDREW. [_Listening._] Who are they? Where is it?

JOEL. [_Starts, alertly._] He hears something.

ANDREW. Why should they play before daybreak?

ELLEN. Andy----

JOEL. [_Whispers._] Ssh! Look out! We're spied on!

     [_He points to the embankment._ ANDREW _and_ ELLEN _draw back_.

THE FIGURE. [_Straightening the flag-standard, and leaning on it._]
Desartin'?

ANDREW. [_Puts_ ELLEN _behind him_.] Who's there? The watchword!

THE FIGURE. God save the smart folks!

JOEL. [_To_ ANDREW.] He's on to us. Pickle him quiet, or it's court
martial! [_Showing a long knife._] Shall I give him this?

ANDREW. [_Taking it from him._] No. _I_ will.

ELLEN. [_Seizing his arm._] Andrew!

ANDREW. Let go.

     [THE FIGURE, _descending into the intrenchment, approaches with
     face muffled_. JOEL _draws_ ELLEN _away_. ANDREW _moves toward_ THE
     FIGURE _slowly_. _They meet and pause._

ANDREW. You're a spy!

     [_With a quick flash,_ ANDREW _raises the knife to strike, but
     pauses, staring_. THE FIGURE, _throwing up one arm to ward the
     blow, reveals--through the parted cloak--a glint of stars in the
     firelight_.[E]

THE FIGURE. Steady, boys; I'm one of ye. The sergeant told me to drop
round.

JOEL. Oh, the sergeant! That's all right, then.

ANDREW. [_Dropping the knife._] Who are you?

THE FIGURE. Who be _I_? My name, ye mean? My name's Average--Sam
Average. Univarsal Sam, some o' my prophetic friends calls me.

ANDREW. What are you doing here--now?

THE FIGURE. Oh, tendin' to business.

JOEL. Tendin' to _other_ folks' business, eh?

THE FIGURE. [_With a touch of weariness._] Ye-es; reckon that _is_ my
business. Some other folks is me.

JOEL. [_Grimacing to_ ELLEN.] Cracked!

THE FIGURE. [_To_ ANDREW.] You're a mite back'ard in wages, ain't ye?

ANDREW. Nine months. What of that?

THE FIGURE. That's what I dropped round for. Seems like when a man's
endoored and fit, like you have, for his country, and calc'lates he'll
quit, he ought to be takin' a little suthin' hom' for Thanksgivin'. So I
fetched round your pay.

ANDREW. My pay! You?

THE FIGURE. Yes; I'm the paymaster.

ELLEN. [_Coming forward, eagerly._] Andy! The money, is it?

THE FIGURE. [_Bows with a grave, old-fashioned stateliness._] Your
sarvent, ma'am!

ANDREW. [_Speaking low._] Keep back, Nell. [_To_ THE FIGURE.] You--you
were saying----

THE FIGURE. I were about to say how gold bein' scarce down to the
Treasury, I fetched ye some s'curities instead; some national I.O.U.'s,
as ye might say. [_He takes out an old powder-horn, and rattles it
quietly._] That's them. [_Pouring from the horn into his palm some
glistening, golden grains._] Here they be.

ELLEN. [_Peering, with_ JOEL.] Gold, Andy!

JOEL. [_With a snigger._] Gold--nothin'! That's corn--just Injun corn.
Ha!

THE FIGURE. [_Bowing gravely._] It's the quality, ma'am, what counts, as
ye might say.

JOEL. [_Behind his hand._] His top-loft leaks!

THE FIGURE. These here karnels, now, were give' me down Plymouth way, in
Massachusetts, the fust Thanksgivin' seems like I can remember. 'Twa'n't
long after the famine we had thar. Me bein' some hungry, the red-folks
fetched a hull-lot o' this round, with the compliments of their
capting--what were his name now?--Massasoit. This here's the last
handful on't left. Thought ye might like some, bein' Thanksgivin'.

JOEL. [_In a low voice, to_ ELLEN.] His screws are droppin' out. Come
and pack. We've got to mark time and skip.

THE FIGURE. [_Without looking at_ JOEL.] Eight or ten minutes still to
spare, boys. The sergeant said--wait till ye hear his jew's-harp playin'
of that new war tune, _The Star-Spangled Banner_. Then ye'll know the
coast's clear.

JOEL. Gad, that's right, I remember now.

     [_He draws_ ELLEN _away to the knapsack, which they begin to pack_.
     ANDREW _has never removed his eyes from the tall form in the
     cloak_.

     [_Now, as_ THE FIGURE _pours back the yellow grains from his palm
     into the powder-horn, he speaks, hesitatingly_.

ANDREW. I think--I'd like some.

THE FIGURE. Some o' what?

ANDREW. Those--my pay.

THE FIGURE. [_Cheerfully._] So. _Would_ ye? [_Handing him the horn._]
Reckon that's enough?

ANDREW. [_Not taking it._] That's what I want to make sure of--first.

THE FIGURE. Oh! So ye're hesitatin'!

ANDREW. Yes; but I want you to help me decide. Pardon me, sir. You're a
stranger, yet somehow I feel I may ask your help. You've come just in
time.

THE FIGURE. Queer I should a-dropped round jest now, wa'n't it? S'posin'
we take a turn.

     [_Together they walk toward the embankment. By the knapsack_ ELLEN
     _finds the little frame_.


ELLEN. [_To herself._] My picture!

     [_She looks toward_ ANDREW _affectionately_. JOEL, _lifting the
     knapsack, beckons to her_.

JOEL. There's more stuff over here.

     [_He goes off, right_; ELLEN _follows him_.

ANDREW. [_To_ THE FIGURE.] I should like the judgment of your
experience, sir. I can't quite see your face, yet you appear to be one
who has had a great deal of experience.

THE FIGURE. Why, consid'able some.

ANDREW. Did you--happen to fight in the late war for independence?

THE FIGURE. Happen to? [_Laughing quietly._] N-no, not fight; ye see--I
was paymaster.

ANDREW. But you went through the war?

THE FIGURE. Ye-es, oh, yes; I went through it. I took out my fust
reg'lar papers down to Philadelphie, in '76, seems like 'twas the fourth
day o' July. But I was paymaster afore that.

ANDREW. Tell me: I've heard it said there were deserters even in those
days, even from the roll-call of Washington. Is it true?

THE FIGURE. True, boy? Have ye ever watched a prairie-fire rollin'
toward ye, billowin' with flame and smoke, and seed all the midget
cowerin' prairie-dogs scootin' for their holes? Wall, that's the way I
watched Howe's army sweepin' crosst the Jarsey marshes, and seed the
desartin' little patriots, with their chins over their shoulders,
skedaddlin' home'ards.

ANDREW. What--the Americans!

THE FIGURE. All but a handful on 'em--them as weren't canines, ye might
say, but men. _They_ set a back-fire goin' at Valley Forge. Most on 'em
burnt their toes and fingers off, lightin' on't thar in the white frost,
but they stuck it through and saved--wall, the prairie-dogs.

ANDREW. But they--those others. What reason did they give to God and
their own souls for deserting?

THE FIGURE. To who?

ANDREW. To their consciences. What was their reason? It must have been a
noble one in '76. _Their_ reason _then_; don't you see, I must have it.
I must know what reason real heroes gave for their acts. You were there.
You can tell me.

THE FIGURE. _Real_ heroes, eh? Look around ye, then. To-day's the heroic
age, and the true brand o' hero is al'ays in the market. Look around ye!

ANDREW. What, here--in this war of jobsters, this petty campaign of
monstrous boodle?

THE FIGURE. Thar we be!

ANDREW. Why, here are only a lot of cowardly half-men, like me--lovers
of their own folks--their wives and babies at home. They'll make
sacrifices for them. But real men like our fathers in '76: they looked
in the beautiful face of Liberty, and sacrificed to _her_!

THE FIGURE. Our fathers, my boy, was jest as fond o' poetry as you be.
They talked about the beautiful face o' Liberty same's you; but when the
hom'made eyes and cheeks of their sweethearts and young uns took to
cryin', they desarted their beautiful goddess and skun out hom'.

ANDREW. But there were some----

THE FIGURE. Thar was some as didn't--yes; and thar's some as don't
to-day. Those be the folks on my pay-roll. Why, look a-here: I calc'late
I wouldn't fetch much on the beauty counter. My talk ain't rhyme stuff,
nor the Muse o' Grammar wa'n't my schoolma'am. Th' ain't painter nor
clay-sculptor would pictur' me jest like I stand. For the axe has hewed
me, and the plough has furrered; and the arnin' of gold by my own
elbow-grease has give' me the shrewd eye at a bargain. I manure my crops
this side o' Jordan, and as for t'other shore, I'd ruther swap jokes
with the Lord than listen to his sarmons. And yet for the likes o' me,
jest for to arn my wages--ha, the many, many boys and gals that's gone
to their grave-beds, and when I a-closed their eyes, the love-light was
shinin' thar.

ANDREW. [_Who has listened with awe._] What _are_ you? What _are_ you?

THE FIGURE. Me? I'm the paymaster.

ANDREW. I want to serve you--like those others.

THE FIGURE. Slow, slow, boy! Nobody sarves _me_.

ANDREW. But they died for you--the others.

THE FIGURE. No, 'twa'n't for me; 'twas for him as pays the wages; the
one as works through me--the one higher up. I'm only the paymaster; kind
of a needful makeshift--his obedient sarvant.

ANDREW. [_With increasing curiosity, seeks to peer in_ THE FIGURE'S
_face_.] But the one up higher--who is he?

THE FIGURE. [_Turning his head away._] Would ye sarve him, think, if ye
heerd his voice?

ANDREW. [_Ardently, drawing closer._] And saw his face!

     [_Drawing his cowl lower and taking_ ANDREW'S _arm_, THE FIGURE
     _leads him up on the embankment, where they stand together_.

THE FIGURE. Hark a-yonder!

ANDREW. [_Listening._] Is it thunder?

THE FIGURE. Have ye forgot?

ANDREW. The voice! I remember now--Niagara!

     [_With awe_, ANDREW _looks toward_ THE FIGURE, _who stands shrouded
     and still, facing the dawn. From far off comes a sound as of
     falling waters, and with that--a deep murmurous voice, which seems
     to issue from_ THE FIGURE'S _cowl_.

THE VOICE. I am the Voice that was heard of your fathers, and your
fathers' fathers. Mightier--mightier, I shall be heard of your sons. I
am the Million in whom the one is lost, and I am the One in whom the
millions are saved. Their ears shall be shut to my thunders, their eyes
to my blinding stars. In shallow streams they shall tap my life-blood
for gold. With dregs of coal and of copper they shall pollute me. In
the mystery of my mountains they shall assail me; in the majesty of my
forests, strike me down; with engine and derrick and millstone, bind me
their slave. Some for a lust, some for a love, shall desert me. One and
one, for his own, shall fall away. Yet one and one and one shall return
to me for life; the deserter and the destroyer shall re-create me.
Primeval, their life-blood is mine. My pouring waters are passion, my
lightnings are laughter of man. I am the One in whom the millions are
saved, and I am the Million in whom the one is lost.

ANDREW. [_Yearningly, to_ THE FIGURE.] Your face!

     [THE FIGURE _turns majestically away_. ANDREW _clings to him_.

ANDREW. Your face!

     [_In the shadow of the flag_ THE FIGURE _unmuffles for an instant_.

     [_Peering, dazzled_, ANDREW _staggers back, with a low cry, and,
     covering his eyes, falls upon the embankment_.

     [_From away, left, the thrumming of a jew's-harp is heard, playing
     "The Star-Spangled Banner."_

     [_From the right enter_ JOEL _and_ ELLEN.

     [_Descending from the embankment_, THE FIGURE _stands apart_.

JOEL. Well, Colonel Average, time's up.

ELLEN. [_Seeing_ ANDREW'S _prostrate form, hastens to him_.] Andy!
What's happened?

ANDREW. [_Rising slowly._] Come here. I'll whisper it.

     [_He leads her beside the embankment, beyond which the dawn is
     beginning to redden._

JOEL. Yonder's the sergeant's jew's-harp. That's our signal, Nell. So
long, colonel.

THE FIGURE. [_Nodding._] So long, sonny.

ANDREW. [_Holding_ ELLEN'S _hands, passionately_.] You understand? You
_do_?

ELLEN. [_Looking in his eyes._] I understand, dear.

     [_They kiss each other._

JOEL. [_Calls low._] Come, you married turtles. The road's clear. Follow
me now. Sneak.

     [_Carrying his knapsack_, JOEL _climbs over the embankment and
     disappears_.

     [_The thrumming of the jew's-harp continues._

     [ELLEN, _taking the strip of silk flag from her shoulders, ties it
     to the standard_.

ANDREW. [_Faintly._] God bless you!

ELLEN. [_As they part hands._] Good-by!

     [THE FIGURE _has remounted the embankment, where--in the distincter
     glow of the red dawn--the gray folds of his cloak, hanging from his
     shoulders, resemble the half-closed wings of an eagle, the beaked
     cowl falling, as a kind of visor, before his face, concealing it_.

THE FIGURE. Come, little gal.

     [ELLEN _goes to him, and hides her face in the great cloak. As she
     does so, he draws from it a paper, writes on it, and hands it to_
     ANDREW, _with the powder-horn_.

THE FIGURE. By the by, Andy, here's that s'curity. Them here's my
initials; they're all what's needful. Jest file this in the right
pigeonhole, and you'll draw your pay. Keep your upper lip, boy. I'll
meet ye later, mebbe, at Lundy's Lane.

ANDREW. [_Wistfully._] You'll take her home?

THE FIGURE. Yes; reckon she'll housekeep for your uncle till you get
back; won't ye, Nellie? Come, don't cry, little gal. We'll soon git
'quainted. 'Tain't the fust time sweethearts has called me _Uncle_.

     [_Flinging back his great cloak, he throws one wing of it, with his
     arm, about her shoulders, thus with half its reverse side draping
     her with shining stripes and stars. By the same action his own
     figure is made partly visible--the legs clad in the tight,
     instep-strapped trousers (blue and white) of the Napoleonic era.
     Holding the girl gently to him--while her face turns back toward_
     ANDREW--_he leads her, silhouetted against the sunrise, along the
     embankment, and disappears_.

     [_Meantime, the thrumming twang of the jew's-harp grows sweeter,
     mellower, modulated with harmonies that, filling now the air with
     elusive strains of the American war-hymn, mingle with the faint
     dawn-twitterings of birds._

     [ANDREW _stares silently after the departed forms; then, slowly
     coming down into the intrenchment, lifts from the ground his gun
     and ramrod, leans on the gun, and--reading the paper in his hand by
     the growing light--mutters it aloud_:

_U. S. A._

     [_Smiling sternly, he crumples the paper in his fist, makes a wad
     of it, and rams it into his gun-barrel._



HYACINTH HALVEY

BY

LADY AUGUSTA GREGORY

_Hyacinth Halvey_ is reprinted by special permission of G. P. Putnam's
Sons, New York City, publishers of Lady Gregory's work in America. All
rights reserved. For permission to perform, address the publisher.


LADY AUGUSTA GREGORY

Lady Augusta Gregory, one of the foremost figures in the Irish dramatic
movement, was born at Roxborough, County Galway, Ireland, in 1859. "She
was then a young woman," says one who has described her in her early
married life, "very earnest, who divided her hair in the middle and wore
it smooth on either side of a broad and handsome brow. Her eyes were
always full of questions.... In her drawing-room were to be met men of
assured reputation in literature and politics, and there was always the
best reading of the times upon her tables." Lady Gregory has devoted her
entire life to the cause of Irish literature. In 1911 she visited the
United States and at a dinner given to her by _The Outlook_ in New York
City she said:

    "I will not cease from mental strife
    Or let the sword fall from my hand
    Till we have built Jerusalem
    In--Ireland's--fair and lovely land."

Lady Gregory, with William Butler Yeats and John Millington Synge, has
been the very life of the Irish drama. The literary association of these
three has been highly fruitful. She helped to found the Irish National
Theatre Society, and for a number of years has been the managing force
of the celebrated Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Lady Gregory's chief interest has been in peasant comedies and
folk-plays. Her _Spreading the News_, _Hyacinth Halvey_, _The Rising of
the Moon_, _The Workhouse Ward_, and _The Travelling Man_ are well-known
contributions to contemporary drama.

It is a noteworthy fact that most of the plays of the Irish dramatic
movement are one-act plays. Much of Irish life lends itself admirably to
one-act treatment. _Hyacinth Halvey_ is one of Lady Gregory's best
productions. This play contains a universal idea: reputation is in great
measure a matter of "a password or an emotion." Hyacinth, having a good
reputation thrust upon him, may do as he likes--his good name clings to
him notwithstanding.


PERSONS

     HYACINTH HALVEY
     JAMES QUIRKE, _a butcher_
     FARDY FARREL, _a telegraph boy_
     SERGEANT CARDEN
     MRS. DELANE, _postmistress at Cloon_
     MISS JOYCE, _the priest's housekeeper_



HYACINTH HALVEY

     SCENE: _Outside the post-office at the little town of Cloon._ MRS.
     DELANE _at post-office door_. MR. QUIRKE _sitting on a chair at
     butcher's door. A dead sheep hanging beside it, and a thrush in a
     cage above._ FARDY FARRELL _playing on a mouth-organ. Train-whistle
     heard._


MRS. DELANE. There is the four-o'clock train, Mr. Quirke.

MR. QUIRKE. Is it now, Mrs. Delane, and I not long after rising? It
makes a man drowsy to be doing the half of his work in the night-time.
Going about the country, looking for little stags of sheep, striving to
knock a few shillings together. That contract for the soldiers gives me
a great deal to attend to.

MRS. DELANE. I suppose so. It's hard enough on myself to be down ready
for the mail-car in the morning, sorting letters in the half-dark. It's
often I haven't time to look who are the letters from--or the cards.

MR. QUIRKE. It would be a pity you not to know any little news might be
knocking about. If you did not have information of what is going on, who
should have it? Was it you, ma'am, was telling me that the new
sub-sanitary inspector would be arriving to-day?

MRS. DELANE. To-day it is he is coming, and it's likely he was in that
train. There was a card about him to Sergeant Carden this morning.

MR. QUIRKE. A young chap from Carrow they were saying he was.

MRS. DELANE. So he is, one Hyacinth Halvey; and indeed if all that is
said of him is true, or if a quarter of it is true, he will be a credit
to this town.

MR. QUIRKE. Is that so?

MRS. DELANE. Testimonials he has by the score. To Father Gregan they
were sent. Registered they were coming and going. Would you believe me
telling you that they weighed up to three pounds?

MR. QUIRKE. There must be great bulk in them indeed.

MRS. DELANE. It is no wonder he to get the job. He must have a great
character, so many persons to write for him as what there did.

FARDY. It would be a great thing to have a character like that.

MRS. DELANE. Indeed, I am thinking it will be long before you will get
the like of it, Fardy Farrell.

FARDY. If I had the like of that of a character it is not here carrying
messages I would be. It's in Noonan's Hotel I would be, driving cars.

MR. QUIRKE. Here is the priest's housekeeper coming.

MRS. DELANE. So she is; and there is the sergeant a little while after
her.

     [_Enter_ MISS JOYCE.

MRS. DELANE. Good evening to you, Miss Joyce. What way is his reverence
to-day? Did he get any ease from the cough?

MISS JOYCE. He did not, indeed, Mrs. Delane. He has it sticking to him
yet. Smothering he is in the night-time. The most thing he comes short
in is the voice.

MRS. DELANE. I am sorry, now, to hear that. He should mind himself well.

MISS JOYCE. It's easy to say let him mind himself. What do you say to
him going to the meeting to-night?

     [SERGEANT _comes in_.

MISS JOYCE. It's for his reverence's "Freeman" I am come, Mrs. Delane.

MRS. DELANE. Here it is ready. I was just throwing an eye on it to see
was there any news. Good evening, Sergeant.

SERGEANT. [_Holding up a placard._] I brought this notice, Mrs. Delane,
the announcement of the meeting to be held to-night in the court-house.
You might put it up here convenient to the window. I hope you are coming
to it yourself?

MRS. DELANE. I will come, and welcome. I would do more than that for
you, Sergeant.

SERGEANT. And you, Mr. Quirke.

MR. QUIRKE. I'll come, to be sure. I forget what's this the meeting is
about.

SERGEANT. The Department of Agriculture is sending round a lecturer in
furtherance of the moral development of the rural classes. [_Reads._] "A
lecture will be given this evening in Cloon Court-House, illustrated by
magic-lantern slides--" Those will not be in it; I am informed they were
all broken in the first journey, the railway company taking them to be
eggs. The subject of the lecture is "The Building of Character."

MRS. DELANE. Very nice, indeed, I knew a girl lost her character, and
she washed her feet in a blessed well after, and it dried up on the
minute.

SERGEANT. The arrangements have all been left to me, the archdeacon
being away. He knows I have a good intellect for things of the sort. But
the loss of those slides puts a man out. The thing people will not see
it is not likely it is the thing they will believe. I saw what they call
tableaux--standing pictures, you know--one time in Dundrum----

MRS. DELANE. Miss Joyce was saying Father Gregan is supporting you.

SERGEANT. I am accepting his assistance. No bigotry about me when there
is a question of the welfare of any fellow creatures. Orange and green
will stand together to-night, I, myself, and the station-master on the
one side, your parish priest in the chair.

MISS JOYCE. If his reverence would mind me he would not quit the house
to-night. He is no more fit to go speak at a meeting than [_pointing to
the one hanging outside_ QUIRKE'S _door_] that sheep.

SERGEANT. I am willing to take the responsibility. He will have no
speaking to do at all, unless it might be to bid them give the lecturer
a hearing. The loss of those slides now is a great annoyance to me--and
no time for anything. The lecturer will be coming by the next train.

MISS JOYCE. Who is this coming up the street, Mrs. Delane?

MRS. DELANE. I wouldn't doubt it to be the new sub-sanitary inspector.
Was I telling you of the weight of the testimonials he got, Miss Joyce?

MISS JOYCE. Sure, I heard the curate reading them to his reverence. He
must be a wonder for principles.

MRS. DELANE. Indeed, it is what I was saying to myself, he must be a
very saintly young man.

     [_Enter_ HYACINTH HALVEY. _He carries a small bag and a large
     brown-paper parcel. He stops and nods bashfully._

HYACINTH. Good evening to you. I was bid to come to the post-office----

SERGEANT. I suppose you are Hyacinth Halvey? I had a letter about you
from the resident magistrate.

HYACINTH. I heard he was writing. It was my mother got a friend he deals
with to ask him.

SERGEANT. He gives you a very high character.

HYACINTH. It is very kind of him, indeed, and he not knowing me at all.
But, indeed, all the neighbors were very friendly. Anything any one
could do to help me they did it.

MRS. DELANE. I'll engage it is the testimonials you have in your parcel?
I know the wrapping-paper, but they grew in bulk since I handled them.

HYACINTH. Indeed, I was getting them to the last. There was not one
refused me. It is what my mother was saying, a good character is no
burden.

FARDY. I would believe that, indeed.

SERGEANT. Let us have a look at the testimonials.

     [HYACINTH HALVEY _opens a parcel, and a large number of envelopes
     fall out_.

SERGEANT. [_Opening and reading one by one._] "He possesses the fire of
the Gael, the strength of the Norman, the vigor of the Dane, the
stolidity of the Saxon----"

HYACINTH. It was the chairman of the Poor Law Guardians wrote that.

SERGEANT. "A magnificent example to old and young----"

HYACINTH. That was the secretary of the De Wet Hurling Club----

SERGEANT. "A shining example of the value conferred by an eminently
careful and high-class education----"

HYACINTH. That was the national schoolmaster.

SERGEANT. "Devoted to the highest ideals of his motherland to such an
extent as is compatible with a hitherto non-parliamentary career----"

HYACINTH. That was the member for Carrow.

SERGEANT. "A splendid exponent of the purity of the race----"

HYACINTH. The editor of the "Carrow Champion."

SERGEANT. "Admirably adapted for the efficient discharge of all possible
duties that may in future be laid upon him----"

HYACINTH. The new station-master.

SERGEANT. "A champion of every cause that can legitimately benefit his
fellow creatures--" Why, look here, my man, you are the very one to come
to our assistance to-night.

HYACINTH. I would be glad to do that. What way can I do it?

SERGEANT. You are a newcomer--your example would carry weight--you must
stand up as a living proof of the beneficial effect of a high character,
moral fibre, temperance--there is something about it here I am
sure--(_Looks._) I am sure I saw "unparalleled temperance" in some
place----

HYACINTH. It was my mother's cousin wrote that--I am no drinker, but I
haven't the pledge taken----

SERGEANT. You might take it for the purpose.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Eagerly._] Here is an antitreating button. I was made a
present of it by one of my customers--I'll give it to you [_sticks it
in_ HYACINTH'S _coat_] and welcome.

SERGEANT. That is it. You can wear the button on the platform--or a bit
of blue ribbon--hundreds will follow your example--I know the boys from
the Workhouse will----

HYACINTH. I am in no way wishful to be an example----

SERGEANT. I will read extracts from the testimonials. "There he is," I
will say, "an example of one in early life who by his own unaided
efforts and his high character has obtained a profitable situation."
[_Slaps his side._] I know what I'll do. I'll engage a few corner-boys
from Noonan's bar, just as they are, greasy and sodden, to stand in a
group--there will be the contrast--the sight will deter others from a
similar fate--that's the way to do a tableau--I knew I could turn out a
success.

HYACINTH. I wouldn't like to be a contrast----

SERGEANT. [_Puts testimonials in his pocket._] I will go now and engage
those lads--sixpence each, and well worth it--nothing like an example
for the rural classes.

     [_Goes off_, HYACINTH _feebly trying to detain him_.

MRS. DELANE. A very nice man, indeed. A little high up in himself,
maybe. I'm not one that blames the police. Sure they have their own
bread to earn like every other one. And indeed it is often they will let
a thing pass.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Gloomily._] Sometimes they will, and more times they will
not.

MISS JOYCE. And where will you be finding a lodging, Mr. Halvey?

HYACINTH. I was going to ask that myself, ma'am. I don't know the town.

MISS JOYCE. I know of a good lodging, but it is only a very good man
would be taken into it.

MRS. DELANE. Sure there could be no objection there to Mr. Halvey. There
is no appearance on him but what is good, and the sergeant after taking
him up the way he is doing.

MISS JOYCE. You will be near to the sergeant in the lodging I speak of.
The house is convenient to the barracks.

HYACINTH. [_Doubtfully._] To the barracks?

MISS JOYCE. Alongside of it, and the barrack-yard behind. And that's not
all. It is opposite to the priest's house.

HYACINTH. Opposite, is it?

MISS JOYCE. A very respectable place, indeed, and a very clean room you
will get. I know it well. The curate can see into it from his window.

HYACINTH. Can he now?

FARDY. There was a good many, I am thinking, went into that lodging and
left it after.

MISS JOYCE. [_Sharply._] It is a lodging you will never be let into or
let stop in, Fardy. If they did go they were a good riddance.

FARDY. John Hart, the plumber, left it----

MISS JOYCE. If he did it was because he dared not pass the police coming
in, as he used, with a rabbit he was after snaring in his hand.

FARDY. The schoolmaster himself left it.

MISS JOYCE. He needn't have left it if he hadn't taken to card-playing.
What way could you say your prayers, and shadows shuffling and dealing
before you on the blind?

HYACINTH. I think maybe I'd best look around a bit before I'll settle in
a lodging----

MISS JOYCE. Not at all. You won't be wanting to pull down the blind.

MRS. DELANE. It is not likely _you_ will be snaring rabbits.

MISS JOYCE. Or bringing in a bottle and taking an odd glass the way
James Kelly did.

MRS. DELANE. Or writing threatening notices, and the police taking a
view of you from the rear.

MISS JOYCE. Or going to roadside dances, or running after
good-for-nothing young girls----

HYACINTH. I give you my word I'm not so harmless as you think.

MRS. DELANE. Would you be putting a lie on these, Mr. Halvey? [_Touching
testimonials._] I know well the way you will be spending the evenings,
writing letters to your relations----

MISS JOYCE. Learning O'Growney's exercises----

MRS. DELANE. Sticking post-cards in an album for the convent bazaar.

MISS JOYCE. Reading the "Catholic Young Man"----

MRS. DELANE. Playing the melodies on a melodeon----

MISS JOYCE. Looking at the pictures in the "Lives of the Saints." I'll
hurry on and engage the room for you.

HYACINTH. Wait. Wait a minute----

MISS JOYCE. No trouble at all. I told you it was just opposite. [_Goes._

MR. QUIRKE. I suppose I must go up-stairs and ready myself for the
meeting. If it wasn't for the contract I have for the soldiers' barracks
and the sergeant's good word, I wouldn't go anear it. [_Goes into shop._

MRS. DELANE. I should be making myself ready, too. I must be in good
time to see you being made an example of, Mr. Halvey. It is I, myself,
was the first to say it; you will be a credit to the town. [_Goes._

HYACINTH. [_In a tone of agony._] I wish I had never seen Cloon.

FARDY. What is on you?

HYACINTH. I wish I had never left Carrow. I wish I had been drowned the
first day I thought of it, and I'd be better off.

FARDY. What is it ails you?

HYACINTH. I wouldn't for the best pound ever I had be in this place
to-day.

FARDY. I don't know what you are talking about.

HYACINTH. To have left Carrow, if it was a poor place, where I had my
comrades, and an odd spree, and a game of cards--and a coursing-match
coming on, and I promised a new greyhound from the city of Cork. I'll
die in this place, the way I am, I'll be too much closed in.

FARDY. Sure it mightn't be as bad as what you think.

HYACINTH. Will you tell me, I ask you, what way can I undo it?

FARDY. What is it you are wanting to undo?

HYACINTH. Will you tell me what way can I get rid of my character?

FARDY. To get rid of it, is it?

HYACINTH. That is what I said. Aren't you after hearing the great
character they are after putting on me?

FARDY. That is a good thing to have.

HYACINTH. It is not. It's the worst in the world. If I hadn't it, I
wouldn't be like a prize mangold at a show, with every person praising
me.

FARDY. If I had it, I wouldn't be like a head in a barrel, with every
person making hits at me.

HYACINTH. If I hadn't it, I wouldn't be shoved into a room with all the
clergy watching me and the police in the back yard.

FARDY. If I had it, I wouldn't be but a message-carrier now, and a
clapper scaring birds in the summer-time.

HYACINTH. If I hadn't it, I wouldn't be wearing this button and brought
up for an example at the meeting.

FARDY. [_Whistles._] Maybe you're not so, what those papers make you out
to be?

HYACINTH. How would I be what they make me out to be? Was there ever any
person of that sort since the world was a world, unless it might be
Saint Antony of Padua looking down from the chapel wall? If it is like
that I was, isn't it in Mount Melleray I would be, or with the friars at
Esker? Why would I be living in the world at all, or doing the world's
work?

FARDY. [_Taking up parcel._] Who would think, now, there would be so
much lies in a small place like Carrow?

HYACINTH. It was my mother's cousin did it. He said I was not reared for
laboring--he gave me a new suit and bid me never to come back again. I
daren't go back to face him--the neighbors knew my mother had a long
family--bad luck to them the day they gave me these. [_Tears letters and
scatters them._] I'm done with testimonials. They won't be here to bear
witness against me.

FARDY. The sergeant thought them to be great. Sure he has the samples of
them in his pocket. There's not one in the town but will know before
morning that you are the next thing to an earthly saint.

HYACINTH. [_Stamping._] I'll stop their mouths. I'll show them I can be
a terror for badness. I'll do some injury. I'll commit some crime. The
first thing I'll do I'll go and get drunk. If I never did it before I'll
do it now. I'll get drunk--then I'll make an assault--I tell you I'd
think as little of taking a life as of blowing out a candle.

FARDY. If you get drunk you are done for. Sure that will be held up
after as an excuse for any breaking of the law.

HYACINTH. I will break the law. Drunk or sober, I'll break it. I'll do
something that will have no excuse. What would you say is the worst
crime that any man can do?

FARDY. I don't know. I heard the sergeant saying one time it was to
obstruct the police in the discharge of their duty----

HYACINTH. That won't do. It's a patriot I would be then, worse than
before, with my picture in the weeklies. It's a red crime I must commit
that will make all respectable people quit minding me. What can I do?
Search your mind now.

FARDY. It's what I heard the old people saying there could be no worse
crime than to steal a sheep----

HYACINTH. I'll steal a sheep--or a cow--or a horse--if that will leave
me the way I was before.

FARDY. It's maybe in jail it will leave you.

HYACINTH. I don't care--I'll confess--I'll tell why I did it--I give you
my word I would as soon be picking oakum or breaking stones as to be
perched in the daylight the same as that bird, and all the town
chirruping to me or bidding me chirrup----

FARDY. There is reason in that, now.

HYACINTH. Help me, will you?

FARDY. Well, if it is to steal a sheep you want, you haven't far to go.

HYACINTH. [_Looking around wildly._] Where is it? I see no sheep.

FARDY. Look around you.

HYACINTH. I see no living thing but that thrush----

FARDY. Did I say it was living? What is that hanging on Quirke's rack?

HYACINTH. It's [_fingers it_] a sheep, sure enough----

FARDY. Well, what ails you that you can't bring it away?

HYACINTH. It's a dead one----

FARDY. What matter if it is?

HYACINTH. If it was living I could drive it before me----

FARDY. You could. Is it to your own lodging you would drive it? Sure
every one would take it to be a pet you brought from Carrow.

HYACINTH. I suppose they might.

FARDY. Miss Joyce sending in for news of it and it bleating behind the
bed.

HYACINTH. [_Distracted._] Stop! stop!

MRS. DELANE. [_From upper window._] Fardy! Are you there, Fardy Farrell?

FARDY. I am, ma'am.

MRS. DELANE. [_From window._] Look and tell me is that the telegraph I
hear ticking?

FARDY. [_Looking in at door._] It is, ma'am.

MRS. DELANE. Then botheration to it, and I not dressed or undressed.
Wouldn't you say, now, it's to annoy me it is calling me down. I'm
coming! I'm coming! [_Disappears._

FARDY. Hurry on, now! Hurry! She'll be coming out on you. If you are
going to do it, do it, and if you are not, let it alone.

HYACINTH. I'll do it! I'll do it!

FARDY. [_Lifting the sheep on his back._] I'll give you a hand with it.

HYACINTH. [_Goes a step or two and turns round._] You told me no place
where I could hide it.

FARDY. You needn't go far. There is the church beyond at the side of the
square. Go round to the ditch behind the wall--there's nettles in it.

HYACINTH. That'll do.

FARDY. She's coming out--run! run!

HYACINTH. [_Runs a step or two._] It's slipping!

FARDY. Hoist it up. I'll give it a hoist!

[HALVEY _runs out_.

MRS. DELANE. [_Calling out._] What are you doing, Fardy Farrell? Is it
idling you are?

FARDY. Waiting I am, ma'am, for the message----

MRS. DELANE. Never mind the message yet. Who said it was ready? [_Going
to door._] Go ask for the loan of--no, but ask news of--Here, now go
bring that bag of Mr. Halvey's to the lodging Miss Joyce has taken----

FARDY. I will, ma'am. [_Takes bag and goes out._

MRS. DELANE. [_Coming out with a telegram in her hand._] Nobody here?
[_Looks round and calls cautiously._] Mr. Quirke! Mr. Quirke! James
Quirke!

MR. QUIRKE. [_Looking out of his upper window, with soap-suddy face._]
What is it, Mrs. Delane?

MRS. DELANE. [_Beckoning._] Come down here till I tell you.

MR. QUIRKE. I cannot do that. I'm not fully shaved.

MRS. DELANE. You'd come if you knew the news I have.

MR. QUIRKE. Tell it to me now. I'm not so supple as I was.

MRS. DELANE. Whisper now, have you an enemy in any place?

MR. QUIRKE. It's likely I may have. A man in business----

MRS. DELANE. I was thinking you had one.

MR. QUIRKE. Why would you think that at this time more than any other
time?

MRS. DELANE. If you could know what is in this envelope you would know
that, James Quirke.

MR. QUIRKE. Is that so? And what, now, is there in it?

MRS. DELANE. Who do you think now is it addressed to?

MR. QUIRKE. How would I know that, and I not seeing it?

MRS. DELANE. That is true. Well, it is a message from Dublin Castle to
the sergeant of police!

MR. QUIRKE. To Sergeant Carden, is it?

MRS. DELANE. It is. And it concerns yourself.

MR. QUIRKE. Myself, is it? What accusation can they be bringing against
me? I'm a peaceable man.

MRS. DELANE. Wait till you hear.

MR. QUIRKE. Maybe they think I was in that moonlighting case----

MRS. DELANE. That is not it----

MR. QUIRKE. I was not in it--I was but in the neighboring field--cutting
up a dead cow, that those never had a hand in----

MRS. DELANE. You're out of it----

MR. QUIRKE. They had their faces blackened. There is no man can say I
recognized them.

MRS. DELANE. That's not what they're saying----

MR. QUIRKE. I'll swear I did not hear their voices or know them if I did
hear them.

MRS. DELANE. I tell you it has nothing to do with that. It might be
better for you if it had.

MR. QUIRKE. What is it, so?

MRS. DELANE. It is an order to the sergeant, bidding him immediately to
seize all suspicious meat in your house. There is an officer coming
down. There are complaints from the Shannon Fort Barracks.

MR. QUIRKE. I'll engage it was that pork.

MRS. DELANE. What ailed it for them to find fault?

MR. QUIRKE. People are so hard to please nowadays, and I recommended
them to salt it.

MRS. DELANE. They had a right to have minded your advice.

MR. QUIRKE. There was nothing on that pig at all but that it went mad on
poor O'Grady that owned it.

MRS. DELANE. So I heard, and went killing all before it.

MR. QUIRKE. Sure it's only in the brain madness can be. I heard the
doctor saying that.

MRS. DELANE. He should know.

MR. QUIRKE. I give you my word I cut the head off it. I went to the loss
of it, throwing it to the eels in the river. If they had salted the
meat, as I advised them, what harm would it have done to any person on
earth?

MRS. DELANE. I hope no harm will come on poor Mrs. Quirke and the
family.

MR. QUIRKE. Maybe it wasn't that but some other thing----

MRS. DELANE. Here is Fardy. I must send the message to the sergeant.
Well, Mr. Quirke, I'm glad I had the time to give you a warning.

MR. QUIRKE. I'm obliged to you, indeed. You were always very
neighborly, Mrs. Delane. Don't be too quick now sending the message.
There is just one article I would like to put away out of the house
before the sergeant will come.

     [_Enter_ FARDY.

MRS. DELANE. Here now, Fardy--that's not the way you're going to the
barracks. Any one would think you were scaring birds yet. Put on your
uniform.

     [FARDY _goes into office_.

MRS. DELANE. You have this message to bring to the sergeant of police.
Get your cap now; it's under the counter.

     [FARDY _reappears, and she gives him telegram_.

FARDY. I'll bring it to the station. It's there he was going.

MRS. DELANE. You will not, but to the barracks. It can wait for him
there.

     [FARDY _goes off_. MR. QUIRKE _has appeared at door_.

MR. QUIRKE. It was indeed a very neighborly act, Mrs. Delane, and I'm
obliged to you. There is just _one_ article to put out of the way. The
sergeant may look about him then and welcome. It's well I cleared the
premises on yesterday. A consignment to Birmingham I sent. The Lord be
praised, isn't England a terrible country, with all it consumes?

MRS. DELANE. Indeed, you always treat the neighbors very decent, Mr.
Quirke, not asking them to buy from you.

MR. QUIRKE. Just one article. [_Turns to rack._] That sheep I brought in
last night. It was for a charity, indeed, I bought it from the widow
woman at Kiltartan Cross. Where would the poor make a profit out of
their dead meat without me? Where now is it? Well, now, I could have
swore that that sheep was hanging there on the rack when I went in----

MRS. DELANE. You must have put it in some other place.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Going in and searching and coming out._] I did not; there
is no other place for me to put it. Is it gone blind I am, or is it not
in it, it is?

MRS. DELANE. It's not there now, anyway.

MR. QUIRKE. Didn't you take notice of it there, yourself, this morning?

MRS. DELANE. I have it in my mind that I did; but it's not there now.

MR. QUIRKE. There was no one here could bring it away?

MRS. DELANE. Is it me, myself, you suspect of taking it, James Quirke?

MR. QUIRKE. Where is it at all? It is certain it was not of itself it
walked away. It was dead, and very dead, the time I bought it.

MRS. DELANE. I have a pleasant neighbor, indeed, that accuses me that I
took his sheep. I wonder, indeed, you to say a thing like that! I to
steal your sheep or your rack or anything that belongs to you or to your
trade! Thank you, James Quirke. I am much obliged to you, indeed.

MR. QUIRKE. Ah, be quiet, woman; be quiet----

MRS. DELANE. And let me tell you, James Quirke, that I would sooner
starve and see every one belonging to me starve than to eat the size of
a thimble of any joint that ever was on your rack or that ever will be
on it, whatever the soldiers may eat that have no other thing to get, or
the English, that devour all sorts, or the poor ravenous people that's
down by the sea!

     [_She turns to go into shop._

MR. QUIRKE. [_Stopping her._] Don't be talking foolishness, woman. Who
said you took my meat? Give heed to me now. There must some other
message have come. The sergeant must have got some other message.

MRS. DELANE. [_Sulkily._] If there is any way for a message to come that
is quicker than to come by the wires, tell me what it is, and I'll be
obliged to you.

MR. QUIRKE. The sergeant was up here, making an excuse he was sticking
up that notice. What was he doing here, I ask you?

MRS. DELANE. How would I know what brought him?

MR. QUIRKE. It is what he did; he made as if to go away--he turned back
again and I shaving--he brought away the sheep--he will have it for
evidence against me----

MRS. DELANE. [_Interested._] That might be so.

MR. QUIRKE. I would sooner it to have been any other beast nearly ever I
had upon the rack.

MRS. DELANE. Is that so?

MR. QUIRKE. I bade the Widow Early to kill it a fortnight ago--but she
would not, she was that covetous!

MRS. DELANE. What was on it?

MR. QUIRKE. How would I know what was on it? Whatever was on it, it was
the will of God put it upon it--wasted it was, and shivering and
refusing its share.

MRS. DELANE. The poor thing.

MR. QUIRKE. Gone all to nothing--wore away like a flock of thread. It
did not weigh as much as a lamb of two months.

MRS. DELANE. It is likely the inspector will bring it to Dublin?

MR. QUIRKE. The ribs of it streaky with the dint of patent medicines----

MRS. DELANE. I wonder is it to the Petty Sessions you'll be brought or
is it to the Assizes?

MR. QUIRKE. I'll speak up to them. I'll make my defense. What can the
army expect at fippence a pound?

MRS. DELANE. It is likely there will be no bail allowed?

MR. QUIRKE. Would they be wanting me to give them good quality meat out
of my own pocket? Is it to encourage them to fight the poor Indians and
Africans they would have me? It's the Anti-Enlisting Societies should
pay the fine for me.

MRS. DELANE. It's not a fine will be put on you, I'm afraid. It's five
years in jail you will be apt to be getting. Well, I'll try and be a
good neighbor to poor Mrs. Quirke.

     [MR. QUIRKE, _who has been stamping up and down, sits down and
     weeps_. HALVEY _comes in and stands on one side_.

MR. QUIRKE. Hadn't I heart-scalding enough before, striving to rear five
weak children?

MRS. DELANE. I suppose they will be sent to the Industrial Schools?

MR. QUIRKE. My poor wife----

MRS. DELANE. I'm afraid the workhouse----

MR. QUIRKE. And she out in an ass-car at this minute, helping me to
follow my trade.

MRS. DELANE. I hope they will not arrest her along with you.

MR. QUIRKE. I'll give myself up to justice. I'll plead guilty! I'll be
recommended to mercy!

MRS. DELANE. It might be best for you.

MR. QUIRKE. Who would think so great a misfortune could come upon a
family through the bringing away of one sheep!

HYACINTH. [_Coming forward._] Let you make yourself easy.

MR. QUIRKE. Easy! It's easy to say let you make yourself easy.

HYACINTH. I can tell you where it is.

MR. QUIRKE. Where what is?

HYACINTH. The sheep you are fretting after.

MR. QUIRKE. What do you know about it?

HYACINTH. I know everything about it.

MR. QUIRKE. I suppose the sergeant told you?

HYACINTH. He told me nothing.

MR. QUIRKE. I suppose the whole town knows it, so?

HYACINTH. No one knows it, as yet.

MR. QUIRKE. And the sergeant didn't see it?

HYACINTH. No one saw it or brought it away but myself.

MR. QUIRKE. Where did you put it at all?

HYACINTH. In the ditch behind the church wall. In among the nettles it
is. Look at the way they have me stung. [_Holds out hands._

MR. QUIRKE. In the ditch! The best hiding-place in the town.

HYACINTH. I never thought it would bring such great trouble upon you.
You can't say, anyway, I did not tell you.

MR. QUIRKE. You, yourself, that brought it away and that hid it! I
suppose it was coming in the train you got information about the message
to the police.

HYACINTH. What now do you say to me?

MR. QUIRKE. Say! I say I am as glad to hear what you said as if it was
the Lord telling me I'd be in heaven this minute.

HYACINTH. What are you going to do to me?

MR. QUIRKE. Do, is it? [_Grasps his hand._] Any earthly thing you would
wish me to do, I will do it.

HYACINTH. I suppose you will tell----

MR. QUIRKE. Tell! It's I that will tell when all is quiet. It is I will
give you the good name through the town!

HYACINTH. I don't well understand.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Embracing him._] The man that preserved me!

HYACINTH. That preserved you?

MR. QUIRKE. That kept me from ruin!

HYACINTH. From ruin?

MR. QUIRKE. That saved me from disgrace!

HYACINTH. [_To_ MRS. DELANE.] What is he saying at all?

MR. QUIRKE. From the inspector!

HYACINTH. What is he talking about?

MR. QUIRKE. From the magistrates!

HYACINTH. He is making some mistake.

MR. QUIRKE. From the Winter Assizes!

HYACINTH. Is he out of his wits?

MR. QUIRKE. Five years in jail!

HYACINTH. Hasn't he the queer talk?

MR. QUIRKE. The loss of the contract!

HYACINTH. Are my own wits gone astray?

MR. QUIRKE. What way can I repay you?

HYACINTH. [_Shouting._] I tell you I took the sheep----

MR. QUIRKE. You did, God reward you!

HYACINTH. I stole away with it----

MR. QUIRKE. The blessing of the poor on you!

HYACINTH. I put it out of sight----

MR. QUIRKE. The blessing of my five children----

HYACINTH. I may as well say nothing----

MRS. DELANE. Let you be quiet now, Quirke. Here's the sergeant coming to
search the shop----

     [SERGEANT _comes in_. QUIRKE _leaves go of_ HALVEY, _who arranges
     his hat, etc._

SERGEANT. The department to blazes!

MRS. DELANE. What is it is putting you out?

SERGEANT. To go to the train to meet the lecturer, and there to get a
message through the guard that he was unavoidably detained in the South,
holding an inquest on the remains of a drake.

MRS. DELANE. The lecturer, is it?

SERGEANT. To be sure. What else would I be talking of? The lecturer has
failed me, and where am I to go looking for a person that I would think
fitting to take his place?

MRS. DELANE. And that's all? And you didn't get any message but the one?

SERGEANT. Is that all? I am surprised at you, Mrs. Delane. Isn't it
enough to upset a man, within three-quarters of an hour of the time of
the meeting? Where, I would ask you, am I to find a man that has
education enough and wit enough and character enough to put up speaking
on the platform on the minute?

MR. QUIRKE. [_Jumps up._] It is I, myself, will tell you that.

SERGEANT. You!

MR. QUIRKE. [_Slapping_ HALVEY _on the back_.] Look at here, Sergeant.
There is not one word was said in all those papers about this young man
before you but it is true. And there could be no good thing said of him
that would be too good for him.

SERGEANT. It might not be a bad idea.

MR. QUIRKE. Whatever the paper said about him, Sergeant, I can say more
again. It has come to my knowledge--by chance--that since he came to
this town that young man has saved a whole family from destruction.

SERGEANT. That is much to his credit--helping the rural classes----

MR. QUIRKE. A family and a long family, big and little, like sods of
turf--and they depending on a--on one that might be on his way to dark
trouble at this minute if it was not for his assistance. Believe me, he
is the most sensible man, and the wittiest, and the kindest, and the
best helper of the poor that ever stood before you in this square. Is
not that so, Mrs. Delane?

MRS. DELANE. It is true, indeed. Where he gets his wisdom and his wit
and his information from I don't know, unless it might be that he is
gifted from above.

SERGEANT.. Well, Mrs. Delane, I think we have settled that question. Mr.
Halvey, you will be the speaker at the meeting. The lecturer sent these
notes--you can lengthen them into a speech. You can call to the people
of Cloon to stand out, to begin the building of their character. I saw a
lecturer do it one time at Dundrum. "Come up here," he said; "Dare to be
a Daniel," he said----

HYACINTH. I can't--I won't----

SERGEANT. [_Looking at papers and thrusting them into his hand._] You
will find it quite easy. I will conduct you to the platform--these
papers before you and a glass of water--that's settled. [_Turns to go._]
Follow me on to the court-house in half an hour--I must go to the
barracks first--I heard there was a telegram--[_Calls back as he goes._]
Don't be late, Mrs. Delane. Mind, Quirke, you promised to come.

MRS. DELANE. Well, it's time for me to make an end of settling
myself--and, indeed, Mr. Quirke, you'd best do the same.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Rubbing his cheek._] I suppose so. I had best keep on good
terms with him for the present. [_Turns._] Well, now, I had a great
escape this day.

     [_Both go in as_ FARDY _reappears, whistling_.

HYACINTH. [_Sitting down._] I don't know in the world what has come upon
the world that the half of the people of it should be cracked!

FARDY. Weren't you found out yet?

HYACINTH. Found out, is it? I don't know what you mean by being found
out.

FARDY. Didn't he miss the sheep?

HYACINTH. He did, and I told him it was I took it--and what happened I
declare to goodness I don't know--Will you look at these? [_Holds out
notes._

FARDY. Papers! Are they more testimonials?

HYACINTH. They are what is worse. [_Gives a hoarse laugh._] Will you
come and see me on the platform--these in my hand--and I
speaking--giving out advice. [FARDY _whistles_.] Why didn't you tell me,
the time you advised me to steal a sheep, that in this town it would
qualify a man to go preaching, and the priest in the chair looking on?

FARDY. The time I took a few apples that had fallen off a stall, they
did not ask me to hold a meeting. They welted me well.

HYACINTH. [_Looking round._] I would take apples if I could see them. I
wish I had broke my neck before I left Carrow, and I'd be better off! I
wish I had got six months the time I was caught setting snares--I wish I
had robbed a church.

FARDY. Would a Protestant church do?

HYACINTH. I suppose it wouldn't be so great a sin.

FARDY. It's likely the sergeant would think worse of it. Anyway, if you
want to rob one, it's the Protestant church is the handiest.

HYACINTH. [_Getting up._] Show me what way to do it?

FARDY. [_Pointing._] I was going around it a few minutes ago, to see
might there be e'er a dog scenting the sheep, and I noticed the window
being out.

HYACINTH. Out, out and out?

FARDY. It was, where they are putting colored glass in it for the
distiller----

HYACINTH. What good does that do me?

FARDY. Every good. You could go in by that window if you had some person
to give you a hoist. Whatever riches there is to get in it then, you'll
get them.

HYACINTH. I don't want riches. I'll give you all I will find if you will
come and hoist me.

FARDY. Here is Miss Joyce coming to bring you to your lodging. Sure I
brought your bag to it, the time you were away with the sheep----

HYACINTH. Run! Run!

     [_They go off._ _Enter_ MISS JOYCE.

MISS JOYCE. Are you here, Mrs. Delane? Where, can you tell me, is Mr.
Halvey?

MRS. DELANE. [_Coming out dressed._] It's likely he is gone on to the
court-house. Did you hear he is to be in the chair and to make an
address to the meeting?

MISS JOYCE. He is getting on fast. His reverence says he will be a good
help in the parish. Who would think, now, there would be such a godly
young man in a little place like Carrow!

     [_Enter_ SERGEANT _in a hurry, with telegram_.

SERGEANT. What time did this telegram arrive, Mrs. Delane?

MRS. DELANE. I couldn't be rightly sure, Sergeant. But sure it's marked
on it, unless the clock I have is gone wrong.

SERGEANT. It is marked on it. And I have the time I got it marked on my
own watch.

MRS. DELANE. Well, now, I wonder none of the police would have followed
you with it from the barracks--and they with so little to do----

SERGEANT. [_Looking in at_ QUIRKE'S _shop_.] Well, I am sorry to do what
I have to do, but duty is duty.

     [_He ransacks shop._ MRS. DELANE _looks on_. MR. QUIRKE _puts his
     head out of window_.

MR. QUIRKE. What is that going on inside? [_No answer._] Is there any
one inside, I ask? [_No answer._] It must be that dog of Tannian's--wait
till I get at him.

MRS. DELANE. It is Sergeant Carden, Mr. Quirke. He would seem to be
looking for something----

     [MR. QUIRKE _appears in shop_. SERGEANT _comes out, makes another
     dive, taking up sacks, etc._

MR. QUIRKE. I'm greatly afraid I am just out of meat, Sergeant--and I'm
sorry now to disoblige you, and you not being in the habit of dealing
with me----

SERGEANT. I should think not, indeed.

MR. QUIRKE. Looking for a tender little bit of lamb, I suppose you are,
for Mrs. Carden and the youngsters?

SERGEANT. I am not.

MR. QUIRKE. If I had it now, I'd be proud to offer it to you, and make
no charge. I'll be killing a good kid to-morrow. Mrs Carden might fancy
a bit of it----

SERGEANT. I have had orders to search your establishment for unwholesome
meat, and I am come here to do it.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Sitting down with a smile._] Is that so? Well, isn't it a
wonder the schemers does be in the world.

SERGEANT. It is not the first time there have been complaints.

MR. QUIRKE. I suppose not. Well, it is on their own head it will fall at
the last!

SERGEANT. I have found nothing so far.

MR. QUIRKE. I suppose not, indeed. What is there you could find, and it
not in it?

SERGEANT. Have you no meat at all upon the premises?

MR. QUIRKE. I have, indeed, a nice barrel of bacon.

SERGEANT. What way did it die?

MR. QUIRKE. It would be hard for me to say that. American it is. How
would I know what way they do be killing the pigs out there? Machinery,
I suppose, they have--steam-hammers----

SERGEANT. Is there nothing else here at all?

MR. QUIRKE. I give you my word, there is no meat, living or dead, in
this place, but yourself and myself and that bird above in the cage.

SERGEANT. Well, I must tell the inspector I could find nothing. But mind
yourself for the future.

MR. QUIRKE. Thank you, Sergeant. I will do that.

     [_Enter_ FARDY. _He stops short._

SERGEANT. It was you delayed that message to me, I suppose? You'd best
mend your ways or I'll have something to say to you. [_Seizes and shakes
him._

FARDY. That's the way every one does be faulting me. [_Whimpers._

     [_The_ SERGEANT _gives him another shake. A half-crown falls out of
     his pocket._

MISS JOYCE. [_Picking it up._] A half-a-crown! Where, now, did you get
that much, Fardy?

FARDY. Where did I get it, is it?

MISS JOYCE. I'll engage it was in no honest way you got it.

FARDY. I picked it up in the street----

MISS JOYCE. If you did, why didn't you bring it to the sergeant or to
his reverence?

MRS. DELANE. And some poor person, maybe, being at the loss of it.

MISS JOYCE. I'd best bring it to his reverence. Come with me, Fardy,
till he will question you about it.

FARDY. It was not altogether in the street I found it----

MISS JOYCE. There, now! I knew you got it in no good way! Tell me, now.


FARDY. It was playing pitch and toss I won it----

MISS JOYCE. And who would play for half-crowns with the like of you,
Fardy Farrell? Who was it, now?

FARDY. It was--a stranger----

MISS JOYCE. Do you hear that? A stranger! Did you see e'er a stranger in
this town, Mrs. Delane, or Sergeant Carden, or Mr. Quirke?

MR. QUIRKE. Not a one.

SERGEANT. There was no stranger here.

MRS. DELANE. There could not be one here without me knowing it.

FARDY. I tell you there was.

MISS JOYCE. Come on, then, and tell who was he to his reverence.

SERGEANT. [_Taking other arm._] Or to the bench.

FARDY. I did get it, I tell you, from a stranger.

SERGEANT. Where is he, so?

FARDY. He's in some place--not far away.

SERGEANT. Bring me to him.

FARDY. He'll be coming here.

SERGEANT. Tell me the truth and it will be better for you.

FARDY. [_Weeping._] Let me go and I will.

SERGEANT. [_Letting go._] Now--who did you get it from?

FARDY. From that young chap came to-day, Mr. Halvey.

ALL. Mr. Halvey!

MR. QUIRKE. [_Indignantly._] What are you saying, you young ruffian,
you? Hyacinth Halvey to be playing pitch and toss with the like of you!

FARDY. I didn't say that.

MISS JOYCE. You did say it. You said it now.

MR. QUIRKE. Hyacinth Halvey! The best man that ever came into this town!

MISS JOYCE. Well, what lies he has!

MR. QUIRKE. It's my belief the half-crown is a bad one. Maybe it's to
pass it off it was given to him. There were tinkers in the town at the
time of the fair. Give it here to me. [_Bites it._] No, indeed, it's
sound enough. Here, Sergeant, it's best for you take it. [_Gives it to_
SERGEANT, _who examines it_.

SERGEANT. Can it be? Can it be what I think it to be?

MR. QUIRKE. What is it? What do you take it to be?

SERGEANT. It is, it is. I know it, I know this half-crown----

MR. QUIRKE. That is a queer thing, now.

SERGEANT. I know it well. I have been handling it in the church for the
last twelvemonth----

MR. QUIRKE. Is that so?

SERGEANT. It is the nest-egg half-crown we hand round in the
collection-plate every Sunday morning. I know it by the dint on the
Queen's temples and the crooked scratch under her nose.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Examining it._] So there is, too.

SERGEANT. This is a bad business. It has been stolen from the church.

ALL. Oh! Oh! Oh!

SERGEANT. [_Seizing_ FARDY.] You have robbed the church!

FARDY. [_Terrified._] I tell you I never did!

SERGEANT. I have the proof of it.

FARDY. Say what you like! I never put a foot in it!

SERGEANT. How did you get this, so?

MISS JOYCE. I suppose from the _stranger_?

MRS. DELANE. I suppose it was Hyacinth Halvey gave it to you, now?

FARDY. It was so.

SERGEANT. I suppose it was he robbed the church?

FARDY. [_Sobs._] You will not believe me if I say it.

MR. QUIRKE. Oh! the young vagabond! Let me get at him!

MRS. DELANE. Here he is himself now!

[HYACINTH _comes in_. FARDY _releases himself and creeps behind him_.

MRS. DELANE. It is time you to come, Mr. Halvey, and shut the mouth of
this young schemer.

MISS JOYCE. I would like you to hear what he says of you, Mr. Halvey.
Pitch and toss, he says.

MR. QUIRKE. Robbery, he says.

MRS. DELANE. Robbery of a church.

SERGEANT. He has had a bad name long enough. Let him go to a reformatory
now.

FARDY. [_Clinging to_ HYACINTH.] Save me, save me! I'm a poor boy trying
to knock out a way of living; I'll be destroyed if I go to a
reformatory. [_Kneels and clings to_ HYACINTH'S _knees_.

HYACINTH. I'll save you easy enough.

FARDY. Don't let me be jailed!

HYACINTH. I am going to tell them.

FARDY. I'm a poor orphan----

HYACINTH. Will you let me speak?

FARDY. I'll get no more chance in the world----

HYACINTH. Sure I'm trying to free you----

FARDY. It will be tasked to me always.

HYACINTH. Be quiet, can't you?

FARDY. Don't you desert me!

HYACINTH. Will you be silent?

FARDY. Take it on yourself.

HYACINTH. I will if you'll let me.

FARDY. Tell them you did it.

HYACINTH. I am going to do that.

FARDY. Tell them it was you got in at the window.

HYACINTH. I will! I will!

FARDY. Say it was you robbed the box.

HYACINTH. I'll say it! I'll say it!

FARDY. It being open!

HYACINTH. Let me tell, let me tell.

FARDY. Of all that was in it.

HYACINTH. I'll tell them that.

FARDY. And gave it to me.

HYACINTH. [_Putting hand on his mouth and dragging him up._] Will you
stop and let me speak?

SERGEANT. We can't be wasting time. Give him here to me.

HYACINTH. I can't do that. He must be let alone.

SERGEANT. [_Seizing him._] He'll be let alone in the lock-up.

HYACINTH. He must not be brought there.

SERGEANT. I'll let no man get him off.

HYACINTH. I will get him off.

SERGEANT. You will not!

HYACINTH. I will.

SERGEANT. Do you think to buy him off?

HYACINTH. I will buy him off with my own confession.

SERGEANT. And what will that be?

HYACINTH. It was I robbed the church.

SERGEANT. That is likely indeed!

HYACINTH. Let him go, and take me. I tell you I did it.

SERGEANT. It would take witnesses to prove that.

HYACINTH. [_Pointing to_ FARDY.] He will be witness.

FARDY. Oh, Mr. Halvey, I would not wish to do that. Get me off and I
will say nothing.

HYACINTH. Sure you must. You will be put on oath in the court.

FARDY. I will not! I will not! All the world knows I don't understand
the nature of an oath!

MR. QUIRKE. [_Coming forward._] Is it blind ye all are?

MRS. DELANE. What are you talking about?

MR. QUIRKE. Is it fools ye all are?

MISS JOYCE. Speak for yourself.

MR. QUIRKE. Is it idiots ye all are?

SERGEANT. Mind who you're talking to.

MR. QUIRKE. [_Seizing_ HYACINTH'S _hands_.] Can't you see? Can't you
hear? Where are your wits? Was ever such a thing seen in this town?

MRS. DELANE. Say out what you have to say.

MR. QUIRKE. A walking saint he is!

MRS. DELANE. Maybe so.

MR. QUIRKE. The preserver of the poor! Talk of the holy martyrs! They
are nothing at all to what he is! Will you look at him! To save that
poor boy he is going! To take the blame on himself he is going! To say
he, himself, did the robbery he is going! Before the magistrate he is
going! To jail he is going! Taking the blame on his own head! Putting
the sin on his own shoulders! Letting on to have done a robbery! Telling
a lie--that it may be forgiven him--to his own injury! Doing all that, I
tell you, to save the character of a miserable slack lad, that rose in
poverty.

     [_Murmur of admiration from all._

MR. QUIRKE. Now, what do you say?

SERGEANT. [_Pressing his hand._] Mr. Halvey, you have given us all a
lesson. To please you, I will make no information against the boy,
[_Shakes him and helps him up._] I will put back the half-crown in the
poor-box next Sunday. [_To_ FARDY.] What have you to say to your
benefactor?

FARDY. I'm obliged to you, Mr. Halvey. You behaved very decent to me,
very decent indeed. I'll never let a word be said against you if I live
to be a hundred years.

SERGEANT. [_Wiping eyes with a blue handkerchief._] I will tell it at
the meeting. It will be a great encouragement to them to build up their
character. I'll tell it to the priest and he taking the chair----

HYACINTH. Oh, stop, will you----

MR. QUIRKE. The chair. It's in the chair he, himself, should be. It's in
a chair we will put him now. It's to chair him through the streets we
will. Sure he'll be an example and a blessing to the whole of the town.
[_Seizes_ HALVEY _and seats him in chair_.] Now, Sergeant, give a hand.
Here. Fardy.

     [_They all lift the chair with_ HALVEY _in it, wildly protesting_.

MR. QUIRKE. Come along now to the court-house. Three cheers for Hyacinth
Halvey! Hip! hip! hoora!

     [_Cheers heard in the distance as the curtain drops._



THE GAZING GLOBE

BY

EUGENE PILLOT


_The Gazing Globe_ is reprinted by special permission of Eugene Pillot.
All rights are retained by the author. This play is protected by
copyright and must not be used without the permission of and payment of
royalty to Eugene Pillot, who may be reached through The 47 Workshop,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.


EUGENE PILLOT

Eugene Pillot, one of the well-known contemporary writers of one-act
plays, was born in Houston, Texas. He was educated in the New York
School of Fine and Applied Arts, at the University of Texas, at Cornell
University, and at Harvard University. While at Harvard, he participated
in the activities of The 47 Workshop.

Mr. Pillot's one-act plays are always characterized by excellent and
well-sustained technic. Among his best-known one-act plays are _The
Gazing Globe_, _Two Crooks and a Lady_, _Telephone Number One_ (a prize
play), _Hunger_, and _My Lady Dreams_. Mr. Pillot's plays have been
produced frequently in schools and Little Theatres of America.

_The Gazing Globe_ originally appeared in _The Stratford Journal_, and
was first produced by the Boston Community Players, February 26, 1920,
with the following cast: ZAMA, Rosalie Manning; OHANO, Beulah Auerbach;
and NIJO, Eugene Pillot. _The Gazing Globe_ has unusually sustained
tone and dramatic suspense.


CHARACTERS

     ZAMA
     OHANO
     NIJO



THE GAZING GLOBE[F]


     SCENE: _A soft cream-colored room, bare walled and unfurnished
     except for dull-blue grass mats on the floor and brilliant
     cushions. In the centre of rear wall is a great circular window
     with a dais before it, so that it may be used as a doorway. A
     gathered shade of soft blue silk covers the opening of the window._

PLACE: _An island in a southern sea._

TIME: _Not so long ago._

     [_The curtain rises on an empty stage._ ZAMA, _an old servant woman
     dressed in dull purples and grays, hurries in from the right. She
     stops at centre stage and glances about searchingly, then calls in
     a weazen voice._

ZAMA. Ohano--Ohano! Where do you be, child?

     [_Listens, looks about, sees drawn shade at the rear, and sighs as
     she goes to it and starts to raise it._

     [_As the shade rolls out of sight we see through the open window a
     bit of quaint cliff garden that overlooks a sea of green. The rocks
     are higher on the left, near the window, where a purple-pink vine
     in full blossom has started to climb. At the right the rocks slope
     down to the sea. At centre, stone steps lead up to a slender stone
     pedestal that holds a gazing globe, now a brilliant gold in the
     late afternoon sunlight._ OHANO, _with hands clasped round the
     globe, is gazing at it. She is a woman of the early twenties,
     beautiful and gowned in a flowing kimono-like robe of green with
     embroideries of white and blue._

ZAMA. [_In a chiding, motherly way._] Ohano, my child, you must not be
so much at that evil ball! How many times be I not telling you it is an
_enchanted_ ball?

OHANO. Yes, Zama, I hope it is enchanted. I've tried every other means
to gain the way to my heart's desire--and they've all failed me. The
story these islanders have woven round this gazing globe may be but a
myth--but if it shows me the way to my freedom, I shall not have looked
at it in vain.

ZAMA. Be you forgetting, child, 'tis said that evil ball shows only the
way to destruction!

OHANO. Yes, these island people will create any myth, go any length, to
keep one thinking, living in their narrow way. You are destined for evil
if you try to follow the urge of your own heart--oh, yes, I know.

ZAMA. But _your_ heart, child, should only be wanting the love of Nijo.

OHANO. Nijo--I am hoping that he will be big enough to help me--but my
lover has been away so long----

ZAMA. But to-day he be coming back--I came to tell you I think I saw his
boat----

OHANO. Nijo's boat? Where?

ZAMA. It be near the edge of the island just where----

OHANO. Why didn't you tell me before?

ZAMA. I came to--but I be forgetting when I see you at that evil ball
again.

OHANO. [_All eagerness._] Perhaps we can see him land--from here on the
rocks--come, Zama, I hear the sound of voices down near the sea--come!
[_They climb to the highest rock._] Look, Zama, the boat is there!
Already there in the green water against the shore!

ZAMA. It do seem to be so. [_Peers toward right._

OHANO. And _there_--is Nijo!

ZAMA. Where, where, child?

OHANO. There--see, he's just coming ashore--oh, Nijo! And look, Zama,
look what the people crowding round him have done--look!

ZAMA. What? My poor eyes be yet uncertain. What do they be doing to your
lover?

OHANO. They have put upon him the Robe of Flame--to greet him with the
highest honor of the island.

ZAMA. So they be. The robe they say the gods themselves did wear when
time did first begin. Nijo must come back a great warrior now--a great
warrior!

OHANO. Oh, how wonderful to return from the wars like that! Zama, I want
to--I _must_ go out into the world and do great things too, like Nijo.

ZAMA. Nijo be coming back, child. That do be enough. Look, what is it
that glitters so in the sun?

OHANO. Why, they are giving something to my red god--something that's
long as a serpent moon--see, he holds it out in admiration, before him.
Just what can it be?

ZAMA. In faith I do believe they have given your hero--a sword!

OHANO. A marvellous sword--look, its jewels flash with the shifting
lights, warm as the colored rifts of sunset!

ZAMA. Such gems do be a tribute to his greatness, Ohano, they do.

OHANO. How gladly would I have the way I seek without such tribute--how
willingly!

ZAMA. And now the crowd do be parting--he leaves the boat and he looks
this way, Ohano--he looks!

OHANO. Nijo, my red wonder of the world!

ZAMA. See, he mounts his steed--he waves to you!

OHANO. Nijo! Nijo!

ZAMA. And now he rides off to come to you here. It is better we be
waiting inside for him--when he brings back his love to his promised
bride.

OHANO. [_As they enter room._] Ah, Zama, he must bring me more than love
this time--much more. Yes, your little Ohano must have more in her life
to-day than just love--and Nijo must show her the way to that realm
where she may stretch her soul and _live_!

ZAMA. The love of so great a man do be enough for any woman, child.

OHANO. Oh, no--oh, no----

ZAMA. But it do be; and evil will fall, I know, if you do be asking more
than love!

OHANO. But I tell you, Nijo's love is not enough. I must have a bigger,
greater thing!

ZAMA. The gods do know of none that be more than love.

OHANO. But there must be, else why would I feel the rush of its pulse
within my veins? Why would my whole being cry out for action and the
glory of doing big things in the lands across the sea? Why, tell me why,
I would feel those things if they were not so?

ZAMA. It be not for me to say, child; but I do be thinking you moon at
that evil ball too much. It do make your sight grow red! It be not wise
to know an enchanted thing so well.

OHANO. If that gazing globe in the garden would only show me the way to
my heart's desire, how gladly would I be the victim of its enchantment!

ZAMA. Nijo's kiss do be your enchantment, child. One touch of his lips
and you do be forgetting all else.

OHANO. If Nijo's kiss can make me forget this fever within me, I want
his kiss as I shall never want anything else in all of this life. I want
it!!

     [_Approaching horse's hoofs are heard from off right._

ZAMA. Listen--the horse! Ohano, your lover do be coming!

OHANO. [_Running to the window._] Already? He must have taken the short
way through the cliffs.

ZAMA. Ah, child, do you not be excited as a bird in a storm-wind's
blow?

OHANO. [_Superbly, as she leans against window._] Yes, I await my hero!

ZAMA. He's stopped, child! He do be here! At last he comes back to my
little Ohano!

OHANO. My hope comes! [_With outstretched arms to right._] My Nijo!!
Oh----!

     [_She had impulsively started to greet_ NIJO, _but suddenly shrinks
     back_.

ZAMA. What do be wrong--what?

OHANO. He's so different--so changed--oh, here he is--ssh!

     [NIJO _appears at the window, where he pauses for a moment. He is a
     tall, brunette man, scarcely thirty--a handsome, well-knit southern
     island type, wearing a flowing robe of flame, with a flaring collar
     of old-gold brocade. A peaked hat completes the costume. A curved
     sword, with a hilt thickly studded with large jewels and incased in
     gold, hangs at his belt. He seems worldly weary and sad as he
     advances into the room._

OHANO. Nijo!

NIJO. [_Unimpassioned._] Ohano.

OHANO. [_Eagerly._] You have come back!

NIJO. Yes--and the season of the heat has been gracious to your health,
I hope?

OHANO. Yes--and yours, Nijo?

NIJO. The same.

OHANO. Oh, I am glad--glad as tree-blossoms for the kiss of spring. And
Zama here shares my welcome, don't you?

NIJO. [_Recognizing_ ZAMA.] Ah, Zama.

ZAMA. [_Bowing before him._] The gods do be kind to bring back a hero to
us.

NIJO. Thank you.

ZAMA. Now I do be going for refreshments for your weariness; great it
must be after so long a voyage. [_Exits right._

OHANO. Shall we not sit here?

NIJO. As you will.

     [OHANO _and_ NIJO _sit upon mats near the window, partly facing
     each other_.

OHANO. They--they gave you a sword at the boat.

NIJO. [_Wearily._] Oh, yes.

OHANO. Even from up here we could see its jewels flash.

NIJO. [_Without interest._] Yes, it is cunningly conceived.

OHANO. How wonderful it must be. Perhaps--I may see it?

NIJO. [_Still wearily._] If you so desire.

     [_Unbuckles sword and holds it before himself for her to examine.
     She leans over it admiringly, touching the jewels as she speaks of
     them._

OHANO. Magnificent! Rubies and emeralds and sapphires! And here are
moonstones and diamonds. How you must prize it.

NIJO. [_Wearily._] Of course, one must.

OHANO. And the very people who tried to stop you from going across the
sea to win your glory have given it to you.

NIJO. That is the way of the world.

OHANO. Show me the way to glory, Nijo.

NIJO. And why?

OHANO. I would travel it too.

NIJO. You--a simple island maiden?

OHANO. I'm not simple. I've grown beyond the people here.

NIJO. But there is glory in the work women must do at home.

OHANO. And I have done my share of it. I want bigger work now--out in
the world.

NIJO. But the simple tasks must be done.

OHANO. I am sick unto death of doing them!

NIJO. But you can't go into the battles of the world. You are an island
woman.

OHANO. This last war has made all women free. If the other island women
cling to the everlasting tradition that woman should not go beyond her
native hearth, let them cling. I shall reach the summit of things and
know the glory of doing big things in the world!

NIJO. But you--sheltered, protected all your life--how can you do it?

OHANO. That's what troubles me. But you were fettered by this island
life and you broke through the bars of convention. How did _you_ do it?

NIJO. [_Sadly._] Ohano, I would not spoil your life by telling you.

OHANO. Spoil it? What do you think is happening to it now? Oh, Nijo,
can't you understand I'm stagnating--_dying_ in this commonplace island
life.

NIJO. I thought that about myself, too, when I started my climb to
glory; but scarcely a moon had passed before I realized the loneliness
of great heights.

OHANO. [_Tigerishly._] Are you trying to turn me from my wish--to have
all the island's glory for yourself?

NIJO. No, but only the valley people enjoy the sublimity of a mountain.

OHANO. [_Scornfully._] Ha!

NIJO. Those who reach the top have lost their perspective. All they see
are the lonely tops of other mountains.

OHANO. [_Sublimely._] But they've had the joy of the climb!

NIJO. And worth what--no more than the mist of the sea.

OHANO. Do you think that satisfies me? I want to find out for myself! I
only want you to tell me the way to use this spirit that boils within my
blood, thirsts for action!

NIJO. That I never will.

OHANO. Oh, what shall I do? I've even implored the sun and the moon!
[_Looks toward sea._] Now I _must_ listen to my dreams--my dreams that
cry and cry: "Look in the gazing globe! Look in the gazing globe! It
will show you the way!" And if it ever does, I'll take that path _no
matter where it leads_.

NIJO. My journey only made me want to come back to the haven of your
love, Ohano. The amber cup of glory left me athirst to be wrapped in the
mantle of your boundless love and warmed with the glow of your heart.

OHANO. [_Surprised._] Your journey has really led you back to me?

NIJO. [_Sadly._] You're my only hope. I've been as mad for you as the
sea for the moonlight.

OHANO. [_Disturbed._] But you had fire and impulse when you went away;
and now--well, you do still yearn for me?

NIJO. [_Quietly, without passion._] The hope for your love has been the
light of my brain, changing from life to dream, from earth to star.

OHANO. My thirst for glory has been that way; but Zama tells me it is as
nothing in the kiss of love. If love has that power, I am willing to
forget all else. Kiss me, Nijo!

NIJO. At last my lips will press yours, as the sun flames to an immortal
moment when it meets the sky.

     [_Kneeling opposite each other, their lips meet._ OHANO _instantly
     gives a piercing scream and recoils from him_. NIJO _sinks into a
     heap_.

OHANO. [_Rising and turning toward the sea, weeping._] Oh, oh, oh!

ZAMA. [_Rushing in from right._] What is it? What is it, Ohano?

OHANO. [_Still weeping._] Oh--ooh.

ZAMA. What do it be, my little Ohano?

OHANO. [_Turning._] His kiss--Nijo's kiss!

ZAMA. Yes?

OHANO. Cold as white marble--_cold_!

ZAMA. Cold as white marble?

OHANO. Oh, Nijo, why do you kiss me like a thing of stone?

NIJO. [_As he looks up, pitifully._] Into that kiss I tried to put all
the love I've thought these many years.

OHANO. The love you've _thought_?

NIJO. [_Despondently._] Yes, I've only thought it--_thought_ it!

OHANO. But your heart----?

NIJO. [_Rising._] My heart feels no more! Only my head thinks.

ZAMA. You love no more?

NIJO. Only with my head, it seems. I see things, know things, understand
things; but I no longer feel anything. And my thirst for glory has done
it all--killed my love of life and turned my very kiss to stone. Oh,
glory, why do men give the essence of their lives to you--you who last
no longer than the glow of gold above the place of sunset!

OHANO. [_Superbly._] Because glory gives you the world--everything!

NIJO. It takes everything away--strips you--and leaves you nothing to
believe. Oh, I could have become a common soldier here, marching
shoulder to shoulder with the island men going out to war--but no--I
must be a great warrior, a hero in position. Had I known then what I
know now, how gladly would I have gone as one of the thousands who are
known as--just soldiers. They are the ones who know the throb of life
and love!

OHANO. You bring back such a message to me? You who have climbed and
climbed to heights till I have believed you to be as constant in your
quest as the light that shines upon the gazing globe?

NIJO. I--a light?

OHANO. Why not? I've always likened your feet unto the disks of two
luminaries, lighting the way for all the world to follow. [_Looks at
gazing globe, which is now a ball of gold against the black sea and
sky._] And now you tell me I was wrong. Perhaps the light upon the
gazing globe itself is the only one to follow.

NIJO. I--a light? Why, Ohano, if I'm anything, I'm a gazing globe!

OHANO. What do you mean--you a gazing globe?

NIJO. That without I'm all fair, all wonderful--but within I'm empty as
a gazing globe.

OHANO. [_Scornfully._] But a gazing globe shows men the way to their
heart's desire.

NIJO. It reflects to men what they see into it. So does glory.

OHANO. I can't believe that--now.

NIJO. Behold what it has done to me! Already as a child I gazed at that
globe, longing to grasp the glory of which it was a symbol. It filled me
with a red madness, surged with an unbearable music, giving me a riotous
pain! Oh, it made me drunk for the wine of glory!

OHANO. I know! I know! Now you talk as the man I thought you were.

NIJO. I'm not a man. I'm dead.

OHANO. But you have known the glory of life. Shall I never know the way
to it? [_Appealingly, to the globe._] The way--the way is what I seek!

ZAMA. Look not so upon the evil ball, child. It do be enchanted for one
thousand years! [OHANO _moves nearer the globe_.] Go not so near, child!
Evil will fall--and you will be enslaved!

OHANO. What care I, if it shows me the way? [_Hands outstretched to the
globe._

ZAMA. [_Appealingly to_ NIJO.] Sir, I pray you do be stopping her. She
do be always gazing at that golden ball; and slowly it do be drawing her
within its enchanted grasp. And it do be an enchanted ball!

NIJO. Perhaps there's more to its enchantment than I thought. It claimed
me for a victim--and now it's freezing her life's warmth to the
falseness of Orient pearl.

OHANO. [_Murmuring to the globe._] The way--the way! I must have the
way!

NIJO. [_Swiftly drawing his sword._] I will not show you--but I'll save
you! [_Starts toward the gazing globe._

ZAMA. [_Barring his path._] Nijo, sir, what do you be doing?

NIJO. [_With a flourish of his sword._] I kill the thing that freezes
another heart!

ZAMA. That do mean ruin! It be an enchanted ball!

NIJO. [_Brushing past_ ZAMA.] It will enchant no longer!!

OHANO. No! No, Nijo!

NIJO. [_Running up pedestal steps._] Yes!!

     [_With a mighty blow he strikes the gazing globe with his sword.
     Frightened_, OHANO _shrinks to one side, facing right, as a
     thunder-like crash follows the blow, and pieces of the globe tumble
     to the ground--all but one piece that remains upon the pedestal.
     Then from a moon off stage right shines a straight golden path
     across the sea to the bit of gazing globe on the pedestal._

OHANO. [_Triumphantly._] The moon--The way! At last the way! From the
gazing globe--the golden path to the moon of glory. Now I am free!

     [_Rushes wildly down the moonlight path to the sea._

ZAMA. Stop her!

NIJO. No, it is better to let her go.

ZAMA. But the path do lead into the sea. It is death! Stop her!!
[_Starts forward._

NIJO. [_Restraining_ ZAMA.] No! In death her soul has found the only
way!

CURTAIN



THE BOOR

BY

ANTON TCHEKOV


_The Boor_ is reprinted by special permission of Barrett H. Clark and of
Samuel French, publisher, New York City. All rights reserved. For
permission to perform, address Samuel French, 28-30 West 38th Street,
New York City.


ANTON TCHEKOV

Anton Tchekov, considered the foremost of contemporary Russian
dramatists, was born in 1860 at Taganrog, Russia. In 1880 he was
graduated from the Medical School of the University of Moscow. Ill
health soon compelled him to abandon his practice of medicine, and in
1887 he sought the south. In 1904, the year of the successful appearance
of his _Cherry Orchard_, he died in a village of the Black Forest in
Germany.

As a dramatist, Tchekov has with deliberate intent cast off much of the
conventionalities of dramatic technic. In his longer plays especially,
like _The Sea Gull_, _Uncle Vanya_, and _Cherry Orchard_, he somewhat
avoids obvious struggles, time-worn commonplaces, well-prepared
climaxes, and seeks rather to spread out a panoramic canvas for our
contemplation. His chief aim is to show us humanity as he sees it. It is
his interest in humanity that gives him so high rank as a dramatist.

His one-act plays, a form of drama unusually apt for certain intimate
aspects of Russian peasant life, are more regular in their technic than
his longer plays. Among the five or six shorter plays that Tchekov
wrote, _The Boor_ and _A Marriage Proposal_ are his best. In these plays
he shows the lighter side of Russian country life, infusing some of the
spirit of the great Gogol into his broad and somewhat farcical character
portrayals. With rare good grace, in these plays he appears to be asking
us to throw aside our restraint and laugh with him at the stupidity and
naïveté, as well as good-heartedness, of the Russian people he knew so
well.

_The Boor_ is a remarkably well-constructed one-act play, and is
probably the finest one-act play of the Russian school of drama.


PERSONS IN THE PLAY

     HELENA IVANOVNA POPOV, _a young widow, mistress of a country estate_
     GRIGORI STEPANOVITCH SMIRNOV, _proprietor of a country estate_
     LUKA, _servant of_ MRS. POPOV

     _A gardener._ _A coachman._ _Several workmen._



THE BOOR

TIME: _The present._

     SCENE: _A well-furnished reception-room in_ MRS. POPOV'S _home_.
     MRS. POPOV _is discovered in deep mourning, sitting upon a sofa,
     gazing steadfastly at a photograph_. LUKA _is also present_.


LUKA. It isn't right, ma'am. You're wearing yourself out! The maid and
the cook have gone looking for berries; everything that breathes is
enjoying life; even the cat knows how to be happy--slips about the
courtyard and catches birds--but you hide yourself here in the house as
though you were in a cloister. Yes, truly, by actual reckoning you
haven't left this house for a whole year.

MRS. POPOV. And I shall never leave it--why should I? My life is over.
He lies in his grave, and I have buried myself within these four walls.
We are both dead.

LUKA. There you are again! It's too awful to listen to, so it is!
Nikolai Michailovitch is dead; it was the will of the Lord, and the Lord
has given him eternal peace. You have grieved over it and that ought to
be enough. Now it's time to stop. One can't weep and wear mourning
forever! My wife died a few years ago. I grieved for her. I wept a whole
month--and then it was over. Must one be forever singing lamentations?
That would be more than your husband was worth! [_He sighs._] You have
forgotten all your neighbors. You don't go out and you receive no one.
We live--you'll pardon me--like the spiders, and the good light of day
we never see. All the livery is eaten by the mice--as though there
weren't any more nice people in the world! But the whole neighborhood
is full of gentlefolk. The regiment is stationed in
Riblov--officers--simply beautiful! One can't see enough of them! Every
Friday a ball, and military music every day. Oh, my dear, dear ma'am,
young and pretty as you are, if you'd only let your spirits live--!
Beauty can't last forever. When ten short years are over, you'll be glad
enough to go out a bit and meet the officers--and then it'll be too
late.

MRS. POPOV. [_Resolutely._] Please don't speak of these things again.
You know very well that since the death of Nikolai Michailovitch my life
is absolutely nothing to me. You think I live, but it only seems so. Do
you understand? Oh, that his departed soul may see how I love him! I
know, it's no secret to you; he was often unjust toward me, cruel,
and--he wasn't faithful, but I shall be faithful to the grave and prove
to him how _I_ can love. There, in the Beyond, he'll find me the same as
I was until his death.

LUKA. What is the use of all these words, when you'd so much rather go
walking in the garden or order Tobby or Welikan harnessed to the trap,
and visit the neighbors?

MRS. POPOV. [_Weeping._] Oh!

LUKA. Madam, dear madam, what is it? In Heaven's name!

MRS. POPOV. He loved Tobby so! He always drove him to the Kortschagins
or the Vlassovs. What a wonderful horse-man he was! How fine he looked
when he pulled at the reins with all his might! Tobby, Tobby--give him
an extra measure of oats to-day!

LUKA. Yes, ma'am.

     [_A bell rings loudly._

MRS. POPOV. [_Shudders._] What's that? I am at home to no one.

LUKA. Yes, ma'am. [_He goes out, centre._

MRS. POPOV. [_Gazing at the photograph._] You shall see, Nikolai, how I
can love and forgive! My love will die only with me--when my poor heart
stops beating. [_She smiles through her tears._] And aren't you ashamed?
I have been a good, true wife; I have imprisoned myself and I shall
remain true until death, and you--you--you're not ashamed of yourself,
my dear monster! You quarrelled with me, left me alone for weeks----

     [LUKA _enters in great excitement_.

LUKA. Oh, ma'am, some one is asking for you, insists on seeing you----

MRS. POPOV. You told him that since my husband's death I receive no one?

LUKA. I said so, but he won't listen; he says it is a pressing matter.

MRS. POPOV. I receive no one!

LUKA. I told him that, but he's a wild man; he swore and pushed himself
into the room; he's in the dining-room now.

MRS. POPOV. [_Excitedly._] Good. Show him in. The impudent----!

     [LUKA _goes out, centre_.

MRS. POPOV. What a bore people are! What can they want with me? Why do
they disturb my peace? [_She sighs._] Yes, it is clear I must enter a
convent. [_Meditatively._] Yes, a convent.

     [SMIRNOV _enters, followed by_ LUKA.

SMIRNOV. [To LUKA.] Fool, you make too much noise! You're an ass!
[_Discovering_ MRS. POPOV--_politely_.] Madam, I have the honor to
introduce myself: Lieutenant in the Artillery, retired, country
gentleman, Grigori Stepanovitch Smirnov! I'm compelled to bother you
about an exceedingly important matter.

MRS. POPOV. [_Without offering her hand._] What is it you wish?

SMIRNOV. Your deceased husband, with whom I had the honor to be
acquainted, left me two notes amounting to about twelve hundred
roubles. Inasmuch as I have to pay the interest to-morrow on a loan from
the Agrarian Bank, I should like to request, madam, that you pay me the
money to-day.

MRS. POPOV. Twelve hundred--and for what was my husband indebted to you?

SMIRNOV. He bought oats from me.

MRS. POPOV. [_With a sigh, to_ LUKA.] Don't forget to give Tobby an
extra measure of oats.

     [LUKA _goes out_.

MRS. POPOV. [_To_ SMIRNOV.] If Nikolai Michailovitch is indebted to you,
I shall, of course, pay you, but I am sorry, I haven't the money to-day.
To-morrow my manager will return from the city and I shall notify him to
pay you what is due you, but until then I cannot satisfy your request.
Furthermore, to-day it is just seven months since the death of my
husband, and I am not in a mood to discuss money matters.

SMIRNOV. And I am in the mood to fly up the chimney with my feet in the
air if I can't lay hands on that interest to-morrow. They'll seize my
estate!

MRS. POPOV. Day after to-morrow you will receive the money.

SMIRNOV. I don't need the money day after to-morrow; I need it to-day.

MRS. POPOV. I'm sorry I can't pay you to-day.

SMIRNOV. And I can't wait until day after to-morrow.

MRS. POPOV. But what can I do if I haven't it?

SMIRNOV. So you can't pay?

MRS. POPOV. I cannot.

SMIRNOV. Hm! Is that your last word?

MRS. POPOV. My last.

SMIRNOV. Absolutely?

MRS. POPOV. Absolutely.

SMIRNOV. Thank you. [_He shrugs his shoulders._] And they expect me to
stand for all that. The toll-gatherer just now met me in the road and
asked me why I was always worrying. Why, in Heaven's name, shouldn't I
worry? I need money, I feel the knife at my throat. Yesterday morning I
left my house in the early dawn and called on all my debtors. If even
one of them had paid his debt! I worked the skin off my fingers! The
devil knows in what sort of Jew-inn I slept; in a room with a barrel of
brandy! And now at last I come here, seventy versts from home, hope for
a little money, and all you give me is moods! Why shouldn't I worry?

MRS. POPOV. I thought I made it plain to you that my manager will return
from town, and then you will get your money.

SMIRNOV. I did not come to see the manager; I came to see you. What the
devil--pardon the language--do I care for your manager?

MRS. POPOV. Really, sir, I am not used to such language or such manners.
I shan't listen to you any further. [_She goes out, left._

SMIRNOV. What can one say to that? Moods! Seven months since her husband
died! Do I have to pay the interest or not? I repeat the question, have
I to pay the interest or not? The husband is dead and all that; the
manager is--the devil with him!--travelling somewhere. Now, tell me,
what am I to do? Shall I run away from my creditors in a balloon? Or
knock my head against a stone wall? If I call on Grusdev he chooses to
be "not at home," Iroschevitch has simply hidden himself, I have
quarrelled with Kurzin and came near throwing him out of the window,
Masutov is ill and this woman has--moods! Not one of them will pay up!
And all because I've spoiled them, because I'm an old whiner, dish-rag!
I'm too tender-hearted with them. But wait! I allow nobody to play
tricks with me, the devil with 'em all! I'll stay here and not budge
until she pays! Brr! How angry I am, how terribly angry I am! Every
tendon is trembling with anger, and I can hardly breathe! I'm even
growing ill! [_He calls out._] Servant!

     [LUKA _enters_.

LUKA. What is it you wish?

SMIRNOV. Bring me Kvas or water! [LUKA _goes out_.] Well, what can we
do? She hasn't it on hand? What sort of logic is that? A fellow stands
with the knife at his throat, he needs money, he is on the point of
hanging himself, and she won't pay because she isn't in the mood to
discuss money matters. Woman's logic! That's why I never liked to talk
to women, and why I dislike doing it now. I would rather sit on a powder
barrel than talk with a woman. Brr!--I'm getting cold as ice; this
affair has made me so angry. I need only to see such a romantic creature
from a distance to get so angry that I have cramps in the calves! It's
enough to make one yell for help!

     [_Enter_ LUKA.

LUKA. [_Hands him water._] Madam is ill and is not receiving.

SMIRNOV. March! [LUKA _goes out_.] Ill and isn't receiving! All right,
it isn't necessary. I won't receive, either! I'll sit here and stay
until you bring that money. If you're ill a week, I'll sit here a week.
If you're ill a year, I'll sit here a year. As Heaven is my witness,
I'll get the money. You don't disturb me with your mourning--or with
your dimples. We know these dimples! [_He calls out the window._] Simon,
unharness! We aren't going to leave right away. I am going to stay here.
Tell them in the stable to give the horses some oats. The left horse has
twisted the bridle again. [_Imitating him._] Stop! I'll show you how.
Stop! [_Leaves window._] It's awful. Unbearable heat, no money, didn't
sleep last night and now--mourning-dresses with moods. My head aches;
perhaps I ought to have a drink. Ye-s, I must have a drink. [_Calling._]
Servant!

LUKA. What do you wish?

SMIRNOV. Something to drink! [LUKA _goes out_. SMIRNOV _sits down and
looks at his clothes_.] Ugh, a fine figure! No use denying that. Dust,
dirty boots, unwashed, uncombed, straw on my vest--the lady probably
took me for a highwayman. [_He yawns._] It was a little impolite to
come into a reception-room with such clothes. Oh, well, no harm done.
I'm not here as a guest. I'm a creditor. And there is no special costume
for creditors.

LUKA. [_Entering with glass._] You take great liberty, sir.

SMIRNOV. [_Angrily._] What?

LUKA. I--I--I just----

SMIRNOV. Whom are you talking to? Keep quiet.

LUKA. [_Angrily._] Nice mess! This fellow won't leave! [_He goes out._

SMIRNOV. Lord, how angry I am! Angry enough to throw mud at the whole
world! I even feel ill! Servant!

     [MRS. POPOV _comes in with downcast eyes_.

MRS. POPOV. Sir, in my solitude I have become unaccustomed to the human
voice and I cannot stand the sound of loud talking. I beg you, please to
cease disturbing my rest.

SMIRNOV. Pay me my money and I'll leave.

MRS. POPOV. I told you once, plainly, in your native tongue, that I
haven't the money at hand; wait until day after to-morrow.

SMIRNOV. And I also had the honor of informing you in your native tongue
that I need the money, not day after to-morrow, but to-day. If you don't
pay me to-day I shall have to hang myself to-morrow.

MRS. POPOV. But what can I do if I haven't the money?

SMIRNOV. So you are not going to pay immediately? You're not?

MRS. POPOV. I cannot.

SMIRNOV. Then I'll sit here until I get the money. [_He sits down._] You
will pay day after to-morrow? Excellent! Here I stay until day after
to-morrow. [_Jumps up._] I ask you, do I have to pay that interest
to-morrow or not? Or do you think I'm joking?

MRS. POPOV. Sir, I beg of you, don't scream! This is not a stable.

SMIRNOV. I'm not talking about stables, I'm asking you whether I have to
pay that interest to-morrow or not?

MRS. POPOV. You have no idea how to treat a lady.

SMIRNOV. Oh, yes, I have.

MRS. POPOV. No, you have not. You are an ill-bred, vulgar person!
Respectable people don't speak so to ladies.

SMIRNOV. How remarkable! How do you want one to speak to you? In French,
perhaps! Madame, je vous prie! Pardon me for having disturbed you. What
beautiful weather we are having to-day! And how this mourning becomes
you! [_He makes a low bow with mock ceremony._

MRS. POPOV. Not at all funny! I think it vulgar!

SMIRNOV. [_Imitating her._] Not at all funny--vulgar! I don't understand
how to behave in the company of ladies. Madam, in the course of my life
I have seen more women than you have sparrows. Three times have I fought
duels for women, twelve I jilted and nine jilted me. There was a time
when I played the fool, used honeyed language, bowed and scraped. I
loved, suffered, sighed to the moon, melted in love's torments. I loved
passionately, I loved to madness, loved in every key, chattered like a
magpie on emancipation, sacrificed half my fortune in the tender
passion, until now the devil knows I've had enough of it. Your obedient
servant will let you lead him around by the nose no more. Enough! Black
eyes, passionate eyes, coral lips, dimples in cheeks, moonlight
whispers, soft, modest sighs--for all that, madam, I wouldn't pay a
kopeck! I am not speaking of present company, but of women in general;
from the tiniest to the greatest, they are conceited, hypocritical,
chattering, odious, deceitful from top to toe; vain, petty, cruel with a
maddening logic and [_he strikes his forehead_] in this respect, please
excuse my frankness, but one sparrow is worth ten of the aforementioned
petticoat-philosophers. When one sees one of the romantic creatures
before him he imagines he is looking at some holy being, so wonderful
that its one breath could dissolve him in a sea of a thousand charms and
delights; but if one looks into the soul--it's nothing but a common
crocodile. [_He seizes the arm-chair and breaks it in two._] But the
worst of all is that this crocodile imagines it is a masterpiece of
creation, and that it has a monopoly on all the tender passions. May the
devil hang me upside down if there is anything to love about a woman!
When she is in love, all she knows is how to complain and shed tears. If
the man suffers and makes sacrifices she swings her train about and
tries to lead him by the nose. You have the misfortune to be a woman,
and naturally you know woman's nature; tell me on your honor, have you
ever in your life seen a woman who was really true and faithful? Never!
Only the old and the deformed are true and faithful. It's easier to find
a cat with horns or a white woodcock, than a faithful woman.

MRS. POPOV. But allow me to ask, who is true and faithful in love? The
man, perhaps?

SMIRNOV. Yes, indeed! The man!

MRS. POPOV. The man! [_She laughs sarcastically._] The man true and
faithful in love! Well, that is something _new_! [_Bitterly._] How can
you make such a statement? Men true and faithful! So long as we have
gone thus far, I may as well say that of all the men I have known, my
husband was the best; I loved him passionately with all my soul, as only
a young, sensible woman may love; I gave him my youth, my happiness, my
fortune, my life. I worshipped him like a heathen. And what happened?
This best of men betrayed me in every possible way. After his death I
found his desk filled with love-letters. While he was alive he left me
alone for months--it is horrible even to think about it--he made love to
other women in my very presence, he wasted my money and made fun of my
feelings--and in spite of everything I trusted him and was true to him.
And more than that: he is dead and I am still true to him. I have buried
myself within these four walls and I shall wear this mourning to my
grave.

SMIRNOV. [_Laughing disrespectfully._] Mourning! What on earth do you
take me for? As if I didn't know why you wore this black domino and why
you buried yourself within these four walls. Such a secret! So romantic!
Some knight will pass the castle, gaze up at the windows, and think to
himself: "Here dwells the mysterious Tamara who, for love of her
husband, has buried herself within four walls." Oh, I understand the
art!

MRS. POPOV. [_Springing up._] What? What do you mean by saying such
things to me?

SMIRNOV. You have buried yourself alive, but meanwhile you have not
forgotten to powder your nose!

MRS. POPOV. How dare you speak so?

SMIRNOV. Don't scream at me, please; I'm not the manager. Allow me to
call things by their right names. I am not a woman, and I am accustomed
to speak out what I think. So please don't scream.

MRS. POPOV. I'm not screaming. It is you who are screaming. Please leave
me, I beg of you.

SMIRNOV. Pay me my money and I'll leave.

MRS. POPOV. I won't give you the money.

SMIRNOV. You won't? You won't give me my money?

MRS. POPOV. I don't care what you do. You won't get a kopeck! Leave me!

SMIRNOV. As I haven't the pleasure of being either your husband or your
fiancé, please don't make a scene. [_He sits down._] I can't stand it.

MRS. POPOV. [_Breathing hard._] You are going to sit down?

SMIRNOV. I already have.

MRS. POPOV. Kindly leave the house!

SMIRNOV. Give me the money.

MRS. POPOV. I don't care to speak with impudent men. Leave! [_Pause._]
You aren't going?

SMIRNOV. No.

MRS. POPOV. No?

SMIRNOV. No.

MRS. POPOV. Very well. [_She rings the bell._

     [_Enter_ LUKA.

MRS. POPOV. Luka, show the gentleman out.

LUKA. [_Going to_ SMIRNOV.] Sir, why don't you leave when you are
ordered? What do you want?

SMIRNOV. [_Jumping up._] Whom do you think you are talking to? I'll
grind you to powder.

LUKA. [_Puts his hand to his heart._] Good Lord! [_He drops into a
chair._] Oh, I'm ill; I can't breathe!

MRS. POPOV. Where is Dascha? [_Calling._] Dascha! Pelageja! Dascha!
[_She rings._

LUKA. They're all gone! I'm ill! Water!

MRS. POPOV. [_To_ SMIRNOV.] Leave! Get out!

SMIRNOV. Kindly be a little more polite!

MRS. POPOV. [_Striking her fists and stamping her feet._] You are
vulgar! You're a boor! A monster!

SMIRNOV. What did you say?

MRS. POPOV. I said you were a boor, a monster!

SMIRNOV. [_Steps toward her quickly._] Permit me to ask what right you
have to insult me?

MRS. POPOV. What of it? Do you think I am afraid of you?

SMIRNOV. And you think that because you are a romantic creature you can
insult me without being punished? I challenge you!

LUKA. Merciful Heaven! Water!

SMIRNOV. We'll have a duel.

MRS. POPOV. Do you think because you have big fists and a steer's neck I
am afraid of you?

SMIRNOV. I allow no one to insult me, and I make no exception because
you are a woman, one of the "weaker sex"!

MRS. POPOV. [_Trying to cry him down._] Boor, boor, boor!

SMIRNOV. It is high time to do away with the old superstition that it is
only the man who is forced to give satisfaction. If there is equity at
all let there be equity in all things. There's a limit!

MRS. POPOV. You wish to fight a duel? Very well.

SMIRNOV. Immediately.

MRS. POPOV. Immediately. My husband had pistols. I'll bring them. [_She
hurries away, then turns._] Oh, what a pleasure it will be to put a
bullet in your impudent head. The devil take you! [_She goes out._

SMIRNOV. I'll shoot her down! I'm no fledgling, no sentimental young
puppy. For me there is no weaker sex!

LUKA. Oh, sir. [_Falls to his knees._] Have mercy on me, an old man, and
go away. You have frightened me to death already, and now you want to
fight a duel.

SMIRNOV. [_Paying no attention._] A duel. That's equity, emancipation.
That way the sexes are made equal. I'll shoot her down as a matter of
principle. What can a person say to such a woman? [_Imitating her._]
"The devil take you. I'll put a bullet in your impudent head." What can
one say to that? She was angry, her eyes blazed, she accepted the
challenge. On my honor, it's the first time in my life that I ever saw
such a woman.

LUKA. Oh, sir. Go away. Go away!

SMIRNOV. That _is_ a woman. I can understand her. A real woman. No
shilly-shallying, but fire, powder, and noise! It would be a pity to
shoot a woman like that.

LUKA. [_Weeping._] Oh, sir, go away.

     [_Enter_ MRS. POPOV.

MRS. POPOV. Here are the pistols. But before we have our duel, please
show me how to shoot. I have never had a pistol in my hand before!

LUKA. God be merciful and have pity upon us! I'll go and get the
gardener and the coachman. Why has this horror come to us? [_He goes
out._

SMIRNOV. [_Looking at the pistols._] You see, there are different kinds.
There are special duelling pistols, with cap and ball. But these are
revolvers, Smith & Wesson, with ejectors; fine pistols! A pair like that
cost at least ninety roubles. This is the way to hold a revolver.
[_Aside._] Those eyes, those eyes! A real woman!

MRS. POPOV. Like this?

SMIRNOV. Yes, that way. Then you pull the hammer back--so--then you
aim--put your head back a little. Just stretch your arm out, please.
So--then press your finger on the thing like that, and that is all. The
chief thing is this: don't get excited, don't hurry your aim, and take
care that your hand doesn't tremble.

MRS. POPOV. It isn't well to shoot inside; let's go into the garden.

SMIRNOV. Yes. I'll tell you now, I am going to shoot into the air.

MRS. POPOV. That is too much! Why?

SMIRNOV. Because--because. That's my business.

MRS. POPOV. You are afraid. Yes. A-h-h-h, No, no, my dear sir, no
flinching! Please follow me. I won't rest until I've made a hole in that
head I hate so much. Are you afraid?

SMIRNOV. Yes, I'm afraid.

MRS. POPOV. You are lying. Why won't you fight?

SMIRNOV. Because--because--I--like you.

MRS. POPOV. [_With an angry laugh._] You like me! He dares to say he
likes me! [_She points to the door._] Go.

SMIRNOV. [_Laying the revolver silently on the table, takes his hat and
starts. At the door he stops a moment, gazing at her silently, then he
approaches her, hesitating._] Listen! Are you still angry? I was mad as
the devil, but please understand me--how can I express myself? The thing
is like this--such things are--[_He raises his voice._] Now, is it my
fault that you owe me money? [_Grasps the back of the chair, which
breaks._] The devil knows what breakable furniture you have! I like you!
Do you understand? I--I'm almost in love!

MRS. POPOV. Leave! I hate you.

SMIRNOV. Lord! What a woman! I never in my life met one like her. I'm
lost, ruined! I've been caught like a mouse in a trap.

MRS. POPOV. Go, or I'll shoot.

SMIRNOV. Shoot! You have no idea what happiness it would be to die in
sight of those beautiful eyes, to die from the revolver in this little
velvet hand! I'm mad! Consider it and decide immediately, for if I go
now, we shall never see each other again. Decide--speak--- I am a noble,
a respectable man, have an income of ten thousand, can shoot a coin
thrown into the air. I own some fine horses. Will you be my wife?

MRS. POPOV. [_Swings the revolver angrily._] I'll shoot!

SMIRNOV. My mind is not clear--I can't understand. Servant--water! I
have fallen in love like any young man. [_He takes her hand and she
cries with pain._] I love you! [_He kneels._] I love you as I have never
loved before. Twelve women I jilted, nine jilted me, but not one of them
all have I loved as I love you. I am conquered, lost; I lie at your feet
like a fool and beg for your hand. Shame and disgrace! For five years I
haven't been in love; I thanked the Lord for it, and now I am caught,
like a carriage tongue in another carriage. I beg for your hand! Yes or
no? Will you?--Good! [_He gets up and goes quickly to the door._

MRS. POPOV. Wait a moment!

SMIRNOV. [_Stopping._] Well?

MRS. POPOV. Nothing. You may go. But--wait a moment. No, go on, go on. I
hate you. Or--no; don't go. Oh, if you knew how angry I was, how angry!
[_She throws the revolver on to the chair._] My finger is swollen from
this thing. [_She angrily tears her handkerchief._] What are you
standing there for? Get out!

SMIRNOV. Farewell!

MRS. POPOV. Yes, go. [_Cries out._] Why are you going? Wait--no, go!!
Oh, how angry I am! Don't come too near, don't come too
near--er--come--no nearer.

SMIRNOV. [_Approaching her._] How angry I am with myself! Fall in love
like a schoolboy, throw myself on my knees. I've got a chill!
[_Strongly._] I love you. This is fine--all I needed was to fall in
love. To-morrow I have to pay my interest, the hay harvest has begun,
and then you appear! [_He takes her in his arms._] I can never forgive
myself.

MRS. POPOV. Go away! Take your hands off me! I hate you--you--this
is--[_A long kiss._

     [_Enter_ LUKA _with an axe, the gardener with a rake, the coachman
     with a pitchfork, and workmen with poles_.

LUKA. [_Staring at the pair._] Merciful heavens!

     [_A long pause._

MRS. POPOV. [_Dropping her eyes._] Tell them in the stable that Tobby
isn't to have any oats.

CURTAIN



THE LAST STRAW

BY

BOSWORTH CROCKER


_The Last Straw_ is reprinted by special permission of Bosworth Crocker.
All rights reserved. For permission to perform, address the author, care
Society of American Dramatists and Composers, 148 West 45th Street,
New York City.


BOSWORTH CROCKER

Bosworth Crocker was born March 2, 1882, in Surrey, England. While still
a child he was brought to the United States. He lives in New York City
and may be reached in care of the Society of American Dramatists and
Composers, 148 West 45th Street.

In addition to _Pawns of War_ and _Stone Walls_, he has written a number
of one-act plays, _The Dog_, _The First Time_, _The Cost of a Hat_, _The
Hour Before_, _The Baby Carriage_, and _The Last Straw_.

_The Last Straw_, produced by the Washington Square Players in New York
City, is an excellent one-act tragedy, based upon the psychological law
of suggestion.


CAST


     FRIEDRICH BAUER, _janitor of the Bryn Mawr_
     MIENE, _his wife_
     KARL, _elder son, aged ten_
     FRITZI, _younger son, aged seven_
     JIM LANE, _a grocer boy_



THE LAST STRAW[G]

     TIME: _The present day._

     SCENE: _The basement of a large apartment-house in New York City._

     SCENE: _The kitchen of the Bauer flat in the basement of the Bryn
     Mawr. A window at the side gives on an area and shows the walk
     above and the houses across the street. Opposite the windows is a
     door to an inner room. Through the outer door, in the centre of the
     back wall, a dumb-waiter and whistles to tenants can be seen. A
     broken milk-bottle lies in a puddle of milk on the cement floor in
     front of the dumb-waiter. To the right of the outer door, a
     telephone; gas-range on which there are flat-irons heating and
     vegetables cooking. To the left of the outer door is an old
     sideboard; over it hangs a picture of Schiller. Near the centre of
     the room, a little to the right, stands a kitchen table with four
     chairs around it. Ironing-board is placed between the kitchen table
     and the sink, a basket of dampened clothes under it. A large
     calendar on the wall. An alarm-clock on the window-sill. Time: a
     little before noon. The telephone rings_; MRS. BAUER _leaves her
     ironing and goes to answer it_.


MRS. BAUER. No, Mr. Bauer's out yet. [_She listens through the
transmitter._] Thank you, Mrs. Mohler. [_Another pause._] I'll tell him
just so soon he comes in--yes, ma'am.

     [MRS. BAUER _goes back to her ironing. Grocer boy rushes into
     basement, whistling; he puts down his basket, goes up to_ MRS.
     BAUER'S _door and looks in_.


LANE. Say--where's the boss?

MRS. BAUER. He'll be home soon, I--hope--Jim. What you want?

     [_He stands looking at her with growing sympathy._

LANE. Nothin'. Got a rag 'round here? Dumb-waiter's all wet.... Lot of
groceries for Sawyers.

MRS. BAUER. [_Without lifting her eyes, mechanically hands him a mop
which hangs beside the door._] Here.

LANE. What's the matter?

MRS. BAUER. [_Dully._] Huh?

LANE. [_Significantly._] Oh, I know.

MRS. BAUER. What you know?

LANE. About the boss. [MRS. BAUER _looks distressed_.] Heard your
friends across the street talkin'.

MRS. BAUER. [_Bitterly._] Friends!

LANE. Rotten trick to play on the boss, all right, puttin' that old maid
up to get him pinched.

MRS. BAUER. [_Absently._] Was she an old maid?

LANE. The cruelty-to-animals woman over there [_waves his
hand_]--regular old crank. Nies[H] put her up to it all right.

MRS. BAUER. I guess it was his old woman. Nies ain't so bad. She's the
one. Because my two boys dress up a little on Sunday, she don't like it.

LANE. Yes, she's sore because the boys told her the boss kicks their
dog.

MRS. BAUER. He don't do nothin' of the sort--jus' drives it 'way from
the garbage-pails--that's all. We coulda had that dog took up long
ago--they ain't got no license. But Fritz--he's so easy--he jus' takes
it out chasin' the dog and hollerin'.

LANE. That ain't no way. He ought to make the dog holler--good and
hard--once; then it'd keep out of here.

MRS. BAUER. Don't you go to talkin' like that 'round my man. Look at all
this trouble we're in on account of a stray cat.

LANE. I better get busy. They'll be callin' up the store in a minute.
That woman's the limit.... Send up the groceries in that slop, she'd
send them down again. High-toned people like her ought to keep maids.

     [_He mops out the lower shelf of the dumb-waiter, then looks at the
     broken bottle and the puddle of milk inquiringly._

MRS. BAUER. [_Taking the mop away from him._] I'll clean that up. I
forgot--in all this trouble.

LANE. Whose milk?

MRS. BAUER. The Mohlers'. That's how it all happened. Somebody upset
their milk on the dumb-waiter and the cat was on the shelf lickin' it
up; my man, not noticin', starts the waiter up and the cat tries to jump
out; the bottle rolls off and breaks. The cat was hurt awful--caught in
the shaft. I don't see how it coulda run after that, but it did--right
into the street, right into that woman--Fritz after it. Then it fell
over. "You did that?" she says to Fritz. "Yes," he says, "I did that."
He didn't say no more, jus' went off, and then after a while they came
for him and---- [_She begins to cry softly._

LANE. Brace up; they ain't goin' to do anything to him.... [_Comes into
kitchen. Hesitatingly._] Say!... He didn't kick the cat--did he?

MRS. BAUER. Who said so?

LANE. Mrs. Nies--says she saw him from her window.

MRS. BAUER. [_As though to herself._] I dunno. [_Excitedly._] Of course
he didn't kick that cat. [_Again, as though to herself._] Fritz is so
quick-tempered he mighta kicked it 'fore he knew what he was about. No
one'd ever know how good Fritz is unless they lived with him. He never
hurt no one and nothing except himself.

LANE. Oh, I'm on to the boss. I never mind his hollerin'.

MRS. BAUER. If you get a chance, bring me some butter for dinner--a
pound.

LANE. All right. I'll run over with it in ten or fifteen minutes, soon
as I get rid of these orders out here in the wagon.

MRS. BAUER. That'll do.

     [_She moves about apathetically, lays the cloth on the kitchen
     table and begins to set it._ LANE _goes to the dumb-waiter,
     whistles up the tube, puts the basket of groceries on the shelf of
     the dumb-waiter, pulls rope and sends waiter up_. MRS. BAUER
     _continues to set the table. Boys from the street suddenly swoop
     into the basement and yell_.

CHORUS OF BOYS' VOICES. Who killed the cat! Who killed the cat!

LANE. [_Letting the rope go and making a dive for the boys._] I'll show
you, you----

     [_They rush out_, MRS. BAUER _stands despairingly in the doorway
     shaking her clasped hands_.

MRS. BAUER. Those are Nies's boys.

LANE. Regular toughs! Call the cop and have 'em pinched if they don't
stop it.

MRS. BAUER. If my man hears them--you know--there'll be more trouble.

LANE. The boss ought to make it hot for them.

MRS. BAUER. Such trouble!

LANE. [_Starts to go._] Well--luck to the boss.

MRS. BAUER. There ain't no such thing as luck for us.

LANE. Aw, come on....

MRS. BAUER. Everything's against us. First Fritz's mother dies. We named
the baby after her--Trude.... Then we lost Trude. That finished Fritz.
After that he began this hollerin' business. And now this here
trouble--just when things was goin' half-ways decent for the first time.
[_She pushes past him and goes to her ironing._

LANE. [_Shakes his head sympathetically and takes up his basket._] A
pound, you said?

MRS. BAUER. Yes.

LANE. All right. [_He starts off and then rushes back._] Here's the
boss comin', Mrs. Bauer. [_Rushes off again._

LANE'S VOICE. [_Cheerfully._] Hello, there!

BAUER'S VOICE. [_Dull and strained._] Hello!

     [BAUER _comes in. His-naturally bright blue eyes are tired and
     lustreless; his strung frame seems to have lost all vigor and
     alertness; there in a look of utter despondency on his face._

MRS. BAUER. [_Closing the door after him._] They let you off?

BAUER. [_With a hard little laugh._] Yes, they let me off--they let me
off with a fine all right.

MRS. BAUER. [_Aghast._] They think you did it then.

BAUER. [_Harshly._] The judge fined me, I tell you.

MRS. BAUER. [_Unable to express her poignant sympathy._] Fined you!...
Oh, Fritz! [_She lays her hand on his shoulder._

BAUER. [_Roughly, to keep himself from, going to pieces._] That slop out
there ain't cleaned up yet.

MRS. BAUER. I've been so worried.

BAUER. [_With sudden desperation._] I can't stand it, I tell you.

MRS. BAUER. Well, it's all over now, Fritz.

BAUER. Yes, it's all over.... it's all up with me.

MRS. BAUER. Fritz!

BAUER. That's one sure thing.

MRS. BAUER. You oughtn't to give up like this.

BAUER. [_Pounding on the table._] I tell you I can't hold up my head
again.

MRS. BAUER. Why, Fritz?

BAUER. They've made me out guilty. The judge fined me. Fined me, Miene!
How is that? Can a man stand for that? The woman said I told her
myself--right out--that I did it.

MRS. BAUER. The woman that had you--[_he winces as she hesitates_] took?

BAUER. Damned----

MRS. BAUER. [_Putting her hand over his mouth._] Hush, Fritz.

BAUER. Why will I hush, Miene? She said I was proud of the job.
[_Passionately raising his voice._] The damned interferin'----

MRS. BAUER. Don't holler, Fritz. It's your hollerin' that's made all
this trouble.

BAUER. [_Penetrated by her words more and more._] My hollerin'!....

     [The telephone rings; she answers it.

MRS. BAUER. Yes, Mrs. Mohler, he's come in now.--Yes.--Won't after
dinner do?--All right.--Thank you, Mrs. Mohler. [_She hangs up the
receiver._] Mrs. Mohler wants you to fix her sink right after dinner.

BAUER. I'm not goin' to do any more fixin' around here.

MRS. BAUER. You hold on to yourself, Fritz; that's no way to talk; Mrs.
Mohler's a nice woman.

BAUER. I don't want to see no more nice women. [_After a pause._]
Hollerin'!--that's what's the matter with me--hollerin', eh? Well, I've
took it all out in hollerin'.

MRS. BAUER. They hear you and they think you've got no feelings.

BAUER. [_In utter amazement at the irony of the situation._] And I was
goin' after the damned cat to take care of it.

MRS. BAUER. Why didn't you tell the judge all about it?

BAUER. They got me rattled among them. The lady was so soft and
pleasant--"He must be made to understand, your honor," she said to the
judge, "that dumb animals has feelin's, too, just as well as human
beings"--_Me_, Miene--made to understand that! I couldn't say nothin'.
My voice just stuck in my throat.

MRS. BAUER. What's the matter with you! You oughta spoke up and told the
judge just how it all happened.

BAUER. I said to myself; I'll go home and put a bullet through my
head--that's the best thing for me now.

MRS. BAUER. [_With impatient unbelief._] Ach, Fritz, Fritz!

     [_Clatter of feet._

CHORUS OF VOICES. [_At the outer door._] Who killed the cat! Who killed
the cat!

     [BAUER _jumps up, pale and shaken with strange rage; she pushes him
     gently back into his chair, opens the door, steps out for a moment,
     then comes in and leaves the door open behind her_.

BAUER. You see?... Even the kids ... I'm disgraced all over the place.

MRS. BAUER. So long as you didn't hurt the cat----

BAUER. What's the difference? Everybody believes it.

MRS. BAUER. No, they don't, Fritz.

BAUER. You can't fool me, Miene. I see it in their eyes. They looked
away from me when I was comin' 'round the corner. Some of them kinder
smiled like--[_passes his hand over his head_]. Even the cop says to me
on the way over, yesterday: "Don't you put your foot in it any more'n
you have to." You see? He thought I did it all right. Everybody believes
it.

MRS. BAUER. [_Putting towels away._] Well, then _let_ them believe
it.... The agent don't believe it.

BAUER. I dunno. He'da paid my fine anyhow.

MRS. BAUER. He gave you a good name.

BAUER. [_With indignant derision._] He gave me a good name!... Haven't I
always kept this place all right since we been here? Afterward he said
to me: "I'm surprised at this business, Bauer, very much surprised."
That shows what he thinks. I told him it ain't true, I didn't mean to
hurt it. I saw by his eyes he didn't believe me.

MRS. BAUER. Well, don't you worry any more now.

BAUER. [_To himself._] Hollerin'!

MRS. BAUER. [_Shuts the door._] Well, now, holler a little if it does
you good.

BAUER. Nothin's goin' to do me good.

MRS. BAUER. You just put it out of your mind. [_The telephone rings. She
answers it._] Yes, but he can't come now, Mrs. McAllister. He'll be up
this afternoon.

     [_She hangs up the receiver._

BAUER. And I ain't goin' this afternoon--nowhere.

MRS. BAUER. It's Mrs. McAllister. Somethin's wrong with her
refrigerator--the water won't run off, she says.

BAUER. They can clean out their own drain-pipes.

MRS. BAUER. You go to work and get your mind off this here business.

BAUER. [_Staring straight ahead of him._] I ain't goin' 'round among the
people in this house ... to have them lookin' at me ... disgraced like
this.

MRS. BAUER. You want to hold up your head and act as if nothin's
happened.

BAUER. Nobody spoke to me at the dumb-waiter when I took off the garbage
and paper this morning. Mrs. Mohler always says something pleasant.

MRS. BAUER. You just think that because you're all upset. [_The
telephone rings; she goes to it and listens._] Yes, ma'am, I'll see.
Fritz, have you any fine wire? Mrs. McAllister thinks she might try and
fix the drain with it--till you come up.

BAUER. I got no wire.

MRS. BAUER. Mr. Bauer'll fix it--right after dinner, Mrs. McAllister.
[_Impatiently._] He can't find the wire this minute--soon's he eats his
dinner.

BAUER. [_Doggedly._] You'll see....

MRS. BAUER. [_Soothingly._] Come now, Fritz, give me your hat. [_She
takes his hat from him._

VOICES IN THE STREET. [_Receding from the front area._] Who killed the
cat! Who killed the cat!

     [BAUER _rushes toward the window in a fury of excitement_.

BAUER. [_Shouting at the top of his voice._] _Verdammte_ loafers!
_Schweine!_

MRS. BAUER. [_Goes up to him._] Fritz! Fritz!

BAUER. [_Collapses and drops into chair._] You hear 'em.

MRS. BAUER. Don't pay no attention, then they'll get tired.

BAUER. Miene, we must go away. I can't stand it here no longer.

MRS. BAUER. But there's not such another good place, Fritz--and the
movin'....

BAUER. I say I can't stand it.

MRS. BAUER. [_Desperately._] It ... it would be just the same any other
place.

BAUER. Just the same?

MRS. BAUER. Yes, something'd go wrong anyhow.

BAUER. You think I'm a regular Jonah.

     [_He shakes his head repeatedly in the affirmative, as though
     wholly embracing her point of view._

MRS. BAUER. Folks don't get to know you. They hear you hollerin' 'round
and they think you beat the children and kick the dogs and cats.

BAUER. Do I ever lick the children when they don't need it?

MRS. BAUER. Not Fritzi.

BAUER. You want to spoil Karl. I just touch him with the strap once, a
little--like this [_illustrates with a gesture_] to scare him, and he
howls like hell.

MRS. BAUER. Yes, and then he don't mind you no more because he knows you
don't mean it.

BAUER. [_To himself._] That's the way it goes ... a man's own wife and
children ...

MRS. BAUER. [_Attending to the dinner. Irritably._] Fritz, if you would
clean that up out there--and Mrs. Carroll wants her waste-basket. You
musta forgot to send it up again.

BAUER. All right.

     [_He goes out and leaves the door open. She stands her flat-iron on
     the ledge of the range to cool and puts her ironing-board away,
     watching him at the dumb-waiter while he picks up the glass and
     cleans up the milk on the cement floor. He disappears for a moment,
     then he comes in again, goes to a drawer and takes out rags and a
     bottle of polish._

MRS. BAUER. [_Pushing the clothes-basket out of the way._] This ain't
cleanin' day, Fritz.

BAUER. [_Dully, putting the polish back into the drawer._] That's so.

MRS. BAUER. [_Comforting him._] You've got to eat a good dinner and then
go up-stairs and fix that sink for Mrs. Mohler and the drain for Mrs.
McAllister.

BAUER. [_In a tense voice._] I tell you I can't stand it.... I tell you,
Miene....

MRS. BAUER. What now, Fritz?

BAUER. People laugh in my face. [_Nods in the direction of the street._]
Frazer's boy standin' on the stoop calls his dog away when it runs up to
me like it always does.

MRS. BAUER. Dogs know better'n men who's good to them.

BAUER. He acted like he thought I'd kick it.

MRS. BAUER. You've got all kinds of foolishness in your head now.... You
sent up Carroll's basket?

BAUER. No.

MRS. BAUER. Well---- [_She checks herself._

BAUER. All right. [_He gets up._

MRS. BAUER. It's settin' right beside the other dumb-waiter, [_He goes
out._] Oh, Gott!--Oh, Gott!--Oh, Gott!

     [_Enter_ KARL, _and_ FRITZI. FRITZI _is crying_.

MRS. BAUER. [_Running to them._] What's the matter?

     [_She hushes them and carefully closes the door._

KARL. The boys make fun of us; they mock us.

FRITZI. They mock us--"Miau! Miau!" they cry, and then they go like
this----

     [FRITZI _imitates kicking and breaks out crying afresh_.

MRS. BAUER. Hush, Fritzi, you mustn't let your father hear.

FRITZI. He'd make them shut up.

KARL. I don't want to go to school this afternoon.

     [_He doubles his fists._

MRS. BAUER. [_Turning on him fiercely._] Why not? [_In an undertone._]
You talk that way before your little brother.--Have you no sense?

FRITZI. [_Beginning to whimper._] I d-d-d-on't want to go to school this
afternoon.

MRS. BAUER. You just go 'long to school and mind your own business.

KARL _and_ FRITZI. [_Together._] But the boys....

MRS. BAUER. They ain't a-goin' to keep it up forever. Don't you answer
them. Just go 'long together and pay no attention.

KARL. Then they get fresher and fresher.

FRITZI. [_Echoing_ KARL.] Yes, then they get fresher and fresher.

     [MRS. BAUER _begins to take up the dinner. The sound of footfalls
     just outside the door is heard._

MRS. BAUER. Go on now, hang up your caps and get ready for your dinners.

FRITZI. I'm going to tell my papa. [_Goes to inner door._

MRS. BAUER. For God's sake, Fritzi, shut up. You mustn't tell no one.
Papa'd be disgraced all over.

KARL. [_Coming up to her._] Disgraced?

MRS. BAUER. Hush!

KARL. Why disgraced?

MRS. BAUER. Because there's liars, low-down, snoopin' liars in the
world.

KARL. Who's lied, mama?

MRS. BAUER. The janitress across the street.

KARL. Mrs. Nies?

FRITZI. [_Calling out._] Henny Nies is a tough.

MRS. BAUER. [_Looking toward the outer door anxiously and shaking her
head threateningly at_ FRITZI.] I give you somethin' if you don't stop
hollerin' out like that.

KARL. Who'd she lie to?

MRS. BAUER. Never mind. Go 'long now. It's time you begin to eat.

KARL. What'd she lie about?

MRS. BAUER. [_Warningly._] S-s-sh! Papa'll be comin' in now in a minute.

KARL. It was Henny Nies set the gang on to us. I coulda licked them all
if I hadn't had to take care of Fritzi.

MRS. BAUER. You'll get a lickin' all right if you don't keep away from
Henny Nies.

KARL. Well--if they call me names--and say _my_ father's been to the
station-house for killing a cat...?

FRITZI. Miau! Miau! Miau!

MRS. BAUER. Hold your mouth.

FRITZI. [_Swaggering._] My father never was in jail--was he, mama?

KARL. Course not.

MRS. BAUER. [_To_ FRITZI.] Go, wash your hands, Fritzi.

     [_She steers him to the door of the inner room. He exits._

MRS. BAUER. [_Distressed._] Karl ...

KARL. [_Turning to his mother._] Was he, mama?

MRS. BAUER. Papa don't act like he used to. Sometimes I wonder what's
come over him. Of course it's enough to ruin any man's temper, all the
trouble we've had.

CHORUS OF VOICES. [_From the area by the window._] Who killed the cat!
Who killed the cat!

     [_Sound of feet clattering up the area steps._ FRITZI _rushes in,
     flourishing a revolver_.

FRITZI. I shoot them, mama.

MRS. BAUER. [_Grabbing the revolver._] _Mein Gott!_ Fritzi! Papa's
pistol! [_She examines it carefully._] You ever touch that again and
I'll ... [_She menaces him._

FRITZI. [_Sulkily._] I'll save up my money and buy me one.

MRS. BAUER. [_Smiling a little to herself._] I see you buyin' one.
[_Carries revolver into inner room._

FRITZI. [_In a loud, voice and as though shooting at_ KARL.] Bang! Bang!
Bang!

     [KARL _strikes at_ FRITZI; FRITZI _dodges_.

KARL. [_To his mother as she re-enters._] Trouble with Fritzi is he
don't mind me any more.

MRS. BAUER. You wash your dirty hands and face this minute--d'you hear
me, Fritzi!

FRITZI. [_Looking at his hands._] That's ink-stains. I got the highest
mark in spelling to-day. Capital H-e-n-n-y, capital N-i-e-s--Henny Nies,
a bum.

     [MRS. BAUER _makes a rush at him, and he runs back into the inner
     room_.

KARL. [_Sitting down beside the table._] Do we have to go to school this
afternoon?

MRS. BAUER. You have to do what you always do.

KARL. Can't we stay home?...

MRS. BAUER. [_Fiercely._] Why? Why?

KARL. [_Sheepishly._] I ain't feelin' well.

MRS. BAUER. Karlchen!... _schäm dich!_

KARL. Till the boys forget....

MRS. BAUER. Papa'd know somethin' was wrong right away. That'd be the
end. You mustn't act as if anything was different from always.

KARL. [_Indignantly._] Sayin' _my_ father's been to jail!

MRS. BAUER. Karl....

KARL. Papa'd make them stop.

MRS. BAUER. [_Panic-stricken._] Karl, don't you tell papa nothing.

KARL. Not tell papa?

MRS. BAUER. No.

KARL. Why not tell papa?

MRS. BAUER. Because----

KARL. Yes, mama?

MRS. BAUER. Because he was arrested yesterday.

KARL. [SHOCKED.] What for, mama? Why was he----

MRS. BAUER. For nothing.... It was all a lie.

KARL. Well--what was it, mama?

MRS. BAUER. The cat got hurt in the dumb-waiter--papa didn't mean
to--then they saw papa chasin' it--then it died.

KARL. Why did papa chase it?

MRS. BAUER. To see how it hurt itself.

KARL. Whose cat?

MRS. BAUER. The stray cat.

KARL. The little black cat? Is Blacky dead?

MRS. BAUER. Yes, he died on the sidewalk.

KARL. Where was we?

MRS. BAUER. You was at school.

KARL. Papa didn't want us to keep Blacky.

MRS. BAUER. So many cats and dogs around....

FRITZI. [_Wailing at the door._] Blacky was my cat.

MRS. BAUER. S-s-h! What do you know about Blacky?

FRITZI. I was listening. Why did papa kill Blacky?

MRS. BAUER. Hush!

FRITZI. Why was papa took to jail?

MRS. BAUER. Fritzi! If papa was to hear....

     [MRS. BAUER _goes out_.

FRITZI. [_Sidling up to_ KARL.] Miau! Miau!

KARL. You shut up that. Didn't mama tell you?

FRITZI. When I'm a man I'm going to get arrested. I'll shoot Henny Nies.

KARL. [_Contemptuously._] Yes, you'll do a lot of shooting.

     [FRITZI _punches_ KARL _in back_.

KARL. [_Striking at_ FRITZI.] You're as big a tough as Henny Nies.

FRITZI. [_Proud of this alleged likeness._] I'm going to be a man just
like my father; I'll holler and make them stand around.

KARL. [_With conviction._] What you need is a good licking.

     [_Telephone rings_; KARL _goes to it_.

KARL. No, ma'am, we're just going to eat now.

FRITZI. [_Sits down beside the table._] Blacky was a nice cat; she
purred just like a steam-engine.

KARL. Mama told you not to bring her in.

FRITZI. Papa said I could.

     [_There is the sound of footfalls._ BAUER _and his wife come in and
     close the door behind them_.

MRS. BAUER. [_Putting the dinner on the table._] Come, children. [_To_
BAUER.] Sit down, Fritz.

     [_She serves the dinner._ KARL _pulls_ FRITZI _out of his father's
     chair and pushes him into his own; then he takes his place next to
     his mother_.

MRS. BAUER. [_To_ BAUER, _who sits looking at his food_.] Eat somethin',
Friedrich. [_She sits down._

BAUER. I can't eat nothin'. I'm full up to here.

     [_He touches his throat._

MRS. BAUER. If you haven't done nothin' wrong, why do you let it worry
you so?

     [_Children are absorbed in eating._

FRITZI. [_Suddenly._] Gee, didn't Blacky like liver!

     [MRS. BAUER _and_ KARL _look at him warningly_.

MRS. BAUER. [_Fiercely._] You eat your dinner.

BAUER. [_Affectionately, laying his hand on_ FRITZI'S _arm_.] Fritzi.

FRITZI. [_Points toward the inner room._] I'm going to have a gun, too,
when I'm a man.

     [BAUER _follows_ FRITZI'S _gesture and falls to musing. There is a
     look of brooding misery on his face._ KARL _nudges_ FRITZI
     _warningly and watches his father furtively_. BAUER _sits
     motionless, staring straight ahead of him_.


MRS. BAUER. [_To_ BAUER.] Now drink your coffee.

BAUER. Don't you see, Miene, don't you see?... Nothing makes it right
now; no one believes me--no one believes--no one.

MRS. BAUER. What do you care, if you didn't do it?

BAUER. I care like hell.

MRS. BAUER. [_With a searching took at her husband._] Fritzi, when you
go on like this, people won't believe you didn't do it. You ought to act
like you don't care.... [_She fixes him with a beseeching glance._] If
you _didn't_ do it.

     [BAUER _looks at his wife as though a hidden meaning to her words
     had suddenly bitten into his mind_.

BAUER. [_As though to himself._] A man can't stand that. I've gone
hungry ... I've been in the hospital ... I've worked when I couldn't
stand up hardly....

MRS. BAUER. [_Coaxingly._] Drink your coffee, drink it now, Fritz, while
it's hot.

     [_He tries to swallow a little coffee and then puts down the cup._

BAUER. I've never asked favors of no man.

MRS. BAUER. Well, an' if you did ...

BAUER. I've always kept my good name ...

MRS. BAUER. If a man hasn't done nothin' wrong it don't matter. Just go
ahead like always--if----

BAUER. [_Muttering._] If--if----

MRS. BAUER. [_To the boys._] Get your caps now, it's time to go to
school.

     [KARL _gets up, passes behind his father and beckons to_ FRITZI _to
     follow him_.

FRITZI. [_Keeping his seat._] Do we have to go to school?

BAUER. [_Suddenly alert._] Why, what's the matter?

FRITZI. The boys----

MRS. BAUER. [_Breaking in._] Fritzi!

     [_The boys go into the inner room._ BAUER _collapses again_.

MRS. BAUER. [_Looking at him strangely._] Fritzi--if you didn't----

BAUER. I can't prove nothing--and no one believes me. [_A pause. She is
silent under his gaze._] No one! [_He waits for her to speak. She sits
with averted face. He sinks into a dull misery. The expression in his
eyes changes from beseeching to despair as her silence continues, and he
cries out hoarsely._] No one! Even if you kill a cat--what's a cat
against a man's life!

MRS. BAUER. [_Tensely, her eyes fastened on his._] But you _didn't_ kill
it?

     [_A pause._

MRS. BAUER. [_In a low, appealing voice._] Did you? Fritz? Did you?

     [BAUER _gets up slowly. He stands very still and stares at his
     wife._

KARL'S VOICE. Mama, Fritzi's fooling with papa's gun.

     [_Both children rush into the room._

KARL. You oughta lock it up.

MRS. BAUER. [_To_ FRITZI.] Bad boy! [_To_ KARL.] Fritzi wants to kill
himself--that's what. Go on to school.

     [_Boys run past area._

VOICES. Who killed the cat! Who killed the cat!

     [_At the sound of the voices the boys start back. Instinctively_
     MRS. BAUER _lays a protecting hand on each. She looks around at her
     husband with a sudden anxiety which she tries to conceal from the
     children, who whisper together._ BAUER _rises heavily to his feet
     and walks staggeringly toward the inner room_.

MRS. BAUER. [_In a worried tone, as the pushes the children out._] Go on
to school.

     [_At the threshold of the inner room_ BAUER _stops, half turns back
     with distorted features, and then hurries in. The door slams behind
     him._ MRS. BAUER _closes the outer door, turns, takes a step as
     though to follow_ BAUER, _hesitates, then crosses to the kitchen
     table and starts to clear up the dishes. The report of a revolver
     sounds from the inner room. Terror-stricken_, MRS. BAUER _rushes
     in_.

MRS. BAUER'S VOICE. Fritz! Fritz! Speak to me! Look at me, Fritz! You
didn't do it, Fritz! I know you didn't do it!

     [_Sound of low sobbing.... After a few seconds the telephone
     bell.... It rings continuously while the Curtain slowly falls._



MANIKIN AND MINIKIN

(A BISQUE-PLAY)

BY

ALFRED KREYMBORG


_Manikin and Minikin_ is reprinted by special permission of Alfred
Kreymborg. All rights reserved. For permission to perform, address
Norman Lee Swartout, Summit, New Jersey.


ALFRED KREYMBORG

Alfred Kreymborg, one of the foremost advocates of free-verse rhythmical
drama, was born in New York City, 1883. He founded and edited _The
Globe_ while it was in existence; and under its auspices issued the
first anthology of imagist verse (Ezra Pound's Collection, 1914). In
July, 1915, he founded _Others, a Magazine of the New Verse_, and _The
Other Players_ in March, 1918, an organization devoted exclusively to
American plays in poetic form. At present Mr. Kreymborg is in Italy,
launching a new international magazine, _The Broom_.

Mr. Kreymborg has been active in both poetry and drama. He has edited
several anthologies of free verse, and has published his own free verse
as _Mushrooms_ and _The Blood of Things_. His volume of plays, all in
free rhythmical verse, is _Plays for Poem--Mimes_. The most popular
plays in this volume are _Lima Beans_, and _Manikin and Minikin_.

_Manikin and Minikin_ aptly exemplifies Mr. Kreymborg's idea of
rhythmical, pantomimic drama. It is a semi-puppet play in which there
are dancing automatons to an accompaniment of rhythmic lines in place of
music. Mr. Kreymborg is a skilled musician and he composes his lines
with musical rhythm in mind. His lines should be read accordingly.



MANIKIN AND MINIKIN

(A BISQUE-PLAY)


     _Seen through an oval frame, one of the walls of a parlor. The
     wall-paper is a conventionalized pattern. Only the shelf of the
     mantelpiece shows. At each end, seated on pedestals turned slightly
     away from one another, two aristocratic bisque figures, a boy in
     delicate cerise and a girl in cornflower blue. Their shadows join
     in a grotesque silhouette. In the centre, an ancient clock whose
     tick acts as the metronome for the sound of their high voices.
     Presently the mouths of the figures open and shut, after the mode
     of ordinary conversation._

SHE. Manikin!

HE. Minikin?

SHE. That fool of a servant has done it again.

HE. I should say, she's more than a fool.

SHE. A meddlesome busybody----

HE. A brittle-fingered noddy!

SHE. Which way are you looking? What do you see?

HE. The everlasting armchair,
the everlasting tiger-skin,
the everlasting yellow, green, and purple books,
the everlasting portrait of milord----

SHE. Oh, these Yankees!--And I see
the everlasting rattan rocker,
the everlasting samovar,
the everlasting noisy piano,
the everlasting portrait of milady----


HE. Simpering spectacle!

SHE. What does she want, always dusting?

HE. I should say--that is, I'd consider the thought----

SHE. You'd consider a lie--oh, Manikin--you're trying to defend her!

HE. I'm not defending her----

SHE. You're trying to----

HE. I'm not trying to----

SHE. Then, what are you trying to----

HE. Well, I'd venture to say, if she'd only stay away some morning----

SHE. That's what I say in my dreams!

HE. She and her broom----

SHE. Her everlasting broom----

HE. She wouldn't be sweeping----

SHE. Every corner, every cranny, every crevice----

HE. And the dust wouldn't move----

SHE. Wouldn't crawl, wouldn't rise, wouldn't fly----

HE. And cover us all over----

SHE. Like a spider-web--ugh!

HE. Everlasting dust has been most of our life----

SHE. Everlasting years and years of dust!

HE. You on your lovely blue gown----

SHE. And you on your manly pink cloak.

HE. If she didn't sweep, we wouldn't need dusting----

SHE. Nor need taking down, I should say----

HE. With her stupid, clumsy hands----

SHE. Her crooked, monkey paws----

HE. And we wouldn't need putting back----

SHE. I with my back to you----

HE. I with my back to you.

SHE. It's been hours, days, weeks----
by the sound of that everlasting clock----
and the coming of day and the going of day----
since I saw you last!

HE. What's the use of the sun
with its butterfly wings of light--
what's the use of a sun made to see by--
if I can't see you!

SHE. Manikin!

HE. Minikin?

SHE. Say that again!

HE. Why should I say it again--don't you know?

SHE. I know, but sometimes I doubt----

HE. Why do you, what do you doubt?

SHE. Please say it again!

HE. What's the use of a sun----

SHE. What's the use of a sun?

HE. That was made to see by----

SHE. That was made to see by?

HE. If I can't see you!

SHE. Oh, Manikin!

HE. Minikin?

SHE. If you hadn't said that again, my doubt would have filled a
balloon.

HE. Your doubt--which doubt, what doubt?

SHE. And although I can't move, although I can't move unless somebody
shoves me, one of these days when the sun isn't here, I would have
slipped over the edge of this everlasting shelf----

HE. Minikin!

SHE. And fallen to that everlasting floor into so many fragments, they'd
never paste Minikin together again!

HE. Minikin, Minikin!

SHE. They'd have to set another here--some Minikin, I'm assured!

HE. Why do you chatter so, prattle so?

SHE. Because of my doubt--because I'm as positive as I am that I sit
here with my knees in a knot--that that human creature--loves you.

HE. Loves me?

SHE. And you her!

HE. Minikin!

SHE. When she takes us down she holds you much longer.

HE. Minikin!

SHE. I'm sufficiently feminine--and certainly old enough--I and my
hundred and seventy years--I can see, I can feel by her manner of
touching me and her flicking me with her mop--the creature hates
me--she'd like to drop me, that's what she would!

HE. Minikin!

SHE. Don't you venture defending her! Booby--you don't know live women!
When I'm in the right position I can note how she fondles you, pets you
like a parrot with her finger-tip, blows a pinch of dust from your eye
with her softest breath, holds you off at arm's length and fixes you
with her spider look, actually holds you against her cheek--her
rose-tinted cheek--before she releases you! If she didn't turn us apart
so often, I wouldn't charge her with insinuation; but now I know she
loves you--she's as jealous as I am--and poor dead me in her live power!
Manikin? */

HE. Minikin?

SHE. If you could see me--the way you see her----

HE. But I see you--see you always--see only you!

SHE. If you could see me the way you see her, you'd still love me, you'd
love me the way you do her! Who made me what I am? Who dreamed me in
motionless clay?

HE. Minikin?

SHE. Manikin?

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. No!

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. No.

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. Yes.

HE. I love you----

SHE. No!

HE. I've always loved you----

SHE. No.

HE. You doubt that?

SHE. Yes!

HE. You doubt that?

SHE. Yes.

HE. You doubt that?

SHE. No. You've always loved me--yes--but you don't love me now--no--not
since that rose-face encountered your glance--no.

HE. Minikin!

SHE. If I could move about the way she can--
if I had feet--
dainty white feet which could twinkle and twirl--
I'd dance you so prettily
you'd think me a sun butterfly--
if I could let down my hair
and prove you it's longer than larch hair--
if I could raise my black brows
or shrug my narrow shoulders,
like a queen or a countess--
if I could turn my head, tilt my head,
this way and that, like a swan--
ogle my eyes, like a peacock,
till you'd marvel,
they're green, nay, violet, nay, yellow, nay, gold--
if I could move, only move
just the moment of an inch--
you would see what I could be!
It's a change, it's a change,
you men ask of women!

HE. A change?

SHE. You're eye-sick, heart-sick
of seeing the same foolish porcelain thing,
a hundred years old,
a hundred and fifty,
and sixty, and seventy--
I don't know how old I am!

HE. Not an exhalation older than I--not an inhalation younger! Minikin?

SHE. Manikin?

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. No!

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. No!

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. Yes.

HE. I don't love that creature----

SHE. You do.

HE. I can't love that creature----

SHE. You can.

HE. Will you listen to me?

SHE. Yes--
if you'll tell me--
if you'll prove me--
so my last particle of dust--
the tiniest speck of a molecule--
the merest electron----

HE. Are you listening?

SHE. Yes!

HE. To begin with--
I dislike, suspect, deplore--
I had best say, feel compassion
for what is called humanity--
or the animate, as opposed to the inanimate----

SHE. You say that so wisely--
you're such a philosopher--
say it again!

HE. That which is able to move
can never be steadfast, you understand?
Let us consider the creature at hand
to whom you have referred
with an undue excess of admiration
adulterated with an undue excess of envy----

SHE. Say that again!

HE. To begin with--
I can only see part of her at once.
She moves into my vision;
she moves out of my vision;
she is doomed to be wayward.

SHE. Yes, but that which you see of her----

HE. Is ugly, commonplace, unsightly.
Her face a rose-face?
It's veined with blood and the skin of it wrinkles--
her eyes are ever so near to a hen's--
her movements,
if one would pay such a gait with regard--
her gait is unspeakably ungainly--
her hair----

SHE. Her hair?

HE. Luckily I've never seen it down--
I dare say it comes down in the dark,
when it looks, most assuredly, like tangled weeds.

SHE. Again, Manikin, that dulcet phrase!

HE. Even were she beautiful,
she were never so beautiful as thou!

SHE. Now you're a poet, Manikin!

HE. Even were she so beautiful as thou--lending her your eyes, and the
exquisite head which holds them--like a cup two last beads of wine, like
a stone two last drops of rain, green, nay, violet, nay, yellow, nay,
gold----

SHE. Faster, Manikin!

HE. I can't, Minikin!
Words were never given to man
to phrase such a one as you are--
inanimate symbols
can never embrace, embody, hold
the animate dream that you are--
I must cease.

SHE. Manikin!

HE. And even were she so beautiful as thou,
she couldn't stay beautiful.

SHE. Stay beautiful?

HE. Humans change with each going moment.
That is a gray-haired platitude.
Just as I can see that creature
only when she touches my vision,
so I could only see her once, were she beautiful--
at best, twice or thrice--
you're more precious than when you came!

SHE. And you!

HE. Human pathos penetrates still deeper
when one determines their inner life,
as we've pondered their outer.
Their inner changes far more desperately.

SHE. How so, wise Manikin?

HE. They have what philosophy terms moods,
and moods are more pervious to modulation
than pools to idle breezes.
These people may say, to begin with--
I love you.
This may be true, I'm assured--
as true as when _we_ say, I love you.
But they can only say,
I love you,
so long as the mood breathes,
so long as the breezes blow,
so long as water remains wet.
They are honest--
they mean what they say--
passionately, tenaciously, tragically--
but when the mood languishes,
they have to say,
if it be they are honest--
I do not love you.
Or they have to say,
I love you,
to somebody else.

SHE. To somebody else?

HE. Now, you and I--
we've said that to each other--
we've had to say it
for a hundred and seventy years--
and we'll have to say it always.

SHE. Say always again!

HE. The life of an animate--

SHE. Say always again!

HE. Always!
The life of an animate
is a procession of deaths
with but a secret sorrowing candle,
guttering lower and lower,
on the path to the grave--
the life of an inanimate
is as serenely enduring--
as all still things are.

SHE. Still things?

HE. Recall our childhood in the English museum--
ere we were moved,
from place to place,
to this dreadful Yankee salon--
do you remember
that little old Greek tanagra
of the girl with a head like a bud--
that little old Roman medallion
of the girl with a head like a----

SHE. Manikin, Manikin--
were they so beautiful as I--
did you love them, too--
why do you bring them back?

HE. They were not so beautiful as thou--
I spoke of them--
recalled, designated them--
well, because they were ages old--
and--and----

SHE. And--and?

HE. And we might live as long as they--
as they did and do!
I hinted their existence
because they're not so beautiful as thou,
so that by contrast and deduction----

SHE. And deduction?

HE. You know what I'd say----

SHE. But say it again!

HE. I love you.

SHE. Manikin?

HE. Minikin?

SHE. Then even though that creature has turned us
apart,
can you see me?

HE. I can see you.

SHE. Even though you haven't seen me
for hours, days, weeks--
with your dear blue eyes--
you can see me--
with your hidden ones?

HE. I can see you.

SHE. Even though you are still,
and calm, and smooth,
and lovely outside--
you aren't still and calm
and smooth and lovely inside?

HE. Lovely, yes--but not still and calm and smooth!

SHE. Which way are you looking? What do you see?

HE. I look at you. I see you.

SHE. And if that fool of a servant--oh, Manikin--suppose she should
break the future--our great, happy centuries ahead--by dropping me,
throwing me down?

HE. I should take an immediate step off this everlasting shelf--

SHE. But you cannot move!

HE. The good wind would give me a blow!

SHE. Now you're a punster! And what would your fragments do?

HE. They would do what Manikin did.

SHE. Say that again!

HE. They'd do what Manikin did....

SHE. Manikin?

HE. Minikin?

SHE. Shall I tell you something?

HE. Tell me something.

SHE. Are you listening?

HE. With my inner ears.

SHE. I wasn't jealous of that woman----

HE. You weren't jealous?

SHE. I wanted to hear you talk----

HE. You wanted to hear me talk?

SHE. You talk so wonderfully!

HE. Do I, indeed? What a booby I am!

SHE. And I wanted to hear you say----

HE. You cheat, you idler, you----

SHE. Woman----

HE. Dissembler!

SHE. Manikin?

HE. Minikin?

SHE. Everlastingly?

HE. Everlastingly.

SHE. Say it again!

HE. I refuse----

SHE. You refuse?

HE. Well----

SHE. Well?

HE. You have ears outside your head--I'll say that for you--but they'll
never hear--what your other ears hear!

SHE. Say it--down one of the ears--outside my head?

HE. I refuse.

SHE. You refuse?

HE. Leave me alone.

SHE. Manikin?

HE. I can't say it!

SHE. Manikin! */

     [_The clock goes on ticking for a moment. Its mellow chimes strike
     the hour._

CURTAIN



WHITE DRESSES

(A TRAGEDY OF NEGRO LIFE)

BY

PAUL GREENE


_White Dresses_ is reprinted by special permission of Professor
Frederick H. Koch. Copyrighted by the Carolina Playmakers, Inc., Chapel
Hill, North Carolina. For permission to produce, address Frederick H.
Koch, director.


PAUL GREENE

Paul Greene, one of the most promising of the University of North
Carolina Playmakers, was born in 1894 on a farm near Lillington, North
Carolina. He has received his education at Buies Creek Academy and at
the University of North Carolina, from which he received his bachelor's
degree in 1921. He saw service with the A. E. F. in France, with the
105th United States Engineers.

In addition to _White Dresses_, Mr. Greene has written a number of
one-act plays: _The Last of the Lowries_ (to be included in a
forthcoming volume of Carolina Folk-Plays, published by Henry Holt &
Company), _The Miser_, _The Old Man of Edenton_, _The Lord's Will_,
_Wreck P'int_, _Granny Boling_ (in _The Drama_ for August-September,
1921). The first three plays named above were produced originally by the
Carolina Playmakers at Chapel Hill.

_White Dresses_ is an excellent example of folk-play of North Carolina.
This play was written in English 31, the course in dramatic composition
at the University of North Carolina conducted by Professor Frederick H.
Koch. "The Aim of the Carolina Playmakers," says Professor Koch, "is to
build up a genuinely native drama, a fresh expression of the folk-life
in North Carolina, drawn from the rich background of local tradition and
from the vigorous new life of the present day. In these simple plays we
hope to contribute something of lasting value in the making of a new
folk-theatre and a new folk-literature."

Out of the many conflicts of American life, past and present, Mr. Greene
sees possibilities for a great native drama. _White Dresses_ presents a
fundamental aspect of the race problem in America.


CHARACTERS

    CANDACE MCLEAN, _an old negro woman_, MARY'S _aunt_
    MARY MCLEAN, _a quadroon girl, niece of_ CANDACE
    JIM MATTHEWS, _Mary's lover_
    HENRY MORGAN, _the landlord, a white man_



WHITE DRESSES

     TIME: _The evening before Christmas, 1900_.

     SCENE: _The scene is laid in a negro cabin, the home of_ CANDACE
     _and_ MARY MCLEAN, _in eastern North Carolina_.

     _In the right corner of the room is a rough bed covered with a
     ragged counterpane. In the centre at the rear is an old bureau with
     a cracked mirror, to the left of it a door opening to the outside.
     In the left wall is a window with red curtains. A large chest
     stands near the front on this side, and above it hang the family
     clothes, several ragged dresses, an old bonnet, and a cape. At the
     right, toward the front, is a fireplace, in which a small fire is
     burning. Above and at the sides of the fireplace hang several pots
     and pans, neatly arranged. Above these is a mantel, covered with a
     lambrequin of dingy red crape paper. On the mantel are bottles and
     a clock. A picture of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" hangs above the
     mantel. The walls are covered with newspapers, to which are pinned
     several illustrations clipped from popular magazines. A rough table
     is in the centre of the room. A lamp without a chimney is on it.
     Several chairs are about the room. A rocking-chair with a rag
     pillow in it stands near the fire. There is an air of cleanliness
     and poverty about the whole room._

     _The rising of the curtain discloses the empty room. The fire is
     burning dimly._ AUNT CANDACE _enters at the rear, carrying several
     sticks of firewood under one arm. She walks with a stick, and is
     bent with rheumatism. She is dressed in a slat bonnet, which hides
     her face in its shadow, brogan shoes, a man's ragged coat, a
     checkered apron, a dark-colored dress. She mumbles to herself and
     shakes her head as she comes in. With great difficulty she puts the
     wood on the fire, and then takes the poker and examines some
     potatoes that are cooking in the ashes. She takes out her snuff-box
     and puts snuff in her lip. As she does this her bonnet is pushed
     back, and in the firelight her features are discernible--sunken
     eyes, high cheek-bones, and big, flat nose. Upon her forehead she
     wears a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles._

     _She sits down in a rocking-chair, now and then putting her hand to
     her head, and groaning as if in pain. She turns and looks
     expectantly toward the door. After a moment she hobbles to the
     chest on the right and takes out an old red crocheted fascinator.
     Shivering she wraps it around her neck and stands looking down in
     the chest. She lifts out a little black box and starts to unfasten
     it, when the door suddenly opens and_ MARY MCLEAN _comes in_. AUNT
     CANDACE _puts the box hastily back into the chest, and hurries to
     the fire_.

     MARY MCLEAN _has a "turn" of collards in one arm and a paper bundle
     in the other. She lays the collards on the floor near the window
     and puts her shawl on the bed. She is a quadroon girl about
     eighteen years old, with an oval face and a mass of fine dark hair,
     neatly done up. There is something in her bearing that suggests a
     sort of refinement. Her dress is pitifully shabby, her shoes
     ragged. But even this cannot hide the lines of an almost perfect
     figure. For a negro she is pretty. As she comes up to the fire her
     pinched lips and the tired expression on her face are plainly
     visible. Only her eyes betray any signs of excitement._

AUNT CANDACE. Honey, I's been a-waitin' foh you de las' two hours. My
haid's been bad off. Chile, whah you been? Miss Mawgin must a had a
pow'ful washin' up at de big house.

     [MARY _opens her hand and shows her a five-dollar bill_.

AUNT CANDACE. De Lawd help my life, chile!

MARY. An' look here what Mr. Henry sent you, too. [_She undoes the
bundle, revealing several cooked sweet potatoes, sausages, spareribs,
and some boiled ham._] He said as 'twas Christmas time he sent you this
with the collards there.

     [_She points toward the collards at the window._ AUNT CANDACE _pays
     little attention to the food as_ MARY _places it in her lap, but
     continues to look straight into_ MARY'S _face. The girl starts to
     give her the money, but she pushes her away._

AUNT CANDACE. [_Excitedly._] Whah'd you git dat, honey? Whah'd you git
it? Mr. Henry ain't never been dat kind befo'. Dey ain't no past
Christmas times he was so free wid 'is money. He ain't de kind o' man
foh dat. An' he a-havin' 'is washin' done on Christmas Eve. [_Her look
is direct and troubled._] Chile, Mr. Hugh didn't give you dat money, did
he?

MARY. [_Still looking in the fire._] Aunty, I ain't said Mr. Henry sent
you this money. Yes'm, Mr. Hugh sent it to you. I done some washin' for
him. I washed his socks and some shirts--pure silk they was. [_She
smiles at the remembrance._] An' he give me the money an' tole me to
give it to you--said he wished he could give you somethin' more.

     [_She hands the money to_ AUNT CANDACE, _who takes it quickly_.

AUNT CANDACE. Help my soul an' body! De boy said dat! Bless 'is soul! He
ain't fo'got 'is ol' aunty, even if he ain't been to see 'er since he
come back from school way out yander. De Lawd bless 'im! Allus was a
good boy, an' he ain't changed since he growed up nuther. When I useter
nuss 'im he'd never whimper, no suh. Bring me de tin box, honey. An'
don't notice what I's been sayin'. I spects I's too perticler 'bout you.
I dunno.

     [MARY _goes to the bureau and gets a tin box. She puts the money
     in it, returns it, and lights the lamp._ AUNT CANDACE _takes off
     her bonnet and hangs it behind her on the rocking-chair. Then she
     begins to eat greedily, now and then licking the grease off her
     fingers. Suddenly she utters a low scream, putting her hands to her
     head and rocking to and fro. She grasps her stick and begins
     beating about her as if striking at something, crying out in a loud
     voice._

AUNT CANDACE. Ah-hah, I'll git you! I'll git you!

     [MARY _goes to her and pats her on the cheek_.

MARY. It's your poor head, ain't it, aunty? You rest easy, I'll take
care of you. [_She continues to rub her cheek and forehead until the
spell passes._] Set still till I git in a turn of light-wood. It's goin'
to be a terrible cold night an' looks like snow.

     [_After a moment_ AUNT CANDACE _quiets down and begins eating
     again_. MARY _goes out and brings in an armful of wood which she
     throws into the box. She takes a bottle and spoon from the mantel,
     and starts to pour out some medicine._

AUNT CANDACE. I's better now, honey. Put it back up. I ain't gwine take
none now. D'ain't no use ... d'ain't no use in dat. I ain't long foh dis
world, ain't long. I's done my las' washin' an' choppin' an' weighed up
my las' cotton. Medicine ain't no mo' good.

MARY. You're allus talkin' like that, aunty. You're goin' to live to be
a hundred. An' this medicine----

AUNT CANDACE. I ain't gwine take it, I say. No, suh, ain't gwine be
long. I's done deef. I's ol' an' hipshot now. No, suh, I don't want no
medicine. [_Childishly._] I's got a taste o' dese heah spareribs an'
sausages, an' I ain't gwine take no medicine. [MARY _puts the bottle and
spoon back on the mantel and sits down_. AUNT CANDACE _stops eating and
looks at_ MARY'S _dreaming face_.] Honey, what makes you look like dat?
[_Excitedly._] Mr. Henry ain't said ... he ain't said no mo' 'bout us
havin' to leave, has he?

MARY. [_Looking up confusedly._] No'm, he ... no'm, he said ... he said
to-day that he'd 'bout decided to let us stay right on as long as we
please.

AUNT CANDACE. Huh, what's dat?

MARY. He said it might be so we could stay right on as long as we
please.

AUNT CANDACE. [_Joyously._] Thank de Lawd! Thank de Lawd! I knowed he's
gwine do it. I knowed. But I's been pow'ful feared, chile, he's gwine
run us off. An' he ain't never liked Mr. Hugh's takin' up foh us. But
now I c'n rest in peace. Thank de Lawd, I's gwine rest my bones rat whah
I loves to stay till dey calls foh me up yander. [_Stopping._] Has you
et?

MARY. Yes'm, I et up at Mr. Henry's. Mr. Hugh ... [_hesitating_] he said
'twas a shame for me to come off without eatin' nothin' an' so I et.

     [AUNT CANDACE _becomes absorbed in her eating_. MARY _goes to the
     chest, opens it, and takes out a faded cloak and puts it on. Then
     she goes to the bureau, takes out a piece of white ribbon, and ties
     it on her hair. For a moment she looks at her reflection in the
     mirror. She goes to the chest and stands looking down in it. She
     makes a movement to close it. The lid falls with a bang._ AUNT
     CANDACE _turns quickly around_.

AUNT CANDACE. What you want, gal? You ain't botherin' de li'l box, is
you?

MARY. [_Coming back to the fire._] Botherin' that box! Lord, no, I don't
worry about it no more ... I'm just dressin' up a little.

AUNT CANDACE. Ah-hah, but you better not be messin' 'round de chist too
much. You quit puttin' you' clothes in dere. I done tol' you. What you
dressin' up foh? Is Jim comin' round to-night?

     [_She wraps up the remainder of her supper and puts it in the
     chimney corner._

MARY. [_Not noticing the question._] Aunty, don't I look a little bit
like a white person?

AUNT CANDACE. [_Taking out her snuff-box._] Huh, what's dat?

MARY. I don't look like a common nigger, do I?

AUNT CANDACE. Lawd bless you, chile, you's purty, you is. You's jes' as
purty as any white folks. You's lak yo' mammy what's dead an' gone.
Yessuh, you's her very spit an' image, 'ceptin' you's whiter. [_Lowering
her voice._] Yes, suh, 'ceptin' you's whiter. [_They both look in the
fire._] 'Bout time foh Jim to be comin', ain't it?

MARY. Yes'm, he'll be comin', I reckon. They ain't no gittin' away from
him an' his guitar.

AUNT CANDACE. _What_ you got agin Jim? Dey ain't no better nigger'n Jim.
He's gwine treat you white, an' it's time you's gittin' married. I's
done nussin' my fust chile at yo' age, my li'l Tom 'twas. Useter sing to
'im. [_Pausing._] Useter sing to 'im de sweetest kin' o' chunes, jes'
lak you, honey, jes' lak you. He's done daid an' gone do'. All my babies
is. De Marster he call an' tuck 'em. An' 'druther'n let 'em labor an'
sweat below, he gi'n 'em a harp an' crown up dere. Tuck my ol' man from
'is toil an' trouble, too, an' I's left heah alone now. Ain't gwine be
long do', ain't gwine be long. [_Her voice trails off into silence. All
is quiet save for the ticking of the clock._ AUNT CANDACE _brushes her
hand across her face, as if breaking the spell of her revery_.] Yessuh,
I wants you to git married, honey. I told you, an' told you. We's lived
long enough by ourselves. I's lak to nuss yo' li'l uns an' sing to 'em
fo' I go. Mind me o' de ol' times.

MARY. [_Lost in abstraction, apparently has not been listening._] Aunty,
you ought to see him now. He's better to me than he ever was. He's as
kind as he can be. An' he wears the finest clothes! [_She stares in the
fire._

AUNT CANDACE. Dat he do. Dey ain't no 'sputin' of it. I allus said he's
de best-lookin' nigger in de country. An' dey ain't nobody kinder'n Jim.
No, suh.

MARY. An' to-day he said 'twas a pity I had to work an' wash like a
slave for a livin'. He don' treat me like I was a nigger. He acts like
I'm white folks. Aunty, you reckon ...

AUNT CANDACE. [_Gazing at her with a troubled look of astonishment._] I
knows it, honey, I knows it. Course dey ain't no better nigger'n Jim an'
I wants you to marry Jim. He's awaitin' an' ...

MARY. [_Vehemently._] I ain't talkin' 'bout Jim. What's Jim? He ain't
nothin'.

AUNT CANDACE. [_Guessing at the truth, half rises from her seat._] What
you mean? Huh! What you talkin' 'bout?

MARY. [_Wearily sitting down._] Nothin', aunty, jes' talkin'.

AUNT CANDACE. Jes' talkin'? Chile ... chile ...

MARY. Aunty, did you ever wish you was white?

AUNT CANDACE. [_Troubled._] Laws a mercy! Huh! White! Wish I's white?
Lawdy, no! What I want to be white foh? I's born a nigger, an' I's gwine
die a nigger. I ain't one to tear up de work o' de Lawd. He made me an'
I ain't gwine try to change it. What's in yo' haid, chile? [_Sadly._]
Po' thing, don't do dat. Yo' po' mammy useter talk lak dat ... one
reason she ain't livin' to-day. An' I ain't done prayin' foh 'er nuther.
Chile, you git such notions ra't out'n yo' haid. [_She shakes her head,
groaning._] Oh, Lawdy! Lawdy! [_Then, screaming, she puts her hands to
her head. She grasps her stick and begins striking about her,
shrieking._] Dey's after me! Dey's after me! [_She continues beating
around her._] Open de do'! Open de do'!

     [MARY _puts her arms around her and tries to soothe her, but she
     breaks away from her, fighting with her stick. Then_ MARY _runs and
     opens the door, and_ AUNT CANDACE _drives the imaginary devils
     out_.


MARY. They're gone now, they're gone.

     [_She closes the door and leads her back to her seat._ AUNT CANDACE
     _sits down, mumbling and groaning. The spell passes and the wild
     look dies from her face._

AUNT CANDACE. [_Looking up._] I's had another spell, ain't I, honey?

MARY. Yes'm, but you're all right now.

     [_She pours out some medicine and gives it to her._

AUNT CANDACE. Some dese days I's gwine be carried off by 'em, chile; I's
ol' an' po'ly, ol' an' po'ly now. Dem debbils gwine git me yit. [_She
mumbles._

MARY. No, they ain't, aunty. I ain't goin' to let 'em.

     [_There is a knock at the door, and stamping of feet._

AUNT CANDACE. What's dat?

MARY. Nothin'. Somebody at the door. [_The low strumming of guitar is
heard._] That's Jim. Come in!

     [JIM MATTHEWS _enters. He is a young negro about twenty-two years
     old, and as black as his African ancestors. He carries a guitar
     slung over his shoulders, wears an old derby hat, tan shirt with a
     dark tie, well-worn blue suit, the coat of which comes to his
     knees, and tan shoes, slashed along the sides to make room for his
     feet. As he comes in he pulls off his hat and smiles genially,
     showing his white teeth. With better clothes he might call himself
     a spo't._

JIM. Good even', ladies. [_He lays his derby an the bed._

AUNT CANDACE. [_Turning around in her chair._] What does he say?

MARY. He says good evenin'.

AUNT CANDACE. _Ah_-hah! Good even', Jim. Take a seat. I's sho glad you
come. Mary's been talkin' 'bout you. [_He smiles complacently._] We's
sho glad you come.

     [_He takes a seat between_ AUNT CANDACE _and_ MARY.

JIM. Yes'm. An' I's sho glad to be wid you all. I's allus glad to be wid
de ladies.

AUNT CANDACE. What's he say?

JIM. [_Louder._] I's glad to be wid you all.

AUNT CANDACE. Ah-hah! [JIM _pulls out a large checkered handkerchief
from his breast-pocket, wipes his forehead, and then flips the dust from
his shoes. He folds it carefully and puts it back in his pocket._] Any
news, Jim?

JIM. No'm, none 'tall. Any wid you?

AUNT CANDACE. Hah? No, nothin' 'tall, 'ceptin' Mr. Henry done said ...
said ...

     [_Here she groans sharply and puts her hand to her head._

JIM. What's that she's sayin'? [_As_ AUNT CANDACE _continues groaning_.]
Still havin' them spells, is she, Miss Mary?

MARY. Yes, she has 'em about every night.

[_Making a movement as if to go to_ AUNT CANDACE. _She stops and stares
in the fire._

AUNT CANDACE. Ne' min' me. I's all right now. An' you chillun go on wid
yo' cou'tin'. I's gwine peel my 'taters.

     [_Raking the potatoes from the ashes, she begins peeling them. Then
     she takes a piece of sausage from the package in the corner._ JIM
     _smiles sheepishly and strums his guitar once or twice. He moves
     his chair nearer to_ MARY. _She moves mechanically from him, still
     gazing in the fire._

JIM. Er ... Miss Mary, you's lookin' 'ceedin' snatchin' wid dat white
ribbon an' new cloak. I's glad to see you thought I's comin' 'round.
Yes'm, I tells all de gals you got 'em beat a mile. [_He stops._ MARY
_pays no attention to him_.] From here slam to France an' back, I ain't
seed no gals lak you. Yes'm, dat's what I tells 'em all, an' I oughta
know, kaze I's an ol' road nigger. I's seen de world, I has. But I's
tired of 'tall, an' I wants to settle down ... an' ... you knows me....
[_He stops and fidgets in his chair, strums his guitar, feels of his
necktie, takes out his handkerchief and wipes his forehead._] Miss Mary,
I's ...

MARY. Jim, I done tol' you, you needn't come messin' 'round here. I
ain't lovin' you. I ain't goin' to marry--nobody, never!

JIM. [_Taken aback._] Now, Miss Mary ... er ... honey. I knows jas' how
you feels. It's kaze I been a rounder, but you'll hadder forgive me. An'
I's gwine 'form, I is. I's quit all dem tother gals, near 'bout broke
dey hearts, but I hadder do it. Dey's only one foh me, you know. To-day
I's talkin' to dat young feller, Hugh Mawgin, an' ...

MARY. Hugh what! What you sayin', Jim Matthews! Mr. Hugh, you mean.

JIM. [_Hurriedly._] Yes'm, I said "Mr. Hugh." Didn't you hear me, Miss
Mary?

MARY. What'd you say to him?

JIM. I told 'im I's callin' 'round here 'casionally, an' he said ... he
...

MARY. [_Looking straight at_ JIM.] He said what?

JIM. He axed me if I's a-courtin', an' I told 'im I mought ... er ... be
...

MARY. Go on; tell me. Did he say I ought to marry you?

JIM. [_Eagerly._] Yes'm.... [MARY _gasps_.] No'm, not ezzactly.... He
said as how it was a pity you had nobody to take care o' you, an' had to
work so hard lak a slave every day. An' he said you's most too purty an'
good to do it. An' I tuck from 'is talk dat he meant he thought you's
good enough foh me, an' wanted me to take care o' you, so's you wouldn't
hadder work.

MARY. _Oh!..._ Yes, I reckon so. [_She is silent._

JIM. He's a eddicated boy, an' he knows. Dey teaches 'im how to know
everything out yander at dat college place. He sees my worf', he does.
Co'se I ain't braggin', but de gals all do say ... oh, you know what dey
says.

MARY. [_Jumping up from her chair._] Jim Matthews, you think I'd marry a
... oh, I'd ...

AUNT CANDACE. [_Turning around._] What's you sayin', gal?

MARY. [_Sittin' down._] Oh, aunty! I ... I ... was just askin' Jim to
play a piece. [_To_ JIM _in a lower voice_.] For the Lord's sake play
somethin'....

     [_She hides her face in her apron._

AUNT CANDACE. Ah-hah.... Play us a piece on yo' box, Jim.

     [JIM, _at a loss as to the meaning of_ MARY'S _tears, but feeling
     that they are somehow a further proof of his power with the ladies,
     smiles knowingly, tunes his guitar, and begins strumming a chord.
     After playing a few bars, he starts singing in a clear voice, with
     "Ohs" and "Ahs" thrown in._

JIM. Oh, whah you gwine, my lover?
Gwine on down de road.
Oh, whah you gwine, my lover?
Gwine on down de road.
(_Bass_) Gwine ... on ... gwine on down de road.

She th'owed her arms aroun' me
An' cast me silver an' gold.
Said, "Whah you gwine, my lover?"
Gwine on down de road.
(_Bass_) Oh, Lawd! ... Oh, Lawd!
              Gwine ... on ... down ... de ... road.

     [MARY _still leans forward, with her face in her hands_. JIM _stops
     playing and speaks softly_.

JIM. Miss Mary, I's sho' sorry I made you cry. Honey, I don't want you
to cry 'bout me lak dat ...

     [_She remains silent. He smiles in self-gratulation, but utters a
     mournful sigh for her benefit. Pulling his guitar further up on his
     lap, he takes out his pocket-knife, fits it between his fingers in
     imitation of the Hawaiians, clears his throat and strikes another
     chord._


AUNT CANDACE. [_Noticing the silence, looks at_ MARY.] What's de trouble
wid you, gal? What's de trouble, chile? Oh, Lawdy me! [_Passing her hand
across her forehead._

MARY. [_Raising her head._] Nothin', nothin'. I'm tickled at Jim. [_To_
JIM.] Go on, play her piece about the hearse. Play it!

JIM. [_Strums his guitar, tunes it, and begins._]

    Hearse done carried somebody to de graveyard.
      Lawd, I know my time ain't long.
    Hearse done carried somebody to de graveyard.
      Lawd, I know my time ain't long.

     [_He sings louder, syncopating with his feet._]

    Preacher keeps a-preachin' an' people keep a-dyin'.
      Lawd, I know my time ain't long.

     [AUNT CANDACE _begins swaying rhythmically with the music, clapping
     her hands, and now and then exclaiming_.

AUNT CANDACE. Jesus! Lawdy, my Lawd!

     [_She and_ JIM _begin to sing alternately, she the first verse and_
     JIM _the refrain. While this is going on_ MARY, _unobserved, goes
     to the window, pulls open the curtain and looks out, stretching her
     clenched hands above her head. She turns to the mirror, smooths
     back her heavy hair, shakes her head, snatches off the ribbon and
     throws it on the floor. Then she pulls off her cloak and lays it on
     the bed. She picks up the ribbon and puts it in the bureau.
     Meanwhile the music has continued._

Hammer keep ringin' on somebody's coffin.

JIM. _Lawd_, I know my time ain't long.

     [_They repeat these lines._

AUNT CANDACE. _Gwine_ roll 'em up lak leaves in de judgment.

JIM. Lawd, I know my time ain't long.

     [_After these lines have been repeated_, JIM, _noticing_ MARY'S
     _absence from his side, stops and looks around_. AUNT CANDACE
     _keeps on singing a verse or two. She stops and looks around, seas_
     MARY _standing in an attitude of despair_. JIM _speaks_.

JIM. Miss Mary!

AUNT CANDACE. What is it, honey?

     [_There is a stamping of feet outside._ MARY _raises her head with
     an expectant look an her face. She runs to the door and opens it.
     Her expression changes to one of disappointment and fear as_ HENRY
     MORGAN _enters. He is a man of powerful build, about fifty years
     old, rough and overbearing. A week's growth of grizzled beard
     darkens his face. He wears a felt hat, long black overcoat, ripped
     at the pockets and buttoned up to his chin, big laced boots, and
     yarn mittens. In his hand he carries a package, which he throws
     contemptuously on the bed. He keeps his hat on._ MARY _closes the
     door and stands with her back to it, clasping the latch-string_.
     AUNT CANDACE _and_ JIM _offer their seats_. JIM'S _look is one of
     servile respect, that of Aunt Candace one of troubled expectancy_.

MORGAN. [_In a booming voice._] Dad burn you, Jim. Still a-courtin', eh?
Set down, Candace. I ain't goin't to stay long.

AUNT CANDACE. [_Querulously._] What's he say?

MARY. [_Coming to the centre of the room._] He says for you to set down.
He ain't goin' to stay long.

AUNT CANDACE. [_Sitting down._] Ah-hah ... Oh, Lawdy! Lawdy!

MORGAN. [_Coming closer to_ AUNT CANDACE.] How you gettin' 'long now,
Candace?

AUNT CANDACE. Po'ly, po'ly, Mr. Mawgin. Ain't got much longer down here,
ain't much longer.

MORGAN. [_Laughing._] Aw come on, Candace, cut out your foolin'. You
ain't half as bad off as you make out. [JIM _moves his chair to the
corner and sits down_.] I understand you. If you'd git up from there an'
go to work you'd be well in a week.

AUNT CANDACE. Oh, Lawd, Mr. Mawgin, I sho' is po'ly! I hopes you'll
never have to suffer lak me.

     [_Mumbling, she shakes her head, rocks to and fro without taking
     her feet from the floor, punctuating her movements by tapping with
     her stick._ MORGAN _sees_ MARY _looking at the package_.

MORGAN. That's for Mary. I was comin' down this way an' caught up with
John. He said he was comin' here to bring it. An' so I took an' brought
it, though he acted sort of queer about it, like he didn't want me even
to save him a long walk. Wonder what that nigger can be givin' you.
[MARY _starts toward the bed_.] No, you ain't goin' to see it now, gal.
We got a little business to 'tend to first. Did you tell Candace what I
said?

MARY. Mr. Morgan, how could I?... I couldn't do it, not to-night.

MORGAN. Uh-huh ... I knowed it. Knowed I'd better come down here an'
make sure of it. Durn me, you been cryin', ain't you? [_His voice
softens._] What's the trouble, gal?

MARY. Nothin', nothin'. I ... I been tickled at Jim.

JIM. Tickled at Jim?

AUNT CANDACE. What does he say?

MORGAN. [_Turning to her._] Keep quiet, can't you, Candace; I got a
little business with Mary. [AUNT CANDACE _becomes silent and begins
watching the package. She half starts from her chair, then settles back,
staring hard at the bundle._ MORGAN _speaks to_ MARY.] You ain't been
cryin' about what I told you this evenin', have you?

MARY. No, sir. I was tickled at Jim. It wan't nothin', honest it wan't.

MORGAN. Well, go on lyin' if you want to.

MARY. Mr. Morgan, I was jes' ...

MORGAN. No matter. [_Brusquely._] Well, what you goin' to do about what
I said? [_He looks at her squarely._ JIM _watches them both with open
mouth_. AUNT CANDACE _keeps staring at the bundle on the bed, and now
and then glancing around to see if any one is watching her. She is
oblivious of the conversation._ MARY _stands with bowed head_.] Well,
what about it? I've done told you you got to get out at the first o' the
year if you ain't a mind to marry Jim. [JIM _straightens up_.] At least
you've got to marry somebody that can come here and work. I told you to
tell Candace to look out for it. Why didn't you tell her like I said?

MARY. I couldn't do it. It'd kill her to leave here. You know it. She's
been good to me all my life. Oh, I can't do it.

     [AUNT CANDACE _stealthily slips across the room and picks up the
     package from the bed, unseen by any one but_ JIM.

MORGAN. Can't do it? Well, what you want me to do? Lose money on you
till the end of time! You ain't earned enough to keep you in clothes for
the last three years since Candace got down, an' ...

     [_A terrible cry rings out._ AUNT CANDACE _stands by the bed,
     holding a white dress up before her_. MORGAN _looks perplexed.
     Suddenly he starts back in astonishment._

MARY. [_Starting forward._] It's for me! [_Joyously._] It's mine!

MORGAN. [_Catching_ MARY _by the arm_.] What--what is it?... Heigh!
Don't you move, gal! Wait a minute!

     [_He pulls her back._ AUNT CANDACE _looks at_ MORGAN. _Gradually he
     lowers his head._

AUNT CANDACE. I's a-feared on it. I knowed it ... I knowed it. [_She
throws the dress back on the bed and hobbles to the fire, groaning._]
Oh, Lawdy! Oh, Lawdy! My po' li'l gal! My po' li'l gal!

     [_She rocks to and fro._ MORGAN'S _hand falls from_ MARY'S
     _shoulder, and she runs to the bed_.

MARY. He sent it to me! He sent it to me! I knowed he wouldn't forget.
[_She hugs the dress to her._

MORGAN. [_Turning to her._] Well, and what nigger's sending you presents
now? [_With suspicion fully aroused._] Who give you that, Mary!

MARY. He did!

MORGAN. [_Sternly._] Who?

MARY. [_Impetuously._] It was him! An' I don't care if you do know it!

MORGAN. Who? You don't mean ...

MARY. I do too--an' ...

MORGAN. God a'mighty, my ... it can't be so.

     [MARY _goes to the window and holds the dress in front of her_.

MARY. It is, too. Mr. Hugh sent it to me. [MORGAN _groans_.] He told me
to-day he's sorry for me. I knowed he'd remember me; I knowed it. An',
after all, I ain't been workin' the whole year for nothin'. He's got a
heart if nobody else ain't.

MORGAN. What in the devil! I wonder ... Lord!

     [AUNT CANDACE _still looks in the fire. For a moment_ MORGAN
     _stands lost in abstraction, then he speaks fiercely_.

MORGAN. Mary, put them damned things up. Put 'em up, I say. [_He goes
toward her. She shrinks back; holding the dress to her. He snatches it
from her and throws it on the bed, then he pushes her out in the middle
of the floor. She wipes the tears from her eyes with her apron._] You
listen here, gal. We're goin' to settle it right here and now, once and
for all. You're goin' to marry Jim?

MARY. Mr. Morgan ... oh ... I can't marry him. I can't! I won't! Let me
stay. Don't drive her out; she'll die. I'll work, I'll hoe an' wash, day
an' night. I'll do anything, I'll ...

MORGAN. [_Fiercely._] You've tole me that a thousand times, an' you've
got to say one or the other right now. Right now! Do you hear! Marry
Jim, I tell you, and it'll be all right. He's smart and he'll take care
of you ...

MARY. I can't do it, I tell you. I can't! I'd rather die. Look at me.
Ain't I almost white? Look at him. He's black and I hate him. I can't
marry no nigger. Oh, don't make me do it.

MORGAN. White! What's that got to do with your marryin'? Ain't you a...?
You don't think you can marry a white man, do you? I tell you you've got
to decide to-night. I've been after you now for two years and, gal,
you've got to do it!

MARY. Don't make me do it! I hate him. I ain't black. Oh, Lord!...

MORGAN. [_Desperately._] Candace!

MARY. [_Clutching at his arm._] Don't tell her. I ain't goin' to see her
drove out in the cold from her home. Don't tell her.

     [AUNT CANDACE _still looks in the fire_. JIM _sits lost in
     amazement, idly strumming his guitar_.

MORGAN. Well?

MARY. [_Looking wildly around, as if seeking help._] Oh!...

MORGAN. [_Wiping his face._] Gal, I don't want to be too hard on you.
But use common sense. I've been good to you. They ain't another man in
the county that would have kept you for the last three years, an' losin'
money on you every year. I'm done of it, gal, I'm done. Marry Jim.

MARY. He wouldn't let you do it if he was here. He wouldn't.

MORGAN. Who? Who you talkin' about?

MARY. Mr. Hugh, your boy. He's got feelin's, he has. If he was here ...

MORGAN. [_Hoarsely._] I know it. I know it. Don't you see? He's all I
got. I can't run the risk of his ... Oh, Mary, I can't tell you. For
God's sake, marry Jim. Can't you see? You've got to marry him! Hugh's
gone off for a week, an' I'm goin' to settle it before he ever gets
back. And when he gets back, you and Candace will be clean out of this
country, if you don't marry Jim. They ain't nobody else 'round here
will take you in, and keep you like I have.

MARY. Where ... where's he gone?

MORGAN. He's gone to see his gal. The one he's going to marry. And by
God, you've got to marry Jim.

MARY. [_Half sobbing._] They ain't no use tryin' to change it. I've
tried and tried, but they ain't no use. I jus' as well do it. Yes, yes,
I'll marry him. I'll marry him. They ain't no way to be white. I got to
be a nigger. I'll marry him, yes. I'll marry him, an' work an' hoe an'
wash an' raise more children to go through it all like me, maybe other
children that'll want to be white an' can't. They ain't nobody can help
me. But look at him. [_Pointing to_ JIM.] He's a nigger an' ... yes ...
I'm a nigger too.

     [_She throws her arms out, letting them fall at her side._

MORGAN. [_Almost gently._] All right, Mary ... I'll send for the
preacher and the license in the morning and have him marry you and Jim
right here. You needn't think about leavin' any more. And you and Jim
can live here as long as you please. Is that all right, Jim?

JIM. [_Uncertainly._] Yes-suh, yes-suh, Mr. Mawgin! An' I thanks you
'specially.

MORGAN. [_Going up to_ AUNT CANDACE.] Mary and Jim are going to be
married to-morrow, Candace. It'll be a lucky day for you. [_She makes no
answer, but continues her trancelike stare in the fire._ MORGAN _comes
to_ MARY _and offers his hand. She fails to see it._] Child, what I've
had to do to-night has hurt me a whole lot worse'n you.... Good-night,
Mary.

     [_He stands a moment looking at the floor, then goes out quietly._

JIM. [_Coming up to_ MARY.] Miss Mary, don't look lak dat. I's gwine do
better, I's.... [MARY _keeps her head muffled in her apron_.] Honey, I's
sho' gwine make you a good man.

     [MARY _pays no attention to him. In his embarrassment he strums his
     guitar, clears his throat, props his foot up on a chair rung, and
     begins singing in a low voice._]

    JIM. Lyin' in the jail house,
    A-peepin' th'ough de bars....

AUNT CANDACE. [_Waking from her reverie._] Bring me de li'l black box,
gal. Bring me de box! [MARY _drops her apron and stares dully at the
floor_.] Bring me de box! [_Half-screaming._] Bring me de box, I say!
[_Trembling and groaning, she stands up._ MARY _goes to the chest and
brings her the black box_. AUNT CANDACE _drops her stick and clutches
it_.] I's gwine tell you de secret o' dis li'l box. Yo' mammy told me to
tell you if de time ever come, an' it's come. She seed trouble an' our
mammy befo' us. [_She takes a key, tied by a string around her neck, and
unlocks the box, pulling out a wrinkled white dress, yellowed with age,
of the style of the last generation._ JIM _sits down, overcome with
astonishment, staring at the old woman with open mouth_.] Look heah,
chile. I's gwine tell you now. Nineteen yeahs ago come dis Christmas
dey's a white man gi'n your mammy dis heah, an' dat white man is kin to
you, an' he don't live fur off nuther. Gimme dat dress dere on de bed.
[MARY _gets it and holds it tightly to her breast_. AUNT CANDACE
_snatches at it, but_ MARY _clings to it_.] Gimme dat dress!

MARY. It's mine!

AUNT CANDACE. Gimme! [_She jerks the dress from_ MARY. _Hobbling to the
fireplace, she lays both of them carefully on the flames._ JIM _makes a
movement as if to save them, but she waves him back with her stick_.]
Git back, nigger! Git back! Dis night I's gwine wipe out some o' de
traces o' sin. [MARY _sits in her chair, sobbing. As the dresses burn_
AUNT CANDACE _comes to her and lays her hand upon her head_.] I knows
yo' feelin's, chile. But yo's got to smother 'em in. Yo's got to smother
'em in.

CURTAIN



MOONSHINE

BY

ARTHUR HOPKINS


_Moonshine_ is reprinted by special permission of Arthur Hopkins,
Plymouth Theatre, New York City. All rights reserved. For permission
to perform, address the author.


ARTHUR HOPKINS

Arthur Hopkins, one of the well-known men of the practical theatre of
to-day, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1878. He completed his academic
training at Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. At present he
is the manager of Plymouth Theatre, New York City.

Mr. Hopkins's entire life has been given to the theatre, which is his
hobby. In the midst of his various activities as a manager he has found
time to do some dramatic writing. Among his one-act plays are _Thunder
God_, _Broadway Love_, and _Moonshine_, which appeared in the _Theatre
Acts Magazine_ for January, 1919.

_Moonshine_ is an excellent play of situation that has grown out of the
reaction of character on character.


CHARACTERS

    LUKE HAZY, _Moonshiner_
    A REVENUE OFFICER



MOONSHINE


     SCENE: _Hut of a moonshiner in the mountain wilds of North
     Carolina. Door back left. Window back right centre. Old deal table
     right centre. Kitchen chair at either side of table, not close to
     it. Old cupboard in left corner. Rude stone fireplace left side. On
     back wall near door is a rough pencil sketch of a man hanging from
     a tree._

     _At rise of curtain a commotion is heard outside of hut._

LUKE. [_Off stage._] It's all right, boys.... Jist leave him to me....
Git in there, Mister Revenue.

     [REVENUE, _a Northerner in city attire, without hat, clothes dusty,
     is pushed through doorway_. LUKE, _a lanky, ill-dressed Southerner,
     following, closes door_. REVENUE'S _hands are tied behind him_.

LUKE. You must excuse the boys for makin' a demonstration over you,
Mister Revenue, but you see they don't come across you fellers very
frequent, and they allus gits excited.

REVENUE. I appreciate that I'm welcome.

LUKE. 'Deed you is, and I'm just agoin' to untie your hands long nuff
fer you to take a sociable drink. [_Goes to stranger, feels in
all-pockets for weapons._] Reckon yer travellin' peaceable. [_Unties
hands._] Won't yer sit down?

REVENUE. [_Drawing over chair and sitting._] Thank you. [_Rubs wrists to
get back circulation._]

LUKE. [_Going over to cupboard and taking out jug._] Yessa, Mister, the
boys ain't seen one o' you fellers fer near two years. Began to think
you wus goin' to neglect us. I wus hopin' you might be Jim Dunn. Have a
drink?

REVENUE. [_Starts slightly at mention of_ JIM DUNN.] No, thank you, your
make is too strong for me.

LUKE. It hain't no luck to drink alone when you git company. Better have
some.

REVENUE. Very well, my friend, I suffer willingly.

     [_Drinks a little and chokes._

LUKE. [_Draining cup._] I reckon ye all don't like the flavor of liquor
that hain't been stamped.

REVENUE. It's not so bad.

LUKE. The last Revenue that sit in that chair got drunk on my make.

REVENUE. That wouldn't be difficult.

LUKE. No, but it wuz awkward.

REVENUE. Why?

LUKE. I had to wait till he sobered up before I give him his ticker. I
didn't feel like sendin' him to heaven drunk. He'd a found it awkward
climbin' that golden ladder.

REVENUE. Thoughtful executioner.

LUKE. So you see mebbe you kin delay things a little by dallyin' with
the licker.

REVENUE. [_Picking up cup, getting it as far as his lips, slowly puts it
down._] The price is too great.

LUKE. I'm mighty sorry you ain't Jim Dunn. But I reckon you ain't. You
don't answer his likeness.

REVENUE. Who's Jim Dunn?

LUKE. You ought to know who Jim Dunn is. He's just about the worst one
of your revenue critters that ever hit these parts. He's got four of the
boys in jail. We got a little reception all ready for him. See that?

     [_Pointing to sketch on back wall._

REVENUE. [_Looking at sketch._] Yes.

LUKE. That's Jim Dunn.

REVENUE. [_Rising, examining picture._] Doesn't look much like any one.


LUKE. Well, that's what Jim Dunn'll look like when we git 'im. I'm
mighty sorry you hain't Jim Dunn.

REVENUE. I'm sorry to disappoint you.

LUKE. [_Turning to cupboard and filling pipe._] Oh, it's all right. I
reckon one Revenue's about as good as another, after all.

REVENUE. Are you sure I'm a revenue officer?

LUKE. [_Rising._] Well, since we ketched ye climin' trees an' snoopin'
round the stills, I reckon we won't take no chances that you hain't.

REVENUE. Oh.

LUKE. Say, mebbe you'd like a seggar. Here's one I been savin' fer quite
a spell back, thinkin' mebbe I'd have company some day. [_Brings out
dried-up cigar, hands it to him._

REVENUE. No, thank you.

LUKE. It hain't no luck to smoke alone when ye got company. [_Striking
match and holding it to_ REVENUE.] Ye better smoke. [REVENUE _bites off
end and mouth is filled with dust, spits out dust_. LUKE _holds match to
cigar. With difficulty_ REVENUE _lights it_.] That's as good a five-cent
cigar as ye can git in Henderson.

REVENUE. [_After two puffs, makes wry face, throws cigar on table._] You
make death very easy, Mister.

LUKE. Luke's my name. Yer kin call me Luke. Make you feel as though you
had a friend near you at the end--Luke Hazy.

REVENUE. [_Starting as though interested, rising._] Not the Luke Hazy
that cleaned out the Crosby family?

LUKE. [_Startled._] How'd you hear about it?

REVENUE. Hear about it? Why, your name's been in every newspaper in the
United States. Every time you killed another Crosby the whole feud was
told all over again. Why, I've seen your picture in the papers twenty
times.

LUKE. Hain't never had one took.

REVENUE. That don't stop them from printing it. Don't you ever read the
newspapers?

LUKE. Me read? I hain't read nothin' fer thirty years. Reckon I couldn't
read two lines in a hour.

REVENUE. You've missed a lot of information about yourself.

LUKE. How many Crosbys did they say I killed?

REVENUE. I think the last report said you had just removed the twelfth.

LUKE. It's a lie! I only killed six ... that's all they wuz--growed up.
I'm a-waitin' fer one now that's only thirteen.

REVENUE. When'll he be ripe?

LUKE. Jes as soon as he comes a-lookin' fer me.

REVENUE. Will he come?

LUKE. He'll come if he's a Crosby.

REVENUE. A brave family?

LUKE. They don't make 'em any braver--they'd be first-rate folks if they
wuzn't Crosbys.

REVENUE. If you feel that way why did you start fighting them?

LUKE. I never started no fight. My granddad had some misunderstandin'
with their granddad. I don't know jes what it wuz about, but I reckon my
granddad wuz right, and I'll see it through.

REVENUE. You must think a lot of your grandfather.

LUKE. Never seen 'im, but it ain't no luck goin' agin yer own kin. Won't
ye have a drink?

REVENUE. No--no--thank you.

LUKE. Well, Mr. Revenue, I reckon we might as well have this over.

REVENUE. What?

LUKE. Well, you won't get drunk, and I can't be put to the trouble o'
havin' somebody guard you.

REVENUE. That'll not be necessary.

LUKE. Oh, I know yer like this yer place now, but this evenin' you
might take it into yer head to walk out.

REVENUE. I'll not walk out unless you make me.

LUKE. Tain't like I'll let yer, but I wouldn't blame yer none if yu
tried.

REVENUE. But I'll not.

LUKE. [_Rising._] Say, Mistah Revenue, I wonder if you know what you're
up against?

REVENUE. What do you mean?

LUKE. I mean I gotta kill you.

REVENUE. [_Rising, pauses._] Well, that lets me out.

LUKE. What do yu mean?

REVENUE. I mean that I've been trying to commit suicide for the last two
months, but I haven't had the nerve.

LUKE. [_Startled._] Suicide?

REVENUE. Yes. Now that you're willing to kill me, the problem is solved.

LUKE. Why, what d'ye want to commit suicide fer?

REVENUE. I just want to stop living, that's all.

LUKE. Well, yu must have a reason.

REVENUE. No special reason--I find life dull and I'd like to get out of
it.

LUKE. Dull?

REVENUE. Yes--I hate to go to bed--I hate to get up--I don't care for
food--I can't drink liquor--I find people either malicious or dull--I
see by the fate of my acquaintances, both men and women, that love is a
farce. I have seen fame and preference come to those who least deserved
them, while the whole world kicked and cuffed the worthy ones. The
craftier schemer gets the most money and glory, while the fair-minded
dealer is humiliated in the bankruptcy court. In the name of the law
every crime is committed; in the name of religion every vice is
indulged; in the name of education greatest ignorance is rampant.

LUKE. I don't git all of that, but I reckon you're some put out.

REVENUE. I am. The world's a failure ... what's more, it's a farce. I
don't like it but I can't change it, so I'm just aching for a chance to
get out of it.... [_Approaching_ LUKE.] And you, my dear friend, are
going to present me the opportunity.

LUKE. Yes, I reckon you'll get your wish now.

REVENUE. Good ... if you only knew how I've tried to get killed.

LUKE. Well, why didn't you kill yerself?

REVENUE. I was afraid.

LUKE. Afreed o' what--hurtin' yourself?

REVENUE. No, afraid of the consequences.

LUKE. Whad d'ye mean?

REVENUE. Do you believe in another life after this one?

LUKE. I kan't say ez I ever give it much thought.

REVENUE. Well, don't--because if you do you'll never kill another Crosby
... not even a revenue officer.

LUKE. 'Tain't that bad, is it?

REVENUE. Worse. Twenty times I've had a revolver to my head--crazy to
die--and then as my finger pressed the trigger I'd get a terrible
dread--a dread that I was plunging into worse terrors than this world
ever knew. If killing were the end it would be easy, but what if it's
only the beginning of something worse?

LUKE. Well, you gotta take some chances.

REVENUE. I'll not take that one. You know, Mr. Luke, life was given to
us by some one who probably never intended that we should take it, and
that some one has something ready for people who destroy his property.
That's what frightens me.

LUKE. You do too much worryin' to be a regular suicide.

REVENUE. Yes, I do. That's why I changed my plan.

LUKE. What plan?

REVENUE. My plan for dying.

LUKE. Oh, then you didn't give up the idea?

REVENUE. No, indeed--I'm still determined to die, but I'm going to make
some one else responsible.

LUKE. Oh--so you hain't willing to pay fer yer own funeral music?

REVENUE. No, sir. I'll furnish the passenger, but some one else must buy
the ticket. You see, when I finally decided I'd be killed, I immediately
exposed myself to every danger I knew.

LUKE. How?

REVENUE. In a thousand ways.... [_Pause._] Did you ever see an
automobile?

LUKE. No.

REVENUE. They go faster than steam engines, and they don't _stay_ on
tracks. Did you ever hear of Fifth Avenue, New York?

LUKE. No.

REVENUE. Fifth Avenue is jammed with automobiles, eight deep all day
long. People being killed every day. I crossed Fifth Avenue a thousand
times a day, every day for weeks, never once trying to get out of the
way, and always praying I'd be hit.

LUKE. And couldn't yu git hit?

REVENUE. [_In disgust._] No. Automobiles only hit people who try to get
out of the way. [_Pause._] When that failed, I frequented the lowest
dives on the Bowery, flashing a roll of money and wearing diamonds,
hoping they'd kill me for them. They stole the money and diamonds, but
never touched me.

LUKE. Couldn't you pick a fight?

REVENUE. I'm coming to that. You know up North they believe that a man
can be killed in the South for calling another man a liar.

LUKE. That's right.

REVENUE. It is, is it? Well, I've called men liars from Washington to
Atlanta, and I'm here to tell you about it.

LUKE. They must a took pity on ye.

REVENUE. Do you know Two Gun Jake that keeps the dive down in Henderson?

LUKE. I should think I do.... Jake's killed enough of 'em.

REVENUE. He's a bad man, ain't he?

LUKE. He's no trifler.

REVENUE. I wound up in Jake's place two nights ago, pretending to be
drunk. Jake was cursing niggers.

LUKE. He's allus doin' that.

REVENUE. So I elbowed my way up to the bar and announced that I was an
expert in the discovery of nigger blood ... could tell a nigger who was
63-64ths white.

LUKE. Ye kin?

REVENUE. No, I can't, but I made them believe it. I then offered to look
them over and tell them if they had any nigger blood in them. A few of
them sneaked away, but the rest stood for it. I passed them all until I
got to Two Gun Jake. I examined his eyeballs, looked at his
finger-nails, and said, "You're a nigger."

LUKE. An' what did Jake do?

REVENUE. He turned pale, took me into the back room. He said: "Honest to
God, mister, can ye see nigger blood in me?" I said: "Yes." "There's no
mistake about it?" "Not a bit," I answered. "Good God," he said, "I
always suspected it." Then he pulled out his gun--

LUKE. Eh ... eh?

REVENUE. And shot _himself_.

LUKE. Jake shot hisself!... Is he dead?

REVENUE. I don't know--I was too disgusted to wait. I wandered around
until I thought of you moonshiners ... scrambled around in the mountains
until I found your still. I _sat_ on it and waited until you boys showed
up, and here I am, and you're going to kill me.

LUKE. [_Pause._] Ah, so ye want us to do yer killin' fer ye, do ye?

REVENUE. You're my last hope. If I fail this time I may as well give it
up.

LUKE. [_Takes out revolver, turns sidewise and secretly removes
cartridges from chamber. Rises._] What wuz that noise?

     [_Lays revolver on table and steps outside of door._ REVENUE _looks
     at revolver, apparently without interest_.

     [LUKE _cautiously enters doorway and expresses surprise at seeing_
     REVENUE _making no attempt to secure revolver. Feigning excitement,
     goes to table, picks up gun._

LUKE. I reckon I'm gettin' careless, leavin' a gun layin' around here
that-a-way. Didn't you see it?

REVENUE. Yes.

LUKE. Well, why didn't ye grab it?

REVENUE. What for?

LUKE. To git the drop on me.

REVENUE. Can't you understand what I've been telling you, mister? I
don't _want_ the drop on you.

LUKE. Well, doggone if I don't believe yer tellin' me the truth. Thought
I'd just see what ye'd do. Ye see, I emptied it first.

     [_Opens up gun._

REVENUE. That wasn't necessary.

LUKE. Well, I reckon ye better git along out o' here, mister.

REVENUE. You don't mean you're weakening?

LUKE. I ain't got no call to do your killin' fer you. If ye hain't sport
enough to do it yerself, I reckon ye kin go on sufferin'.

REVENUE. But I told you why I don't want to do it. One murder more or
less means nothing to you. You don't care anything about the hereafter.

LUKE. Mebbe I don't, but there ain't no use my takin' any more chances
than I have to. And what's more, mister, from what you been tellin' me I
reckon there's a charm on you, and I ain't goin' to take no chances
goin' agin charms.

REVENUE. So _you're_ going to go back on me?

LUKE. Yes, siree.

REVENUE. Well, maybe some of the other boys will be willing. I'll wait
till they come.

LUKE. The other boys ain't goin' to see you. You're a leavin' this yer
place right now--now! It won't do no good. You may as well go peaceable;
ye ain't got no right to expect us to bear yer burdens.

REVENUE. Damn it all! I've spoiled it again.

LUKE. I reckon you better make up yer mind to go on livin'.

REVENUE. That looks like the only way out.

LUKE. Come on, I'll let you ride my horse to town. It's the only one we
got, so yu can leave it at Two Gun Jake's, and one o' the boys'll go git
it, or I reckon I'll go over myself and see if Jake made a job of it.

REVENUE. I suppose it's no use arguing with you.

LUKE. Not a bit. Come on, you.

REVENUE. Well, I'd like to leave my address so if you ever come to New
York you can look me up.

LUKE. 'Tain't likely I'll ever come to New York.

REVENUE. Well, I'll leave it, anyhow. Have you a piece of paper?

LUKE. Paper what you write on? Never had none, mister.

REVENUE. [_Looking about room, sees_ JIM DUNN's _picture on wall, goes
to it, takes it down_.] If you don't mind, I'll put it on the back of
Jim Dunn's picture. [_Placing picture on table, begins to print._] I'll
print it for you, so it'll be easy to read. My address is here, so if
you change your mind you can send for me.

LUKE. 'Tain't likely--come on. [_Both go to doorway_--LUKE _extends
hand_, REVENUE _takes it_.] Good-by, mister--cheer up ... there's the
horse.

REVENUE. Good-by. [_Shaking_ LUKE'S _hand_.

LUKE. Don't be so glum, mister. Lemme hear you laff jist onct before yu
go. [REVENUE _begins to laugh weakly_.] Aw, come on, laff out with it
hearty. [REVENUE _laughs louder_.] Heartier yit.

     [REVENUE _is now shouting his laughter, and is heard laughing until
     hoof-beats of his horse die down in the distance_.

     [LUKE _watches for a moment, then returns to table--takes a
     drink--picks up picture--turns it around several times before
     getting it right--then begins to study. In attempting to make out
     the name he slowly traces in the air with his index finger a
     capital "J"--then mutters "J-J-J," then describes a letter
     "I"--mutters "I-I-I," then a letter "M"--muttering "M-M-M,
     J-I-M--J-I-M--JIM." In the same way describes and mutters D-U-N-N._

LUKE. Jim Dunn! By God! [_He rushes to corner, grabs shot-gun, runs to
doorway, raises gun in direction stranger has gone--looks intently--then
slowly lets gun fall to his side, and scans the distance with his hand
shadowing his eyes--steps inside--slowly puts gun in corner--seats
himself at table._] Jim Dunn!--and he begged me to kill 'im!!



MODESTY

BY

PAUL HERVIEU


_Modesty_ is reprinted by special permission of Barrett H. Clark, the
translator of the play from the French, and of Samuel French, publisher,
New York City. All rights reserved. For permission to perform, address
Samuel French, 28-30 West 38th Street, New York City.


PAUL HERVIEU

Paul Hervieu, one of the foremost of contemporary French dramatists, was
born in 1857 at Neuilly, near Paris. Although he prepared for the bar,
having passed the examination at twenty, and practised his profession
for a few years, he soon set to writing short stories and novels which
appeared in the early eighties. _The Nippers_, in 1890, established his
reputation as a dramatist. The remainder of his life was given to
writing for the stage. In 1900 he was elected to the French Academy. He
died October 15, 1915.

In addition to _The Nippers_, Hervieu's best-known long plays are _The
Passing of the Torch_, _The Labyrinth_, and _Know Thyself_.

_Modesty_ is his well-known one-act play. In subtlety of technic and in
delicacy of touch it is one of the finest examples of French one-act
plays. Its humor and light, graceful satire are noteworthy.


PERSONS IN THE PLAY

    HENRIETTE
    JACQUES
    ALBERT



MODESTY


     TIME: _The present._

     SCENE: _A drawing-room. Entrance_, C; _sofa, chairs, writing-desk._
     JACQUES _and_ HENRIETTE _enter_ C, _from dinner_. HENRIETTE _in
     ball costume_, JACQUES _in evening dress. They come down_ C.

HENRIETTE. What is it? Is it so terribly embarrassing?

JACQUES. You can easily guess.

HENRIETTE. You're so long-winded. You make me weary--come to the point.

JACQUES. I'll risk all at a stroke--My dear Henriette, we are cousins. I
am unmarried, you--a widow. Will you--will you be my wife?

HENRIETTE. Oh, my dear Jacques, what _are_ you thinking of? We were such
good friends! And now you're going to be angry.

JACQUES. Why?

HENRIETTE. Because I'm not going to give you the sort of answer you'd
like.

JACQUES. You don't--you don't think I'd make a good husband?

HENRIETTE. Frankly, no.

JACQUES. I don't please you?

HENRIETTE. As a cousin you are charming; as a husband you would be quite
impossible.

JACQUES. What have you against me?

HENRIETTE. Nothing that you're to blame for. It is merely the fault of
my character; _that_ forces me to refuse you.

JACQUES. But I can't see why you----?

HENRIETTE. [_With an air of great importance._] A great change is taking
place in the hearts of us women. We have resolved henceforward not to be
treated as dolls, but as creatures of reason. As for me, I am most
unfortunate, for nobody ever did anything but flatter me. I have always
been too self-satisfied, too----

JACQUES. You have always been the most charming of women, the most----

HENRIETTE. Stop! It's exactly that sort of exaggeration that's begun to
make me so unsure of myself. I want you to understand once for all,
Jacques, I have a conscience, and, furthermore, it is beginning to
develop. I have taken some important resolutions.

JACQUES. What _do_ you mean?

HENRIETTE. I have resolved to better myself, to raise my moral and
intellectual standards, and to do that I must be guided, criticised----

JACQUES. But you already possess every imaginable quality! You are
charitable, cultured, refined----

HENRIETTE. [_Annoyed._] Please!

     [_Turns away and sits on settee._ JACQUES _addresses her from
     behind chair_.

JACQUES. You are discreet, witty----

HENRIETTE. The same old compliments! Everybody tells me that. I want to
be preached to, contradicted, scolded----

JACQUES. You could never stand _that_.

HENRIETTE. Yes, I could. I should be happy to profit by the criticism.
It would inspire me.

JACQUES. I'd like to see the man who has the audacity to criticise you
to your face----

HENRIETTE. That is enough! I trust you are aware that you are not the
person fit to exercise this influence over me?

JACQUES. How could I? Everything about you pleases me. It can never be
otherwise.

HENRIETTE. How interesting! That's the very reason I rejected your
proposal. I sha'n't marry until I am certain that I shall not be
continually pestered with compliments and flattery and submission. The
man who marries me shall make it his business to remind me of my
shortcomings, to correct all my mistakes. He must give me the assurance
that I am continually bettering myself.

JACQUES. And this--husband--have you found him already?

HENRIETTE. What--? Oh, who knows?

JACQUES. Perhaps it's--Albert?

HENRIETTE. Perhaps it is--what of it?

JACQUES. Really!

HENRIETTE. You want me to speak frankly?

JACQUES. Of course.

HENRIETTE. Then--you wouldn't be annoyed if I said something nice about
Albert?

     [JACQUES _brings down_ C. _chair which is by desk, facing_
     HENRIETTE.

JACQUES. Why, he's your friend!

HENRIETTE. Oh! So you, too, have a good opinion of him?

JACQUES. Certainly.

HENRIETTE. Well, what would you say of him?

JACQUES. [_Trying to be fair._] I'd trust him with money--I've never
heard he was a thief.

HENRIETTE. But in other ways?

JACQUES. [_Still conscientious._] I believe him to be
somewhat--somewhat----

HENRIETTE. Wilful? Headstrong?

JACQUES. Um--uncultured, let us say.

HENRIETTE. As you like--but for my part, I find that that air of his
inspires absolute confidence. He knows how to be severe at times----

JACQUES. You're mistaken about that; that's only simple brute force. Go
to the Zoo: the ostrich, the boa constrictor, the rhinoceros, all
produce the same effect on you as your Albert----

HENRIETTE. My Albert? My Albert? Oh, I don't appropriate him so quickly
as all that. His qualifications as censor are not yet entirely
demonstrated.

     [JACQUES _rises and approaches_ HENRIETTE, _who maintains an air of
     cold dignity_.

JACQUES. For heaven's sake, Henriette, stop this nonsense!

HENRIETTE. What nonsense?

JACQUES. Tell me you are only playing with me. That you only wanted to
put my love to the test! To make me jealous! To torture me! You have
succeeded. Stop it, for heaven's sake----

HENRIETTE. My dear friend, I'm very sorry for you. I wish I could help
you, but I cannot. I have given you a perfect description of the husband
I want, and I am heart-broken that you bear so remote a resemblance to
him.

JACQUES. Only promise you will think over your decision.

HENRIETTE. It is better to stop right now.

JACQUES. Don't send me away like this. Don't----

HENRIETTE. I might give you false hopes. I have only to tell you that I
shall never consent to be the wife of a man who cannot be the severest
of censors.

JACQUES. [_Kneeling._] I beg you!

HENRIETTE. No, no, no, Jacques! Spare me that. [_A telephone rings in
the next room._] There's the 'phone----

JACQUES. Don't go!

     [HENRIETTE _rises hastily and goes to door_. JACQUES _tries for a
     moment to stop her_.

HENRIETTE. I must go. Go away, I tell you. I'll be furious if I find you
here when I come back.

JACQUES. Henriette!

HENRIETTE. [_Coming down_ L. _to table_.] Not now! Please, Jacques.
[_Exit._]

JACQUES. I can't leave it that way. I am the husband who will make her
happy. But how? That is the question. [_Pause._] Ah, Albert!

     [_Enter_ ALBERT. _He shakes hands with_ JACQUES.

ALBERT. How are you, rival?

JACQUES. [_Gravely._] My friend, we are no longer rivals.

ALBERT. How's that?

JACQUES. I have just had a talk with Henriette; she refuses to marry
either one of us.

ALBERT. Did she mention me?

JACQUES. Casually.

     [_Both sit down_, ALBERT _on sofa_, JACQUES _on chair near it_.

ALBERT. What did she say?

JACQUES. Oh, I wouldn't repeat it; it wouldn't be friendly.

ALBERT. I _must_ know.

JACQUES. Very well, then--she said that you had not succeeded--nor had
I--to find the way to her heart. Between you and me, we've got a
high-minded woman to deal with, a philosopher who detests flattery. It
seems you have been in the habit of paying her compliments----

ALBERT. I never pay compliments.

JACQUES. Whatever you did, she didn't like it. Moreover--since you want
the whole truth--you seem to her a bit--ridiculous.

ALBERT. Pardon?

JACQUES. The very word: ridiculous. She wants a husband who will act as
a sort of conscience pilot. Evidently, you haven't appealed to her in
that capacity.

ALBERT. Sometimes I used to be rather sharp with her----

JACQUES. You did it too daintily, perhaps; you lacked severity. I'll
wager you smiled, instead of scowled--that would have been fatal!

ALBERT. I don't understand.

JACQUES. Henriette is a singular woman; to get her, you have to tell her
that you don't like her--her pride demands it. Tell her all her bad
qualities, straight from the shoulder.

ALBERT. [_Feeling himself equal to the task._] Don't worry about that!
[_Rises and walks about._] I know women love to be told things straight
out.

JACQUES. I'm not the man for that; nor are you, I suppose?

ALBERT. No? Jacques, I'm awfully obliged to you; you've done me a good
turn----

JACQUES, Don't mention it----

ALBERT. You want to do me one more favor?

JACQUES. [_Devotedly._] Anything you like!

ALBERT. Promise me you'll never let Henrietta know that you told me
this?

JACQUES. I promise; but why?

ALBERT. You know she has to understand that my behavior toward her is in
character. Natural, you see.

JACQUES. Oh, you're going at it strenuously.

ALBERT. I am.

JACQUES. Your decision honors you.

ALBERT. Let's not have Henriette find us together. Would you mind
disappearing?

JACQUES. With pleasure. I'll look in later and get the news.

     [JACQUES _rises_.

ALBERT. Thanks, Jacques.

JACQUES. Good-by, Albert.

     [_Exits after shaking hands cordially with_ ALBERT.

HENRIETTE. [_Re-entering as_ ALBERT _assumes a rather severe attitude_.]
How are you? [_Pause._] Have you seen Jacques?

ALBERT. [_With a determined air._] No, Henriette. Thank God!

HENRIETTE. Why?

ALBERT. Because it pains me to see men in your presence whom you care
nothing for.

HENRIETTE. [_Delighted._] You don't like that?

     [_Sitting down on sofa._

ALBERT. No, I don't. And I'd like to tell you----

HENRIETTE. About my relations with Jacques?

ALBERT. Oh, he's not the only one.

HENRIETTE. Heaps of others, I suppose?

ALBERT. [_Sits on chair near sofa._] You suppose correctly; heaps.

HENRIETTE. Really?

ALBERT. You are a coquette.

HENRIETTE. You think so?

ALBERT. I am positive.

HENRIETTE. I suppose I displease you in other ways, too?

ALBERT. In a great many other ways.

HENRIETTE. [_Really delighted._] How confidently you say that!

ALBERT. So much the worse if you don't like it!

HENRIETTE. Quite the contrary, my dear Albert; you can't imagine how you
please me when you talk like that. It's perfectly adorable.

ALBERT. It makes very little difference to me whether I please you or
not. I speak according to my temperament. Perhaps it is a bit
authoritative, but I can't help _that_.

HENRIETTE. You are superb.

ALBERT. Oh, no. I'm just myself.

HENRIETTE. Oh, if you were only the----

ALBERT. I haven't the slightest idea what you were about to say, but
I'll guarantee that there's not a more inflexible temper than mine in
Paris.

HENRIETTE. I can easily believe it. [_Pause._] Now tell me in what way
you think I'm coquettish.

     [_Sitting on edge of sofa in an interested attitude._ ALBERT _takes
     out cigarette, lights and smokes it_.

ALBERT. That's easy; for instance, when you go to the theatre, to a
reception, to the races. As soon as you arrive the men flock about in
dozens; those who don't know you come to be introduced. You're the
talking-stock of society. Now I should be greatly obliged if you would
tell me to what you attribute this notoriety?

HENRIETTE. [_Modestly._] Well, I should attribute it to the fact that I
am--agreeable, and pleasant----

ALBERT. There are many women no less so.

HENRIETTE. [_Summoning up all her modesty to reply._] You force me to
recognize the fact----

ALBERT. And I know many women fully as pleasant as you who don't flaunt
their favors in the face of everybody; _they_ preserve some semblance of
dignity, a certain air of aloof distinction that it would do you no harm
to acquire.

HENRIETTE. [_With a gratitude that is conscious of its bounds._] Thanks,
thanks so much. [_Drawing back to a corner of the sofa._] I am deeply
obliged to you----

ALBERT. Not at all.

HENRIETTE. In the future I shall try to behave more decorously.

ALBERT. Another thing----

HENRIETTE. [_The first signs of impatience begin to appear._] What?
Another thing to criticise?

ALBERT. A thousand! [_Settling himself comfortably._

HENRIETTE. Well, hurry up.

ALBERT. You must rid yourself of your excessive and ridiculous
school-girl sentimentality.

HENRIETTE. I wonder just on what you base your statement. Would you
oblige me so far as to explain that?

ALBERT. With pleasure. I remember one day in the country you were in
tears because a _poor_ little mouse had fallen into the claws of a
_wretched_ cat; two minutes later you were sobbing because the _poor_
cat choked in swallowing the _wretched_ little mouse.

HENRIETTE. That was only my kindness to dumb animals. Is it wrong to be
kind to dumb animals?

     [_She is about to rise when_ ALBERT _stops her with a gesture_.

ALBERT. That would be of no consequence, if it weren't that you were of
so contradictory a nature that you engage in the emptiest, most
frivolous conversations, the most----

HENRIETTE. [_Slightly disdainful._] Ah, you are going too far! You make
me doubt your power of analysis. I am interested only in noble and high
things----

ALBERT. And yet as soon as the conversation takes a serious turn, it's
appalling to see you; you yawn and look bored to extinction.

HENRIETTE. There you are right--partly.

ALBERT. You see!

HENRIETTE. [_Sharp and even antagonistic._] Yes, I have that unfortunate
gift of understanding things before people have finished explaining
them. While the others are waiting for the explanation, I can't wait,
and I fly on miles ahead----

ALBERT. Hm--that sounds probable; I sha'n't say anything more about that
just now. But while I'm on the subject, I have more than once noticed
that you are guilty of the worst vice woman ever possessed----

HENRIETTE. And what, if you please?

ALBERT. Vanity.

HENRIETTE. I vain? Oh, you're going too far!

ALBERT. [_Unruffled._] Not a word! Every time I tell you a fault, you
twist it round to your own advantage. Whereas you are really worse----

HENRIETTE. [_Rising and gathering her skirts about her with virtuous
indignation._] You are rude! I suppose you would find fault with me if I
considered myself more polite than the person whom I have the honor to
address?

ALBERT. I hope you don't intend that remark as personal.

HENRIETTE. I certainly do.

     [_She crosses to the other side of the stage and sits down._ ALBERT
     _rises and goes up to her_.

ALBERT. Henriette! No! [_Laughing._] I see your trick.

HENRIETTE. What do you mean?

ALBERT. You can't deceive me by pretending to be angry. You wanted to
see whether I could withstand your temper. Let us now proceed to the
next chapter: your manner of dressing.

HENRIETTE. [_Now really outraged._] My manner of dressing? You dare!

     [HENRIETTE _crosses_ L. _Front_, ALBERT _following her_.

ALBERT. Yes, that will be enough for to-day----

HENRIETTE. And then you'll begin again to-morrow!

ALBERT. Yes.

HENRIETTE. And do you think for one minute that I'll listen to you while
you insult me to my face? _You_ are the vain one, to think you can come
to that! _You_ are the frivolous one, _you_ are the----

ALBERT. [_Slightly perturbed._] Be careful what you say!

HENRIETTE. I'll take care of that. Let me tell you that you are a
detestable cynic. You are disgustingly personal; always dwelling on
details, on the least----

ALBERT. Which is as much as calling me a fool?

HENRIETTE. Just about. You would be if you didn't read your morning
paper regularly; so regularly that I know in advance exactly what you
are going to say to me during the day.

ALBERT. Why not call me a parrot?

HENRIETTE. That would flatter you, for you don't speak as well as a
parrot; a parrot's memory never gets clouded, a parrot has at least the
common politeness to----

ALBERT. [_Between his teeth._] I won't stand for this. I wonder how you
could have endured me so long if you thought me such a fool.

HENRIETTE. I believed you harmless.

ALBERT. Are you aware that you have wounded me cruelly?

HENRIETTE. _You_ have wounded _me_. Thank heaven, though, we had this
discussion! Now I'll know how to conduct myself toward you in the
future.

ALBERT. Thank heaven for the same thing! It was high time! I grieve to
think that only last night I had fully made up my mind to ask you to be
my wife!

HENRIETTE. My dear friend, if you ever do so, I shall show you the door
immediately.

     [_Enter_ JACQUES _hurriedly_. HENRIETTE _runs to him as for
     protection_.

JACQUES. What's all this noise? What's the matter?

HENRIETTE. Oh, Jacques--I'm so glad you've come.

ALBERT. Just in time! You put an end to our pleasant little tête-à-tête.

JACQUES. But what's happened?

HENRIETTE. Well, monsieur here----

ALBERT. No, it was mademoiselle who----

     [HENRIETTE _and_ ALBERT _each take an arm of_ JACQUES _and bring
     him down-stage_ C. _His attention is constantly shifting from one
     to the other, as they address him in turn._

HENRIETTE. Just think, Jacques----

ALBERT. Jacques, she had the audacity to----

HENRIETTE. Stop! I'm going to tell him first----

JACQUES. You're both too excited to explain anything. Albert, you take a
little stroll and cool off.

ALBERT. [_Retreating toward the door._] Charmed.

HENRIETTE. Then I can draw a free breath.

JACQUES. [_To_ ALBERT.] I'll fix up things while you're away.

ALBERT. [_To both._] I won't give in.

HENRIETTE. Neither will I.

JACQUES. Tut, tut!

ALBERT. Good-day, mademoiselle.

HENRIETTE. Good-day.

JACQUES. Good-day, Albert.

     [_Exit_ ALBERT.

HENRIETTE. Thank goodness, we're rid of him!

JACQUES. [_Sympathetically._] Tell me all about it.

HENRIETTE. [_Sits down on sofa, inviting_ JACQUES _by a gesture to do
the same. He sits beside her._] That man invented the most abominable
things about me; criticised me to my face!

JACQUES. He did!

HENRIETTE. It was so ridiculous--makes me sick to think about it.

JACQUES. My dear Henriette, don't think about it. Albert must have
behaved like a brute to make you so angry.

HENRIETTE. Yes, don't you think so? _You_ think I'm right?

JACQUES. [_Loyally._] Of course I do.

HENRIETTE. [_At her ease once more._] You encourage me, Jacques.

JACQUES. When I saw you were angry I said to myself at once: "Henriette
is right."

HENRIETTE. Really?

JACQUES. I said it because I knew you were by nature peace-loving and
considerate----

HENRIETTE. [_With profound conviction._] Well, I think that's the least
that could be said of me.

JACQUES. In any event, you are always tactful, you always----

HENRIETTE. _You_ know me, Jacques!

JACQUES. I flatter myself. I felt instinctively you couldn't be wrong.
You have always been so admirably poised, so unfailingly considerate.

HENRIETTE. [_With perfect simplicity._] Frankly now, do I ever lose my
temper with you?

JACQUES. [_In good faith._] Never. With me you are always patient,
gracious, modest----

HENRIETTE. But I remember, a little while ago, I made you suffer----

JACQUES. Yes, I was unhappy. But "if after every storm comes such a
calm"----

HENRIETTE. It was all my fault. You understand me; you are truly a
friend.

JACQUES. Nothing more?

     [_Rising, but standing near her._ HENRIETTE _blushingly looks down
     at her shoe_.

HENRIETTE. Oh----

JACQUES. Prove that you mean that sincerely.

HENRIETTE. What have I to do? [_Same business._

JACQUES. Place your future in my hands; marry me.

HENRIETTE. [_With downcast eyes._] I was just thinking about it. [_Same
business, but with repressed joy._

JACQUES. [_About to embrace her._] Ah!

HENRIETTE. Wait!

     [_Complete metamorphosis. Her joy is still present, but it has
     taken on a playful, serio-comic aspect. Rising and putting her hand
     in his._

JACQUES. Why do you hesitate?

HENRIETTE. Jacques, do you remember what I told you not long ago?

JACQUES. Yes.

HENRIETTE. In spite of that, are you quite sure that I am not vain or
coquettish?

JACQUES. I am certain.

HENRIETTE. You are also firmly resolved to be my moral guide, critic,
helper?

JACQUES. [_Stolid as ever._] I am.

HENRIETTE. I make one condition.

JACQUES. Name it.

HENRIETTE. On your word of honor?

JACQUES. On my word of honor. Tell me.

HENRIETTE. Will you swear to tell me, without pity, every time you find
me at fault? Swear.

JACQUES. I swear.

HENRIETTE. Then you have my promise.

JACQUES. [_As they embrace._] Dearest!

CURTAIN



THE DEACON'S HAT

BY

JEANNETTE MARKS


_The Deacon's Hat_ is reprinted by special arrangement with Miss
Jeannette Marks and with Little, Brown and Company, Boston, the
publisher of _Three Welsh Plays_, from which this play is taken. All
rights reserved. For permission to perform address the author in care
of the publisher.


JEANNETTE MARKS

Jeannette Marks, well-known essayist, poet, and playwright, was born in
1875 at Chattanooga, Tennessee, but spent her early life in
Philadelphia, where her father, the late William Dennis Marks, was
professor of dynamics in the University of Pennsylvania and president of
the Edison Electric Light Company. She attended school in Dresden, and
in 1900 was graduated from Wellesley College. She obtained her master's
degree from Wellesley in 1903. Her graduate studies were continued at
the Bodleian Library and at the British Museum. Since 1901 she has been
on the staff of the English Department at Mount Holyoke College, South
Hadley, Massachusetts. Her chief courses are Nineteenth Century Poetry
and Play-writing.

Miss Marks's interest in Welsh life is the result of her hiking several
summers among the Welsh hills and valleys. She became intimately
acquainted with Welsh peasant life. It is said that Edward Knobloch,
well-known dramatist, on one of her homeward voyages from one of her
summer outings in Wales, pointed out to Miss Marks the dramatic
possibilities of the material she had thus acquired. _Three Welsh Plays_
was the result. Two of these plays, without the author's knowledge, were
entered in 1911 for the Welsh National Theatre prize contest. To her
credit, the plays won the prize. The complete volume appeared in 1917.

_The Deacon's Hat_ is a fine study of the life of the common folk of
Wales.


CHARACTERS


    DEACON ROBERTS, _a stout, oldish Welshman_
    HUGH WILLIAMS, _an earnest, visionary young man who owns Y Gegin_
    NELI WILLIAMS, _his capable wife_
    MRS. JONES, _the Wash, a stout, kindly woman who wishes to buy soap_
    MRS. JENKINS, _the Midwife, after pins for her latest baby_
    TOM MORRIS, _the Sheep, who comes to buy tobacco and remains to pray_



THE DEACON'S HAT[I]


     SCENE: _A little shop called Y Gegin (The Kitchen), in Bala, North
     Wales._

     TIME: _Monday morning at half-past eleven._

     _To the right is the counter of Y Gegin, set out with a bountiful
     supply of groceries; behind the counter are grocery-stocked
     shelves. Upon the counter is a good-sized enamel-ware bowl filled
     with herring pickled in brine and leek, also a basket of fresh
     eggs, a jar of pickles, some packages of codfish, a half dozen
     loaves of bread, a big round cheese, several pounds of butter
     wrapped in print paper, etc., etc._

     _To the left are a cheerful glowing fire and ingle._

     _At the back center is a door; between the door and the fire stands
     a grandfather's clock with a shining brass face. Between the clock
     and the door, back centre, is a small tridarn [Welsh dresser] and a
     chair. From the rafters hang flitches of bacon, hams, bunches of
     onions, herbs, etc. On either side of the fireplace are latticed
     windows, showing a glimpse of the street. Before the fire is a
     small, round, three-legged table; beside it a tall, straight-backed
     chair._

     _Between the table and left is a door which is the entrance to Y
     Gegin and from which, on a metal elbow, dangles a large bell._

     _At rise of curtain Hugh Williams enters at back centre, absorbed
     in reading a volume of Welsh theological essays. He is dressed in a
     brightly striped vest, a short, heavy cloth coat, cut away in
     front and with lapels trimmed with brass buttons, swallowtails
     behind, also trimmed with brass buttons, stock wound around his
     neck, and tight trousers down to his boot-tops._

     _Neli Williams, his wife, a comely, capable young woman, busy with
     her knitting every instant she talks, is clad in her market
     costume, a scarlet cloak, and a tall black Welsh beaver. Over her
     arm is an immense basket._

NELI. [_Commandingly._] Hughie, put down that book!

HUGH. [_Still going on reading._] Haven't I just said a man is his own
master, whatever!

NELI. Hughie, ye're to mind the shop while I'm gone!

HUGH. [_Patiently._] Yiss, yiss.

NELI. I don't think ye hear a word I am sayin' whatever.

HUGH. Yiss, I hear every word ye're sayin'.

NELI. What is it, then?

HUGH. [_Weakly._] 'Tis all about--about--the--the weather whatever!

NELI. Ye've not heard a word, an' ye're plannin' to read that book from
cover to cover, I can see.

HUGH. [_A little too quickly._] Nay, I have no plans....

     [_He tucks book away in back coat pocket over-hastily._

NELI. Hugh!

HUGH. [_Weakly._] Nay, I _have_ no plans whatever!

NELI. [_Reproachfully._] Hugh--_ie_! 'Twould be the end of sellin'
anythin' to anybody if I leave ye with a book whatever! Give me that
book!

HUGH. [_Obstinately._] Nay, I'll no read the book.

NELI. Give me that book!

HUGH. [_Rising a little._] Nay. I say a man is his own master whatever!

NELI. [_Finding the book hidden in his coat-tail pocket._] Is he? Well,
I'll no leave ye with any masterful temptations to be readin'.

HUGH. Ye've no cause to take this book away from me.

NELI. [_Opens book and starts with delight._] 'Tis Deacon Roberts's new
book on "The Flamin' Wickedness of Babylon." Where did ye get it?

HUGH. [_Reassured by her interest._] He lent it to me this morning.

NELI. [_Resolutely._] Well, I will take it away from ye this noon till I
am home again whatever!

HUGH. [_Sulkily._] Sellin' groceries is not salvation. They sold
groceries in Babylon; Deacon Roberts says so.

NELI. [_Looking at book with ill-disguised eagerness._] I dunno as
anybody ever found salvation by givin' away all he had for nothin'! 'Tis
certain Deacon Roberts has not followed that way.

HUGH. [_Still sulkily._] A man is his own master, I say.

NELI. [_Absent-mindedly, her nose in the book._] Is he? Well, indeed!

HUGH. [_Crossly._] Aye, he is. [_Pointedly._] An' I was not plannin' to
give away the book whatever.

NELI. [_Closing volume with a little sigh, as for stolen delights, and
speaking hastily._] An' I am not talkin' about acceptin' books, but
about butter an' eggs an' cheese an' all the other groceries!

HUGH. Aye, ye'll get no blessin' from such worldliness.

NELI. [_Absent-mindedly._] Maybe not, but ye will get a dinner from that
unblessed worldliness an' find no fault, I'm thinkin'. [_Her hand
lingering on the book, which she opens._] But such wonderful theology!
An' such eloquence! Such an understandin' of sin! Such glowin' pictures
of Babylon!

HUGH. Aye, hot! I tell ye, Neli, there's no man in the parish has such a
gift of eloquence as Deacon Roberts or such theology. In all Wales ye'll
not find stronger theology than his.

NELI. Ye have no need to tell me that! [_Looking for a place in which to
hide the book until she returns._] Have I not a deep an' proper
admiration for theology? Have I not had one minister an' five deacons
an' a revivalist in my family, to say nothin' at all of one composer of
hymns?

HUGH. Yiss, yiss. Aye, 'tis a celebrated family. I am no sayin' anythin'
against your family.

NELI. Then what?

HUGH. [_Pleadingly._] Deacon Roberts has great fire with which to save
souls. We're needin' that book on Babylon's wickedness. Give it back to
me, Neli!

NELI. Oh, aye! [_Looks at husband._] I'm not sayin' but that ye are
wicked, Hugh, an' needin' these essays, for ye have no ministers and
deacons and hymn composers among your kin.

HUGH. [_Triumphantly._] Aye, aye, that's it! That's it! An' the more
need have I to read till my nostrils are full of the smoke of--of
Babylon.

NELI. [_Absent-mindedly tucking book away on shelf as she talks._] Aye,
but there has been some smoke about Deacon Roberts's reputation which
has come from some fire less far away than Babylon.

HUGH. What smoke?

NELI. [_Evasively._] Well, I am thinkin' about my eggs which vanished
one week ago to-day. There was no one in that mornin' but Deacon
Roberts. Mrs. Jones the Wash had come for her soap an' gone before I
filled that basket with eggs.

HUGH. [_Watching her covertly, standing on tiptoe and craning his neck
as she stows away book._] Yiss, yiss!

NELI. [_Slyly._] Ask Deacon Roberts if cats steal eggs whatever?

HUGH. [_Repeating._] If cats steal eggs, if cats steal eggs.

NELI. Aye, not if eggs steal cats.

HUGH. [_Craning neck._] Yiss, yiss, if eggs steal cats!

NELI. Hugh--_ie_! Now ye'll never get it correct again! 'Tis if cats
steal eggs.

HUGH. [_Sulkily._] Well, I'm no carin' about cats with heaven starin'
me in the face.

     [NELI _turns about swiftly with the quick, sudden motions
     characteristic of her, and_ HUGH _shrinks into himself. She shakes
     her finger at him and goes over to kiss him._

NELI. Hughie, lad, ye're not to touch the book while I am gone to
market.

HUGH. Nay, nay, certainly not!

NELI. And ye're to be on the lookout for Mrs. Jones the Wash, for Mrs.
Jenkins the Midwife--Jane Elin has a new baby, an' it'll be needin'
somethin'. [_Pointing to counter._] Here is everythin' plainly marked.
Ye're no to undersell or give away anythin.' D'ye hear?

HUGH. Aye, I hear!

NELI. An' remember where the tobacco is, for this is the day Tom Morris
the Sheep comes in.

HUGH. Aye, in the glass jar.

NELI. Good-by. I will return soon.

HUGH. [_Indifferently._] Good-by.

     [NELI _leaves by door at back centre. Immediately_ HUGH _steals
     toward the shelves where she hid the book_.

NELI. [_Thrusting head back in._] Mind, Hughie lad, no readin'--nay, not
even any theology!

HUGH. [_Stepping quickly away from shelves and repeating parrotlike._]
Nay, nay, no readin', no sermons, not even any theology!

NELI. An' no salvation till I come back!

     [_She smiles, withdraws head, and is gone._ HUGH _starts forward,
     collides clumsily with the counter in his eagerness, knocks the
     basket of eggs with his elbow, upsetting it. Several eggs break. He
     shakes his head ruefully at the mess and as ruefully at the
     counter. He finds book and hugs it greedily to him._

HUGH. [_Mournfully._] Look at this! What did I say but that there was no
salvation sellin' groceries! If Neli could but see those eggs! [_He
goes behind counter and gets out a box of eggs, from which he refills
the basket. The broken eggs he leaves untouched upon the floor. He opens
his volume of sermons and seats himself by a little three-legged table
near the fire. He sighs in happy anticipation. Hearing a slight noise,
he looks suspiciously at door, gets up, tiptoes across floor to street
door, and locks it quietly. An expression of triumph overspreads his
face._] Da, if customers come, they will think no one is at home
whatever, an' I can read on! [_He seats himself at little three-legged
table, opens volume, smooths over its pages lovingly, and begins to read
slowly and halting over syllables._] The smoke of Ba-by-lon was
hot--scorchin' hot. An' 'twas filled with Ba-ba-ba-baal stones, slimy
an' scorchin' hot also----

     [_There is the sound of feet coming up the shop steps, followed by
     a hand trying the door-knob._ HUGH _looks up from his sermons, an
     expression of innocent triumph on his face. The door-knob is tried
     again, the door rattled._

     [_Then some one rings the shop door-bell._

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Calling._] Mrs. Williams, mum, have ye any soap?
[_No answer. Calling._] Mrs. Williams! Mrs. Williams!

     [HUGH _nods approvingly and lifts his volume to read_.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Where are they all whatever? I will just look in at
the window, [_A large, kindly face is anxiously flattened against the
window. At that_ HUGH _drops in consternation under the three-legged
table_.] Uch, what's that shadow skippin' under the table? No doubt a
rat after the groceries. Mrs. Williams, mum, Mrs. Williams! Well,
indeed, they're out.

     [_She pounds once more on the door with a heavy fist, rings, and
     then goes. Suddenly the door back centre opens, and_ NELI WILLIAMS
     _appears_.

NELI. [_She does not see_ HUGH _and peers around for him_.] What is all
that bell-ringing about?

     [HUGH _crawls out from under the table_.


HUGH. Hush, she's gone!

NELI. [_Amazed, and whispering to herself._] Under the table!

HUGH. [_Rising and putting up his hand as a sign for her to keep
silent._] Nay, 'twas Mrs. Jones the Wash come to buy her soap whatever!

NELI. Aye, well, why didn't she come in whatever?

HUGH. [_Whispering._] I locked the door, Neli, so I could finish readin'
those essays whatever! An' then she looked in at the window, an' I had
to get under the table.

NELI. [_Indignantly._] Locked the door against a customer, an' after all
I said! An' crawled under a table! Hugh Williams, your wits are goin'
quite on the downfall!

HUGH. [_In a whisper._] Aye, but Neli, those essays--an' I thought ye
had gone to market.

NELI. I had started, but I came back for my purse. Put down that book!

HUGH. Aye, but, Neli----

NELI. [_Angrily._] Much less of heaven an' much more of earth is what I
need in a husband! Ye have sent away a customer; very like Mrs. Jones
the Wash after soap will go elsewhere.

HUGH. Aye, but Neli....

     [_Steps are heard approaching._

NELI. Get up! Some one is coming.

     [HUGH _gets up very unwillingly_.

HUGH. [_Whispering still._] Aye, but Neli....

NELI. [_Angrily._] Put down that book, I say! [_She crunches over some
eggshells._] Eggs? Broken?

HUGH. [_Putting down book._] Aye, Neli, my elbow an' the eggs in
Babylon....

NELI. [_Sarcastically._] Aye, I see beasts in Babylon here
together--doleful creatures smearin' one an' sixpence worth of eggs all
over the floor. An' a half-dozen eggs gone last week. [_Wiping up
eggs._] An' I'm to suppose Babylon had something to do with that
half-dozen eggs, too? They were put in the basket after Mrs. Jones the
Wash had left whatever, an' before Deacon Roberts came.

HUGH. Neli, I did not say----

NELI. [_Still angrily._] Well, indeed, unlock that door!

HUGH. [_Going to unlock door._] But, Neli....

NELI. [_Disappearing through door back centre._] Not a word! Your mind
has gone quite on the downfall--lockin' doors against your own bread and
butter an' soap.

HUGH. [_Unlocking door sullenly._] But, Neli, salvation an' soap....

NELI. [_Snappily._] Salvation an' soap are as thick as thieves.

HUGH. But, Neli, a man is his own master.

NELI. Yiss, I see he is!

     [NELI _goes out, slamming door noisily_.

HUGH. Dear anwyl, she seems angry!

     [HUGH _opens street door left just as_ NELI _goes out through
     kitchen, by door back centre_. DEACON ROBERTS _enters the door_
     HUGH _has unlocked. He looks at_ HUGH, _smiles, and goes over to
     counter in a businesslike way. He is a stout man, dressed in a
     black broadcloth cutaway coat, tight trousers, a drab vest, high
     collar and stock, woollen gloves, a muffler wound about his neck
     and face, and a tall Welsh beaver hat. Under his arm he carries a
     book._

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Speaking affectionately, pulling off his gloves,
putting down book on counter, and beginning eagerly to touch the various
groceries._] Essays on Babylon to-day, Hughie lad?

HUGH. [_Looking about for_ NELI _and speaking fretfully_.] Nay.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Unwinding his muffler._] Ye look as if ye had been in
spiritual struggle.

HUGH. [_Drearily._] I have.

DEACON ROBERTS. Well, indeed, Hughie, 'tis neither the angel nor the
archfiend here now, nor for me any struggle except the struggle to both
live an' eat well--ho! ho! _an'_ eat well, I say--in Bala. [_Laughs
jovially._] Ho! ho! not bad, Hughie lad--live _an'_ eat in Bala!

HUGH. [_Patiently._] With that muffler around your head, deacon, ye are
enough to frighten the devil out of Babylon.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Unwinding last lap of muffler._] Yiss, yiss, Hughie
lad. But I dunno but ye will understand better if I call myself, let us
say the angel with the sickle--ho! ho!--not the angel of fire, Hughie,
but the angel with the sharp sickle gatherin' the clusters of the vines
of the earth. [_Sudden change of subject._] Where is Neli?

HUGH. [_Vacantly._] I dunno--yiss, yiss, at market.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Chuckling._] Dear, dear, at market--a fine day for
marketing! An' my essays on the Flamin' Wickedness of Babylon, Hughie
lad, how are they? Have ye finished them?

HUGH. Nay, not yet.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Looking over counter, touching one article after
another as he mentions it._] Pickled herrin'--grand but wet!
Pickles--dear me, yiss, Neli's--an' good! Butter from
Hafod-y-Porth--sweet as honey! [_He picks up a pat of butter and sniffs
it, drawing in his breath loudly. He smiles with delight and lays down
the butter. He takes off his hat and dusts it out inside. He puts his
hat back on his head, smiles, chuckles, picks up butter, taps it
thoughtfully with two fingers, smells it and puts down the pat
lingeringly. He lifts up a loaf of_ NELI WILLIAMS'S _bread, glancing
from it to the butter_.] Bread! Dear me! [_His eyes glance on to
codfish._] American codfish [_picks up package and smacks his lips
loudly_], dear _anwyl_, with potatoes--[_reads_] "Gloucester." [_Reaches
out and touches eggs affectionately._] Eggs--are they fresh, Hugh?

HUGH. [_Dreamily._] I dunno. But I broke some of them. They might be!
[_Looks at floor._

DEACON ROBERTS. _Were_ they fresh?

HUGH. I dunno.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Sharply._] Dunno? About _eggs_?

     [_Picks up egg._

HUGH. [_Troubled._] Neli's hens laid them.

DEACON ROBERTS. I see, Neli's hens laid 'em, an' you broke 'em!
Admirable arrangement! [_Putting down the egg and turning toward the
cheese, speaks on impatiently._] Well, indeed then, were the hens fresh?

HUGH. [_More cheerful._] Yiss, I think. Last week the basket was grand
an' full of fresh eggs, but they disappeared, aye, they did indeed.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Starts._] Where did they go to?

HUGH. [_Injured._] How can I say? I was here, an' I would have told her
if I had seen, but I did not whatever. Neli reproves me for too great
attention to visions an' too little to the groceries.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Chuckling._] Aye, Hughie lad, such is married life!
Let a man marry his thoughts or a wife, for he cannot have both. I have
chosen my thoughts.

HUGH. But the cat----

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Briskly._] Aye, a man can keep a cat without risk.

HUGH. Nay, nay, I mean the cat took 'em. I dunno. That's
it--{SPACE}[HUGH _clutches his head, trying to recall something_.] Uch,
that's it! Neli told me to remember to ask ye if ye thought eggs could
steal a cat whatever.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Puzzled._] Eggs steal a cat?

HUGH. [_Troubled._] Nay, nay, cats steal an egg?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Startled and looking suspiciously at_ HUGH.] Cats?
What cats?

HUGH. [_With solemnity._] Aye, but I told Neli I'm no carin' about cats
with heaven starin' me in the face. Deacon Roberts, those essays are
grand an' wonderful.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Relieved._] Yiss, yiss! Hughie lad, theology is a
means to salvation an' sometimes to other ends, too. But there's no
money in theology. [_Sighs._] And a man must live! [_Points to corroded
dish of pickled herring, sniffing greedily._] Dear people, what
beautiful herrin'! [_Wipes moisture away from corners of his mouth and
picks up a fish from dish, holding it, dripping, by tail._] Pickled?

HUGH. [_Looking at corroded dish._] Tuppence.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Shortly._] Dear to-day.

HUGH. [_Eyeing dish dreamily._] I dunno. Neli----

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Eyes glittering, cutting straight through sentence and
pointing to cheese._] Cheese?

HUGH. A shillin', I'm thinkin'.

DEACON ROBERTS. A shillin', Hugh? [DEACON ROBERTS _lifts knife and drops
it lightly on edge of cheese. The leaf it pares off he picks up and
thrusts into his mouth, greedily pushing in the crumbs. Then he pauses
and looks slyly at_ HUGH.] Was it sixpence ye said, Hugh?

HUGH. [_Gazing toward the fire and the volume of essays._] Yiss,
sixpence, I think.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Sarcastically._] Still too dear, Hugh!

HUGH. [_Sighing._] I dunno, it might be dear. [_With more animation._]
Deacon, when Babylon fell----

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Wipes his mouth and, interrupting_ HUGH, _speaks
decisively_.] No cheese. [_He removes his tall Welsh beaver hat, mops
off his bald white head, and, pointing up to the shelves, begins to dust
out inside of hatband again, but with a deliberate air of preparation._]
What is that up there, Hughie lad?

HUGH. [_Trying to follow the direction of the big red wavering
forefinger._] Ye mean that? A B C In-fants' Food, I think.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Giving his hat a final wipe._] Nay, nay, not for me,
Hughie lad! Come, come, brush the smoke of burnin' Babylon from your
eyes! In a minute I must be goin' back to my study, whatever. An' I have
need of food!

     [HUGH _takes a chair and mounts it. The_ DEACON _looks at_ HUGH'S
     _back, puts his hand down on the counter, and picks up an egg from
     the basket. He holds it to the light and squints through it to see
     whether it is fresh. Then he turns it lovingly over in his fat
     palm, makes a dexterous backward motion and slides it into his
     coat-tail pocket. This he follows with two more eggs for same
     coat-tail and three for other--in all half a dozen._

HUGH. [_Dreamily pointing to tin._] Is it Yankee corn?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_To Hugh's back, and slipping in second egg._] Nay,
nay, not that, Hughie lad, that tin above!

HUGH. [_Absent-mindedly touching tin._] Is it ox tongue?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Slipping in third egg and not even looking up._] Ox
tongue, lad? Nay, nuthin' so large as that.

HUGH. [_Dreamily reaching up higher._] American condensed m-m-milk?
Yiss, that's what it is.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Slipping in fourth egg._] Condensed milk, Hughie? Back
to infants' food again.

HUGH. [_Stretching up almost to his full length and holding down tin
with tips of long white finger._] Kippert herrin'? Is it that?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Slipping in fifth egg._] Nay, nay, a little further
up, if you please.

HUGH. [_Gasping, but still reaching up and reading._] Uto--U-to-pi-an
Tinned Sausage. Is it that?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Slipping in sixth egg with an air of finality and
triumph, and lifting his hat from the counter._] Nay, nay, not that,
Hughie lad. Why do ye not begin by askin' me what I want? Ye've no gift
for sellin' groceries whatever.

HUGH. [_Surprised._] Did I not ask ye?

DEACON ROBERTS. Nay.

HUGH. What would Neli say whatever? She would never forgive me.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Amiably._] Well, I forgive ye, Hughie lad. 'Tis a
relish I'm needin'!

HUGH. [_Relieved._] Well, indeed, a relish! We have relishes on that
shelf above, I think. [_Reaches up but pauses helplessly._] I must tell
Neli that these shelves are not straight.

     [_Dizzy and clinging to the shelves, his back to the_ DEACON.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Picking up a pound of butter wrapped in print paper._]
Is it up there?

HUGH. No, I think, an' the shelves are not fast whatever. I must tell
Neli. They go up like wings. [_Trying to reach to a bottle just above
him._] Was it English or American?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Putting the pound of butter in his hat and his hat on
his head._] American, Hughie lad.

     [_At that instant there is a noise from the inner kitchen, and_
     NELI WILLIAMS _opens the door. The_ DEACON _turns, and their
     glances meet and cross. Each understands perfectly what the other
     has seen._ NELI WILLIAMS _has thrown off her red cloak and taken
     off her Welsh beaver hat. She is dressed in a short full skirt,
     white stockings, clogs on her feet, a striped apron, tight bodice,
     fichu, short sleeves, and white cap on dark hair._

NELI. [_Slowly._] Uch! The deacon has what he came for whatever!

HUGH. [_Turning to contradict his wife._] Nay, Neli--{SPACE}[_Losing his
balance on chair, tumbles off, and, with arm flung out to save himself,
strikes dish of pickled herring. The herring and brine fly in every
direction, spraying the_ DEACON _and_ HUGHIE; _the bowl spins madly,
dipping and revolving on the floor. For a few seconds nothing is audible
except the bowl revolving on the flagstones and_ HUGHIE _picking himself
up and sneezing behind the counter_.] Achoo! Achoo! Dear me,
Neli--Achoo!

NELI. [_Going quickly to husband and beginning to wipe brine from
husband's forehead and cheeks; at the same time has her back to the_
DEACON _and forming soundless letters with her lips, she jerks her head
toward the_ DEACON.] B-U-T-T-E-R!

HUGH. [_Drearily._] Better? Aye, I'm better. It did not hurt me
whatever.

NELI. [_Jerking head backwards toward_ DEACON ROBERTS _and again forming
letters with lips_.] B-U-T-T-E-R!

HUGH. What, water? Nay, I don't want any water.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Coughing, ill at ease and glancing suspiciously at
bowl that has come to rest near his leg._] Ahem! 'Tis cold here, Mrs.
Williams, mum, an' I must be movin' on.

NELI. [_Savagely to_ DEACON.] Stay where ye are whatever!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Unaccustomed to being spoken to this way by a woman._]
Well, indeed, mum, I could stay, but I'm thinkin' 'tis cold an'--I'd
better go.

NELI. [_Again savagely._] Nay, stay! Stay for--for what ye came for
whatever!

     [NELI _looks challengingly at the_ DEACON. _Then she goes on wiping
     brine carefully from husband's hair and from behind his ears. The_
     DEACON _coughs and pushes bowl away with the toe of his boot_.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Smiling._] 'Tis unnecessary to remain then, mum.

NELI. [_To_ HUGH.] What did he get?

HUGH. [_Sneezing._] N--n--Achoo!--nothin'!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_With sudden interest, looking at the floor._] Well,
indeed!

NELI. [_Suspiciously._] What is it?

     [_He reaches down with difficulty to a small thick puddle on the
     floor just beneath his left coat-tail. He aims a red forefinger at
     it, lifts himself, and sucks fingertip._

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Smiling._] Ahem, Mrs. Williams, mum, 'tis excellent
herrin' brine! [_From the basket on the counter he picks up an egg,
which he tosses lightly and replaces in basket._] A beautiful fresh egg,
Mrs. Williams, mum. I must be steppin' homewards.

HUGH. [_Struggling to speak just as_ NELI _reaches his nose, wringing it
vigorously at she wipes it_.] Aye, but Neli, I was just tellin' ye when
I fell that I could not find the deacon's relish--uch, achoo! achoo!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_With finality, tossing the egg in air, catching it and
putting it back in basket._] Well, indeed, mum, I must be steppin'
homewards now.

     [NELI'S _glance rests on fire burning on other side of room_. _She
     puts down wet cloth. She turns squarely on the_ DEACON.

NELI. What is your haste, Mr. Roberts? Please to go to the fire an'
wait! I can find the relish.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Hastily._] Nay, nay, mum. I have no need any
more--[_Coughs._] Excellent herrin' brine.

     [_Goes toward door._

NELI. [_To_ HUGH.] Take him to the fire, Hugh. 'Tis a cold day whatever!
[_Insinuatingly to_ DEACON.] Have ye a reason for wantin' to go, Mr.
Roberts?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Going._] Nay, nay, mum, none at all! But, I must not
trouble ye. 'Tis too much to ask, an' I have no time to spare an'----

NELI. [_Interrupting and not without acerbity._] Indeed, Mr. Roberts,
sellin' what we _can_ is our profit. [_To_ HUGH, _who obediently takes_
DEACON _by arm and pulls him toward fire_.] Take him to the fire, lad.
[_To_ DEACON.] What kind of a relish was it, did ye say, Mr. Roberts?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Having a tug of war with_ HUGH.] 'Tis an Indian
relish, mum, but I cannot wait.

HUGH. [_Pulling harder._] American, ye said.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Hastily._] Yiss, yiss, American Indian relish, that
is.

NELI. Tut, 'tis our specialty, these American Indian relishes! We have
several. Sit down by the fire while I look them up. [_Wickedly._] As ye
said. Mr. Roberts, 'tis cold here this morning.

DEACON ROBERTS. There, Hughie lad, I must not trouble ye. [_Looks at
clock._] 'Tis ten minutes before twelve, an' my dinner will be ready at
twelve. [_Pulls harder._

NELI. [_To_ HUGH.] Keep him by the fire, lad.

DEACON ROBERTS. There, Hughie lad, let me go!

     [_But_ HUGH _holds on, and the_ DEACON'S _coat begins to come off_.

NELI. [_Sarcastically._] The relish--American Indian, ye said, I
think--will make your dinner taste fine and grand!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Finding that without leaving his coat behind he is
unable to go, he glowers at_ HUGH _and speaks sweetly to_ NELI.] 'Tis a
beautiful clock, Mrs. Williams, mum. But I haven't five minutes to
spare.

NELI. [_Keeping a sharp lookout on the rim of the_ DEACON'S _hat_.]
Well, indeed, I can find the relish in just one minute. An' ye'll have
abundance of time left.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Trapped, and gazing at clock with fine air of
indifference._] 'Tis a clever, shinin' lookin' clock whatever, Mrs.
Williams, mum.

NELI. Have ye any recollection of the name of the maker of the relish,
Mr. Roberts?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Putting his hands behind him anxiously and parting his
freighted coat-tails with care; then, revolving, presenting his back and
one large, well-set, bright-colored patch to the fire._] Nay, I have
forgotten it, Mrs. Williams, mum.

NELI. Too bad, but I'm sure to find it. [_She mounts upon chair. At this
moment the shop door-bell rings violently, and there enters_ MRS. JONES
THE WASH, _very fat and very jolly. She is dressed in short skirt, very
full, clogs on her feet, a bodice made of striped Welsh flannel, a
shabby kerchief, a cap on her head, and over this a shawl._ NELI _turns
her head a little_.] Aye, Mrs. Jones the Wash, in a minute, if you
please. Sit down until I find Deacon Roberts's relish whatever.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Sits down on chair by door back centre and folds
her hands over her stomach._] Yiss, yiss, mum, thank you. I've come for
soap. I came once before, but no one was in.

NELI. Too bad!

MRS. JONES THE WASH. An' I looked in at the window an' saw nothin' but a
skippin' shadow looked like a rat. Have ye any rats, Mrs. Williams, mum,
do ye think?

NELI. Have I any rats? Well, indeed, 'tis that I'm wantin' to know, Mrs.
Jones the Wash!

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Well, I came back, for the water is eatin' the soap
to-day as if 'twere sweets--aye, 'tis a very meltin' day for soap!
[_Laughs._

DEACON ROBERTS. 'Tis sweet to be clean, Mrs. Jones the Wash.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Laughing._] Yiss, yiss, Deacon Roberts, there has
many a chapel been built out of a washtub, an' many a prayer risen up
from the suds!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Solemnly._] Aye, Mrs. Jones the Wash, 'tis holy work,
washin' is very holy work.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Touched._] Yiss, yiss, I thank ye, Deacon
Roberts.

DEACON ROBERTS. Well, I must be steppin' homeward now.

NELI. [_Firmly._] Nay, Mr. Roberts. I am searchin' on the shelf where I
think that American Indian relish is. Ye act as if ye had some cause to
hurry, Mr. Roberts. Wait a moment, if you please.

DEACON ROBERTS. Well, indeed, but I am keepin' Mrs. Jones the Wash
waitin'!

NELI. [_To_ MRS. JONES.] Ye are in no haste?

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Thoroughly comfortable and happy._] Nay, mum, no
haste at all. I am havin' a rest, an' 'tis grand an' warm here whatever.

NELI. [_Maliciously to_ DEACON.] Does it feel hot by the fire?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Experiencing novel sensations on the crown of his bald
head._] Mrs. Williams, mum, 'tis hot in Y Gegin, but as with Llanycil
Churchyard, Y Gegin is only the portal to a hotter an' a bigger place
where scorchin' flames burn forever an' forever. Proverbs saith, "Hell
an' destruction are never full." What, then, shall be the fate of women
who have no wisdom, Mrs. Williams, mum?

NELI. [_Searching for relish._] Aye, what? Well, indeed, the men must
know.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Nodding her head appreciatively at_ HUGH.] Such
eloquence, Mr. Williams! Aye, who in chapel has such grand theology as
Deacon Roberts!

     [_She sighs. The bell rings violently again, and_ TOM MORRIS THE
     SHEEP _enters. He is dressed in gaiters, a shepherd's cloak, etc.,
     etc. He carries a crook in his hand. He is a grizzle-haired,
     rosy-faced old man, raw-boned, strong, and awkward, with a
     half-earnest, half-foolish look._

NELI. [_Looking around._] Aye, Tom Morris the Sheep, come in an' sit
down. I am lookin' out an American Indian relish for the deacon.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Yiss, mum. I am wantin' to buy a little tobacco,
mum. 'Tis lonely upon the hillsides with the sheep, whatever.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Hastily._] I must go now, Mrs. Williams, mum, an' ye
can wait on Tom Morris.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Nay, nay, Mr. Roberts, sir, there is no haste.

NELI. [_To_ TOM MORRIS.] Sit down there by the door, if you please.

     [TOM MORRIS _seats himself on other side of door by back centre_.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Yiss, mum. [_Touches his forelock to_ MRS. JONES
THE WASH.] A grand day for the clothes, Mrs. Jones, mum.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Yiss, yiss, an' as I was just sayin' 'tis a meltin'
day for the soap!

NELI. [_Significantly._] An' perhaps 'tis a meltin' day for somethin'
besides soap! [_She looks at_ DEACON.

HUGH. [_Earnestly._] Yiss, yiss, for souls, meltin' for souls, I am
hopin'. [_Picking up the book from the little three-legged table, and
speaking to the_ DEACON.] They are enlargin' the burial ground in
Llanycil Churchyard--achoo! achoo!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Slyly moving a step away from fire._] They're only
enlargin' hell, Hughie lad, an' in that place they always make room for
all. [_He casts a stabbing look at_ NELI.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Nodding head._] True, true, room for all!
[_Chuckling._] But 'twould be a grand place to dry the clothes in!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Severely._] Mrs. Jones, mum, hell is paved with words
of lightness.

HUGH. [_Looking up from book, his face expressing delight._] Deacon
Roberts, I have searched for the place of hell, but one book sayeth one
thing, an' another another. Where is hell?

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Aye, where is hell?

     [_The bell rings violently. All start except_ NELI. MRS. JENKINS
     THE MIDWIFE _enters. She is an old woman, white-haired, and with a
     commanding, somewhat disagreeable expression on her face. She wears
     a cloak and black Welsh beaver and walks with a stick._

NELI. Yiss, yiss, Mrs. Jenkins the Midwife, I am just lookin' out a
relish for the Deacon. Sit down by the fire, please.

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. [_Seating herself on other side of fire._]
Aye, mum, I've come for pins; I'm in no haste.

NELI. is it Jane Elin's baby?

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE.. Aye, Jane Elin's, an' 'tis my sixth hundredth
birth.

HUGH. We're discussing the place of hell, Mrs. Jenkins, mum.

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE.. Well, indeed, I have seen the place of hell
six hundred times then. [_Coughs and nods her head up and down over
stick._] Heaven an' hell I'm thinkin' we have with us here.

HUGH. Nay, nay, how could that be? Tell us where is the place of hell,
Deacon Roberts.

     [_All listen with the most intense interest._

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Nodding._] Aye, the place of hell-- [_stopping
suddenly, a terrified look on his face, as the butter slides against the
forward rim of his hat, almost knocking it off, then going on with neck
rigid and head straight up_] to me is known where is that place--their
way is dark an' slippery; they go down into the depths, an' their soul
is melted because of trouble.

NELI. [_Pausing sceptically._] Aye, 'tis my idea of hell whatever with
souls meltin', Mr. Roberts!

HUGH. [_Tense with expectation._] Tell us where is that place!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Neck rigid, head unmoved, and voice querulous._] Yiss,
yiss. [_Putting his hand up and letting it down quickly._] Ahem! Ye
believe that it rains in Bala?

HUGH. [_Eyes on_ DEACON, _in childlike faith_.] I do.

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE.. Yiss, yiss, before an' after every birth
whatever!

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Yiss, yiss, who would know better than I that it
rains in Bala?

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Aye, amen, it rains in Bala upon the hills an' in
the valleys.

DEACON ROBERTS. Ye believe that it can rain in Bala both when the moon
is full an' when 'tis new?

HUGH. [_Earnestly._] I do.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Wearily._] Yiss, any time.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Aye, all the time.

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE.. Yiss, yiss, it rains ever an' forever!

NELI. [_Forgetting the relish search._] Well, indeed, 'tis true it can
rain in Bala at any time an' at all times.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Paying no attention to Neli._] Ye believe that
Tomen-y-Bala is Ararat?

HUGH. [_Clutching his book more tightly and speaking in a whisper._]
Yiss.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Aye, 'tis true.

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE.. Yiss, the Hill of Bala is Ararat.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Yiss, I have driven the sheep over it whatever
more than a hundred times.

NELI. [_Both hands on counter, leaning forward, listening to_ DEACON'S
_words_.] Aye, Charles-y-Bala said so.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Still ignoring_ NELI _and lowering his coat-tails
carefully_.] Ye believe, good people, that the Druids called Noah
"Tegid," an' that those who were saved were cast up on Tomen-y-Bala?

HUGH. Amen, I do!

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. [_Nodding her old head._] Aye, 'tis true.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Yiss, yiss.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Amen, 'tis so.

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Moving a few steps away from the fire, standing
sidewise, and lifting hand to head, checking it in midair._] An' ye know
that Bala has been a lake, an' Bala will become a lake?

HUGH. Amen, I do!

NELI. [_Assenting for the first time._] Yiss, 'tis true--that is.

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Dear anwyl, yiss!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_With warning gesture toward window._] Hell is out
there--movin' beneath Bala Lake to meet all at their comin'. [_Raises
his voice suddenly._] Red-hot Baal stones will fall upon your
heads--Baal stones. Howl ye! [_Shouting loudly._] Meltin' stones
smellin' of the bullocks. Howl, ye sinners! [_Clasping his hands
together desperately._] Scorchin' hot--Oo--o--o--Howl ye!--howl ye!
[_The_ DEACON'S _hat sways, and he jams it down more tightly on his
head. Unclasping his hands and as if stirring up the contents of a
pudding-dish._] 'Round an' round like this! Howl, ye sinners, howl!

     [_All moan and sway to and fro except_ NELI.

NELI. [_Sceptically._] What is there to fear?

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. [_Groaning._] Nay, but what is there not to
fear?

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Aye, outermost darkness. Och! Och!

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Have mercy!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Shouting again._] Get ready! Lift up your eyes!
[_Welsh beaver almost falls off and is set straight in a twinkling._]
Beg for mercy before the stones of darkness burn thee, an' there is no
water to cool thy tongue, an' a great gulf is fixed between thee an'
those who might help thee!

NELI. [_Spellbound by the_ DEACON'S _eloquence and now oblivious to hat,
etc._] Yiss, yiss, 'tis true, 'tis very true!

     [_She steps down from chair and places hands on counter._

DEACON ROBERTS. [_His face convulsed, shouting directly at her._]
Sister, hast thou two eyes to be cast into hell fire?

NELI. [_Terrified and swept along by his eloquence._] Two eyes to be
burned?

     [_All lower their heads, groaning and rocking to and fro._

DEACON ROBERTS. [_The butter trickling down his face, yelling with
sudden violence._] Hell is here an' now. Here in Bala, here in Y Gegin,
here with us! Howl ye! Howl, ye sinners!

     [_All moan together._

HUGH. [_Whispering._] Uch, here!

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. Yiss, here!

MRS. JONES THE WASH. Yiss.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. [_Terrified._] Aye. Amen! Yiss!

NELI. [_Whispering._] Here in Y Gegin!

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Clapping his hands to his face._] Stones of Baal,
stones of darkness, slimy with ooze, red-hot ooze, thick vapors! Howl
ye, howl, ye sinners! [_All moan and groan. Takes a glance at clock,
passes hand over face and runs on madly, neck rigid, eyes staring, fat
red cheeks turning to purple._] Midday, not midnight, is the hour of
hell; its sun never sets! But who knows when comes that hour of hell?

NELI. [_Taking hands from counter and crossing them as she whispers._]
Who knows?

ALL. [_Groaning._] Who knows?

HUGH. [_Voice quavering and lifting his Welsh essays._] Who knows?

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Big yellow drops pouring down his face, his voice full
of anguish._] I will tell ye when is the hour of hell. [_He points to
the clock._] Is one the hour of hell? Nay. Two? Nay. Three? No, not
three. Four? Four might be the hour of hell, but 'tis not. Five? Nor
five, indeed. Six? Nay. Seven? Is seven the hour, the awful hour? Nay,
not yet. Eight? Is eight the hour--an hour bright as this bright hour?
Nay, eight is not. [_The_ DEACON _shouts in a mighty voice and points
with a red finger at the clock_.] 'Tis comin'! 'Tis comin', I say! Howl
ye, howl! Only one minute more! Sinners, sinners, lift up your eyes! Cry
for mercy! [_All groan._] Cry for mercy! When the clock strikes twelve,
'twill be the hour of hell! Fix your eyes upon the clock! Watch! Count!
Listen! 'Tis strikin'. The stroke! The hour is here!

     [_All dropped on their knees and turned toward the clock, their
     backs to the street door, are awaiting the awful stroke. The book
     has fallen from_ HUGH'S _hands_. NELI'S _hands are clenched_. MRS.
     JENKINS THE MIDWIFE _is nodding her old head_. MRS. JONES THE WASH
     _on her knees, her face upturned to the clock, is rubbing up and
     down her thighs, as if at the business of washing_. TOM MORRIS THE
     SHEEP _is prostrate and making a strange buzzing sound between his
     lips. The wheels of the clever old timepiece whir and turn. Then in
     the silent noonday the harsh striking begins: One, Two, Three,
     Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve._

DEACON ROBERTS. [_Yelling suddenly in a loud and terrible voice._] Hell
let loose! Howl ye! Howl, ye sinners! [_All cover their eyes. All groan
or moan. The clock ticks, the flame in the grate flutters_, NELI'S
_bosom rises and falls heavily_.] Lest worse happen to ye, sin no more!

     [_The_ DEACON _looks at them all quietly. Then he lifts his hands
     in sign of blessing, smiles and vanishes silently through street
     door. All remain stationary in their terror. Nothing happens. But
     at last_ NELI _fearfully, still spellbound by the_ DEACON'S
     _eloquence, lifts her eyes to the clock. Then cautiously she turns
     a little toward the fire and the place of_ DEACON ROBERTS.

NELI. Uch! [_She stands on her feet and cries out._] The Deacon is gone!

HUGH. [_Raising his eyes._] Uch, what is it? Babylon----

NELI. Babylon nothing! [_She wrings her hands._

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. [_Groaning._] Is he dead? Is he dead?

NELI. [_With sudden plunge toward the door._] Uch, ye old hypocrite, ye
villain! Uch, my butter an' my eggs, my butter an' my eggs!

     [NELI _throws open the door and slams it to after her as she
     pursues the_ DEACON _out into the bright midday sunshine_.

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. Well, indeed, what is it? Has she been taken?

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Getting up heavily._] Such movin' eloquence! A
saintly man is Deacon Roberts!

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Aye, a saintly man is Deacon Roberts!

HUGH. [_Picking up his book and speaking slowly._] Aye, eloquence that
knoweth the place of hell even better than it knoweth Bala whatever!

MRS. JENKINS THE MIDWIFE. [_Very businesslike._] Aye, 'twas a treat--a
rare treat! But where's my pins now?

MRS. JONES THE WASH. [_Very businesslike._] Yiss, yiss, 'twas a grand
an' fine treat. But I'm wantin' my soap now.

TOM MORRIS THE SHEEP. Have ye any tobacco, Hughie lad?

CURTAIN



WHERE BUT IN AMERICA

BY

OSCAR M. WOLFF


_Where But In America_ is reprinted by special permission of the author
and of the _Smart Set Magazine_, in which this play was first printed.
For permission to perform address the author at Room 1211, 105 Monroe
Street, Chicago, Illinois.


OSCAR M. WOLFF

Oscar M. Wolff was born July 13, 1876. After graduation from Cornell
University he completed his law course in the University of Chicago. In
addition to his interest in law, which he has practised and taught, he
has done considerable writing and editing. He has published a legal
text-book, and his articles on legal subjects have appeared both in law
journals and in magazines of general interest. During the war he was
connected with the United States Food Administration at Washington. At
present he lives in Chicago, Illinois.

In addition to some stories, he has written several one-act plays:
_Where But in America_, _The Claim for Exemption_, and _The
Money-Lenders_.

_Where But in America_ is an excellent play of situation, as well as a
delicate satire on a certain aspect of American social life.


CAST

    MRS. ESPENHAYNE
    MR. ESPENHAYNE
    HILDA



WHERE BUT IN AMERICA[J]


     SCENE: _The Espenhayne dining-room._

     _The curtain rises on the Espenhayne dining-room. It is furnished
     with modest taste and refinement. There is a door, centre, leading
     to the living-room, and a swinging door, left, leading to the
     kitchen._

     _The table is set, and_ ROBERT _and_ MOLLIE ESPENHAYNE _are
     discovered at their evening meal. They are educated, well-bred
     young Americans._ ROBERT _is a pleasing, energetic business man of
     thirty_; MOLLIE _an attractive woman of twenty-five. The bouillon
     cups are before them as the curtain rises._

BOB. Mollie, I heard from the man who owns that house in Kenilworth. He
wants to sell the house. He won't rent.

MOLLIE. I really don't care, Bob. That house was too far from the
station, and it had only one sleeping-porch, and you know I want
white-enamelled woodwork in the bedrooms. But, Bob, I've been terribly
stupid!

BOB. How so, Mollie?

MOLLIE. You remember the Russells moved to Highland Park last spring?

BOB. Yes; Ed Russell rented a house that had just been built.

MOLLIE. A perfectly darling little house! And Fanny Russell once told me
that the man who built it will put up a house for any one who will take
a five-year lease. And she says that the man is very competent and they
are simply delighted with their place.

BOB. Why don't we get in touch with the man?

MOLLIE. Wasn't it stupid of me not to think about it? It just flashed
into my mind this morning, and I sat down at once and sent a
special-delivery letter to Fanny Russell. I asked her to tell me his
name at once, and where we can find him.

BOB. Good! You ought to have an answer by to-morrow or Thursday and
we'll go up north and have a talk with him on Saturday.

MOLLIE. [_With enthusiasm._] Wouldn't it be wonderful if he'd build just
what we want! Fanny Russell says every detail of their house is perfect.
Even the garage; they use it----

BOB. [_Interrupting._] Mollie, that's the one thing I'm afraid of about
the North Shore plan. I've said repeatedly that I don't want to buy a
car for another year or two. But here you are, talking about a garage
already.

MOLLIE. But you didn't let me finish what I was saying. The Russells
have fitted up their garage as a playroom for the children. If we had a
garage we could do the same thing.

BOB. Well, let's keep temptation behind us and not even talk to the man
about a garage. If we move up north it must be on an economy basis for a
few years; just a half-way step between the apartment and the house we
used to plan. You mustn't get your heart set on a car.

MOLLIE. I haven't even thought of one, dear. [BOB _and_ MOLLIE _have now
both finished the bouillon course and lay down their spoons. Reaching
out her hand to touch the table button, and at the same time leaning
across the table and speaking very impressively._] Bob, I'm about to
ring for Hilda!

BOB. What of it?

MOLLIE. [_Decidedly and with a touch of impatience._] You know very
well, what of it. I don't want Hilda to hear us say one word about
moving away from the South Side!

BOB. [_Protesting._] But Mollie----

MOLLIE. [_Interrupting hurriedly and holding her finger to her lips in
warning._] Psst!

     [_The next instant_ HILDA _enters, left. She is a tall, blonde
     Swedish girl, about twenty-five years old. She is very pretty and
     carries herself well and looks particularly charming in a maid's
     dress, with white collars and cuffs and a dainty waitress's apron.
     Every detail of her dress is immaculate._

MOLLIE. [_Speaking the instant that_ HILDA _appears and talking very
rapidly all the time that_ HILDA _remains in the room. While she speaks_
MOLLIE _watches_ HILDA _rather than_ ROBERT, _whom she pretends to be
addressing_.] In the last game Gert Jones was my partner. It was frame
apiece and I dealt and I bid one no trump. I had a very weak no trump.
I'll admit that, but I didn't want them to win the rubber. Mrs. Stone
bid two spades and Gert Jones doubled her. Mrs. Green passed and I
simply couldn't go to three of anything. Mrs. Stone played two spades,
doubled, and she made them. Of course, that put them out and gave them
the rubber. I think that was a very foolish double of Gert Jones, and
then she said it was my fault, because I bid one no trump.

     [_As_ MOLLIE _begins her flow of words_ BOB _first looks at her in
     open-mouthed astonishment. Then as he gradually comprehends that_
     MOLLIE _is merely talking against time he too turns his eyes to_
     HILDA _and watches her closely in her movements around the table.
     Meanwhile_ HILDA _moves quietly and quickly and pays no attention
     to anything except the work she has in hand. She carries a small
     serving-tray, and, as_ MOLLIE _speaks_, HILDA _first takes the
     bouillon cups from the table, then brings the carving-knife and
     fork from the sideboard and places them before_ ROBERT, _and then,
     with the empty bouillon cups, exits left_. BOB _and_ MOLLIE _are
     both watching_ HILDA _as she goes out. The instant the door swings
     shut behind her_, MOLLIE _relaxes with a sigh, and_ ROBERT _leans
     across the table to speak_.

BOB. Mollie, why not be sensible about this thing! Have a talk with
Hilda and find out if she will move north with us.

MOLLIE. That's just like a man! Then we might not find a house to please
us and Hilda would be dissatisfied and suspicious. She might even leave.
[_Thoughtfully._] Of course, I must speak to her before we sign a lease,
because I really don't know what I'd do if Hilda refused to leave the
South side. [_More cheerfully._] But there, we won't think about the
disagreeable things until everything is settled.

BOB. That's good American doctrine.

MOLLIE. [_Warningly and again touching her finger to her lips._] Psst!

     [HILDA _enters, left, carrying the meat plates, with a heavy napkin
     under them_.

MOLLIE. [_Immediately resuming her monologue._] I think my last year's
hat will do very nicely. You know it rained all last summer and I really
only wore the hat a half a dozen times. Perhaps not that often. I can
make a few changes on it; put on some new ribbons, you know, and it will
do very nicely for another year. You remember that hat, don't you dear?

     [BOB _starts to answer, but_ MOLLIE _rushes right on_.

Of course you do, you remember you said it was so becoming. That's
another reason why I want to wear it this summer.

     [HILDA, _meanwhile, puts the plates on the table in front of_ BOB,
     _and goes out, left_. MOLLIE _at once stops speaking_.

BOB. [_Holding his hands over the plates as over a fire and rubbing them
together in genial warmth._] Ah, the good hot plates! She never forgets
them. She _is_ a gem, Mollie.

MOLLIE. [_In great self-satisfaction._] If you are finally convinced of
that, after three years, I wish you would be a little bit more careful
what you say the next time Hilda comes in the room.

BOB. [_In open-mouthed astonishment._] What!

MOLLIE. Well, I don't want Hilda to think we are making plans behind her
back.

BOB. [_Reflectively._] "A man's home is his castle." [_Pauses._] It's
very evident that the Englishman who first said that didn't keep any
servants.

     [_Telephone bell rings off stage._

MOLLIE. Answer that, Bob.

BOB. Won't Hilda answer it?

MOLLIE. [_Standing up quickly and speaking impatiently._] Very well, I
shall answer it myself. I can't ask Hilda to run to the telephone while
she is serving the meal.

BOB. [_Sullenly, as he gets up._] All right! All right!

     [BOB _exits, centre. As he does so_ HILDA _appears at the door,
     left, hurrying to answer the telephone_.

MOLLIE. Mr. Espenhayne will answer it, Hilda.

     [HILDA _makes the slightest possible bow of acquiescence, withdraws
     left, and in a moment reappears with vegetable dishes and small
     side dishes, which she puts before_ MRS. ESPENHAYNE. _She is
     arranging these when_ BOB _re-enters, centre_.

BOB. Somebody for you, Hilda.

HILDA. [_Surprised._] For me? Oh! But I cannot answer eet now. Please
ask the party to call later.

     [HILDA _speaks excellent English, but with some Swedish accent. The
     noticeable feature of her speech is the precision and great care
     with which she enunciates every syllable._

MOLLIE. Just take the number yourself, Hilda, and tell the party you
will call back after dinner.

HILDA. Thank you, Messes Aispenhayne.

     [HILDA _exits, centre_. BOB _stands watching_ HILDA, _as she leaves
     the room, and then turns and looks at_ MOLLIE _with a bewildered
     expression_.

BOB. [_Standing at his chair._] But I thought Hilda couldn't be running
to the telephone while she serves the dinner?

MOLLIE. But this call is for Hilda, herself. That's quite different, you
see.

BOB. [_Slowly and thoughtfully._] Oh, yes! Of course; I see! [_Sits down
in his chair._] That is--I don't quite see!

MOLLIE. [_Immediately leaning across the table and speaking in a
cautious whisper._] Do you know who it is?

     [BOB _closes his lips very tightly and nods yes in a very important
     manner_.

MOLLIE. [_In the same whisper and very impatiently._] Who?

BOB. [_Looking around the room as if to see if any one is in hiding, and
then putting his hand to his mouth and exaggerating the whisper._] The
Terrible Swede.

MOLLIE. [_In her ordinary tone and very much exasperated._] Robert, I've
told you a hundred times that you shouldn't refer to--to--the man in
that way.

BOB. And I've told you a hundred times to ask Hilda his name. If I knew
his name I'd announce him with as much ceremony as if he were the
Swedish Ambassador.

MOLLIE. [_Disgusted._] Oh, don't try to be funny! Suppose some day Hilda
hears you speak of him in that manner?

BOB. You know that's mild compared to what you think of him. Suppose
some day Hilda learns what you think of him?

MOLLIE. I think very well of him and you know it. Of course, I dread the
time when she marries him, but I wouldn't for the world have her think
that we speak disrespectfully of her or her friends.

BOB. "A man's home is his castle."

     [MOLLIE'S _only answer is a gesture of impatience_. MOLLIE _and_
     BOB _sit back in their chairs to await_ HILDA'S _return. Both sit
     with fingers interlaced, hands resting on the edge of the table in
     the attitude of school children at attention. A long pause._ MOLLIE
     _unclasps her hands and shifts uneasily_. ROBERT _does the same_.
     MOLLIE, _seeing this, hastily resumes her former attitude of quiet
     waiting_. ROBERT, _however, grows increasingly restless. His
     restlessness makes_ MOLLIE _nervous and she watches_ ROBERT, _and
     when he is not observing her she darts quick, anxious glances at
     the door, centre_. BOB _drains and refills his glass_.

MOLLIE. [_She has been watching_ ROBERT _and every time he shifts or
moves she unconsciously does the same, and finally she breaks out
nervously_.] I don't understand this at all! Isn't to-day Tuesday?

BOB. What of it?

MOLLIE. He usually calls up on Wednesdays and comes to see her on
Saturdays.

BOB. And takes her to the theatre on Thursdays and to dances on Sundays.
He's merely extending his line of attack.

     [_Another long pause--then Bob begins to experiment to learn
     whether the plates are still hot. He gingerly touches the edges of
     the upper plate in two or three places. It seems safe to handle. He
     takes hold of upper and lower plates boldly, muttering, as he does
     so, "Cold as--" Drops the plates with a clatter and a smothered
     oath. Shakes his fingers and blows on them. Meanwhile_ MOLLIE _is
     sitting very rigid, regarding_ BOB _with a fixed stare and beating
     a vigorous tattoo on the tablecloth with her fingers. Bob catches
     her eye and cringes under her gaze. He drains and refills his
     glass. He studies the walls and the ceiling of the room, meanwhile
     still nursing his fingers._ BOB _steals a sidelong glance at_
     MOLLIE. _She is still staring at him. He turns to his water goblet.
     Picks it up and holds it to the light. He rolls the stem between
     his fingers, squinting at the light through the water. Reciting
     slowly as he continues to gaze at the light._

BOB. Starlight! Starbright! Will Hilda talk to him all night!

MOLLIE. [_In utter disgust._] Oh, stop that singing.

     [BOB _puts down his glass, then drinks the water and refills the
     glass. He then turns his attention to the silverware and cutlery
     before him. He examines it critically, then lays a teaspoon
     carefully on the cloth before him, and attempts the trick of
     picking it up with the first finger in the bowl and the thumb at
     the point of the handle. After one or two attempts the spoon shoots
     on the floor, far behind him._ MOLLIE _jumps at the noise_. BOB
     _turns slowly and looks at the spoon with an injured air, then
     turns back to_ MOLLIE _with a silly, vacuous smile. He now lays all
     the remaining cutlery in a straight row before him._

BOB. [_Slowly counting the cutlery and silver, back and forth._] Eeny,
meeny, miney, mo. Catch a--[_Stops suddenly as an idea comes to him.
Gazes thoughtfully at_ MOLLIE _for a moment, then begins to count over
again_.] Eeny, meeny, miney, mo; Hilda's talking to her beau. If we
holler, she may go. Eeny, mee----

MOLLIE. [_Interrupting and exasperated to the verge of tears._] Bob, if
you don't stop all that nonsense, I shall scream! [_In a very tense
tone._] I believe I'm going to have one of my sick headaches! [_Puts her
hand to her forehead._] I know it; I can feel it coming on!

BOB. [_In a soothing tone._] Hunger, my dear, hunger! When you have a
good warm meal you'll feel better.

MOLLIE. [_In despair._] What do you suppose I ought to do?

BOB. Go out in the kitchen and fry a couple of eggs.

MOLLIE. Oh! be serious! I'm at my wits' end! Hilda never did anything
like this before.

BOB. [_Suddenly quite serious._] What does that fellow do for a living,
anyhow?

MOLLIE. How should I know?

BOB. Didn't you ever ask Hilda?

MOLLIE. Certainly not. Hilda doesn't ask me about your business; why
should I pry into her affairs?

BOB. [_Taking out his cigarette case and lighting a cigarette._] Mollie,
I see you're strong for the Constitution of the United States.

MOLLIE. [_Suspiciously._] What do you mean by that?

BOB. The Constitution says: "Whereas it is a self-evident truth that all
men are born equal"--[_With a wave of the hand._] Hilda and you, and the
Terrible Swede and I and----

MOLLIE. [_Interrupting._] Bob, you're such a _heathen_! _That's not in
the Constitution._ That's in the Bible!

BOB. Well, wherever it is, until this evening I never realized what a
personage Hilda is.

MOLLIE. You can make fun of me all you please, but I know what's right!
Your remarks don't influence me in the least--not in the least!

BOB. [_Murmurs thoughtfully and feelingly._] How true! [_Abruptly._] Why
don't they get married? Do you know that?

MOLLIE. All I know is that they are waiting until his business is
entirely successful, so that Hilda won't have to work.

BOB. Well, the Swedes are pretty careful of their money. The chances are
Hilda has a neat little nest-egg laid by.

MOLLIE. [_Hesitating and doubtfully._] That's one thing that worries me
a little. I think Hilda puts money--into--into--into the young man's
business.

BOB. [_Indignantly._] Do you mean to tell me that this girl gives her
money to that fellow and you don't try to find out a thing about him?
Who he is or what he does? I suppose she supports the loafer.

MOLLIE. [_With dignity._] He's not a loafer. I've seen him and I've
talked with him, and I know he's a gentleman.

BOB. Mollie, I'm getting tired of all that kind of drivel. I believe
nowadays women give a good deal more thought to pleasing their maids
than they do to pleasing their husbands.

MOLLIE. [_Demurely._] Well, you know, Bob, your maid can leave you much
easier than your husband can--[_pauses thoughtfully_] and I'm sure she's
much harder to replace.

BOB. [_Very angry, looking at his watch, throwing his napkin on the
table and standing up._] Mollie, our dinner has been interrupted for
fifteen minutes while Hilda entertains her [_with sarcasm_] gentleman
friend. If you won't stop it, I will.

     [_Steps toward the door, centre._

MOLLIE. [_Sternly, pointing to_ BOB'S _chair_.] Robert, sit down!

     [BOB _pauses, momentarily, and at the instant_ HILDA _enters,
     centre, meeting_ BOB, _face to face. Both are startled._ BOB, _in a
     surly manner, walks back to his place at the table_. HILDA
     _follows, excited and eager_. BOB _sits down and_ HILDA _stands for
     a moment at the table, smiling from one to the other and evidently
     anxious to say something_. BOB _and_ MOLLIE _are severe and
     unfriendly. They gaze at_ HILDA _coldly. Slowly_ HILDA'S
     _enthusiasm cools, and she becomes again the impassive servant_.

HILDA. Aixcuse me, Meeses Aispenhayne, I am very sorry. I bring the
dinner right in. [_Hilda exits left._

BOB. It's all nonsense. [_Touches the plates again, but this time even
more cautiously than before. This time he finds they are entirely safe
to handle._] These plates are stone cold now.

     [HILDA _enters, left, with meat platter. Places it before_ BOB. _He
     serves the meat and_ MOLLIE _starts to serve the vegetables_. HILDA
     _hands_ MOLLIE _her meat plate_.

MOLLIE. Vegetables? [BOB _is chewing on his meat and does not answer_.
MOLLIE _looks at him inquiringly. But his eyes are on his plate.
Repeating._] Vegetables? [_Still no answer from_ BOB. _Very softly,
under her breath._] H'mm.

     [MOLLIE _helps herself to vegetables and then dishes out a portion
     which she hands to_ HILDA, _who in turn places the dish beside_
     BOB. _When both are served_ HILDA _stands for a moment back of the
     table. She clasps and unclasps her hands in a nervous manner, seems
     about to speak, but as_ BOB _and_ MOLLIE _pay no attention to her
     she slowly and reluctantly turns, and exits left_. MOLLIE _takes
     one or two bites of the meat and then gives a quick glance at_ BOB.
     _He is busy chewing at his meat, and_ MOLLIE _quietly lays down her
     knife and fork and turns to the vegetables_.

BOB. [_Chewing desperately on his meat._] Tenderloin, I believe?

MOLLIE. [_Sweetly._] Yes, dear.

BOB. [_Imitating_ MOLLIE _a moment back_.] H'mm! [_He takes one or two
more hard bites._] Mollie, I have an idea.

MOLLIE. I'm relieved.

BOB. [_Savagely._] Yes, you will be when you hear it. When we get that
builder's name from Fanny Russell, we'll tell him that instead of a
garage, which we don't need, he can build a special telephone booth off
the kitchen. Then while Hilda serves the dinner----

     [BOB _stops short, as_ HILDA _bursts in abruptly, left, and comes
     to the table_.

HILDA. Aixcuse me, Meeses Aispenhayne, I am so excited.

MOLLIE. [_Anxiously._] Is anything wrong, Hilda?

HILDA. [_Explosively._] Meeses Aispenhayne, Meester Leendquist he say
you want to move to Highland Park.

     [BOB _and_ MOLLIE _simultaneously drop their knives and forks and
     look at_ HILDA _in astonishment and wonder_.

MOLLIE. What?

BOB. Who?

HILDA. [_Repeats very rapidly._] Meester Leendquist, he say you look for
house on North Shore!

MOLLIE. [_Utterly overcome at_ HILDA'S _knowledge and at a loss for
words of denial_.] We move to the North Shore? How ridiculous! Hilda,
where did you get such an idea? [_Turns to_ ROBERT.] Robert, did you
ever hear anything so laughable? [_She forces a strained laugh._] Ha!
Ha! Ha! [ROBERT _has been looking at_ HILDA _in dumb wonder. At_
MOLLIE'S _question he turns to her in startled surprise. He starts to
answer, gulps, swallows hard, and then coughs violently. Very sharply,
after waiting a moment for_ BOB _to answer_.] Robert Espenhayne, will
you stop that coughing and answer me!

BOB. [_Between coughs, and drinking a glass of water._] Egh! Egh! Excuse
me! Something, eh! egh! stuck in my throat.

MOLLIE. [_Turning to_ HILDA.] Some day we might want to move north,
Hilda, but not now! Oh, no, not now!

BOB. Who told you that, Hilda?

HILDA. Meester Leendquist.

MOLLIE. [_Puzzled._] Who is Mr. Lindquist?

HILDA. [_Surprised._] Meester Leendquist--[_Pauses, a trifle
embarrassed._] Meester Leendquist ees young man who just speak to me on
telephone. He come to see me every Saturday.

BOB. Oh, Mr. Lindquist, the--the--Ter----

MOLLIE. [_Interrupting frantically, and waving her hands at_ BOB.] Yes,
yes, of course. You know--Mr. Lindquist! [BOB _catches himself just in
time and_ MOLLIE _settles back with a sigh of relief, then turns to_
HILDA _with a puzzled air_.] But where did Mr. Lindquist get such an
idea?

HILDA. Mrs. Russell tell heem so.

MOLLIE. [_Now entirely bewildered._] What Mrs. Russell?

HILDA. Meeses Russell--your friend.

MOLLIE. [_More and more at sea._] Mrs. Edwin Russell, who comes to see
me--every now and then?

HILDA. Yes.

MOLLIE. But how does Mrs. Russell know Mr. Lindquist and why should she
tell Mr. Lindquist that we expected to move to the North Shore?

HILDA. Meester Leendquist, he build Meeses Russell's house. That ees
hees business. He build houses on North Shore and he sell them and rent
them.

     [BOB _and_ MOLLIE _look at each other and at_ HILDA, _in wonder and
     astonishment as the situation slowly filters into their brains. A
     long pause._]

BOB. [_In awe and astonishment._] You mean that Mr. Lindquist, the young
man who comes to see you every--every--every now and then--is the same
man who put up the Russell house?

HILDA. Yes, Meester Aispenhayne.

BOB. [_Slowly._] And when Mrs. Espenhayne [_points to_ MOLLIE] wrote to
Mrs. Russell [_jerks his thumb to indicate the north_], Mrs. Russell
told Mr. Lindquist [_jerks his thumb in opposite direction_] and Mr.
Lindquist telephoned to you?

     [_Points to_ HILDA.

HILDA. Yes, Meester Aispenhayne. [_Nodding._

BOB. [_Very thoughtfully and slowly._] H'mm! [_Then slowly resuming his
meal and speaking in mock seriousness, in subtle jest at_ MOLLIE, _and
imitating her tone of a moment or two back_.] But of course, you
understand, Hilda, we don't want to move to the North Shore now! Oh, no,
not now!

HILDA. [_Somewhat crestfallen._] Yes, Meester Aispenhayne.

BOB. [_Reflectively._] But, of course, if Mr. Lindquist builds houses,
we might look. Yes, we might look.

HILDA. [_In growing confidence and enthusiasm._] Yes, Meester
Aispenhayne, and he build such beautiful houses and so cheap. He do so
much heemself. Hees father was carpenter and he work hees way through
Uneeversity of Mennesota and study architecture and then he go to
Uneeversity of Eelenois and study landscape gardening and now he been in
business for heemself sex years. And oh, Meeses Aispenhayne, you must
see hees own home! You will love eet, eet ees so beautiful. A little
house, far back from the road. You can hardly see eet for the trees and
the shrubs, and een the summer the roses grow all around eet. Eet is
just like the picture book!

MOLLIE. [_In the most perfunctory tone, utterly without interest or
enthusiasm._] How charming! [_Pauses thoughtfully, then turns to_ HILDA,
_anxiously_.] Then I suppose, Hilda, if we should decide to move up to
the North Shore you would go with us?

HILDA. [_Hesitatingly._] Yes, Meeses Aispenhayne. [_Pauses._] But I
theenk I must tell you thees spring Meester Leendquist and I aixpect to
get married. Meester Leendquist's business ees very good. [_With a quick
smile and a glance from one to the other._] You know, I am partner with
heem. I put all my money een Meester Leendquist's business too.

     [MOLLIE _and_ BOB _gaze at each other in complete resignation and
     surrender_.

BOB. [_Quite seriously after a long pause._] Hilda, I don't know whether
we will move north or not, but the next time Mr. Lindquist comes here I
want you to introduce me to him. I'd like to know him. You ought to be
very proud of a man like that.

HILDA. [_Radiant with pleasure._] Thank you, Meester Aispenhayne.

MOLLIE. Yes, indeed, Hilda, Mr. Espenhayne has often said what a fine
young man Mr. Lindquist seems to be. We want to meet him, and Mr.
Espenhayne and I will talk about the house, and then we will speak to
Mr. Lindquist. [_Then weakly._] Of course, we didn't expect to move
north for a long time, but, of course, if you expect to get married, and
Mr. Lindquist builds houses---- [_Her voice dies out. Long pause._

HILDA. Thank you, Meeses Aispenhayne, I tell Mr. Leendquist.

     [HILDA _stands at the table a moment longer, then slowly turns and
     moves toward door, left_. BOB _and_ MOLLIE _watch her and as she
     moves away from the table_ BOB _turns to_ MOLLIE. _At this moment_
     HILDA _stops, turns suddenly and returns to the table_.

HILDA. Oh, Meeses Aispenhayne, I forget one theeng!

MOLLIE. What now, Hilda?

HILDA. Meester Leendquist say eef you and Meester Aispenhayne want to
look at property on North Shore, I shall let heem know and he meet you
at station weeth hees automobile.

CURTAIN



A DOLLAR

BY

DAVID PINSKI


_A Dollar_ is reprinted by special permission of David Pinski and of
B. W. Huebach, New York City, the publisher of David Pinski's _Ten
Plays_, from which this play is taken. All rights reserved. For
permission to perform address the publisher.


DAVID PINSKI

David Pinski, perhaps the most notable dramatist of the Yiddish Theatre,
was born of Jewish parentage April 5, 1872, in Mohilev, on the Dnieper,
White Russia. Because his parents had rabbinical aspirations for him he
was well educated in Hebrew studies (Bible and Talmud) by his fourteenth
year, when he moved to Moscow, where he was further trained in classical
and secular studies. In 1891 he planned to study medicine in Vienna, but
soon returned to Warsaw, where he began his literary work as a
short-story writer. In 1896 he took up the study of philosophy and
literature, and in 1899 wrote his first plays. In 1899 he came to New
York City, where he is now editor of the Jewish daily, _Die Zeit_. In
1911 he revisited Germany to see a production of his well-known comedy,
_The Treasure_, by Max Reinhart.

Mr. Pinski is zealous in his interests in literature, drama, socialism,
and Zionism. Drama is to him an interpretation of life, and a guide and
leader, as were the words of the old poets and prophets. "The dramatic
technique," says he, "changes with each plot, as each plot brings with
it its own technique. One thing, however, must be common to all the
different forms of the dramatic technique--avoidance of tediousness."

Mr. Pinski has written a goodly number of plays, most of which are on
Yiddish themes. _Forgotten Souls_, _The Stranger_, _Sufferings_, _The
Treasure_, _The Phonograph_, and _A Dollar_ may be mentioned. Most of
his plays have been produced many times; _The Stranger_ played the third
season in Moscow.

"I wrote _A Dollar_," says he, "in the summer of 1913, when I was hard
pressed financially. I relieved myself of my feelings by a hearty laugh
at the almighty dollar and the race for it. Just as I did many summers
before, in 1906, when I entertained myself by ridiculing the mad money
joy in the bigger comedy, _The Treasure_."


PERSONS

The Characters are given in the order of their appearance.

    THE COMEDIAN
    THE VILLAIN
    THE TRAGEDIAN
    ACTOR _who plays_ "OLD MAN" _rôle_
    THE HEROINE
    THE INGENUE
    ACTRESS _who plays_ "OLD WOMAN" _rôle_
    THE STRANGER



A DOLLAR


     _A cross-roads at the edge of a forest. One road extends from left
     to right; the other crosses the first diagonally, disappearing into
     the forest. The roadside is bordered with grass. On the right, at
     the crossing, stands a sign-post, to which are nailed two boards,
     giving directions and distances._

     _The afternoon of a summer day. A troupe of stranded strolling
     players enters from the left. They are ragged and weary. The_
     COMEDIAN _walks first, holding a valise in each hand, followed by
     the_ VILLAIN _carrying over his arms two huge bundles wrapped in
     bed-sheets. Immediately behind these the_ TRAGEDIAN _and the_ "OLD
     MAN" _carrying together a large, heavy trunk_.

COMEDIAN. [_Stepping toward the sign-post, reading the directions on the
boards, and explaining to the approaching fellow-actors._] That way
[_pointing to right and swinging the valise to indicate the direction_]
is thirty miles. This way [_pointing to left_] is forty-five--and that
way it is thirty-six. Now choose for yourself the town that you'll never
reach to-day. The nearest way for us is back to where we came from,
whence we were escorted with the most splendid catcalls that ever
crowned our histrionic successes.

VILLAIN. [_Exhausted._] Who will lend me a hand to wipe off my
perspiration? It has a nasty way of streaming into my mouth.

COMEDIAN. Stand on your head, then, and let your perspiration water a
more fruitful soil.

VILLAIN. Oh!

     [_He drops his arms, the bundles fall down. He then sinks down onto
     one of them and wipes off the perspiration, moving his hand wearily
     over his face. The_ TRAGEDIAN _and the_ "OLD MAN" _approach the
     post and read the signs_.

TRAGEDIAN. [_In a deep, dramatic voice._] It's hopeless! It's hopeless!
[_He lets go his end of the trunk._

"OLD MAN." [_Lets go his end of the trunk._] Mm. Another stop.

     [TRAGEDIAN _sits himself down on the trunk in a tragico-heroic
     pose, knees wide apart, right elbow on right knee, left hand on
     left leg, head slightly bent toward the right_. COMEDIAN _puts down
     the valises and rolls a cigarette_. The "OLD MAN" _also sits down
     upon the trunk, head sunk upon his breast_.

VILLAIN. Thirty miles to the nearest town! Thirty miles!

COMEDIAN. It's an outrage how far people move their towns away from us.

VILLAIN. We won't strike a town until the day after to-morrow.

COMEDIAN. Hurrah! That's luck for you! There's yet a day-after-to-morrow
for us.

VILLAIN. And the old women are still far behind us. Crawling!

"OLD MAN." They want the vote and they can't even walk.

COMEDIAN. We won't give them votes, that's settled. Down with votes for
women!

VILLAIN. It seems the devil himself can't take you! Neither your tongue
nor your feet ever get tired. You get on my nerves. Sit down and shut up
for a moment.

COMEDIAN. _Me?_ Ha--ha! I'm going back there to the lady of my heart.
I'll meet her and fetch her hither in my arms.

     [_He spits on his hands, turns up his sleeves, and strides rapidly
     off toward the left._

VILLAIN. Clown!

"OLD MAN." How can he laugh and play his pranks even now? We haven't a
cent to our souls, our supply of food is running low and our shoes are
dilapidated.

TRAGEDIAN. [_With an outburst._] Stop it! No reckoning! The number of
our sins is great and the tale of our misfortunes is even greater. Holy
Father! Our flasks are empty; I'd give what is left of our soles
[_displaying his ragged shoes_] for just a smell of whiskey.

     [_From the left is heard the laughter of a woman. Enter the_
     COMEDIAN _carrying in his arms the_ HEROINE, _who has her hands
     around his neck and holds a satchel in both hands behind his back_.

COMEDIAN. [_Letting his burden down upon the grass._] Sit down, my love,
and rest up. We go no further to-day. Your feet, your tender little feet
must ache you. How unhappy that makes me! At the first opportunity I
shall buy you an automobile.

HEROINE. And in the meantime you may carry me oftener.

COMEDIAN. The beast of burden hears and obeys.

     [_Enter the_ INGENUE _and the_ "OLD WOMAN," _each carrying a small
     satchel_.

INGENUE. [_Weary and pouting._] Ah! No one carried _me_.

     [_She sits on the grass to the right of the_ HEROINE.

VILLAIN. We have only one ass with us.

     [COMEDIAN _stretches himself out at the feet of the_ HEROINE _and
     emits the bray of a donkey_. "OLD WOMAN" _sits down on the grass to
     the left of the_ HEROINE.

"OLD WOMAN." And are we to pass the night here?

"OLD MAN." No, we shall stop at "Hotel Neverwas."

COMEDIAN. Don't you like our night's lodgings? [_Turning over toward
the_ "OLD WOMAN."] See, the bed is broad and wide, and certainly
without vermin. Just feel the high grass. Such a soft bed you never
slept in. And you shall have a cover embroidered with the moon and
stars, a cover such as no royal bride ever possessed.

"OLD WOMAN." You're laughing, and I feel like crying.

COMEDIAN. Crying? You should be ashamed of the sun which favors you with
its setting splendor. Look, and be inspired!

VILLAIN. Yes, look and expire.

COMEDIAN. Look, and shout with ecstasy!

"OLD MAN." Look, and burst!

     [INGENUE _starts sobbing_. TRAGEDIAN _laughs heavily_.

COMEDIAN. [_Turning over to the_ INGENUE.] What! You are crying? Aren't
you ashamed of yourself?

INGENUE. I'm sad.

"OLD WOMAN." [_Sniffling._] I can't stand it any longer.

HEROINE. Stop it! Or I'll start bawling, too.

     [COMEDIAN _springs to his knees and looks quickly from one woman to
     the other_.

VILLAIN. Ha--ha! Cheer them up, clown!

COMEDIAN. [_Jumps up abruptly without the aid of his hands._] Ladies and
gentlemen, I have it! [_In a measured and singing voice._] Ladies and
gentlemen, I have it!

HEROINE. What have you?

COMEDIAN. Cheerfulness.

VILLAIN. Go bury yourself, clown.

TRAGEDIAN. [_As before._] Ho-ho-ho!

"OLD MAN." P-o-o-h!

     [_The women weep all the louder._

COMEDIAN. I have--a bottle of whiskey!

     [_General commotion. The women stop crying and look up to the_
     COMEDIAN _in amazement; the_ TRAGEDIAN _straightens himself out and
     casts a surprised look at the_ COMEDIAN; the "OLD MAN," _rubbing
     his hands, jumps to his feet; the_ VILLAIN _looks suspiciously at
     the_ COMEDIAN.

TRAGEDIAN. A bottle of whiskey?

"OLD MAN." He-he-he--A bottle of whiskey.

VILLAIN. Hum--whiskey.

COMEDIAN. You bet! A bottle of whiskey, hidden and preserved for such
moments as this, a moment of masculine depression and feminine tears.

     [_Taking the flask from his hip pocket. The expression on the faces
     of all changes from hope to disappointment._

VILLAIN. You call that a bottle. I call it a flask.

TRAGEDIAN. [_Explosively._] A thimble!

"OLD MAN." A dropper!

"OLD WOMAN." For seven of us! Oh!

COMEDIAN. [_Letting the flash sparkle in the sun._] But it's whiskey, my
children. [_Opening the flask and smelling it._] U--u--u--m! That's
whiskey for you. The saloonkeeper from whom I hooked it will become a
teetotaler from sheer despair.

     [TRAGEDIAN _rising heavily and slowly proceeding toward the flask_.
     VILLAIN _still skeptical and rising as if unwilling. The_ "OLD MAN"
     _chuckling and rubbing his hands. The_ "OLD WOMAN" _getting up
     indifferently and moving apathetically toward the flask. The_
     HEROINE _and_ INGENUE _hold each other by the hand and take ballet
     steps in waltz time. All approach the_ COMEDIAN _with necks eagerly
     stretched out and smell the flask, which the_ COMEDIAN _holds
     firmly in both hands_.

TRAGEDIAN. Ho--ho--ho--Fine!

"OLD MAN." He--he--Small quantity, but excellent quality!

VILLAIN. Seems to be good whiskey.

HEROINE. [_Dancing and singing._] My comedian, my comedian. His head is
in the right place. But why didn't you nab a larger bottle?

COMEDIAN. My beloved one, I had to take in consideration both the
quality of the whiskey and the size of my pocket.

"OLD WOMAN." If only there's enough of it to go round.

INGENUE. Oh, I'm feeling sad again.

COMEDIAN. Cheer up, there will be enough for us all. Cheer up. Here,
smell it again.

     [_They smell again and cheerfulness reappears. They join hands and
     dance and sing, forming a circle, the_ COMEDIAN _applauding_.

COMEDIAN. Good! If you are so cheered after a mere smell of it, what
won't you feel like after a drink. Wait, I'll join you. [_He hides the
whiskey flask in his pocket._] I'll show you a new roundel which we will
perform in our next presentation of Hamlet, to the great edification of
our esteemed audience. [_Kicking the_ VILLAIN'S _bundles out of the
way_.] The place is clear, now for dance and play. Join hands and form a
circle, but you, Villain, stay on the outside of it. You are to try to
get in and we dance and are not to let you in, without getting out of
step. Understand? Now then!

     [_The circle is formed in the following order_--COMEDIAN, HEROINE,
     TRAGEDIAN, "OLD WOMAN," "OLD MAN," INGENUE.

COMEDIAN. [_Singing._]

    To be or not to be, that is the question.
      That is the question, that is the question.
    He who would enter in,
      Climb he must over us,
    If over he cannot,
      He must get under us.

REFRAIN

    Tra-la-la, tra-la-la,
      Over us, under us.
    Tra-la-la, tra-la-la,
      Under us, over us.
    Now we are jolly, jolly are we.

     [_The_ COMEDIAN _sings the refrain alone at first and the others
     repeat it together with him_.

COMEDIAN.

    To be or not to be, that is the question,
      That is the question, that is the question.
    In life to win success,
      Elbow your way through,
    Jostle the next one,
      Else _you_ will be jostled.

REFRAIN

[_Same as before._]

     [_On the last word of the refrain they flop as if dumbfounded, and
     stand transfixed, with eyes directed on one spot inside of the
     ring. The_ VILLAIN _leans over the arms of the_ COMEDIAN _and the_
     HEROINE; _gradually the circle draws closer till their heads almost
     touch. They attempt to free their handy but each holds on to the
     other and all seven whisper in great astonishment._

ALL. A dollar!

     [_The circle opens up again, they look each at the other and shout
     in wonder._

ALL. A dollar!

     [_Once more they close in and the struggle to free their hands
     grows wilder; the_ VILLAIN _tries to climb over and then under the
     hands into the circle and stretches out his hand toward the dollar,
     but instinctively he is stopped by the couple he tries to pass
     between, even when he is not seen but only felt. Again all lean
     their heads over the dollar, quite lost in the contemplation of it,
     and whispering, enraptured._

ALL. A dollar!

     [_Separating once again they look at each other with exultation and
     at the same time try to free their hands, once more exclaiming in
     ecstasy._

ALL. A dollar!

     [_Then the struggle to get free grows wilder and wilder. The hand
     that is perchance freed is quickly grasped again by the one who
     held it._

INGENUE. [_In pain._] Oh, my hands, my hands! You'll break them. Let go
of my hands!

"OLD WOMAN." If you don't let go of my hands I'll bite.

     [_Attempting to bite the hands of the_ TRAGEDIAN _and the_ "OLD
     MAN," _while they try to prevent it_.

"OLD MAN." [_Trying to free his hands from the hold of the_ HEROINE _and
the_ "OLD WOMAN."] Let go of me. [_Pulling at both his hands._] These
women's hands that--seem so frail, just look at them now.

HEROINE. [_To_ COMEDIAN.] But you let go my hands.

COMEDIAN. I think it's you who are holding fast to mine.

HEROINE. Why should I be holding you? If you pick up the dollar, what is
yours is mine, you know.

COMEDIAN. Then let go of my hand and I'll pick it up.

HEROINE. No, I'd rather pick it up myself.

COMEDIAN. I expected something like that from you.

HEROINE. [_Angrily._] Let go of my hands, that's all.

COMEDIAN. Ha-ha-ha--It's a huge joke. [_In a tone of command._] Be
quiet. [_They become still._] We must contemplate the dollar with
religious reverence. [_Commotion._] Keep quiet, I say! A dollar is
spread out before us. A real dollar in the midst of our circle, and
everything within us draws us toward it, draws us on irresistibly. Be
quiet! Remember you are before the Ruler, before the Almighty. On your
knees before him and pray. On your knees.

     [_Sinks down on his knees and drags with him the_ HEROINE _and_
     INGENUE. "OLD MAN" _dropping on his knees and dragging the_ "OLD
     WOMAN" _with him_.

"OLD MAN." He-he-he!

TRAGEDIAN. Ho-ho-ho, clown!

COMEDIAN. [_To_ TRAGEDIAN.] You are not worthy of the serious mask you
wear. You don't appreciate true Divine Majesty. On your knees, or you'll
get no whiskey. [TRAGEDIAN _sinks heavily on his knees_.] O holy dollar,
O almighty ruler of the universe, before thee we kneel in the dust and
send toward thee our most tearful and heartfelt prayers. Our hands are
bound, but our hearts strive toward thee and our souls yearn for thee. O
great king of kings, thou who bringest together those who are separated,
and separatest those who are near, thou who----

     [_The_ VILLAIN, _who is standing aside, takes a full jump, clears
     the_ INGENUE _and grasps the dollar. All let go of one another and
     fall upon him, shouting, screaming, pushing, and fighting. Finally
     the_ VILLAIN _manages to free himself, holding the dollar in his
     right fist. The others follow him with clenched fists, glaring
     eyes, and foaming mouths, wildly shouting._

ALL. The dollar! The dollar! The dollar! Return the dollar!

VILLAIN. [_Retreating._] You can't take it away from me; it's mine. It
was lying under my bundle.

ALL. Give up the dollar! Give up the dollar!

VILLAIN. [_In great rage._] No, no. [_A moment during which the opposing
sides look at each other in hatred. Quietly but with malice._] Moreover,
whom should I give it to? To you--you--you--you?

COMEDIAN. Ha-ha-ha-ha! He is right, the dollar is his. He has it,
therefore it is his. Ha-ha-ha-ha, and I wanted to crawl on my knees
toward the dollar and pick it up with my teeth. Ha-ha-ha-ha, but he got
ahead of me. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

HEROINE. [_Whispering in rage._] That's because you would not let go of
me.

COMEDIAN. Ha-ha-ha-ha!

TRAGEDIAN. [_Shaking his fist in the face of the_ VILLAIN.] Heaven and
hell, I feel like crushing you!

     [_He steps aside toward the trunk and sits down in his former
     pose._ INGENUE, _lying down on the grass, starts to cry_.

COMEDIAN. Ha-ha-ha! Now we will drink, and the first drink is the
Villain's.

     [_His proposition is accepted in gloom; the_ INGENUE, _however,
     stops crying; the_ "OLD MAN" _and the_ "OLD WOMAN" _have been
     standing by the_ VILLAIN _looking at the dollar in his hand as if
     waiting for the proper moment to snatch it from, him. Finally the_
     "OLD WOMAN" _makes a contemptuous gesture and both turn aside from
     the_ VILLAIN. _The latter, left in peace, smooths out the dollar,
     with a serious expression on his face. The_ COMEDIAN _hands him a
     small glass of whiskey_.

COMEDIAN. Drink, lucky one.

     [_The_ VILLAIN, _shutting the dollar in his fist, takes the whiskey
     glass gravely and quickly drinks the contents, returning the glass.
     He then starts to smooth and caress the dollar again. The_
     COMEDIAN, _still laughing, passes the whiskey glass from one to the
     other of the company, who drink sullenly. The whiskey fails to
     cheer them. After drinking, the_ INGENUE _begins to sob again. The_
     HEROINE, _who is served last, throws the empty whiskey glass toward
     the_ COMEDIAN.

COMEDIAN. Good shot. Now I'll drink up all that's left in the bottle.

     [_He puts the flask to his lips and drinks. The_ HEROINE _tries to
     knock it away from him, but he skilfully evades her. The_ VILLAIN
     _continues to smooth and caress the dollar_.

VILLAIN. Ha-ha-ha!... [_Singing and dancing._

    He who would enter in,
      _Jump_ he must over us.

Ho-ho-ho! O Holy Dollar! O Almighty Ruler of the World!... O King of
Kings! Ha-ha-ha!... Don't you all think if I have the dollar and you
have it not that I partake a bit of its majesty? That means that I am
now a part of its majesty. That means that I am the Almighty Dollar's
plenipotentiary, and therefore I am the Almighty Ruler himself. On your
knees before me!... He-he-he!...

COMEDIAN. [_After throwing away the empty flask, lies down on the
grass._] Well roared, lion, but you forgot to hide your jack-ass's ears.

VILLAIN. It is one's consciousness of power. He-he-he. I know and you
know that if I have the money I have the say. Remember, none of you has
a cent to his name. The whiskey is gone. [_Picking up the flask and
examining it._

COMEDIAN. I did my job well. Drank it to the last drop.

VILLAIN. Yes, to the last drop. This evening you shall have bread and
sausage. Very small portions, too, for to-morrow is another day.
[INGENUE _sobbing more frequently_.] Not till the day after to-morrow
shall we reach town, and that doesn't mean that you get anything to eat
there, either, but I--I--I--he-he-he. O Holy Dollar, Almighty Dollar!
[_Gravely._] He who does my bidding shall not be without food.

COMEDIAN. [_With wide-open eyes._] What? Ha-ha-ha!

     [INGENUE _gets up and throws herself on the_ VILLAIN'S _bosom_.

INGENUE. Oh, my dear beloved one.

VILLAIN. Ha-ha, my power already makes itself felt.

HEROINE. [_Pushing the_ INGENUE _away_.] Let go of him, you. He sought
my love for a long time and now he shall have it.

COMEDIAN. What? You!

HEROINE. [_To_ COMEDIAN.] I hate you, traitor. [_To the_ VILLAIN.] I
have always loved--genius. You are now the wisest of the wise. I adore
you.

VILLAIN. [_Holding_ INGENUE _in one arm_.] Come into my other arm.

     [HEROINE, _throwing herself into his arms, kissing and embracing
     him_.

COMEDIAN. [_Half rising on his knees._] Stop, I protest. [_Throwing
himself on the grass._] "O frailty, thy name is woman."

"OLD WOMAN." [_Approaching the_ VILLAIN _from behind and embracing
him_.] Find a little spot on your bosom for me. I play the "Old Woman,"
but you know I'm not really old.

VILLAIN. Now I have all of power and all of love.

COMEDIAN. Don't call it love. Call it servility.

VILLAIN. [_Freeing himself from the women._] But now I have something
more important to carry out. My vassals--I mean you all--I have decided
we will not stay here over night. We will proceed further.

WOMEN. How so?

VILLAIN. We go forward to-night.

COMEDIAN. You have so decided?

VILLAIN. I have so decided, and that in itself should be enough for you;
but due to an old habit I shall explain to you why I have so decided.

COMEDIAN. Keep your explanation to yourself and better not disturb my
contemplation of the sunset.

VILLAIN. I'll put you down on the blacklist. It will go ill with you for
your speeches against me. Now, then, _without_ an explanation, we will
go--and at once. [_Nobody stirs._] Very well, then, I go alone.

WOMEN. No, no.

VILLAIN. What do you mean?

INGENUE. I go with you.

HEROINE. And I.

"OLD WOMAN." And I.

VILLAIN. Your loyalty gratifies me very much.

"OLD MAN." [_Who is sitting apathetically upon the trunk._] What the
deuce is urging you to go?

VILLAIN. I wanted to explain to you, but now no more. I owe you no
explanations. I have decided--I wish to go, and that is sufficient.

COMEDIAN. He plays his comedy wonderfully. Would you ever have suspected
that there was so much wit in his cabbage head?

WOMEN. [_Making love to the_ VILLAIN.] Oh, you darling.

TRAGEDIAN. [_Majestically._] I wouldn't give him even a single glance.

VILLAIN. Still another on the blacklist. I'll tell you this much--I have
decided----

COMEDIAN. Ha-ha-ha! How long will you keep this up?

VILLAIN. We start at once, but if I am to pay for your food I will not
carry any baggage. You shall divide my bundles among you and of course
those who are on the blacklist will get the heaviest share. You heard
me. Now move on. I'm going now. We will proceed to the nearest town,
which is thirty miles away. Now, then, I am off.

COMEDIAN. Bon voyage.

VILLAIN. And with me fares His Majesty the Dollar and your meals for
to-morrow.

WOMEN. We are coming, we are coming.

"OLD MAN." I'll go along.

TRAGEDIAN. [_To the_ VILLAIN.] You're a scoundrel and a mean fellow.

VILLAIN. I am no fellow of yours. I am master and bread-giver.

TRAGEDIAN. I'll crush you in a moment.

VILLAIN. What? You threaten me! Let's go.

     [_Turns to right. The women take their satchels and follow him._

"OLD MAN." [_To the_ TRAGEDIAN.] Get up and take the trunk. We will
settle the score with him some other time. It is he who has the dollar
now.

TRAGEDIAN. [_Rising and shaking his fist._] I'll get him yet.

     [_He takes his side of the trunk._

VILLAIN. [_To_ TRAGEDIAN.] First put one of my bundles on your back.

TRAGEDIAN. [_In rage._] One of your bundles on my back?

VILLAIN. Oh, for all I care you can put it on your head, or between your
teeth.

"OLD MAN." We will put the bundle on the trunk.

COMEDIAN. [_Sitting up._] Look here, are you joking or are you in
earnest?

VILLAIN. [_Contemptuously._] I never joke.

COMEDIAN. Then you are in earnest?

VILLAIN. I'll make no explanations.

COMEDIAN. Do you really think that because you have the dollar----

VILLAIN. The holy dollar, the almighty dollar, the king of kings.

COMEDIAN. [_Continuing._] That therefore you are the master----

VILLAIN. Bread-giver and provider.

COMEDIAN. And that we must----

VILLAIN. Do what I bid you to.

COMEDIAN. So you are in earnest?

VILLAIN. You must get up, take the baggage and follow me.

COMEDIAN. [_Rising._] Then I declare a revolution.

VILLAIN. What? A revolution!

COMEDIAN. A bloody one, if need be.

TRAGEDIAN. [_Dropping his end of the trunk and advancing with a
bellicose attitude toward the_ VILLAIN.] And I shall be the first to let
your blood, you scoundrel.

VILLAIN. If that's the case I have nothing to say to you. Those who
wish, come along.

COMEDIAN. [_Getting in his way._] No, you shall not go until you give up
the dollar.

VILLAIN. Ha-ha. It is to laugh!

COMEDIAN. The dollar, please, or----

VILLAIN. He-he-he!

COMEDIAN. Then let there be blood. [_Turns up his sleeves._

TRAGEDIAN. [_Taking off his coat._] Ah! Blood, blood!

"OLD MAN." [_Dropping his end of the trunk._] I'm not going to keep out
of a fight.

WOMEN. [_Dropping his satchels._] Nor we. Nor we.

VILLAIN. [_Shouting._] To whom shall I give up the dollar?
You--you--you--you?

COMEDIAN. This argument will not work any more. You are to give the
dollar up to all of us. At the first opportunity we'll get change and
divide it into equal parts.

WOMEN. Hurrah, hurrah! Divide it, divide it!

COMEDIAN. [_To_ VILLAIN.] And I will even be so good as to give you a
share.

TRAGEDIAN. I'd rather give him a sound thrashing.

COMEDIAN. It shall be as I say. Give up the dollar.

HEROINE. [_Throwing herself on the_ COMEDIAN'S _breast_.] My comedian!
My comedian!

INGENUE. [_To the_ VILLAIN.] I'm sick of you. Give up the dollar.

COMEDIAN. [_Pushing the_ HEROINE _aside_.] You better step aside or else
you may get the punch I aim at the master and bread-giver. [_To the_
VILLAIN.] Come up with the dollar!

TRAGEDIAN. Give up the dollar to him, do you hear?

ALL. The dollar, the dollar!

VILLAIN. I'll tear it to pieces.

COMEDIAN. Then we shall tear out what little hair you have left on your
head. The dollar, quick!

     [_They surround the_ VILLAIN; _the women pull his hair; the_
     TRAGEDIAN _grabs him by the collar and shakes him; the_ "OLD MAN"
     _strikes him on his bald pate; the_ COMEDIAN _struggles with him
     and finally grasps the dollar_.

COMEDIAN. [_Holding up the dollar._] I have it!

     [_The women dance and sing._

VILLAIN. Bandits! Thieves!

TRAGEDIAN. Silence, or I'll shut your mouth.

     [_Goes back to the trunk and assumes his heroic pose._

COMEDIAN. [_Putting the dollar into his pocket._] That's what I call a
successful and a bloodless revolution, except for a little fright and
heart palpitation on the part of the late master and bread-giver.
Listen, some one is coming. Perhaps he'll be able to change the dollar
and then we can divide it at once.

"OLD MAN." I am puzzled how we can change it into equal parts.

     [_Starts to calculate with the_ INGENUE _and the_ "OLD WOMAN."

HEROINE. [_Tenderly attentive to the_ COMEDIAN.] You are angry with me,
but I was only playing with him so as to wheedle the dollar out of him.

COMEDIAN. And now you want to trick me out of my share of it.

"OLD MAN." It is impossible to divide it into equal parts. It is
absolutely impossible. If it were ninety-eight cents or one hundred and
five cents or----

     [_The_ STRANGER _enters from the right, perceives the company,
     greets it, and continues his way to left_. COMEDIAN _stops him_.

COMEDIAN. I beg your pardon, sir; perhaps you have change of a dollar in
dimes, nickels, and pennies.

     [_Showing the dollar. The_ "OLD MAN" _and women step forward_.

STRANGER. [_Getting slightly nervous, starts somewhat, makes a quick
movement for his pistol-pocket, looks at the_ COMEDIAN _and the others
and says slowly_.] Change of a dollar? [_Moving from the circle to
left._] I believe I have.

WOMEN. Hurrah!

STRANGER. [_Turns so that no one is behind him and pulls his revolver._]
Hands up!

COMEDIAN. [_In a gentle tone of voice._] My dear sir, we are altogether
peaceful folk.

STRANGER. [_Takes the dollar from the_ COMEDIAN'S _hand and walks
backwards to left with the pistol pointed at the group_.] Good-night,
everybody.

     [_He disappears, the actors remain dumb with fear, with their hands
     up, mouths wide open, and staring into space._

COMEDIAN. [_Finally breaks out into thunderous laughter._]
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

CURTAIN



THE DIABOLICAL CIRCLE

BY

BEULAH BORNSTEAD



_The Diabolical Circle_ is reprinted by special permission of Professor
Franz Rickaby, in whose course in dramatic composition (English 36) in
the University of North Dakota this play was written. For permission to
perform, address Professor Franz Rickaby, University of North Dakota,
University, North Dakota.


BEULAH BORNSTEAD

Beulah Bornstead, one of the promising young playwrights of the
Northwest, was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 5, 1896. She has
had her academic training at the University of North Dakota, from which
she received her B.A. in 1921. At present Miss Bornstead is principal of
the Cavalier High School, North Dakota. Before attempting drama she
tried her hand at journalism and at short-story writing.

Miss Bornstead was introduced into playwriting by Professor Franz
Rickaby, in whose course in dramatic composition at the University of
North Dakota _The Diabolical Circle_ was written. In speaking of this
play Miss Bornstead writes: "_The Diabolical Circle_ is the first play I
have ever written. I never enjoyed doing anything so much in my life.
The characters were so real to me that if I had bumped into one going
round the corner I should not have been surprised in the least. BETTY
and CHARLES and ADONIJAH and even COTTON MATHER himself worked that play
out. All the humble author did was to set it down on paper." _The
Diabolical Circle_ was produced May 5, 1921, by the Dakota Playmakers in
their Little Theatre at the University of North Dakota.

_The Diabolical Circle_ is one of the best contemporary plays dealing
with American historical material. Its characterization is one of its
noteworthy elements.


CHARACTERS

    COTTON MATHER
    BETTY, _his daughter_
    ADONIJAH WIGGLESWORTH, _a suitor, and_ COTTON'S _choice_
    CHARLES MANNING, _likewise a suitor, but_ BETTY'S _choice_
    THE CLOCK



THE DIABOLICAL CIRCLE


     SCENE: _The living-room in the Mather home in Boston._

     TIME: _About 1700, an evening in early autumn._

     _The stage represents the living-room of the Mather home. A large
     colonial fireplace is seen down-stage left, within which stand huge
     brass andirons. To one side hangs the bellows, with the tongs near
     by, while above, underneath the mantelpiece, is suspended an old
     flint-lock rifle. On both ends of the mantel are brass
     candlesticks, and hanging directly above is an old-fashioned
     portrait of Betty's mother. There are two doors, one leading into
     the hall at centre left, the other, communicating with the rest of
     the house, up-stage right. A straight high-backed settee is
     down-stage right, while in the centre back towers an old
     grandfather's clock.[K] To the left of the clock is the window,
     cross-barred and draped with flowered chintz. An old-fashioned
     table occupies the corner between the window and the hall door.
     Here and there are various straight-backed chairs of Dutch origin.
     Rag rugs cover the floor._

     _As the curtain rises_ COTTON MATHER _is seated in a large armchair
     by the fire, with_ BETTY _on a stool at his feet, with her
     knitting_.

     COTTON, _his hair already touched with the whitening frost of many
     a severe New England winter, is grave and sedate. Very much
     exercised with the perils of this life, and serenely contemplative
     of the life to come, he takes himself and the world about him very
     seriously._

     _Not so with_ MISTRESS BETTY. _Outwardly demure, yet inwardly
     rebellious against the straitened conventions of the times, she
     dimples over with roguish merriment upon the slightest
     provocation._

     _As we first see them_ COTTON _is giving_ BETTY _some timely
     advice_.

COTTON. But you must understand that marriage, my daughter, is a most
reverend and serious matter which should be approached in a manner
fittingly considerate of its grave responsibility.

BETTY. [_Thoughtfully._] Truly reverend and most serious, father
[_looking up roguishly_], but I like not so much of the grave about it.

COTTON. [_Continuing._] I fear thou lookest upon the matter too lightly.
It is not seemly to treat such a momentous occasion thus flippantly.

BETTY. [_Protesting._] Nay, father, why consider it at all? Marriage is
yet a great way off. Mayhap I shall never leave thee.

COTTON. Thou little thinkest that I may be suddenly called on to leave
_thee_. The Good Word cautions us to boast not ourselves of the morrow,
for we know not what a day may bring forth.

BETTY. [_Dropping her knitting._] Father, thou art not feeling well.
Perhaps----

COTTON. Nay, child, be not alarmed. 'Tis but a most necessary lesson to
be learned and laid up in the heart. I will not always be with thee and
I would like to be comfortably assured of thy future welfare before I
go.

BETTY. [_Picking her knitting up._] Be comfortably assured, then, I
prithee; I have no fears.

COTTON. [_Bringing his arm down forcibly on the arm of the chair._] Aye!
There it is. Thou hast no fears. Would that thou had'st some! [_Looks up
at the portrait._] Had thy prudent and virtuous mother only lived to
point the way, I might be spared this anxiety; but, beset by diverse
difficulties in establishing the kingdom of God in this country, and
sorely harassed by many hardships and by evil men, I fear me I have not
propounded to thee much that I ought.

BETTY. In what then is mine education lacking? Have I not all that is
fitting and proper for a maiden to know?

COTTON. [_Perplexed._] I know not. I have done my best, but thou hast
not the proper attitude of mind befitting a maiden about to enter the
married estate.

BETTY. [_Protesting._] Nay, but I am not about to enter the married
estate.

COTTON. It is time.

BETTY. [_Mockingly pleading._] Entreat me not to leave thee, father, nor
forsake thee; for whither thou goest I will go, and whither----

COTTON. [_Interrupting sternly._] Betty! It ill befitteth a daughter of
mine to quote the Scriptures with such seeming irreverence.--I would not
be parted from thee, yet I would that thou wert promised to some godly
and upright soul that would guide thee yet more surely in the paths of
righteousness. There be many such.

BETTY. Yea, too many.

COTTON. What meanest thou?

BETTY. One were one too many when I would have none.

COTTON. [_Shaking his head._] Ah. Betty, Betty! When wilt thou be
serious? There is a goodly youth among the friends surrounding thee whom
I have often marked, both on account of his godly demeanor and simple
wisdom.

BETTY. [_Nodding._] Yea, simple.

COTTON. I speak of Adonijah Wigglesworth, a most estimable young
gentleman, an acquaintance whom thou would'st do well to cultivate.

BETTY. Yea, cultivate.

COTTON. What thinkest thou?

BETTY. A sod too dense for any ploughshare. My wit would break in the
turning.

COTTON. His is a strong nature, born to drive and not be driven. There
is not such another, nay, not in the whole of Boston.

BETTY. Nay. I have lately heard there be many such!

COTTON. [_Testily._] Mayhap thou wouldst name a few.

BETTY. [_Musingly, holds up her left hand with fingers outspread._] Aye,
that I can. [_Checks off one on the little finger._] There be Marcus
Ainslee----

COTTON. A goodly youth that hath an eye for books.

BETTY. One eye, sayest thou? Nay, four; and since I am neither morocco
bound nor edged with gilt, let us consign him to the shelf wherein he
findeth fullest compensation.

COTTON. How now? A man of action, then, should appeal to thy brash
tastes. What sayest thou to Jeremiah Wadsworth?

BETTY. Too brash and rash for me [_checking off that candidate on the
next finger_], and I'll have none of him. There's Percy Wayne.

COTTON. Of the bluest blood in Boston.

BETTY. Yet that be not everything [_checks off another finger_]--and
Jonas Appleby----

COTTON. He hath an eye to worldly goods----

BETTY. [_Quickly._] Especially the larder. To marry him would be an
everlasting round between the tankard and the kettle. [_Checks him
off._] Nay, let me look yet farther--James Endicott. [_Checking._]

COTTON. Aye, there might be a lad for thee; birth, breeding, a
well-favored countenance, and most agreeable.

BETTY. Yea, most agreeable--unto himself. 'Twere a pity to disturb such
unanimity. Therefore, let us pass on. Take Charles Manning, an you
please----

COTTON. It pleaseth me not! I know the ilk; his father before him a
devoted servant of the devil and King Charles. With others of his kind
he hath brought dissension among the young men of Harvard, many of whom
are dedicated to the service of the Lord, with his wicked apparel and
ungodly fashion of wearing long hair after the manner of Russians and
barbarous Indians. Many there be with him brought up in such pride as
doth in no ways become the service of the Lord. The devil himself hath
laid hold on our young men, so that they do evaporate senseless,
useless, noisy impertinency wherever they may be; and now it has e'en
got out in the pulpits of the land, to the great grief and fear of many
godly hearts.

     [_He starts to his feet and paces the floor._

BETTY. [_Standing upright._] But Charles----

COTTON. [_Interrupting._] Mention not that scapegrace in my hearing.

BETTY. [_Still persisting._] But, father, truly thou knowest not----

COTTON. [_Almost savagely, while_ BETTY _retreats to a safe distance_.]
Name him not. I will not have it. Compared with Adonijah he is a reed
shaken in the winds, whereas Adonijah resembleth a tree planted by the
river of waters.

BETTY. [_Who has been looking out of the window._] Converse of the devil
and thou wilt behold his horns. Even now he approacheth the knocker.

     [_The knocker sounds._

COTTON. [_Sternly._] Betake thyself to thine own chamber with thine
unseemly tongue, which so ill befitteth a maid.

     [BETTY _is very demure, with head slightly bent and downcast eyes;
     but the moment_ COTTON _turns she glances roguishly after his
     retreating form; then while her glance revolves about the room, she
     starts slightly as her gaze falls upon the clock. A smile of
     mischievous delight flits over her countenance as she tiptoes in_
     COTTON'S _wake until the clock is reached_. COTTON, _unsuspecting,
     meanwhile, proceeds to do his duty as host, with never a backward
     glance. While he is out in the hall_ BETTY, _with a lingering smile
     of triumph, climbs into the clock and cautiously peeks forth as her
     father opens the door and ushers in_ ADONIJAH, _whereupon the door
     softly closes_.

ADONIJAH. Good-morrow, reverend sir.

COTTON. Enter, and doubly welcome.

ADONIJAH. I would inquire whether thy daughter Betty is within.

COTTON. We were but speaking of thee as thy knock sounded. Betty will be
here presently; she hath but retired for the moment. Remove thy wraps
and make thyself in comfort.

     [ADONIJAH _is a lean, lank, lantern-jawed individual, clad in the
     conventional sober gray of the Puritan, with high-crowned hat, and
     a fur tippet wound about his neck up to his ears. He removes the
     hat and tippet and hands them to_ COTTON, _who carefully places
     them upon the table; meanwhile_ ADONIJAH _looks appraisingly about
     him and judiciously selects the armchair by the fire. He pauses a
     moment to rub his hands before the blaze, and then gingerly relaxes
     into the depths of the armchair, as though fearful his comfort
     would give way ere fully attained._ COTTON _places a chair on the
     other side of_ ADONIJAH _and is seated_.

COTTON. And how is it with thee since I have seen thee last?

ADONIJAH. My business prospereth [_mournfully_], but not so finely as it
might well do.

     [_The clock strikes four, but is unnoticed by the two men._

COTTON. Thou hast suffered some great loss?

ADONIJAH. But yes--and no--this matter of lending money hath many and
grievous complications, not the least of which is the duplicity of the
borrower. I but insist on the thirty pounds to the hundred as my due
recompense, and when I demand it they respond not, but let my kindness
lie under the clods of ingratitude. [_Straightening up, and speaking
with conviction._] They shall come before the council. I will have what
is mine own.

COTTON. [_Righteously._] And it is not unbecoming of thee to demand it.
I wist not what the present generation is coming to.

ADONIJAH. They have no sense of the value of money. They know not how to
demean themselves properly in due proportion to their worldly goods, as
the Lord hath prospered them. There be many that have nothing and do
hold their heads above us that be worthy of our possessions.

COTTON. The wicked stand in slippery places. It will not always be thus.
Judgment shall come upon them.

ADONIJAH. Aye, let them fall. I for one have upheld them too far. They
squander their means in riotous living, and walk not in the ways of
their fathers.

COTTON. There be many such--many such--but thou, my lad, thou art not
one of the multitude. As I have often observed to my Betty, thou
standest out as a most upright and God-fearing young man.

ADONIJAH. [_Brimming over with self-satisfaction._] That have I ever
sought to be.

COTTON. An example that others would do well to imitate.

ADONIJAH. [_All puffed up._] Nay, others value it not. They be envious
of my good fortune.

COTTON. A most prudent young man! Nay, be not so over-blushingly timid.
Thou'rt too modest.

ADONIJAH. [_His face falling._] But Betty--doth she regard me thus?

COTTON. The ways of a maid are past finding out; but despair not. I
think she hath thee much to heart, but, as the perverse heart of woman
dictateth, behaveth much to the contrary.

ADONIJAH. [_Brightening up as one with new hopes._] Thou thinkest----

COTTON. [_Interrupting._] Nay, lad, I am sure of it. Betty was ever a
dutiful daughter.

     [_All unseen_, BETTY _peeks out mischievously_.

ADONIJAH. But I mistrust me her heart is elsewhere.

COTTON. Thou referr'st to young Manning without doubt. It can never be.
'Tis but a passing fancy.

ADONIJAH. Nay, but I fear Charles thinketh not so. I have been told in
secret [_leaning forward confidentially_] by one that hath every
opportunity to know, that he hath enjoined Goodman Shrewsbury to send
for--[_impressively_] a ring!

COTTON. [_Angered._] A ring, sayest thou?

ADONIJAH. [_Nodding._] Aye, even so.

COTTON. But he hath not signified such intention here to me.

ADONIJAH. Then there are no grounds for his rash presumption?

COTTON. Humph! Grounds! For a ring! Aye, there'll be no diabolical
circle here for the devil to daunce in. I will question Betty thereon.
[_Rises._] Do thou remain here and I will send her to thee. Oh, that he
should offer daughter of mine a ring!

     [COTTON _leaves the room_. ADONIJAH _leans back in his chair in
     supreme contentment at the turn affairs have taken. The clamorous
     knocker arouses him from his reverie. He gazes stupidly around. The
     continued imperious tattoo on the knocker finally brings him to his
     feet. He goes into the hall and opens the door. His voice is
     heard._

ADONIJAH. [_Frostily._] Good-afternoon, Sir Charles, mine host is
absent.

CHARLES. [_Stepping in._] My mission has rather to do with Mistress
Betty. Is she in?

ADONIJAH. [_Closing the hall door, and turning to_ CHARLES, _replies in
grandiose hauteur_.] Mistress Betty is otherwise engaged, I would have
thee know.

CHARLES. Engaged? [_Bowing._] Your humble servant, I trust, hath the
supreme pleasure of that engagement.

     [_He glances inquiringly about the room, and places the hat on the
     table beside that of_ ADONIJAH. _The two hats are as different as
     the two men_: ADONIJAH'S _prim, Puritanic, severe_; CHARLES'S
     _three-cornered, with a flowing plume_.

     [CHARLES _is a handsome chap of goodly proportions, with a
     straightforward air and a pleasant smile. He is dressed more after
     the fashion of the cavaliers of Virginia, and wears a long wig with
     flowing curls. The two men size each other up._

ADONIJAH. [_Meaningly._] Her father will shortly arrive.

CHARLES. [_Impatiently striding forth._] Devil take her father. 'Tis
Mistress Betty I would see. Where is she?

     [CHARLES _continues pacing the floor_. ADONIJAH, _shocked beyond
     measure, turns his back on the offending_ CHARLES, _and with folded
     arms and bowed head stands aside in profound meditation. The clock
     door slowly opens and_ BETTY _cautiously peeks out_. CHARLES _stops
     short and is about to begin a decided demonstration, when_ BETTY,
     _with a warning glance toward_ ADONIJAH, _checks him with upraised
     hand. The clock door closes and_ CHARLES _subsides into the
     armchair with a comprehending grin of delight_. ADONIJAH _slowly
     turns and faces_ CHARLES _with a melancholy air_.

CHARLES. Prithee, why so sad?

     [_The grin becomes a chuckle._


ADONIJAH. I do discern no cause for such unrighteous merriment.

CHARLES. 'Tis none the less for all of that. I take life as I find it,
and for that matter so do they all, even thou. The difference be in the
finding. [_Whistles._

ADONIJAH. [_Uneasily._] It is time her father did arrive.

CHARLES. Where then hath he been?

ADONIJAH. He but went in search of Betty.

CHARLES. Ah, then we'll wait.

     [_He whistles, while_ ADONIJAH _moves uneasily about the room,
     glancing every now and then at this disturbing element of his
     peace, as if he would send him to kingdom come, if he only could_.

ADONIJAH. [_After considerable toleration._] Waiting may avail thee
naught.

CHARLES. And thee? Nevertheless we'll wait. [_Whistles._

ADONIJAH. [_Takes another turn or two and fetches up a counterfeit
sigh._] Methinks, her father's quest be fruitless.

CHARLES. [_Starting up._] Ah, then, let us go.

     [ADONIJAH., _visibly relieved, sits down in the chair opposite_.

CHARLES. [_Amused._] Nay? [_Sits down and relaxes._] Ah, then, we'll
wait. [_Whistles._

ADONIJAH. [_Troubled._] 'Tis certain Mistress Betty be not here.

CHARLES. Nay, if she be not here, then I am neither here nor there. I
would wager ten pounds to a farthing she be revealed in time if she but
will it. Wilt take me up?

ADONIJAH. It be not seemly so to stake thy fortune on a woman's whim.

CHARLES. [_Laughs._] Thou'rt right on it. If she will, say I, for if she
will she won't, and if she won't she will.

ADONIJAH. False jargon! A woman has no will but e'en her father's as a
maid, her husband's later still.

     [_Enter_ COTTON, _who stops short on seeing_ CHARLES, _rallies
     quickly, and proceeds_.

COTTON. [_Stiffly._] Good-day to you, sir.

CHARLES. [_Bowing; he has risen._] And to you, sire.

COTTON. [_To_ ADONIJAH.] I am deeply grieved to report that Mistress
Betty is not to be found.

     [ADONIJAH. _steals a sly look of triumph at_ CHARLES.

CHARLES. [_In mock solemnity._] I prithee present my deep regrets to
Mistress Betty. I will call again.

COTTON. God speed thee! [_And as_ CHARLES _takes his leave_ COTTON
_places his hand affectionately upon_ ADONIJAH'S _shoulder, saying
reassuringly_.] Come again, my son; Betty may not be afar off. I fain
would have her soon persuaded of thy worth. Improve thy time.

ADONIJAH. [_Beaming._] Good morrow, sir; I will.

     [_As the door closes behind them_ COTTON _slowly walks toward the
     fire, where he stands in complete revery. Still absorbed in thought
     he walks slowly out the door at the right._ BETTY _peeks cautiously
     out, but hearing footsteps quickly withdraws_. COTTON _re-enters
     with hat on. He is talking to himself, reflectively._

COTTON. Where can she be? Mayhap at Neighbor Ainslee's.

     [_He goes hurriedly out through the hall door. The banging of the
     outside door is heard. The clock door once more slowly opens and_
     BETTY _peers forth, listening. The sound of a door opening causes
     her to draw back. As the noise is further emphasized by approaching
     footsteps, she pulls the clock door quickly to._ CHARLES _enters.
     He looks inquiringly about, tosses his hat on the table, and goes
     for the clock. He opens it with a gay laugh._ BETTY _steps forth
     out of the clock, very much assisted by_ CHARLES.

CHARLES. Blessed relief! Thou art in very truth, then, flesh and blood?

BETTY. And what else should I be, forsooth?

CHARLES. [_Laughing._] I marked thee for a mummy there entombed.

BETTY. [_Disengaging her hand._] What? Darest thou?

CHARLES. A lively mummy now thou art come to, whilst I [_sighs_]--I
waited through the ages!

BETTY. [_Laughingly._] A veritable monument of patient grief.

CHARLES. And Adonijah----

BETTY. Yea, verily, old Father Time but come to life. [_Mimics._] Thy
waiting may avail thee naught.

CHARLES. In truth, it may avail me naught; thy father may be back at any
time, while I have much to say, sweet Betty----

BETTY. [_Interrupting._] Nay, sweet Betty call me not.

CHARLES. Dear Betty, then, the dearest----

BETTY. [_Quickly._] Yea, call me dearest mummy, Hottentot, or what you
will, just so it be not _sweet_, like Adonijah. It sickens me beyond
expressing.

CHARLES. Then, _sweet_ Betty thou art _not_, say rather sour Betty,
cross Betty, mean Betty, bad Betty, mad Betty, sad Betty.

BETTY. [_Suddenly dimpling._] Nay, glad Betty!

CHARLES. Art then so glad? Wilt tell me why? In sooth, I know not
whither to be glad, or sad, or mad. Sometimes I am but one, sometimes I
am all three.

BETTY. Wilt tell me why?

CHARLES. [_Stepping closer and imprisoning her left hand._] Thou wilt
not now escape it, for I will tell thee why, and mayhap this will aid
me. [_Slips ring, which he has had concealed in his pocket, on her
finger._] Hath this no meaning for thee?

BETTY. [_Her eyes sparkling with mischief._] Aye, 'tis a diabolical
circle for the devil to daunce in!

CHARLES. [_In astonishment._] A what?

BETTY. [_Slowly._] A diabolical circle for the devil to daunce in--so
father saith. Likewise Adonijah.

CHARLES. [_Weakly endeavoring to comprehend._] A diabolical circle--but
what!--say it again, Betty.

BETTY. [_Repeats slowly, emphasizing it with pointed finger._] A
diabolical circle for the devil to daunce in.

CHARLES. [_Throws back his head and laughs._] May I be the devil!

BETTY. [_Shaking her finger at him._] Then daunce!

     [_They take position, as though for a minuet. The knocker sounds._
     BETTY _runs to the window_.

BETTY. Aye, there's ADONIJAH at the knocker. Into the clock--hie
thee--quick, quick!

CHARLES. [_Reproachfully._] And would'st thou incarcerate me through the
ages? [_Turns to the clock._] O timely sarcophagus!

     [CHARLES _is smuggled into the clock, and_ BETTY _has barely enough
     time to make a dash for the hat and conceal it behind her before
     the door opens and in stalks_ ADONIJAH. _He looks about
     suspiciously._ BETTY _faces him with the hat held behind her. He
     removes his hat and tippet and lays them on the table._

ADONIJAH. Methought I heard a sound of many feet.

BETTY. [_Looking down._] Two feet have I; no more, no less.

ADONIJAH. [_Dryly._] Aye, two be quite sufficient.

BETTY. An thou sayest the word, they yet can beat as loud a retreat as
an whole regiment.

ADONIJAH. Thou dost my meaning misconstrue.

BETTY. Construe it then, I prithee.

ADONIJAH. I came not here to vex----

BETTY. Then get thee hence. [_He steps forward._ BETTY _steps back_.]
But not behind me, Satan.

ADONIJAH. [_Coming closer._] And yet thou driv'st me to it.

BETTY. [_Backing off._] Indeed, thou hast a nature born to _drive_ and
not be driven.

ADONIJAH. [_Highly complimented._] So be it, yet I scarce had hoped that
thou would'st notice. [_Advancing._] Born to drive, thou sayest, not be
driven.

BETTY. [_Retreating._] Thou hast said it, born to _drive_. But what to
drive I have not said. That knowledge hath my father yet concealed.

ADONIJAH. [_Eagerly._] Thy father, then, hath told thee----

BETTY. [_Who is retreating steadily across the room._] Thou wert born to
_drive_!

     [_Strikes settee and goes down on the hat._ ADONIJAH _seats himself
     beside_ BETTY. BETTY _is of necessity forced to remain--on the
     hat_. ADONIJAH _slides arm along the back of the settee. The clock
     door strikes erratically. He jerks his arm back and gazes in the
     direction of the clock. The clock hands wigwag._ ADONIJAH _stares
     abstractedly and passes his hand over his forehead in a dazed
     manner_.

BETTY. [_Solicitously._] What aileth thee?

ADONIJAH. [_Still staring._] The time!

BETTY. [_Stifles a yawn._] It doth grow late.

ADONIJAH. But not consistently; it changeth.

BETTY. 'Twas ever so with time.

ADONIJAH. [_Reminiscently._] Of a certainty they moved.

BETTY. Yea, verily, 'tis not uncommon.

ADONIJAH. But backwards!

BETTY. [_Joyfully._] Why, then, my prayers are answered. How often I
have prayed them thus to move! Yet hath it never come to pass.

ADONIJAH. Nay, had'st thou seen----

BETTY. Prithee calm thyself. Thou'rt ill.

ADONIJAH. [_Steals his arm along the back of the settee and moves over
closer._] Sweet Betty! [BETTY _looks away with a wry face_.] Thy
indifference in no wise blinds me to thy conception of my true value.
[BETTY _sits up, round-eyed_.] There was a time when I despaired--[_The
clock again strikes wildly. The hands drop and rise as before._ ADONIJAH
_excitedly points at the clock_.] Again! Did'st mark it? Something doth
ail the clock!

BETTY. Yea, truly thou art ill. The clock behaveth much more to the
point than thou.

ADONIJAH. [_Tearing his gaze from the clock._] As I was on the point of
saying--[_glances at the clock_] thy father hath given--[_another
glance_] me to understand--[_with eye on the clock he hitches up
closer_] that thou art not averse to mine affections----

     [_As he attempts to put his arm around_ BETTY _the clock strikes a
     tattoo and startles him excitedly to his feet, as the hands travel
     all the way round_.

ADONIJAH. [_Pointing._] Now look! Mark the time!

     [COTTON _enters_.

COTTON. Tarry yet awhile, my son, the time doth not prevent thee.

ADONIJAH. Tarry? Time doth not prevent? Little knowest thou! [_Gazes
abstractedly about. Sights the ring on_ BETTY'S _finger, who in
excitement has forgotten to keep her hands behind her back_.] Aye, there
it is, the diabolical circle. It is a charm. It harms her not, while all
about me is askew. Whence came she here? [_Points at_ BETTY.] She
neither came nor went, and yet she was not there and now she is. A manly
form did enter. Yet hath vanished into thin air. Yea, verily, it was
none other than the devil himself in one of his divers forms, of which
he hath aplenty. The very clock indulgeth in unseemly pranks. A strange
influence hangs over me. I cannot now abide. I must depart from hence.
My conscience bids me go.

COTTON. [_Striving to detain him._] Hold! Thou'rt mad!

BETTY. Nay, father, he is ill.

ADONIJAH. [_Wildly._] Aye, if I be mad, thy daughter be to blame. The
spell did come upon me. I have seen strange things.

COTTON. What meanest thou?

ADONIJAH. [_Pointing at_ BETTY, _who regards him wonderingly_.] Thy
daughter is a witch!

BETTY. [_Runs to_ COTTON.] Oh, father!

COTTON. [_Consoles_ BETTY; _thunders at_ ADONIJAH.] What? Darest thou to
being forth such an accusation?

ADONIJAH. Aye, while I yet have strength to order mine own will. We
shall see what we shall see when the fires leap round the stake. All the
diabolical circles the devil may invent or his helpmeets acquire will be
of small avail when the leaping tongues of flame curl round you, false
servant of the devil. I can delay no longer. I will repair to the
council at once, and report what I have seen.

     [BETTY _faints away_. COTTON _is at once all paternal solicitude_.
     ADONIJAH _gazes in stupefaction. All unobserved_ CHARLES _slips out
     of the clock. Finally_ ADONIJAH, _as_ BETTY _shows signs of
     reviving, turns himself away, only to find himself face to face
     with_ CHARLES. ADONIJAH _stops dead in his tracks, absolutely
     nonplussed_.

CHARLES. Thou goest to the council? Thou lackest evidence. Behold the
devil an' thou wilt.

     [ADONIJAH'S _jaw drops. He stares unbelievingly._ COTTON _looks up
     in surprise as_ CHARLES _continues_.

CHARLES. An' thou goest to the council with such a message, the devil
will dog thy very footsteps. And match word of thine with word of truth
in such a light that thine own words shall imprison thee in the stocks
over Sunday.

     [ADONIJAH _recovers from his temporary abstraction, and seizing his
     hat and tippet, tears out the door as if a whole legion of imps
     were in full pursuit_. CHARLES _contemptuously turns on his heel
     and goes over to_ BETTY, _who is now clinging to her father's arm_.

BETTY. [_Faintly._] They will not burn me for a witch?

CHARLES. [_Savagely._] Aye, let them try it an they will.

COTTON. [_Hotly._] Aye--let them! [_Then starting suddenly with a new
thought._] But how cam'st thou here? Yea, verily, it seemeth to me thou
did'st materialize out of thin air.

     [_Surveys_ CHARLES _with piercing scrutiny_.

CHARLES. Nay, see through me an thou can'st. Thou wilt find me a most
material shadow, the like of which no eye hath ever pierced. 'Twas not
out of the air, but out of yonder clock that I materialized.

BETTY. Yea, father, I put him there.

COTTON. [_Going to the clock and opening it._] Of a truth, the evidence,
all told, is here. Thou wert of a certainty in the clock. [_Takes out
the detached pendulum. Steps back and surveys the timepiece, whose hands
clearly indicate a time long passed or not yet come._] And as far as
pendulums are concerned [_looking ruefully at the one in his hand_],
thou certainly wert no improve----

CHARLES. Aye, that I'll warrant. And may I never more be called to
fulfil such position; the requirements be far too exacting for one of my
build and constitution.

COTTON. But what extremity hath induced thee to take up thine abode in
such a place?

     [_Lays the pendulum aside and gives_ CHARLES _his entire
     attention_.

CHARLES. Why, that came all in the course of events as I take it. When I
returned a short time ago, hard upon mine heels came Adonijah; and,
being loath either to leave the field or share it, I hid within the
clock. Once there, the temptation to help time in covering its course
grew strong upon me in the hope that Adonijah, misled by the lateness of
the hour, would soon depart. Only I looked not for such a departure.
Judge me not too harshly, sire, for I love thy daughter, and if thou
wilt give thy consent to our marriage I will do all that becometh a man
to deserve such treasure.

COTTON. I like not thy frivolous manner of wearing hair that is not
thine own; it becomes thee not. And I strongly mistrust thine attitude
toward the more serious things of life.

CHARLES. If my wig standeth between me and my heart's desire, why, I'll
have no wig at all. [_He pulls the wig off and tosses it aside._ BETTY,
_with a little cry, picks it up and smooths its disarranged curls_.] And
as for mine outlook on life, I promise thee that hath but matched the
outer trappings, and can be doffed as quickly. I am as serious beneath
all outward levity as any sober-minded judge, and can act accordingly.

COTTON. See to it that thou suit the action to those words. My heart is
strangely moved toward thee, yet I would ponder the matter more deeply.
[_Turns to_ BETTY, _who has been absent-mindedly twirling the curls on
the wig_.] And where is thy voice, my daughter? Thou art strangely
silent--[_as an afterthought_] for the once. But it is of small wonder,
since thou hast had enough excitement for one evening. Methinks that
scoundrel, Adonijah, needeth following up. Do thou remain with Betty,
Charles, and I will hasten after him.

CHARLES. Nay, thou need'st not trouble thyself regarding Adonijah. He
hath much too wholesome a regard for the ducking-stool to cause further
mischief.

COTTON. Nevertheless, I will away to the council and make sure. [_He
plants his hat on his head and departs._

CHARLES. [_Turning to_ BETTY, _who has dropped the wig on the settee,
and who is now gazing demurely at the floor_.] And now to finish up
where we left off. The devil hath led us a merrier dance than we
suspected. Thou hast not truly given answer to the question I have asked
of thee.

BETTY. What more of an answer would'st thou yet require?

CHARLES. Why, I have yet had none at all.

BETTY. Must tell thee further?

CHARLES. [_Gravely._] Thou must.

BETTY. [_Mischievously._] Then--put the question once again.

CHARLES. Thou knowest the question, an thou wilt.

BETTY. An' thou knowest the answer.

     [CHARLES _takes her in his arms_.


BETTY. [_Holding up her hand so that the ring sparkles._] Look,
Charles--the diabolical circle!

CURTAIN



THE FAR-AWAY PRINCESS

BY

HERMANN SUDERMANN


_The Far-Away Princess_ is reprinted by special arrangement with Charles
Scribner's Sons, the publishers of _Roses_, from which this play is
taken. For permission to perform address the publishers.


HERMANN SUDERMANN

Hermann Sudermann, one of the foremost of the Continental European
dramatists, was born at Matziken, in East Prussia, Germany, September
30, 1857. He attended school at Elbing and Tilsit, and then at fourteen
became a druggist's apprentice. He received his university training at
Königsberg and Berlin. Soon he devoted his energies to literary work.

His greatest literary work is in the field of the drama, in which he
became successful almost instantly. His strength is not in poetic beauty
and in deep insight into human character, as in the instance of a number
of other German dramatists. He is essentially a man of the theatre, a
dramatist, and a technician by instinct. He is a dramatic craftsman of
the first order.

His chief one-act plays are in two volumes: _Morituri_, which contains
_Teja_, _Fritchen_, and _The Eternal Masculine_; and _Roses_, which
contains _Streaks of Light_, _Margot_, _The Last Visit_, and _The
Far-Away Princess_.

_The Far-Away Princess_ is one of the most subtle and most delicate of
Sudermann's plays. Its technic is exemplary.


CHARACTERS

    THE PRINCESS VON GELDERN
    BARONESS VON BROOK, _her maid of honor_
    FRAU VON HALLDORF
    LIDDY } _her daughters_
    MILLY }
    FRITZ STRÜBEL, _a student_
    FRAU LINDEMANN
    ROSA, _a waitress_
    A LACKEY



THE FAR-AWAY PRINCESS[L]


     THE PRESENT DAY: _The scene is laid at an inn situated above a
     watering-place in central Germany._

     _The veranda of an inn. The right side of the stage and half of the
     background represent a framework of glass enclosing the veranda.
     The left side and the other half of the background represent the
     stone walls of the house. To the left, in the foreground, a door;
     another door in the background, at the left. On the left, back, a
     buffet and serving-table. Neat little tables and small iron chairs
     for visitors are placed about the veranda. On the right, in the
     centre, a large telescope, standing on a tripod, is directed
     through an open window._ ROSA, _dressed in the costume of the
     country, is arranging flowers on the small tables_. FRAU LINDEMANN,
     _a handsome, stoutish woman in the thirties, hurries in excitedly
     from the left_.

FRAU LINDEMANN. There! Now she can come--curtains, bedding--everything
fresh and clean as new! No, this honor, this unexpected honor--! Barons
and counts have been here often enough. Even the Russian princes
sometimes come up from the Springs. I don't bother my head about
them--they're just like--that!--But a princess--a real princess!

ROSA. Perhaps it isn't a real princess after all.

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Indignantly._] What? What do you mean by that!

ROSA. I was only thinking that a real princess wouldn't be coming to an
inn like this. Real princesses won't lie on anything but silks and
velvets. You just wait and see; it's a trick!

FRAU LINDEMANN. Are you going to pretend that the letter isn't genuine;
that the letter is a forgery?

ROSA. Maybe one of the regular customers is playing a joke. That
student, Herr Strübel, he's always joking. [_Giggles._

FRAU LINDEMANN. When Herr Strübel makes a joke he makes a decent joke, a
real, genuine joke. Oh, of course one has to pretend to be angry
sometimes--but as for writing a forged letter--My land!--a letter with a
gold crown on it--there! [_She takes a letter from her waist and
reads._] "This afternoon Her Highness, the Princess von Geldern, will
stop at the Fairview Inn, to rest an hour or so before making the
descent to the Springs. You are requested to have ready a quiet and
comfortable room, to guard Her Highness from any annoying advances, and,
above all, to maintain the strictest secrecy regarding this event, as
otherwise the royal visit will not be repeated. Baroness von Brook, maid
of honor to Her Highness." Now, what have you got to say?

ROSA. Herr Strübel lent me a book once. A maid of honor came into that,
too. I'm sure it's a trick!

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Looking out toward the back._] Dear, dear, isn't that
Herr Strübel now, coming up the hill? To-day of all days! What on earth
does he always want up here?

ROSA. [_Pointedly._] He's in such favor at the Inn. He won't be leaving
here all day.

FRAU LINDEMANN. That won't do at all. He's got to be sent off. If I only
knew how I could--Oh, ho! I'll be disagreeable to him--that's the only
way to manage it!

     [STRÜBEL _enters. He is a handsome young fellow without much
     polish, but cheerful, unaffected, entirely at his ease, and
     invariably good-natured._

STRÜBEL. Good day, everybody.

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Sarcastically._] Charming day.

STRÜBEL. [_Surprised at her coolness._] I say! What's up? Who's been
rubbing you the wrong way? May I have a glass of beer, anyway? Glass of
beer, if you please! Several glasses of beer, if you please. [_Sits
down._] Pestiferously hot this afternoon.

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_After a pause._] H'm, H'm.

STRÜBEL. Landlady Linda, dear, why so quiet to-day?

FRAU LINDEMANN. In the first place, Herr Strübel, I would have you know
that my name is Frau Lindemann.

STRÜBEL. Just so.

FRAU LINDEMANN. And, secondly, if you don't stop your familiarity----

STRÜBEL. [_Singing, as_ ROSA _brings him a glass of beer_.]
"Beer--beer!"--Heavens and earth, how hot it is! [_Drinks._

FRAU LINDEMANN. If you find it so hot, why don't you stay quietly down
there at the Springs?

STRÜBEL. Ah, my soul thirsts for the heights--my soul thirsts for the
heights every afternoon. Just as soon as ever my sallow-faced pupil has
thrown himself down on the couch to give his red corpuscles a chance to
grow, "I gayly grasp my Alpine staff and mount to my beloved."

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Scornfully._] Bah!

STRÜBEL. Oh, you're thinking that _you_ are my beloved? No, dearest; my
beloved stays down there. But to get nearer to her, I have to come up
here--up to your telescope. With the aid of your telescope I can look
right into her window--see?

ROSA. [_Laughing._] Oh, so that's why----

FRAU LINDEMANN. Perhaps you think I'm interested in all that? Besides,
I've no more time for you. Moreover, I'm going to have this place
cleaned right away. Good-by, Herr Strübel. [_Goes out._

STRÜBEL. [_Laughing._] I certainly caught it that time! See here, Rosa,
what's got into her head?

ROSA. [_Mysteriously._] Ahem, there are crowned heads and other
heads--and--ahem--there are letters _with_ crowns and letters _without_
crowns.

STRÜBEL. Letters--? Are you----?

ROSA. There are maids of honor--and other maids! [_Giggles._

STRÜBEL. Permit me. [_Tapping her forehead lightly with his finger._]
Ow! Ow!

ROSA. What's the matter?

STRÜBEL. Why, your head's on fire. Blow! Blow! And while you are getting
some salve for my burns, I'll just----

     [_Goes to the telescope._

     [_Enter_ FRAU VON HALLDORF, LIDDY, _and_ MILLY. FRAU VON HALLDORF
     _is an aristocratic woman, somewhat supercilious and affected_.

LIDDY. Here's the telescope, mother. Now you can see for yourself.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. What a pity that it's in use just now.

STRÜBEL. [_Stepping back._] Oh, I beg of you, ladies--I have plenty of
time. I can wait.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_Condescendingly._] Ah, thanks so much. [_She goes up
to the telescope, while_ STRÜBEL _returns to his former place_.]
Waitress! Bring us three glasses of milk.

LIDDY. [_As_ MILLY _languidly drops into a chair_.] Beyond to the right
is the road, mother.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Oh, I have found the road, but I see no
carriage--neither a royal carriage nor any other sort.

LIDDY. Let me look.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Please do.

LIDDY. It has disappeared now.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Are you quite sure that it was a royal carriage?

LIDDY. Oh, one has an instinct for that sort of thing, mother. It comes
to one in the cradle.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_As_ MILLY _yawns and sighs aloud_.] Are you sleepy,
dear?

MILLY. No, only tired. I'm always tired.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Well, that's just why we are at the Springs. Do as the
princess does: take the waters religiously.

MILLY. The princess oughtn't to be climbing up such a steep hill either
on a hot day like this.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_More softly._] Well, you know why we are taking all
this trouble. If, by good luck, we should happen to meet the
princess----

LIDDY. [_Who has been looking through the telescope._] Oh, there it is
again!

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_Eagerly._] Where? Where?

     [_Takes_ LIDDY'S _place_.

LIDDY. It's just coming around the turn at the top.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Oh, now I see it! Why, there's no one inside!

LIDDY. Well, then she's coming up on foot.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_To_ MILLY.] See, the princess is coming up on foot,
too. And she is just as anæmic as you are.

MILLY. If I were going to marry a grand-duke, and if I could have my own
carriage driven along beside me, I wouldn't complain of having to walk
either.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. I can't see a thing now.

LIDDY. You have to turn the screw, mother.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. I have been turning it right along, but the telescope
won't move.

LIDDY. Let me try.

STRÜBEL. [_Who has been throwing little wads of paper at_ ROSA _during
the preceding conversation_.] What are they up to?

LIDDY. It seems to me that you've turned the screw too far, mother.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Well, what shall we do about it?

STRÜBEL. [_Rising._] Permit me to come to your aid, ladies. I've had
some experience with these old screws.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Very kind--indeed.

     [STRÜBEL _busies himself with the instrument_.

LIDDY. Listen, mother. If the carriage has almost reached the top the
princess can't be far off. Wouldn't it be best, then, to watch for them
on the road?

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Certainly, if you think that would be best, dear
Liddy.

STRÜBEL. This is not only an old screw, but it's a regular perverted old
screw.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Ah, really? [_Aside to her daughters._] And if she
should actually speak to us at this accidental meeting--and if we could
present ourselves as the subjects of her noble fiancé, and tell her that
we live at her future home--just imagine what an advantage that would
give us over the other women of the court!

STRÜBEL. There, ladies! We have now rescued the useful instrument to
which the far-sightedness of mankind is indebted.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. Thanks, so much. Pardon me, sir, but have you heard
anything about the report that the princess is going to make the journey
up here to-day?

STRÜBEL. The princess? The princess of the Springs? The princess of the
lonely villa? The princess who is expected at the iron spring every
morning, but who has never been seen by a living soul? Why, I am
enormously interested. You wouldn't believe how much interested I am!

LIDDY. [_Who has looked out, back._] There--there--there--it is!

FRAU V. HALLDORF. The carriage?

LIDDY. It's reached the top already. It is stopping over there at the
edge of the woods.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. She will surely enter it there, then. Come quickly, my
dear children, so that it will look quite accidental. Here is your
money. [_She throws a coin to_ ROSA _and unwraps a small package done up
in tissue-paper, which she has brought with her_.] Here is a bouquet for
you--and here's one for you. You are to present these to the princess.

MILLY. So that it will look quite accidental--oh, yes!

     [_All three go out._

STRÜBEL. Good heavens! Could I--? I don't believe it! Surely she
sits--well, I'll make sure right away--[_Goes up to the telescope and
stops._] Oh, I'll go along with them, anyhow.

     [_Exit after them._

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Entering._] Have they all gone--all of them?

ROSA. All of them.

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Looking toward the right._] There--there--two ladies
and a lackey are coming up the footpath. Mercy me! How my heart is
beating!--If I had only had the sofa recovered last spring!--What am I
going to say to them?--Rosa, don't you know a poem by heart which you
could speak to the princess? [ROSA _shrugs her shoulders_.] They're
coming through the court now!--Stop putting your arms under your apron
that way, you stupid thing!--oh dear, oh dear----

     [_The door opens._ A LACKEY _in plain black livery enters, and
     remains standing at the door. He precedes_ THE PRINCESS _and_ FRAU
     V. BROOK. THE PRINCESS _is a pale, sickly, unassuming young girl,
     wearing a very simple walking costume and a medium-sized leghorn
     hat trimmed with roses_. FRAU V. BROOK _is a handsome, stately,
     stern-looking woman, in the thirties. She is well-dressed, but in
     accordance with the simple tastes of the North German nobility._

FRAU V. BROOK. Who is the proprietor of this place?

FRAU LINDEMANN. At your command, your Highness.

FRAU V. BROOK. [_Reprovingly._] I am the maid of honor. Where is the
room that has been ordered?

FRAU LINDEMANN. [_Opens the door, left._] Here--at the head of the
stairs--my lady.

FRAU V. BROOK. Would your Highness care to remain here for a few
moments?

THE PRINCESS Very much, dear Frau von Brook.

FRAU V. BROOK. Edward, order what is needed for Her Highness, and see
that a room next to Her Highness is prepared for me. I may assume that
these are Your Highness's wishes?

THE PRINCESS. Why certainly, dear Frau von Brook.

[THE LACKEY, _who is carrying shawls and pillows, goes out with_ ROSA,
_left_.

THE PRINCESS. Mais puisque je te dis, Eugénie, que je n'ai pas sommeil.
M'envoyer coucher comme une enfant, c'est abominable.

FRAU V. BROOK. Mais je t'implore, chérie, sois sage! Tu sais, que c'est
le médecin, qui----

THE PRINCESS. Ah, ton médecin! Toujours cette corvée. Et si je te
dis----

FRAU V. BROOK. Chut! My dear woman, wouldn't it be best for you to
superintend the preparations?

FRAU LINDEMANN. I am entirely at your service.

     [_About to go out, left._

FRAU V. BROOK. One thing more. This veranda, leading from the house to
the grounds--would it be possible to close it to the public?

FRAU LINDEMANN. Oh, certainly. The guests as often as not sit out under
the trees.

FRAU V. BROOK. Very well, then do so, please. [FRAU LINDEMANN _locks the
door_.] We may be assured that no one will enter this place?

FRAU LINDEMANN. If it is desired, none of us belonging to the house will
come in here either.

FRAU V. BROOK. We should like that.

FRAU LINDEMANN. Very well. [_Exit._

FRAU V. BROOK. Really, you must be more careful, darling. If that woman
had understood French--{SPACE}You must be careful!

THE PRINCESS. What would have been so dreadful about it?

FRAU V. BROOK. Oh, my dear child! This mood of yours, which is due to
nothing but your illness--that reminds me, you haven't taken your
peptonized milk yet--this is a secret which we must keep from every one,
above all from your fiancé. If the Grand Duke should discover----

THE PRINCESS. [_Shrugging her shoulders._] Well, what of it?

FRAU V. BROOK. A bride's duty is to be a happy bride. Otherwise----

THE PRINCESS. Otherwise?

FRAU V. BROOK. She will be a lonely and an unloved woman.

THE PRINCESS. [_With a little smile of resignation._] Ah!

FRAU V. BROOK. What is it, dear? [THE PRINCESS _shakes her head_.] And
then think of the strain of those formal presentations awaiting you in
the autumn! You must grow strong. Remember that you must be equal to the
most exacting demands of life.

THE PRINCESS. Of life? Whose life?

FRAU V. BROOK. What do you mean by that?

THE PRINCESS. Ah, what good does it do to talk about it?

FRAU V. BROOK. Yes, you are right. In my soul, too, there are unhappy
and unholy thoughts that I would rather not utter. From my own
experience I know that it is best to keep strictly within the narrow
path of duty.

THE PRINCESS. And to go to sleep.

FRAU V. BROOK. Ah, it isn't only that.

THE PRINCESS. Look out there! See the woods! Ah, to lie down on the
moss, to cover oneself with leaves, to watch the clouds pass by high
above----

FRAU V. BROOK. [_Softening._] We can do that, too, some-time.

THE PRINCESS. [_Laughing aloud._] Sometime!

[THE LACKEY _appears at the door_.

FRAU V. BROOK. Is everything ready?

     [THE LACKEY _bows_.

THE PRINCESS. [_Aside to_ FRAU V. BROOK.] But I simply cannot sleep.

FRAU V. BROOK. Try to, for my sake. [_Aloud._] Does Your Highness
command----

THE PRINCESS. [_Smiling and sighing._] Yes, I command.

     [_They go out, left._

     [_The stage remains empty for several moments. Then_ STRÜBEL _is
     heard trying the latch of the back door_.

STRÜBEL'S VOICE. Hullo! What's up! Why is this locked all of a sudden?
Rosa! Open up! I've got to look through the telescope! Rosa! Won't you?
Oh, well, I know how to help myself. [_He is seen walking outside of the
glass-covered veranda. Then he puts his head through the open window at
the right._] Not a soul inside? [_Climbs over._] Well, here we are. What
on earth has happened to these people? [_Unlocks the back door and looks
out._] Everything deserted. Well, it's all the same to me. [_Locks the
door again._] But let's find out right away what the carriage has to do
with the case.

     [_Prepares to look through the telescope._ THE PRINCESS _enters
     cautiously through the door at the left, her hat in her hand.
     Without noticing_ STRÜBEL, _who is standing motionless before the
     telescope, she goes hurriedly to the door at the back and unlocks
     it_.

STRÜBEL. [_Startled at the sound of the key, turns around._] Why, how do
you do? [THE PRINCESS, _not venturing to move, glances back at the door
through which she has entered_.] Wouldn't you like to look through the
telescope a while? Please do. [THE PRINCESS, _undecided as to whether or
not she should answer him, takes a few steps back toward the door at the
left_.] Why are you going away? I won't do anything to you.

THE PRINCESS. [_Reassured._] Oh, I'm not going away.

STRÜBEL. That's right. But--where have you come from? The door was
locked. Surely you didn't climb through the window as I did?

THE PRINCESS. [_Frightened._] What? You came--through the window?----

STRÜBEL. Of course I did.

THE PRINCESS. [_Frightened anew._] Then I had rather----

     [_About to go back._

STRÜBEL. Oh, my dear young lady, you just stay right here. Why, before
I'd drive you away I'd pitch myself headlong over a precipice!

THE PRINCESS. [_Smiling, reassured._] I only wanted to go out into the
woods for half an hour.

STRÜBEL. Oh, then you're a regular guest here at the Inn?

THE PRINCESS. [_Quickly._] Yes--yes, of course.

STRÜBEL. And of course you drink the waters down below?

THE PRINCESS. [_In a friendly way._] Oh, yes, I drink the waters. And
I'm taking the baths, too.

STRÜBEL. Two hundred metres up and down every time! Isn't that very hard
on you? Heavens! And you look so pale! See here, my dear young lady,
don't you do it. It would be better for you to go down there--that
is--{SPACE}Oh, forgive me! I've been talking without thinking. Of
course, you have your own reasons--{SPACE}It's decidedly cheaper up
here. _I_ know how to value a thing of that sort. I've never had any
money in all my life!

THE PRINCESS. [_Trying to seem practical._] But when one comes to a
watering-place, one must have money.

STRÜBEL. [_Slapping himself on the chest._] Do I look to you as if I
drank iron? Thank Heaven, I can't afford such luxuries! No; I'm only a
poor fellow who earns his miserable pittance during vacation by acting
as a private tutor--that's to say, "miserable" is only a figure of
speech, for in the morning I lie abed until nine, at noon I eat five and
at night seven courses; and as for work, I really haven't a thing to do!
My pupil is so anæmic--why, compared to him, _you're_ fit for a circus
rider!

THE PRINCESS. [_Laughing unrestrainedly._] Oh, well, I'm rather glad I'm
not one.

STRÜBEL. Dear me, it's a business like any other.

THE PRINCESS. Like any other? Really, I didn't think that.

STRÜBEL. And pray, what did you think then?

THE PRINCESS. Oh, I thought that they were--an entirely different sort
of people.

STRÜBEL. My dear young lady, all people are "an entirely different
sort." Of course _we_ two aren't. We get along real well together, don't
we? As poor as church mice, both of us!

THE PRINCESS. [_Smiling reflectively._] Who knows? Perhaps that's true.

STRÜBEL. [_Kindly._] Do you know what? If you want to stay down
there--I'll tell you how one can live cheaply. I have a friend, a
student like myself. He's here to mend up as you are. I feed him up at
the house where I'm staying. [_Frightened at a peculiar look of_ THE
PRINCESS'S.] Oh, but you mustn't be--No, I shouldn't have said it. It
wasn't decent of me. Only, let me tell you, I'm so glad to be able to
help the poor fellow out of my unexpected earnings, that I'd like to be
shouting it from the housetops all the time! Of course, you understand
that, don't you?

THE PRINCESS. You like to help people, then?

STRÜBEL. Surely--don't you?

THE PRINCESS. [_Reflecting._] No. There's always so much talk about it,
and the whole thing immediately appears in the newspapers.

STRÜBEL. What? If you help some one, that appears----?

THE PRINCESS. [_Quietly correcting herself._] I only mean if one takes
part in entertainments for charity----

STRÜBEL. Oh, yes, naturally. In those things they always get some woman
of rank to act as patroness, if they can, and she sees to it, you may be
sure, that the newspapers make a fuss over it.

THE PRINCESS. [_Demurely._] Oh, not every----

STRÜBEL. Just try to teach me something I don't know about these titled
women! Besides, my dear young lady, where is your home--in one of the
large cities, or----?

THE PRINCESS. Oh, no. In quite a small town--really more like the
country.

STRÜBEL. Then I'm going to show you something that you probably never
saw before in all your life.

THE PRINCESS. Oh do! What is it?

STRÜBEL. A princess! H'm--not a make-believe, but a real, true-blue
princess!

THE PRINCESS. Oh, really?

STRÜBEL. Yes. Our Princess of the Springs.

THE PRINCESS. And who may that be?

STRÜBEL. Why, Princess Marie Louise.

THE PRINCESS. Of Geldern?

STRÜBEL. Of course.

THE PRINCESS. Do you know her?

STRÜBEL. Why, certainly.

THE PRINCESS. Really? I thought that she lived in great retirement.

STRÜBEL. Well, that doesn't do her any good. Not a bit of it. And
because you are such a jolly good fellow I'm going to tell you my
secret. I'm in love with this princess!

THE PRINCESS. Oh!

STRÜBEL. You can't imagine what a comfort it is. The fact is, every
young poet has got to have a princess to love.

THE PRINCESS. Are you a poet?

STRÜBEL. Can't you tell that by looking at me?

THE PRINCESS. I never saw a poet before.

STRÜBEL. Never saw a poet--never saw a princess! Why, you're learning a
heap of things to-day!

THE PRINCESS. [_Assenting._] H'm--and have you written poems to her?

STRÜBEL. Why, that goes without saying! Quantities of 'em!

THE PRINCESS. Oh, please recite some little thing--won't you?

STRÜBEL. No, not yet. Everything at the proper time.

THE PRINCESS. Ah, yes, first I should like to see the princess.

STRÜBEL. No, first I am going to tell you the whole story.

THE PRINCESS. Oh, yes, yes. Please do. [_Sits down._

STRÜBEL. Well, then--I had hardly heard that she was here before I was
dead in love with her. It was just as quick as a shot, I tell you. Just
as if I had waited all my life long to fall in love with her. Besides, I
also heard about her beauty--and her sorrow. You see, she had an early
love affair.

THE PRINCESS. [_Disconcerted._] What? Are they saying that?

STRÜBEL. Yes. It was a young officer who went to Africa because of
her--and died there.

THE PRINCESS. And they know that, too?

STRÜBEL. What don't they know? But that's a mere detail--it doesn't
concern me. Even the fact that in six months she will become the bride
of a grand-duke--even that can make no difference to me. For the present
she is _my_ princess. But you're not listening to me!

THE PRINCESS. Oh, yes, I am!

STRÜBEL. Do you know what that means--_my_ princess! I'll not give up
_my_ princess--not for anything in all the world!

THE PRINCESS. But--if you don't even know her----?

STRÜBEL. I don't know her? Why, I know her as well as I know myself!

THE PRINCESS. Have you ever met her, then?

STRÜBEL. I don't know of any one who has ever met her. And there's not a
soul that can tell what she looks like. It is said that there were
pictures of her in the shop-windows when she first came, but they were
removed immediately. In the morning a great many people are always
lurking around the Springs trying to catch a glimpse of her. I, myself,
have gotten up at six o'clock a couple of times--on the same errand--and
if you knew me better, you'd realize what that meant. But not a sign of
her! Either she has the stuff brought to her house or she has the power
of making herself invisible. [THE PRINCESS _turns aside to conceal a
smile_.] After that, I used to hang around her garden--every day, for
hours at a time. Until one day the policeman, whom the managers of the
Springs have stationed at the gates, came up to me and asked me what on
earth I was doing there. Well, that was the end of those methods of
approach! Suddenly, however, a happy thought struck me. Now I can see
her and have her near to me as often as I wish.

THE PRINCESS. Why, that's very interesting. How?

STRÜBEL. Yes, that's just the point. H'm, should I risk it? Should I
take you into my confidence?

THE PRINCESS. You promised me some time ago that you would show her to
me.

STRÜBEL. Wait a second. [_Looks through the telescope._] There she is.
Please look for yourself.

THE PRINCESS. But I am--[_She, too, looks through the telescope._]
Actually, there is the garden as plain as if one were in it.

STRÜBEL. And at the corner window on the left--with the
embroidery-frame--that's she.

THE PRINCESS. Are you absolutely certain that that is the princess?

STRÜBEL. Why, who else could it be?

THE PRINCESS. Oh, 'round about a princess like that--there are such a
lot of people. For instance, there is her waiting-woman, there's the
seamstress and her assistants, there's----

STRÜBEL. But, my dear young lady, if you only understood anything about
these matters, you would have been certain at the very first glance that
it was she--and no one else. Observe the nobility in every motion--the
queenly grace with which she bends over the embroidery-frame----

THE PRINCESS. How do you know that it's an embroidery-frame?

STRÜBEL. Why, what should a princess be bending over if not an
embroidery-frame? Do you expect her to be darning stockings?

THE PRINCESS. It wouldn't hurt her at all!

STRÜBEL. Now, that's just one of those petty, bourgeois notions which we
ought to suppress. It's not enough that _we_ have to stick in this
misery, but we'd like to drag her down, too--that being far above all
earthly care----

THE PRINCESS. Oh, dear me!

STRÜBEL. What are you sighing about so terribly?

THE PRINCESS. Tell me, wouldn't you like to have a closer acquaintance
with your princess, some time?

STRÜBEL. Closer? Why should I? Isn't she close enough to me, my far-away
princess?--for that's what I call her when I talk to myself about her.
And to have her _still_ closer?

THE PRINCESS. Why, so that you could talk to her and know what she
really was like?

STRÜBEL. [_Terrified._] Talk to her! Heaven forbid! Goodness gracious,
no! Just see here--how am I to face a princess? I'm an ordinary fellow,
the son of poor folks. I haven't polished manners--I haven't even a
decent tailor. A lady like that--why, she'd measure me from top to toe
in one glance. I've had my lessons in the fine houses where I've applied
as tutor. A glance from boots to cravat--and you're dismissed!

THE PRINCESS. And you think that I--[_correcting herself_] that this
girl is as superficial as that?

STRÜBEL. "This girl"! Dear me, how that sounds! But, how should I ever
succeed in showing her my real self? And even if I should, what would
she care? Oh, yes, if she were like you--so nice and simple--and with
such a kindhearted, roguish little twinkle in her eye----!

THE PRINCESS. Roguish--I? Why so?

STRÜBEL. Because you are laughing at me in your sleeve. And really I
deserve nothing better.

THE PRINCESS. But your princess deserves something better than your
opinion of her.

STRÜBEL. How do you know that?

THE PRINCESS. You really ought to try to become acquainted with her some
time.

STRÜBEL. No, no, no--and again no! As long as she remains my far-away
princess she is everything that I want her to be--modest, gracious,
loving. She smiles upon me dreamily. Yes, she even listens when I recite
my poems to her--and that can't be said of many people! And as soon as I
have finished she sighs, takes a rose from her breast, and casts it down
to the poet. I wrote a few verses yesterday about that rose, that flower
which represents the pinnacle of my desires, as it were.

THE PRINCESS. [_Eagerly._] Oh, yes. Oh, please, please!

STRÜBEL. Well, then, here goes. H'm----

    "Twenty roses nestling close----"

THE PRINCESS. What? Are there twenty now?

STRÜBEL. [_Severely._] My princess would not have interrupted me.

THE PRINCESS. Oh, please--forgive me.

STRÜBEL. I shall begin again.

    "Twenty roses nestling close
      Gleam upon thy breast,
    Twenty years of rose-red love
      Upon thy fair cheeks rest.

    "Twenty years would I gladly give
      Out of life's brief reign,
    Could I but ask a rose of thee
      And ask it not in vain.

    "Twenty roses thou dost not need--
      Why, pearls and rubies are thine!
    With nineteen thou'dst be just as fair,
      And _one_ would then be _mine_!

    "And twenty years of rose-wreathed joy
      Would spring to life for me--
    Yet twenty years could ne'er suffice
      To worship it--and thee!"

THE PRINCESS. How nice that is! I've never had any verses written to me
b----

STRÜBEL. Ah, my dear young lady, ordinary folks like us have to do their
own verse-making!

THE PRINCESS. And all for one rose! Dear me, how soon it fades! And then
what is left you?

STRÜBEL. No, my dear friend, a rose like that never fades--even as my
love for the gracious giver can never die.

THE PRINCESS. But you haven't even got it yet!

STRÜBEL. That makes no difference in the end. I'm entirely independent
of such externals. When some day I shall be explaining Ovid to the
beginners, or perhaps even reading Horace with the more advanced
classes--no, it's better for the present not to think of reaching any
such dizzy heights of greatness--well, then I shall always be saying to
myself with a smile of satisfaction: "You, too, were one of those
confounded artist fellows--why, you once went so far as to love a
princess!"

THE PRINCESS. And that will make you happy?

STRÜBEL. Enormously! For what makes us happy, after all? A bit of
happiness? Great heavens, no! Happiness wears out like an old glove.

THE PRINCESS. Well, then, what does?

STRÜBEL. Ah, how should I know! Any kind of a dream--a fancy--a wish
unfulfilled--a sorrow that we coddle--some nothing which suddenly
becomes everything to us. I shall always say to my pupils: "Young men,
if you want to be happy as long as you live, create gods for yourselves
in your own image; these gods will take care of your happiness."

The Princess. And what would the god be like that you would create?

STRÜBEL. _Would be?_ _Is_, my dear young lady, _is!_ A man of the world,
a gentleman, well-bred, smiling, enjoying life--who looks out upon
mankind from under bushy eyebrows, who knows Nietzsche and Stendhal by
heart, and--[_pointing to his shoes_] who isn't down at the heels--a
god, in short, worthy of my princess. I know perfectly well that all my
life long I shall never do anything but crawl around on the ground like
an industrious ant, but I know, too, that the god of my fancy will
always take me by the collar when the proper moment comes and pull me up
again into the clouds. Yes, up there I'm safe. And your god, or rather
your goddess--what would she look like?

THE PRINCESS. [_Thoughtfully._] That's not easy to say. My goddess would
be--a quiet, peaceful woman who would treasure a secret little joy like
the apple of her eye, who would know nothing of the world except what
she wanted to know, and who would have the strength to make her own
choice when it pleased her.

STRÜBEL. But that doesn't seem to me a particularly lofty aspiration, my
dear young lady.

THE PRINCESS. Lofty as the heavens, my friend.

STRÜBEL. My princess would be of a different opinion.

THE PRINCESS. Do you think so?

STRÜBEL. For that's merely the ideal of every little country girl.

THE PRINCESS. Not her ideal--her daily life which she counts as naught.
It is my ideal because I can never attain it.

STRÜBEL. Oh, I say, my dear young girl! It can't be as bad as that! A
young girl like you--so charming and--I don't want to be forward, but if
I could only help you a bit!

THE PRINCESS. Have you got to be helping all the time? Before, it was
only a cheap lunch, now it's actually----

STRÜBEL. Yes, yes, I'm an awful donkey, I know, but----

THE PRINCESS. [_Smiling._] Don't say any more about it, dear friend! I
like you that way.

STRÜBEL. [_Feeling oppressed by her superiority._] Really, you are an
awfully strange person! There's something about you that--that----

THE PRINCESS. Well?

STRÜBEL. I can't exactly define it. Tell me, weren't you wanting to go
into the woods before? It's so--so oppressive in here.

THE PRINCESS. Oppressive? I don't find it so at all--quite the contrary.

STRÜBEL. No, no--I'm restless. I don't know what--at all events, may I
not escort you--? One can chat more freely, one can express himself more
openly--if one----

     [_Takes a deep breath._

THE PRINCESS. [_Smiling._] And you are leaving your far-away princess
with such a light heart?

STRÜBEL. [_Carelessly._] Oh, she! She won't run away. She'll be sitting
there to-morrow again--and the day after, too!

THE PRINCESS. And so that is your great, undying love?

STRÜBEL. Yes, but when a girl like you comes across one's path----

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_Hurrying in and then drawing back in feigned
astonishment._] Oh!

LIDDY AND MILLY. [_Similarly._] Oh!

STRÜBEL. Well, ladies, didn't I tell you that you wouldn't find her?
Princesses don't grow along the roadside like weeds!

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_Disregarding him--ceremoniously._] The infinite
happiness with which this glorious event fills our hearts must excuse in
some measure the extraordinary breach of good manners which we are
committing in daring to address Your Highness. But, as the fortunate
subjects of Your Highness's most noble fiancé, we could not refrain
from----

STRÜBEL. Well, well! What's all this?

FRAU V. HALLDORF.--from offering to our eagerly awaited sovereign a
slight token of our future loyalty. Liddy! Milly! [LIDDY _and_ MILLY
_come forward, and, with low court bows, offer their bouquets_.] My
daughters respectfully present these few flowers to the illustrious
princess----

STRÜBEL. I beg your pardon, but who is doing the joking here, you
or----?

     [FRAU V. BROOK _enters_. THE PRINCESS, _taken unawares, has
     retreated more and more helplessly toward the door at the left,
     undecided whether to take flight or remain. She greets the arrival
     of_ FRAU V. BROOK _with a happy sigh of relief_.

FRAU V. BROOK. [_Severely._] Pardon me, ladies. Apparently you have not
taken the proper steps toward being presented to Her Highness. In
matters of this sort one must first apply to me. I may be addressed
every morning from eleven to twelve, and I shall be happy to consider
your desires.

FRAU V. HALLDORF. [_With dignity._] I and my children, madame, were
aware of the fact that we were acting contrary to the usual procedure;
but the impulse of loyal hearts is guided by no rule. I shall be glad to
avail myself of your--very kind invitation.

     [_All three go out with low curtsies to_ THE PRINCESS.

FRAU V. BROOK. What forwardness! But how could you come down without me?
And what is that young man over there doing? Does he belong to those
people?

     [THE PRINCESS _shakes her head_. STRÜBEL, _without a word, goes to
     get his hat, which has been lying on a chair, bows abruptly, and is
     about to leave_.

THE PRINCESS. Oh, no! That wouldn't be nice. Not that way----

FRAU V. BROOK. [_Amazed._] What? What! Why, Your Highness----!

THE PRINCESS. Let me be, Eugenie. This young man and I have become far
too good friends to part in such an unfriendly, yes, almost hostile
fashion.

FRAU V. BROOK. Your Highness, I am _very_ much----

THE PRINCESS. [_To_ STRÜBEL.] You and I will certainly remember this
hour with great pleasure, and I thank you for it with all my heart. If I
only had a rose with me, so as to give you your dear wish! Eugenie,
haven't we any roses with us?

FRAU V. BROOK. Your Highness, I am _very_ much----

THE PRINCESS. [_Examining herself and searching among the vases._] Well,
how are we going to manage it?

STRÜBEL. I most humbly thank--your Highness--for the kind intention.

THE PRINCESS. No, no--wait! [_Her glance falls upon the hat which she is
holding in her hand--with a sudden thought._] I have it! But don't think
that I'm joking. And we'll have to do without scissors! [_She tears one
of the roses from the hat._] I don't know whether there are just
twenty--[_Holding out one of the roses to him._] Well? This rose has the
merit of being just as real as the sentiment of which we were speaking
before--and just as unfading.

STRÜBEL. Is this--to be--my punishment? [THE PRINCESS _smilingly shakes
her head_.] Or does your Highness mean by it that only the Unreal never
fades?

THE PRINCESS. That's exactly what I mean--because the Unreal must always
dwell in the imagination.

STRÜBEL. So that's it! Just as it is only the _far-away_ princesses who
are always near to us.

FRAU V. BROOK. Permit me to remark, Your Highness--that it is _high_
time----

THE PRINCESS. As you see, those who are near must hurry away. [_Offering
him the rose again._] Well?

STRÜBEL. [_Is about to take it, but lets his hand fall._] With the
far-away princess there--[_pointing down_] it would have been in
harmony, but with the--[_Shakes his head, then softly and with
emotion._] No, thanks--I'd rather not.

[_He bows and goes out._

THE PRINCESS. [_Smiling pensively, throws away the artificial flower._]
I'm going to ask my fiancé to let me send him a rose.

FRAU V. BROOK. Your Highness, I am _very_ much--surprised!

THE PRINCESS. Well, I told you that I wasn't sleepy.

CURTAIN



THE STRONGER

BY

AUGUST STRINDBERG


AUGUST STRINDBERG

August Strindberg, Sweden's foremost dramatist, was born at Stockholm in
1849. He attended the University of Upsala but did not graduate. In 1872
he wrote _Master Olaf_, which was for six years steadily refused by
managers. When it did appear it inaugurated the Swedish dramatic
renascence. By turns Strindberg was schoolmaster, journalist, dramatist,
writer of scientific and political treatises, and writer of short
stories. In 1883 he left Sweden and travelled extensively in Denmark,
Germany, France, and Italy. He died in 1912.

As a dramatist Strindberg's chief strength lies not so much in dramatic
technique as it does in his trenchant and searching power of analysis of
the human mind. His chief plays are very exact and narrow views of the
feminine soul. Some of his own domestic bitterness finds expression in
the feminine studies in his plays. He is very fond of showing the power
of one character over another.

His important one-act plays are _The Outlaw_, _Countess Julie_,
_Creditors_, _Pariah_, _Facing Death_, and _The Stronger_. _The
Stronger_ has a dramatic intensity that few plays possess. Though but
one character speaks, the souls of three are skilfully laid bare.


PERSONS

    MRS. X., _an actress, married_
    MISS Y., _an actress, unmarried_



THE STRONGER[M]


     SCENE: _A corner of a ladies' restaurant; two small tables of
     cast-iron, a sofa covered with red plush, and a few chairs._

     MRS. X. _enters, dressed in hat and winter coat, and carrying a
     pretty Japanese basket on her arm_.

     MISS Y. _has in front of her a partly emptied bottle of beer; she
     is reading an illustrated weekly, and every now and then, she
     exchanges it for a new one_.

MRS. X. Well, how do, Millie! Here you are sitting on Christmas Eve, as
lonely as a poor bachelor.

     [MISS Y. _looks up from the paper for a moment, nods, and resumes
     her reading_.]

MRS. X. Really, I feel sorry to find you like this--alone--alone in a
restaurant, and on Christmas Eve of all times. It makes me as sad as
when I saw a wedding party at Paris once in a restaurant--the bride was
reading a comic paper and the groom was playing billiards with the
witnesses. Ugh, when it begins that way, I thought, how will it end?
Think of it, playing billiards on his wedding day! Yes, and you're going
to say that she was reading a comic paper--- that's a different case, my
dear.

     [_A waitress brings a cup of chocolate, places it before_ MRS. X.,
     _and disappears again_.

MRS. X. [_Sips a few spoonfuls; opens the basket and displays a number
of Christmas presents._] See what I've bought for my tots. [_Picks up a
doll._] What do you think of this? Lisa is to have it. She can roll her
eyes and twist her head, do you see? Fine, is it not? And here's a cork
pistol for Carl.

     [_Loads the pistol and pops it at_ MISS Y. MISS Y. _starts as if
     frightened_.

MRS. X. Did I scare you? Why, you didn't fear I was going to shoot you,
did you? Really, I didn't think you could believe that of me. If you
were to shoot _me_--well, that wouldn't surprise me the least. I've got
in your way once, and I know you'll never forget it--but I couldn't help
it. You still think I intrigued you away from the Royal Theatre, and I
didn't do anything of the kind--although you think so. But it doesn't
matter what I say, of course--you believe it was I just the same.
[_Pulls out a pair of embroidered slippers._] Well, these are for my
hubby--tulips--I've embroidered them myself. H'm!--I hate tulips--and he
must have them on everything.

     [MISS Y. _looks up from the paper with an expression of mingled
     sarcasm and curiosity_.

MRS. X. [_Puts a hand in each slipper._] Just see what small feet Bob
has. See? And you should see him walk--elegant! Of course, you've never
seen him in slippers.

     [MISS Y. _laughs aloud_.

MRS. X. Look here--here he comes.

     [_Makes the slippers walk across the table._ MISS Y. _laughs
     again_.

MRS. X. Then he gets angry, and he stamps his foot just like this:
"Blame that cook who can't learn how to make coffee." Or: "The
idiot--now that girl has forgotten to fix my study lamp again." Then
there is a draught through the floor and his feet get cold. "Gee, but
it's freezing, and those blanked idiots don't even know enough to keep
the house warm."

     [_She rubs the sole of one slipper against the instep of the
     other._ MISS Y. _breaks into prolonged laughter_.

MRS. X. And then he comes home and has to hunt for his slippers--Mary
has pushed them under the bureau. Well, perhaps it is not right to be
making fun of one's own husband. He's pretty good for all that--a real
dear little hubby, that's what he is. You should have such a
husband--what are you laughing at? Can't you tell? Then, you see, I know
he is faithful. Yes, I know, for he has told me himself--what in the
world makes you giggle like that? That nasty Betty tried to get him away
from me while I was on the road. Can you think of anything more
infamous? [_Pause._] But I'd have scratched the eyes out of her face,
that's what I'd have done, if I had been at home when she tried it.
[_Pause._] I'm glad Bob told me all about it, so I didn't have to hear
it first from somebody else. [_Pause._] And, just think of it, Betty was
not the only one! I don't know why it is, but all women seem to be crazy
after my husband. It must be because they imagine his government
position gives him something to say about the engagements. Perhaps
you've tried it yourself--you may have set your traps for him, too? Yes,
I don't trust you very far--but I know he never cared for you--and then
I have been thinking you rather had a grudge against him.

     [_Pause. They look at each other in an embarrassed manner._

MRS. X. Amelia, spend the evening with us, won't you? Just to show that
you are not angry--not with me, at least. I cannot tell exactly why, but
it seems so awfully unpleasant to have you--you--for an enemy. Perhaps
because I got in your way that time [_rallentando_] or--I don't
know--really, I don't know at all----

     [_Pause._ MISS Y. _gazes searchingly at_ MRS. X.

MRS. X. [_Thoughtfully._] It was so peculiar, the way our
acquaintance--why, I was afraid of you when I first met you; so afraid
that I did not dare to let you out of sight. It didn't matter where I
tried to go--I always found myself near you. I didn't have the courage
to be your enemy--and so I became your friend. But there was always
something discordant in the air when you called at our home, for I saw
that my husband didn't like you--and it annoyed me--just as it does when
a dress won't fit. I've tried my very best to make him appear friendly
to you at least, but I couldn't move him--not until you were engaged.
Then you two became such fast friends that it almost looked as if you
had not dared to show your real feelings before, when it was not
safe--and later--let me see, now! I didn't get jealous--strange, was it
not? And I remember the baptism--you were acting as godmother, and I
made him kiss you--and he did, but both of you looked terribly
embarrassed--that is, I didn't think of it then--or afterwards, even--I
never thought of it--till--_now_! [_Rises impulsively._] Why don't you
say something? You have not uttered a single word all this time. You've
just let me go on talking. You've been sitting there staring at me only,
and your eyes have drawn out of me all these thoughts which were lying
in me like silk in a cocoon--thoughts--bad thoughts maybe--let me think.
Why did you break your engagement? Why have you never called on us
afterward? Why don't you want to be with us to-night?

     [MISS Y. _makes a motion as if intending to speak_.

MRS. X. No, you don't need to say anything at all. All is clear to me
now. So, that's the reason of it all. Yes, yes! Everything fits together
now. Shame on you! I don't want to sit at the same table with you.
[_Moves her things to another table._] That's why I must put those
hateful tulips on his slippers--because you love them. [_Throws the
slippers on the floor._] That's why we have to spend the summer in the
mountains--because you can't bear the salt smell of the ocean; that's
why my boy had to be called Eskil--because that was your father's name;
that's why I had to wear your color, and read your books, and eat your
favorite dishes, and drink your drinks--this chocolate, for instance;
that's why--great heavens!--it's terrible to think of it--it's terrible!
Everything was forced on me by you--even your passions. Your soul bored
itself into mine as a worm into an apple, and it ate and ate and
burrowed and burrowed, till nothing was left but the outside shell and a
little black dust. I wanted to run away from you, but I couldn't. You
were always on hand like a snake, with your black eyes, to charm me--I
felt how my wings beat the air only to drag me down--I was in the water
with my feet tied together, and the harder I worked with my arms, the
further down I went--down, down, till I sank to the bottom, where you
lay in wait like a monster crab to catch me with your claws--and now I'm
there! Shame on you! How I hate you, hate you, hate you! But you, you
just sit there, silent and calm and indifferent, whether the moon is new
or full; whether it's Christmas or mid-summer; whether other people are
happy or unhappy. You are incapable of hatred and you don't know how to
love. As a cat in front of a mouse-hole, you are sitting there. You
can't drag your prey out, and you can't pursue it, but you can outwait
it. Here you sit in this comer--do you know they've nicknamed it "the
mousetrap" on your account? Here you read the papers to see if anybody
is in trouble, or if anybody is about to be discharged from the theatre.
Here you watch your victims and calculate your chances and take your
tributes. Poor Amelia! Do you know, I pity you all the same, for I know
you are unhappy--unhappy as one who has been wounded, and malicious
because you are wounded. I ought to be angry with you, but really I
can't--you are so small, after all--and as to Bob, why, that does not
bother me in the least. What does it matter to me, anyhow? If you or
somebody else taught me to drink chocolate--what of that? [_Takes a
spoonful of chocolate; then, sententiously._] They say chocolate is very
wholesome. And if I have learned from you how to dress--_tant
mieux!_--it has only given me a stronger hold on my husband--and you
have lost where I have gained. Yes, judging by several signs, I think
you have lost him already. Of course, you meant me to break with him--as
you did, and as you are now regretting--but, you see, _I_ never would do
that. It wouldn't do to be narrow-minded, you know. And why should I
take only what nobody else wants? Perhaps, after all, I am the stronger
now. You never got anything from me; you merely gave--and thus happened
to me what happened to the thief--I had what you missed when you woke
up. How explain in any other way that, in your hand, everything proved
worthless and useless? You were never able to keep a man's love, in
spite of your tulips and your passions--and I could; you could never
learn the art of living from the books--as I learned it; you bore no
little Eskil, although that was your father's name. And why do you keep
silent always and everywhere--silent, ever silent? I used to think it
was because you were so strong; and maybe the simple truth was you never
had anything to say--because you were unable to think! [_Rises and picks
up the slippers._] I'm going home now--I'll take the tulips with
me--your tulips. You couldn't learn anything from others; you couldn't
bend--and so you broke like a dry stem--and I didn't. Thank you,
Amelia, for all your instructions. I thank you that you have taught me
how to love my husband. Now I'm going home--to him! [_Exit._

CURTAIN



BIBLIOGRAPHIES



COLLECTIONS OF ONE-ACT PLAYS

     _The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays._ The Atlantic Monthly Press,
     Boston, 1921.

     Baker, Geo. Pierce. _Plays of the 47 Workship_ (two volumes) and
     _Plays of the Harvard Dramatic Club_ (two volumes). Brentano's, New
     York City, 1918-20.

     Clark, Barrett H., _Representative One-Act Plays by British and
     Irish Authors_. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1921.

     Cohen, Helen Louise, _One-Act Plays by Modern Authors_. Harcourt,
     Brace and Company, New York, 1921.

     Eliot, Samuel A., _Little Theatre Classics_, one-act versions of
     standard plays from the modern and the classic plays. Four volumes
     now issued. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1918.

     Mayorga, Margaret Gardner, _Representative One-Act Plays by
     American Authors_. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1919.

     Moses, Montrose J., _Representative One-Act Plays by Continental
     European Authors_. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1922.

     Shay, Frank, and Loving, Pierre, _Fifty Contemporary One-Act
     Plays_. Stewart and Kidd Company, Cincinnati, 1920.

     _Wisconsin Plays_, First and Second Series. B. W. Huebsch, New York
     City, 1914, 1918.

     Smith, Alice M., _Short Plays by Representative Authors_. The
     Macmillan Company, New York City, 1921.

     _A Volume of Plays from the Drama_, 59 East Van Buren Street,
     Chicago, is announced for 1922.

     _A Volume of One-Act Plays_ from the work of Professor Franz
     Rickaby, of the University of North Dakota, is under way.

     _A Volume of One-Act Plays_, from the work of Professor Frederick
     H. Koch, of the University of North Carolina, is under way.



LISTS OF ONE-ACT PLAYS

     _Bibliography of Published Plays Available in English._ World Drama
     Promoters, La Jolla, California.

     Cheney, Sheldon, _The Art Theatre_. (Appendix: _Plays Produced at
     the Arts and Crafts Theatre, Detroit_.) Alfred A. Knopf, New York,
     1917.

     Clapp, John Mantel, _Plays for Amateurs_. _Bulletin of The Drama
     League of America_, Chicago, 1915.

     Clark, Barrett Harper, _How to Produce Amateur Plays_. Little,
     Brown and Company, Boston, 1917.

     Dickinson, Thomas H., _The Insurgent Theatre_. (Appendix: _List of
     Plays Produced by Little Theatres_.) B. W. Huebsch, New York, 1917.

     Drummond, Alex. M., _Fifty One-Act Plays_. _Quarterly Journal of
     Public Speaking_, Vol. I, p. 234, 1915.

     Drummond, Alex. M., _One-Act Plays for Schools and Colleges_.
     _Education_, Vol. 4, p. 372, 1918.

     Faxon, F. W., _Dramatic Index_. Published from year to year,
     Boston.

     French, Samuel, _Guide to Selecting Plays_. Catalogues, etc. Samuel
     French, publisher, New York.

     Johnson, Gertrude, _Choosing a Play_. Lists of various types of
     one-act plays in the Appendix. The Century Company, New York, 1920.

     Kaplan, Samuel, _Actable One-Act Plays_. Chicago Public Library,
     Chicago, 1916.

     Koch, Frederick H., _Community Drama Service_. A select list of
     one-act plays. Extension Series, Number 36, in _University of North
     Carolina Record_, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1920.

     Lewis, B. Roland, _The Technique of the One-Act Play_ (Appendix:
     _Contemporary One-Act Plays_). John W. Luce and Company, Boston,
     1918.

     Lewis, B. Roland, _The One-Act Play in Colleges and High Schools_.
     A select list of fifty one-act plays. _Bulletin of Extension
     Division of University of Utah_, Series No. 2, Vol. 10, No. 16,
     Salt Lake City, 1920.

     Lewis, B. Roland, _One Hundred Representative One-Act Plays_, in
     _The Drama_, April, 1921, Vol. 11, No. 7, Chicago.

     Lewis, B. Roland. _Bulletin on the One-Act Play_, prepared for The
     Drama League of America. Contains a selected list of one hundred
     and fifty one-act plays, with analyses, etc. The Drama League of
     America, Chicago, Illinois, 1921.

     McFadden, E. A., _Selected List of Plays for Amateurs_, 113 Lake
     View Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1920.

     Mackay, Constance D'Arcy, _The Little Theatre in the United States_
     (Appendix: _List of Plays Produced in Little Theatres_). Henry Holt
     & Company, New York, 1917.

     Mayorga, Margaret Gardner, _Representative One-Act Plays by
     American Authors_ (Appendix: _Selective List of One-Act Plays by
     American Authors_). Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 1919.

     Merry, Glenn Newton, _College Plays_. University of Iowa, Iowa
     City, Iowa, 1919.

     Riley, Alice C. D., _The One-Act Play--Study Course_. Three issues
     (February, March, April) of _The Drama League Bulletin_, 1918,
     Washington, D. C.

     Riley, Ruth, _Plays and Recitations, Extension Division Record_,
     Vol. 2, No. 2, November, 1920. University of Florida, Gainesville,
     Florida.

     _Selected List of Christmas Plays._ Drama League Calendar, November
     15, 1918, New York.

     _Selected List of Patriotic Plays and Pageants Suitable for
     Amateurs._ Drama League Calendar, October 1, 1918, New York.

     _Selected List of Plays for Amateurs._ The Drama League, Boston.
     Also Doubleday, Page & Company, New York, 1917.

     Shay, Frank, _Play List, Winter, 1921._ Frank Shay, 4 Christopher
     Street, New York.

     Shay, Frank, and Loving, Pierre, _Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays_
     (Appendix: _The Plays of the Little Theatre_). Stewart & Kidd
     Company, Cincinnati, 1920.

     Stratton, Clarence, _Two Hundred Plays Suitable for Amateurs_. One
     hundred of them are one-act plays. St. Louis, Missouri, 1920. The
     Drama Shop, 7 East 42d Street, New York.

     Stratton, Clarence, _Producing in Little Theatres_ (Appendix
     contains a revised list of one-act plays). Henry Holt & Company,
     New York City, 1921.

     Swartout, Norman Lee, _One Hundred and One Good Plays_. Summit, New
     Jersey, 1920.



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF REFERENCE ON THE ONE-ACT PLAY

     Andrews, Charlton, _The Technique of Play Writing_, Chapter XVIII.
     Home Correspondence School, Springfield, Massachusetts.

     Cannon, Fanny, _Writing and Selling a Play_, Chapter XXII. Henry
     Holt & Company, New York, 1915.

     Cohen, Helen Louise, _One-Act Plays by Modern Authors_,
     Introduction. Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1921.

     Corbin, John, _The One-Act Play_, in the New York _Times_, May,
     1918. Vol. IV, p. 8, col. 1.

     Eaton, Walter P., _Washington Square Plays_, Introduction.
     Doubleday, Page & Company, Garden City, New York, 1917.

     Gibbs, Clayton E., _The One-Act Play_, in _The Theatre_, Vol.
     XXIII, pp. 143-156, March, 1916.

     Goodman, Edward, _Why the One-Act Play_?, in _The Theatre_, Vol.
     XXV, p. 327, June, 1917.

     Gregory, Lady Augusta, _Our Irish Theatre_. G. P. Putnam's Sons,
     New York, 1913.

     Hamilton, Clayton, _The One-Act Play in America_, in _The Bookman_,
     April, 1913. Appears as Chapter XXII in _Studies in Stagecraft_,
     Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1914.

     Johnson, Gertrude, _Choosing a Play_, Chapter III, _Why the One-Act
     Play?_?The Century Company, New York, 1920.

     Lewis, B. Roland, _The Technique of the One-Act Play_. John W. Luce
     & Company, Boston, 1918.

     Lewis, B. Roland, _The One-Act Play in Colleges and High Schools,
     Bulletin of the University of Utah_, Extension Series No. 2, Vol.
     X, No. 16, 1920. Extension Division, University of Utah, Salt Lake
     City.

     Mackay, Constance D'Arcy, _The Little Theatre in the United
     States_, some interesting comments on various one-act plays. Henry
     Holt & Company, New York, 1917.

     Middleton, George, _Tradition and Other One-Act Plays_,
     Introduction, 1913; _Embers, Etc._, Introduction, 1911;
     _Possession, Etc._, Introduction, 1915. All published by Henry
     Holt & Company, New York.

     Middleton, George, _The Neglected One-Act Play_, in _The Dramatic
     Mirror_, January 31, 1913, pp. 13-14, New York.

     Moses, Montrose J., _The American Dramatist_, comment on the
     one-act play. Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 1917.

     Neal, Robert Wilson, _Short Stories in the Making_, Chapter I.
     Oxford University Press, New York, 1914.

     Page, Brett, _Writing for Vaudeville_. Home Correspondence School,
     Springfield, Massachusetts, 1915.

     _Poole's Index_, for articles on the one-act play in the magazines.

     _The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature_ for articles on the
     one-act play in the magazines.

     Schitzler, Arthur, _Comedies of Words_, Introduction by Pierre
     Loving. Stewart & Kidd Company, Cincinnati, 1917.

     Underhill, John Garrett, _The One-Art Play in Spain_, in _The
     Drama: A Quarterly Review_, February, 1917.

     Wilde, Percival, _Confessional, and Other One-Act Plays_, Preface.
     Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1916.

     The several volumes dealing with the short story are suggested as
     collateral study: Pitkin, Neal, Williams, Grabo, Baker, Esenwein,
     Notestein and Dunn, Canby, Albright, Smith, Cross, Barrett,
     Mathews, Pain, Gerwig.


BIBLIOGRAPHY ON HOW TO PRODUCE PLAYS

     Beegle, Mary Porter, and Crawford, Jack, _Community Drama and
     Pageantry_. The Appendices in this volume contain excellent
     bibliographies on almost every aspect of dramatic production. It is
     a most valuable work. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1917.

     Chubb, Percival, _Festivals and Plays_. Harper and Brothers, New
     York, 1912.

     Clark, Barrett H., _How to Produce Amateur Plays_. Little, Brown &
     Company, Boston, 1917.

     Crampton, C. Ward, _Folk Dance Book_. A. S. Barnes & Company, New
     York, 1909.

     Hughes, Talbot, _Dress Designs_. The Macmillan Company, New York,
     1913.

     Johnson, Gertrude, _Choosing a Play_. The Century Company, New
     York, 1920.

     Mackay, Constance D'Arcy, _Costumes and Scenery for Amateurs_.
     Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1915.

     Mackay, Constance D'Arcy, _How to Produce Children's Plays_. Henry
     Holt & Company, New York, 1915.

     Rath, Emil, _Esthetic Dancing_. A. S. Barnes & Company, New York,
     1914.

     Rhead, G. N., _Chats on Costume, or Treatment of Draperies in Art_.
     F. A. Stokes Company, New York, 1906.

     Stratton, Clarence, _Producing in the Little Theatres_. Henry Holt
     & Company, New York, 1921.

     Stratton, Clarence, _Public Speaking_, has a chapter on Dramatics.
     Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1920.

     Taylor, Emerson, _Practical Stage Directing for Amateurs_. E. P.
     Dutton & Company, New York, 1916.

     Waugh, Frank A., _Outdoor Theatres_. Richard G. Badger, Boston,
     1917.

     Young, James, _Making Up_. M. Witmark & Sons, 114 West 37th Street,
     New York.


FOOTNOTES:

[A] Copyright, 1914, by Charles Scribner's Sons. All rights reserved.

[B] Copyright, 1913, by George Middleton. All rights reserved.

[C] Copyright, 1921. All rights reserved.

[D] Copyright, 1912, 1921, by Percy Mackaye. All rights reserved.

[E] The head and face of the Figure are partly hidden by a beak-shaped
cowl. Momentarily, however, when his head is turned toward the fire,
enough of the face is discernible to reveal his narrow iron-gray beard,
shaven upper lip, aquiline nose, and eyes that twinkle in the dimness.

[F] Copyright, 1919, by _The Stratford Journal_.

[G] Copyright, 1914, by Bosworth Crocker. All rights reserved.

[H] Pronounced _niece_.

[I] Copyright, 1917, by Little, Brown & Co. All rights reserved.

[J] Copyright, 1917, by Oscar M. Wolff. All rights reserved.

[K] Plans for this clock may be had by addressing Professor N. B. Knapp,
of the Manual Training Department, University of North Dakota,
University, North Dakota.

Copyright, 1922, by the Dakota Playmakers.

[L] Copyright, 1909, by Charles Scribner's Sons. All rights reserved.

[M] Copyright, 1912, by Charles Scribner's Sons. All rights reserved.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Contemporary One-Act Plays" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home